Evan Silva

Goal Line Stand

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Silva's Post-Camp Top 150

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Third Round

25. Cam Newton (ADP: Mid 2nd round) -- Forget, for a minute, last year's rushing TDs and whether they're "repeatable." Newton is the most physically dominant young player in football, and I think it's only a matter of time (this year or next) before he takes over as the overall fantasy scoring leader and consensus No. 1 pick. Perhaps I'm a year early, but I'll be betting on this player going forward. I like Cam as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback, passing Rodgers, Brady, and Brees.

26. Aaron Rodgers (ADP: 2nd overall) -- Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. I have a third-round fantasy grade on him because he plays a deep position in a passing league where each year numerous passers emerge from the middle- and late-round woodwork to score at "elite" rates. I think Newton, Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Vick, Stafford, and Ryan will provide first-tier 2012 production. I'd much rather grab Vick or Ryan while trying for this year's Stafford or Newton later in the draft than blow my early-round wad on a quarterback. It's basic Supply & Demand.

27. Tom Brady (ADP: 5th overall) -- I was asked recently which quarterback I think offers the highest upside at quarterback, which the highest "floor," and which the best combination of upside and floor. My answer to the latter two queries was Brady. I answered Newton to the first.

28. Drew Brees (ADP: 8th overall) -- Seven straight seasons of top-six quarterback stats lock in Brees as an elite producer even without Robert Meachem and Carl Nicks. The additional loss of Sean Payton is not a concern for Brees' fantasy outlook. OC Pete Carmichael returns, and the 2011 offense averaged 36 more yards and over seven more points per game with Carmichael calling plays. Carmichael did so from Week 7 on, after Payton blew out his knee on the sideline.

29. Michael Vick (ADP: Early 5th round) -- Vick's ADP has been torpedoed by a perfect storm of factors. One legion of owners simply does not believe in Vick. Never did. Another legion bought on Vick last season, and came away disappointed. A third legion has watched this year's preseason games. Vick got nicked up in each of the first two weeks, so he obviously can't stay healthy. Aggressive, forward-looking fantasy owners will pounce on Vick in the third or fourth round. He's a weekly difference maker, and he is the No. 1 value pick quarterback in 2012 drafts.

30. Matthew Stafford (ADP: 12th overall) -- I banged the table for Stafford as a value pick in 2011 drafts, and he rewarded "risk" takers with a top-five quarterback season at the cost of a seventh-round pick. Now a full year removed from injury, Stafford's ADP takes him off my radar. Fantasy drafts are a value game, and I'd rather target Vick or Matt Ryan several rounds later.

31. Percy Harvin (ADP: Mid 4th round) -- Chris Wesseling recently suggested that the Vikings' 2012 offense could be a sneaky goldmine for fantasy value. My offseason game reviews of Christian Ponder uncovered a better-than-advertised arm, and Harvin was an absolute machine after Ponder took the reins as a rookie, averaging well over 100 yards per game with seven TDs in the final seven weeks. Harvin is being drafted as a WR2, but he's the rare receiver who can score like a WR1 in both PPR and non-PPR formats. Ponder is willing to force feed him the football.

32. Brandon Lloyd (ADP: Late 4th round) -- The Patriots' offense will go deep more as Josh McDaniels replaces Bill O'Brien, and Lloyd will benefit from single coverage while defenses key up to stop Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Welker. Lloyd's Average Draft Position has risen with Rotoworld pumping him up, but he's still worth it in the mid to late fourth round. He'll be drafted as a WR2 and score like a WR1. I don't find Lloyd's quiet preseason (three targets, one catch) to be a concern because New England clearly has not taken these exhibition games seriously.

33. Steve Smith (ADP: Late 4th round) -- Defenses schemed to take away Smith down last season's stretch, but it didn't end well for opponents. Carolina won four of its final six games -- three by blowout -- while playing playoff teams Detroit and Atlanta tough. Teams will have to figure out different ways to defend this offense, which ranked seventh in the NFL in 2011 and looks like a top-five unit for 2012. Smith returns as the featured player in Rob Chudzinski's vertical scheme.

