Fantasy Football 2012: 7 Players You Need to Draft in Keeper Leagues
Keeper leagues create unique challenges in drafting your fantasy football team. Not only do you need to worry about this season, you also need to worry about future seasons. So when there is a good crop of young players, you need to determine which ones you'd like to have on your roster for as long as your league rules permit.
Since we are dealing with keeper leagues, we need to restrict our attention here to players that were not already kept by another manager in a previous season.
So we will take a look at some players you need to target as keepers in this year's draft. For each position I'll give the best selection and then a surprise one.
Quarterback: Andrew Luck
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Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts was the first overall draft pick this year. He was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in both 2010 and 2011.
He passed for 82 touchdowns in his three years at Stanford. There are great expectations that he will be a rising star in the NFL soon. Only time will tell if the performance will match the hoopla.
But with such high expectations, you need to draft him if he is available after you have your starting lineup selected except for the kicker.
Quarterback: Nick Foles
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Here is a good trivia question to ask at the next party you attend. Who led the Pac-10 conference in overall offense in 2011? Most sports fans will quickly answer, "Andrew Luck." But they will be wrong.
The correct answer in Nick Foles. If you don't believe me you can check out the stats yourself.
Foles could become the Eagles quarterback of the future. He demonstrated the strength of his arm in his first preseason game, when he threw two long touchdown passes.
If Michael Vick stays healthy this year, you clearly won't get much production out of Foles. But if Vick falters or is out with injuries, look for Foles to be next in line. I wouldn't be surprised to see Foles starting permanently for the Eagles by midseason next year or earlier.
Take him in one of the last two rounds if he is still on the board.
Running Back: Trent Richardson
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Trent Richardson was the highest running back drafted since Reggie Bush in 2006. He played on two national championship teams at Alabama. In his senior year, he rushed for 1,697 yards and two touchdowns.
Recent knee surgery will certainly mean a slow start for the season. But you are investing for the long-term.
In a dynasty league, he should be the fourth running back selected after Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy.
Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers
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Yes, there is another Rodgers in the NFL. Jacquizz Rodgers was almost certainly not retained as a keeper last season. But this year is different.
Michael Turner is getting a little long in the tooth, so Rodgers should gradually start to take over more of the workload at running back. With all the defensive attention that the dynamic receivers on the Atlanta Falcons will receive, there should be lots of room for Rodgers to churn up some major rushing yardage this season. I can see him having 50 to 55 pass receptions this season as well.
His average draft position seems to be coming out in the 120 to 125 range. I'd jump ahead of that a round or two and take him when you have all your non-kicker offensive starters selected.
Wide Receiver: Julio Jones
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The Atlanta Falcons gave up five draft picks to be able to select Julio Jones in the 2011 draft.
In his rookie year he had 959 reception yards and eight touchdowns. His rank at the end of last season was somewhere around 60 depending on the league scoring scheme. So maybe he wasn't a keeper in a typical league that allows three keepers per team.
This year his preseason rank is around 30, which highlights the expectations of progress that there are for him. I certainly agree with the expectations and might take him even a little higher than this. The Falcons offense should make him more valuable now and in the future than another second-year receiver, A.J. Green.
Wide Receiver: Brian Quick
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The St. Louis Rams drafted Brian Quick this year with the first pick of the second round. The wide receiver out of Appalachian State stands 6'4" and weighs 220 pounds. He had 20 TD receptions in his last two years in college.
It is easy to see him becoming Sam Bradford's favorite target by the middle of the year.
He seems to be going undrafted in a high percentage of drafts so far. Don't let this happen in your league. Snag him with a late pick.
Tight End: Coby Fleener
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It is a rare tight end that is worth keeping. Surely the two premier tight ends, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski were kept last year. So the question is, which tight end should be drafted this year with an eye towards him becoming a keeper.
Coby Fleener was taken by the Indianapolis Colts with the 34th overall pick this year. In his last two years at Stanford, he caught 17 touchdown passes.
And who was his quarterback at Stanford? Andrew Luck.
And which NFL team does Luck now play for? Aha, you get it!
If you don't get one of the premier TEs, just be patient and take Fleener later. You might be pleasantly surprised and might decide to make him a keeper.