Cowboys tailback DeMarco Murray (915 total yards, 2 TD from Weeks 7-12 last year) would be a nice coup as the 31st pick in standard-scoring drafts.
On Wednesday night I partook in the "Bleacher Report: Atlanta" league draft (10 teams/standard-scoring rules), drawing the No. 10 slot.
For 12-team leagues, I usually adhere to the time-tested 4/2/1 method of four running backs, two receivers and then a quarterback or tight end for Rounds 1-7, depending on value. But with 10-teamers, it's all about stockpiling as many high-scoring assets as possible, knowing they'll be in great demand once the season begins.
In other words, if I have the opportunity to land six premium backs in the first 51 overall picks...so be it.
We also added a second flex vacancy in the starting lineup, which could be filled by running backs, receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks. Basically, we brought a little Thunderdome-style chaos to a seemingly routine draft experience.
Here's my squad and first alternate with each pick. To see the entire draft, this link might work:
Round 1, Pick 10 overall: RB Chris Johnson, Titans
Backup Plan: RB Matt Forte, Bears
Round 2, Pick 11 overall: RB Matt Forte, Bears
Backup Plan: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Round 3, Pick 30 overall: RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Backup Plan: RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
Round 4, Pick 31 overall: RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
Backup Plan: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Round 5, Pick 50 overall: WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
Backup Plan: WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Round 6, Pick 51 overall: QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
Backup Plan: QB Peyton Manning, Broncos
Round 7, Pick 70 overall: WR Kenny Britt, Titans
Backup Plan: WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
Round 8, Pick 71 overall: WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
Backup Plan: WR Eric Decker, Broncos
Round 9, Pick 90 overall: RB Roy Helu, Redskins
Backup Plan: RB Donald Brown, Colts
Round 10, Pick 91 overall: WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
2nd option: WR Titus Young, Lions
Round 11, Pick 110 overall: QB Carson Palmer, Raiders
Backup Plan: QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Round 12, Pick 111 overall: TE Fred Davis, Redskins
Backup Plan: RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Round 13, Pick 130 overall: RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Backup Plan: RB Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Round 14, Pick 131 overall: D/ST Buffalo Bills
Backup Plan: D/ST Detroit Lions
Round 15, Pick 150 overall: PK Alex Henery, Eagles
Backup Plan: PK Dan Bailey, Cowboys
Round 16, Pick 151 overall: TE Brent Celek, Eagles
Backup Plan: TE Jacob Tamme, Broncos
- Chris Johnson (1,465 total yards, 4 TD) posted seven games of 100 total yards or more last season; he also recorded season highs in targets (79) and receptions (57). Put it all together, and it's enough to make one believe the 26-year-old speedster will rebound in a major way in 2012. He simply has too much talent to be...just above average. Seasonal targets: 1,764 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
- Matt Forte (1,487 total yards, 4 TD in just 12 games) should firmly rank as a top-six tailback and Round 1 lock in standard-scoring and PPR drafts. If fully healthy, he would have flirted with 2,000 total yards last season.
- On pure talent alone, Jamaal Charles (1,935 total yards, 8 TD in 2010) is a Round 1 fixture, but some owners may be skittish to reach for him on draft day, citing his ACL tear in Week 2 against Detroit last year. There are also (legitimate) concerns of how RB Peyton Hillis (free-agent acquisition) might cut into Charles' rushing and receiving attempts. Of course, these may be the same owners champing at the bit for Adrian Peterson's Week 1 odyssey—even though Charles had a three-month head start of recovery time. Go figure.
- My four wide receivers—Jordy Nelson, Kenny Britt, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon—each have the capacity for 85 catches and/or eight touchdowns this season. We'll see what happens with Britt's potential suspension, but it was good value at that slot.
- I intentionally grabbed four receivers and six running backs in this draft, as a means of buying time before free agent Jerome Simpson (three-game suspension) returns to the Vikings lineup. Basically, it allows for Mikel Leshoure and Roy Helu to battle it out for a permanent spot as the No. 5 tailback. As a backup plan to Simpson, I'll covet Bills WR Donald Jones (a hidden gem for 2012) sometime around Weeks 3 and 4.
- DeMarco Murray at 31? Yahtzee!
- After a rough start, Carson Palmer acquitted himself nicely last year with the Raiders (2,753 yards, 14 TD in just nine starts), despite little practice time or intimate knowledge of his receivers. The main source of my 2012 optimism lies with burgeoning talents like Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones, Jacoby Ford and Palmer's annual knack for eclipsing the 60-percent passing mark. Looking for the most stable mid-round QB in platoon situations? Palmer might be the best asset in that realm.
- 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.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.