2012 Fantasy Mock Draft: 16 Ways the Top 5 Picks Could Go

Rob TongContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2012

2012 Fantasy Mock Draft: 16 Ways the Top 5 Picks Could Go

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    Anticipation.

    It's what separates the great ones from the good ones.

    And it's what will separate you as a fantasy owner from the rest of the crowd at next year's fantasy drafts.

    As I've written before, despite the annual lovefest on sleepers, getting your first pick right is absolutely critical. And with quarterbacks and tight ends ringing up video game stats, 2012 fantasy drafts promise to be the wildest and most unpredictable of any in recent years.

    Therefore, anticipating how the first round could go could be the difference between rolling with the punches and sitting in stunned silence.

    I've narrowed the focus down to the Top 5 picks in the first round, but this will still provide enough variable scenarios to give an adequate case study to sharpen your draft management skills.

    This is not simply a list of all the permutations and combinations of the same players. Rather, it aims to show the different philosophies that might be at work in the upcoming 2012 fantasy football drafts.

    Some of the following are actual Top 5 draft order rankings of other writers. But at this point in the year, there aren't a lot of opinions, so I came up with some other possibilities.

    Let's take a look.

1. My Order—All RBs

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    In a prior article, I wrote how this would be my personal Top 5.

    1. RB LeSean McCoy
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. RB Matt Forte
    5. RB Darren McFadden

    While the elite quarterbacks had monster games this year, elite fantasy RBs are more scarce. With a Top 5 pick, I'm going RB all the way—and these are currently my Top 5 RBs.

2. Safest Options Scenario

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    This is the "safest options list", where the Top 5 players had no injury concerns at the end of 2011.

    1. RB Ray Rice
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew
    5. RB Marshawn Lynch (assuming he re-signs with the Seahawks)

    Of course, if Lynch signs elsewhere, all bets are off. I'm not as keen on this list since Forte and McFadden are more likely to have huge games than Jones-Drew and Lynch, who are more steady.

    But the point is, you may encounter this track in your fantasy draft next year.

3. PPR Scenario

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    Those in PPR leagues are more likely to see this order.

    1. RB Ray Rice
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. RB Matt Forte
    5. RB Maurice Jones-Drew

4. Home Run Scenario

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    This variant is for owners looking for home run threats.

    1. RB Ray Rice
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. RB Matt Forte
    5. RB Jamaal Charles

    This is similar to Scenario #1 except that here Jamaal Charles gets a little more love than McFadden.

5. The Workhorse Scenario

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    This is the "workhorse" order, where an emphasis on players without TD vultures leaps them over guys like Matt Forte (since Marion Barber snatched six goal-line scores from Forte).

    1. RB LeSean McCoy
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew
    5. RB Michael Turner

    Turner gets a bump under the assumption that the passing options available to quarterback Matt Ryan will allow the Falcons to ease the load on Turner, keeping him fresher over the course of the season.

6. The QB Sneak Scenario

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    Here is a draft scenario with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers sneaking into the Top 5.

    1. RB Arian Foster
    2. RB LeSean McCoy
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. QB Aaron Rodgers
    5. RB Matt Forte

    This is an actual mock draft proposal.

7. QB-WR Scenario

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    Those in leagues with several owners who are not old-school may also see this order.

    1. RB Arian Foster
    2. RB Ray Rice
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. QB Aaron Rodgers
    5. WR Calvin Johnson

    Here, Lion wideout Calvin Johnson makes the Top 5 on the strength of his dominating 2011 season, joining Rodgers among the Top 5.

8. Rodgers-Gronkowski Scenario

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    In this possible draft order, once the top 3 RBs are gone, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski rides the Super Hype Train.

    1. RB Arian Foster
    2. RB LeSean McCoy
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. QB Aaron Rodgers
    5. TE Rob Gronkowski

    The theory here goes that the WR field is deep but TEs, not so much. So take Gronkowski now since he probably won't last when the second round snakes back.

    As much as Gronkowski is a beast, I would not take him in the first round, though.

9. Calvin-Gronkowski-No QBs Scenario

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    This variant keys on the top non-quarterback players once the Top 3 RBs are gone.

    1. RB Ray Rice
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. WR Calvin Johnson
    5. TE Rob Gronkowski

    Here, QBs are not as valued since there are three studs in Rodgers, Brees and Brady, but there's only one Calvin Johnson and only one Rob Gronkowski.

    Not a likely scenario, but possible.

10. RBs-Two QBs Scenario

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    If you play in a league with a mix of so-called "old-school" and "new-school" owners, you might see this variation.

    1. RB Arian Foster
    2. RB LeSean McCoy
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. QB Aaron Rodgers
    5. QB Drew Brees

    Running backs still go first, but quarterbacks follow quickly. This scenario would have caused snickers in the past but the numbers put up by these elite QBs are likely to change opinions.

11. QB First Overall Scenario

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    2012 might be the first year where you may actually see a quarterback be taken with the first overall pick in a fantasy draft.

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. RB LeSean McCoy
    3. RB Arian Foster
    4. RB Ray Rice
    5. RB Maurice Jones-Drew

    This was actually proposed by a fellow B/R columnist. Not recommended, which I will explain in depth in a future article—but the Twitter-style synopsis for now is it would leave you with lower RB quality.

12. Two QBs First Overall Scenario

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    This may truly be the first season where two quarterbacks are taken with the top two picks—an unusual premium on quarterbacks.

    (This, of course, assumes Brees returns to New Orleans, which should be a given.)

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. QB Drew Brees
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew
    5. RB Arian Foster

    A fellow B/R columnist proposed this one. Again, not recommended to take a quarterback with your first or second overall pick.

13. Two QBs-Three RBs Mix Scenario

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    This is similar to Scenario #10 and #12 except Rodgers is taken first and Brees comes somewhere between #3 and #5, such as the following example:

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. RB Arian Foster
    3. RB Ray Rice
    4. QB Drew Brees
    5. RB LeSean McCoy

    This was from an actual mock draft among people at CBS Sports.

14. Three QBs-Rodgers First Scenario

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    This variant gives a QB-heavy emphasis for the Top 5, with Rodgers going first.

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. QB Drew Brees
    3. RB Arian Foster
    4. QB Tom Brady
    5. RB LeSean McCoy

15. Two QBs-Calvin-RBs Scenario

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    This one sees another emphasis on non-RBs. Rodgers and Brees again go 1-2, Calvin Johnson makes the Top 5, and someone other than Arian Foster or Ray Rice makes the list.

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. QB Drew Brees
    3. RB LeSean McCoy
    4. WR Calvin Johnson
    5. RB Maurice Jones-Drew

    This is a real proposal by a fellow B/R columnist. Those picking in the rest of the first round of such a draft should be ecstatic, particularly the owners picking at #6 and #7.

16. No RBs Scenario

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    This is the most unrealistic, but for the sake of argument was included. It completely excludes RBs in the Top 5 picks.

    1. QB Aaron Rodgers
    2. QB Drew Brees
    3. WR Calvin Johnson
    4. QB Tom Brady
    5. TE Rob Gronkowski