Philly's LeSean McCoy (1,546 total yards, 20 TD in 2011) reached the tailback-elite threshold of 110 total yards and/or two touchdowns eight times last season.
To break up the monotony of the NFL preseason, I executed three simultaneous mock drafts on Friday morning (12 teams/standard scoring), holding the No. 3 pick each time.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, I intently watched the NFL Network's perpetual airings of exhibition contests...and accepted congratulations for hitting the 1 million mark with readers of The Fantasy Blog.
(Not bad for five months' work...thanks to everyone!)
Here are my results from all three mocks. For those attempting this exercise at home, expect an avalanche of under-the-gun choices to make after Round 2, with only 45 seconds between each selection:
Draft #1—RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Draft #2—RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Draft #3—RB Ray Rice, Ravens
Breakdown: There is zero mystery to drafting immediately out of the 3-spot. Whichever one of the Big Three running backs (Arian Foster, Rice, McCoy) falls to me...that's who I'll grab. For diversification sake, it was nice to land two studs.
Draft #1—QB Cam Newton, Panthers
Draft #2—QB Cam Newton, Panthers
Draft #3—TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Breakdown: I'm not the biggest advocate of going quarterback in Round 1 or 2, unless it's a specific handcuff situation with a high-end receiver (Calvin Johnson/Matthew Stafford). But the 22nd pick is excellent value for Cam Newton, who is coming off the greatest fantasy season for a rookie QB in NFL history (4,757 total yards, 35 TD). Bar none.
Draft #1—RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Draft #2—RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Draft #3—WR Julio Jones, Falcons
Breakdown: I may be a devout supporter of high-end running backs in Round 3...but even I cannot resist the temptation of Julio Jones (54 catches, 959 yards, 8 TD in just 13 games last season) heading into his second NFL campaign. His upside is ridiculous; and thankfully, his value at No. 27 was quite tolerable.
Draft #1—RB Darren Sproles, Saints
Draft #2—WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Draft #3—RB Shonn Greene, Jets
Breakdown: I'm taking a risk in tabbing Shonn Greene (1,265 total yards, 6 TD in 2011) for RB2 fame in standard-scoring leagues. But then again, there was an absurd run on ball carriers early in Draft #3. I opted to stay even with the masses.
Draft #1—WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Draft #2—RB Shonn Greene, Jets
Draft #3—WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Breakdown: In standard-scoring and Points-Per-Reception leagues, I would prefer Dwayne Bowe over Percy Harvin. But in these mocks, I made a concerted effort to experiment with waiting until Round 6 to bag Bowe. The results: 0-for-3. Ouch!
Draft #1—RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Draft #2—WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Draft #3—WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
Draft #1—RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Draft #2—WR Torrey Smith, Ravens
Draft #3—RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Breakdown: 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—WR Kenny Britt, Titans
Draft #3—WR Kenny Britt, Titans
Draft #1—WR Torrey Smith, Ravens
Draft #2—WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
Draft #3—QB Jay Cutler, Bears
Breakdown: At age 33, Reggie Wayne has the goods for at least two highly productive campaigns with rookie Andrew Luck. 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 for per-game averages of 5.5 catches, 71.7 yards and 0.5 TDs. For good measure, he also collected 25 targets in the Colts' final two games.
Draft #1—WR Kenny Britt, Titans
Draft #2—RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Draft #3—WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Breakdown: It wasn't my intention to corral Mikel Leshoure (or Kenny Britt) for all three drafts. But I'd be crazy to pass on an asset with double-digit potential in touchdowns in his first full NFL season. And yes, I'm well aware of Leshoure's off-the-field shortcomings, highlighted by a two-game suspension to start things off. In my mind, though, he has the greatest odds of success in Detroit over Javhid Best, Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Joique Bell. There's a reason why the Lions moved heaven and earth to land Leshoure in the 2011 draft.
Draft #1—TE Fred Davis, Redskins
Draft #2—TE Brent Celek, Eagles
Draft #3—RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Breakdown: In 12 games last year (missed four to suspension), Fred Davis had per-outing averages of 4.9 catches, 66.3 yards, 0.25 TDs and 7.33 targets. He also had a 75-percent success rate of reaching the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 75 yards and/or one touchdown eight times. Bottom line: Davis should have no problem hitting 70 catches, 900 yards and six touchdowns—if he keeps the off-field shenanigans to a minimum.
Draft #1—WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Draft #2—RB Evan Royster, Redskins
Draft #3—RB Evan Royster, Redskins
Draft #1—RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Draft #2—QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Draft #3—QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
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—TE Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Draft #1—QB Christian Ponder, Vikings
Draft #2—TE Coby Fleener, Colts
Draft #3—D/ST Arizona Cardinals
Draft #1—PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
Draft #2—PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers
Draft #3—PK Justin Turner, Ravens
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.