2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Early-Round Guys to Avoid Taking in Your Draft

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2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Early-Round Guys to Avoid Taking in Your Draft
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For competitive fantasy football players, the absolute worst feeling is being out of contention early in the season.

All those hours you spent away from your family scouring the latest news on the players to draft, forwarding made-up websites with fake injuries to your league-mates and ribbing on your friends is all wasted.

Come playoff time, you'll be sitting with the guy in your league who still thinks Willie Parker is the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting running back.

All of it based on simply drafting the wrong players.

Well, if you've been keeping up, we have a ton of coverage here at Bleacher Report to make sure you don't become that guy.

Today, we're focusing on the most vital part of your draft: the early rounds. This is where one wrong move can single-handedly submarine your entire season.

With that in mind, here are guys going in the first two rounds you need to avoid for fantasy glory.

 

(Note: All average draft position information is thanks to the folks at ESPN.com's live draft results.)

 

Maurice Jones-Drew (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

2011 Stats: 1,606 rushing yards, 43 receptions, 374 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns

Average Draft Position: 9.4 (first round)

If you're hoping to win your league this year, avoid MJD at all costs.

He's in the midst of one of the more contentious holdouts in recent memory, and as someone who owns him in a keeper league, I'm not bullish on him returning before the regular season. Even if he does return, Jones-Drew won't be in full football shape and will be months behind in head coach Mike Mularkey's playbook.

Unless MJD reports while I'm writing this (not happening), his absence or ineffectiveness early on will cripple your team before it even has a chance to get off the ground.

 

Marshawn Lynch (RB, Seattle Seahawks)

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

2011 Stats: 1,204 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 212 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns

Average Draft Position: 16.5 (second round)

Evaluating Lynch is all about which guy you think the Seahawks will get in 2012.

Will Lynch be Beast Mode, the guy who won a ton of people's fantasy leagues last year with his outburst in the last nine games of 2011? Or will he be the enigmatic loafer who submarined countless fantasy seasons in the three seasons prior?

My money is on the latter.

While Lynch was the second-best running back in all of football last season using Football Outsiders' DYAR metric, that season quite literally came out of nowhere. Lynch had never finished any higher than 25th in his four previous NFL seasons, and it's not like Seattle has a top-tier offensive line.

And, let's face it: Running backs who sign huge offseason contracts aren't exactly on a roll lately (e.g. Chris Johnson).

Beast Mode may prove me wrong, but even at his best, he's not worth the risk at pick No. 16.

 

Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers)

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

2011 Stats: 4,051 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 706 rushing yards, 14 rushing touchdowns

Average Draft Position: 16.5 (second round)

There's no denying that Newton's 2011 season will go down as one of the greatest rookie years in NFL history and in fantasy.

Taken very late in most non-keeper drafts last season, the Panthers quarterback wound up ranking fourth in total fantasy points (via ESPN). That means if you drafted Newton, you probably won your league or came within points of doing so.

But lost in the shuffle of the Newton hoopla was his struggles as an actual quarterback in the second half of the season.

After starting 2011 with two 400-yard performances against the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, Newton's first eight games were seemingly a breeze. He averaged nearly 300 yards a game through the air and looked like the dual-threat people have yearned for Michael Vick to become for years.

The second half of the season saw Newton's yards through the air drop by nearly 100 per game, as he looked more like a rookie than impenetrable force of nature.

Newton's true fantasy value came on the ground. And while the 706 yards may be here to stay, it's foolish to count on a repeat of his 14 touchdowns.

We all know rushing touchdowns are incredibly hard to predict, and as a rookie, Newton essentially served as the Panthers' goal-line running back. With three capable backs on Carolina's roster this season, that won't be the case again—unless head coach Ron Rivera has zero regard for his franchise quarterback's health.

Newton will likely be a good fantasy option again this season. But even if he scores seven rushing touchdowns, a massive sum for a quarterback, that's still half of his total from last season and will hurt his value.

 

First-Round Mock Draft

With those potential busts out of your way, here's a quick look at a first-round mock draft done via my rankings:

1. Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)

2. LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)

3. Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)

4. Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore Ravens)

5. Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints)

6. Tom Brady (QB, New England Patriots)

7. Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions)

8. Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

9. Chris Johnson (RB, Tennessee Titans)

10. Matthew Stafford (QB, Detroit Lions)

11. Andre Johnson (WR, Houston Texans)

12. Matt Forte (RB, Chicago Bears)

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