Pre-2008 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Mock Draft QB Shakedown

Rain or shine, feast or famine, storm or impending doom, fantasy football diehards love to mock draft. I’m definitely guilty of already plotting for one, but I dare not complete one before the NFL draft and a few more free agent moves have passed.

Rather than do one for myself, I gathered together several that have taken place since the end of the 2007 season and analyzed a few interesting moves that are occurring in the projected 2008 drafts.

Quarterbacks are taking a big jump in this draft since Tom Brady inflated his value like he inflated his ego in 2008. Is he the first quarterback to take? And when should you take him? The alternative could be the old, reliable other Manning, or is it?

Let’s jump right in to seeing how QBs are changing the mix…

The Break Down

The New York Times’ fantasy football blog The Fifth Down ran a fantasy mock draft by Mark St. Amant (he’s book-learned) hot on the heels of the Super Bowl. The mock draft was broken down into Part 1 and Part 2.

Of note, Amant’s top five was LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady. The QB jumped just to the fifth spot. Peyton Manning popped up at 9, but Tony Romo merely got a mention in the “Best of the Rest” behind the likes of Randy Moss (at 12), Larry Johnson (at 10) and Clinton Portis (at 8).

An interesting side note on Amant’s draft article stood out in Part 2 when he chose to avoid Edgerrin James, Greg Jennings, Fred Taylor, Reggie Bush, Roy Williams and Dwayne Bowe. Are you considering them for your draft?

Each player comes with a reason to fear having them on your roster, but they will still be high on a lot of draft boards come preseason.

Jennings isn’t doomed without Brett Favre and enters his third season uninjured–and you know what they say about third-year wide receivers. Roy Williams could recover in Detroit with a new coordinator, and Fred Taylor seems to never say quit. It might be a bit soon to dismiss them as avoidable.

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Fantasy Football Xtreme posted up an early mock draft in January. Xtreme stuck with L.T. at numero uno. Check out Randy Moss and Michael Turner breaking into the first round projections.

This draft was posted when no one knew where Turner would end up, and his value is not likely worth a first round pick now that he has settled in Atlanta.

Moss is an atypical pick in the first round. I might avoid him considering that he could get shut down more often now after seeing the New York Giants Super Bowl formula for beating the Patriots, but building around Moss could be a unique tactic for 2008.

Tom Brady was selected sixth, but Peyton Manning and Tony Romo went in the second round. Those three were the only QBs taken. Two more made the four-round cut with Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger going off the board at the end of the third round and beginning of the fourth.

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FantasyFootball.com jumped into the ring in February with a mock draft excluding rookies. [Link no longer available.] Jeff Williamson picked Adrian Peterson first–debatable at this point in the offseason after his inconsistent finish. The consensus top RBs followed in the mix, but Ryan Grant noticeably jumped into the eighth overall spot–not sure about that one, but more on that later.

Quarterbacks didn’t show up until the second round when Brady went nineteenth overall. That’s much later than I feel a QB will go this year after the QBs really carried a lot of teams last season.

It might be that the FantasyFootball.com guys just don’t feel building around a QB is a worthwhile strategy, but it seems strange that not a single one went for Brady until the middle of the second round if you look at the stats from the end of 2007.

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The Hazean posted his mock in mid-February with L.T. again leading and Tom Brady ranking sixth overall. Manning was eighth, and Tony Romo jumped in at 12.

The Hazean’s placement of the QBs is a little more appropriate for 2008–not too high but not leaving them to the traditional second round grabs either. My only argument against his placement might be the order in which the QBs were taken since Romo might be a better value than Manning for 2008.

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NFL.com’s late March mock draft dove right off the deep end taking Tom Brady with the first overall pick, but at least Tony Romo and Peyton Manning made the cut for the first round as well.

Frank Gore and Ryan Grant were slightly higher with NFL.com than I have seen them. Gore is supposed to be the center of the offense for the 49ers next season, but no one has seen Mike Martz’s playbook yet.

As for Grant, the situation could get worse in Green Bay. The passing of the torch to Aaron Rodgers means Green Bay has a questionable passing game for at least the early part of 2008, and opponents could stack the box against Grant. The other concern is that one of Green Bay’s other running backs like Brandon Jackson or DeShawn Wynn will have an opportunity next season to share the load.

Despite retirement, Favre strangely went 36th overall in NFL.com fantasy mock. Does NFL.com read their news section?

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CBS Sportsline is running a full 16 round draft that hasn’t finished up yet, but they are currently drafting the 12th round. Rookies are allowed, so McFadden went at 22 in the second round without even having a destination–that’s where these early mock drafts really get messy.

CBS put L.T. first overall and dropped Adrian Peterson to third behind Brian Westbrook–another ranking choice that is debated in this offseason. The numbers support it though.

