This "perfect" draft is based on NFL.com's standard 10-team leagues with a basic (non-PPR) scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns scored. Starting lineups include one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex position (RB/WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense and special teams unit.
Round 1, Pick No. 2 - LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: If I were picking third the choice would be Aaron Rodgers. There are two players at the running back position that separate themselves from the pack, and you know Arian Foster is going No. 1 overall. I considered Rodgers, and he likely will have a higher point total than McCoy, but picking second allows me to get a QB in the fifth round (you'll see) that ought to be close to the production level from the signal callers going in the first. That wouldn't be the case with the running back position. And I don't want to hear about Ray Rice, he's taken a beating the last two seasons, and he's in the middle of a contract dispute.
Round 2, Pick No. 19 - Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Again position separation. There is Jimmy Graham and there's Gronkowski. I love touchdowns, and I love a quarterback's favorite target. There's no better combination of the two than Gronk. He'll be a bigger producer than any wide receiver I could take at this point and I can't envision anyone taking him off the board before this. If so, I would go with Graham.
Round 3, Pick No. 22 - Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: I don't buy last season being a fantasy miracle year for Lynch, Pete Carroll simply realized where his production was going to come from and kept it going, riding momentum of a great defense and running game to a solid close of the season. With the "dink and dunk" Matt Flynn, or the inconsistent Tavaris Jackson, or rookie Russell Wilson, the running game is going to have to be solid again for the Seahawks to succeed. And with their defense looking even better this season, they're likely to lean on that run game even more.
Round 4, Pick No. 39 - Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: The guy put up seven weeks of double-digit production in Miami last year. Enough said. Pairing back up with Jay Cutler is going to do wonders for them both. Finally having a legit number one receiver for the first time in Chicago might make Cutler's head explode from excitement. Remember, Mike Tice is the man who was partly responsible for the Vikings offensive juggernaut between Culpepper and Moss, and he's looking to recreate it with the Bears.
Round 5, Pick No. 42 - Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Without question the most overlooked fantasy player at any position. He averages close to 18 points per game, and last season he put up over 20 one-third of the time. Five games of three or more touchdowns, a number of weapons to use, including DeMarco Murray out of the backfield, makes the difference between Romo (selected here in the 5th round), and Matthew Stafford (selected in the 1st or 2nd) won't be all that drastic.
Round 6, Pick No. 59 - Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: Because there are far too many USC honks out there, it's a stretch to think Bush will last until pick 59, but in a "Perfect Draft" this is about the point where his production matches up with his landing in the "Perfect Spot" (where you get a little bit more for your money). Bush should post another 1000 yard season, as he finally put that strong body to work between the tackles for the first time in his life. He's working for a massive contract, probably the last of his career, and thanks to limited touches and some injuries that kept him off the field earlier in his career, he's got those fresh legs to have a big year.
Round 7, Pick No. 62 - Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: Demaryius Thomas is going to go off the board before Decker and that's a big mistake. If Peyton Manning stays healthy, look for Decker to have a monster year. He's a significantly better route runner than Thomas, he's ridiculously fast, and the guy is 6'3", a massive target in the red zone. This pick will be the steal of 2012.
Round 8, Pick No. 79 - Michael Bush, RB, Bears: This is where I'm looking for the No. 2 running back that has a good shot to become the starter. Matt Forte is sitting out until he gets a new deal, the Bears don't look all that interested in giving him one, which leaves their off-season pick up of Bush a big win for whoever doesn't reach to grab him. Plus Forte has never been a big touchdown player, so I suspect Bush will be the short yardage guy in the red zone.
Round 9, Pick No. 82 - Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Yes it's my fourth running back inside of nine picks, but which position is more volatile and wreaks havoc on your fantasy roster? Martin is a 3-down back, he'll share some time with Blount at the start of the season, but I suspect by the end of the year he'll be getting the great majority of the touches. Having watched Martin a couple times in person while he was at Boise State, the Ray Rice comparisons aren't right, he's more of a Maurice Jones-Drew type.
Round 10, Pick No. 99 - Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert was awful last season. I mean awful. But in his defense he didn't have a lot going for him on the outside. Marcedes Lewis is solid, and MJD is spectacular. Because of those two, and the addition of Laurent Robinson, Blackmon should see some 1-on-1 coverage on the outside. All Gabbert has to do it get it close and let Blackmon do the rest.
Round 11, Pick No. 102 - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions: After a slow start, Pettigrew grewâ¦hah, oh man hahâ¦grew into what many of us suspected he could be, a touchdown catching tight end. Five touchdowns is pretty pedestrian at the position, but three of his five double-digit performances came in the final three weeks of the season, when the Lions had to post wins. That will carry over to this season.
Round 12, Pick No. 119 - Seattle Seahawks defense: I love getting the defense right in Fantasy. It could be the difference between a win or a loss when you have one that's dominant in point production. You need a defense that attacks, that goes after the quarterback and places a value on the ball above all else. The Bears have made a fantasy career of it, but these days they're getting a little bit old to keep doing what they have been. Seattle closed strong, and all season long was solid. Seven weeks of double-digit production is just lunacy to leave on the board.
Round 13, Pick No. 122 - Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: I'm not reaching for Robert Griffin III, that's certain, and I'm not likely to reach for Luck. But at this point he's a solid value, and he'll end up with better numbers than Griffin come Week 16. He might not have the "sizzle factor" that RG3 does, but he's clearly the better player. Besides, I'm only using him in my bye-week, and that's when the Colts take on the Packers in the dome. On a fast track and playing from behind, you know that means lots and lots of passing.
Round 14, Pick No. 139 - Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: Sleeper alert. I know Bill Belichick can cause great consternation when it comes to the running back rotation, but Vereen is a stud, straight up G, and he will separate himself from ol' Woodhead and Ridley to end up giving the Pats a legit No. 1 RB.
Round 15, Pick No. 142 - Mike Nugent, K, Bengals: The difference between any kicker not named David Akers and the 11th highest producing kicker last season was less than a point. For the sake of the draft I'll go with Nugent, since they'll likely be in the red zone and won't score a whole lot of TDs.