One of the more interesting and valuable tools in preparing for your fantasy draft is ADP (average draft position). As part of NFL.com's new fantasy game, you can follow ADPs throughout training camps and right up into the regular season. Here's a look at some of the trends I noticed that could affect your draft strategies.
1. Aaron Rodgers is going ahead of Drew Brees. Rodgers (6.89) and Brees (7.06) are both going in the first round, but the former has a slight edge in ADP. Rodgers, the top-rated fantasy quarterback on NFL.com, gives owners a ton of passing stats but is also a nice source of rushing totals. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged 261 rushing yards and scored a combined nine touchdowns. Rodgers also has a more favorable schedule than Brees, based on our FPA ratings. He'll face the Bears (2), Lions (2), Vikings (2), Giants, Eagles, Dolphins and Falcons.
2. The value of Tony Romo is rising in drafts. The top four quarterbacks are clearly Rodgers (6.89), Brees (7.06), Peyton Manning (8.72) and Tom Brady (19.97), but the fifth-best player at the position has been a point of contention. Is it Matt Schaub or Philip Rivers? Well, it's neither. Romo (27.23) has passed both of them in terms of draft value on NFL.com. In fact, he's going a full round ahead of Schaub and Rivers. With an upgraded group of weapons that includes Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Roy Williams and Dez Bryant, Romo could have the best fantasy season of his career.
3. NFL.com users think Brett Favre will be back. Will he or won't he? That's the big question revolving around Favre and his decide to play and retire. Personally, I think he'll be back for this 20th NFL season. That appears to be the same thought process of our users, as Favre (44.50) is coming off the board in Round 5 on average. Remember, the old gunslinger finished third in fantasy points last season behind Rodgers and Chris Johnson. If he does in fact return, there's no reason he can't find continued success even at the age of 40.
1. Chris Johnson is the consensus top selection. The recent news of Johnson's compromise with the Titans over his contract was music to the ears of fantasy owners. Now that a training camp holdout will be avoided, it's much easier to take C.J. (1.37) with the No. 1 overall pick. His closest competition for the spot in Adrian Peterson (2.49), who will no doubt be picked No. 1 in his share of drafts. The rest of the top-five running backs include Maurice Jones-Drew (4.13), Ray Rice (5.33) and Frank Gore (7.01), all of whom are being taken in the top seven picks.
2. The value of Ryan Mathews is rising in drafts. I'm firmly on the Mathews (15.08) bandwagon this season. So what if he's a rookie? First-year running backs such as Eric Dickerson, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton (to name a few) have made an enormous fantasy impact, and I think Mathews will join that list. NFL.com users seem to agree, as the rookie is coming off the board in the early second round in drafts.
3. Good runners are available in the middle rounds. Unlike seasons past, owners will be able to land attractive running backs once the first few rounds are over. A breakout candidate, Knowshon Moreno (41.85) has been a fifth-round pick on average. Beanie Wells (53.06), Jahvid Best (63.24), LeSean McCoy (66.18), Joseph Addai (67.76) and Jonathan Stewart (75.95) are coming off the board in the sixth or seventh rounds in NFL.com managed leagues.
1. Andre Johnson is the clear No. 1 wide receiver. This isn't a surprise at all, as Johnson (10.15) has established himself as the top fantasy player at a position that has gained more value in recent seasons. Furthermore, I think he's the lone wideout in the league who's worth a first-round pick on draft day. Over the last two years, the veteran out of Miami (FL) has averaged an impressive 108 receptions for 1,572 yards with a combined 17 touchdowns.
2. NFL.com users aren't worried about Larry Fitzgerald. One of the biggest fantasy questions heading into this season surrounds the value of Fitzgerald, who now has Matt Leinart, not Kurt Warner, throwing him the football. Users in NFL.com managed leagues have taken Fitzgerald (15.94) on average, so he's still a second-round pick across the board. While I tend to think that his touchdown production will drop, I would agree that Fitzgerald still has second-round appeal.
3. Most elite wideouts will be gone after Round 3. As I mentioned earlier, the wideout position has taken on a greater importance in fantasy circles in recent years. As a result, it's not a surprise to see most of the elite players at the position off the board in the first three rounds. Along from Johnson and Fitzgerald, Randy Moss (18.79), Reggie Wayne (20.80), Miles Austin (23.07) and Calvin Johnson (24.41) are all being taken very early. Keep that in mind on draft day.
1. Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates are the top picks. Clark (34.80) and Gates (39.26) finished in the top three in fantasy points on NFL.com last season, so it's no surprise to see them ranked among the position's best options in 2010 NFL.com managed leagues. On average, they're both coming off the board in Round 4 across the board. The rest of the top five tight ends include last season's top point scorer Vernon Davis (40.71), Witten (40.71) and Brent Celek (48.85).
2. The value of Jermichael Finley is rising in drafts. Much like Mathews at running back, I'm also on the Finley bandwagon at the tight end position. Based on his 52.87 ADP, NFL.com users are jumping on board as well. He showed flashes of potential last season and should continue to be one of the top options in the passing game for Rodgers. Finley also has one of the most favorable schedules among tight ends, so I'm expecting him to have a breakout season.
3. Good tight ends are available in the late rounds. It's always nice to get someone like Clark or Gates to be your No. 1 fantasy tight end, but you shouldn't be too worried if you don't land an elite option. As our ADP proves, you can still get a very solid player at the position in the late rounds. Owen Daniels (67.94), Kellen Winslow (79.10), Visanthe Shiancoe (103.46) and Chris Cooley (113.18) are all coming off the board in Round 7 or beyond.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!