Third-year tailback Ryan Mathews (1,456 total yards, 6 TDs in 2011) should incur a big bump in red-zone touches with the Chargers this season.
On Tuesday, I participated in my second live mock draft of the summer (12 teams/standard-scoring rules).
Here are the first 48 picks from Tuesday's simulation (with 60 seconds between picks).
(For a complete breakdown of my squad, click here.)
- 1. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
- 2. RB Arian Foster, Texans
- 3. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
- 4. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles (my pick)
- 5. RB Chris Johnson, Titans
- 6. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
- 7. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
- 8. QB Drew Brees, Saints
- 9. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
- 10. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
- 11. TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
- 12. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
- I have no disagreement with the order of the first three running backs—Ray Rice, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy—even though I'd probably go McCoy, Foster and Rice in standard-scoring drafts. Bottom line: As superstars go, it really doesn't matter which asset you end up with high in Round 1; just ride that gut feeling into the crucial swing picks for Rounds 2 and 3.
- I'll be shocked to see Rob Gronkowksi (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs) slide past the 21st pick in any draft; but for Tuesday's mock, 11 seems a bit too high. There aren't many concerns about Gronk's ankle injury from January, and he's a good bet to tally 85 catches for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. But, some fantasy dissenters would argue that New England's plethora of passing options will dilute Gronk's 2012 projections.
- I doubt we'll see many pre-August mock drafts that feature Chris Johnson over Maurice Jones-Drew. When dealing with elite picks, fantasy owners tend to go with the safer option—aka the running back who's coming off the better season. I'm Johnson's biggest fan heading into this season...and yet, it would be unwise to pass on the NFL's reigning rushing king (MJD), who averaged 48 receptions from 2008-11.
- 13. RB Matt Forte, Bears
- 14. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
- 15. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
- 16. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
- 17. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
- 18. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
- 19. WR Roddy White, Falcons
- 20. RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
- 21. QB Cam Newton, Panthers (my pick)
- 22. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
- 23. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
- 24. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
- I love how the owner of the No. 5 slot targeted DeMarco Murray (1,080 total yards, two TDs in nine games last year) as his second back (after Chris Johnson). While I would prefer a value somewhere in the 30s, I could live with Murray as a RB2. The same rule applies to Jamaal Charles. Given his situation (torn ACL last September), fantasy teams should steer clear of building their running game around a medical risk as the workhorse back.
- None of the top-five quarterbacks (Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Stafford, 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 4,757 total yards and 35 touchdowns from last season.
- I don't have a problem with any pick from Round 2. If anything, I'm envious of the values for Darren McFadden (17) and Roddy White (19).
- 25. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
- 26. RB Trent Richardson, Browns
- 27. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
- 28. RB Fred Jackson, Bills (my pick)
- 29. QB Eli Manning, Giants
- 30. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
- 31. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
- 32. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
- 33. WR Victor Cruz, Giants
- 34. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
- 35. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
- 36. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
- I was happy to throw a lifeline to Fred Jackson (2011 leader in yards from scrimmage before getting injured) at No. 28. F-Jax averaged 137.6 total yards (44.2 receiving) and five targets per game last year. Of equal importance, his broken foot has completely healed. Obviously, C.J. Spiller could see a bump in touches, but Jackson is still the engine that drives the Buffalo offense.
- It's long been established that Michael Turner (1,508 total yards, 11 TDs last year) will have little impact on the Falcons' passing game and likely won't break off too many long touchdown runs (the 81-yarder against Tampa Bay notwithstanding). All things considered, Turner's positives far outweigh any concerns that he'll suddenly morph into Shaun Alexander or Larry Johnson (superstars turned overnight mortals) and become a drag on the Atlanta attack. Targets: 1,314 total yards and nine touchdowns.
- After seeing Trent Richardson installed as a top-10 pick in one mock draft, I'm happier to see him "drop" to the mid-20s. As stated many times on The Fantasy Blog, Richardson favorably compares to Adrian Peterson, circa 2007; so if AP was getting drafted in the mid-40s five years ago, shouldn't Richardson have commensurate value before his inaugural NFL season?
- 37. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
- 38. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
- 39. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
- 40. RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins
- 41. WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
- 42. RB Darren Sproles, Saints
- 43. WR Brandon Marshall, Bears
- 44. WR Marques Colston, Saints
- 45. RB Roy Helu, Redskins (my pick)
- 46. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
- 47. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
- 48. QB Peyton Manning, Broncos
- No fantasy expert saw Steve Smith's 2011 resurgence (79 catches, 1,394 yards, seven TDs) coming last summer, just like no one should expect a drop-off in production this season, barring injury. That hubris comes with having Newton at quarterback and Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert running the ball. Simply put, the Panthers are stacked for 2012, but not loaded enough to where they won't rely on Smith for at least 72 catches, 1,175 yards and seven TDs.
- For what it's worth, Julio Jones (54 catches, 959 yards, 8 TDs last year) posted better (or commensurate) rookie numbers than Calvin Johnson (48 catches, 756 yards, 4 TDs in 2007), Larry Fitzgerald (58 catches, 780 yards, 8 TDs in 2004), Andre Johnson (66 catches, 976 yards, 4 TDs in 2003) and even Jerry Rice (49 catches, 927 yards, 3 TDs), perhaps the greatest single player in NFL history. Oh, and Julio accomplished this in just 13 games last season.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.