The 2013 fantasy football season is over, but with a New Year ahead, we've decided to take an early look at what next year's first three rounds might look like. I gathered six Carroll County Times' sports writers, along with myself, to do a 12-team round. Everyone picked two teams, except brothers Brian and Danny Haines, who each picked one.
The rules set ahead of time were that a roster would consist of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DST, although -- spoiler alert -- no one took a kicker or defense in the first three rounds. The league would also be a half-point per reception.
There were certainly some surprises, as far as I was concerned, and we'll see when August rolls around how much has changed. Here are the picks, followed by the team owner's reasoning behind the pick. My overall observations will follow.
1. RB Jamaal Charles (Jake Rill, Team 1). Charles single-handedly won people fantasy leagues this year and is obviously a dual-threat back.
2. QB Peyton Manning (Pat Stoetzer, Team 1). No-brainer for the second pick. I mean, his postseason successes are well documented, right?
3. WR Josh Gordon (Bob Blubaugh, Team 1). If he can get 1646 yards and nine TDs with those awful QBs, imagine if the Browns get even a passable passer.
4. RB LeSean McCoy (Brian Haines). A dual threat that is always underrated when it comes to fantasy commodities.
5. RB Matt Forte (Wayne Carter, Team 1). Yardage and reception totals were similar to Charles, and he's getting goal line carries under Trestman, Forte's main knock in year's past.
6. RB Adrian Peterson (Brian Patterson, Team 1). Minnesota's quarterback for next season isn't currently on their roster. AP will have more room to run.
7. WR Calvin Johnson (Jake Rill, Team 2). A new coach will help Detroit get back to being a consistent winner and Megatron will have a typical Megatron season.
8. RB Marshawn Lynch (Pat Stoetzer, Team 2). Beast Mode meant more than 200 fantasy points in most leagues. Sounds good to me.
9. QB Drew Brees (Bob Blubaugh, Team 2). He's averaged nearly 5,000 passing yards and 38 TD passes over the past six years. No reason he won't do it again.
10. RB Alfred Morris (Danny Haines). One of the only feature backs left on the board and a healthy RG3 should bring him closer to his rookie season numbers.
11. RB Eddie Lacy (Wayne Carter, Team 2). Possible rookie of the year should be better as a sophomore, especially if Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb healthy all year.
12. QB Aaron Rodgers (Brian Patterson, Team 2). At the turn, I'm betting on Rodgers being healthy all season.
QBs go early. Three quarterbacks came off the board in the first round, which is more in line with what happened in a lot of drafts in 2012. In 2013, the trend seemed to be to wait on a QB. I'm more inclined to do that again. In the four leagues I played in this year, none who drafted Manning (and he was a bargain last year, sometimes going as late as the third or fourth round) won. I drafted the 12th QB off the board in two leagues -- Tony Romo in both -- and won one and came within 2 points (thanks to me stupidly benching Jordan Cameron) in another. Back in 2012, I drafted Rodgers in Round 1 and it turned into one of my worst fantasy teams ever.
Josh Gordon. I was bullish on Josh Gordon last year (and fortunately, picked him up in my dynasty league two years ago) and, like Bob, I expect him to be even better once the Browns get a quarterback upgrade in 2014. But No. 3 overall? I can't do it. Something that hurt Gordon's draft position last year was that he was one more league infraction away from a year-long suspension. Gordon seems to have gotten his act together, but if I'm taking a WR at No. 3, it's going to be Calvin.
Dual-threat RBs all the rage. Charles and McCoy being the first two RBs off the board was no surprise, but my guess is some folks will shake their head at me taking Forte over Peterson or Lynch. In today's pass-heavy NFL, I want a versatile RB who is going to get a lot of passes. Forte has consistently shown he can do that, whereas it's not the *ahem* forte of more traditional runners like AP and Beast Mode. In a 1/2-PPR, he scored about 50 more points in the same number of games as Lynch.
Plenty of excellent players left. I've already mentioned there are plenty of good QBs left, but I think there is unprecedented depth at the WR position, especially in PPR leagues, as the league becomes more passing oriented. And because only seven of the 12 first-rounders were running backs, there are a lot of good players left at that position as well. Round 2 results coming next week.