Experts from small sites like ours to the most mainstream on the planet have come to a pretty strong consensus that the first three picks of standard 2012 fantasy football drafts should be Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. Not necessarily in that order, but those are the big three.
I say, those lists aren’t a religious text carved in stone. Draft who you want if you have a top-3 pick. If you can move out of that spot via trade, do it. If you can’t deal and you really want to roster Darren McFadden or Aaron Rodgers or Calvin Johnson, pick them. You certainly will be ridiculed. Depending on the league and the final result, that ridicule may outlast your family dog.
But the key thing is that this is your team. You draft who you want. Don’t let a player you expect to be fantastic find a home on another team’s roster. Maybe you pick one of the top-3 with the thought of trading to get the player you want. I’m OK with that too. Just don’t wuss out and leave Ray Rice on your roster for Week 1 when you really wanted Cam Newton in there. Got it?
You’re not going to screw this up. In fact, you’re probably not going to screw up your first five pics. If you’ve found your way to Chinstrap Ninjas chances are you fit in a veteran demographic. You’ve either been playing fantasy football for a good number of years or you’ve learned everything you can from a mainstream site and are thirsty for more.
You know the basics. You’re not going to pick Harry Douglas in the first five rounds, but you do know teams will be scheming to stop Julio Jones and Roddy White, leaving the Falcons’ No. 3 receiver a little extra room to turn into a late-round sleeper. Trust yourself.
Here’s why. You don’t want to be there on championship weekend watching someone else benefit from McFadden, Rodgers, Megatron or whatever other player screamed “DRAFT ME!” because of a combination of preseason research and gut instinct. You want that player on your team, whether they soar or flop.
Whether that player works out is approximately 50-105% luck anyway. Whenever I think about luck I think about Tom Brady suffering a season-ending injury 7 minutes and 33 seconds into the 2008 season. He was the top quarterback taken and a top-6 overall pick in 2008 because of his consistency and how great that team was the previous season when they won 18 in a row before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl. You could argue that only LaDainian Tomlinson was a safer pick in the 2008 preseason, the same season when LT began to show a decline. “Safe” picks are as real as Bigfoot and chupacabras.
Although nothing is truly safe, by not drafting Foster, Rice or McCoy you are increasing risk. Although you could make an argument that those three have associated risks, they are also the running backs most-likely to be great in 2012. I can’t fault any fantasy owner for drafting one of those three. Put in the position of having a top-3 pick, I would love to own any of the three — Rice was the only one I didn’t own in a keeper league last year. But I’m also not going to mock someone who says “Jamaal Charles” or “Drew Brees.”
There are a lot of great players in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft. Try to come away with two that you really want, not two that you really should pick. It’s your team. Besides, your first pick is not really as big a deal as you might think.
There were certainly fantasy owners who drafted Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles last season who made the playoffs. Some of them probably even won their league. The draft is more than two rounds long.
If you had done all of the research last year and guessed right you could have picked Newton in the 13th round and Darren Sproles and Jordy Nelson in the 11th. All three of those players were in the top 17 in overall fantasy points last year. You also could have picked Steve Smith, Rob Gronkowski, A.J. Green and Eli Manning in the eighth and ninth rounds when some fantasy owners were considering whether to pick the Eagles defense or the Packers defense as the second D/ST off the board. [Talk about bad drafting.]
You shouldn’t follow somebody else’s rankings blindly, not mine or ESPN’s or Yahoo’s. When I give you my rankings I hope you disagree. This would be a terrible hobby if everyone agreed on everything and there wasn’t a 50%-105% chance that some player was going to break a rib choking on Thanksgiving Day Turducken.
Do the research, crunch some numbers, compare some rankings and trust yourself on draft day. Unless you plan to draft Trent Richardson in the first round. Those people are the reason we can’t have nice things.