This Kevin Smith is not Too Fat to Fly in Week 12 Pickups

I can’t be certain that I covered all of this week’s best waiver wire grabs because, to be honest, after Adrian Peterson went down and rode out of the stadium on a cart, I went into shock and then into a hysterical state from which I am only now emerging. Is Twilight still a thing? Should I wait longer before I come back?

No one likes to see their fantasy stud go out on a cart, especially when we’re just three weeks away from playoffs. As a Peterson owner, I could only think back to last year when my first-round pick Frank Gore did basically the same thing to my already crippled fantasy team.

Things can get very cruel just before the fantasy playoffs.

It looks like All Day’s going to miss at least one game — and hopefully, ONLY one game. But the high ankle sprain shouldn’t keep him from helping fantasy teams down the stretch. If you’ve secured a playoff spot, you should be safe waiting on A.P. If not…well, you might just want to make liberal use of this button  and look for better help than Toby Gerhart, who was pretty miserable in place of Peterson on Sunday.

Of course, the title of our waiver wire post this week is in reference to the Silent Bob “Too Fat to Fly” incident, in case you didn’t get it. Get out your cave, buddy! Now back to the pickups…

This week’s waiver wire is a little different. Rather than run down a full list of all the top grabs, we’ll look to fill your needs at each position for the playoffs.

First, if you are in need of a quarterback…

ANDY DALTON (Bengals)
Even without A.J. Green, Dalton’s managed to rack up yardage and multiple scores against tough defensive opponents. The schedule gets easier the rest of the way. If your quarterback isn’t cutting it, you might trust your playoff production to this rookie, but he’ll only help you so much.

MATT MOORE (Dolphins)
Truly risky, Moore has put together several strong performances with the Dolphins finding their groove these last few weeks. His playoff schedule isn’t the best, but he has gotten hot at just the right time. If you’ve started someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick up to this point, Moore may be worth throwing into your lineup, but I’m never going to recommend benching a true stud option for Moore.

If you need a running back…

KEVIN SMITH (Lions)
He doesn’t get to face the Panthers every week, but Week 11 was a truly phenomenal performance by “the best story in the NFL.” He’s clearly the Lions’ answer at running back for the playoff push. The Lions are still a pass-first team, but they get down the field enough to give Smith some chances to score on the ground no matter the opponent. Not to mention, Smith has good enough hands to be a part of that mighty Lions passing game. If and when Jahvid Best returns, he will likely share touches with Kevin Smith, who should be this week’s first overall on the waiver wire. Don’t sit on your waiver pick or FAAB money this week, especially not if you need help at running back. Just like Tebow and Denarius Moore, Smith’s worth betting on this late in the season. It’s unlikely you’ll see another quality starting running back on the waiver wire unless we see some more injuries.

DONALD BROWN (Colts)
Speaking of the Panthers, the Colts face their terrible run defense this week, which means Brown is next in line for a big day running all over them. There’s some discussion that Joseph Addai could return this week. I’m not sure that I buy that. Brown’s been the most effective Indy running back in Addai’s absence, and it would be more beneficial at this point in the season for the Colts to continue to evaluate their young prospects, Brown and Delone Carter, rather than throw Addai back onto the field if he’s not completely 100 percent. If Brown gets the start against the Panthers, his ceiling could be something Kevin Smith-like, but it’s more likely he gives you a quality one-week fill for Adrian Peterson.

JOE MCKNIGHT (Jets)
Without Shonn Greene, the Jets running game actually looked a bit more dynamic with McKnight leading the way. He’s a better pass catcher than Greene and has younger legs than LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene should be back on the field this week, but McKnight should still, at the very least, keep the change-of-pace role until L.T.’s back to full health. I’d still stash McKnight just in case he earns more touches.

TOBY GERHART (Vikings)
If you couldn’t tell by how far down this list Toby is, I don’t have much faith in him producing while Adrian Peterson’s out. Peterson should only miss one or two games, and replacing Peterson in Week 11, Gerhart didn’t do much of anything. I also expect Percy Harvin to have a larger role running the ball in A.P.’s absence. The fact that the Vikings face the Falcons run defense in Week 12 makes me even less enthusiastic about Gerhart. If you’re a Peterson owner, you need to grab Gerhart just to cover yourself through A.P.’s injury, but if someone wants to outbid you for his services, let them. I wouldn’t consider starting Gerhart in Week 12 if I had any better options, but he could be worth the stash if he gets the call again in Week 13 against the Broncos.

