Evan Silva

Goal Line Stand

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Silva's Pre-Camp Top 150

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Third Round

25. Cam Newton (ADP: Late 2nd round) -- I analyzed every QB for the Rotoworld Draft Guide, writing each signal caller's profile, evaluating their 2011 seasons, and thoroughly examining the stats. And I wouldn't draft any of them before the third round. Fantasy drafts are about value, and there's no value in reaching for one of the deepest positions. I would take Cam at No. 25.

26. Aaron Rodgers (ADP: 4th overall) -- Rodgers will probably be a first-round fantasy pick in the majority of drafts, but I think Newton will score more points than him with dominant arm talent and rushing ability. I love Aaron Rodgers, but he obviously won't be on any of my 2012 fantasy teams.

27. Tom Brady (ADP: 8th overall) -- Brady is my pick to lead the NFL in passing yards and TDs, but I could easily see Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, and even Tony Romo or Matt Ryan doing that, too. Again: there's no value in a first- or second-round fantasy QB.

28. Michael Vick (ADP: Early 4th round) -- Based on my pre-camp Top 150 and current ADP data, Vick and Newton are the only two quarterbacks at whom I have a reasonable shot before the fifth round. And I'm fine with that. I like Newton to score more points than anyone in fantasy football this year, and Philly's passing game to rebound with a monster 2012 season.

29. Brandon Lloyd (ADP: Early 5th round) -- Remember the steady stream of glowing reports on Rob Gronkowski coming out of Foxboro last spring and summer? Lloyd is this year's version. While his Average Draft Position may allow patient fantasy leaguers to wait a round before pulling the trigger, Lloyd warrants a third-round fantasy grade with 2007 mini-Moss potential. He's going to feast on single coverage downfield while defenses key up to stop Gronk and Wes Welker.

30. Percy Harvin (ADP: Early 5th round) -- The favorite to lead all receivers in 2012 "touches," Harvin's stats soared after Christian Ponder's 2011 insertion. Harvin racked up 723 yards and seven TDs in the final seven weeks, and Ponder will be the Vikings' full-time starter this year.

31. Demaryius Thomas (ADP: Late 4th round) -- Thomas was playing streetball with Tim Tebow down the stretch last year, but his stats were video gamey. Prorated over 16 games, Thomas' 35/745/4 line in the final seven weeks would have led the NFL in receiving yards and finished second to Calvin Johnson in fantasy receiver scoring. Peyton Manning is now his quarterback.

32. Dez Bryant (ADP: Early 4th round) -- Dez dominated in first halves last year, then went in the tank in the final two quarters due to poor conditioning. In much better shape this season, Bryant is the best candidate in the NFL to unseat Calvin Johnson for the touchdown lead among receivers.

33. Steve Smith (ADP: Mid 4th round) -- Receiver is fantasy's deepest position this season, but there are only 10-15 surefire every-week difference makers. Smith is among them, and he could improve on last year's numbers with 23-year-old Newton likely to take a step forward as a passer.

34. Fred Jackson (ADP: Early 3rd round) -- F-Jax has enough juice left in his legs at 31 to stay ahead of C.J. Spiller, but the Bills will inevitably want their 2010 first-rounder more involved after the light flipped on down last season's stretch. Look for more of a timeshare in the Bills' backfield.

35. Jeremy Maclin (ADP: Early 5th round) -- Folks forget Maclin finished as the No. 13 fantasy receiver as a 22-year-old two seasons ago. Possessing a superior all-around game to DeSean Jackson, look for Maclin to emerge as Philadelphia's No. 1 receiver in a true breakout campaign.

36. Brandon Marshall (ADP: Early 3rd round) -- Marshall led the league in targets in both of his full seasons with Jay Cutler in Denver (2007, 2008). He should resume flirting with 100 receptions, although Marshall's red-zone chops have always left a lot to be desired. I like him better in PPR.

