2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rex Burkhead or Mike Gillislee? We look for answers in the latest Average Draft Position review

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There was a time when it looked like a smart move to draft Patriots running back Mike Gillislee in the fifth round of most standard drafts. That time has passed.

Or has it?

Following the second preseason game, Gillislee is falling with his Average Draft Position, which makes sense. While he still could step into the role vacated by LeGarrette Blount -- and Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns last year -- Gillislee has been out since Aug. 2 with a hamstring injury.

In his place, Rex Burkhead has looked like the Patriots running back to own, including a standout performance in the second preseason game against Houston. He worked with the first-team offense and got seven carries for 20 yards and caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.

His ADP is rising, and the longer Gillislee remains out the more attractive Burkhead will be in all leagues. You know James White will be a factor on passing downs, and Dion Lewis is kind of a wild card with his role, but the Patriots would likely prefer one primary rusher. 

Despite the thought that Bill Belichick likes to use multiple running backs, he has given at least 181 carries to one guy in three of the past six years, including two guys with at least 290 carries over that span (Stevan Ridley in 2012 and Blount last year). To put that in perspective, 22 running backs had more than 181 carries last season, so it's not like the Patriots are the worst team at featuring one rusher -- when they have that guy.

We thought Gillislee would be that guy after he was the No. 27 Fantasy running back in standard leagues last year with 101 carries for 577 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns and nine catches for 50 yards and one touchdown as the backup to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo. And he still might lead New England in touches, once he's back from injury.

So while it doesn't make sense to draft Gillislee in Round 5, he is still worth drafting, likely in Round 7 in standard leagues and Round 8 in PPR. He still has the chance for a prominent role this year and could lead the Patriots in rushing touchdowns.

As for Burkhead, the career backup in Cincinnati showed he has some potential in a featured role when he had 27 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 25 yards in Week 17 last year against Baltimore. The Patriots can use him as a starter or play him on special teams, but he's gaining momentum as a Fantasy option and is worth drafting with a late-round pick.

We'll show you where both Patriots are being drafted with their ADP below, but I have them ranked Gillislee, Burkhead, White and Lewis in standard leagues and Gillislee, White, Burkhead and Lewis in PPR. Right now, the value lies with Burkhead, and he could move up in the rankings the longer Gillislee is out.


Going too soon: Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Derek Carr

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Andrew Luck IND • QB • 12
2016 stats
CMP %6,080.0
ADP: No. 5 QB at No. 58 overall ... You'd rather have: Russell Wilson, Marcus Mariota

I'll say the same thing this week that I said last week about Winston in this spot that he has the chance to finish as a top-five quarterback, and I like him as a breakout candidate. But I don't want to draft him at his ceiling, which is likely the case if he's going in Round 5. He's much better suited to go in Marcus Mariota's range, which is Round 7. That's better value for Winston in case he falters.

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Cam Newton CAR • QB • 1
2016 stats
CMP %5,290.0
ADP: No. 7 QB at No. 60 overall ... You'd rather have: Kirk Cousins, Mariota, Philip Rivers

Newton is back on the field this week and throwing with the team, but he continues to struggle to stay healthy in his comeback from offseason shoulder surgery. We hope he's ready for Week 1, but there should be some level of concern that he could suffer another setback before the games matter for real. I'm OK drafting Newton as a low-end starter, but it won't be at the end of Round 5. That's too soon when there are other quarterbacks being drafted after him who could have more upside this season.

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Derek Carr OAK • QB • 4
2016 stats
CMP %6,380.0
ADP: No. 9 QB at No. 72 overall ... You'd rather have: Ben Roethlisberger, Mariota, Philip Rivers

I like Carr as a low-end starter this season, but I don't want to draft him in Round 6 or as a top-10 quarterback. He's going ahead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Mariota and potentially Andrew Luck (shoulder) if he's healthy, which could be a mistake. Carr could struggle if Marshawn Lynch has a big year and the running game dominates, although I don't expect that to happen. You should plan to wait for Carr in Round 8 or later, but drafting him in Round 6 is too soon.

