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6/1/12: There are so many Fantasy Football league nuisances and scoring systems, that it becomes very complicated to put a comprehensive overall Mock Draft together, but we'll give it a shot anyway...When I'm looking at the 2012 Dynasty Rookie Draft, I have one overarching mindset -- if I don't have one of the first three picks in this draft (first 4 of an IDP draft), then I don't really care (to a degree) what picks I have from that point on. Everything that happens after the 3-4th pick are things I don't care heavily about, I'm more than happy to fade out of the 1st-round and make a bunch of gamble picks in the later rounds.
My starting mentality is that Luck, RG3, Richardson, and Kuechly are all transcendent talents who landed in great NFL situations. I would feel excellent about having any of them. Once, we hit the #5 pick overall we start to worry a bit. We really like Doug Martin, but high NFL Draft pick RBs have flamed out early-on...and LeGarrette Blount poses a threat to Fantasy Football opportunity as well.
We all have to be cautious about getting overly smitten with rookies just because they are rookies...filled with an unbridled promise. We often fall in love/lust with these rookies in the summer and could not care less about them by fall of the same year. Only a rare few of these rookies will become real difference-makers in the NFL/on your Fantasy Football team.
The mathematics of rookies entering the NFL favor just assuming any/all given rookies will be a bust/mediocre. If you adopt that mindset, you'll be right 90%+ of the time with the first round of talent, and right about 95% of the time after that. This "care-free" thought process will also allow you to deal with the Dynasty Rookie Draft with more clarity, and less emotion.
There are better prospects leftover from 2011 (or prior) that may be available much, much cheaper than what many of these 2012 rookies are worth. Some Dynasty leagues will allow you to draft any player not on any current league roster...so a Shane Vereen, Bernard Scott, Rob Housler, Donald Jones, Ricky Stanzi, etc. may be available in some of your drafts. I can't guess that, so I am strictly pretending this draft involves just the 2012 players.
Here we go:
#1) QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
You have to make this pick at #1, not RG3 and not Trent Richardson. Luck is the most likely replica of Aaron Rodgers of any QB in the NFL. The Colts will build this franchise around him, plus he plays in a dome for at least 8-games a year, and will do his work in a typically favorable conference of defenses to face. There are no road blocks or red-flags with Luck. The QB position is the most valuable of any position for Dynasty Fantasy Football given the longevity and based on our scoring studies. You have to pick Luck, there is no debate about this (to us).
#2) QB Robert Griffin III, Washington
I have a small twinge of hesitation on a highly-mobile QB to begin with...it's my own bias. I also have slight concerns on RG3's Wonderlic scores, and how much Mike Shanahan may meddle him to a slow Fantasy Football death. However, our data also points to a possible second-coming of a Steve Young-like talent...and that's too good to pass up. Really good RBs like Trent Richardson are a dime-a-dozen and have short-shelf lives in comparison to what RG3 might deliver on a valuation basis. I have to go Luck over RG3, and then RG3 over everyone else.
#3) LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina
If you have IDP in your draft, here is a potential 8-10 total-tackle per game ILB that could anchor a defense for a decade. All the Luck-RG3 over Richardson arguments applies to valuing Kuechly over Richardson. This is a special case. I don't normally favor an IDP this high, but our computer scouting models are blowing up on Kuechly, so I will follow its lead.
#4) RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland
I would be fine making this pick at #3 (or #4 if an IDP league), because the Cleveland situation for projected RB workload is excellent for Richardson in 2012. A main-carry RB is becoming a very rare commodity, and is going the way of extinction. Richardson has no threat from Montario Hardesty, et al.
