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Perfect draft: Arian Foster is the No. 1 pick

 

Round 1, Pick 1

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: It's the major debate everyone has: who's number one overall? Mainly, it's a gut feel whether you like Foster or Adrian Peterson in the top spot. You can talk previous years, injury possibilities, etc. But it's really a toss-up. Here's what's put me over to Foster's side: Heading into 2013, Foster has the second easiest schedule in the league when it comes to defenses running backs face. Peterson has the second toughest. And while yes, Peterson is matchup-proof, hearing that about Foster is more than enough to make me feel good about this pick.

Round 2, Pick 20

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: The first thing you do here is hope there's just enough unpredictability out of the other owners in the picks leading up to these that you can still get another dominant RB out of these two picks. But the guys who are likely to be available at this spot are Matt Forte, Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson, none of which I'm high enough on to take here. So instead, I want to get two WR studs. It's too much to expect Dez Bryant and Julio Jones to still be around, but I can put a stamp on my corps starting with Harvin.

Round 3, Pick 21

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona CardinalsAs good as Harvin is, he can be even better in Seattle with so much open space to work with, and I expect a huge bounce-back year from Fitzgerald catching Carson Palmer passes in a Bruce Arians offense in Arizona.

Round 4, Pick 40

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami DolphinsI have to go double RB with my next two picks here because I haven't taken one since Foster. I would like to think Chris Ivory would be a potential selection, but he's going early third round in drafts already. His stock is just going to rise as the year goes on. But I'm feeling great after nabbing these next two. Miller's going to be a star this season, and if I waited until I came back around at pick no. 60, there's no way he'd be available. Daniel Thomas has proven he's no more than a backup RB, and he has trouble holding onto the football. So it's Miller's show in Miami. 

Round 5, Pick 41

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit LionsBush is going to be Marshall Faulk-lite for Detroit in 2013. He'll give them 125 yards per game in total offensive production, making him a great flex. Glad they're no longer on the same NFL team.

Round 6, Pick 60

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina PanthersIt's crazy to see Newton slide this much, but when you think about the depth at the QB position, you're going to get a great player here regardless. I could have gambled a bit that I could take a QB later on like Matthew Stafford or Tony Romo and still gotten great production, but I can't resist Cam still being on the board here (as he was during our Experts League Mock Draft).

Round 7, Pick 61

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: With Mike Wallace gone in Pittsburgh, it's Brown's time to shine. He had as many targets as Wallace the last couple of seasons which tells you a lot about what Ben Roethlisberger thinks of him. He'll be one of the top ten most targeted receivers in the NFL this year and a huge fantasy producer.

Round 8, Pick 80

Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants: Brown is going to be on as many of my teams as I can get him on. David Wilson is going to get all the attention thanks to the potential he showed last season, but Brown is going to be the primary ball-carrier in New York, and he's going to get all the red zone carries. I would be surprised if he didn't total 12 touchdowns this season. And, hey, look, Stafford is still on the board! 

Round 9, pick 81

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: There are some wide receivers I like I could have taken in this spot, but to be able to get Stafford here is too hard to resist. Remember, in 10 team leagues, guys like Stafford, Romo and maybe even Matt Ryan are going to be potential backup QB's. And I'll take a guy who's going to chuck it 700 times, just in case Cam Newton turns out to be merely mortal in 2013.

Round 10, Pick 100

Brandon Myers, TE, New York Giants: I'm pretty set at RB, so now I need to grab my TE and get WR depth. Myers and Kyle Rudolph are my big TE breakout candidates for 2013, and I like Myers just a little more because the Giants have shown no matter who their TE is - whether it's Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard or Martellus Bennett - that they're going to get them the football. Myers had some huge games in Oakland last season, and now he's on a real offense. 

Round 11, Pick 101

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: IHilton is an emerging star who's going to reap the rewards of being Andrew Luck's deep threat in Indianapolis. I'm happy getting him late and letting someone else draft Reggie Wayne too early, since their fantasy points will be about equal this season.

Round 12, Pick 120

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: I'm glad everyone stayed away from Blackmon so I could get him here. When he gets back from his 4-game suspension he's going to be an absolute beast, like he was down the stretch in 2012. Sure, it may not be until October that he starts proving his fantasy value, but I wouldn't be surprised if he forced his way into my lineup for the back half of the fantasy season. He's going to be a star.

Round 13, Pick 121

Brandon Lafell, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers coaching staff is high on LaFell, and so am I. This is the year he becomes a big weapon for Carolina, who again resisted bringing in new outside weapons for Newton, because they were happy with LaFell's progression. By mid-season he'll be Newton's No. 1 WR in Carolina.

Round 14, Pick 140

New England Patriots D/ST: Yes, New England's defense was ranked 4th overall in fantasy points from a year ago, but with everyone waiting later and later to take defenses now, they could be on the board for me here.

Round 15, Pick 141

Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis Rams: Zuerlein showed last season he has the leg to kick it from 65 if he gets the chance, and with more scoring opportunities coming his way this fall thanks to an improved Rams offense, there are big things in store for Legatron in 2013.

Recap

As you can tell by my selections, I'm big on the upswing guys and the bounce-back guys. As you can see, with my picks so spaced out, I was faced with something other owners aren't: If I want a certain player but think I can wait on him, chances are that wait is going to be too long and he won't be there when I want to select him, so I have to draft him earlier. For example, was I a tad early on Lamar Miller and Reggie Bush at 40 and 41? Sure. But they're long gone by 60 and 61, so I had to get them there. You have to remember that when you're picking "on the button." Better to be a little early than too late.


Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. He hosts NFL Fantasy Live during the regular season on the NFL Network, and you can download the weekly NFL Fantasy Live podcast with him alongside Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison. Talk to him on twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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