Fantasy Football: One Player to Draft in Each Round to Win Your League
If 2012's fantasy football final-scoring standings looked exactly like your typical ADP board or mock draft, there'd be no point in playing this fickle game.
There will be players in the first round that are less valuable than players you picked in the fourth round. Or the seventh round. Even still, there will be first-round picks that will be the cornerstone of your team, and seventh round picks that make you stay up all night scouring the waiver wire to get a flex-play for the weekend.
Here are ten players that you can draft across the board, regardless of round, that will outperform their draft expectations and your opponent's team on a weekly basis.
Round 1: Chris Johnson
CJ2K is currently going, according to FFToolBox, as the No.7 player overall. That's pretty low for someone who has the potential to finish as the No.1 back.
His poor performance in 2011 can be attributed to his slow start after a holdout. He eclipsed the century mark in rushing just once in his first ten weeks and exceeded four yards per carry just twice in that same span.
He looked much better later in the season, piling up 75 percent of his season's rushing production from Week 10 onwards. In three games in which he received 20 carries or more, he produced 23, 19 and 28 fantasy points.
There is no holdout this year, and CJ will be primed to carry the load as he's hungry to prove he still belongs in the conversation for the best back in the league.
Round 2: A.J. Green
A.J. Green is going in the late 2nd round in 12-teamers and early 3rd in 10-teamers, according to FFToolbox. This is outrageous given Green's height, speed, status as a No.1 wideout and overall talent and ability.
He's a deep threat with spectacular jump-ball skills and otherworldly hands. He put up over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in a season where he and Andy Dalton had virtually no preparation due to the lockout and his route-running wasn't polished.
If this is his basement, it's going to be scary to see what AJ Green's ceiling could potentially be.
Round 3: Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is attempting to put his legal troubles behind him, and he's been doing so by developing a great rapport with quarterback Tony Romo. I had the pleasure of watching him in Dallas Cowboys' camp and he is an absolute man among boys.
He's making terrible throws seem catchable and embarrassing Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in practice. He was 18th at the receiver position last season, despite playing hurt, having a shockingly low number of red-zone targets (fourth on his own team!) and still being very unpolished in route running or having knowledge of the playbook.
Dez Bryant will be a classic case of the third-year wide receiver breakout this year.
Round 4: Brandon Lloyd
Brandon Lloyd will vastly outperform the last man to wear No.85 in Foxborough, that's for sure. I know I'm beating drums of a lot of wideouts, but Lloyd has never produced anything less than a 1,000 yard season under Josh McDaniels.
He was the No.1 receiver in fantasy two years ago under McDaniels, and those was with Kyle Orton under center. I'd say Tom Brady represents somewhat of an upgrade there, right?
The worry you have with Lloyd is that there are too many weapons in New England and Brady won't be going to him consistently enough for him to be a reliable fantasy commodity.
Brady thrives with a deep threat, and Lloyd is the new vertical guy in town. At worst, he's putting up 1,000 yards. At best, he's doing something beginning to approach Randy Moss' 2007 season.
Round 5: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
The good news for the Law Firm is that he's a short yardage and touchdown specialist, having scored 24 times in his last two seasons while playing in New England's timeshare. In Cincinnati, he is the unquestioned lead-back and will get 20 carries a game in 2012.
The bad news for the Law Firm is that the Bengals visited the red zone half as many times as New England last season and have had trouble producing a rusher who can consistently average four yards a carry.
But at Round 5, the price is worth the risk. He'll be steady, but unspectacular and in a thin pool of running backs, there aren't many sure things out there.
Round 6: Eric Decker
Eric Decker looked like a top-20 receiver last season early on, despite playing out of position in the slot as opposed to split out wide. That was one obstacle his polished route-running and size were able to overcome.
What he wasn't able to overcome was the ridiculousness of Tim Tebow.
As we all know, Peyton Manning is in town now. Whether you believe Manning will be the former All-Pro he used to be, we know that at his peak, Peyton has always been conducive to multiple 1,000-yard receivers on one team.
I believe Decker will make the biggest impact given his route-running skills and how fast and athletic he is. Some believe that he will be running intermediate routes and Demaryius Thomas is the deep threat. I find that hard to believe since the Broncos added Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen, two tight ends, to fill the short route role.
People forget Decker is 6'3'', 218, and runs a 4.4 40. Those are traits of an explosive deep threat.
Round 7: Philip Rivers
I really have seen Philip Rivers go as low as 70 in standard drafts? Really? This guy was easily a top-five quarterback before last year's high-turnover laden campaign.
Many people forgot that this is a guy who had over 4,600 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. He'll push 5,000 this season, and we expect a regression to the mean for his abnormally high turnover rate.
Round 8: Malcom Floyd
And here's the guy he'll be throwing to. Antonio Gates is always an end zone threat and a top tight end, but there was always room for Vincent Jackson with him around. Jackson, on the other hand, is gone, and Floyd will fill his spot.
It was speculated that Vincent Brown could have taken away some of the deep shots, but he got hurt on a 18-yard touchdown pass in the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys.
Robert Meachem has also never been more than a fourth option in the Saints offense, while Floyd has experience with Rivers and Norv Turner's system.
Round 9: Jacob Tamme
In the season where Dallas Clark missed a good chunk of the year, Jacob Tamme emerged as one of the top tight ends by posting 631 yards on 67 catches, with four touchdowns to boot.
No quarterback in the last five years has completed more passes to his tight end than Drew Brees. The second is none other than Peyton Manning, who will be throwing to Tamme, again, hoping to recreate that magic they had in 2010.
And the only reason Manning is second is because he missed a whole season worth of games last year.
Round 10: Randy Moss
Why not? It's the tenth round, and if you're lucky, Randy Moss is engaged and bought into the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, the Alex Smith part is concerning and Randy is getting up there in age.
But in the tenth round, you're usually getting throwaways like rookies, whatever handcuffs remain and meaningless bench fodder.
It's highly likely you could end up with nothing. But if there's a sliver of a chance that the old Randy Moss is in there, you've got something big.