The reason I am a little nervous with falling in love here is that 2012 looks great, but as teams turn to a tandem-backfield...what if the Browns clean house after this season (and they should) and change philosophies? If Richardson were drafted on let's say Miami -- how excited are you if Trent is teamed with Reggie in 2012? How exciting was Mark Ingram when thrown into the Saints RB jungle? That same thing could happen in the snap of a finger in 2013 and thus cut Richardson's Fantasy Football output/value by 20-40%. Good RBs are an easier to come by commodity, and have less longevity typically, so Richardson falls beyond Luck-RG3-Kuechly without hesitation for me. **Now things in this Dynasty Rookie Draft get more interesting (kinda). I am mostly happy making my next pick at #5, but the scenarios are getting fuzzy. I have no issue just bailing out of the rest of the 1st-round...knowing what's likely to happen. If I could trade out of #5 to fall back to #6 (and maybe beyond) to allow someone to step-in to get Justin Blackmon...I would in a heartbeat.**
#5) TE Coby Fleener, Indianapolis or RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay
About 70% of the time in the May 2012 rookie drafts I've tracked, I see the post Luck-RG3-Richardson (whatever order they are taken) pick made with Doug Martin. 29% of the time it's Justin Blackmon...and 1% "other." I'm going with he "other" route with Fleener. By no means is Fleener the 5th most talented prospect in the 2012 Dynasty Rookie Draft. Fleener is good, but potentially made great for Fantasy Football by Andrew Luck. The additional valuation push is the relative value of top TEs in Fantasy Football; good/great TEs are much more valuable in the big picture than a good/great RB or WR.
We like Doug Martin a lot, but LeGarrette Blount is lurking. If they start splitting carries...or if Blount just outplays Martin, you'll want to tear your hair out. All the valuation things I mentioned above with Richardson apply to Martin. I'd take Fleener here, unless I was otherwise loaded at TE and was more 2012 RB desperate.
If I were targeting Fleener here, if I could, I would trade this pick to fall down to #7-8 to get Fleener and pick up some other asset for my troubles.
#6) RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay or Coby Fleener, Indianapolis
Again, we really like Martin, but in relative value terms not as much as the first five guys mentioned. If my team was loaded for 2012 in all areas except RB...then I'd favor Martin over Fleener. **At this point, I now start to become bored with the talent in this Dynasty Rookie Draft. I have little/no interest in Justin Blackmon, so I don't want the #7 pick if Luck-RG3-Kuechly-Richardson-Fleener-Martin are gone. I would be happy not to pick again until the 2nd-3rd round at this point. However, that would make a pretty crappy article, so I am pressing on as if I have to make the #7 pick...**
*I am not listing Blackmon as a pick because I wouldn't take him first-round except to trade him, so likely he would be gone before I even got to that point that I would consider taking him on a talent basis. Our computer thinks he is slightly overrated as a receiver, physically mediocre for the NFL, and now on a horrible team...other than that we love him.
#7) WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
The player remaining on the board at this point that has several data points in common with the elite NFL "big-WRs" is Jeffery. Brandon Marshall does not scare me with Jeffery. They should both be able to thrive...with Jeffery physically built as the better red-zone option. Alshon Jeffery's issue is Alshon Jeffery (motivation/effort). When he's "right," Jeffery is a difference-making weapon, so with that I would be comfortable making him the pick here. **At this point, the players that our computer feels could be major talents are not a threat to be taken here (Foles, Kendricks, Irvin, and Carrier). They will be available with my next pick(s) most likely. So, I have to consider when I want to pull the trigger on them this earlyâ€¦it doesn't make sense to grab them here when I can get them later. If I were forced to make a pick at #8-9-10, my first consideration would be to take a Lamar Miller, David Wilson, or Bernard Pierce if I currently possessed their handcuff NFL starter -- Bush, Bradshaw, or Rice. So if I already had the starter, then taking the rookie handcuff would be my next maneuver. Aside from that thought, pressing on as if handcuffs aren't an issue...**
#8) RB Lamar Miller, Miami
6/1/12 = I have no great affinity for Miller; we just think that the odds of him getting to substantial opportunity is quicker in Miami than what Ronnie Hillman's is in Denver. Miller is also a little physically bigger than Hillman. My coin flip lands with Miller over Hillman here.
7/1/12 = Looking deeper at this Miami situation longer-ish term -- Reggie Bush is an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2012. We are thinking more along the lines of that Bush will be on the move...good year or not. If you think the Dolphins will be terrible in 2012, then they will be rebuilding again in 2013. It's possible that they might be rebuilding by mid-season 2012 and trading Reggie Bush if they are like a (1-5) record to start. If Bush goes in 2013, or mid-season 2012 -- Lamar Miller may become important faster than we first thought. Looking at prospective quicker value, mixed with good talent (with some upside) and a potential nice opportunity for more workload -- we are moving Miller up higher on speculation.