34. Jordy Nelson (ADP: Late 3rd round) -- As alluded to previously, only Calvin Johnson scored more fantasy points among receivers than Nelson in 2011. While Nelson's efficiency stats were seemingly flukily off the charts, I think he has legitimately developed into a top-ten NFL wide receiver and will continue to outscore teammate Greg Jennings. Rodgers shows impressive trust in Nelson by throwing him the ball in up-for-grabs situations. I think he's every bit worth his ADP.

35. Brandon Marshall (ADP: Late 2nd round) -- Hype was heavy on Marshall after a pair of long catches in Chicago's second preseason game, but there are a few things to remember. His value has always been superior in PPR compared to standard because he struggles in the red zone and doesn't go deep. I think Marshall is being a bit overrated in TD- and yard-heavy leagues.

36. Jeremy Maclin (ADP: Late 5th round) -- In another case of fantasy leaguers relying on last year's stats, Maclin is shaping up as one of the premier value picks at receiver. We're quick to forget he had the look of a future All Pro in 2010, before Maclin's 2011 performance was affected by mysterious offseason illness, leading to significant weight loss. Maclin is Vick's best red-zone target, and clearly a more complete wideout than DeSean Jackson. He has a boatload of upside.

Fourth Round

37. Aaron Hernandez (ADP: Early 5th round) -- Reports out of Foxboro that Hernandez may emerge as Tom Brady's No. 1 pass option are promising, and there are few tight ends with higher "floors." When you get past Graham, Gronk, and Gates in your draft, Hernandez at the very least keeps you competitive week to week with a high volume of touches and plenty of playmaking ability in a high-scoring offense. If the beat writers' suggestions are correct, Hernandez will do much more than that. Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis are next in line. Finley's on-field play can be maddeningly inconsistent, and San Francisco's run-first philosophy holds Davis back.

38. Antonio Brown (ADP: Mid 4th round) -- The game tape shows Brown to be not as dynamic as Mike Wallace, and certainly not of similar ilk in the minds of opposing defensive coordinators. But we are projecting stats here, not debating the on-field impact of double and triple teams. The end of Wallace's holdout is good news for Brown's fantasy outlook. Wallace will continue to command heavy coverage while Brown guts secondaries inside the numbers. I really like Brown as a WR2 in what may be a more pass-happy Pittsburgh offense than people expect. Brown has showed off his own impressive talent with 11 preseason receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 18.5 yards per catch.

39. Roddy White (ADP: Mid 3rd round) -- The fantasy owners still drafting White in the second and third rounds haven't paid enough attention. While White should continue to see a healthy dose of targets in Atlanta's pass-heavy offense, even Roddy himself admits Julio Jones will be the featured player in Dirk Koetter's attack. Jones is a WR1. White is a middling WR2 who doesn't provide enough value to support his lofty late-August ADP.

40. Marques Colston (ADP: Late 4th round) -- Colston missed two games last year and still ranked 11th among fantasy receivers. He was eighth in wideout scoring per game. Those are legitimate WR1 numbers. Though Jimmy Graham has overtaken him as the Saints' top receiver, New Orleans' pass-happy attack allows plenty of volume for two upper-echelon fantasy producers. Be it with PPR or non-PPR settings, I think you're in great shape if you secure Colston as a WR2.

41. Victor Cruz (ADP: Late 3rd round) -- If Cruz has any edge on teammate Nicks, it is superior versatility. Cruz can play X, Z, and slot receiver, running a diverse and full route tree in OC Kevin Gilbride's vertical offense. Nicks primarily sticks to the sideline, securing just about everything thrown his way with body control and massive mitts. I think Nicks will score more like the WR1 this year, but Cruz won't be too far off. He's another terrific WR2 regardless of format.

42. Greg Jennings (ADP: Mid 3rd round) -- A precision route runner who moves around the formation more than you might think, Jennings was a top-ten receiver before succumbing to a regular season-ending knee injury after 13 games in 2011. In these rankings, I gave Jordy Nelson the slight edge on Jennings in 2012 projected scoring. But I really think it could go either way.