Tom Brady came in tenth. Peyton Manning was actually taken before him at seventh overall, which I haven’t seen in most of these mocks. Old habits die hard, or maybe someone still has more faith in Manning’s ability to make a TD pass.

Keeping an eye on Ryan Grant, he was higher once again in the second round at fifteenth overall, but the real injustice was Tony Romo staying undrafted into the third round and going at the 33 spot.

The team that selected Romo got to take two RB studs first with Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis. With Portis projected to be more productive than he has been in 2008, those three could be a pretty lucky trio to acquire in the first three rounds.

The Quarterback Jump


Creative Commons License photo credit: dougww

I pointed out fluke draft ranks for certain unknowns like Ryan Grant, Randy Moss and Frank Gore as I saw them, but a major trend throughout all these drafts was the changing value of the fantasy QB.

I understand–and expect–the QBs coming in higher this season, but many of these early drafts seem to either take them with huge hype or ignore QBs following the traditional fantasy football drafting strategy.

When it comes to drafting fantasy players, you have to look at the cold, hard stats.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady trumps all competitors because he put up the most TDs in 2007–50 if you don’t count the two he ran in himself. In standard-scoring leagues, Tom Brady was the highest point generator all season. He stands significantly above L.T. (18 TDs, 1 PTD) and would seemingly be the favorite for overall first pick in the draft.

Even though he loses Donte Stallworth, he didn’t really utilize him in the offense. Jabar Gaffney is a sufficient replacement or possibly even better. Despite better coverage on Randy Moss, the New England running game is unpredictably utilized, and the Patriots will likely lean on the receiving again in 2008 as they did in 2007.

Brady’s value should be higher than normal in 2008. There’s a valid argument that he shouldn’t go first overall because he is a QB and demand is not high enough to take a QB in the first round, but he certainly should be on the mind of drafters after the top tier of fantasy RBs are gone.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning didn’t beat out all comers at the QB position last year as he usually does. Manning had 31 TDs passing and rushed in three. In most standard-scoring leagues, he ranked sixth overall at the end of the season–almost on par with Drew Brees, who will fetch a much lower price than Manning.

Manning will have all his weapons back to full health, but Marvin Harrison is becoming a shell of his former self. With Harrison in bad shape, Reggie Wayne can carry the load, but Manning just wasn’t as productive without Marvin Harrison in the lineup last season. I don’t think he can outclass Brady or Tony Romo in 2008. If anything, he can match either of the two.

Tony Romo

Tony Romo was forgotten on a lot of these mock drafts. He ranked third overall in total fantasy points in most standard-scoring leagues–right behind L.T. and Tom Brady. He put up 36 TDs through the air and 2 TDs rushing, and even though he was only slightly better than Peyton Manning in total points, Romo has his same offense returning for 2008 plus any rookies the Cowboys pick up the draft to improve upon the receiving corps.

Romo wasn’t valued as high as he should have been last season, and a lot of teams were able to steal him in later rounds. After 2007, I think he has surpassed Peyton Manning as the second QB to be taken in the draft.

The Rest of the QB Pack

In addition to just these three who seem to be going near the top of the QB pile in most mocks, a pack of QBs rounded out the top fantasy point totals in 2007. The top twelve point totals on offense includes eight QBs.

Applying the final rankings directly to a mock draft wouldn’t make sense–especially for fantasy diehards–but good QBs should go higher this year.

Brady, Romo and Manning will be expensive and likely go out in the first and second rounds while the rest of the high-scoring QBs–Brees, Roethlisberger, Hasselbeck, Anderson, Palmer–will go in the third round or later at a very nice bargain price because of consistency problems or neglect from fantasy owners.

Semi-New Strategy: Building around a QB

Last season showed us that a QB can be a team-changing value in fantasy football. I could see the first QB going off the boards as soon as fifth overall with the inconsistencies we have seen in our top RB studs in recent years. Brady and Romo definitely won’t be on the boards in most amateur drafts by mid-second round.

This year’s draft will introduce a somewhat new QB-building strategy.

Teams can 1) Take a highly-valued QB like Brady, Romo and Manning in the first round and build a team around him, 2) Take a RB first and look to pick up a top-tier or second-tier QB before the third round ends or 3) Try to snag as many studs at RB and WR as possible in early rounds and only taking a QB when they absolutely must–as in, before everyone starts drafting backup QBs.

Building around a QB used to just apply to Peyton Manning, but it can’t anymore now that QBs have dominated fantasy point totals. Smart drafters may be able to pull a miracle and pick up a bargain like Matt Schaub or David Garrard in late rounds if they play their cards right and know their league mates’ tendencies well enough to take chances, but consistent stud QB play is a major advantage toward winning your league in 2008.