#9) WR Ryan Broyles, Detroit
We like Broyles, but we also like a lot of other â€œsmall-WRs" from this draft. The computer just happens to love his situation well ahead of the situations for A.J. Jenkins or Rishard Matthews. Broyles had insane output at Oklahoma, and if not for an injury late last season he might have been taken in the 1st-round of the 2012 NFL Draft. I'm not a huge fan of the "small-WR" earlier in Dynasty Rookie Drafts, but given what's left and how quickly Broyles could have an impact in a fast-pace offense -- I'll reach for Broyles.
#10) QB Russell Wilson, Seattle
I know this is shocking, but bear with me for the logic. Our computer scouting models favor Nick Foles a lot more, and also projects R. Wilson as a likely NFL bust. The bust-call surrounds Wilson's height issues. Everyone has said it, "â€¦if Wilson were 2-3 inches taller." If not for the height issues, Wilson scores big in most every way we statistical scout a QB. Given what Wilson potentially brings to the table, and our non-belief in Matt Flynn or Tavaris Jackson...Wilson could hit the field right away in Seattle. Wilson is very mobile, so he could be Fantasy Football relevant quickly. I'm purely betting that lightning will strike here, and either he defies the height issue onto greatnessâ€¦or he just gets a fast start, and I trade him. He is unique, and a gamble I'm OK checking out. **Michael Floyd is likely gone by now, and I have no intention of taking him unless it was to trade him. We think he is a mediocre/good talent joining a team with several good receiving options. We don't see him putting up huge Fantasy Football stats on a consistent basis, and especially not with Larry Fitzgerald there.***
#11) QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia
6/1/12: He will not go anywhere near this high, but you are forcing me to make picks! We think Foles has some of those statistical tendencies of the NFL great QBs, so our interest is piqued. We also have no confidence in Michael Vick as a passer, so Foles time may be closer than anyone realizes. I wouldn't be shocked if he saw the field in 2012 (and that would be ugly, he's still just a rookie). This is more of a long-term investment.
8/11/12: Foles looked very good in his first preseason game, but it's early. However, Vick injuring his hand (and playing sloppy again prior to that) reminds us how tenuous the situation is at QB for Philly. Mike Kafka also broke his hand, and now Foles is already the #2 (he probably was already anyway). This is the future for Philly, and that day may be here a lot sooner than expected.
#12) WR Stephen Hill, NY Jets
6/1/12 = I'd be a little higher on Hill if not for the Sanchez-Tebow circus. Tebow becoming a starting-QB is death to the surrounding RBs and WRs for Fantasy Football. Hill is nice, but not ultra-elite...I don't want to wait around for 2-3 years until the Tebow-Sanchez-Ryan-Sparano cat-fight comes to its horrific end. If last season's performance by Plaxico Burress represents what a "big-WR" will do with Sanchezâ€¦sorry, I'm not that entranced by the possibilities.
7/1/12 = It's still a circus, and it may take time to sort out, but if a radical house-cleaning happens with the Jets or maybe all this mayhem works out there is less roadblocks in the way for Hill to have a Fantasy Football impact. We are just moving up just a nudge on a situational speculation.
#13) WR A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco
I don't want to make this pick, but I have to. We love A.J. Jenkins, but we hate the 49ers low pass-attempt passing game. We've given up on Alex Smith as a big-stat passer a while ago, and have zero faith in Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers passing game looks grim in its current iterationâ€¦and for the future. However, Jenkins is the type of WR that can be used in a boring passing game with bubble screens and quick passes, so he has the speed/talent profile that can make some Fantasy Football hay out of simple opportunities. "Small-WRs" are a dime-a-dozen, so I'm not overly enthused here.
#14) LB Mychal Kendricks, Philadelphia
Kendricks is such a rare talent, and incredibly fast/agile athlete who can be used in so many ways. At this point, I'm getting totally indifferent with what's left in this Dynasty Rookie Draft, so I am starting to pay a steeper price than necessary to make sure I get my hands on potential elite talent that I want. Obviously, this play is if your IDP scoring is on equal footing/importance with offensive player scoring.
