Fantasy football draft analysis: Lacking quality QBs at top
I explained the concept of the "Magnificent Seven" above, and the early ADP results certainly back up the use of that moniker. The first seven quarterbacks are drafted, on average, by the end of the fourth round. Then, owners are addressing their backfields, receiving corps and tight end positions for nearly two full rounds before turning their attention back to Cutler and the frenzied Mike Martz-offense.
It will be interesting to view how fantasy owners address the return of Favre. He’d been drafted in the back-end of the eighth round in early-summer gatherings, a mere three slots behind Eli Manning (and behind Kolb, Ryan and Flacco). I suspect that he leapfrogs all four of those players, and perhaps even Cutler, to the eighth position among quarterbacks. That would put Favre precisely where I’d ranked him all along.
One final player to review here is Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will get his first taste of preseason action this weekend. Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension is still being reviewed by the commissioner, and the length of the suspension is expected by many scribes and pundits (including me) to be reduced by several games. He’s currently coming off of draft boards at the back-end of the 10th-round as a late QB2. Roethlisberger represents a potential steal in this slot, particularly if the suspension gets cut down.
In standard leagues, owners have thrust Turner back ahead of Andre Johnson, on average, thereby reestablishing some of the long-held "running back-first" mentality. Quarterbacks and wide receivers are crashing the party, but running backs still dominant the early going.
San Diego tailback Ryan Mathews closed the gap on Shonn Greene and DeAngelo Williams following his nine-carry, 50-yard performance against the Bears. Mathews electrified the home crowd by demonstrating his quick feet and cut-back ability, particularly on his 18-yard run. Fantasy owners are clearly concerned about the arrival of LaDainian Tomlinson in New York and Jonathan Stewart’s continued brilliance in Carolina.
Of the presumed starters, the final players coming off of the board are Justin Forsett (end of ninth round) and Arian Foster (16th). Forsett remains in a crowded backfield, so there shan’t be much of a change forthcoming there. However, Foster’s value skyrocketed following Ben Tate’s injury in the preseason opener and Steve Slaton’s latest lost fumble. He may rise to the sixth or seventh round in our next review.
Johnson remains a mid-first round selection, coming off of the board just after the top six running backs, on average. In the past, there may have been some debate about which receiver topped the list. This year, the masses are putting Johnson on the top line in permanent marker.
Behind him, the gap has narrowed between Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald. Moss is in a contract year (as is Brady) and has been an absolute beast since arriving in New England. He’s back for another big run and is probably one of many receivers in Darrelle Revis’ ear, telling him how great he is and how the team needs him. In all seriousness, Moss has been unstoppable and shows no sign of slowing down.
He’s closed the gap on Fitzgerald, who faces myriad challenges entering the 2010 season. Fitzgerald sustained a knee injury this past week and joined a litany of top-notch options on the “walking wounded” list. Fantasy owners were already retreating from Fitzgerald prior to the injury, as the ramifications of the Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin departures still need to play out.
I must make note of the aforementioned Harvin. He entered the day as a mid-fifth round draft selection and was being selected ahead of Hines Ward, Donald Driver, Wes Welker and Robert Meachem on average.
Johnny Knox is currently the top receiver on the Chicago depth chart and caught the only two passes thrown by Cutler in the Bears’ first preseason game. Despite his ascent to the top spot, Knox is being draft four rounds behind Devin Aromashodu.
There are no surprises in the first eight tight ends to come off of the board. Gates and Dallas Clark lead the pack, followed by 2009 breakout hero Vernon Davis, Packers behemoth Jermichael Finley and Jason Witten. Brett Celek (third on my board) is currently being drafted as the seventh tight end, a full round ahead of comeback prospect, Owen Daniels of the Texans.
I’ll close with quick reviews of two other tight ends. Fantasy owners must have heard my cries from the mountain top, as Zach Miller of the Raiders is climbing the board rapidly. The arrival of Jason Campbell has fans of the “Silver & Black” and fantasy owners excited that Miller could be a breakout star of 2010.
The other "forgotten" man at the position is John Carlson of the Seahawks. He’s virtually being ignored by owners, drafted in the late 200s, on average.