So what does that mean for us?

I hope to see more movement of the QBs in the rankings as the fantasy drafts progress this offseason. More and more will likely carry Brady somewhere around the middle of the first round with other top QBs following close behind. The real question looking towards 2008 is how comfortable you feel about building around a top QB or staying the traditional route of taking a RB first.

So how much are you willing to invest in fantasy QBs for 2008?

2008 NFL Mock Drafts Consolidated

If you missed any of our mock draft, here’s a consolidated post with links to the entire first take of the mock draft and links to all our fantasy football compatriots out there on the Web.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock Draft (Jan. 27, 2008)
Part 1 (Picks 1-8)
Part 2 (Picks 9-16)
Part 3 (Picks 17-24)
Part 4 (Picks 25-32)

Inside the Iggles (Jan. 22, 2008)
Mock Draft

The Football Expert Mock Drafts (Updated Continuously)
Michael Abromowitz’s Mock Draft
Gregory Cox’s Mock Draft
Paul Eide’s Mock Draft
Jared Donnelly’s Mock Draft
[Links removed as these are no longer online]

The Sports Outlaw Fantasy Football Forums (Updated Continuously)
Mock Draft  [Link removed as this mock is no longer online]

NFL GridIron Gab (March 27, 2008)
Mock Draft

Fantasy Football Toolbox (Updated Continuously)
Mock Drafts

..and if you are already thinking about the 2008 fantasy season…

Fantasy Football Xtreme (Jan. 10, 2008)
Fantasy Mock Draft

If you would like us to add a link to your own mock draft, please submit your link to us by email or in the comments. All we ask is that you provide us with a reciprocal link on your own draft site.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 4 of 4 (First Take)

This post finishes up our first run at the mock NFL draft for 2008. Look for updates after the combines. If you missed any of Parts 1-3, check them out: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

25. Seattle Seahawks — Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Shaun Alexander hasn’t done much since his amazing season a few years ago. He seems to be stuck in that 20 carries and 60 yards per game mentality. The Seahawks could definitely use some new blood at RB, and Mendenhall is their man. He looks to be from the same mold as Alexander with some speed to burn and new tread on the tires.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seattle could be risky and go for a WR or TE here. One thing’s for sure, RB was the greatest problem for Seattle last year and made them a one-dimensional team. They need better production from their RB crew, and a committee with Alexander, Maurice Morris and Mendenhall would definitely be able to get the job done for Holmgren’s last year. We all know Alexander isn’t going to be getting it done much longer.

26. New York Giants — Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

The Giants need a linebacker and can either go with Connor or former USC star Keith Rivers. I would take Connor because he seems to have that Penn State Linebacker U mentality. He is tough, athletic and will make tackle after tackle. This guy will be a great value pick for the Giants.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Giants defense wasn’t on a lot of short lists this draft season, but they certainly ended the season on some. The secondary has stepped up in the playoffs after looking bad early in the season. You can thank Aaron Ross and Webster for that. With the secondary holding together, they could use Connor to reinforce their run and pass defense more at the line. The Giants might just stay near the top of a few draft cheatsheets for fantasy drafts in 2008.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars — Early Doucet, WR, LSU

Jacksonville had a great season this year–especially from QB David Garrard. The best thing the Jaguars could get would be a nice possession guy that can be a downfield threat as well. Early Doucet would be a great addition opposite of Reggie Williams, another young WR.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Garrard really needed more targets out there on the field to make Jacksonville the true double threat it should have been this year. Jacksonville has known their wide receivers were a problem for a few years. I apologize if any of you took Matt Jones this year. He looks like he misses the bench every time he gets out there.

Early Doucet should be able to get in there and shake things up. With some good route running, he should replace Matt Jones as the third receiver if he doesn’t land a starting role by the end of preseason. He will be a good possession receiver like Northcutt but will also be able to pull the big plays so that all the hopes and dreams of Jacksonville are not put on the sometimes slippery hands of Reggie Williams. Not sure if I would consider drafting him, but he is definitely one to watch for a waiver wire acquisition in your 2008 fantasy season.

28. San Diego Chargers – Keith Rivers, LB, USC

This pick would be taking the best available player for the Chargers right here. Their defense is already top notch with Merriman and some more young players. Throw in Rivers opposite of Merriman, and that is one scary linebacking duo for years to come.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Scary indeed. If Rivers emerges early in 2008 for the Chargers, I would fear NOT having them as my defense and form a prayer group for just the weeks I had to play against them. The Chargers already led the league in takeaways in 2007. Be very afraid of what they can do with Rivers in 2008.