Great value: Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton

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Philip Rivers LAC • QB • 17
2016 stats
CMP %6,040.0
ADP: No. 14 QB at No. 95 overall ... He's better value than: Dak Prescott, Newton

Every year it's the same story for Rivers: He performs at a high level but is underappreciated. This year, however, it's a surprise given his receiving corps, which might be the best of his career. Keenan Allen is back from last year's torn ACL, and the Chargers drafted rookie Mike Williams in the first round. Along with Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates, this is an impressive group. Just wait on Rivers and draft him late, and he will reward you with a potential top-10 finish. 

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Matthew Stafford DET • QB • 9
2016 stats
CMP %6,530.0
ADP: No. 15 QB at No. 109 overall ... He's better value than: Newton, Prescott

Stafford was on pace to finish as the No. 6 Fantasy quarterback last year before he hurt his finger in Week 14. We hope he gets back to that level, and his receiving corps has improved this season with the addition of rookie receiver Kenny Golladay to go with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron. Like Rivers, Stafford is another quarterback to wait for on Draft Day, and he could easily finish in the top 10 again this year.

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Andy Dalton CIN • QB • 14
2016 stats
CMP %6,470.0
ADP: No. 18 QB at No. 132 overall ... He's better value than: Eli Manning, Carson Palmer

Dalton should benefit with Tyler Eifert back, A.J. Green healthy and the addition of rookies John Ross and Joe Mixon to give him a quality group of pass catchers. Dalton has played well when he's had a solid supporting cast, including big years in 2013 and 2015. He's another excellent quarterback to watt for on Draft Day, and he's a good No. 2 quarterback to pair with someone like Newton or Luck.

Running backs

Going too soon: Marshawn Lynch, Ty Montgomery, Mike Gillislee, LeGarrette Blount 

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Marshawn Lynch OAK • RB • 24
2015 stats in 7 games with SEA - DNP in 2016
ADP: No. 14 RB at No. 34 overall ... You'd rather have: Isaiah Crowell, Dalvin Cook, Mark Ingram

Lynch is starting to slide with his ADP, which is good, because the later he goes the better his value will be. You're buying Lynch at his ceiling in Round 3, but that's better than last week when he was being drafted in Round 2. I'm still not drafting Lynch before Round 5 in most formats because I'm nervous about him after missing last year and coming out of retirement at 31. Hopefully he slides because then there's a better chance I'll have a shot to draft him.

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Ty Montgomery GB • RB • 88
2016 stats
ADP: No. 20 RB at No. 45 overall ... You'd rather have: Carlos Hyde, C.J. Anderson, Ameer Abdullah

Montgomery got lucky that Jamaal Williams didn't have a standout performance in the second preseason game against Washington, but he's still dealing with a lower leg injury after a suspect training camp and first preseason performance. He's still the favorite to start for the Packers, but there's no guarantee he keeps the job all year. He should not be drafted in Round 4.

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Mike Gillislee NE • RB • 35
2016 stats with BUF
ADP: No. 25 RB at No. 72 overall ... You'd rather have: Abdullah, Bilal Powell, Terrance West

As we talked about with Gillislee, his ADP is going to fall, and he's now going in Round 6. We'll see where it ends up, but he could turn into a value pick if he becomes the No. 1 running back in New England prior to Week 1. Even if he doesn't open the season as the starter, he could still lead the Patriots in touchdowns. I'll be looking for him in Round 7 or 8 in most leagues.

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LeGarrette Blount DET • RB • 29
2016 stats with NE
ADP: 29 RB at No. 80 overall ... You'd rather have: Doug Martin, Rob Kelley, Frank Gore

There are reports that Blount might not make the team, and even if he does he could be behind Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood when it comes to playing time. There's no chance you can consider Blount a top-30 running back, and he's not worth drafting before Round 9.

Great value: Kareem Hunt, Darren McFadden, Derrick Henry, Rex Burkhead

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Kareem Hunt KC • RB • 27
2016 stats at Toledo
ADP: No. 36 RB at No. 99 overall ... He's better value than: Blount, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy

Hunt got the chance to see some first-team action in the second preseason game against Cincinnati and looked good with eight carries for 40 yards and three catches for 23 yards. Spencer Ware remains the starter, but Hunt had to make Ware nervous and give Andy Reid a thought that Hunt needs a good amount of work during the season. He's worth speculating on by Round 8.