C.J. SPILLER (Bills)
The Buffalo offense is just miserable, and the only bright spot has been Fred Jackson. Without him, I don’t have much faith that Spiller can get it done, but he would see plenty of work if Jackson sits out Week 12. Moving forward, Spiller could have greater value seeing more time in the slot after the Bills lost Donald Jones on Sunday. He’s better catching passes than rushing for now in this Buffalo offense.

If you need a wide receiver…

DENARIUS MOORE (Raiders)
The receiving talent is a little harder to come by, but if your league passed on Moore or his owner gave up on him when he put up a dud on Sunday, go out and get him. The Raiders still have one of the best schedules to pass on, and even though they’re a run-first team, Palmer should look Moore’s way a few more times this year.

VICTOR CRUZ (Giants)
Another one that might still be out there in a few leagues, Cruz looks like Manning’s favorite target when he’s facing pressure or needs a big play. The Giants will be looking for a few more of those as their schedule continues to get tougher.

PERCY HARVIN (Vikings)
Harvin saw more touches after Peterson’s injury and was able to put up almost 100 total yards and a score. More than likely playing from behind against the Falcons in Week 12, the Vikings should look his way often enough to make him a worthy play.

TORREY SMITH (Ravens)
Smith’s been a risky start ever since his breakout performance, but he’s worth the risk when the matchup fits because his ceiling is so high (165 yards and a score in Week 11). Weaker playoff teams might want to throw him out there in Week 14 against Indy for a spark.

RILEY COOPER (Eagles)
If Vince Young gets another start, he could once again look Cooper’s way. They’ve obviously developed a nice chemistry playing with the second stringers this year, and Cooper filled in admirably for Jeremy Maclin once he got into the swing of things.

JEROME SIMPSON (Bengals)
A.J. Green should be able to go in Week 12, but Simpson’s had his fair share of good games even with Green taking the No. 1 role from him. He’s a matchup play for the fantasy playoffs.

JABAR GAFFNEY (Redskins)
Rex Grossman was surprisingly competent against the Cowboys in Week 11, which leaves me to speculate that Gaffney will have a few more good games before the year is out, at least until Santana Moss, a worthy stash himself, returns from his injury.

If you need a tight end…

Tight end is deep, but few are rising to the top late in the season. If Kellen Winslow was dropped, he’s worth grabbing this week as the Bucs look to get back on track to end the year. Otherwise, look to Brent Celek, Jared Cook, or Jake Ballard, three tight ends who could finish the year stronger than they started it.

If you need a kicker…

Come on, man.

If you need a defense…

TEXANS D/ST
If anyone dropped them during their bye, pick them up immediately. Houston currently has the No. 1 defense in the NFL, and this week, they get the Jaguars. They should continue to put up fantasy points.

PATRIOTS D/ST
New England has one of the easiest schedules in the league after they face the Eagles this weekend, and their defense, for all its injuries, seems like it’s coming together. Assuming the pass rush and interceptions continue, Week 12 might be your last chance to score the Patriots D/ST for the stretch run.

PANTHERS D/ST
It’s never a bad idea to play the D/ST that faces the Colts, even if they have no run defense to speak of. The Panthers still managed positive points last week while getting blown apart by the Lions.

FALCONS D/ST
Atlanta gets to face the potentially Adrian Peterson-less Vikings this week. It shouldn’t be too hard of an assignment for them. Atlanta has a very underrated run defense.

BRONCOS D/ST
Tebowmania has masked how well the Broncos defense has been since Week 9 against Oakland. I have a hard time trusting them, but I love them as a sleeper this week against the interception-prone Philip Rivers, who may have lost another offensive linemen just this past Sunday. If you’re short on options, consider taking a chance on Denver.

Any other questions/comments, you know what to do. Leave them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.

On the Waiver Wire: Brian Westbrook LIVES, Week 13 Pickups, and a Massive Collection of Advice to Get Your Team Right for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

I hate handcuffing. I always feel like handcuffs are a waste of a roster spot, and I’d rather have a starting running back from another team than carry a guy who doesn’t play just in case my starter goes down. The backups are rarely as good or as big a part of the offense as their starting counterpart anyway. At least that’s what I told myself until this week.

Apparently, karma chose to teach me a lesson this season. My top picks in two leagues, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, were both hit with the injury bug this week just before I start my playoff runs in Week 14. I don’t own either handcuff.

Obviously, I drafted these two teams on Indian burial grounds. My two starting tight ends in these leagues were Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley.

Beyond snagging the fantasy fallout from these two studs’ injuries, waiver wire pickups for the rest of the season depend on matchups more than ever. You’d be surprised how many owners don’t look ahead and decide which players they should cut ties with and which ones they should stash for the playoffs. As we round out the regular season, you should fortify your roster for Weeks 14-16, assuming that’s your fantasy football playoff.

