Fantasy Advice

Who Deserves to Be the First Pick in Fantasy Football Drafts

By June 21, 2014 No Comments

It's a draft pick fantasy football owners dream of owning. You're on the clock and you've got the chance to choose between three incredible running backs. In standard leagues you should be choosing between Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson.

It's easy for fantasy football pros to say that you can't make a bad choice, but can you truly make the right one?

I mean Jamaal Charles was the top fantasy football running back in 2013 and he's full of upside and athletic ability. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing in 2012 and he's a key piece of Chip Kelly's fast paced offense in Philly.

Let's not forget about Adrian Peterson, whom doesn't have the upside of the other two backs, but is a fantasy stalwart known for production and consistency.

The fact of the matter is, each guy offers upside and risk at the #1 draft slot. Let's break them down and see who's worth the pick.

Take Jamaal Charles With the Number One Fantasy Draft Pick

Fantasy ProJamaal Charles is the centerpiece of the Kansas City offense. Just a year ago Andy Reid joined the team, and many fantasy pros (myself included), were a bit worried about his pass happy offenses impact on Charles' fantasy value.

We were wrong. I was wrong.

In fact, I wanted to draft Spiller over him with the 6th overall pick, however Spiller was snagged at the #5 spot and I "settled" for my boy Jamaal Charles (I'm a die-hard Chiefs fan). Little did I know at the time, this was the best thing I could have ever hoped for.

The Pros of Drafting Charles

Charles finished 2013 as the top fantasy running back, while averaging 19 points/game. He ran well, but made an even bigger impact in the passing game. He caught 70 balls on the season and beat out the teams number one receiver.

In 2013 Charles finished as a top-12 running back every single week, with the exception of one.

Fun fact: One-fourth of teams that played on CBS Sports and made the finals owned Jamaal Charles.

He's going to continue to be the centerpiece of that offense and he's going to continue to get the ball from Alex Smith. If the defense plays like it did during the second half of the season, you're looking at more opportunities for Charles.

That sounds like a fantasy owners dream come true.

The Cons of Drafting Charles

Although there are plenty of positives swinging Charles' way, there are some downsides. The Chiefs lost 3 of their starting lineman within hours of free agency opening. I don't care what anyone says, that sure isn't good for business.

The other thing working against Charles is history, in fact it's very rare that the top fantasy back repeats from year to year. I'm working on the stats for this, but I know the numbers aren't in his favor.

Is he worth the number one pick?

PPR: I don't know if there's anyone else you want. Alex Smith saw half of his passes travel less than 5 yards down field. If I were a betting man I'd say a lot of those went to Charles. Oh, and Alex Smith is the king of check downs. Charles is going to keep catching the ball.

Standard Leagues: The guy is still a stud. Obviously the increase in receptions and decrease in rushes impacts his potential totals, however as long as your receiving and rushing yards are valued the same, I don't see much downside. I think theres a debate at who you take a number one, but I can't be mad if you were to go Charles.

Take LeSean McCoy With the Number One Fantasy Draft Pick

Fantasy Football ProMcCoy recently claimed that he was the best running back in football. I won't agree in saying that he's the best, but he sure as hell needs to be in the conversation.

In 2013 he burst out of the gates and looked like the workhorse some people expected. He slipped in many standard fantasy drafts because of the concern of Chip Kelly's new offense. Those who snagged him in the back end of round 1 were rewarded handsomely.



The Pros of Drafting McCoy in 2014

McCoy was only a step behind Charles all of 2013. He finished as the second highest scoring fantasy running back and finished with 18.7/points per game on average.

He matched Charles in that he only finished one week outside of the top-12 fantasy running backs. Talk about consistency.

The Cons of Drafting McCoy in 2014

One of the biggest downsides of McCoy, depending on which fantasy football expert you talk to, is the arrival of Darren Sproles. I've owned Sproles and I've considered what the can do in that Chip Kelly offense, and I'm not all that worried. Sproles averaged 3.5 rushes/game last year and without Bryce Brown in the picture the backup role is his.

I don't believe Sproles will be stealing goal line work. I mean someone has to fill the void left by DeSean Jackson in the receiving game, and that very well may be Sproles.

It's possible that Nick Foles regressed in 2014, simply because things seemed to go too perfectly for him in 2013. Regardless of his regression I expect the Eagles to run the ball more than they did last year.

The offense was supposed to be one of the fastest in the NFL, however they only ran the 12th most plays per game in 2013. I'd be surprised if Chip Kelly doesn't step up the tempo. That means more action for McCoy.

