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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fantasy football: Lessons from an in-person mock draft

Most of us have done a mock draft on or another website.

We stick around for the first two or three picks, get frustrated when owners take the full 90 seconds to take a player who will never play for a team said owner will never own, then exit the draft and start a new one a few minutes later.

It's a good way to learn where certain players are being drafted.

Wednesday night, Sports Editor Mark Podolski, me and a group of readers conducted a three-round mock draft at The News-Herald as part of our fantasy football Q&A.

We went with the assumption we would be participating in a points-per-reception league and touchdown passes would be worth six points. The results were interesting, and more informative than an online mock in which half of the selections might be autopicks.

Tonight, we actually cared about our picks, though we knew it was just for fun (yes, we're sick like that).

Here is the overall top 25, along with a few observations:

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans
3. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
4. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
5. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
6. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
7. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
8. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
9. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
11. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
12. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
13. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
14. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
15. Roddy White, WR, Falcons
16. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
17. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
18. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
19. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
20. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
21. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
22. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
23. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
24. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
25. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs

Biggest reach: Welker. I'm a big fan, but even in a PPR league, the Patriots wideout is a much better option early in the third round than early in the second. As great as Welker was last season, his nine touchdowns were a career high. From 2007 to '09, he averaged five TDs.

Best value: Rice is a steal at No. 5, as is Gronkowski at 23. Choosing between the two, I'd say Rice. If you get him fifth in a 12-team league, you could follow with the likes of Gronkowski, Roddy White, DeMarco Murray or Cam Newton in Round 2.

The Jones-Drew question: Podolski selected MJD 11th, and that seems about right. Jones-Drew was ranked fifth in our top 100 overall last week, but the longer his contract holdout lingers, the more risky he becomes. If you're drafting this weekend (as we are in the N-H league), I would feel comfortable with Jones-Drew late in the first round of a 12- or 14-team league, but wouldn't take him in the top 10. We have to assume he will report to the Jaguars by the start of the season, but until he does, we can't take the chance in the top five.

The Fitzgerald factor: The Cardinals' QB situation is such a mess we should expect Fitzgerald to be drafted in the middle of the second round, even if the wideout's numbers suggest that is too late. Since 2007, Fitzgerald has missed only one game. From 2007 to '09, he averaged 12 TDs per season. The last two years, Fitzgerald's TDs are down to a norm of seven. In PPR leagues, he still has high second-round value. Heck, he caught 80 passes for 1,411 yards and eight TDs last season for a team on which the top two quarterbacks -- Kevin Kolb and John Skelton -- combined to throw 20 TD passes and 22 interceptions. In standard scoring leagues in which yards and TDs are almost all that matter, Fitzgerald could fall to late in the second round or early in Round 3.

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