Bears running back Matt Forte racked up 1,487 total yards (or 123.2 per game) and four touchdowns in just 12 games last season.
To break up the monotony of training camp, I executed three simultaneous mock drafts on Wednesday morning (12 teams/standard scoring)—holding the No. 10 pick each time.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, I answered a slew of reader tweets during the blitz and breathlessly watched NFL Network's perpetual coverage of NFL camps—which shockingly didn't provide any insight to what's going on with the Jets' non-competitive quarterback competition.
Here are my results from all three mocks. For those attempting this exercise at home, expect an avalanche of under-the-gun choices after Round 2, with only 45 seconds between each selection:
There's really no mystery to drafting at the 10-spot. Simply let the player with the greatest value fall into your lap. Surprisingly, I was blessed with three stupendous options.
As my No. 7 running back, Darren McFadden (768 total yards, five TDs in just seven games last year) was an easy-cheesy pick in two mocks. And for Draft #2, I secured the Calvin Johnson/Matthew Stafford handcuff, a move that will be replicated in every real draft come August (when applicable). If memory serves, the duo combined for 6,719 yards and 57 touchdowns last year.
Draft #1—RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Draft #2—RB Frank Gore, 49ers
Draft #3—RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Draft #1—WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
Draft #2—RB Michael Turner, Falcons
Draft #3—WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
I completely understand the trepidation with taking Michael Turner in the first three rounds. But with per-season averages of 1,356 rushing yards and 11.5 touchdowns the last two years (4.27 yards per carry), I'm willing to take the Round 4 plunge on a 30-year-old back who can still bulldoze linebackers and defensive backs with relative ease.
Draft #1—WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Draft #2—WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Draft #3—QB Eli Manning, Giants
Dwayne Bowe (20 touchdowns for 2010-11) has been remarkably consistent in targets, catches and receiving yards the last two seasons.
The only wild momentum swing lies with touchdowns, and Bowe is a better bet for 15 TDs than five in 2012. In a perfect world, though, he'll be a Round 6 acquisition (no respect from the masses).
Draft #1—WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Draft #2—RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
Draft #3—WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Extrapolating last year's stats, Jeremy Maclin's 13-game numbers translated to 78 catches, 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tell me you wouldn't take that figure for this season, no questions asked?
Draft #1—RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Draft #2—WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Draft #3—RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
As noted many times in The Fantasy Blog, I fully expect Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to be the NFL's best running back tandem this season. I'm thinking 200 total yards per game.
Draft #1—WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Draft #2—RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Draft #3—WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
At age 33, Reggie Wayne has the goods for at least two highly productive campaigns with rookie Andrew Luck, a potential top-20 quarterback by season's end.
In his last six games in 2011, when Dan Orlovsky brought some stability to Indy's QB problems (without Peyton Manning), Wayne caught 33 balls for 430 yards and three touchdowns—or per-game averages of 5.5 catches, 71.7 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. For good measure, he also collected 25 targets in the Colts' final two games.
Draft #1—QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Draft #2—WR Nate Washington, Titans
Draft #3—WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Draft #1—QB Carson Palmer, Raiders
Draft #2—QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Draft #3—WR Nate Washington, Titans
Given Cam Newton's absurd production from last season (4,757 total yards, 35 TDs), I no longer live in fear of drafting rookie quarterbacks. However, I will only desire Robert Griffin III when already possessing (or on the brink of acquiring) a top-13 veteran quarterback. In these two particular mocks, Matthew Stafford and Carson Palmer are the esteemed handcuffs.
Draft #1—WR Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
Draft #2—TE Jared Cook, Titans
Draft #3—TE Dustin Keller, Jets
Draft #1—TE Dustin Keller, Jets
Draft #2—TE Dustin Keller, Jets
Draft #3—QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
For owners who love to stock up on tailbacks early and often, I would encourage them to wait until Rounds 10, 11 or 12 to fill out the tight end spots. Snagging Dustin Keller (my No. 10 tight end) in all three drafts provides wonderful peace of mind.
Draft #1—TE Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Draft #2—WR Greg Little, Browns
Draft #3—TE Brent Celek, Eagles
There were at least four sustained runs of high-quality receivers in Draft #2. That's why I reached one round too early on Cleveland's Greg Little (61 Catches, 709 Yards, 2 TDs, 120 targets last year).
On the bright side...from Weeks 4-16 last year (spanning 12 games), Little was a perfect 12-for-12 in collecting six or more targets; and for Week 15, the Browns wideout crushed the Cardinals for five receptions, 131 yards and one touchdown.
Draft #1—D/ST Green Bay Packers (my No. 3 D/ST)
Draft #2—D/ST Chicago Bears (my No. 2 D/ST)
Draft #3—D/ST Green Bay Packers
Draft #1—RB Isaiah Pead, Rams
Draft #2—PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
Draft #3—RB Isaiah Pead, Rams
I'll attack this area in greater depth next week, but I have the Rams' Isaiah Pead (1,578 total yards, 15 TDs with the University of Cincinnati last year) slotted to enjoy the third-greatest fantasy impact this season—among rookie tailbacks.
Draft #1—PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
Draft #2—TE Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Draft #3—PK Dan Bailey, Cowboys
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.