29. Dallas Cowboys — Quentin Groves, DE/LB, Auburn

The Cowboys could go either WR or RB right here. I don’t feel any WRs are worth taking here, and this draft has so many backs that one could easily be found in a later round. What Groves gives Dallas is a great 3-4 defense player that could be a good fit for one of the linebacker positions. He is extremely quick and would be a huge asset to the Dallas D.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I lean towards the Cowboys taking a RB here with Julius Jones on his way out. Talk is that Jerry Jones might want Miami’s pick to get McFadden, so I don’t think they leave the first round without a RB.

That said, Groves would be a good call. Dallas’ defense slacked off on stopping the run late in 2007, and depth would certainly help since injuries weakened the unit throughout the season. Groves’ quickness would be welcomed and could possible catapult the Dallas defense from being steadily better to being drastically better. If Dallas takes two defensive picks in the first round, be sure to take a look at them on your fantasy short list in 2008.

30. San Francisco 49ers — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

The 49ers were thought to be a team on the rise, and then last season came and washed that away. What they need is another big man that young QB Alex Smith can use in the passing game. James Hardy is a 6’7″ monster that can go up and get the ball. He carries some off-the-field baggage, but the 49ers can’t be too picky. If they can get his head straight, he will be a great wideout.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Arnaz Battle, Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson just aren’t doing it anymore for the 49ers. Not with Martz coming in there. Even if he does base the offense around Frank Gore–like he should–he is going to need some talent in the WR spot to keep the defense from loading the box.

Whether Alex Smith returns as QB or not, Hardy would be a great target. His big size would help in the red zone, and maybe, with some new blood, the entire team will finally come together to be a competitor. With Martz at the reigns of this offense, any player on it is worth at least sleeper consideration for your roster in 2008 as Gore should return to form and bring a strong run game.

31. Green Bay Packers — Marcus Griffin, S, Texas

The Packers can do one of two things here. They can go after Fred Davis, TE, USC, who would be a great addition to their team or pick Marcus Griffin and help shore up their defense. Davis would be a great weapon for Favre to throw to, but I believe the Packers need to address their D first. Their pass defense was nothing to write home about this year–especially their safety play. Marcus Griffin can come in and play as well as his brother Michael Griffin did for the Titans this year. He will be an immediate upgrade to the defense.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Bubba Franks returning late in the season and the emergence of Donald Lee, Green Bay probably will look to lock up their defense here. While they had good INT numbers this year, they should have been better with one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

A quality safety to add to this young defense could increase the number of takeaways they get in 2008 and elevate them to the top tier of fantasy defenses.

32. New England Patriots — No Pick

Cheaters never win, right???

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Ouch, too soon.

That’s it. The end. Look for an aggregate post of mock drafts from other notorious fantasy football sources later this week, and expect an update of our mock draft after the combines.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 3 of 4 (First Take)

Now, we present Part 3 in our first take of the NFL draft for 2008. See Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them earlier this week.

17. Minnesota Vikings — Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

The Vikes are another team that need help at DE, despite drafting them in the first round in 2004 and 2005. Harvey is another great pass rusher that can get around the tackle quickly. Look for him to have an impact this coming season.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Harvey will only serve to further strengthen the Minnesota defense so that not even Ryan Grant and the Favre screen pass can make them look bad. If CB Talib is here, I would have expected him to go, but without him to take, Minnesota will take a defensive player and put their hope in the arm of Tavaris Jackson and the legs of Adrian Peterson–maybe some Chester Taylor in there too.

Don’t be afraid of taking the Minnesota defense in your 2008 fantasy draft.

18. Houston Texans — Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

It’s about time for the Texans to have a new, fresh young running back. The Texans have had about 37 running backs in just the last couple of years. Right now, they have Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. One is old, and the other is fat. I see Stewart as the second best running back in the draft and would be a good fit here for the Texans.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Alas, the missing piece for the Texans has finally arrived. I had begun to contemplate whether they might consider trading spots with Miami to get McFadden, but taking Stewart is not too much of a raw deal. Matt Schaub has become a great starting QB for the Texans with Andre Johnson and the emerging Jacoby Jones as targets. With a running presence, expect Houston to be a contender. Hopefully, the Texans will give him room to run and not stick him in a committee with Ron Dayne or Ahman Green. Once he gets his NFL legs, Stewart is worthy of fantasy draft consideration and could be a sleeper in 2008.

