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Miles Austin (ADP = 39) - Green Light
The Dallas Cowboys need to be sure to eat their Wheaties this season because it is crunch time. The biggest issue with the Cowboys offense is that they can’t manage to stay on the field at the same time all at once. When Dez Bryant is healthy, Austin is hurt. When Tony Romo is healthy, Dez Bryant is hurt. When Austin is healthy, DeMarco Murray is hurt. They have to stay on the field together for 16 complete games for all offensive personnel to reach their full potential. This has to be the year. If it’s not, you have to suspect that owner Jerry Jones will be attempting to make some seriously drastic changes. I fully expect the Cowboys to finally live up to the hype and for Bryant and Austin to see the bulk of increased statistically gain. Austin offers No. 1 fantasy wide receiver potential at the end of the fourth round.
Vincent Jackson (ADP = 47) – Red Light
Excuse me while I beat this dead horse. There are so many reasons as to why I want nothing to do with Jackson this year it’s hard to focus on just a few. I guess a good jumping off point is the fact that Josh Freeman is a step back from Philip Rivers as quarterback. Rivers playing at his worse was still better than Freeman at his best. In a down year in 2011, Rivers threw for 4,624 yards and 27 scores while Freeman in his best season (2010) had 3,351 and 25 touchdowns. That’s the difference of about 1,300 yards. The second reason for me would be that he finally got his money. Jackson may be less inclined to go all out in the pursuit of cash now that he’s getting paid. There is a large chance of laziness setting in with him. Jackson is also undoubtedly the best receiving talent on the team earning him constant double coverage. I expect a lot of forced balls and interceptions from Freeman in the direction of Jackson in 2012. Look for his attitude and complaints to start spiking before week 10.
Doug Martin (ADP = 51) – Yellow Light
I’m not preaching to avoid rookies all together on draft day. I’m just warning you to make sure the production matches the value of the pick. At this point Reggie Bush and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are still on the board. I have a really hard time passing on two productive, proven veterans to select a rookie in a less-than-ideal situation. LeGarrette Blount may indeed be a complete knucklehead, but he’s still on the roster and he will be utilized. I’m far more comfortable taking Martin a round later unless I’m completely forced into it due to a running back sweep by the other drafters. Martin will put up decent numbers for a rookie in 2012, but make sure you don’t go too early. A rookie is a rookie is a rookie. His numbers will be much better suited as a reserve on your bench than to be counted on as a weekly starter. Don’t skip on proven starters for him.
Antonio Brown (ADP = 52) – Green Light
Given his average draft position, it appears that Brown is one of the last two 1,000-yard receivers from 2012 left available, the other being Stevie Johnson. Brown accomplished the feat in a year that saw perhaps the worst offensive line play in the last 10 years and in a year that Ben Roethlisberger missed time. Then, when Roethlisberger did return, he did so at less than 100 percent, hobbled by a bothersome high ankle sprain. The Pittsburgh Steelers did make attempts to address the offensive line this offseason. Quite frankly, anything will be better than the unit they put on the field last year. Guys coming back from injury will improve the line dramatically as well. With Roethlisberger given more time in the pocket and Mike Wallace demanding attention, Brown will be looking to build upon his 2011 season. Added to these benefits is the idea of Hines Ward being off the field for the first time in Roethlisberger’s career. Brown should be first in line for those additional looks and a potential chemistry boost. I expect the yardage to remain about the same but the scores to go up fourfold.
Jahvid Best (ADP = 77) – Red Light
This red light is one that you should be jacking on your brakes and skidding to a complete stop for. My advice for crowded backfields is to avoid them completely. You have a 33 percent chance of selecting the successful back in the Detroit backfield each week. With Kevin Smith, Mikel LeShoure and Best all looking for carries, it could get really messy really fast. It reminds me a lot of the New England backfield from last season. You couldn’t get a feel for who was in line for what due to the overwhelming competition. Injuries will rule out at least one of these guys in season and make the other two far more valuable. But risk and reward picks like that are usually done towards the latter portion of the draft, not in Round 7. Considering how many starting-worthy wide receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends are still available this is just too much of a dangerous pick.
Shonn Greene (ADP = 80) – Green Light
When it comes to running back, I can’t emphasize enough how much value there is in carries. Always follow the opportunity and the stats will come. At this point in the draft there are currently only two backs left that are locks for better than 20 touches per game available in Willis McGahee and Greene. Do I think that Greene is an elite talent? Of course I don’t. But do I think that he is a legit threat to break 1,000 yards and maybe 10 scores. I really do. The New York Jets are going to try to limit Mark Sanchez and establish the run more this year. That’s not a bad idea considering their offensive line is one of the best in the league. The combination of heightened carries, offensive line, and at the very least above-average talent makes Greene a very valuable selection this late in the game. I’m very confident having Greene as my third back, my three main wide receivers, my starting quarterback, and my tight end after the first eight rounds.
Michael Crabtree (ADP = 93) – Red Light
Take a quick look at last season’s numbers. Crabtree finished the season with 874 yards and four touchdowns on 72 receptions. Now add in Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Those receptions are going down big time. In fact, I think we’re going to see many plays where Manningham is used in place of Crabtree instead of in relation to Crabtree. They’re both very similar in terms of height, style and ability. Moss is going to be used as the deep route runner and neither Manningham nor Crabtree are ideal to work the slot. Having Manningham on the field could lead to Crabtree being off the field. This late in the draft it’s hard to argue against any pick. The level of talent remaining is relatively minimal. That means that you have to go with your gut and gamble. I’m personally not gambling a single penny on Crabtree. He’s had his chance. And last time I checked, he’s not playing with the most capable quarterback in Alex Smith either. Smith is going to have a hard time distributing stats to all of his options, and it will most likely be Crabtree that suffers.
A big thanks once again to myfantasyleague.com for their great work. Don’t forget to check out the Sharks player projections season rankings now available. Let’s get the Tank the churning.
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