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TGIF: Fun With Fantasy Football’s First Round

Steven Jackson

Let’s be honest for a moment. Trying to prep for a fantasy football draft is borderline useless. It is without question the most unpredictable of all the fantasy games (well, the major ones anyway…who cares about fantasy NASCAR?). Thanks to its small number of games and high risk of injury, attempting to project player stats throughout an entire season is nearly impossible.

The most dreaded aspect of a football draft is the first round. In recent years it has become Adrian Peterson or bust. Frankly, it is true. How many people last season were screwed over by drafting Joseph Addai, Marion Barber, Tom Brady, Brian Westbrook, Frank Gore, and so on. Do you get my point?

Over at Yahoo! Fantasy (where the SoB league resides), they have once again filled their first round projections with questionable players. Here is their projected list of the first round:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Michael Turner
  3. Maurice Jones-Drew
  4. Matt Forte
  5. Brian Westbrook
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. LaDainian Tomlinson
  8. Larry Fitzgerald
  9. Steven Jackson
  10. Frank Gore
  11. Brandon Jacobs
  12. Chris Johnson

My Complaints

Frank Gore and Steven Jackson

As a veteran of Yahoo! Fantasy Football, I notice the same things every season. It seems like the Yahoo! staff really has a hard-on for Stephen Jackson and Frank Gore. These two running backs are thrust into the first round every season and there is no justification for it. Each player had one good season (both in ’06) and yet they are forced upon you solely based on potential.

Well, in the two years since they’re breakout seasons, both players have found a way into teasing you and then letting you down. They are not first round caliber players. Yes, each man had over 1,400 total yds and eight total TD’s last year, which is a pretty good season. This is Round one, “pretty good” doesn’t cut it.

Maurice Jones-Drew

I have already touched base on Jones-Drew, but I will be brief here. Due to his new role of “featured back”, MJD will be getting the first full workload of his career. He has never topped 200 carries in a season and was a thriving player in a duel role. I will be judgmental of his small size (5’7″. 208 lbs) and say it will work against him. I don’t think he will have the durability to carry the ball 20+ times a game.

Look at the numbers. His yards per carry is going down every season as he gets more carries. At this pace, he will hit a career-low in ypc if he carries over 200 times. If anything, expect more of the same, which isn’t bad. However, you shouldn’t be paying a high first round price tag for typical MJD numbers.

Chris Johnson

There were two other backs (Steve Slaton and Clinton Portis) who put up better numbers than Johnson and aren’t projected to go in the first round. Also, Johnson still has to split carries with LenDale White and he will also lose the goal line carries to White. On the other hand, Slaton and Portis are the featured backs on their respective teams and don’t have any immediate threats to their roles.

What I Would Do Differently

Drew Brees

Every season, a QB goes in the first round. This year, it should be Brees. Last season, Tom Brady was the first QB off the boards…and also the first off the field (zing!). Brees has three straight season of 4,400+ yds and 26+ TD’s. All they do in New Orleans is throw the ball and this year will be no different. He will outscore the majority of the RB’s taken in the first round, so if you want to be the first team with a QB, the take Brees.

Clinton Portis

He has over 300 carries in four of the last five seasons and is one of the few who will continue to get that many carries. Portis was injured in 2006 and that has scared off most owners for years. Stop worrying about Portis, he seems to hold up year after year.

With the exception of his injury-plagued 2006 season, Portis has topped 1,200 yds rushing in every year of his career including 1,300+ in five of seven seasons. Besides, do you really expect Jason Campbell to be enough of an elite QB to make Washington become a passing offense ? I didn’t think so.

Move Frank Gore and Steven Jackson to Round Two

I already made my point, but it needs to be emphasized. Will they each give you 1,000 yds rushing and at least six TD’s? Yes they will. Do you want to pay a first round price tag for such average RB stats? No you don’t. Should you hold off on them until the second round? You better believe it!

My First Round

Based on what I like and what I hate, here is how I think the first round should go:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Michael Turner
  3. Matt Forte
  4. DeAngelo Williams
  5. LaDainian Tomlinson
  6. Maurice Jones-Drew
  7. Drew Brees
  8. Brian Westbrook
  9. Clinton Portis
  10. Larry Fitzgerald
  11. Steve Slaton
  12. Brandon Jacobs

As you can see, I dropped MJD down a few spots and the same goes for Westbrook (who is always injured). Portis is a lock for 300 carries and LT, although getting old, is still dependable enough to worthy of such a high pick.

Of course, just as Tom Brady showed us, one injury could throw everything off. So here is hoping for a long and healthy season.

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