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Faceoff: Top Players to Target

The Footballguys staff discusses elite targets at the top of the draft

Name a player in the Top 50 you are targeting. Why do you like him so much this season?

Jason Wood: I'm not sure anyone with an ADP in the 1st round should count for this discussion, because you can't really target those guys. Sure, technically I could target C.J. Spiller if I take him at 1.03 in a draft, but realistically that's semantics as most would view Spiller as a Top 10 pick, it's just a matter of where these stud RBs slot against one another.

I'm finding myself targeting Jimmy Graham, Randall Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Lamar Miller, Le'Veon Bell, Jordy Nelson, and Cam Newton. Each of those guys have ended up on multiple teams and every time I've rostered them I felt grateful that they were available at that spot.

Kyle Wachtel: Jordy Nelson. His ADP was inflated entering last season after finishing as the second best wide receiver in 2011. That 2011 campaign was bolstered by a whopping total of 15 touchdowns and a large number of big plays, which marked him as a strong candidate for regression. After a down year in which he was hampered by injuries, his value has been resuscitated. He is still just 28 years old, a legitimate number one receiver, and plays with the best quarterback in the NFL. I grade him as a low-end WR1 and since his current ADP places him as the 16th receiver off the board, he will continue to find his way onto a lot of my rosters.

Chad Parsons: Rob Gronkowski. He can be had in the mid-to-late third round or later in the recent drafts I have seen. Before all of this surgery news began swirling this offseason, he would not have made it past the mid-second round at the latest. Dominating your league is about acquiring as many difference-makers as possible. One way is to target the correct late-round or waiver wire gems that emerge as weekly starters. The other is scooping up proven studs that for one reason or another have a suppressed cost entering the season. Gronkowski is the latter. He has been a true trump card at the tight end position when on the field. Even if he begins the season with limited duty or misses a game or two, having him later in the season is what matters most. Given that his upside rivals or surpasses Jimmy Graham, who will go a round or more higher, makes Gronkowski a potential value boon. The ability to grab two running backs or an elite receiver, then drafted Gronkowski as a third rounder makes grabbing Graham over a top back or receiver the less-preferable option to open the draft.

Stephen Holloway: I again agree with Chad on the Rob Gronkowski call. In addition to the discussion on why he benefits fantasy output even while potentially missing game, his current ADP in PPR scoring is 33 and I have him ranked at 24 overall.

Other players that I value well over their current ADP are Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Hakeem Nicks. Johnson and Jackson are coming off excellent seasons and yet still have ADPs lower than their production last year, while Nicks is undervalued primarily because he was injured last year.

Andy Hicks: Like Jason said, depending on your draft slot picking a sure fire 1st rounder may be difficult depending on your draft slot, so I'll look at players that have a second- to fourth-round ADP. To that end I would be specifically targeting Reggie Bush. Detroit have been looking for a back of his calibre for awhile and thought they had one in Jahvid Best, but his concussion problems left them scrambling with a bunch of guys that can do part of the job, but not the whole. Considering Detroit backs recorded over 100 receptions last year, and none of them are as good a receivers as Bush, the only question in my mind is how much does he run the ball?

Mikel Leshoure ran over 200 times last year and Bush has proven in Miami he can run the ball at least as well, if not better. In my mind Leshoure will complement Bush as a runner, while Joique Bell is there in case Bush gets injured. I see Bush having a Darren Sproles downside, but with at least twice as many carries. He should go close to being a RB1 if he can exceed 8 touchdowns which is a fair estimate at his potential. With Calvin Johnson and a pass friendly offense, unlike his former team in Miami, Bush will get more room than he has seen in years and if he didn't exceed his current draft slot I would be shocked.

Sigmund Bloom: I'm ending up with Frank Gore in the 3rd (even 4th) round in a lot of drafts. He is still running strong and should be one of the major focal points of the 49ers offense with Michael Crabtree out for most, if not all of the regular season. The 49ers will play to their strengths, which is defense and running game, and that puts Gore in the eye of the storm. He's an excellent RB2 this year, especially in nonPPR leagues.

