1) Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Team: Nicholas Minnix | Team Roster
Reason: It's him or the other guy. For the open-minded, at least a couple of other players could go here. I'm not fond of Peterson's schedule, at first glance. But he'll score - he gets the ball near the goal line A LOT - and he improved in the pass-catching department. Maybe Ryan Moats is the Vikes' new Chester Taylor; I'll take my chances. The other guy may buck the downward trend of players who had a season like his 2009 and who hold out, but I'd rather not use this pick to find out.
Others Considered: Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson
Standards Set: 1,700 total yards, 15-18 total TDs, 50 receptions
2) Maurice Jones-Drew, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars
Team: Tim Heaney | Team Roster
Reason: Call me stupid, but CJ2K has about 2K worries - holdout, durability and post-2,000-yard drop-off included. MJD provides the same top-flight PPR production with a bit more stability and a lower crash factor. The work increase will bother this bowling ball less than that Tennessee Titans carrier. Jones-Drew scored in 10 of 16 games last season - he's one of the few bankable touchdown commodities in the NFL. Stable featured backs are dying. This juggernaut will continue to thrive. Natural selection, baby.
Others Considered: Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson
Standards Set: In sharpie: 1,500 total yards, 12 touchdowns and 45-plus catches.
3) Chris Johnson, running back, Tennessee Titans
Team: Ilan Mochari | Team Roster
Reason: I expected to choose between the Jacksonville Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. When Tim selected Jones-Drew No. 2 overall, I felt as if Johnson had fallen into my lap. We're talking about a perfectly healthy 24-year-old with blazing speed (seven touchdowns of 50 yards or longer) and unassailable productivity (11 consecutive 100-yard rushing games to end the season).
CJ2K fell to third
Others Considered: Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice
Standards Set: I'll be disappointed if Johnson falls short of 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 12 touchdowns and 40 receptions. Even if he cannot match his historic production of last season, he should remain a high upside No. 1 running back - a lethal player whose monster Sundays can single-handedly propel your fantasy squad to victory.
4) Ray Rice, running back, Baltimore Ravens
Team: Mike Egnak | Team Roster
Reason: After catching 78 passes last season, Rice seems clear to me to be worthy of one of the early picks in fantasy drafts. The addition of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth will likely cut into the amount of looks he gets in the passing game, but it should open the field up quite a bit more for him.
Others Considered: St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner
Standards Set: I'm looking for Rice to gain close to 1,400 yards on the ground with about seven total touchdowns. I don't think he'll catch 78 passes again, but I think he should end up with about 50 for another 450 yards.
5) Frank Gore, running back, San Francisco 49ers
Team: Ryan R. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: I briefly considered going against the old stud running back theory before settling on Gore, because I wasn't crazy about the lack of quality backs that would be there with my next pick. Gore remains the key cog in the 49ers' offense; an improved passing game, along with an upgraded offensive line, could pave the way for a tremendous season. Plus, in a PPR league, he is good for 50 grabs.
Others Considered: Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson and Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner
Standards Set: I'm looking for 1,700 total yards (1,300 rush, 400 receive), 50 receptions and 15 touchdowns this season. The yardage is within reach, but I'm probably too ambitious in my touchdown goal.
6) Steven Jackson, running back, St. Louis Rams
Team: Keith Hernandez | Team Roster
Reason: Jackson is a top-five back in my mind, and he was the best remaining pass-catching option at the position. I know he has been injury-prone, but I'm hoping his offseason surgery will clear that up. A healthy Jackson will provide plenty of receptions, and I'm expecting the Rams' offense to give him the opportunity to score more than just four times this year.
Others Considered: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Standards Set: I'm expecting 40-plus receptions and another 1,000-yard season from the burly Jackson. Ten TDs wouldn't be a stretch, especially with a rookie QB relying on S-Jax as a safety valve - not to mention the lack of experienced wideouts in St. Louis.
7) Andre Johnson, wide receiver, Houston Texans
Team: Jack Douglas | Team Roster
As usual, 1st WR drafted
Reason: The choice was between the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver and a running back. Johnson averaged 1,572 receiving yards, 108 receptions and 8.5 receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons. With the development of Matt Schaub into an elite fantasy quarterback, Johnson has taken his place as the best fantasy receiver.
Others Considered: Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner
Standards Set: I am anticipating about 1,600 receiving yards, 100-plus receptions and 10-plus touchdown receptions, considering Johnson is just coming into his prime.
8) Michael Turner, running back, Atlanta Falcons
Team: Tim Piotrowski | Team Roster
Reason: Turner was the selection because here because he is a main piece to a Falcons' offense that should be more potent with the improvement of quarterback Matt Ryan. He was hobbled by an ankle injury and still nearly rushed for 1,000 yards despite missing five games. A healthy Turner should produce closer to his 2008 stats.
Others Considered: New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams
Standards Set: I would like to see at least 1,300 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns. Even though this is a PPR league, I will consider anything he provides in the passing game to be a bonus.
9) Rashard Mendenhall, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Team: John Kotch | Team Roster
Reason: Mendenhall has tremendous upside and I think he'll realize it. There will be no RBBC in Pittsburgh. Mendenhall will be the workhorse and should see an increase in scoring opportunities. The Steelers will be especially run-heavy during Ben Roethlisberger's six-game suspension. Mendenhall is likely to see a bit of a drop in carries when Roethlisberger returns, but if things are going well, and the running game is rolling at that point, I don't see the Steelers deviating from it all that much. The Steelers' defense will allow them to use a power-running, ball-control offense.
Others Considered: Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams
Standards Set: I'm expecting 300 carries for 1,300-plus yards and 12 touchdowns for Mendenhall. In the passing game, 30 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
10) Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints
Team: Jared Byrd | Team Roster
Team Byrd high on Brees
Reason: Eight of the first nine picks were running backs, meaning I could have selected either a second or third-tier rusher or one of the top players at another position. Given this choice, I opted for the best available player on the board. Brees has been a model of consistency, having missed only two games over the last six seasons. He led the league in passing touchdowns (34) and completion percentage (70.6) in 2009 and was sixth in passing yards with 4,388.
Others Considered: Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning
Standards Set: Brees should be good for 30-plus touchdowns and 4,500 passing yards, although I'm not expecting him to complete more than 70 percent of his passes again.
11) DeAngelo Williams, running back, Carolina Panthers
Team: Cory J. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: While Williams shares time with Jonathan Stewart and is coming off injury, I still feel he has the most upside of the remaining No. 1 backs. For my top back, I just don't trust Norv Turner's claims about running back Ryan Mathews' role. I'm more comfortable with the rookie as a No. 2. Williams is in a run-first offense with a decent line and an inexperienced quarterback needing to rely on the backfield.
Others Considered: San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews, New England Patriots WR Randy Moss
Standards Set: I expect 1,300 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns, 35 receptions and two receiving scores.
12) Ryan Mathews, running back, San Diego Chargers
Team: Bryce McRae | Team Roster
Reason: The former Fresno State star is one of the favorites to come away as the NFL's top rookie this year. He has good size (6-foot, 218 pounds) and speed. Head coach Norv Turner said Mathews could approach 300 touches, including 40 receptions. I don't see Darren Sproles taking much away from Mathews; if anything, he'll help by spelling the 2010 No. 12 overall draft pick. Mathews might not be as talented as former Chargers back LaDainian Tomlinson, but even if he puts up three-quarters of the numbers LT did in this offense, this pick should pay off.
Others Considered: Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno, Green Bay Packers RB Ryan Grant, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Standards Set: I'm looking for 1,400 total yards, 35 catches and at least 11 total touchdowns.
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