Most people will draft one of the top running backs early in most fantasy football formats, but you have to consider going with a wide receiver or quarterback with your top selection. That’s especially true if you miss out on having a top-five pick.
Last year, just one running back finished in the top 12 of fantasy scoring. Still not convinced? There was nearly a 75-point drop-off between Brees and Matthew Stafford, the 12th-ranked fantasy points leader from a season ago.
While there is more depth at the quarterback position traditionally, the uncertainty around this year’s running backs is as high as ever. How comfortable are you rolling the dice with Jamaal Charles at No. 7 overall when you could lock in Brees or Rodgers and then still get Stevan Ridley in the second round?
It’s a no-brainer at this point. You want to win, right?
Here’s a look at what distinguishes these three as your best non-running back alternatives in the first round.
WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Johnson easily surpassed all other receivers last season, compiling nearly 2,000 yards and 220.4 fantasy points. He only got in the end zone five times, though, after scoring 16 and 12 times in the previous two seasons respectively.
What it comes down to is value. There are no other receivers who have both consistency on the field and the potential to explode each week. Johnson performs each week, you don’t have to worry about that.
With more touchdowns this year, he could produce better than a good portion of the projected top-10 running back group. Don’t miss out on that potential just to draft a running because you think you have to in the first round.
QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton is back. That’s great news for anyone who has picked Brees in the past or is currently considering that idea. NFL Network’s Mike Silver predicted Payton’s return would help Brees reach even bigger heights in 2013: the NFL MVP award.
Even at 34 years old, the prolific passer is showing no signs of slowing down. This preseason, Brees has been as close to perfect as possible, completing 25-of-34 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
And with Payton’s offensive acumen, play-calling expertise and leadership back on the sidelines, it’s apparent Brees is in line for yet another marquee performance this season.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Want consistency and tons of fantasy points? Rodgers has been a top-three quarterback in each of the last five seasons. Despite being sacked a league-high 51 times last season, the Green Bay quarterback found a way to put up points and keep his team competitive.
With offensive tackle Brian Bulaga out for the season, Rodgers is going to be tested again this season. Luckily he has plenty of weapons to work with. James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb make up one of the most impressive receiver groups in the league.
Plus, tight end Jermichael Finley is looking like a potential breakout candidate. We’ve heard that before, but this time it looks like it’s for real. Yeah, it actually is. He’s had a great camp and is playing for a new contract in 2013—look out.