Hard to believe we are already looking at draft position in football, but training camps are just around the corner. The battles are happening and it is time to start to understand where we will see players fall in drafts. The coming weeks will tell us a lot. Over the course of the pre-season, this space will take a look at what is happening and how the players begin to fall. As a first step in that, we need to level-set and “begin at the beginning.”
In standard scoring leagues, 14 of the first 20 picks have been running backs. To say that people are looking to load up early is easily an understatement. While Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy are leading the way, rookie runner Trent Richardson is sitting at number six overall. It makes sense to see many of the names coming off this early, but expect some changes to this. Jamaal Charles is coming off the board 15th overall and he will certainly have some pressure from Peyton Hillis as camp begins to open up.
We are seeing Adrian Peterson about where we would expect given his early injury concerns. At 12th overall, he is going behind Marshawn Lynch and Demarco Murray. As we get better intelligence on where his knee stands, adjustments will come accordingly.
At Wide Receiver, there is no doubt that Calvin Johnson should be the top receiver coming off the board based strictly on last year’s numbers. What is slightly interesting is to see A.J. Green as the number two receiver (ahead of Larry Fitzgerald) and Victor Cruz as the fourth receiver (ahead of Greg Jennings and Andre Johnson). Green and Cruz are solid players, but we are basing numbers off one season of results. Cruz’s position surprises me most. He certainly emerged as an impressive deep threat over the course of 16 games, but Jennings has proven himself to regularly be a spectacular fantasy asset in all formats. Johnson’s health issues always make him a challenge, but a healthy Johnson completely changes the Houston offense.
The early returns at quarterback show the typical names at the top of the list, but not in the typical order. While Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady all have found their way inside the current top-25 selections, Brady finds himself going behind Cam Newton. While the two are being drafted largely on the heels of each other, Newton is being given greater benefit early on. As a rookie, Newton showed he had the arm and the speed to produce at an impressive rate. His 4,000 passing yards let it be known that he was going to be here to stay. Still, would you really want to bet against his out-performing Brady? If the Welker situation settles, New England has shown itself to be a tremendously pass-happy offense. Newton likely runs less this year, not more. Look for this to be a focal point in ADP lists over the next few weeks.
Tight Ends are still largely buried in drafts to this point, but the two best in the game are going in the first three rounds. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are going at 21 and 23 overall. Their collective performance last year is giving them plenty of fantasy goodwill. Gronkowski has proven himself in each of his first two seasons. In an offense like New Orleans, Graham should be able to thrive as he continues to mature and take a more active role within the offense itself.