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Darren McFadden DAL • RB • 20
2016 stats in 3 games
ADP: No. 37 RB at No. 100 overall ... He's better value than: Blount, Peterson, Lacy

You know the deal with McFadden by now that he's expected to start for as long as Ezekiel Elliott (suspension) is out, which could be six weeks. We'll see what happens with Elliott's appeal on Aug. 29, but McFadden has looked great in the preseason behind the Cowboys stellar offensive line. I would look for McFadden as early as Round 7 right now.

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Derrick Henry TEN • RB • 22
2016 stats
ADP: No. 38 RB at No. 103 overall ... He's better value than: Blount, Peterson, Lacy

Henry could be considered the No. 1 handcuff option this year, but he also has stand-alone value since he'll work in tandem with DeMarco Murray. And if Murray gets hurt -- he's already been banged up in the preseason -- Henry would be a starter behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. He's a steal in Round 9 based on his ADP.

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Rex Burkhead NE • RB • 34
2016 stats with CIN
ADP: No. 58 RB at No. 157 overall ... He's better value than: Dion Lewis, Giovani Bernard, Jamaal Charles

As I said above, there's a strong chance Burkhead could be the starter for the Patriots all season, and he's easily worth a pick in this spot and will soon climb higher with his ADP. There could end up with a lot of mouths to feed in New England with Gillislee, White and Lewis, but if Burkhead is your No. 4 or 5 Fantasy running back then he's worth stashing to see what develops.

Wide receivers

Going too soon: Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman, Allen Robinson, Randall Cobb

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Alshon Jeffery PHI • WR • 17
2016 stats with CHI in 12 games
ADP: No. 18 WR at No. 51 overall ... You'd rather have: Michael Crabtree, Golden Tate

Jeffery hasn't had the best training camp and preseason after missing time with a shoulder injury and getting called out by his receivers coach for being "behind" with his knowledge of the offense. He still has time to turn things around, but he's a questionable top-20 receiver coming into the season. I don't mind drafting him in Round 5, but I'm nervous he can be a bust this year.

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Julian Edelman NE • WR • 11
2016 stats
ADP: No. 22 WR at No. 59 overall ... You'd rather have: Martavis Bryant, Jamison Crowder, Stefon Diggs

Edelman should continue to have a prominent role in the Patriots offense, but he's going to lose targets to newcomers Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen and with Rob Gronkowski back at 100 percent. It's best to think of Edelman as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this year instead of a No. 2 option, and he's being drafted way too soon based on his current ADP.

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Allen Robinson CHI • WR • 12
2016 stats
ADP: No. 24 WR at No. 60 overall

Robinson is dealing with a mess at quarterback, which hurt his play in 2016 and looks like it will carry over to this year. We'll see who starts for the Jaguars between Blake Bortles or Chad Henne, but it's hard to expect either one to elevate Robinson's level of play. I'm not drafting Robinson until Round 6 at the earliest this year.

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Randall Cobb GB • WR • 18
2016 stats
ADP: No. 30 WR at No. 74 overall ... You'd rather have: Jeremy Maclin, Pierre Garcon, Cameron Meredith

Cobb could bounce back to his 2014 level after a couple of down seasons, but he's not worth this price. With Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and now Martellus Bennett, you can argue that Cobb is No. 4 on the pecking order for targets and production. I wouldn't draft Cobb before the double digit rounds, and he definitely should not be drafted this high in any format.

Great value: DeVante Parker, Zay Jones, Robby Anderson, Cooper Kupp

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DeVante Parker MIA • WR • 11
2016 stats
ADP: No. 39 WR at No. 108 overall ... He's better value than: Mike Wallace, Eric Decker, DeSean Jackson

Parker is continuing his strong offseason with a good training camp and preseason, and new quarterback Jay Cutler added to the hype train by calling Parker a "faster Alshon" by comparing him to Jeffery. Parker will move closer to the No. 30 receiver with another strong preseason outing, but hopefully he doesn't rise too much where his value gets out of control.