19. Philadelphia Eagles — Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

The Eagles would love it if Phillips landed here. The Eagles safeties aren’t getting any younger, and Phillips has the generic Miami safety attitude. He will hit, and he will hit hard. This could end up being one of the best picks in the draft.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Phillips, the Eagles could develop a legitimate presence on defense in 2008. The improved defense could make the entire team look better. Westbrook could have some more time on the clock and maybe even more opportunities with more take aways. They won’t be a top defense, but they could be worthy of being paired with another defense for a nice tandem for your fantasy team in 2008. Watch their defensive intensity this preseason to be sure.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma

Talk about being old at one position, the two leading wideouts for the Bucs last year were Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard. They need to get another receiver to compliment the young Michael Clayton, and what better way to do it than by taking Malcolm Kelly. He is a tall guy that will catch the ball when needed.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Jeff Garcia has given the Bucs a lot of opportunities in the air this season. Bringing Kelly into the mix will only make him better and give Galloway and Hilliard more time to rest and recover from injuries. He won’t be incorporated into this offense immediately, but expect him and Clayton to have a bigger presence this season as Galloway and Ike Hilliard inch towards retirement. A larger number of choices in the passing game could better open up the running game of Cadillac Williams and/or Earnest Graham for 2008 as well.

21. Washington Redskins — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

This is a value pick for the Redskins. They don’t need an immediate upgrade at DT, and Balmer is the kind of guy that could benefit from a slow introduction to the field. He has a few more things to learn before becoming an impact, but once he does, the NFC East better look out.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Cameron says, this isn’t going to immediately affect the team in 2008. I agree. The Redskins had a nice presence on defense during the 2008 season. As long as the new coach keeps developing them, the Redskins could make the playoffs again in 2008. This defense should be worth owning if you don’t take a top defense in your fantasy draft, but expect to need other defenses to fill in depending upon the match up. The Redskins won’t shut anyone down completely without significant improvement.

22. Dallas Cowboys — Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

If I’m the Cowboys, I’m taking a corner here. Cornerback is their biggest need, and Cason is full of talent. It may take a year to adjust to the NFL, as it does for most corners, but Cason has the tools to be a good one. He is also a great return man, which could help the Cowboys.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: My Cowboys were hurting this season when Terrance Newman was out with injury. Adding a CB to the mix should improve their game and give them depth so they don’t have to play so close with the Giants next season. Look for Cason’s impact to be felt later in the season, but he could provide a spark to special teams sooner than that. The Cowboys were a great choice for defense this year, and they will be even better next year for your fantasy team.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers — Michael Oher, OL, Mississippi

The Steelers need a linemen, and the junior Oher is the next best available. He is a tough and athletic player who can play guard or tackle. This isn’t a sexy pick (linemen rarely are), but it is the smartest one. The Steelers are a smart organization, so they take Oher.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Cameron is right. Oher is not sexy. He is really big. No mystery. Very bad wing man at the bar but a great offensive lineman.

Big Ben might not like this pick since he is asking for a big receiver, but that is a problem more likely to be solved with a later pick or free agency rather than in this draft. Oher will keep Big Ben Roethlisberger from having to run around so much and prevent him from hurting that windshield-smashing head of his by getting sacked. He isn’t the most mobile QB. After his breakout season as a big throw QB in 2007, look for Roethlisberger to look better in 2008 with Oher.

24. Tennessee Titans — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

The Titans are bringing in a new offensive coordinator to help Vince Young become more comfortable with the offense. What better way to help him get comfortable than by getting his favorite target from college. Sweed can be the impact WR that the Titans sorely need. Vince can only get better if the talent around him gets better, and this would definitely be an upgrade.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Titans are in desperate need of receivers this offseason. VY looked pretty rough around the edges, but it was less any Madden curse and more the butter fingers and bad routes of his receivers. Bringing in Sweed is certainly a start since Sweed never looked as good as he did when Vince was opening up coverage with his legs.

The Titans might even try to make some stealthy free agent moves for another WR in the offseason to really improve Vince’s situation. Sweed will gel faster than most young WRs since VY and him already have chemistry. Expect improvement in the Tennessee offense for 2008, and maybe VY will live up to all the scoring predictions that analysts put on him before the start of this past season.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 2 of 4 (First Take)

Picking up where we left off with Part 1, here’s Part 2 of our first take on the upcoming NFL draft.

9. Cincinnati Bengals — Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

The Bengals really need a DT, but with Ellis gone, they should go with Gholston here. He seems to take plays off sometimes, but he is too talented to fall any farther. Gholston will have a good combine workout and could possibly go higher after that, but he is a good pick here for the Bengals. If he learns to play every down in the game, this could be a steal.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Oh man, the Bengals need a defensive star. ANY help to that defense might help them put the team back together in the offseason. The Bengals got by for awhile by winning scoring contests, but they couldn’t survive this season when their offense lost its swagger. Rudi Johnson could be healthier this season, and Chad Johnson should stick around to help put this offense back together.

Look for Gholston to help this defense stop something every now and then, but it still needs a lot of help before it will be anything worth writing home about. The good news for Bengals fantasy stars is that the Bengals might see their offense getting more opportunities and maintaining a high level of play while winning more games.