Is He Worth The Number One Pick?

PPR Leagues: He's certainly worth the number one pick. Whether you value him or Charles higher depends on personal preference and belief. If you go with McCoy you'll be taking a guy who has speed like no-other and plays in one of the fastest offenses in the league.

Standard Leagues: I still love McCoy at #1 overall. There's more room to wiggle in standard leagues based on your scoring, however I believe the same logic applies here as it does with Charles. Know your scoring and see if there is more value with McCoy, Charles or another pick. I would be completely okay if he went 1st overall in 2014.

Take Adrian Peterson With the Number One Fantasy Draft Pick

Fantasy ProsAdrian Peterson didn't take too kindly to the remarks that Shady considered himself to be the best running back in football. As of now that title belongs to AP, at least in my opinion.

AP is known for his consistency and is considered one of the safest bets in fantasy football. In fact, he's never finished outside of the top-10 fantasy running backs in his career (that includes his rookie season).

I know I say it a lot, but you can't win your fantasy season in the early rounds but you can sure as hell lose it. You know what you're getting with AP.

The Pros of Drafting Adrian Peterson in 2014

Adrian Peterson is a monster. No questions asked. Now you get to combine that beast with the power of Norv Turner.

As much as I personally hate the guy, Norv Turner knows how to turn fantasy players into gold. He could be considered one of the best offensives minds over the past decade or so. He's been able to get production from running backs like Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson and now he has the chance to work with the likes of AP.

Norv has already shared with the fantasy experts and reporters that he wants AP involved in the passing game. He claims he wants him to see 50-60 balls this year through the air. Even if those numbers are a bit inflated, I'm excited.

Running Back Receptions Under Turner:


Fantasy Running Backs With Norv Turner.jpgNow if Frank Gore and LaMont Jordan can catch that many passes, imagine what AP can do with all of those balls.

That looks like a fantasy running back who can shine in both the rushing and passing game.


The Cons of Drafting Adrian Peterson in 2014

There aren't a ton of downsides to drafting Adrain Peterson #1 overall. One of the biggest is that you are passing on the upside of other guys for his safety. So it all depends how you want to play your draft and league.

Some people will be worried about the QB situation in Minnesota, however I think it's a non-issue for AP's value. AP will still be the bell-cow running back, and he'll likely get a lot of dump off passes from the QB.

The team may not be one of the best in the NFL, but they do have AP. For fantasy, I'm not sure you need much more than that.

Is He Worth The #1 Pick?

PPR Leagues: I'm not sold. I love the upside that he presents with Norv Turner being there with all of those passes, however it's all speculation at this point. I like the safety of Charles and McCoy's receptions better. If you like to roll the dice, AP may be worth the chance.

Standard Leagues: I'd love AP at #1 overall. We know what he can do on the ground. Being in the top-10 every season based simply on rushing is awesome. Mix in the potential receptions with Norv Turner there and you can be looking at another monster year for AP.

Who Should I Take With the #1 Fantasy Football Draft Pick?

It truly is impossible to go wrong in my book. It's still possible to not be right though. Each guy provides unique opportunities for your team. For starters I recommend adjusting your fantasy rankings over the preseason and sticking to them come draft time. Also, listen to a variety of fantasy football pros to get their thoughts on these players.

A lot of things can change between now and draft day. However, if you put a gun to my head at this moment and made me choose, I'd take AP with the first pick overall. I've always played it safe, what can I say.

Here's how I classify each of these guys:

The safe pick: Adrian Peterson - It's not a sexy first pick, but you know what you're getting. You're paying for consistency and you may get rewarded with the added benefits Norv Turner provides. That's all speculation of course, but those running back numbers under Norv sure are pretty.

The risk: Jamaal Charles - He did it in 2014, however repeating as the #1 back is a tough feat to accomplish. I think Charles has a great 2014, but a lot is riding on this new offensive line. If you want to take a leap of faith for a ton of upside, I believe this is your guy.

The best of both worlds: LeSean McCoy - Simply because you know he's the guy, he's in a fast paced offense and he's going to get a lot of touches. There's risk with Sproles there, depending on who you ask, but the upside is great as well.

Love one of these running backs and think they deserve more credit? Tell me why below. There's always room to talk fantasy football.

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Nick Schreck

I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. As someone who’s always approached life with the attitude that things could be worse, I’ve had an awesome time so far. I've been a fantasy addict for nearly a decade, and I've loved every second of it.

For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
Nick Schreck