Fourth Round

37. Greg Jennings (ADP: Late 2nd round) -- I'm confident Jennings will reclaim No. 1 status from Jordy Nelson in Green Bay's receiver corps this year, but his top-25 ADP is quite high. Jennings is going ahead of A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Mike Wallace, and I like all three better than him.

38. Antonio Brown (ADP: Early 6th round) -- While Brown's 2011 second-half numbers are likely to prove his absolute ceiling, he has some potential to emerge as Pittsburgh's No. 1 receiver in the new offense. Brown offers better versatility than Wallace, making him more difficult to cover.

39. Matthew Stafford (ADP: Late 2nd round) -- Stafford was last year's obvious QB steal, and I wouldn't count on him regressing much off his 2011 stats. I don't think the answer is to come back and draft Stafford, though. From a value perspective, you're better off finding this year's version.

40. Drew Brees (ADP: 11th overall) -- Brees is capable of putting up production as lofty as Brady and Rodgers and everyone else, but I think Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, and even Ben Roethlisberger can put up those numbers, too. If you disagree with me, draft a quarterback in the first two rounds.

41. Miles Austin (ADP: Late 4th round) -- There is a consensus at Rotoworld that Dez Bryant will raise his game to WR1 levels as a third-year pro. Austin has always been a quality red-zone threat in his own right, though, and as a crisper route runner is a better bet for receptions than his more talented teammate. Bryant is the superior standard-league pick; Austin may still outdo him in PPR.

42. Antonio Gates (ADP: Mid 5th round) -- I admittedly opened the offseason down on Gates after remembering him labor through two seasons at less than 100 percent. I then went back and watched him late in the year, and Gates moved as well as he has in years. Finally healthy, he'll return as Philip Rivers' No. 1 option. I like him as the No. 3 tight end, behind Graham and Gronk.

43. Dwayne Bowe (ADP: Mid 5th round) -- We'd love to see what he could do with a legitimate quarterback. Bowe has finished as a top-20 fantasy receiver in each of his last three full seasons, despite dealing with Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen, and in-season waiver claim Kyle Orton under center. An improved running game in K.C. could help him get open more.

44. Marques Colston (ADP: Late 4th round) -- Colston isn't a "sexy" pick anymore, but consider this: He finished as the No. 11 overall fantasy receiver last year despite 1) Being overtaken by Jimmy Graham as the Saints' top passing-game option, and 2) Missing two games. Colston also enjoyed his first surgery-free offseason since 2007. He's a solid fourth-rounder in all formats.

45. Roddy White (ADP: Mid 3rd round) -- Frank DuPont put it well in his PPR Winning Strategy column for the 2012 Draft Guide: White is more appealing in points-per-reception than standard leagues this season. Look for Julio Jones to take over as Atlanta's top wideout in yards and TDs.

46. Jahvid Best (ADP: Late 6th round) -- I have a round-four fantasy "grade" on Best, but wouldn't take him before the fifth because of his current Average Draft Position. While the concussions are an obvious red flag, it's worth noting that Austin Collie and even Aaron Rodgers entered last season with similar concerns. Neither Collie nor Rodgers missed a single game due to injury.

47. Jordy Nelson (ADP: Early 4th round) -- Skilled enough to maintain WR2 production in Green Bay's offense, Nelson has little chance of repeating his off-the-charts 2011 efficiency. Nelson is a poster boy for owners who chase last year's numbers. He won't finish as the No. 2 wideout again.

48. Tony Romo (ADP: Mid 5th round) -- Romo plays in an offense built to throw the football (elite tackles, poor interior offensive line) and is surrounded by top-shelf weaponry. He's been a starter for three full seasons, and in them never finished worse than No. 7 in quarterback scoring. A la Eli Manning in 2011, I think this will be the season Romo's game reaches new heights. Romo isn't considered an "elite" fantasy quarterback, but he's a serious candidate to outscore the entire field.

Fifth Round

49. Jermichael Finley (ADP: Early 6th round) -- Continue to keep in mind Average Draft Position, but Finley is every bit as talented as the Grahams and Gronkowskis. And whereas Nelson can't possibly redo his outrageously error-free 2011 campaign, Finley enters 2012 from the opposite end of the spectrum. He's going to make people very happy as a fifth- or sixth-round fantasy pick.

