To me, the top four picks in fantasy football drafts are pretty straight forward. Sure, you may have a different opinion on the order, but it’s likely going to be some combination of Arian Forster, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles. After that, however, things get really interesting. Let’s take a look at the potential options and determine who the pick should be.
Quarterback— Michael Vick
No other quarterback would be in the discussion this early in the draft, and the fact of the matter is that Vick may not even be the top quarterback available. This year there are a ton of quarterbacks who could viably be in the Top 12, so taking one this early just doesn’t make sense, no matter who it is.
As for Vick, we all knew he could bring it with his legs (but can we really expect 9 TD again?), but he has never shown this type of potential with his arm before. Prior to last season, he had never thrown more than 2,936 yards (which was the only other time he was above 2,500) and he had never completed more than 56.4 percent of his passes. Throw in his style, making him prone to injury, and you get a tremendous risk.
Could he potentially be the top player in the league? Absolutely, but he could also potentially be a massive bust. This early, it’s too big of a gamble.
Wide Receiver—Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson
There is no clear-cut top option, but regardless of who you think the top pick is, there really is no reason to be selecting any of them this early in the draft.
There’s a good chance that at least one of them could still be available towards the end of the second round, and even if one of them is not, Hakeem Nicks, Dwayne Bowe and company will be. There is a lot of potential depth at the position, meaning even in a PPR league there is no real reason to make one of them your selection this early.
Running Back—Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy
With running back tandems being all the rage these days in the NFL, finding a player who is the go-to back is not as easy as it once was. Someone like Michael Turner could factor into the decision for some, but his age and the potential for a bigger passing attack from the Falcons is a cause for concern, dropping him out of contention.
That leaves three options for me. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
- Ray Rice—If the Ravens committed to him, even in goal-line situations, he would be the obvious choice. Is that going to happen? He rushed for 1,220 yards last season, while adding 63 receptions for 556 yards (he’s just a year removed from amassing over 2,000 total yards). The problem is the TDs, as he scored just six times total in 2010 and eight times total in 2009. If he was given the chance to punch the ball in a bit more, his value would be significant.
- Darren McFadden—Are we buying into his big year to draft him this early? He certainly has a ton of upside, with 1,157 rushing yards and 47 receptions for 507 yards in just 13 games. He also had 10 total TD. Of course, he’s never stayed healthy for an entire season, which has to be a tremendous concern. Is that type of injury risk worth gambling on at pick No. 5? What happens if he goes down again? You are left completely short-handed. And you have to throw in the fact that he also failed to live up to the hype over his first two seasons.
- LeSean McCoy—While Vick brings a major risk with him, his presence, along with a talented passing game, helps to open things up for the running game. Defenses have to pay attention to the chance of Vick breaking out of the backfield and they have to protect against the pass. That certainly opens things up for McCoy to run wild. He ran for 1,080 yards and seven TD last season, while also showing that he is a factor in the passing game, picking up 78 receptions for 592 yards and two TD. Sure, they could go for a QB sneak from time-to-time, not giving McCoy a chance on the goal line, so with the good comes the bad.
So where exactly does that leave us? It definitely isn’t a QB or WR for me, and McFadden just brings too big of a risk to select at this spot. That brings us to Rice or McCoy, which is a very difficult decision.
However, with the risk of injury to Vick, his loss would certainly help to limit McCoy’s value slightly. Defenses would be able to game-plan for him more, potentially limiting his production. Rice has proven that he brings electric ability to the backfield, both in the passing and running games, and should continue to produce some lofty numbers.
For me, if I’m stuck in the fifth spot, I’m selecting Ray Rice. What about you? Is he your pick at that spot? If not him, then who?
Make sure to check out the early rankings from Rotoprofessor: