August 22, 2011
Go for the running backs
There might be a temptation to take Eagles quarterback Michael Vick early in your fantasy draft — the Michael Vick experience is a bigger thrill when he's on your team — but the first three players off the board should be running backs.
Adrian Peterson was a top-three fantasy back in each of the last three seasons, averaging 1,480 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns during that span. Even though there are questions about Donovan McNabb and the passing game, the Vikings back is a lock to make it four seasons in a row. There's something to be said for having that kind of security.
Arian Foster, who is in a great situation in Houston, is my No. 2 back, followed by Chris Johnson. However, if Johnson's holdout stretches into September, I might opt for Jamaal Charles or Ray Rice with the third pick.
Start by riding A-train
My fantasy draft would begin with Adrian Peterson. He is big, durable and consistent. Other players might have the potential to make you more money, but he's the safest bet for double-digit touchdowns out there. Peterson has scored 30 TDs the last two years.
Even though Chris Johnson is in a contract squabble with the Titans, he'd be my second pick. You have to figure he will report before the start of the regular season, and Johnson has more potential to score long touchdowns than anyone. The only issue is how much the holdout will affect him. Arian Foster had 18 touchdowns last year for the Texans and will be a popular first pick in many fantasy drafts. That's understandable, but I'd like to see him do it again. He's No. 3 for me.
Tom looks terrific
Los Angeles Times
Dangerous as it is to draw firm conclusions from exhibition games, how could you be anything but impressed with how polished Tom Brady looked Thursday against Tampa Bay. He built a four-touchdown lead — albeit not all of it against the No. 1 defense — and gave a preview of that familiar precision we've seen over the years. He's got to be among the first players selected in most fantasy drafts.
As running backs go, I like Houston's Arian Foster, last season's rushing champion who also caught 66 passes. He turns 25 on Wednesday and is just entering the prime of his career.
Detroit's Calvin Johnson is my top fantasy receiver, whether Matthew Stafford stays healthy or not. The up-and-coming Lions might actually have some games late in the season that mean something to them. That helps.
Fostering a lot of love
Get a Foster on your roster — as in Arian Foster — if you want to make your fantasy league playoffs. He's a running and receiving dynamo who has Matt Schaub to keep defenses honest. Chris Johnson, particularly if your league awards bonus points for long touchdowns, is No. 2, while yet another running back is No. 3 in Jamaal Charles, who should score more TDs this year. (If you're in a quarterback-driven league, consider Aaron Rodgers in the top three, as the Pack is stacked.)
Those are the studs. As for the thuds: Adrian Peterson has too much recent wear on the tires. And fantasy fave Michael Vick has as good a chance to remain healthy as Nevin Shapiro has to score a sideline pass for the University of Miami home opener.
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