Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down Round 3 in a 12-Team PPR League

John Miller@SportsSomethingCorrespondent IIIJune 28, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down Round 3 in a 12-Team PPR League

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    The deeper you get into a draft, the more your strategy will shift. That's because of who you've already drafted. So it's natural that drafts will veer away from rankings as teams look to fill their starting lineups with players from various positions.

    Especially in a PPR league, I'm not going to completely hate if you wind up with WRs for your first three selections. It's not a terribly "safe" way to go, but I can see how it could happen.

    On the flip side, if you walk out of Round 3 having not yet drafted a RB, you're going to be in trouble. I don't foresee a multitude of scenarios where you wind up with two RBs through three rounds, but I think that you need to try to get at least one RB fairly early. The RB position falls off of a cliff quickly, and if you don't get one of the top backs you will be playing catch-up at the position all year long.

    Once the top tiers of QBs and TEs are drafted, expect there to be a massive run on WRs while any remaining high-upside RBs are snatched up. Again, this is probably too early to reach for a player with significant injury/medical risk. There are enough solid options that you should be waiting until at least Round 5 or 6 before even thinking about pulling that trigger.

    For reference, I will be listing each player's Expert Consensus Ranking - PPR as determined by Fantasy Pros.

    Check out the slideshows for Round 1 and Round 2.

Results from the Previous Rounds

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    ROUND 1

    1. LeSean McCoy (RB - PHI)
    2. Arian Foster (RB - HOU)
    3. Calvin Johnson (WR - DET)
    4. Ray Rice (RB - BAL)
    5. Ryan Matthews (RB - SD)
    6. Larry Fitzgerald (WR - ARI)
    7. Aaron Rodgers (QB - GB)
    8. Tom Brady (QB - NE)
    9. Rob Gronkowski (TE - NE)
    10. Jimmy Graham (TE - NO)
    11. Drew Brees (QB - NO)
    12. A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

    ROUND 2

    1. Chris Johnson (RB - TEN)
    2. Wes Welker (WR - NE)
    3. Roddy White (WR - ATL)
    4. Greg Jennings (WR - GB)
    5. Andre Johnson (WR - HOU)
    6. Maurice Jones-Drew (RB - JAC)
    7. Marshawn Lynch (RB - SEA)
    8. Victor Cruz (WR - NYG)
    9. Brandon Marshall (WR - CHI)
    10. DeMarco Murray (RB - DAL)
    11. Trent Richardson (RB - CLE)
    12. Darren Sproles (RB - NO)

Round 3, Pick 1: Hakeem Nicks (WR: NYG)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 24 (PPR)


    What can you say about Hakeem Nicks these days? If he stays healthy, he will produce as a low-end WR1 with nice upside. But he's getting into Donovan McNabb/Brian Westbrook territory where you can't count on him for more than 12 games in a fantasy season.

    But with Eli Manning at the helm and Victor Cruz drawing coverage, there's no reason that Nicks shouldn't once again post some amazing individual fantasy games. I don't expect his preseason injury to affect his fantasy draft stock unless he has a setback.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - LeSean McCoy (RB - PHI)

    Round 2 - Darren Sproles (RB - NO)

Round 3, Pick 2: Julio Jones (WR: ATL)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 25 (PPR)


    There is some PPR risk here in that Jones might not catch as many passes as you would like. But every indicator light is flashing because Homer Simpson is asleep at the controls. There is a touch of injury risk here, but the upside is tremendous.

    The Falcons are shifting to more of a pass-first offense and Roddy White himself has said that he expects to lose targets to Jones. He also said that Jones getting the ball more would help the Falcons offense. He is an explosive receiver in the mold of Mike Wallace. With White on the other side, he should see single coverage and No. 2 CBs (cornerbacks) more often than not.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Arian Foster (RB - HOU)

    Round 2 - Trent Richardson (RB - CLE)

Round 3, Pick 3: Matt Forte (RB: CHI)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 18 (PPR)


    Forte won't hold out into the regular season. He doesn't have enough leverage and he hasn't banked that much money (in NFL terms) so far in his career. But Michael Bush will steal goal line carries and Kahlil Bell has proved himself worth a few touches.

    But Forte still has excellent PPR upside and he can take a short pass or carry for a long gain more often than most NFL RBs. The health risk is always present with Forte, but he represents an excellent value in fantasy drafts if he makes it past Round 2.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Calvin Johnson (WR - DET)

    Round 2 - DeMarco Murray (RB - DAL)

Round 3, Pick 4: Jordy Nelson (WR: GB)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 32 (PPR)


    Nelson is billed as a deep threat, but he still sees consistent targets in one of the three best passing games in the NFL. With players like Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley drawing coverage, Nelson has excellent opportunities to get open deep or to turn a short pass into a long game by making one defender miss a tackle.

    Fantasy-wise, he will have some "dud" games, but so will every player on an elite offense. That's the price of having an elite QB. They will throw it to whoever is open or whoever has the best match-up. Nelson could prove to be a bit of a reach here, but he feels "safer" than some of the other remaining options with similar upside.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Ray Rice (RB - BAL)

    Round 2 - Brandon Marshall (WR - CHI)

Round 3, Pick 5: Darren McFadden (RB: OAK)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 13 (PPR)


    Darren McFadden terrifies me this year. His injury history is well-documented. He lacks a solid handcuff. The Raiders are going away from the zone-blocking running scheme that he prospered in. But we've all seen what he can do, when healthy.