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Zay Jones BUF • WR • 11
2016 stats at East Carolina
ADP: No. 61 WR at No. 182 overall ... He's better value than: John Brown, Taylor Gabriel, Kenny Golladay

Jones is basically the last man standing in Buffalo with Sammy Watkins traded to the Rams, Anquan Boldin retiring and Jordan Matthews (chest) hurt. Even with Matthews back, Jones has the best rapport with quarterback Tyrod Taylor just from their work together this offseason. He's a great late-round flier and could end up as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this year.

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Robby Anderson NYJ • WR • 11
2016 stats
ADP: No. 64 WR at No. 196 overall ... He's better value than: Sterling Shepard, Adam Thielen, Kenny Britt

Speaking of last-man standing, the same goes for Anderson with the Jets after Quincy Enunwa (neck) was lost for the season. It could be ugly for the Jets this year, but there are plenty of targets to go around, even with a bad quarterback situation. Anderson had some positive moments as a rookie last year and could see about 120 targets this season. That makes him well worth a late-round pick in all leagues.

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Cooper Kupp LAR • WR • 18
2016 stats at Eastern Washington
ADP: No. 66 WR at No. 203 overall ... He's better value than: Jordan Matthews, Rishard Matthews, Marvin Jones

Kupp was a stat monster in college with four years of at least 90 catches, 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns, and the Rams coaching staff apparently loves him. Jared Goff seems to also, and he should benefit with Watkins now on the field to give Kupp plenty of single coverage. He's one of my favorite late-round picks in any format this year.

Tight ends

Going too soon: Martellus Bennett, Jason Witten, O.J. Howard

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Martellus Bennett NE • TE • 88
2016 stats in NE
ADP: No. 7 TE at No. 83 overall ... You'd rather have: Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry

Bennett has the chance for a good season, and his touchdown from Aaron Rodgers in the second preseason game against Washington won't hurt his stock. But he's being overdrafted here, which could be a mistake. There's a higher ceiling for guys like Eifert, Ertz and Henry, and you can get all of them at a cheaper price than Bennett.

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Jason Witten DAL • TE • 82
2016 stats
ADP: No. 13 TE at No. 130 overall ... You'd rather have: Jack Doyle, Coby Fleener, Julius Thomas

Witten isn't a bad late-round flier, but there's no upside with him. He's coming off consecutive seasons with three touchdowns, and he's been at 715 yards or less in three years in a row. He still has some potential in PPR leagues since he's averaged at least 70 catches for 10 years in a row. But he should not be drafted ahead of someone like Doyle this season.

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O.J. Howard TB • TE • 80
2016 stats at Alabama
ADP: No. 14 TE at No. 134 overall ... You'd rather have: Cameron Brate, Doyle, Fleener

Howard has a bright future, and he could have some big moments this season since Winston loves throwing to his tight ends. But Brate should be the No. 1 tight end for the Buccaneers this season, and Howard also has to contend with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson making plays. Howard isn't worth drafting in most re-draft leagues this year.

Great value: Tyler Eifert, Hunter Henry, Jack Doyle

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Tyler Eifert CIN • TE • 85
2016 stats in 8 games
ADP: No. 8 TE at No. 83 overall ... He's better value than: Bennett, Rudolph

Eifert is going to make plenty of Fantasy owners nervous because of his injury history, and he's missed 11 games over the past two seasons. But he's healthy now and should have the chance to be a Fantasy star since he's scored 18 touchdowns in his past 21 games. He could easily finish as a top-five tight end this season and is worth buying into at this ADP.

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Hunter Henry LAC • TE • 86
2016 stats
ADP: No. 12 TE at No. 116 overall ... He's better value than: Eric Ebron, Delanie Walker, Bennett

Henry has a lower ADP than probably expected because Antonio Gates scored a touchdown in the first preseason game. I hope his ADP stays in this spot because that could make him a steal on Draft Day. He has top-10 potential and could be a top-five tight end if Gates wasn't around. I'm targeting Henry in every league this year.

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Jack Doyle IND • TE • 84
2016 stats
ADP: No. 16 TE at No. 135 overall ... He's better value than: Witten, Howard, Ebron

Doyle should only fall this far if Andrew Luck is going to miss a big portion of the season with his shoulder injury. As of now, that's not expected to happen, and Doyle could easily be a top-10 tight end in this offense. Luck loves leaning on his tight ends, and Doyle stepped up last season when Allen was hurt. This is a steal at his ADP.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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