This year there is a consensus first overall pick in Adrian Peterson. Sigmund Bloom did an excellent job breaking down the options from the second round on in that position with this article. The middle of the first round offers great value with the level tier of running back options, a pick-your-flavor atmosphere at start the draft. This article will evaluate the likely options along the way drawing a draft slot at the turn. In general, drafting at one of the turns means having to do some heavy estimations to stay ahead of positional runs and find value points. This draft plan is designed for 12-team, start 1/2/3/1 with a flex in PPR scoring leagues using myfantasyleague.com's average draft position from August.
The 1/2 TURN
TE – Jimmy Graham
I was firmly in the camp of going RB-RB earlier in the summer, but with more backfield situation clarity in the later rounds, an opportunity to grab a top receiver or Jimmy Graham in this position presents itself. Projecting what running backs and receivers will be available at the 3/4 turn is tough, but grabbing at least one running back here gives an owner more flexibility moving forward. Rob Gronkowski has been sneaking up draft boards of late, which means he may not be around at 36/37 when owners are finally on the clock again. Graham here may be the only shot at an elite tight end. The depth of the top tier of running backs is tremendous this season and picking up a Ray Rice or Trent Richardson from this position could pace or exceed most of the owners selecting backs before this draft slot.
The 3/4 TURN
With the value of quarterback options later, it would take a lack of other positional value to take Manning or Newton here. Lamar Miller and David Wilson are trendy picks whether value they are a value RB2 with upside after an early receiver of tight end, or as an RB3. Gronkowski falling to this point is a potential impact that can win leagues if he is his old self by October. Roddy White and Stevan Ridley are the steady options with high floors in this range.
The 5/6 TURN
Colin Kaepernick offers a ceiling that can match the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him on a weekly basis. Torrey Smith would be hard to pass up as an upside WR2 or very cheap WR1 with a wealth of talent locked up at other positions to this point. Bernard and Vereen offer some PPR pop in this range as the running back position dries up around range in most drafts. Running back would be secondary to the receivers in this projected group.
The 7/8 TURN
The ‘wait on quarterback’ strategy can pay off with Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, or maybe one from the previous group slipping into this range. Richardson offers a shot at a lead back in a likely committee, but Gordon, Austin, and especially Kenny Britt offer great value for a final starting receiver with top-15 upside.
The 9/10 TURN
The committee approach to quarterbacks is in full effect by this point, but Michael Vick a round or two later offers the most initial punch to open the season if he keeps a hold of the starting job through August. Tate, Pierce, and Brown are three of the highest upside backup running backs that are possible flex options even without an injury in front of them. Vibrant youth is the name of the game at receiver. Blackmon offers a potential October boost once his suspension ends and Michael Floyd is one of the trendy names for a bench spot. Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown offer a little more upside than earlier in the offseason with other San Diego targets in the passing game out with injuries. The tight ends, compared to the later options, are not all that appealing from a value perspective.
The 11/12 TURN
Waiting on quarterback or tight end could really pay dividends with Michael Vick or one of the upside options like Cameron, Davis, or Fleener. With the level tier of tight ends outside of the Graham and Gronkowski, mining for value is realistic past the tenth round. Patterson, Randle, and Broyles are another group of high-upside receivers that can be a value boon for owners that drafted Graham, Gronkowski, or extra running backs in the early rounds.
The 13/14 TURN
Joique Bell stands out from the running back group in PPR scoring and Christine Michael as the potential RB1 if he were to get a lead back role during the season. Thompkins and Streater are hot names with depth charts trending in their direction early in the preseason. Housler and Keller are more options with TE1 potential after every one team likely has their starter. As these options may be back on the waiver wire in the first week or two of the regular season, thinking about their potential to hit quickly is crucial. Thompkins, Streater, Wheaton, and Keller fit that bill well with the ability to put up a solid game early.
ROUND 15 & LATER
This late in the draft is about taking big swings at players that can hit early in the season. Many will be dropped in September for waiver wire plays with the shake up the early season brings with it. Knile Davis could see a boost in playing time if Jamaal Charles is eased into the regular season, Stephen Hill could have a big game or two with the lack of other options for the Jets, and Zach Sudfeld has been gaining steam with Tom Brady if Gronkowski is out to open the season. EJ Manuel is an ideal backup that costs pennies, but offers QB1 upside with his rushing ability and likely high-tempo offense in Buffalo. Instead of fighting in the waiver wire after a strong Week 1, this range is the time to draft them ahead of the curve to use your blind bidding or waiver position elsewhere.
QB: Romo (7/8), Vick (11/12)
RB: Rice (1/2), Lynch (1/2), McFadden (3/4), LMiller (3/4), Pierce (9/10)
WR: TSmith (5/6), Wallace (5/6), Britt (7/8), Floyd (9/10), Streater (13/14)
TE: Fleener (11/12), Keller (13/14)
Locking up a strong stable of backs gives an owner plenty of flexibility if injuries strike during the year. The available depth at quarterback, receiver, and tight end make this a strong strategy this season.
Stud TE/WR (Upside Down) Strategy
QB: Newton (3/4)
RB: Lacy (5/6, Bernard (5/6), DRichardson (7/8), Tate (9/10), Pead (11/12), RyWilliams (13/14)
WR: Bryant (1/2), Cruz (3/4), MAustin (7/8), Gordon (9/10), Patterson (11/12), Wheaton (13/14)
TE: Graham (1/2)
The positive of going with a top quarterback and tight end is the ability to stack running backs and receivers in the later rounds. It is a high-risk, high-reward game pushing off running backs through four rounds, but hitting on a surprise or two gives an owner a potential weekly advantage across the board.
Balanced Approach - Mining For Value
QB: Wilson (7/8)
RB: Richardson (1/2), McFadden (3/4), Bernard (5/6), Pead (11/12), Bell (13/14)
WR: Bryant (1/2), TSmith (5/6), Gordon (7/8), Floyd (9/10), Jeffery (9/10), Thompkins (13/14)
TE: Gronkowski (3/4), Cameron (11/12)
Getting Gronkowski at the 3/4 turn can be a turning point for a draft. That allows the value of a top back and receiver in the first and second rounds to be combined with an elite option at tight end when healthy. A option like Cameron can bridge the gap if Gronkowski misses a few games or gets up to speed by midseason. Going with running back at the 3/4 turn and quarterback in the sixth to eighth round range can be optimal scenarios from this draft position.
More from Chad Parsons:
2014 Rookie Primer Part 7: Post-Combine Wide Receivers - April 10
2014 Rookie Primer Part 6: Post-Combine Running Backs - March 22
2014 Rookie Primer Part 5: Post-Combine Tight Ends - March 3
2014 Rookie Primer Part 4: Pre-Combine Tight Ends - February 19
2014 Rookie Primer Part 3: Pre-Combine Wide Receivers - February 17
2014 Rookie Primer Part 2: Running Back College Receiving Production - February 11
2014 Rookie Primer Part 1: Pre-Combine Running Backs - February 9
The New Reality No.23 - A Gift for Every Stocking - December 26
The New Reality No.22 - Hard to Believe - December 18
The New Reality No.21 - Offseason Shopping List - December 11