Jeff Haseley: One player that is creeping up my rankings is Dez Bryant. He is looking like a man among boys, on a mission to dethrone Calvin Johnson as the league's best wide receiver. Bryant has all of the physical skills and abilities that an elite wide receiver should possess. What has been lacking is his mental approach to the game, which I believe is improving. Last year he was a dominant force with some inconsistencies here and there. Another year of experience and confidence will help him tremendously. I have a feeling that Bryant will explode in 2013 and not look back at the areas of his game that troubled him in the past.

Heath Cummings: Jordy Nelson and Cam Newton are two of my favorites that have already been mentioned. If you can start RB-RB and then land Newton in the third and Nelson in the fourth, you have the start of a very competitive team.

To add someone new, I have found myself with Victor Cruz in a lot of leagues. Cruz is currently going off the board as WR12 and barring injury I believe that's about his floor in 2013. With Nicks back at full strength, Cruz should compile some monster games this season.

Matt Waldman: Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson, and Matt Forte.

I'm sold Bryant has turned a corner and has the mindset to be a top-flight professional. He had a long way to go when he began his career, but as much as I have criticized the Cowboys ownership and management it appears they have done enough to give Bryant a structure to mature into a player ready to function as a mature adult. Let's hope it continues along this progression. If it does, only Calvin Johnson has more all-around skill. Fitzgerald may be better with the ball in the air and Johnson has more freakish dimensions, but Bryant can make the tough grab in tight coverage, and run through or around multiple defenders. He's Terrell Owens with better hands.

Nelson is a Michael Irvin-style player. Big, fast enough to get down field, and physical enough to drive defenders crazy. He also has one of the best quarterbacks in the game targeting him.

Forte's reception totals are going to rise this year. I judged a fantasy writer's contest this summer and one of the points I read and agree with is the track record Marc Trestman has with giving his running backs red zone targets. Forte is a terrific receiver and I wouldn't be shocked if he's a top-five back in PPR leagues this year. It's why I think landing him in the early part of round two is still a great bargain.

Jeff Pasquino: Personally, I think it is a mistake to really target anyone in the Top 50 - you just have to trust your Top 50 list and take best player available, right on down the line. Don't like someone in the consensus Top 50? Get him off of that list. Do you have someone that you think should be up there? Put him in.

Borderline guys I like are Vernon Davis and Jason Witten, as I think if I can get either of those guys as my TE1 after snagging at least one stud running back and one stud wide receiver I should be in good shape. Preferably one or both of them are still there in Rounds 4-5.

Will Grant: I agree with Waldman on Matt Forte. The other thing to note about Chicago is that they have a completely retooled offensive line, which could mean a few mistakes in the early part of the season while they try to make adjustments. Cutler has been sacked an average of once every 12 pass attempts since coming to Chicago and one way to slow down a rush is to run the ball and call short, check down passes.

I also think Jordy Nelson is a good call, because people seem to be over-drafting Randall Cobb and pushing Nelson down their boards a bit. Cobb is a stud, but I don't see him becoming the #1 guy in Green Bay this season, and I think Nelson is a bit under-valued at this point.

One guy I'm looking at near the end of the second or top of the third round is Vincent Jackson. I think that despite the renewed running game in Tampa, Jackson is really going to be their go-to guy again this year. After three top ten performances in the last four years, you'd think that people would be higher on this guy than they are, yet I see him dropping into the late third round or later in a lot of leagues. I'd jump all over this pick if he fell into the 3rd round.


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Faceoff: Discussing the 1.02 Pick - July 2
Value Plays: Quarterbacks - June 20
Value Plays: Running Backs - June 20
Value Plays: Wide Receivers - June 20
Value Plays: Tight Ends - June 20
Overvalued Players: Quarterbacks - June 20
Overvalued Players: Running Backs - June 20