Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down Round 1 in a 12-Team PPR League
So if you're drafting tomorrow, how would the first round go? Will the first round look much different in late August? It might look a little bit different, but the major players won't change much.
At this point I have no clue (neither does Google) who the following quote is attributed to: "You can't win your league in the first round, but you can LOSE your league in the first round."
Round One is as much about limiting risk as it is targeting upside. Sometimes stuff happens. Nobody was forecasting Jamaal Charles tearing his ACL right at the beginning of the season. But plenty of people were shouting about the risks of Chris Johnson as a first-round pick.
It will really come down to how you feel about drafting QBs (Quarterbacks). QB and Tight End (TE) are probably the easiest skill-position players to find later in fantasy drafts. But there's a reason that Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady have been going early in fantasy drafts for years. They are very consistent. So long as they stay healthy, you pretty much know what you will be getting.
I generally loathe taking a QB in the first few rounds of anything smaller than a 14-team league. But this year there are just under a million questions once you get past their first tier of Running Backs (RB) and Wide Receivers (WR). So if you feel safer grabbing Aaron Rodgers mid-way through Round One, I won't hate on it.
For reference I will be listing each players' Expert Consensus Ranking - PPR as determined by Fantasy Pros.
For more position-by-position analysis, check out my early-season position breakdowns here on Bleacher Report.
UPDATE: Round 2 has been posted.
Round 1, Pick 1: LeSean McCoy (RB: PHI)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 4 (PPR)
In 2012, LeSean McCoy was on the field for more of his team's offensive snaps than any other RB in the NFL. The only things that can hold him back are an injury and Michael Vick scoring more rushing TDs. McCoy catches a ton of passes, which makes him a very consistent week-to-week option in PPR leagues, even if he doesn't find the end zone.
Round 1, Pick 2: Arian Foster (RB: HOU)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 1 (PPR)
Only the presence of Ben Tate prevents me from taking Foster at No. 1 overall. It's not that I think Tate will take away too much of Foster's workload. He'll take just enough to prevent Foster from being the No. 1 fantasy RB in the land. If Ray Rice wasn't holding out, I would go with him over Foster in PPR leagues here.
Round 1, Pick 3: Calvin Johnson (WR: DET)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 3 (PPR)
I wouldn't even blink If you took Calvin Johnson No. 1 overall in a PPR league. The WR position is just so much deeper than the RB position, and it's hard to pass on one of the "Big Three" RBs. But Johnson is a special talent and he is in a tier by himself at the top of the WR rankings. There's a touch of injury risk here, but that's how Andre Johnson was for years in his prime and he managed just fine even if he missed a game or two.
Round 1, Pick 4: Ray Rice (RB: BAL)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 2 (PPR)
If Rice wasn't holding out, he would probably be the No. 1 pick for me in PPR formats. As long as he ends his holdout early in training camp, he still will be. An extended holdout would make him fall in my rankings but I think Rice and the Ravens work things out. Rookie RB Bernard Pierce is an interesting handcuff, but unless Rice is hurt he shouldn't see significant carries.
Round 1, Pick 5: Ryan Matthews (RB: SD)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 10 (PPR)
This is a risky pick. Taking Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald or even Chris Johnson might seem safer here. But Matthews has the potential to be the No. 1 fantasy RB if he stays healthy. The Chargers are projecting him to get between 20 and 30 touches per game. That's fantasy gold right there. If he gets hurt you will just have to deal with it.
Round 1, Pick 6: Larry Fitzgerald (WR: ARI)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 7 (PPR)
This is about as "safe" of a non-QB pick as I can imagine here. Fitzgerald has always been very healthy and he's produced no matter who is at QB for the Cardinals. I doubt that he ends up as the No. 2 fantasy WR, but he's pretty much a lock to be a top-7 WR in PPR formats. That might not sound like a lot, but there's usually not much difference between the No. 2 and No. 7 WR in PPR formats.
Round 1, Pick 7: Aaron Rodgers (QB: GB)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 5 (PPR)
I'm not wild about taking a QB in Round One, but Rodgers is worth it here. I would expect him to finish no worse than the No. 3 fantasy QB with a very good shot at being the No. 1 QB. With only James Starks in the cupboard, there's no reason to think that the Packers will go away from their pass-heavy offense.
Round 1, Pick 8: Tom Brady (QB: NE)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 14 (PPR)
The addition of Brandon Lloyd is only going to help Tom Brady. Much like Aaron Rodgers, I'm pretty sure that Brady will finish as a top-3 fantasy QB with a shot at being the No. 1 QB. Other than the season he lost to an ACL tear, Brady has never missed a start for the Patriots. Again, there will be quality QBs available later, but Brady is about as safe as it gets here.
Round 1, Pick 9: Rob Gronkowski (TE: NE)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 22 (PPR)
Rankings-wise, this could be considered a reach here. But this is the area that Gronkowski will be going in come August. Gronkowksi and Jimmy Graham are so far ahead of everybody else at the TE position, it's almost not fair. Even if he scores fewer TDs than last season, there's no reason to think that Gronkowski won't continue to outproduce most RBs and WRs in fantasy football, much less just the other TEs.
Round 1, Pick 10: Jimmy Graham (TE: NO)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 17 (PPR)
When August does roll around, I think there is a chance that Graham ends up going ahead of Rob Gronkowski. Simply because Graham is without a doubt the No. 1 target in the Saints passing game. Gronkowski isn't the clear-cut No. 1 and he's a bit more dependent on scoring TDs than Graham. As long as Drew Brees shows up in training camp, Graham could easily top his numbers from last season. Remember, he played the last few games hurt and he's only been playing organized football for a few years.
Round 1, Pick 11: Drew Brees (QB: NO)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 15 (PPR)
With Brees currently holding out, you can argue he shouldn't be here or that Cam Newton should be ahead of him. But I fully expect Brees to play 16 games this season as long as he is healthy. Last year was actually a bit of a down year for Brees, but he's been so consistent for so long that it's hard to argue against him.
Round 1, Pick 12: A.J. Green (WR: CIN)
Expert Consensus Ranking: 24 (PPR)
All I see is upside with Green. He managed to be an elite WR last season as a rookie, after a lockout with a rookie QB throwing him the ball. With a full off-season and a year working with QB Andy Dalton under his belt, Green will be the focal point of the Bengals offense. There's very few players in the league who can claim to be far-and-away their team's biggest weapon. Not to mention that A.J. Green is JUST behind Calvin Johnson as far a physical talents go.
So Who Goes Next?
If Maurice Jones-Drew ends his holdout before training camp, he will become a first round pick for me. But I'm really worried about his situation. He knows he's running out of time to get another big contract and the Jaguars have no intention of giving an aging RB elite money to toil away on a rebuilding team.
I'm guessing that your first round would be different from mine? Who am I too high on? Who am I too low on? Feel free to use the comments feature to let me know what you think. Like I said at the beginning, my first round in late August could look different than this. Remember that.
UPDATE: Round 2 has been posted.
Thanks for reading and good luck to you this season. Again, please use the comments feature if you have anything to add or care to ask any relevant fantasy football questions.
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