On Tuesday, I participated in my second live mock draft of the summer (ESPN.com/12 teams/standard-scoring rules)—drawing the No. 4 slot.
For most standard-scoring leagues, I adhere to the time-tested principle of four running backs, two receivers and either a high-end quarterback or top-notch tight end in the first seven rounds. But at No. 4, it's sometimes wiser to skip the games of pre-draft chicken and take the best player each time.
Here's my squad and first alternate with each pick. To see the first 48 selections, click here:
Round 1, Pick 4 overall: RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Backup Plan: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Round 2, Pick 21 overall: QB Cam Newton, Panthers
Backup Plan: RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Round 3, Pick 28 overall: RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Backup Plan: WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
Round 4, Pick 45 overall: RB Roy Helu, Redskins
Backup Plan: WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
Round 5, Pick 52 overall: WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
Backup Plan: WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Round 6, Pick 69 overall: WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Backup Plan: RB Jahvid Best, Lions
Round 7, Pick 76 overall: WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Backup Plan: TE Jermichael Finley, Packers
Round 8, Pick 93 overall: RB Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Backup Plan: WR Titus Young, Lions
Round 9, Pick 100 overall: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Backup Plan: RB Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Round 10, Pick 117 overall: WR Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
2nd option: WR Nate Washington, Titans
Round 11, Pick 124 overall: TE Dustin Keller, Jets
Backup Plan: TE Brent Celek, Eagles
Round 12, Pick 141 overall: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Backup Plan: QB Andrew Luck, Colts
Round 13, Pick 148 overall: RB Evan Royster, Redskins
Backup Plan: RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Round 14, Pick 165 overall: D/ST Green Bay Packers
Backup Plan: D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 15, Pick 172 overall: TE Coby Fleener, Colts
Backup Plan: TE Ed Dickson, Ravens
Round 16, Pick 189 overall: PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
Backup Plan: PK Shaun Suisham, Steelers
- LeSean McCoy (my No. 1 overall player) fell into my lap at the 4-spot. McCoy is not likely to replicate his 20 total touchdowns (17 rushing) from last year, but he is a great candidate to eclipse 1,624 total yards—which included 11 games of 100-plus total yards. In fact, I'll be shocked if McCoy comes in under the 1,750-yard threshold, a testament to his expanding role in the Eagles offense.
- There were springtime suggestions that Philly coach Andy Reid wanted to restrict McCoy's touches, a supposed random act of kindness even though Foster (331 touches), Rice (367) and Maurice Jones-Drew (386) crushed McCoy (321) in that category last season. For 2012, I'll buy McCoy for 313 touches...and hopefully 1,600 total yards.
- None of the top-five quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton) should slide past the first 25 picks. As a result, it made sense to abandon plans of taking Jamaal Charles, Fred Jackson, Michael Turner, Trent Richardson and siding with Newton—even if he's hardly a lock to repeat his 4,700-plus total yards and 35 TDs from last season.
- Fred Jackson averaged 137.6 total yards per game last season; and yet, he's being largely ignored by a sizable chunk of fantasy owners who believe he's either on his last legs...or that C.J. Spiller will become the Bills' next 1,200-yard rusher. The first notion is a baseless concern, and the second one would have merit if Jackson were to sustain another serious injury. In the meantime, though, Jackson is a healthy lock for 1,600 total yards and seven TDs over a 16-game season.
- For a second straight mock, I was burned by the specter of waiting too long for Detroit's Jahvid Best, my No. 22 tailback. Last week, I had budgeted for getting Best sometime in the low-90s; for Tuesday's mock, he had been scooped up at No. 75—the highest of any mock simulation or Average Draft Position ranking this offseason.
- My five receivers—Miles Austin, Malcom Floyd, Pierre Garcon, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Laurent Robinson—are all viable candidates for 80 catches and/or seven touchdowns. Floyd ascends to the role of San Diego's WR1 (replacing Vincent Jackson), while catching passes from a QB (Philip Rivers) who's a lock for 4,500 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. Regarding Heyward-Bey (64 catches, 975 yards, 4 TDs in 2011), he amassed 60 targets (and three TDs) in his final six games last year.
- What's my motivation for drafting tight ends Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham high in Round 2 if I can consistently land Brandon Pettigrew or Dustin Keller somewhere in the 120s? Keller (65 catches, 815 yards, 5 TDs last year) is one of the few premium tight ends to incur double-digit bumps in receptions the last two seasons.
- Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves some props for attaining career marks in yards passing (3,832) and TDs (24) last season. But here's the killjoy fact of the day: Fitz tallied zero or one TD in eight of the 16 starts...meaning he single-handedly contributed to at least four or five fantasy losses in 2011. That aside, I'll gladly accept the backup-QB value of the 141st pick.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.