#15) OLB/DE Bruce Irvin, Seattle
It's possible that Irvin is a true transcendent pass-rusher coming from this draft class. I'm also afraid of his off-field past issues, and am also concerned that he is a one-dimensional player for Fantasy Football (all sacks, nothing else). In a heavy sack favored scoring system on IDP; I'd probably have Irvin around #11-13 in this rookie draft.
#16) RB Robert Turbin, Seattle
7/1/12 = We are starting to come around to Turbin as a Marshawn Lynch 2.0. Yes, Lynch is there and that is a road block, but among rookie RBs -- most of them only have speculative value on a starter's injury. On the surface, we see Turbin as just a good (not great) talent. Given where Turbin excels at in our computer scouting profiles -- he may have more value with his TD/power abilities...and he is a Lynch injury from quick relevance.
8/1/12 = Turbin continues to rise the more we monitor the situation. The likelihood of a Lynch capitulation is rising, and our computer feels Turbin is the proper heir apparent that can fill that role identical to Lynch.
#17) RB David Wilson, NY Giants
6/1/12: This would be just a raw bet on Ahmad Bradshaw getting injured (like that would ever happen). Wilson is talented...the only issue is opportunity. He's blocked now, but a Bradshaw injury from potential excitement. NYG RB Da'Rel Scott is no slouch, so Wilson as the obvious Bradshaw handcuff is not a guarantee, but the odds are that he would be.
7/1/12: Falling more and more out of "like" the more we look at his data.
#18) DE Chandler Jones, New England
8/11/12: Jones was not in our original top-50 in June, July, or August, but he rockets in now. For those with IDP, with sacks as critical to scoring -- there may be no better rookie than Jones for instant Fantasy Football scoring impact. The Pats defense is stacked with talent. From what we saw in the preseason opener, Jones couldn't be contained by a very good NFL O-Tackle. When Jones wasn't putting pressure on the QB, he was chasing down RBs/WRs from behind. We may be wildly hysterical from one game/data point, but the Pats situation lends itself to a heavy sack total -- and we originally thought Jake Bequette would capitalize over Jones, but were on our heels now on that first data read. Still like Bequette too, but the visual of Jones is trumping the computer data right now.
#19) WR Brian Quick, St. Louis
Quick has a good size at 6'3"+ and 220-pounds, but it's all the other measureables that are troubling. He is a little slower/less-agile without much of a vertical leap. I like Danario Alexander as the Rams "big-WR" of note, except he's always injured. Quick is worth a look, but I'm not overly excited about it.
#20) WR Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati
I like Sanu first and foremost because he has several interesting data measurements that point to something good/great, but he also has some concerning red-flags. Sanu could be a great slot/possession option for Andy Dalton, but there are several interesting WRs on Cincy with Jordan Shipley, Ryan Whalen, Armon Binns, Marvin Jones among a few others of mild interest. If I knew Sanu would defeat them all, and play every down...I'd move him up a few notches. The depth chart is so stacked, so I'm not sure any Bengals WR will be huge for Fantasy Football going forward.
#21) WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
Hilton is like a million other tiny/speedy WRs...he's fine, but nothing completely unique. However, getting to play on the turf with Andrew Luck with a WR depth chart that is more wide-open for Hilton to work into quickly gives him higher Fantasy Football value. Worth taking a look for quick impact, but is likely not a long-term star.
#22) TE/WR Derek Carrier, Oakland
Carrier wasn't drafted, so no real threat that he will be taken in the first 20 picks of a Dynasty Rookie Draft. We like Carrier as a gamble at either WR or TE on Oakland, the situation is pretty clear on the roster if Carrier is as talented as we think he might be. The home run here is if Carrier is classified as a TE for Fantasy Football, then it could be an excellent thing. Carrier is a long shot, but there is so much raw talent on paper (and not much other talent available in this draft left to argue about) that I would be sure to make this pick...likely I could wait until the last round to make the selection, but I want to make sure I don't miss him so I listed him here. A raw gamble.