10. New Orleans Saints — Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

The Saints need help on defense, and they really need help at corner. Talib has the size and athleticism to be a great corner in the NFL. He could also play a little offense like he did at Kansas–a la Devin Hester–and have an impact on both sides of the ball.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: This is a simple call. Fantasy owners ALWAYS started their receivers when they faced the Saints in 2007. With a better corner, the defense could snag some more interceptions, and more take aways equals more scoring chances for the offense. With Deuce back and Stecker discovered as a gear to turn the Saints offense, 2007 should be a bounce back year for all the Saints’ offensive fantasy hopes, but the defense still needs a few more improvements and work in special teams play before I give them my full endorsement.

11. Buffalo Bills — DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal

The Bills have a young quarterback, Trent Edwards, and could use a homerun threat downfield. DeSean Jackson is still a little raw, but he is a deep field threat on every play. He would be a good compliment to Lee Evans on the other side of the field. Jackson’s ability to run after the catch turns short passes into long gains, and he could also help in the punt return game.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Lee Evans had a miserable 2007 after his breakout performance in 2006. In 2008, expect Buffalo to try and take some heat off of him. Marshawn Lynch will give Trent Edwards throwing space, and a WR opposite of Evans to draw coverage could balance out this offense. Evans and Jackson should have big play potential, and depending upon the development of Edwards into a pro QB, 2008 could be a much better fantasy year for Buffalo’s passing game. Plus, with less heat on the running game, Lynch might be able to get some really good drives (see video).

12. Denver Broncos — Ryan Clady, OL, Boise St.

Broncos need a linemen, and Clady is the next best available. Still a little raw and needs some footwork, he could still thrive in Denver’s offensive Scheme. Clady will be a great asset to the running backs in Denver.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Watching Houston demoralize Denver in that Thursday game late in the season, it occurred to me that they should really improve their offensive line. Defensive line could use some help too, but Clady can tighten up the blocking for Cutler in the pocket and allow him to prove that his sparks of greatness in 2007 were the start of his emergence in the NFL. Cutler should breakout in 2008, and Selvin Young/Travis Henry will have no complaints either.

13. Carolina Panthers — Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville

The Panthers need a quarterback, and Brohm is still sitting on the board. It would be tough for them to pass on him since their quarterback situation is rather confusing. Testeverde is required to wear a leather helmet if he plays next year, David Carr just plain sucks at football, who knows about Delhomme and then there is Matt Moore. We don’t know much about Moore, but he is not as good as Brohm. Brohm could take over the reins in Carolina next year if they pick him.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The QB situation in Carolina is a little uncertain right now. Delhomme should return, but no one can guarantee he will play game 1 to game 17 in 2008. Matt Moore was a decent replacement near the end of the season, but someone like Brohm would give Carolina the courage to let Testaverde retire–again–and tell Carr he can clear his locker and take his little white gloves with him. He would be the good backup they sought out so desperately this season.

As a side note, if they don’t take Brohm or Woodson here, they could take another RB who has a good combine show or a top WR to compliment Steve Smith and replace Drew Carter.

14. Chicago Bears — Sam Baker, OT, USC

This would be a perfect fit for the Bears. They really need to address their QB situation, but with the 3 main QBs already off the board, they should look to the OL here. Baker is a great pass blocker and could improve whoever is behind the line. Some might see this spot as a little high, but OL is sorely needed by Chicago. I would take Baker here.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Chicago is unsure of what to do with their QBs. None showed great promise in 2007. Expect them to take a QB somewhere in this draft to develop into an eventual starter, but there is no need to spend this pick on one.

Baker will be a quality blocker for the Chicago offensive line. His game will bring up the QB and probably make Cedric Benson look better than he did in 2007.

15. Detroit Lions — Jeffery Otah, OL, Pitt

I know what you are thinking. Aren’t the Lions supposed to draft a WR in the first round? Isn’t that a rule? Well, because of the Lion’s hot start, they are now picking 15th which is pretty rare for them.

The Lions are one of those teams that sorely need an O-linemen, and Otah is the next best available. The Lions would be passing over some good talent at other positions, but this is my mock draft. This is who I would take. Otah will immediately upgrade a line that needs it.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Pretty simple. Better offensive line means less concussions for Kitna. At some point–maybe this season–you might even see Detroit begin developing another QB under Kitna’s tutelage, and he will need better protection.

Kevin Jones might look like a decent RB with Mike Martz gone and a better line, and Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson could have stellar seasons–even without Martz–as long as Kitna has time to throw. This pick raises the bar for fantasy potential out of the entire Lions offense.

