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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DAY DECISIONS 2012 by Dan Grogan (8/17/12)

QUARTERBACKS and TIGHT ENDS

Although you never know how your draft is going to unfold and which players will be available when your pick comes up, it never hurts to get your thoughts in line regarding how you're going to view certain players. The guys I'm talking about here are those who fall into the "gray area" on draft day. They're interesting, but they're not necessarily slam-dunk choices.


Draft Day Decisions is a series of articles addressing the primary fantasy positions - quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.


QUARTERBACKS

Cam Newton, Carolina

I'm actually a fan of Newton's and would love to have him as my fantasy QB, but I'm not willing to take him in the first or second or third (maybe I would there) rounds.

It's not that I see a "sophomore slump" coming. I mean, come on. Who really knows? It's always after the fact that some pundit reminds us that he "warned us." It's like the "Madden Curse." However, I have to admit, that one seems to have some inexplicable legitimacy!

I've seen a number of ADP reports that have Newton being taken as the 4th or 5th QB going as high as Round 1 or Round 2. I just think for a guy that derives so much value from his running, this is too risky.

To justify taking Newton as a 1st or 2nd round selection, you've got to get approximately the same stats from his as he delivered a year ago and that includes him running for 14 TDs. His season-ending fantasy value was right up there with Tom Brady and not that far behind Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees - all QBs that belong in the upper rounds.  But I'm much more comfortable taking Brady, Brees and Rodgers that high since: (1) they've all been consistently strong and (2) they don't rely on a variable (running) that could easily fluctuate.

Let's say Newton comes back to earth a little bit. Say he runs for seven or eight TDs (still a total that would likely lead all QBs) and is a couple hundred yards off last year's 4000-yard season - that could happen since Carolina has stated that they really doesn't want Newton throwing as much as he did a year ago.  I don't see his passing TD totals changing appreciatively. He'd still end up with strong fantasy numbers, but not good enough to warrant a pick in the stratospheric rounds of the draft. These numbers would put him closer to Michael Vick's fantasy football projections, who on average, is going in the 4th round.

Fantasy drafting is all about weighing the cost of where you take a player versus his expected fantasy value. The higher you select a player (his cost) the more certain you should be of his value. Remember, it's a lot easier to recover from a poor pick in the 6th round than it is from one in the first.


Michael Vick, Philadelphia

While the concern for Cam Newton is whether or not he'll have a drop in rushing TDs, the opposite is the case for Vick. He ran for just one TD last season and I'd bet most fantasy owners would agree that Vick's upside is far north of that number. Five rushing TDs might be a reasonable number and that would help justify his rating as the 6th best fantasy QB.

I don't, however, think Vick is a lock for huge number of aerial TDs. We've now seen him in 25 games for the Eagles over the last couple of seasons. Enough time to get a read on him. However, Vick has tossed just 39 TD passes during this time which equates to about 25 for a full season. I think he'll be in the ballpark of this total this year. If he can get 5 rushing scores that's the equivalent of 7 aerial TDs assuming 6 points for a ground score and 4 for a passing one. That would give him the equivalent of 32 aerial scores. Throw in some rushing yardage (400-500?) and it's not difficult to see a decent season from Vick.


TIGHT ENDS

Dustin Keller, New York Jets

Despite a solid 65-catch, 815-yard and 5-TD season in 2011, the main reason Keller's stock is so low (TE 16-19) is the "Tebow factor."  I believe many drafters are concerned that nobody in the passing game is worth even modest consideration because of the possibility (and likelihood) that Tim Tebow is going to be under center at some point. Admittedly, that could hurt Keller's stock, but the question is whether it should send it into a nose dive.

Keller has to play a significant role here. There's not much in the receiving corps. Name another Jet WR besides Santonio Holmes. I cheated and looked at the roster and I still don't recognize any names.  I can't see why Keller won't be good for 4-6 catches per game and 5-7 scores and for that reason I think he's undervalued and makes for a nice TE2 pickup.


Jacob Tamme, Denver

I think Tamme's stock is benefitting from the reunion of him and Peyton Manning. People probably remember the 2010 season when Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and 4 TDs from Manning while in Indy. I'm just not convinced Tamme has more upside than this.

The ADPs have Tamme between the 8th and 11th fantasy TE - pretty lofty expectations. These days, your starting TE has to be a threat for at least 7 TDs and 800+ yards. I don't see Tamme quite that high. While the tight end position will be much more important in Denver this year, the Broncos also plan on using Joel Dreessen who was signed away from Houston in the off-season. Dreessen is no slouch as a receiver having caught 6 TD passes for the Texans last year. In addition, WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are expected to lead the receiving corps.

Tamme is an interesting fantasy pick, but I'd look at him as a back-up and not a starter.


see Dan's Draft Day Decisions: Wide Receivers

see Dan's Draft Day Decisions: Running Backs part 1

see Dan's Draft Day Decisions: Running Backs part 2