I was graciously invited to participate in the 2nd Rant Sports Writers 2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft. Your humble writer was hit with the first pick. In the actual NFL draft, the first selection is nice to have. For a snake draft, the first pick means a long wait til the second. Therefore, my strategy is go for an elite quarterback right off the bat.
Round 1, Pick 1: QB Aaron Rodgers – What makes Rodgers so attractive is not just his ability to rack up passing yards and touchdowns with fellow elite QBs, but it is his acumen at picking up rushing yards as well.
Round 2, Pick 20: RB Matt Forte – At this point, the top running backs are gone along with the best QBs. When Forte was still available I knew I had a bit of luck. Forte, when healthy, is a yards machine. Although he lacks in touchdown production, he can also catch the ball out of the backfield, so in a PPR league he is valuable.
Round 3, Pick 21: RB Marshawn Lynch - The good thing about the first pick, is the two picks in a row that begin to follow. So after selecting Forte, I took a workhorse in Lynch. In 2011 Lynch had over 12 hundred yards and 12 TDs. Seattle handed Lynch the ball 19 times a game. Yes please.
Round 4, Pick 40: WR Hakeem Nicks - At this point the best receiver options are off the board. Because I feel set at quarterback and running back, the time for a pass catcher is now. I’ll take Nicks who averages five receptions a game and has a Manning throwing him the football.
Round 5, Pick 41: WR Steve Smith - Every year I pass on Smith because I keep thinking he’ll show his age. Every year I get burned for that strategy. I’ll take Smith in 2012 because he had 1,394 yards with a rookie QB in 2011.
Round 6, Pick 60: RB Willis McGahee – For those who watched Denver Broncos games last year, it is self evident that McGahee was a stud between the tackles. Peyton Manning replacing Tim Tebow will likely mean less carries as the option offense goes back into the history books. That being said, Denver still plans to use McGahee as the feature back. In Manning’s offense that isn’t a bad deal.
Round 7, Pick 61: TE Jermichael Finley - Last year I took Finley as my No. 1 tight end. I selected Rob Gronkowski as my second option. Needless to say Finley didn’t see a lot of action. Gronkowski was the first pick in the 2nd round of this draft, but Finley was available at 61 and likely not much longer. For tight ends outside of New England, Finley’s 55 receptions and 8 TDs in 2011 is solid pickup.
Round 8, Pick 80: RB Michael Bush – Bush established himself as decent back with big play ability in Oakland. I’m building my bench by this point, so a backup plan to Forte (who has missed time because of injury) as well as a handcuff is what I’m thinking.
Round 9, Pick 81: RB Beanie Wells - The Wells pick is a bit of a gamble admittedly. When the Cardinals back is healthy, he is flat out awesome. In the ninth round, I’ll take the risk.
Round 10, Pick 100: WR Santonio Holmes - There are plenty of negatives with Holmes; poor attitude, inconsistent QB play, and an offense that likes to the run the ball. That being said, he is the Jets best option in the passing game.
Round 11, Pick 101: RB Ben Tate - Although Arian Foster is going get the majority of the carries in Houston, when Tate does handle the ball he is excellent. Tate had four games with 90 or more yards in 2011.
Round 12, Pick 120: QB Josh Freeman - I’m hoping 2011 was step back for Freeman as he was forced to take more chances on a bad team. This year, Vincent Jackson arrives in the passing game to help out the third year QB. Freeman gets the Panthers during Rodgers bye week. I’ll take my chances against that defense.
Round 13, Pick 121: WR Nate Washington – The ‘”other receiver in Tennessee, Washington isn’t at Kenny Britt’s level, but still was impressive last year. With injury issues for the Titans one option, Washington has nice upside in the 13th round.
Round 14, Pick 140: D/ST Steelers – I understand Pittsburgh is getting older on the defensive side of the ball. If they can play close to their 2011 numbers, I’ll be happy with the pick.
Round 15, Pick 141: TE Brent Celek - This is great pick if I don’t say so myself. What Celek lacks in flash he makes up for in consistency. From week 8 on last year, Celek had five or more catches six times including a 156 yard game against the Jets.
Round 16, Pick 160: K Rob Bironas - Is it possible to make the last pick in the draft a steal with a kicker? If so Bironas should qualify. He is deadly accurate plus 40 yards (85.2 % in the past five years).