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Fantasy Football 2012: The Calvin Johnson Experiment

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions warms up during the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIAugust 21, 2012

Calvin Johnson is the consensus No. 1 fantasy WR entering 2012. If you have the No. 1 overall pick and want Johnson on your team, then No. 1 is where you’ll have to take him.

Is that too early? How early is "too early?"

Ultimately, it’s your fantasy football team. And if your fantasy is to have the guy they call Megatron on your squad, then you’ll have to use your first-round pick to get him.

If you decide to use the No. 1 overall pick to get Johnson, be prepared for your draft room to be surprised (at the very least), but your fantasy year isn’t over if you select the Georgia Tech product in the first round.

My Megatron draft strategy hinges on getting two running backs at your first double-selection turn, waiting on quarterback and tight end and building as much RB/WR depth as you can in the later rounds.

I strongly suggest doing mock drafts of your own prior to draft day, but here’s an example of what you can expect from drafting Calvin Johnson first overall (based on an mock draft).


Rounds 1-3

1. (Pick 1) Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

2. (Pick 20) Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams

3. (Pick 21) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

If you can get two top-15 running backs at your first turn of the draft, you’ve already nestled yourself back into what I suggest is the preferred draft strategy for 2012. I’m looking to draft (at least) two running backs within the first four rounds in every league I can this year.

But if that doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t reach for a running back here. Instead, I’d look to a guy like Julio Jones or a top-5 QB (Newton or Stafford, assuming Rodgers, Brady and Brees are off the board).


Rounds 4-5

4. (Pick 40) Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

5. (Pick 41) Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Despite looking to add a third running back for the flex position, I went best players available here. At the second turn, you can expect for at least Harvin to be available, and you’ll have to take him here if you want him. Nelson slipped a bit as well, so I ended up with two more top-10 receivers.


Rounds 6-9

6. (Pick 60) Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7. (Pick 61) Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts

8. (Pick 80) Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans

9. (Pick 81) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

I found two great bench options at the third turn at running back in Martin and Brown, with Harvin likely occupying my flex spot most weeks. The two runners also provide good insurance in case Adrian Peterson suffers a setback on his ACL recovery.

At the fourth turn, I went with the upside plays in Kenny Britt (first WR on bench) and Robert Griffin III as my starting quarterback.


Rounds 10-11

10. (Pick 100) Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

11. (Pick 101) Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts

I answered the upside plays of Rounds 8 and 9 with the solid—if unspectacular—Cutler and Wayne.


Rounds 12-16

12. (Pick 120) Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

13. (Pick 121) Eagles D/ST

14. (Pick 140) Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals

15. (Pick 141) Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts

16. (Pick 160) Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis Rams

In the final rounds, I went with more young upside guys. If they work out, great! If they don’t, they can be dropped.


The Final Roster

QB Robert Griffin III

RB Steven Jackson

RB Adrian Peterson

WR Calvin Johnson

WR Jordy Nelson

WR Percy Harvin

TE Coby Fleener

D/ST Eagles

K Greg Zuerlein

Bench: Jay Cutler, Doug Martin, Donald Brown, Ryan Williams, Kenny Britt, Reggie Wayne, Justin Blackmon

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