Regular season wins don’t matter anymore. It’s all about the playoffs.

I’ll hit the highlights on a few guys I like the most that are readily available this week. As a side note, this post will be our last traditional waiver wire post for the rest of the season. If you’re in the playoffs, I assume you’ve strengthened your roster. If not, look back the last few weeks of “On the Wire” posts.

If you’re not in the playoffs, I’m guessing you don’t want to hear anything more about players that could have made your team better, but you can look back at the archives all the same. It’s always nice to play spoiler at the end of the year, even if you have nothing to gain but pride and a new in-season rival. In-season rivals are the best.

Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers – He’s obviously the most high-priority add to come out of Week 12. With Frank Gore done for the year, Westbrook will become the engine of this offense. Troy Smith hasn’t been able to learn the full playbook since joining the 49ers, which has forced them to feed the ball to their running game. You’ll hear some warnings out there that Anthony Dixon has more value as the rookie with fresher legs to replace Gore, but I’m still choosing Westbrook over Dixon if given the choice. They went with Westy all night against the Cardinals until the game was out of reach, and I think they’ll continue to do more of the same. San Francisco would rather play it safe with Westbrook and his experience than hand the majority of their offense over to a rookie.

Anthony Dixon, RB, 49ers — That said, Dixon isn’t a bad add if you miss out on Westbrook or get Westy and want to make sure you lock up the 49ers rushing attack. Dixon will at least see some goal line looks, and he’s the better North-South runner at this point. Westbrook, while impressive against the Cardinals, hasn’t seen much playing time and is injury prone late in his career. We’ll know more about how these two runners will split the carries after we see them face the Packers in Week 13, having had a full week to practice together and work on the game plan, but I’m betting Westbrook gets as much as he can handle before Dixon gets his chance.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings — He’s next on the list even though I don’t believe he’ll have much value. The last reports on Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury say it’s only a sprain and that the Vikings fully expect to have him Week 13 against the Bills. Gerhart might see more work to give A.P. a light workload his first game back, but by Week 14 and 15, you won’t want to be relying on a backup running back. If you own Peterson, Gerhart is a must add. Otherwise, put him behind all the other backs listed as a stash in case Peterson’s injury ends up being more serious than what we’ve heard so far.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys — Choice is the running back of “choice” in Dallas now that Marion Barber will be out for at least two weeks. Fantasy veterans will remember how he exploded late in 2008 when Felix Jones and Barber both missed time. While Felix hasn’t shown any signs of slowing, Choice has talent and could carve out a portion of the running game for himself even if Jones continues to start for the Cowboys. He’ll at least see the goal line looks for two weeks with Barber out, and that makes him worthy of being added to rosters this week. You might hit the jackpot if Barber has a setback and if Jones is injured in the next two weeks. The Cowboys’ schedule is inviting with Indy, Philly, Washington, and then the horrible, horrible defense of the Cardinals in Week 16.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — Like a brokeback cowboy, I just can’t quit The Daily Show. Mike Goodson’s been an awakening for the Panthers are running back, but Stewart was more effective with his carries in Week 12. Maybe some of Goodson’s workmanship productivity will rub off on Stewart. He wasn’t able to do much of anything prior to his concussion, but The Daily Show should earn back more and more of the running game as the season winds down.

Goodson will stay involved and has some value since he’s been so productive during Stewart’s absence, but both Stewart and Goodson are interviewing for jobs next season. DeAngelo Williams will be gone, and it’s probably going to be a split backfield with Stewart taking the lead duties and Goodson providing a burst on third downs and catching passes out of the backfield like Williams used to do. The schedule isn’t too kind in Week 14 or Week 16 for either Carolina back, but you’ll definitely want to start either Stewart or Goodson in Week 15 against the Cardinals.

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – People keep saying that the Saints touchdown vulture is about to fall off the fantasy value cliff, but he’s stuck around. Even with Reggie Bush back on Thanksgiving, he got the touchdowns where it counted and put up decent yardage. I’m sure he’s owned in most touchdown-heavy leagues, but I’d consider picking him up in standard leagues for the fantasy playoffs.

Pierre Thomas may come back in the next two weeks, but with Thomas’ injury taking so long to heal, I don’t think they’ll want to put him in harm’s way near the end zone when they have a proven weapon like Ivory, who hasn’t disappointed. The Saints’ remaining schedule through Week 16 has them facing the Bengals, Rams, Ravens, and Falcons. Those last two are tougher than most, but I’d snag Ivory for this week against the Bengals and next week against the Rams. If the Saints’ offense can deliver him to the goal line for multiple scores in those two, I might even consider giving him a chance in Week 15 against the Ravens as well.