    The Raiders are set up with a nice schedule and what could be a good deep-passing game. McFadden can thrive in the passing game as well as in play-action situations. If he can stay on the field, he can return RB1, first-round value. But the injury risk is MAJOR.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Ryan Matthews (RB - SD)

    Round 2 - Victor Cruz (WR - NYG)

Round 3, Pick 6: Mike Wallace (WR: PIT)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 28 (PPR)


    I doubt Mike Wallace will hold out into training camp. It would cost him a ton of money and he hasn't made all that much (in NFL terms) so far in his career. He looks doomed to have to play out the season under his tender offer.

    But Wallace is one of the premier deep threats in the game and he has excellent chemistry with QB Ben Roethlisberger. The presence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders should only help his cause. He will take a bit of a hit in PPR leagues due to a lower than desired number of receptions, but he has WR1 upside in all formats.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Larry Fitzgerald (WR - ARI)

    Round 2 - Marshawn Lynch (RB - SEA)

Round 3, Pick 7: Percy Harvin (WR: MIN)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 37 (PPR)


    Percy Harvin was a top-10 fantasy WR in all formats when anybody not named Donovan McNabb was under center for the Vikings last season. And he wants to get the ball more. Will that happen? His snap count and touches/targets could increase slightly, but he's better when he plays fresh.

    With Adrian Peterson coming off of a knee injury, Harvin will be the focal point of the Vikings offense. His kick return duties may decrease, but that should only help his fantasy (and injury) prospects. The Vikings will move him around the field, including lining him up in the backfield. Despite his small stature, Harvin is a nice red-zone threat for the Vikings, much like Darren Sproles.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Aaron Rodgers (QB - GB)

    Round 2 - Maurice Jones-Drew (RB - JAC)

Round 3, Pick 8: Ahmad Bradshaw (RB: NYG)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 45 (PPR)


    When Bradshaw has been the "lead-dog" for the Giants running game, he has put up RB1 fantasy numbers. He does have a ton of injury risk, but so do most RBs available at this point. The Giants offense line should improve from last season and Brandon Jacobs isn't around to steal touches at the goal line.

    Pay attention to Bradshaw in the preseason and be sure to handcuff him as well as you can. But at this point in the draft, I feel he is a better option than Frank Gore, Steven Jackson or Reggie Bush.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Tom Brady (QB - NE)

    Round 2 - Andre Johnson (WR - HOU)

Round 3, Pick 9: Jamaal Charles (RB: KC)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 22 (PPR)


    I'm really skeptical about taking a player coming off of ACL surgery this early. Especially with Peyton Hillis likely to play the "Thomas Jones" role for the Chiefs this season. But even with a slow start, Charles could be a huge asset later in the fantasy season.

    You might only get RB2/Flex value for the first half of the year, but once he rounds into form, Charles could be what we all thought he would be last season when he was a first-round fantasy pick. This is a risky selection, but with Gronkowski and Jennings feeling fairly "safe," I can gamble a bit here.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Rob Gronkowski (TE - NE)

    Round 2 - Greg Jennings (WR - GB)

Round 3, Pick 10: Dez Bryant (WR: DAL)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 33 (PPR)


    The expectation is that Dez Bryant will take over the role as the No. 1 target (and focal point) in the Dallas passing game. He certainly has the talent to do so. With Laurent Robinson leaving town, even a healthy Miles Austin shouldn't cut into Bryant's targets/production.

    Again, this is a risky pick. But Bryant has the potential to be a top-5 fantasy WR in the Cowboys offense if the chips fall correctly. With Jimmy Graham and Roddy White on board, I can gamble on the upside of Bryant and look to grab a RB on the swing pick.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Jimmy Graham (TE - NO)

    Round 2 - Roddy White (WR - ATL)

Round 3, Pick 11: Steve Smith (WR: CAR)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 35 (PPR)


    Does Smith have top-five WR upside at this point? Nope. But when you take a QB early, you have to make some sacrifices later in the draft. If I miss on a RB or WR here, I'm way behind the eight ball. In a PPR league, Smith is almost a lock to be a top-15 WR as long as he stays healthy.

    Cam Newton should only improve with more offseason work and more game experiences. The running game will make the play-action game a weapon for the Panthers. Smith might not put up the eye-popping numbers he did early in 2011, but he's a solid low-end WR1 with less risk than many of the other options available.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Drew Brees (QB - NO)

    Round 2 - Wes Welker (WR - NE)

Round 3, Pick 12: Cam Newton (QB: CAR)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 31 (PPR)


    Since this team has two straight picks, the order of the two really doesn't matter. But if you want to grab Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford, you have to do it here. With a solid WR1 and RB1 on board already, I can go with a "best player available" strategy here.

    I don't think Newton matches his obscene rushing TD total from last season, but he has a shot to exceed what we all thought Mike Vick could do last season when he was a first-round pick in many fantasy leagues. If you took Stafford here, I wouldn't blame you. But I feel that Newton has a better chance of exceeding his 2011 numbers than Stafford does. Plus, he is less of an injury risk.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

    Round 2 - Chris Johnson (RB - TEN)

On to Round 4

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    Remember, this is a draft. So I'm not just listing players in the order I would rank them. Who a team has previously selected will absolutely impact who they draft next, especially this early in the draft. Late in the draft you might want to go with more of a "best player available" philosophy.

    Round 3 will generally be filled with RBs and WRs, with the occasional QB thrown in. Typically, I want to walk out of Round 3 with three RBs/WRs, unless I wind up with one of the top tier QBs or TEs. Hitting on your third-round pick can sometimes be more important than you think.

    Players available in this round typically have excellent upside, but with some serious questions for one reason or another. If you can correctly figure out which players to draft from this group, that can go a long way towards propelling you into the playoffs.


    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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