Faceoff: Picking Third

The Footballguys staff discusses options when picking third.

Assuming Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster are off the board, which player would you take at the 1.03 spot in a PPR league? Does it matter if the scoring is not PPR?

Jason Wood: For me it makes a difference, as I currently rank Doug Martin 3rd in non-PPR projections while Ray Rice holds the bronze medal spot in my PPR projections. Ultimately it's splitting hairs, and I would be more than comfortable coming away wither either guy (or Calvin Johnson who ranks 4th in both PPR and non-PPR projections). Rice is the more proven commodity, but has a bit more wear and tear, and has a very promising back in Bernard Pierce that deserves to share some of the load. Martin has almost no question about workload; as long as he's healthy he should be at or near the top of the league standings in total touches. But Martin is playing in a less proven offense, which may have a QB shift underway, and I don't know that I trust the Bucs line (although they were effective run blockers in 2012). Like I said, it's splitting hairs but give me Rice in PPR, by the slimmest of margins.

Ryan Hester: If I held the third pick, I would try to trade back to something in the 5-7 range so that your picks in even-numbered rounds (particularly the second) are higher. Trading would be advisable to me because I view Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, and C.J. Spiller on the same level, so I’d be happy with any of the three. Without the ability to trade (or with a lack of willing partners), my third pick would be Doug Martin. He showed how explosive he can be last year, highlighted by his virtuoso performance against Oakland that was one of the top fantasy days of all time.

Martin also has something going for him that I've come to value more and more in recent years: youth. At the running back position especially, it seems that coaches are less likely to pace their stars if said star is a young player. Martin is a workhorse and will be carrying the ball early and often for Tampa Bay. In a standard league, he's the pick for me without question. In PPR, consideration could be given to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, or even C.J. Spiller (which is why I'd be OK trading down to the 1.07 spot in such leagues).

Chad Parsons: Running backs should dominate the first round this year and there is an argument that Calvin Johnson should be the only outlier. Trent Richardson and Jamaal Charles are the two backs I would be deciding between in this scenario. Richardson gets the nod in both PPR and non-PPR scoring. He was a shell of himself physically throughout his rookie year, yet was a top-10 back in basically any scoring format. Richardson has double-digit touchdown upside as well as 60+ receptions. Few backs offer both sides of that coin. Outside of Josh Gordon in the passing game, the Browns offense will revolve around Richardson making him a high-floor, high-ceiling player to build around in 2013 drafts.

Adam Harstad: I'm really low on Foster this year when compared to the consensus, so I like the 3rd pick better than the 2nd pick. Calvin has topped 100 VBD in back-to-back seasons in both PPR and non-PPR. He is also due some monster touchdown regression after averaging the fourth-fewest touchdowns per yard of any 1200+ yard receiver in history (an especially shocking outcome from a player with such a strong history of TD production). He pairs huge upside with a tremendous floor, and I'd pick him after Peterson in all formats. It's rare for a WR to make a strong case for a top-3 pick, but Calvin Johnson is a rare WR.

If I wanted to avoid taking a WR that high, (perhaps if I was in a league where we only started two per week), then Jamaal Charles is currently my #2 RB. If not for Adrian Peterson, Charles would have been the talk of the league last year, rushing for 1500 yards at over five yards per carry just one year after shredding his knee. Moreover, Charles managed the feat on the worst team in the league, playing for a coach that forgot he existed for long stretches, and in the process set the all-time record for career yards per carry. In 2013, Charles is another year removed from what is typically a two-year injury, and he gets paired with one of the most fantasy-friendly head coaches in Andy Reid. Everything is in place for Charles to be a force of nature this year, especially in PPR leagues.

Matt Waldman: I like Chad's argument about Trent Richardson, especially of Jason Pinkston returns from the blood clot in his lung and plays like he did to earn Joe Thomas' prediction that Pinkston would become one of the best guards in the league. Get great guard play and you can have an unstoppable running game. If Pinkston is ready to go in August, I could see taking the chance on Richardson this high.

However, that's an if I'd prefer to avoid right now. I know Calvin Johnson makes plays as a top-five receiver regardless of double or triple coverage and with or without a quality receiver opposite him. I don't believe in splitting hairs with the top-five picks. It's a bit of a time waster because what you're really seeking is a top player capable of delivering strong No.1-caliber production at his position. Johnson does that without major question marks regardless of situations that would hinder most receivers. So I could see taking Johnson No.3 and feeling satisfied with the transaction.

In a non-PPR league, I'd probably continue with a top runner if I had 1.03. LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Foster, and Lynch all provide that kind of safety and upside if you ask me.