#23) TE Ladarius Green, San Diego
I make this pick, especially if I have Antonio Gates on my Dynasty roster as my main/only TE of note for 2012. We think Green is a talent, and we all know that Gates has battled foot issues the past two seasons. I'd even make this pick at some point just to hold over someone else who had Gates. I'd also make this pick with the intent of trading for Gates on the cheap for 2012 and holding both cards. If you have/want Gates, you should try to keep Green along with it as insurance.
#24) RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver
We see nothing overly special here with several other Broncos RB options present. We're not sure Hillman will ever be a feature RB (and they are going into extinction anyway), more just a part of ensemble/3rd-down RB.
#25) WR Rishard Matthews, Miami
On a better team/offense, I'd have Matthews in my Dynasty Rookie Draft 1st-round. We think Matthews might be a special slot/possession WR, a rare combination of size/speed/hands. On Miami, as currently constituted, he will likely be a "ghost" for years. At a certain point I'm gambling that some miracle happens in the Miami situation, but I am laughing even as I type those words.
Guys who will likely go top-20, but we didn't give any love to:
WR Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville -- already discussed
WR Michael Floyd, Arizona -- already discussed
WR Rueben Randle, NY Giants -- we just do not see what everyone else does with Randle. Even if there is more talent here, where does he become relevant with Nicks and Cruz there? Were you that excited about Mario Manningham's output in past years?
RB LaMichael James, San Francisco -- the situation is way too crowded, and I think Kendall Hunter is the superior young SF RB.
RB Bernard Pierce, Baltimore -- the situation is also crowded, when will Pierce ever get to touch the ball? If I owned Ray Rice, I might make this pick in the late first-round as insurance. We like Pierce, but hate the situation for him in Baltimore.
RB Isaiah Pead, St. Louis -- just not a big believer in Pead, and I realize after Steven Jackson he's all the Rams seem to have. If Jackson went down, the Rams would have a RB of note in by the end of the day. I'm sure they will add a veteran or talent during all the roster churn of the next few months. Pead is a small scat-back that is not a front-line RB potential.
WR Kendall Wright, Tennessee -- I have less than zero interest in this mega-bust waiting to happen. Maybe he loses weight and gets it together, but I'll let someone else call Jenny Craig and deal with him. Even with that, not a fan of Jake Lockerâ€¦so I'll pass.
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami -- we think he is a high-probable bust, no interest.
QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland -- we think he is a mediocre talent and is limited in value with his age. Not a fan of the Browns offensive weapons, so we'll just let someone else mess with this.
The next 25 prospects for a Dynasty Rookie Draft:
#26) FS Harrison Smith, Minnesota -- I consider this purely if I had a need at Safety in IDP, because Smith is a talent and should play right away.
#27) CB Josh Robinson, Minnesota -- We think Robinson is the best CB in this draft. In his division, there will be passes flying all over the place for him to defend and pick-off. You can take Stephon Gilmore here with the same thought process, but we like Robinson better.
#28) TE Michael Egnew, Miami -- I'd like to move him up the draft list, but as stated prior â€“ we are not fans of the Miami offense/QB situation...and the TE situation is also crowded there. At a certain point, I'd take shot on him due to TE relative valuations.
#29) K Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis -- we have great grades on Zuerlein in our new statistical algorithm evaluations of kickers. If your league is deep enough to where good kickers are rare to turn over, Zuerlein should be an instant starter for St. Louis.
8/11/12 = It would seem crazy to take a Kicker this high, but Zuerlein may be a Sebastian Janikowski 2.0. A great final pick in a Dynasty Rookie Draft.
#30) S Mark Barron, Tampa Bay -- we're not as huge a fan as many others are, but he is likely to play quickly and be able to produce Fantasy stats. We think Harrison Smith is the superior NFL Safety prospect.
#31) QB Brock Osweiler, Denver -- we're very intrigued by Osweiler, but we're so sure he is going to flame out because of his bad decision making patterns that we can't go a lot higher to "reach" for him. Peyton may have 1-2 good seasons remaining at best, so this is likely a 2014-15 storyâ€¦not sure I want to wait around.
