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When reviewing the Top 100 non-points per reception league average draft positions (ADP), I can’t help but to find arguments both for and against certain players. I feel as though some players are being horrifically undervalued while others don’t deserve their positioning. These players mentioned are some of the most highly debated in terms of value in 2012. Some I think deserve the green light acceleration up the board while others need to come to a complete stop and back up.
Ryan Mathews (ADP = 11) – Green Light
The San Diego Chargers’ running back represents almost unlimited potential in 2012. Keep your injury forecast at a medium since any running back can go down at any time as proven by Adrian Peterson. The Chargers are going to be getting back to doing what they used to do best: run the ball well and pass to Antonio Gates. Mathews will be filling the role of LaDainian Tomlinson, being used as a three-down back and seeing ample opportunity in the passing game. With Mike Tolbert now with Carolina, Mathews will see a big bump in touchdowns as well. I’d strongly consider him as early as the fifth pick.
Trent Richardson (ADP = 17) – Red Light
Please don’t go all in on him just yet. Take a look at two former rookies in Ronnie Brown and Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams. Both were very successful their rookie seasons but their stats don’t outweigh the potential of other available players left on the board. Brown finished with 1,139 total yards and five scores while Williams rolled for 1,259 and six scores. Again, I don’t want to take away from the great year they both had. But think of it this way – how many people were upset last year when Chris Johnson finished with 1,465 yards and four scores? His numbers are right on par with Brown and Williams, so what’s the difference? The difference is we expect far more out of our early picks than these kinds of numbers. Finding rookie steals like Brown and Williams aren’t the same as planning your entire season around rookie production.
Andre Johnson (ADP = 19) – Red Light
Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Sudden injuries, like those endured by running backs due to big hits, happen unpredictably. Chronic noncontact injuries, suffered by aging players, are a different story. Johnson has become a large injury concern thanks to back-to-back injury riddled seasons. Last year Johnson went down untouched twice with two different hamstring tears. He has become too much of a risk to select this early. Adding insult to injury, Houston appears to be changing its tactics. The Texans are now better suited to limit teams with their newfound defense and control the clock with their two outstanding running backs. When Houston decides to throw, Johnson will likely be double, if not triple, covered. Houston has done him a serious disservice by not finding help to play across from him and furthered that disservice by letting Jacoby Jones go. Schaub’s injury doesn’t make me feel any better, either.
Jamaal Charles (ADP = 21) – Green Light
There will be a lot that people will point out as excuses to skip on Charles on draft day. The most noteworthy being his return from ACL injury and the addition of Peyton Hillis. This should lead to a pretty significant slide for him. If you are sitting near the elbow at the end of the second round, you need to seriously mull over the thought of taking Charles. At this point in the draft Charles is the most valuable running back available. He will see some lost goal line work due to Hillis, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough to keep Charles from being a Top 10 back. Charles will do his damage on the stat sheet with a collection of long, breakaway runs. Hillis will force Charles to score from long distance and that just happens to be what he does best. Charles is the last remaining back on the board who is a serious candidate to lead the league in total yards from scrimmage.
Steven Jackson (ADP = 35) – Green Light
It’s tough to ignore the track record that Jeff Fisher has with running backs. Players like Eddie George, Chris Johnson, Travis Henry, Chris Brown, and even LenDale White have had great success in his system. With Sam Bradford returning from injury and hopefully back to his rookie form, Jackson will see less defensive attention than he received last year. All of these notions play in Jackson’s favor, making him worthy of an early selection. Jackson is one of those players who can miss time and still finish the season as a Top 10 performer.
Ahmad Bradshaw (ADP = 38) – Yellow Light
Like I mentioned with Andre Johnson, there is a big difference between freak injuries and non-contact, reoccurring types of injuries. Bradshaw has both ankle and foot issues that have bothered him since entering the league. These issues are not going away. It’s just a matter of time until they reappear. The New York Giants must feel the same way as I do, seeing that they selected David Wilson with their first-round pick in the 2012 draft. I can’t say to avoid Bradshaw any more than I can say you should feel completely comfortable in selecting him. I do think that if you decide to go with Bradshaw, you absolutely need to target Wilson much earlier than anyone else. Having the two together is the only way I’d feel confident taking Bradshaw. If you miss on Wilson you may have forfeited your third- or even fourth-round pick. This is not a Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw dual back scenario. To me, Wilson appears more as a potential replacement than a complement.
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