For some people summer time means barbecues, laying on the beach or swimming in mountain lakes. But for many fantasy football players it triggers the need to prepare a draft list.
The biggest debate among many 2012 drafters with an early pick was whether to take quarterback
Aaron Rodgers or running back
Arian Foster. In terms of quarterback fantasy points, Rodgers had a big year, slinging 39 touchdowns and rushing for two more, totaling 334 points. He finished second among quarterbacks, behind
Drew Brees, who had just five more total fantasy points.
Foster also had a great year and ended up tied with
Doug Martin for second place among running back with 262 points. Foster and Martin finished well behind the No. 1 running back
Adrian Peterson, who had a whopping 307 points.
Seven quarterbacks finished the year scoring more than 300 points, while the only running back over 300 points was
Adrian Peterson. The next seven best running backs after Peterson, Foster and Martin scored from 247 down to 202 points. Several rookie quarterbacks including
Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III,
Russell Wilson and
Andrew Luck all had good seasons and should improve in their sophomore year, possibly joining the 300-plus points club.
What does this mean for 2013 drafts? Draft premiere running backs early and often and wait on your quarterback as there will be good options available in the middle-to-late rounds of your draft.
The general consensus of early mocks is that Peterson should be taken first and Foster second. That order seems reasonable being that both running backs are proven, have good offensive lines and can both run and catch the ball out of the backfield. That begs the question of who should be taken with the third pick?
The third pick should be
Ray Rice. Why? Rice is another proven running back whose football knowledge continues to improve and should see an increase in workload this season with the departure of
Anquan Boldin. Remember, you want your first round pick to offer
consistent production week-after-week throughout the season. Rice may not be a glamorous pick, but he will get you decent points every week.
I debated a long time on who to take at No. 4. The best running back options available are the aforementioned
Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles or
LeSean McCoy. Each of these backs has the ability to have a monster game any given week and single-handedly lead your team to victory. But, there are also question marks for each. Will
Doug Martin suffer the dreaded sophomore slump? Will
Marshawn Lynch’s violent running style finally catch up to him in the form of an injury during one of the bruising games against the NFC West? Will Buffalo start quarterback
Kevin Kolb or rookie E.J. Manuel that will allow opponents to stack the line against Spiller? Will Charles and the rest of the Kansas City offense gel and be comfortable running coach Andy Reid’s new offense? The same question applies to
LeSean McCoy and whether the Philadelphia Eagles will thrive in the new offensive scheme implemented by Chip Kelly. One additional factor for McCoy is whether the bulldozing
Bryce Brown will steal his goal line carries.
To win a fantasy league, you must get consistent production from your first-round player every week. That makes this choice one of risk versus reward. In my opinion, the best option at No. 4 is also the youngest player with a good offensive line, no health issues, no backup to be concerned about, plays in the same system as the previous year and plays in (arguably) the easiest division of the running backs above. The choice is
Doug Martin. Another factor in Martin’s favor is that his quarterback
Josh Freeman had an average year in 2012, but should be better in 2013 after working with his core group for a year. If Freeman improves, that will open up even more running lanes for Martin.
The No. 5 pick is a good slot for
Marshawn Lynch for several of the same reasons above, including his proven track record, good offensive line and no backup or goal line vulture to be concerned about.
Given the opportunity, I would then choose Charles, Spiller and
LeSean McCoy (in that order) with the next three picks before thinking about taking
Calvin Johnson or
Dez Bryant toward the end of the round.
Before finalizing our draft lists in late summer, we will have to pay close attention to training camps, injuries, success of new offensive schemes, etc. But having a good plan going into drafts might reap the reward of a league championship.