#32) WR Marvin McNutt. Philadelphia -- our computer has him rated higher than many WRs we already "took," but the computer doesn't like the Eagles depth chart situation for him.
#33) DE Jake Bequette, New England -- A high sack-prowess in college, and the Pats situation fits him perfectly for sack tallies quickly.
#34) DE/LB Whitney Mercilus, Houston -- Our computer models have concerns that the talent on the Texans runs so deep that Mercilus (who we like) will not be able to produce enough sacks/stats to be viable for many in Fantasy Football. At least not right away.
#35) OLB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay -- Will have an instant impact with Tampa Bay in 2012.
#36) WR Dale Moss, Green Bay -- Played to start the second half of their preseason opener, and displayed great hands. Moss has the measureables, with experience and James Jones and Donald Driver moving on soon, this could be a homerun.
#37) TE Taylor Thompson, Tennessee -- Would be a bit higher if Tennessee had a good-great QB. We have felt all along that Jake Locker is a flameout, and Matt Hasselbeck has been a dud for years...and isn't getting any better.
#38) WR Toney Clemons, Pittsburgh -- the depth chart has a fairly clear path for Clemons to be a "big-WR" (6'2+, 210-pounds) for the Steelers. Clemons has some interesting measureables on paper, but some red-flags as well.
#39) WR Michael Ebert, New England -- on a gamble that he can slide in as the next Wes Welker on a Welker injury. If I already had Welker, I would make this pick a bit earlier for insurance.
#40) TE Drake Dunsmore, Tampa Bay -- Pure speculation on the suspect TB TE situation.
#41) DT Derek Wolfe, Denver -- Our computer scouting models shows him to be an future elite NFL DT, but the DT position doesn't typically mean much for Fantasy Football scoring.
#42) WR Devin Goda, Baltimore -- Purely a gamble that some of what our computer sees fits in nicely with the Ravens void of "big-WR" talent.
8/1/12: There has been little buzz yet from camps on Goda, but there has been on LaQuan Williams. Being undrafted, he is probably headed toward being cut and placed on practice squad for 2012.
#43) WR Danny Coale, Dallas -- a bet that he becomes an instant "Wes Welker" for Tony Romo. He's a better dice-roll in a PPR league.
8/11/12: Dropping because he is falling behind in camp due to injury. Coale may miss a great window to jump into quick playing time in 2012.
#44) TE James Hanna, Dallas -- Incredible measureables, limited college production...this is a raw gamble.
#45) WR Junior Hemmingway, Kansas City -- 7/1/12: Liking this profile more and more with Kansas City, especially if KC moves up to a higher pass-attempt offense with Ricky Stanzi by mid-2012 or 2013.
#46) K Randy Bullock, Houston -- 7/1/12: Will be the starting Kicker for a pretty productive offense, maybe a poor man's Dan Bailey in 2012.
#47) RB Chris Rainey, Pittsburgh *hoping he would move to WR -- 7/1/12: The more we look at this, the less sense it makes. Rainey will play, but he is not built for more than 1-3 carries a game, and Pittsburgh has much better WR options than him. A useful cog, extremely limited Fantasy Football upside.
#48) TE Evan Rodriquez, Chicago -- 7/1/12: Rodriguez has a unique talent, a similar to Aaron Hernandez skill set that I don't see Chicago being able to replicate Tom Brady...plus the WR talent there is much improved, I don't see how Rodriquez could be Fantasy Football relevant.
#49) SS/FS Matt Daniels, STL
#50) OLB Zach Brown, Tennessee
Dropping off Top-50 since 8/1/12: RB Joe Martinek, NY Giants, WR Greg Childs, Minnesota
As of 8-11-2012. Situations change via injury, trade, etc. This is knowing what we know now. Your needs, your scoring systems, the emotions of the owners in your league would/could all obviously alter this. After the first couple picks, the difference between taking my 9th pick or 13th pick...or 18th pick vs. 25th pick is all debatable and fluid. I'm not married to much of any of it except Luck over everyone, RG3 is next, I want a lottery ticket on Derek Carrier, and I'm avoiding Justin Blackmon. After that, I'm pretty flexible.Good Luck!