Ravens tailback Ray Rice, a likely top-five pick in all fantasy drafts this summer, racked up 2,068 total yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
With the NFL draft in the rear-view mirror, stat gurus and mock draft nerds can begin prepping for the 2012 fantasy season; the experts at Mock Draft Central already have a decent grasp of the Average Draft Position (ADP) values for the top 200 players.
Here is a listing of the ADP top 75, with comments in three tiers:
1. RB Arian Foster, Texans
2. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
3. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
5. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
6. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
7. RB Matt Forte, Bears
8. QB Drew Brees, Saints
9. QB Cam Newton, Panthers
10. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
11. RB Chris Johnson, Titans
12. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
13. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
14. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
15. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
16. TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
17. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
18. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
19. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
20. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
21. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
22. WR Victor Cruz, Giants
23. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
24. WR Roddy White, Falcons
25. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
- I prefer LeSean McCoy at the top spot, but I certainly won't knock Arian Foster for going No. 1 in a vast majority of standard-scoring drafts this summer. Foster, McCoy (seasonal targets: 1,813 total yards/17 TDs) and Ray Rice (2,068 total yards last year) are easily the three best backs in fantasyland.
- Cam Newton (4,757 total yards, 35 TDs last year) might warrant a better draft slot ahead of Tom Brady in keeper or TD-heavy leagues, but at this point, Brady has a greater fantasy ceiling in standard-scoring leagues. The real question is this: Would you be more surprised if Newton or Brady finished as the No. 1 quarterback come December?
- Wes Welker at No. 14 in standard drafts is a tough sell. Yes, he pulled down 122 catches for 1,569 yards and nine TDs last season, but that also entailed career-highs in yards and touchdowns (and one off his greatest receptions total). Heading into his age-31 season and under the threat of staging a contract holdout this summer, it's hard to envision Welker bringing Round 2 value to fantasy owners in 2012. For PPR leagues, that's a different matter.
26. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
27. WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
28. RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
29. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
30. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
31. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
32. WR Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
33. WR Brandon Marshall, Bears
34. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
35. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
36. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
37. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
38. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
39. WR Marques Colston, Saints
40. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
41. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
42. QB Tony Romo, Cowboys
43. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
44. RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins
45. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers
46. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
47. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
48. RB Roy Helu, Redskins
49. WR Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
50. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals
- Jamaal Charles has nearly three months of post-ACL tear recovery time over Adrian Peterson, and yet, he only garners a three-slot advantage? I don't think people understand the vast differences between suffering a major knee injury in early September compared to late December; if I had to choose the more likely back to collect 1,600 total yards and eight touchdowns, it would be Charles.
- Assuming no more injury setbacks, Peterson could easily recapture his top-10 standing heading into the 2013 season. But for now, he likely won't have enough time to fully reclaim his elite status.
- I understand the worries surrounding Jordy Nelson (68 catches, 1,263 yards, 15 TDs) and his quest to remain a top-10 receiver. In 2011, Nelson posted five touchdowns of 50-plus yards, but only had one 10-target game and zero games of 10 or more receptions. The law of averages suggest he'll encounter a noticeable dip in touchdowns; in fact, I'll be pleasantly shocked if he reaches double-digit scores.
- Michael Turner (1,508 total yards, 11 TDs last year) is getting a raw deal with his No. 38 value. Heading into his age-30 season, he's still a major part of the Atlanta offense; more importantly, he's not a likely candidate to abruptly fall off the NFL map this season. (Of course, the same could have been said about Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson before their steep declines set in a few years ago.)
- Brandon Lloyd may be a targets machine and one of Josh McDaniels' favorite receivers to build around, but it's hard to gauge how he'll fit in the New England offense. There are a lot of variables to consider with other Patriots playmakers when establishing Lloyd's own pre-draft value.
51. RB Darren Sproles, Saints
52. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
53. QB Peyton Manning, Broncos
54. QB Eli Manning, Giants
55. RB Willis McGahee, Broncos
56. WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
57. WR Antonio Brown, Steelers
58. QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
59. WR Steve Johnson, Bills
60. RB Isaac Redman, Steelers
61. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
62. RB Trent Richardson, Browns
63. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
64. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
65. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys
66. RB Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
67. RB LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
68. TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
69. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
70. WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
71. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
72. WR Kenny Britt, Titans
73. RB Michael Bush, Bears
74. TE Jermichael Finley, Packers
75. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
- I cannot envision many scenarios where Peyton Manning outperforms brother Eli this fantasy season, barring injury. Yes, Peyton is one of the 10 best quarterbacks in NFL history and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But Eli has a better cast of receivers (Nicks, Cruz, rookie Reuben Randle), more explosive tight ends (Martellus Bennett, Jake Ballard) and a cleaner bill of health—although I don't think Peyton's neck injury will be a major deterrent.
- Take a mental picture of Trent Richardson's No. 62 pre-draft value...because it'll be significantly higher once training camp and the preseason games begin. As often stated on The Fantasy Blog, Richardson compares favorably to Adrian Peterson, circa 2007. So, his pre-draft value should be commensurate to AP's from five years ago—between 45th and 49th overall.
- Pierre Garcon and Kenny Britt should be excellent picks sometime in Round 6 or 7. If Britt (85-catch, 10-TD potential) hadn't been injured last September, he'd be a top-40 pick. Garcon could emerge as the best receiving option on a Redskins club that boasts Fred Davis, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Evan Royster and running back Roy Helu, a potential top-20 asset in PPR leagues.
- Time for honesty here: Mock Draft Central currently has a No. 74 value for Jets backup QB Tim Tebow, but that number has absolutely no bearing here. So, I bumped Michael Crabtree up from No. 76 to 75.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.