43. Matt Ryan (ADP: Early 4th round) -- Ryan's ADP has risen on the heels of a monster August, although he still offers value in the fourth round as other quarterbacks primed to score at elite rates irresponsibly fly off the board in the top-24 picks. The Falcons are truly committed to an up-tempo, high-octane passing attack this season, and they have weapons to pull it off with Jones and White outside. Tony Gonzalez remains an effective possession and red-zone target.

44. Eric Decker (ADP: Mid 5th round) -- Chris Wesseling has banged the table for Decker over Demaryius Thomas since long before camp, and I'm jumping on board after viewing each of the Broncos' three preseason games. Thomas is still learning to run pass patterns, while Decker already knows how and is getting open at will. I think he can be a target monster this year.

45. Demaryius Thomas (ADP: Late 5th round) -- I still love Thomas, though. An incredibly tightly wound receiver at 6-foot-3 and over 230 pounds, Thomas refuses to go down on first contact and his rapport with Peyton Manning should grow by the week. Based on physical tools and skill set, it's certainly fair to argue that Thomas offers superior upside to Decker. I think Demaryius' baseline is back-end WR2 stats. He looks to me like a "safe" fifth-round fantasy pick.

46. Darren Sproles (ADP: Mid 3rd round) -- It's still difficult to grasp relying on a standard-league back as an every-week starter when he's not even a lock for 100-plus carries. A very new-wave player, Sproles qualifies because he catches so many passes and is second in line for red-zone work in New Orleans' backfield, essentially rotating there with Mark Ingram. Receptions gain more yards than rushing attempts, anyway, and Sproles has a "floor" of around 6-7 touchdowns.

47. Dwayne Bowe (ADP: Late 5th round) -- Whereas Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Wallace's lengthier holdouts cost them significant study time in new offenses, Bowe reported to the Chiefs in a timely enough manner to play snaps in a preseason game and get 23 days in OC Brian Daboll's system before the opener. An improved Kansas City running game will free him up more, and Bowe has been a top-20 fantasy wideout in each of his last three healthy seasons.

48. Wes Welker (ADP: Late 3rd round) -- Welker remains an elite PPR receiver capable of catching 100 balls, but don't expect a stat line like last year's with Hernandez earning a bigger role and Lloyd commanding targets on the perimeter. Outgoing OC Bill O'Brien's horizontal passing game played to the strengths of Welker. Josh McDaniels will throw downfield more. Look for plenty of receptions out of the slot receiver, but considerable drops in touchdowns and yards.

Fifth Round

49. Maurice Jones-Drew (ADP: Mid 2nd round) -- Jones-Drew is still being drafted as if he's going to play 16 games as a feature back. The history of holdout running backs suggests there's little chance of Jones-Drew living up to a second-round fantasy stab, and Rashad Jennings' impressive preseason bodes especially poorly for MJD's odds of seeing a workload remotely resembling last year's. There is a ton of risk in drafting Jones-Drew, and I don't think the possible reward is worth it. ESPN's Adam Schefter went so far Tuesday morning as to suggest Jones-Drew's holdout will last into the regular season, at least costing him Week 1. While his ADP has dipped a bit recently, I wouldn't even consider taking Jones-Drew before round five.

50. Trent Richardson (ADP: Early 3rd round) -- Throw out for a moment the fact that Richardson's knee problems are recurring. His absence from most of training camp and the entire preseason almost certainly removes Richardson from passing-down consideration, and there are no guarantees on his early-season, early-down workload, either. I love Richardson's ability and think his offensive line is capable of plowing holes, but I don't think he's going to get the ball more than 16 times a game. He's an early fifth-round fantasy pick to me. A dicey, limited RB2.

51. Ahmad Bradshaw (ADP: Early 4th round) -- David Wilson's preseason buzz has been hot and heavy, and it's deserved with 170 total yards on 24 touches. While I believe Bradshaw is obviously overvalued at his average draft slot, I still think he's the back to own in New York and would feel okay about him as my RB2. Wilson needs a Bradshaw injury just to touch flex value.