Danario Alexander, WR, Rams — I went on and on about Alexander when he had his first breakout game earlier this season. I loved his potential, and I still do. In his first game back, he was the leading receiver, even though he was only playing 20 snaps. He added that spark the Rams have needed. Outside of PPR leagues, he’s the Rams wide receiver I want to start, and if you look ahead at his matchups (Cardinals, Saints, Chiefs, 49ers), he’s not looking so bad outside of that Week 14 in New Orleans.

Take Alexander’s schedule, add that the Rams like to throw the ball, that Bradford emerged for his first 300+ yard game in Week 12 (with Alexander leading in yards and tied with two other receivers for most targets), and that the tight end Bradford loved the most, Michael Hoomanawanui, is now out with a high ankle sprain, and you have a recipe for another fantasy breakout for the young Rams’ talent.

I’d play him this week against the Cardinals, but all that said, I do have to caution that he is playing on borrowed knees–literally. His injury risk is red on the advisory system, but I’ll still give him the green light if you need that extra something for the playoffs at wide receiver.

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears — When Jay Cutler first got traded to Chicago, Bennett received a lot of talk as a sleeper. They were teammates at Vanderbilt, and Cutler, in a way, made Bennett into a star. In the NFL, the two have not connected as often. Bennett has been the second or third wide receiver on the Bears’ depth chart for some time, but the passing game has never been reliable or explosive enough to make Bennett a fantasy star. It looked like it was getting there in Week 12 against the Eagles.

Mike Martz may have finally settled into a playbook that suits the Bears. All of their weapons, including Devin Hester and Greg Olsen, got involved. Bennett scored twice. If you look at the remaining schedule for the Bears (at the Lions, Patriots, at the Vikings, Jets), they have a nice road ahead until Week 16 against the Jets. And even in that game, Bennett is less likely to get shut down as the No. 3 guy in many sets. If I’m short a wide receiver for the playoffs, Bennett is my second choice after Alexander. Johnny Knox is more reliable, but Bennett should get his looks, too.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders — If no one picked up the speedster in Oakland, you should make a run at him this week. His playoff schedule is nice (Jaguars, Broncos, Colts), and he seems to be the only receiver who can inflict massive damage for the Raiders. As long as Jason Campbell looks his way in Week 13, I’d consider starting him in the playoffs as a WR3.

Blair White or Austin Collie, WR, Colts — Whichever one of these Colts’ receivers starts in any given week will have value. A very angry Peyton Manning will be suiting up against a decent but not formidable schedule in the fantasy playoffs (Titans, Jags, Raiders) and trying to destroy the world to get into Indy into the  real NFL playoffs. I wouldn’t want to stand  in his way. Both of these receivers have a nose for the end zone, and Manning will go to them without hesitation. The only issue I have with them is that they could just as easily have one catch for 7 yards and a touchdown as they could have five catches for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins — Bess is very reliable as a PPR receiver as long as Chad Henne is the Dolphins’ quarterback, but his matchups are tougher than they look for the fantasy playoffs (Jets, Bills, Lions). I’d still consider starting him down the stretch if you need someone consistent, but as  a Marshall owner, I’m still hoping Marshall’s return will steal some of Bess’ thunder and production. Bess outperformed Marshall for a good part of this season, but the Dolphins best matchups in the playoffs (Bills, Lions) could become statement games for Marshall to prove trading for him was not a waste of the Dolphins’ draft picks–fingers crossed. Still, there could be scraps for Bess regardless of the matchup or Marshall’s contributions.

I dug deep for fantasy football advice all over the Web this week since I was trying to turn a dead but playoff-bound team (the one that just lost Frank Gore) into a fantasy zombie for Weeks 14-16. Now 21 waiver wire claims later, I feel pretty good about the team.

Below is my compiled list of waiver wire pickup recommendations, fantasy football playoff advice, and matchup analysis. It’s all worth a read if you have the time, but pay special attention the analysis previewing playoff potential and which players are getting hot at the right time, especially Fantasy O Matic’s look at defensive trends over the last five weeks, which I found especially interesting. H/T to FF Librarian for bringing it to my attention.