16. Arizona Cardinals — Calais Campbell, DE, Miami

The Cardinals need an immediate impact on defense, and Campbell is that guy. He is a huge guy that can come off the end with some speed. Arizona could reach for home grown product Antoine Cason from Arizona, but Campbell would be more of an instant impact.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I like instant gratification, and Campbell is just that. Warner will keep the offense going strong if Matt Leinart doesn’t earn his spot back for the 2008 season or re-injure his pretty face. Campbell on defense will help prevent Arizona from constantly playing shootouts. This news may be bad for fantasy owners, but don’t expect the impact to be too drastic. Arizona’s offense will still produce well into 2008, and Campbell might just help them win some games in categories other than fantasy points.

For IDP leagues, I don’t think Campbell will be star right at the start, but without many bodies to stop people in Arizona, you might keep an eye on him throughout 2008.

Look for the next 8 picks in Part 3.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 1 of 4 (First Take)

Here is my take on what players teams will take in the 2008 NFL draft. I’m basing this on team needs and selecting the best player available. Look for an updated list after the combines.

Jacob provides the fantasy impact on each of these picks (in italics) after each choice.

1. Miami Dolphins — Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

Let’s face it, the Dolphins are bad. They could use pretty much a guy at any position. They do have a young quarterback in John Beck who I think will be pretty good, and of course, they have Ronnie Brown. QB and RB aren’t high priorities.

Dorsey is a beast and can disrupt an entire offensive line. I think it is a crapshoot between him and DE Chris Long as the most talented players in the draft. Miami could trade out of this pick because of their many needs, but if they stay, look for Dorsey’s name to be called.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Miami tries to get rid of this pick on the market, we all know they still want Dorsey first. His defensive presence will make it hard for RBs to make their line look like Swiss cheese like they did in 2007. Miami allowed 150+ yards to opposing RBs in 2007–worst in the NFL in case you didn’t know. With this pick and a few other defensive improvements, look for Miami’s defense to start a progression towards being good again but still not be worth taking a chance on in the 2008 fantasy draft.

2. St. Louis Rams — Chris Long, DE, Virginia

I’m a little biased on Chris Long as he was a member of my college fantasy team and was the main reason I didn’t lose every game. This guy is just an athletic freak. He will find a way to get by the linemen and to the ball.

The Rams had a crazy season last year in which their best players didn’t play so hot. I think with some changes and a kick in the butt, they could look to contend next year. They could go O-line with this pick, but I look for them to take Long. Orlando Pace will be back, so they could do without a first-round lineman. I fully expect Long to start next year and have a better career than his dad Howie.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Rams defense caused many fantasy owners to jump up and down with glee during their horrible stretch of the season. They finished 2007 allowing 115+ yards per game–not horrible but below average–and also let teams pass all over them.

Long will add a star athletic presence on defense that will take away opposing QBs time to throw and force RBs to run the other way. If St. Louis can get their star players back to their original form, Long could help make more opposing teams go 3-and-out and give the ball back to The Greatest Show on Turf. Don’t expect to draft the Rams defense next year, but they might be a good bye week filler later in the season when Long adjusts to the NFL speed.

NOTE: The next 3 teams will have their order determined by coin flip, so this will probably be changed.

3. Atlanta Falcons — Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

The Falcons need a quarterback in the worst kind of way. Joey Harrington has been given at least 17 chances in this league to play QB and has sucked in 18 of them. He is just bad.

Enter Matt Ryan. I believe this guy is the most NFL-ready QB out of this class. Watching him this season, he showed great poise and rarely helped his team lose. I believe he is worthy of building a franchise around, which is what the Falcons will be doing. They need a new image, and Matt Ryan could help immensely.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Poor Harrington and poor Leftwich. Harrington never had a chance, and Leftwich seemed slower than he did at Jacksonville.

I am not sure that the Falcons take a QB here. Chris Redman, showed some poise and a nice arm. He might have argued his way into a nice backup role somewhere if not Atlanta and possibly a starting gig if Atlanta was daring enough to put off a QB in this draft and take a top WR to compliment Roddy White or a top RB like McFadden. McFadden might fit well in a committee with Jerious Norwood, and Atlanta could finally put Warrick Dunn out to pasture. Matt Ryan is not playing in the Senior Bowl under the advice of his agent who gave the same advice to Brady Quinn, so there is potential that he could fall in the draft.

If they do take Matt Ryan, he will definitely bring some stability to the offense. I see him starting right away and having a shaky but good rookie year. Look for Roddy White’s numbers to improve and possibly some better RB numbers from Atlanta if they finally had a decent, consistent arm under center. Ryan might be worth a look as a second QB for your fantasy team.

4. Oakland Raiders — Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

This could be an interesting pick. The Raiders could really, really use someone like OT Jake Long, and that would be a great pick right here. This pick would be the classic “take the best player available” pick.