52. Stevan Ridley (ADP: Mid 6th round) -- I must not have been the only one watching the Patriots' third preseason game Saturday night against the Bucs. Ridley's ADP has since leaped from the mid-seventh round into the mid sixth. Ridley dominated first-team work with the Tom Brady group, piling up 16 carries for 87 yards (5.4 YPC) and multiple red-zone chances, including a goal-line score. He also caught three passes. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen exited with a foot injury. Ridley's week-to-week consistency may sting some during the season as the Patriots adapt their rushing attack to account for opponents based on game plans, but I think Ridley is going to score a lot of touchdowns and be much more effective than BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the same early-down plowhorse role. Ridley's violent, decisive running style is very easy to like.

53. Mike Wallace (ADP: Early 5th round) -- I love Wallace's talent. I think he is better than Antonio Brown. But after missing Todd Haley's offensive install by holding out of OTAs and the first month of camp, Wallace left himself 11 days to learn Haley's system on the fly. And how long will it take for the Steelers to implement playcalls on which Wallace is Big Ben's first read? My concern is Wallace will open the year as a clear-out receiver, running deep to take coverage while Brown racks up stats underneath. I'm worried Wallace will be very inconsistent. I hope I'm wrong.

54. Vincent Jackson (ADP: Early 6th round) -- The emergence of a productive running game in Tampa will be crucial to Jackson's fantasy value because the Buccaneers have no other offensive weapons who command coverage. He's not in San Diego with Gates anymore. I am optimistic Martin will spark the rushing attack, though, and was impressed by V-Jax's preseason rapport with Josh Freeman. Jackson was clearly Freeman's go-to guy in the third exhibition week.

55. Kevin Smith (ADP: Late 6th round) -- Smith's preseason ankle injury is a reminder that durability is an ongoing concern. But he is a terrific fit for the Lions' passing-based offense and will play heavy doses of snaps so long as he's healthy. I'd take Smith in the late fifth or sixth round and feel good about him as my RB2. I'm really not worried about Mikel Leshoure.

56. Willis McGahee (ADP: Late 4th round) -- I did offseason game reviews on Demaryius Thomas and the Denver offense, and McGahee's burst and acceleration jumped out to me on tape. His 2011 production was not simply the product of read-option plays. McGahee is still an effective runner, and it's continued to show up in preseason games. His ADP is just a bit too rich.

57. Torrey Smith (ADP: Mid 6th round) -- Credit Pat Daugherty (@RotoPat) for being first to the dance on Smith. The Ravens have designs on implementing a no-huddle offense that will increase passing volume and sheer offensive snaps, and Smith made tremendous strides as a route runner in his first full NFL offseason. His eight catches for 103 yards in two quarters during Baltimore's third preseason game are a sign of things to come. Smith is poised for a big leap.

58. Frank Gore (ADP: Mid 4th round) -- I'd rather take Kendall Hunter in the 12th round. Gore's passing-game role has evaporated in Jim Harbaugh's offense (17 catches in '11), and he's slated to lose goal-line work to Brandon Jacobs while Hunter and LaMichael James steal open-field snaps. I think Gore has a shot at RB2 value for the season's first month and a half, but expect his field time to dwindle down the stretch with Hunter eventually taking over as lead back.

59. Stevie Johnson (ADP: Mid 6th round) -- Johnson is the featured receiver in a passing-friendly offense that floods the field with wideouts. Chan Gailey's Pistol Spread makes the No. 1 guy awfully difficult to double team. Johnson also might be the premier route runner in football. I like Johnson as more of an elite WR3 than WR2, though. He's not a huge yardage or TD guy.

60. Reggie Wayne (ADP: Late 6th round) -- I like Wayne as a PPR-league WR2 if Austin Collie doesn't receive medical clearance. If Collie does, I'm downgrading Wayne by quite a bit.

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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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