  • If you’re looking for something along the lines of an add/drop for the fantasy playoffs, SI’s Fire Sale column by Thomas Casale is it. It’s a great read, and you know I believe in Alexander’s and Bennett’s potential. It also may be time, as Casale notes, to give up on Vincent Jackson. He’ll miss two games, which puts him back to Week 15 as an effective start, and that’s assuming that his injury will heal right back to 100 percent. There are too many targets in San Diego, but if you have the room to keep him on your bench and wait, you might as well see what you have in him.
  • The FF Geek Blog hammers out another spreadsheet this week that lists more quarterbacks than most of the other waiver wire posts I’ve seen. If you’re in need of a playoff passer, take a look at their thoughts.
  • FF Toolbox touches on several of the big name adds, but I imagine most of these guys are taken in competitive leagues.
  • I think he sells a few of these guys short, but Lester’s Legends offers up his Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em for Week 13.
  • I like everyone Fanhouse and The Hazean tout as an add this week.
  • You’ll always find great links from the Fantasy Football Librarian.
  • NFL.com has some risky quarterback adds but, otherwise, presents a solid lineup of pickups.
  • Hatty Waiver Wire Guru talks through the week’s top pickups and players to watch if you’re still left wanting.
  • To think, last week I almost dropped Jay Cutler, and this week, he’s among the top adds on the waiver wire at Razzball. Glad I didn’t make that mistake.
  • I doubt most of SI’s “Decision Time” players for Week 13 are on the waiver wire, but a few like Jonathan Stewart might be available. Get them on your roster if you’re still trying to make the playoffs this week. SI’s waiver wire column also has some names to target.
  • Be aware that those “Points Against” rankings you’ve been looking at all season may not tell the whole picture. Fantasy O Matic broke down the defensive performances over the past five weeks and compared it to the season-long rankings to give a more accurate picture of who should flourish and who should suffer in the fantasy playoffs. It’s a must read for anyone playoff bound alongside their previous post on the best playoff matchups.
  • Rotoworld’s Chris Wesseling loves him some Westbrook this week and believes he’s capable of RB2 numbers the rest of the way. I missed out on Westbrook, so I’ll have to hope Dixon gets a piece of that.
  • The Fifth Down thinks Sam Bradford is ripe enough to start. I can’t really disagree with them this week as he faces the Cardinals.
  • Matthew Berry, ESPN’s TMR, pays tribute to Leslie Nielsen and plays back all the pickups he’s recommended over the last several weeks as well as the new guys like Westbrook and James Davis.
  • Pro Football Focus runs down all the hot prospects down to the sleepers and ones to watch the rest of this season.
  • The Scores Report may have covered every player that’s out there on waivers right now. Impressive.

Should you draft Chris Johnson at No. 1?

Yes. So much yes. Don’t get caught up in the hype of this Adrian Peterson vs. Chris Johnson debate.

Sure, Chris Johnson had a phenom year. He broke 400 touches in 2009. He may not do that in 2010; in fact, he probably won’t. There’s a good chance he could suffer a setback or injury this season.

You could say all of that. You can even use history to back it up, but why not give him a chance? The Tennessee Titans offense, other than their center, is returning, and the offense can do nothing but improve around “Every Coach’s Dream.”

Vince Young will be the starting quarterback from Week 1, which should allow Chris Johnson some more freedom. The offense really didn’t open up last season until V.Y. went under center. Johnson won’t have to do everything. The offense will support him, not be all about him. That means his numbers might go down, but I’d still take a drop in production from Johnson over an unknown quantity from someone else.

Are you going to find a better deal at running back at the No. 1 pick? No, not really. Is Chris Johnson going to be the No. 1 fantasy player at the end of this season? Probably not. But do you know who is? No. You don’t.

You could guess that Adrian Peterson finishes the year at No. 1, but it’d be almost as risky as taking Johnson. Both backs will have the majority of the attention from opposing defenses, and both will see a lot of work this year. Now that Chris Johnson isn’t holding out, the main arguments for A.P. are Chris Johnson’s 400+ touches in last season and his size, even though reports claim that Johnson bulked up this season as well.

Forget these 10 reasons not to draft Chris Johnson No. 1 overall. Let’s talk 10 reasons not to draft A.P. instead…