Everyone knows McFadden, but here is the real question: Who are the running backs for the Raiders? Answer: LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts like the dreaded Tecmo Bowl pair of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. Jordan and Fargas combined for 7 rushing touchdowns last year. I believe McFadden could come in and score more than that in his rookie year. The Raiders will select him if he is here at this point, and they couldn’t be happier.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seriously, how many RBs does Oakland like to sit on? This year, they took Dominic Rhodes just to sit him on the bench until both Fargas and Jordan were injured or completely ineffective, but don’t forget that they also have star prospect Michael Bush who broke his leg early in 2007. The sad fact is that they will probably take McFadden, let Fargas go in free agency and address what to do with McFadden/Bush/Jordan/Rhodes after the fact.

If Jordan, Rhodes or Fargas stay, they will probably just be benched reserves. There is potential for a Bush/McFadden tandem that could kill opposing defenses, especially once McFadden gets his legs under him the NFL.

Oakland isn’t really improving it’s greatest weakness with this pick–improving the defense or snatching an additional deep threat for Russell wouldn’t be a bad call–but look for McFadden to make a huge rookie impact on whatever team takes him. He could definitely take the strain off Jamarcus Russell in his first year under center and give Oakland a very explosive offense next season in the run department. Someone in every fantasy league will take McFadden expecting him to be huge in 2008, and I wouldn’t call that a bad decision unless a committee forms around him. He is very likely to be the Adrian Peterson (MIN) of 2008 especially with the strong running offensive line of Oakland.

Just fair warning: If McFadden DOESN’T go to Oakland, don’t forget about the potential of Michael Bush in 2008!

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Jake Long, OL, Michigan

Kansas City needs linemen. Well, almost every team needs linemen, but Kansas City needs linemen. Jake Long is going to be the prototypical great NFL linemen. With the young quarterback situation in KC, Long will give Croyle the extra time he needs to read the D and find the WR. This is a no brainer pick.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Brodie Croyle loves this pick. He wants to be able to throw the ball, and Long will make that possible. Larry Johnson would appreciate some open running room as well. Look for both Croyle and Johnson to have better seasons next year if Long comes to KC.

6. New York Jets — Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

The Jets could go after a DE such as Vernon Gholston, but Sedrick Ellis is a more consistent player than Gholston. He is a big body up front and is very disruptive. He is a poor mans Dorsey, and he will get the job done for the Jets.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Jets need a better defense than they had this year. With a rookie QB and Thomas Jones at RB, they don’t put a lot of points on the board. They would love someone like McFadden here, but they’ll take Ellis and look to snag a RB to develop later in the draft.

With a better defense, the Jets could improve their offensive problems with either with Clemens or Pennington at QB and return to being a contender like they were in 2006. More time on the field means more carries for Jones and maybe more scores for this offense.

7. New England Patriots — Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

Is this really fair? The best team of the year drafting 7th. Well, that’s the Patriots voodoo working. CB Asante Samuel will be more than likely leaving the team after the season, as he was franchised last year, so NE will need a corner to replace him. Mike Jenkins is a great corner and can play all over the field.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Expect more of the same from the Belichick’s crew. If Asante leaves, it would hurt them to not replace him with a quick CB who can fill those shoes. Jenkins can take on that roll. While the Patriots may have a weaker secondary next season until he gets a feel for the NFL game, the crafty, veteran linemen and linebackers can make up for any weaknesses in the secondary, and we all know the Patriots can overcome teams in a scoring contest. The Patriots defense is almost always worth taking as a mid-level defense unless you don’t like them playing nice in the fourth quarter and letting opposing teams score back some dignity.

8. Baltimore Ravens — Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky

The Ravens need a young QB, and I think Woodson should be that guy. He played consistently well in the toughest conference in football and has the size and power to be an NFL QB. I’m not entirely sold on Brohm right here, as I think Woodson better fits the Raven’s mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brohm went here, but if I’m the Ravens, I’m taking Woodson.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I wonder what Ray Lewis would say about this pick. Whether it’s Woodson or Brohm here, it’s definitely a QB. New head coach John Harbaugh will want to start the season off building up that offense and rejuvenating it with some new blood.

Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason didn’t live up to their positions consistently in 2007, but they could in 2008 with a better QB and consistent timing. Kyle Boller and Troy Smith both showed potential, but they need to show a lot more in camp to land a starting role.

2008 will be a rebuilding year for the Baltimore offense, but with such a great defense keeping games close, an improved quarterback could give them a decent offense that can put some points on your board. Whatever QB starts in Baltimore might be worth a look as a backup QB for fantasy or a bye-week fill.

Check out the next 8 picks in the Part 2 later this week.

UPDATE: Follow these links to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of our mock draft: Part 2Part 3Part 4