On Sunday, I participated in Mock Draft Central's experts' PPR mock draft (12 teams), drawing the No. 9 slot.
Here are the first 48 picks from Sunday's simulation (with 60 seconds between picks):
(For a complete breakdown of my squad, click here.)
1. RB Arian Foster, Texans
2. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
3. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
5. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
6. RB Trent Richardson, Browns
7. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
8. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
9. RB Chris Johnson, Titans (my pick)
10. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
11. RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
12. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
- Take a picture...because you'll never see another Points Per Reception draft where the first seven picks are running backs. That rationale wouldn't even hold water during the "workhorse" era of running backs (2000-04), let alone for today's pass-heavy NFL. God knows I was hoping to end the string of backs by landing Calvin Johnson at No. 9, but ultimately settled for a tailback, Chris Johnson, who'll rack up 1,700 total yards and eight TDs this season. Book it!
- With all due respect to my fellow owners, Trent Richardson has no business being selected in Round 1 of a non-keeper draft, especially PPR ones. For his junior year at Alabama, Richardson had per-game averages of 2.2 catches/26 receiving yards.
- Along those lines, it's way too early for anyone to take Adrian Peterson in Round 1 this summer. Of course, he'd be an elite choice if he hadn't suffered a serious knee injury last December, but no one can speak, with total confidence about his fate in the next three months. Not even the Vikings coaches can swear, with hand on Bible, that Peterson will be or won't be on the PUP list before Week 1.
13. QB Drew Brees, Saints
14. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
15. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
16. RB Matt Forte, Bears (my pick)
17. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
18. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
19. QB Cam Newton, Panthers
20. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
21. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
22. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
23. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
24. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
- On pure talent alone, Jamaal Charles is a Round 1 fixture, but some owners may be skittish to reach for him on draft day, citing his ACL tear in Week 2 against Detroit last year while also wondering how RB Peyton Hillis (free-agent acquisition) might cut into Charles' rushing and receiving attempts. Bottom line: If you believe Charles (1,935 total yards, eight TDs in 2010) can quickly recapture his old speed, quickness and explosion, you'll be happy to invest a mid-Round 2 pick.
- Michael Turner hasn't caught 20 balls in any of his eight NFL seasons (San Diego, Atlanta). So to avoid disaster with this mock pick, Turner owners will need another campaign of 1,300 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns.
- A.J. Green certainly isn't a bad pick at No. 24. But from my view in the bleachers, he doesn't have the PPR ceiling of Andre Johnson, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White or even Giants wideout Victor Cruz. Luckily, Green's owner was smart enough to buttress that selection with Andre Johnson.
25. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
26. TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
27. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
28. RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers
29. WR Brandon Marshall, Bears
30. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
31. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
32. RB Darren Sproles, Saints
33. WR Roddy White, Falcons (my pick)
34. RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins
35. WR Victor Cruz, Giants
36. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
- In 2011, Victor Cruz registered 12 games of eight targets or more—including 10 straight from Weeks 8-17. If Giants teammate Hakeem Nicks should miss two, four or six games to start the season (via the PUP list), I will buy Cruz's capacity for 82 catches and 131 targets in 2012—no strings attached. Giants QB Eli Manning boasted per-game averages of 36.8 pass attempts last season, a figure that hovered above 40 after Week 4.
37. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals
38. RB Isaac Redman, Steelers
39. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
40. WR Jordy Nelson, Packers (my pick)
41. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
42. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
43. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
44. RB James Starks, Packers
45. RB Shonn Greene, Jets
46. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
47. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
48. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
- Julio Jones drew seven or more targets seven times last year. He even reached double figures three times, including a 17-target explosion against Seattle (11 catches/127 yards). In his final six games, Jones racked up 31 catches, 525 yards, six TDs and 51 targets—for per-outing averages of five catches, 87 yards, one TD and 8.5 targets. All told, Jones accomplished more as a 13-game rookie wideout than Jerry Rice (1985), Larry Fitzgerald (2004) and Calvin Johnson (2007).
Jordy Nelson crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 100 yards and/or one touchdown 10 times last season. He also recorded 10 games of six or more receiving targets. With multiple-touchdown games last year, Nelson has a proven track record of carrying fantasy teams to victory in head-to-head matchups. If Jordy can rack up double-digit touchdowns for back-to-back campaigns, he'll have no problem achieving top-10 status by season's end.
- My Round 5 pick, Dwayne Bowe (81 catches, 1,159 yards, 5 TDs, 142 targets last year), has been remarkably consistent in targets, catches and receiving yards the last two seasons. The wild momentum swing lies with touchdowns, and Bowe is a better bet for 15 touchdowns than five in 2012.
- I lost a game of draft chicken on Percy Harvin sliding to me in Round 5...damn!
- Miles Austin averaged 75 catches, 1,181 yards, nine touchdowns and 122 targets during the healthy seasons of 2009 and '10. Before his hamstring injuries kicked in last year, Austin pulled down 14 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns for Weeks 1 and 2. He also tallied 12 targets per game during that stretch.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.