50. Victor Cruz (ADP: Late 3rd round) -- Cruz's 2011 season was similar to Nelson's in that he outscored a superior teammate, defying the odds because defenses were more concerned with New York's true "No. 1" receiver. These things tend to regress back to normal. Cruz returns as a strong fantasy WR2, but you're chasing uncatchable stats if you take him in the top three rounds.

51. Darren Sproles (ADP: Mid 3rd round) -- I can see drafting Sproles in the first four rounds in a points-per-reception league or format that awards for return yardage. But he is unlikely to exceed 100 rushing attempts, and probably won't repeat his career-best 2011 touchdown efficiency.

52. Jonathan Stewart (ADP: Early 8th round) -- Entering the 2012 season, there are only 14 -- and no more than 16 -- tailbacks I'd characterize as surefire every-week starters. Plenty of owners will enter the fifth and sixth rounds of drafts with gaping running back holes even if they've picked for value. While Stewart plays in a timeshare, he can be counted on for 12-15 touches per game in an explosive offense. And he's dripping with talent. He's the cream of the "back-end RB2" crop.

53. Frank Gore (ADP: Early 4th round) -- Gore is overpriced at his current Average Draft Position because he's wearing down physically and San Francisco's backfield is headed directly for a committee. Kendall Hunter deserves a bigger role, LaMichael James has Sprolesian talents, and Brandon Jacobs should vulture goal-line scores. While Gore may open the season getting the ball 14-18 times a week, the 49ers' running game will likely evolve into a fantasy quagmire by midyear.

54. Aaron Hernandez (ADP: Early 6th round) -- He should be the Patriots' second most efficient receiver in 2012, behind Wes Welker. Defensive coordinators will spend practice weeks devising ways to take Gronk and Welker away from Brady. Hernandez may not see quite as many targets as last season (No. 8 among TEs) with Lloyd in Foxboro, but his final stats could still be similar.

55. Vernon Davis (ADP: Late 5th round) -- Finally grasping Jim Harbaugh's offense late last year, Davis exploded for 28 catches, 536 yards, and five touchdowns in the 49ers' final five games. The Niners' offseason receiver additions may cost Davis a target or two per week, but Randy Moss commands coverage. Expect Davis to be open more often and to live up to his ADP this season.

56. Kenny Britt (ADP: Early 6th round) -- Britt's recovery from two right knee surgeries needs to be monitored in camp, but he'll be every bit worth a fifth-round fantasy pick if he gets to September setback free. With background in the run-and-shoot, Titans playcaller Chris Palmer is a pass-first mind. And Tennessee's offense has explosive potential with Jake Locker likely to take over soon.

57. Roy Helu (ADP: Late 5th round) -- Helu carries "risk" as a projected committee back in a Shanahan offense, but he's the favorite to lead Washington's backfield in snaps and touches. With top-notch burst and passing-game skills, Helu will make himself difficult to keep off the field.

58. Wes Welker (ADP: Early 3rd round) -- Much more of a PPR asset, the 31-year-old slot receiver wrapped up last season averaging 70.6 yards per game and 10.4 yards per reception in New England's final 11 contests -- numbers in line with Welker's true skill level. The Patriots' offense will be more vertical in 2012, leaning on Josh McDaniels favorite Lloyd downfield and less on an underneath checkdown target.

59. DeSean Jackson (ADP: Mid 5th round) -- Maclin shouldn't have trouble outscoring Jackson in fantasy points this season, but there's certainly potential for the margin to be small. Philly's pass game has major post-hype year upside. D-Jax's value is heavily slanted toward non-PPR leagues.

60. Eric Decker (ADP: Late 6th round) -- Demaryius Thomas offers a higher ceiling in yards and TDs, but Decker has been more of a "pro-style" receiver with route-running chops and plenty of natural tools in his own right. He's shaping up as a value pick, with Thomas going 25 spots earlier.

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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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