Fantasy Football: Absent Rodgers, he’d go for the real McCoy

Who would I take with the No. 1 overall pick?

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. No ifs, ands or buts. If I have to explain why, you shouldn’t be playing Fantasy Football.

If I had the No. 2 pick and Rodgers was off the board, as he should be, I’d take Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Can’t go wrong with fellow runners Arian Foster or Ray Rice, but I’m liking McCoy just a little bit better.

Projected first-rounder I would pass on?

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. I would have had my reservations about him even if he wasn’t holding out in the preseason. The holdout makes him no better than a second-rounder to me, and I might skip him then, too.

Five biggest risks in the draft?

There are the obvious ones like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Randy Moss and any New England or Washington running back. So, I’ll pitch you a few others:

1. San Diego RB Ryan Matthews. There’s a ton of talent here, and there are too many times when he’s not on the field, like right now with a broken collarbone. But, if miracle of miracles he gets and stays healthy, he doesn’t have Mike Tolbert to contend with anymore.

2. Darren McFadden. When healthy, he’s one of the top five running backs. I repeat: when healthy.

3. Matt Forte. Coming off his knee injury is Red Flag 1. Having Michael Bush now as his backup is Red Flag 2. It makes sense for the Bears to incorporate Bush to save wear and tear on Forte.

4. Reggie Bush. He’s oh so tempting after the way he finished last season. If that late surge is what is in store this year, he’s going to win his Fantasy owners a league title. I oh so need to see him do it again before I believe he’s legit.

5. Tennessee WR Kenny Britt. He’s explosive. He also gets hurt a lot and is coming off a torn ACL. He also gets in trouble with the law a lot. He won’t be on my team unless he’s available in about the eighth round. He won’t be.

My top five quarterbacks?

1. Aaron Rodgers. Say it with me: No. 1 pick.

2. Matt Stafford. He stayed healthy last year. If he does it again, he slightly improves upon last year’s terrific numbers.

3. Cam Newton. No sophomore slump. He’s not just saying the right things, he really gets what the NFL is about, the way Michael Vick wishes he had a decade ago. Maybe Newton doesn’t run for as many TDs, but he throws for more, making it a wash.

4. Tom Brady. He might outshine all of the above QBs, but New England will run a little more, affecting Brady’s production slightly.

5. Drew Brees. He won’t duplicate last year’s TD numbers, but about 35 TDs and close to 5,000 yards again keep him among the elite.

QB ranked in top 10 I won’t touch.

Michael Vick. He says he’s really, really, really going to be the pocket passer coach Andy Reid wants him to be. Sure he will. The injury risk with him is too high.

My top five running backs.

1. LeSean McCoy. With Vick no longer poaching all of the goal-line rushes, McCoy gets in the end zone in addition to being the unquestioned featured back in Philly.

2. DeMarco Murray of Dallas. He’s an injury risk. If he stays healthy, he might be No. 1.

3. Arian Foster. The only problem with Foster is Houston has another running back, Ben Tate, who deserves touches and likely will get some.

4. Ray Rice. Similar to McCoy, he’s the man in Baltimore. Gut feeling: His numbers trail off a bit this year.

5. Chris Johnson. It sounds like he worked hard in the offseason, meaning he’s doing more than just talking a good game. Tennessee will feed him the ball, which should mean a nice bounce-back year. Just don’t expect CJ2K numbers.

Two running backs who will get drafted in the first five rounds whom I want nothing to do with.

1. Shonn Greene. He might gain some yards for the Jets, but near the goal line it’s going to be Tim Tebow poaching the carries.

2. Any Carolina running back. Guessing between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart was bad enough. Now Mike Tolbert is in the mix. Not gonna subject myself to this headache.

Where should Adrian Peterson be drafted?

Somewhere around No. 15, but if you take him, you better commit to reaching early for Toby Gerhart as his handcuff. I’ll be surprised if Gerhart it makes it past the sixth round.

My top five wide receivers.

1. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. He’s what Andre Johnson used to be when A.J. could stay healthy, and C.J. scores more.

2. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. Here’s hoping Jon Skelton is his QB because he actually got the ball to Fitzgerald, and Skelton is improving.

3. Green Bay’s Greg Jennings. Others will have more total catches, but Jennings makes up for it with yards and TDs.

4. Atlanta’s Julio Jones. I think he stays healthy and becomes a big-play machine, leading the Falcons in yards and touchdowns, maybe even catches. Sorry, Roddy White.

5. Cincinnati’s A.J. Green. If QB Andy Dalton avoids the sophomore slump, look for Green to go to another level in his second season.

Two wide receivers who will get drafted in the first five rounds whom I want nothing to do with.

1. Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson. Maybe he’s happy and motivated now that he got his contract. I don’t trust him.

2. Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson. He needs to change his stripes from the inconsistent cat he was in San Diego. Until I see it, everyone else can have him.

Would I draft Randy Moss? If so, when?

Only if he’s available as late as the eighth round. He won’t be.

Let’s concede Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham are the top two tight ends, who are the next three?

3. Antonio Gates. When he’s healthy, he’s still elite, but he’s a risk.

4. Aaron Hernandez. Efforts to slow the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski open the door for more Hernandez, who is among the best regardless.

5. Washington’s Fred Davis. Rookie QB Robert Griffin III will look to his tight end.

What round will I take a defense and why?

Defense in the 15th round and kicker in the 16th. Who drafted the Niners’ D last year? In most leagues, no one. Chances are you’ll pick up a better defense in Week 2 or 3 than the one you draft.

Players who will have breakout years.

1. All Denver starting receivers: wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and TE Jacob Tamme. Denver is going to throw the ball, people.

2. Baltimore WR Torrey Smith. He becomes Baltimore’s version of Mike Wallace.

3. Giants TE Martellus Bennett. Just my gut feeling he landed in the right situation to shine.

Past proven performer who will drop off significantly.

1. Frank Gore. He won’t stay healthy, even with a reduced workload.


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