Heath Cummings: For me it comes down to A.J. Green or Ray Rice. While the emergence of Bernard Pierce has lowered a lot of people's projections for Rice, the departure of Anquan Boldin may be a bigger deal. I expect Rice to lead running backs in receptions this season while surpassing 1700 total yards. This Ravens offense is short of weapons in the passing game and Rice is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league, if not the best.

For me this is the year that A. J. Green surpasses Calvin Johnson as the #1 wide receiver in fantasy football. I love what the Bengals have put together on offense and believe Green should see even more red zone opportunities than he did in 2012. I agree with Adam that whether you go RB or WR here really depends on how many players you're starting at each position and in PPR I'd likely lean towards Rice.

Parsons: With the depth of the top-8ish running backs (shown in these answers) and Calvin Johnson, it is easy to see that a back half draft slot may prove to have the most value to get any one of these players, paired with one of the final locked-and-loaded running back early in round two.

Andy Hicks: Assuming I am in a 12-team l have to consider who makes it back to me at 2.10. At the 3 spot I would consider Ray Rice and Calvin Johnson. I am pretty sure that all the clear RB1s would be gone by then and I'd be considering between Stevan Ridley, Steven Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew as my RB1, compared to receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson and Roddy White.

That means I easily take Rice at the third spot, who I actually have ranked above Arian Foster this year. Rice is at the peak of his career in his 26th year and coming off 4 consecutive RB1 performances, including 1st overall in 2011. He'll catch about 70 balls, more if the offense has trouble replacing Anquan Boldin, and run for over 250 carries. Add around 8 to 12 touchdowns and you have a sure fire return on your investment.

Will Grant: Agree with Wood 100% here. I'd also add that given the fact that so many teams are going with a running back by committee approach to their offense, guys like Doug Martin and Ray Rice have a huge upside compared to other running backs, especially any that would be left at 2.10. As much as Calvin Johnson is a beast, at 1.03, I'd be locked in with Martin or Rice. Like Wood, I think Rice is a little better than Martin in a PPR league, only because I think the Baltimore passing game is going to continue to flow through him a little more than the passing game in Tampa will flow through Martin. In non-PPR though, I think Martin's rushing totals will exceed Rice's enough to make Martin the better pick. As Jason pointed out, Bernard Pierce will definitely steal a few touches from Rice whereas Martin is almost a single back at this point.

Stephen Holloway: The depth at wide receiver will just not allow me to draft Calvin Johnson as the third player off the board. There are just too few three down running backs and if I am picking this high, I am going with a running back. My choice is Doug Martin because I expect him to be heavily involved again in the Tampa Bay offense just like he was last season when he had 319 of the 371 running back rushing attempts and also had 49 receptions.

Jeff Pasquino: For me it is clear - Doug Martin is your guy. He doesn't have a RB2 pushing him like Ray Rice does (Bernard Pierce is pretty good) and Tampa Bay wants to run the ball with a feature back. PPR or no PPR, Martin is the clear pick for me at the third pick if Peterson and Foster are gone. I would be hesitant to pick Lynch with a possible suspension always lingering and two backs chomping at the bit to get some touches behind him, a quarterback who can run as well and a very improved passing attack in Seattle. I also can't go with Trent Richardson so early as I struggle to commit my first pick overall to the feature back of a team with big offensive questions, especially at quarterback.

Mark Wimer: I have Calvin Johnson as the number one pick in both PPR and non-PPR formats, so if he's still there at #3 I'm likely going to pull the trigger on Johnson. I also really like Doug Martin this year in both formats, but Johnson is so far ahead of the rest of the wide receivers in the field (and he has such a high ceiling) that Johnson would be the guy I grab at #3 under the scenario as described.

Jeff Haseley: My top three are actually C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles, and then Adrian Peterson. I will be surprised if Arian Foster finishes in the Top 3 this year. The work load he has received, not just last year but in seasons prior is starting to concern me. Foster is built to handle the load, but I also think Houston will utilize a now healthy Ben Tate more in the offense this year, thus reducing Foster's involvement. C.J. Spiller is my top running back in PPR leagues. The Bills offense under Doug Marrone is one that I am very interested in. Spiller's 6.1 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per catch last year with over 1,000 yards rushing indicate metrics only reached by some of the game's best running backs in history. The offense that he will be featured in and the opportunity tailored to his skill set, leads me to believe he is about to take the league by storm. My pick in the second spot would be Jamaal Charles. When you look at the Chiefs depth chart only Shaun Draughn and Knile Davis are behind Charles. With a less than stellar receiving corps in Kansas City, Charles should be a major focal point in Andy Reid's offense. Think Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy type of production with better rushing skills.