Fantasy Football 2012: The Best Value Pick at Every Position
As you participate in your fantasy football draft, you usually have a cheat sheet nearby and cross the picks off as they go by. Then, when it’s your turn, you often find yourself picking the best available player left while also, obviously, fitting need into the equation.
While in theory that is a practical approach, the draft is all about value.
When should you grab your stud running back, or when do you finally pull the trigger on selecting a tight end?
The answers to these questions are based on value and how the draft is shaping up. So, in this slideshow I will run over the best value at each position (1 QB, 2 RB’s, 2 WR’s, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST) and where they should fall in most 10-12 team leagues.
QB: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
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With Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner as his weapons, you would think Ryan would get more love.
Now entering his fifth year, Ryan is primed for a breakout season. With Turner wearing down and the fact that the Falcons want to incorporate Jacquizz Rodgers more into the mix, the Falcons will likely become more of a passing team than they already are.
With White still being one of the game’s best receivers and Jones only about to get better, expect career numbers across the board for Ryan.
The best part is Ryan could last until the sixth or seventh round, where if you passed on the elite quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Tom Brady etc.) early, you would get tremendous value by waiting on a guy like Ryan.
RB: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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I have gushed about Martin before, and I just think the rookie is a perfect fit for Bucs' first-year head coach Greg Schiano's offense.
Schiano once coached Ray Rice in college, and I can’t help think of the similarities in Rice’s and Martin’s games. They are both built like Ram trucks and have low centers of gravity, which give them a great burst out of the backfield.
And like Rice, Martin is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield.
Martin undoubtedly should be targeted as a No.2 running back with potential for much more. While fellow rookie Trent Richardson will go a lot earlier than Martin in drafts, Martin possesses the best value and can conceivably be had in rounds four or five.
RB: Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings
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The feeling here is that Adrian Peterson will not be fully healthy all year and that Gerhart will be thrust into more game action. Gerhart showed last year he can be a productive back if given the chance.
The Vikings will be cautious with Peterson, and they will try to keep him fresh by including Gerhart more into the game plan. While you like to think that Peterson can hold up a full season after suffering serious injuries not more than seven months ago, there is a very good chance he’ll miss some time.
That being said, if you draft Peterson (or even if you don’t), Gerhart will be a great value pick in Rounds 7 or 8.
WR: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
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If Michael Vick can stay healthy, then the Eagles can be in for a great rebound season. If that's the case, one of the main beneficiaries could be Jackson (and Jeremy Maclin for that matter too).
Now that he has signed an extension, Jackson should be able to avoid all the distractions that plagued him last year. And with the Eagles not having to live up to so much hype (as they had to last year when they were lauded as the “Dream Team”), Jackson, Vick and company will have a lot of weight off their shoulders and could go back to just playing their game.
Jackson has a great chance to play like a No.1 receiver again, but he’ll likely last until Rounds 4 or 5 in most drafts. Hence, Jackson should give you great bang for your buck.
WR: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
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If you have read any of my columns before, you should know the love I harbor for Brown.
Brown had a fantastic season last year; he just didn’t rack up the touchdowns.
Expect Ben Roethlisberger to look to Brown on many more occasions this year, which should only help his touchdown possibilities. While Mike Wallace is the better wide receiver in Pittsburgh (granted he even re-signs with them), Brown offers more value and upside.
Expect to see Brown available in Rounds 7 or 8.
TE: Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
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The Lions have fully morphed into a passing juggernaut, and with Stafford just about to enter his prime, don’t expect anything to change in Motown.
While Pettigrew’s 2011 stats were not eye-popping (83 receptions for 777 yards and five touchdowns), they were solid. It’s just that he, and many other members of the Lions’ offense, were overshadowed by the exploits of Calvin Johnson.
Expect the Lions’ offense to be more balanced, and besides, with the season Johnson just had, expect more teams to double and triple-team him, leaving guys like Pettigrew to find seams in the crack.
Pettigrew is a late round flier to gamble on as he should be available in Rounds 11 or 12.
K: Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
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Obviously, most astute fantasy owners will wait until the final two rounds to snatch a kicker and one of the best remaining kickers who may be available at the end of the draft could be Gould.
Gould is one of the most accurate kickers in the game and with the Bears' offense becoming more diverse with the additions of Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush and Alshon Jeffery, expect the Bears to move the ball better and give Gould more chances to put up points.
D/ST: Buffalo Bills
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Just like at kicker, a lot of savvy fantasy owners will wait until the last couple of rounds to find a value defense.
Well, then if that is your strategy, you should try the Buffalo Bills D/ST on for size.
Ever since they signed Mario Williams in the offseason, the Bills have made a recommitment to defense, and with the signing of Mark Anderson, as well as the drafting of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the Bills will be a sleeper D/ST unit who could be had in the final rounds in most drafts.
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