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Strategy Roundtable: The 1.04 Spot

Footballguys staff members offer their thoughts on who to take with the 1.04 pick

Assuming the first three picks in your PPR league are Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Julio Jones, what are you doing at the 1.04? Why?

Chad Parsons: David Johnson is my selection in the mid-1st round. Johnson is attached to one of the best offenses in the NFL and is Arizona's moveable chess piece. Johnson was dynamic in 2015 throughout the season despite inconsistent usage until late in the year. Johnson has the size (and projected opportunities) to score 12+ touchdowns on the ground and hit the 50-reception threshold through the air. Johnson is my highest probability bet if looking for the top-producing running back for 2016.

Stephen Holloway: I am hoping to either have a top three pick or a late round pick in my redraft leagues because I think that if Dez Bryant is fully recovered he will be a great value selection toward the end of the first round. At 1.04 with the consensus top three wide receivers taken I would likely go with my top running back Todd Gurley. He was not used much as a receiver in his rookie season, but he had five games with over 100 yards rushing (out of 13) and expectations are for the Rams to be better on offense this year with Gurley carrying a heavy load.

Andy Hicks: Adrian Peterson all the way. I will have an elite proven back that isn't suspended (Le'Veon Bell), coming off injury (Jamaal Charles) or is young and unproven over a full season (Ezekiel Elliot, David Johnson, Todd Gurley). The next tier of backs are a big drop off. At wide receiver I would probably be reaching for receivers such as A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Allen Robinson or DeAndre Hopkins. At my 2nd pick I should have a choice of high quality receivers anyway.

Chris Kuczynski: Many people think the top tier at wide receiver is made up of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr and Julio Jones, but I would argue that Deandre Hopkins is the last WR to round out that top tier. He put up 111/1500/11 with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet throwing to him. He will again be one of the most targeted wide receivers in the league and Brock Osweiler should be an upgrade at the quarterback position. If you were to ask me who to take at 1.06 after those four and A.J. Green, it would be a harder decision. I lean heavily toward wide receiver in the first round, but Todd Gurley is hard to pass up if he fell to that spot.

Mark Wimer: Chris K. made excellent points about DeAndre Hopkins - I actually have him at #2 overall for PPR leagues after Brown, followed by Jones, Rob Gronkowski, and Odell Beckham Jr. So if Hopkins or Gronkowski made it to 1.04 in a PPR league, I'd be all over one or the other.

Chris Feery: I’m selecting David Johnson at 1.04 if the ‘big three’ receivers are off the board. He only scratched the surface of his capabilities in 2015, and it’s abundantly clear that the Cardinals are expecting big things from him. By extension, I expect him to have a huge role in a high-powered offense. If I lost out on one of the big three in a PPR league, I would be perfectly content to acquire Johnson’s services and set my sights on a high-volume WR in the latter stages of round two.

John Mamula: All of the top RBs come with question marks this season. A.J. Green is my selection at 4th overall in a PPR format if the big 3 WR (Brown, Beckham, and Jones) are off the board. Marvin Jones had 103 targets and Mohamed Sanu had 49 targets last season. Both have moved on to different teams. Tyler Eifert had 74 targets last season is still recovering from ankle surgery. There is a good chance that he will be slowed to start the season. That is a wealth of targets up for grabs in the Bengals offense. Green will benefit and produce some monster stat lines this season.

Dan Hindery: I lean towards Ezekiel Elliott narrowly over A.J. Green. Green is my #4 receiver because he has a longer track record of WR1 seasons than DeAndre Hopkins and I think we see both get a similar number of targets this seasons. While Houston added receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller and receiving back Tyler Ervin in the offseason to take targets from Hopkins, the Bengals lost two of their top receivers and Green should see a bump in targets. I also have more trust in Andy Dalton than I do Brock Osweiler.

Green's the safe choice, but there are two things that make me lean towards Elliott. First, the WR options at 2.09 and 3.04 are much more attractive than the RB options. There's not a big dropoff from Green at 1.04 to somebody like Brandon Marshall at 2.09 or Sammy Watkins at 3.04. So I can go RB in the first, WR/WR in the 2nd/3rd and still have the flexibility to take best player available in the next few rounds. Second, the upside with Elliott in the Dallas offense is just immense. In 2014, DeMarco Murray put up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns. It's entirely realistic that Elliott could put up 2,000 total yards and 12-15 touchdowns as a rookie behind the league's best line. Green's best season produced just 1,426 yards and 11 scores.

Jason Wood: Per my projections, I would go with David Johnson. In a practical sense, I've also opted for Todd Gurley and A.J. Green in the 1.04 and 1.05 spots in early drafts. I think all three have their merits and are worthy of a Top 5 selection.

Will Grant: I'm with Jason. David Johnson would be my pick, but If I were a little more conservative, I'd go with Gurley or A. J. Green. All tree of them would make a great start to your team, and will score a ton of points this season. Johnson is a little unproven, but he's the clear #1 back in Arizona now. Gurley puts up points in buckets and Green is the top WR in Cinci with a ton of '???' behind him. The biggest think you want to avoid with a top 5 pick is to swing and miss. Your second pick doesn't come up for another 18-20 selections, so you really can't afford to blow it. Johnson would be my favorite pick there, but Gurley or Green would be fine too.

Devin Knotts: I will take Todd Gurley, as he has the highest floor of any of the top running backs. Elliott or Johnson may have more upside, but Elliott is just a rookie, and while he is an incredibly talented rookie there is still some risk that goes along with him as top 5 running backs have not been a guarantee throughout history. Regarding Johnson, he has one career game as an NFL player with over 100 yards rushing. I think the Chris Johnson taking carries talk is real especially early on as I believe David Johnson's cap is 250 carries which really limits his upside. Gurley had 229 carries while missing three games which puts him at 280 carries, and I expect him to get close to 300 as the team takes the restraints off of him this season as he is not coming back from an ACL injury this season.

For me running back is the easy choice at 1.04, as I look at round 2 and round 3 and see what is available and I do not like the running backs that fall to those spots based on ADP. Therefore, I want to lock in the safest running back on the board, and then be able to take back to back wide receivers.