  1. Brett Favre: Adrian Peterson had an 18-touchdown season with Favre at the helm, but what if Favre doesn’t return? Pre-Favre, in 2008 with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, he had just 10 touchdowns. Sure, he had more yardage that season, but they didn’t get it done in the red zone. That’s worrisome, no? [BREAKING: ESPN reports that Brett Favre will retire. Believe at your own risk.]
  2. Brett Favre + Sidney Rice: If Brett Favre does return, he makes Sidney Rice one stud of a wide receiver. Rice happened to rack up the yardage last season while missing out on the touchdowns. He left the ball at the 1 or the 2 yard line fairly often, and he gave Adrian Peterson some easy touchdowns. In his second year with the legendary gunslinger, Rice’s likely to improve on those numbers and take away scoring opportunities from Adrian Peterson.
  3. Brett Favre: If Brett Favre does return, and he falls apart faster than anticipated throughout the 2010 season, he could turn back into old Brett Favre, turning over the ball too often for his team to handle, which would also take opportunities away from A.P.
  4. The Williams Wall: The pending suspension of defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams could have a drastic effect on the Vikings this season. If the four-game suspensions end up being enforced, the Vikings could spend the first quarter of the season playing from behind and unleashing Favre (or Tarvaris Jackson/Sage Rosenfels) to make it rain rather than grinding out the game with A.P. They won’t benefit from a strong defensive front.
  5. Running Style: Peterson still runs too upright, which makes him prone to injury throughout the season when defenses are gunning to stop him. While he didn’t miss any games last season or in 2008, that might mean he’s due.
  6. Fumbles: A.P. had 7 fumbles last season. He had 9 in 2008. I’d say the slight improvement inspires confidence, but it doesn’t. His fumbles are a consistent problem, and they won’t stop.
  7. Contract Issues: We’ve talked all offseason about Chris Johnson and the possibility he might hold out for a bigger contract, but A.P. was also absent from offseason workouts this year. Brad Childress’ lack of information about his absence suggests the relationship between coach and star running back might be turning sour. A.P. isn’t holding out, but a conflict with Childress or the team about the way he’s being used or his contract could lead to issues during the season.
  8. Rookie Competition: What kind of issues? Minnesota drafted Toby Gerhart, a ground-and-pound runner who won’t fill the void Chester Taylor left as the back on third downs. Instead, he could vulture a touchdown here and there, especially if Adrian Peterson has ball control issues. There’s no telling how he might creep onto the field right now, and when he’s on the field, A.P.’s not getting you any fantasy points.
  9. Involvement in the Passing Game: He’s not involved enough in the passing game. Both Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew excel at catching passes out of the backfield. Even without Chester Taylor, A.P. won’t have as big a role in the passing game, which cuts into his value. If you’re going to draft someone other than Johnson, you should at least consider MJD instead of A.P.
  10. College Allegiance: He’s a Sooner. Isn’t that enough?

In short, I’m not saying you have to draft Johnson. The first pick is yours to do with as you please. Draft a kicker if you want. That’ll go over well. But don’t take a pass on Chris Johnson just because history tells us he won’t repeat his 2009 campaign.

Whatever Johnson does in 2010 is probably going to be good enough to anchor your team at the RB1 spot, and that makes him a safe pick, worthy of being taken first overall in the draft. When you get first dibs, you have to make sure you get consistent points every week from that star player, and Johnson should do that.

If he does what he says he will and breaks 2500 yards…yeah, that’ll work, too.

2010 NFL Draft Mock Draft: Because it’s only fun to mock if you can pretend you’re smarter than other people

Oh, it’s that beautiful time again. Time for the birds to start chirping in the trees. Time for the flowers to begin to bloom.

Time for me to ignore all of these things because it’s finally time for the NFL draft.

Who cares about nature? There’s no reason to go outside until the NFL Network takes a break from exchanging puzzled looks about Al Davis’ first-round pick and projecting these college studs’ future salaries.

In anticipation of the big day this Thursday, Cameron has put together the mock draft below for your enjoyment. And it’s not your typical “this team will take this guy because they said they would” kind of analysis. This mock draft is purely based on Cameron’s judgment of who each team should take.

We would make a drinking game out of how many picks he gets right, but as Shutdown Corner argued earlier today, that’s not the point of these things.

And besides, we don’t want Cameron to be completely smashed while we live blog the draft on Thursday night. That’s what the fourth round is for.

I’ll let Cameron take it from here. — Jacob

The Fantasy Football Fools’ 2010 Mock NFL Draft

1. St. Louis Rams — Ndamukong Suh — DT – Nebraska
Welcome to the league, Mr. Suh. I’m sure you are hoping that every NFL line is as good as the Texas Longhorns line in the Big XII championship game. It won’t be that easy, but Suh has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage in any game. Everyone is picking the Rams to go quarterback here, but I’m not sold on anyone enough to warrant the first pick and the money that comes with it. Bradford would get eaten alive if the Rams trotted him out during his first season. The Rams hurt themselves by getting rid of Bulger, but Bradford is not the answer.

2. Detroit Lions — Russell Okung — OT – Oklahoma State
The Lions should have only one goal in mind for this coming season: Protect Stafford. With all the money invested in Stafford, they can’t afford to lose him to injury for even one game. Okung will protect Stafford’s blindside for many years to come and, hopefully, allow Stafford to throw it to Megatron 25 times a game.

3. Tampa Bay Bucs — Gerald McCoy — DT — Oklahoma
Quick, name the most recognizable defensive player ever for the Bucs…Warren Sapp. Tampa has been missing a vocal leader for the defense, a guy with a motor that doesn’t stop. Gerald McCoy can be that guy, and he could be the face of the defense for years to come.

