You’ve waited all offseason, and now it’s time for some final thoughts before draft day. Draft well and set your team up for early-season success, but miss a step, and you may have to rally for one of the final playoffs spots.
Today, I thought it would be a good idea to take an in-depth look at some of the players fantasy owners will be targeting in the first round.
Of course you will want to go with options like Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice as the top three off the board.
As for receivers, we know it’s all about Calvin Johnson, who is in a tier all by himself, but pulling the trigger on him is hard when depth at this receiver position is solid.
Then you have misfit running backs like Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles in the first round of mocks.
All three present problems, but at this time the one who concerns me the most is Johnson, not because he won’t have a better year than last, but because I believe he will be inconsistent.
Outside of McCoy, Rice and Foster, I see the list below as the best scenario to choose from.
- 1.04 Aaron Rodgers
- 1.05 Darren McFadden
- 1.06 Jamaal Charles
- 1.07 Calvin Johnson
- 1.08 Chris Johnson
- 1.09 Tom Brady
- 1.10 Drew Brees
Pass-Protection Problems for Tom Brady
I noticed the Patriots offensive line struggled against the Eagles, but that was when Ryan Mallet was under center, so I paid little attention to it from a passing standpoint. Then they struggled mightily again with Brady starting, as the veteran quarterback took some wicked shots in Tampa Bay.
Pressure was coming not just from the edge but right up the middle, which would be an even greater concern for Brady in the regular season. Pressure up the middle won’t allow him to step up in the pocket, which allows a quarterback to buy time and get the football out.
I believe the Patriots will get their line problems fixed, but it may be one of the big talking points through the first month of the season and slow down a potentially dominant fantasy season from the Patriots' star quarterback.
How Will Drew Brees Fare Without Sean Peyton?
When Peyton was away from the sidelines for a few weeks last year (leg injury), Brees wasn’t his normal self in a few games. One of those poor performances was against the St. Louis Rams, as the Saints lost and Brees threw some interceptions.
We should count on Brees to have another close-to-5,000-yard season with around 35-plus touchdowns, but expect his interception total to spike.
Darren McFadden Gets Goal-Line Work
One thing I can’t stand is when a starting running back has proven he can get the job done around the end zone and his team won’t give him the football.
Ray Rice struggled through this until last year when Willis McGahee moved on to Denver.
McFadden has had the same problems in recent years with Michael Bush. That will change this season, as Bush went off to Chicago to steal touchdowns from Matt Forte, and the Raiders announced last week that McFadden will be the goal-line runner.
Oakland wasn’t the same without McFadden after he suffered a foot injury In the middle of the season. It’s not a matter of if McFadden will go down again but when, and while I can respect any fantasy owner for passing on him in the middle of the first, his production on the field is worth the risk.
Chris Johnson Will Be Inconsistent
The Titans offensive line is struggling, and Johnson isn’t the type of running back to push the pile when things break down. No, Johnson needs to get to the edge to do most of his damage, and unfortunately I still see him trying to go outside, even when the play suggests he should just take a few yards up the middle.
What have we seen from Johnson thus far in the preseason?
He struggled to find lanes against the Seahawks and Cardinals but looked good against the Buccaneers.
Both the Seahawks and Cardinals have respectable defenses and should be solid against the run this year. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, will likely be one of the worst run defenses in football yet again.
When Johnson plays a defense like the Colts, I believe he will have quality production . When he plays a team like the Texans, it will only be marginal success. If you can live with that then fine, but expect that kind of production going into the season.
Jamaal Charles Looks Explosive
Unlike Adrian Peterson, Charles has much more than straight-ahead speed and looks ready for a productive season. Peyton Hillis will be in the mix and figures to take away goal-line touchdowns, but Charles will have the better fantasy numbers.
The Chiefs have a favorable schedule to run against, and with an effective passing game to go with a respectable defense, this is a squad ready for a playoff run. That basically means the game scripts will fall in line for Charles to run the football weekly, as we should consider it unlikely they will fall behind most teams.
How Good Can Calvin Johnson Be?
As good as Moss was, when motivated, Johnson is better and has a more well-rounded overall game. Even if Stafford goes down for a time, we’ve seen Johnson hold top-five receiver numbers with Shaun Hill in 2010, and he was arguably the top fantasy receiver in 2008 on a team with a revolving door at quarterback. Oh, and by the way, they didn’t win a game that season.
Yeah, Johnson is the safest pick outside of Aaron Rodgers, and it’s hard to argue with anyone looking to him over running backs with question marks.