Fantasy Football 2011: Five Options for the First Overall Pick

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: Five Options for the First Overall Pick

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    The most coveted spot in any fantasy football league draft unfortunately comes with some very tough choices to make. While many would love to have this choice to make, those who do could always use some guidance.

    Value changes from league to league.

    You have leagues that only give quarterbacks four points per touchdown, you have point-per-reception leagues, which drastically changes the value of running backs, and then you have your more traditional set up.

    Regardless of what league type you are in, when you have the first overall pick your choices are limited to the most elite of the elite.

    Here are five options that you should be considering on draft day.

Adrian Peterson - RB

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    No surprise here.

    Adrian Peterson has been one of the most consistently dominant running backs since he entered the league in 2007. Anyone who is at the top of the draft should be throwing Peterson's name around for consideration.

    Peterson has put together averages of almost 1,500 yards per year with 13 touchdowns over the past three years.

    While there has been interchangeable backups for Peterson who have stepped in from time to time, it is clear that he is the man in Minnesota.

    With the departure of Brett Favre and Tavaris Jackson and the arrival of Donovan McNabb, the Vikings offense should see a change. Personally, I feel that McNabb is a perfect fit in Minnesota and should open up the offense a bit.

    It also happens to be Peterson's contract year. As if his numbers weren't impressive enough, this could be a huge year for him as he looks to cash in.

    Peterson has been known to get banged up a little bit as he has never started all 16 games in a season, but has played in all 16 twice in his four years of service. It is no surprise that one of the last few feature backs will suffer his fair share of bumps over the course of a season.

    Reliability is the big word that comes to mind with Peterson. He will most likely be one of the best backs statistically by years end.

    If you decide to make Adrian your first overall selection on draft day, you won't be disappointed.

Chris Johnson - RB

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    The other No. 28 brings a more explosive game, while only slightly less consistent to Adrian Peterson's.

    Chris Johnson mesmerizes fans and opposing defenses with his shifty moves and huge speed out of the Titans' backfield.

    Johnson has the ability to win you games on certain weeks by himself with some of the performances he has put up in the past. While he doesn't disappear in games, he isn't a back that you want to run straight into a tough defense 20-25 times a game.

    Johnson's value is in the open field, which is why he is a huge factor in the passing game as well. He is a PPR league's dream. In a PPR league he should almost always be taken above Adrian Peterson.

    The one major concern about Johnson is how long can he keep up this work load.

    He is a smaller back that has had to be the feature of a less than impressive offense over the course of the past three years. With Matt Hasselbeck taking over as the starting quarterback, there are hopes that the passing game will be able to take off some of the workload from Johnson.

    Until he actually injured, he should be treated as a reliable back.

    Even with the addition of Hasselbeck, Johnson will still be treated as the go to option in the Titans offense. If you want a back that can put together huge plays at any part of the field, then Chris Johnson should be your guy.

Arian Foster - RB

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    The surprise of last year's fantasy football season, Arian Foster took the reigns as the clear No. 1 fantasy back of 2010.

    He dazzled everyone with 1,616 yards and 16 TDs. Foster also put together a more than respectable receiving resume of 66 receptions, 604 yards, and two TDs.

    If he had put together similar numbers for two or three seasons before 2010 then there would be no doubt that Foster is the back to go with at the first overall spot this year. However, that just isn't the case.

    There are tons of questions marks surrounding Foster.

    Can he put together those kind of numbers again? Will his legs hold up after having to carry the Texans offense?

    If you are considering making Foster the centerpiece of your team, all of these questions have to be going through your head.

    One reason for positivity is the Texans offense should improve. Matt Schaub is a solid quarterback with some great weapons around him in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. If Schaub can improve off of last year's performance, some of the workload could be taken off of Foster's shoulders.

    It is important to note that Foster tweaked a hamstring at camp already. We will need to remember that the lockout will have a big impact on player's health and durability this season. Anyone can train, but training in your team's camp is a whole other story.

    Even with all the concerns and questions, Foster is worth the risk. If he can come close to repeating what he did last year, you'll be satisfied with him as your first overall selection.

Michael Vick - QB

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    Michael Vick shocked the football world with his performance in the 2010 season.

    Any fantasy owner that was willing to roll the dice with him on draft day or was lucky enough to snag him off of waivers instantly became a fan.

    Showing a more refined passing game and the always exciting running ability, Vick used the weapons he had around him to put together an incredible season.

    Vick is probably the biggest hot button topic of the 2011 fantasy football season.

    The debate on whether or not he will be able to put together those type of numbers again or whether he is worth a first overall pick has been discussed endlessly.

    The first concern we need to look at is Vick's ability to stay healthy.

    Vick's talent for running the football is the ultimate catch-22. We all love the numbers that he puts up running the football and love watching those highlight reels. However, his running is what leads to the majority of his injuries.

    Mike Vick isn't a running back. He isn't built to take that kind of punishment over the course of a 16- game season.

    It is encouraging to see that he has become a much more accurate passer, and with the Eagles' big offseason, it is clear that he will have more than enough options around him on offense.

    Even if your league only awards four points per passing touchdowns, you need to consider Vick solely due to the versatility. Projecting out Vick's numbers over the course of a full season makes him far and away the highest scoring fantasy option.

    Be cautious of the fact that Vick will get hit, but the reward of a healthy Michael Vick may just beat out that risk for some.

Tom Brady - QB

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    I know some of you are thinking "What? Brady? Where is Aaron Rodgers?"

    Hear me out on this one.

    Tom Brady was arguably the best fantasy quarterback last year even with Vick's explosive season. He put up 3,900 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns and was the league's unanimous MVP.

    When is comes to pure passers, there were none better.

    Now looking at the Patriots offense coming into 2011 we see all of the options that helped Brady put those numbers up in the previous year are still there. Now add Chad Ochocino, add two young running backs, and factor in the development of the other young talent on the Patriots offense.

    What do you get? A potentially huge passing year for Tom Brady.

    Ochocino alone would have been a big addition for the Patriots already powerhouse offense. While he clearly isn't the elite receiver he was, he is still a fantastic route runner that is going to draw coverage. He will have plenty of chances for big plays with Branch and Welker drawing the underneath coverage.

    The Patriots added Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley to their stable of backs. While Vereen hasn't seen time yet, Ridley was incredibly impressive in the Patriots first preseason game against Jacksonville. We will have to wait till the regular season to see how he and Vereen fit in with Woodhead and Green-Ellis in the crowded backfield.

    Then consider the talent from within. The young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have another year under their belts. Young wide receiver Taylor Price showed soft hands and big play ability in the first preseason game.

    With no real losses on the Patriots offense, why would you doubt that Brady at least could repeat numbers from last year?

    I'm not predicting that Brady is going to go 2007 on us again and light the football world on fire.

    However, in a league where quarterbacks receive six points per touchdown and a non-PPR, I wouldn't hesitate to consider Brady as an option for the first overall selection.