4. Washington Redskins — Bryan Bulaga — OT — Iowa
After getting the quarterback they feel can take them to the next level, the Redskins are suddenly in need of a left tackle. Many feel the top three tackles (Okung, Bulaga, Williams) are interchangeable, so the Redskins pick the next best available. Bulaga is a smart offensive tackle who will help out McNabb for the next few years and whoever the Redskins bring in to take McNabb’s place.

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Trent Williams — OT — Oklahoma
The Chiefs spent a pretty penny last year to bring in Matt Cassel, and he was on his back more often than not. Their No. 1 priority is to give Cassel time to show that he was not a one year wonder. Williams will upgrade the line and play either left or right tackle, wherever he is needed the most.

6. Seattle Seahawks — Eric Berry — S — Tennessee
The Seahawks have a big hole in the middle of the defensive backfield. Berry is seen as an Ed Reed type safety that has the speed and athleticism to not only pick off opposing quarterbacks, but also take the ball to the house. New head coach Pete Carroll loves speed, as seen by his college players. This is a perfect fit.

7. Cleveland Browns — Sam Bradford — QB – Oklahoma
The Browns would love nothing more than for the highest-rated QB on draft day to fall in their laps. Of course, this will not happen, but it does in this mock draft. Cleveland picked up Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, but neither of those guys are long-term solutions. Bradford would benefit from sitting for at least a year. I don’t believe Bradford is the type of QB who should be thrown to the wolves. He needs to learn to read defenses and continue to heal his body.

8. Oakland Raiders — Anthony Davis — OT — Rutgers
Al Davis could end up picking another kicker in the first round for all we know. The Raiders need help on their line, plain and simple. With this big run on tackles in the first round, Oakland selects the next best available tackle. JaMarcus Russell needs some more protection, as he can’t throw the ball while on his back. Although he can throw the ball 70 yards on his knees, over those mountains.

9. Buffalo Bills — Dez Bryant — WR — School of Deion Sanders (Oklahoma State)
The Bills have glaring needs at a lot of positions. I’m not high on Clausen, so I’m not taking him here. The Bills could use someone to actually catch a ball downfield. With T.O. gone, they really have no threats (if you could call T.O. a threat last year). With needs on the O-line and at QB, Dez Bryant may be the guy who bails out whoever is under center next year.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars — Derrick Morgan — DE — Georgia Tech
Jacksonville needs some support on the front four. They went out and got Kampman, but he is going to need some help. Derrick Morgan has a motor and doesn’t stop until the play is over. His pass rush skills will immediately improve the Jaguar defense.

11. Denver Broncos — Rolando McClain — LB — Alabama
Denver has been rebuilding their defense through free agency, but there is still a big hole at inside linebacker. McClain could start early in Denver, and he could possibly be a candidate for defensive ROY a la Jerod Mayo of the Patriots.

12. Miami Dolphins — Dan Williams — DT — Tennessee
Everyone loves a big fat guy to put at NT when running a 3-4 defense. Dan Williams is that guy. Clogging up the middle and absorbing double teams allows the outside guys to do their job.

13. San Francisco 49ers — Joe Haden — CB — Florida
San Fran needs some help with DBs, and Haden is sitting here ripe for the picking. Haden could go earlier in the draft, but some people are iffy about his speed. It’s a huge get for the 49ers to take him this far into the draft.

14. Seattle Seahawks — C.J. Spiller — RB — Clemson
Pick No. 2 in the first round for the Seahawks turns out to be a grand slam. Spiller is a pure home-run threat in every sense of the word. He can take it to the house on any play, including kick and punt returns. Pete Carroll made a career out of using this kind of back, and there is no sense in stopping now.

15. New York Giants — Sean Weatherspoon — LB – Missouri
Like Denver, the Giants are another team with a need at linebacker. New York needs a linebacker probably more than any team in the draft. Drafting Weatherspoon here may seem like a reach since this goes against drafting the best player available, but a need is a need.

16. Tennessee Titans — Sergio Kindle — LB — Texas
The Titans defense was not good last year. If it wasn’t for Chris Johnson and V.Y., the Titans might have only won two games. They could use an upgrade at basically every defensive position. They need depth at CB and definitely at DE, but I take Kindle here. Kindle is one of those pass rush specialists that can wreak havoc in the backfield. A better defense means better field position for the fireworks on offense to do their thing.

17. San Francisco 49ers — Jason Pierre Paul — DE — South Florida
Defensive end is not a huge need position for San Fran, but the raw talent that Pierre-Paul exudes is tempting at this point in the draft. He only played Division 1 ball for a year, but what he showed at that level was very promising.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Iupati — OG — Idaho
Pittsburgh needs to strengthen the O-line, and Iupati is their man. He is a great guard, but he can also play some tackle. He is a very versatile lineman who will be able to switch positions at will for many years to come.

19. Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Graham — DE — Michigan
Atlanta needs a pass rusher opposite of John Abraham. Graham is an explosive end who could start immediately for the Falcons. This pick fills a great need that Atlanta has been seeking for a while.

20. Houston Texans — Earl Thomas — S — Texas
Houston needs defensive back help in the worst way. I know they are praying Earl Thomas falls to them with the No. 20 pick on Thursday, and he just so happens to make it there in this draft. Most people see Thomas as a pure safety, but some analysts see Thomas as a safety that can play corner. Regardless, he is a ball hawk who flies to the ball wherever it is on the field, and he hits harder than most linebackers.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — Jermaine Gresham — TE — Oklahoma
The Bengals have a rejuvenated running game thanks to Cedric Benson, and with Chad Ochocinco and the addition of Antonio Bryant, there is some pop in the passing game. What Carson Palmer lacks is a big pass-catching tight end. Gresham is a great pass-catching tight end who would have found himself higher on the list if he had decided to come out for last year’s draft.

22. New England Patriots — Jimmy Clausen — QB — Notre Dame
New England has no immediate need for a quarterback as Tom Brady will be around for the foreseeable future. With Clausen still on the board, I can see the Pats taking him here as the quarterback of the future. Sitting behind Brady for a while could do wonders for Clausen as well as teach him a thing or two about leadership. At the very least, I could see Belichick taking Clausen and using him as trade bait for more picks in a couple of years.

23. Green Bay Packers — Bruce Campbell — OT — Maryland
Everyone wants to know when this workout warrior will be taken. While Campbell didn’t perform at an all conference level in college, his measurables are off the charts. Green Bay’s line is getting older by the minute, and Campbell is some fresh blood who can afford to sit a year or two and learn from some veterans.

24. Philadelphia Eagles — Everson Griffen — DE — USC
The Eagles need a safety, but I’m not sold on Taylor Mays. He looks like a Roy Williams clone, a hard-hitting safety with no coverage skills. The Eagles could look to shore up their pass rush here and Griffen is a defensive end with great NFL potential.

25. Baltimore Ravens — Jared Odrick — DE — Penn St.
The Ravens are known for their defense, the same defense that won them a Super Bowl…in 2001. Now they need to upgrade their defense at every position. Odrick is quick off the ball, and he will give this old defense a shot in the arm.

26. Arizona Cardinals — Jerry Hughes — OLB — TCU
The Cardinals are in need of a linebacker, and Hughes is the next best available. A lot of people see him as more of a pass-rushing defensive end, but he is an explosive player no matter what position he plays in Arizona’s 3-4 defense.

27. Dallas Cowboys — Charles Brown — OT — USC
The Cowboys’ No. 1 need is at offensive tackle, especially with the release of Flozell Adams. Brown is a bit of a reach here, and if he is the best available tackle, I fully expect Jerry Jones to trade out of the first round and acquire some extra picks as he has done in the past.

28. San Diego Chargers — Toby Gerhart — RB — Stanford
San Diego could use a between-the-tackles bruiser to compliment the speed and agility of Darren Sproles. No one has a first round grade for Gerhart, and most people are high on Ryan Mathews. But it was obvious just watching college football last year that Gerhart was a team player that played with his heart on his sleeve. Hell, he could probably even get along with Philip Rivers.

29. New York Jets — Carlos Dunlap — DE — Florida
The Jets addressed their WR needs by picking up Santonio Holmes. If they hadn’t, Demaryius Thomas would have been their pick here. Dunlap has all the physical tools to be a great pass rusher and would have gone earlier if not for some questions about laziness. He is a good value pick at the end of the first round.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Maurkice Pouncey — OG/C — Florida
The Vikings need to get younger at the interior O-line positions. Pouncey can play guard and center, which makes him the perfect pick here.

31. Indianapolis Colts — Rodger Saffold — OT — Indiana
The Colts are getting really old at every line position. Saffold has the talent to be a left tackle for the next ten years. The Colts just need to show him the way.

32. New Orleans Saints – Daryl Washington — OLB — TCU
The Saints’ biggest need is at outside linebacker. Daryl Washington may be called a reach here at the end of the first round, but he should be seen as a steal. He has ideal speed and is great in coverage. Filling a hole at the end of the first round with a great prospect is all you can ask for if you’re the Saints.