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Playing the waiting game with wideouts

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Super athlete Julio Jones certainly looks the part of a No. 1 receiver, but drafting him as the No. 2 receiver off the board in fantasy leagues this season is a little premature.

Jones has eclipsed Larry Fitzgerald as the second receiver drafted behind Calvin Johnson in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts over the past two days.

Is there really that much of a difference between Jones (ADP: 2.03) and Victor Cruz (ADP: 3.11)? Or Jones and Antonio Brown (ADP: 5.10)? I don't think so, especially considering the lack of depth at the running back position this season.

I participated in several mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com in the last few days and went into each with a different strategy. However, each draft I completed did have one thing in common: I didn't take a receiver until the third round in any of them and yet, I still ended up with three starting quality talents at the position.

In one draft, I had the fifth overall pick and selected Chris Johnson in the first, Trent Richardson in the second, shockingly grabbed Rob Gronkowski in the third and still was able to draft Steve Smith, Antonio Brown and Stevie Johnson as my three wideouts before rounding out my group with Philip Rivers at QB in the seventh round (and you can read all about how I feel about Rivers this season in a column I wrote last week).

Meanwhile, 16 running backs are going in the first two rounds of drafts. Skipping over those 16 would mean settling for the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner or BenJarvus Green-Ellis as one (or both) of your starting backs.

Obviously, seeing Gronk in the third round was a bit of an aberration, but the strategy of waiting for a receiver still applies.

In another draft, I had the second pick and took Ray Rice and Richardson in the first two rounds (Richardson has been routinely available in the second round even though his knee scope isn't likely to be a serious concern) and was able to get Green, Jordy Nelson and Brown in the next three rounds.

Which brings us back to Jones. The kid is a stud, no doubt, but is that studliness really worth spending a second round pick on? Jones caugh 54 passes, 959 yards and eight scores as a rookie, but he also missed three games due to hamstring issues. Issues that could potentially crop up again.

Plus, Jones will line up across the field from a player who is coming off back- to-back season in which he caught 100 passes and led the league in targets. While Roddy White's piece of the pie may get a little smaller this season, he's still going to eat. The Falcons also have arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history in Tony Gonzalez, who despite being on the decline still caught 70 balls on 111 targets last season.

While it may be tempting to take Calvin Johnson, Jones, Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson in the first two rounds, I would advise you to beef up your roster will positions that are a little less deep first before gorging on wideouts.

While they may not be as splashy, a starting receiving corps of Brandon Marshall (ADP: 3.02), Nelson (ADP: 4.02) and Jeremy Maclin (ADP: 6.03) is still solid enough to win a fantasy league. Especially considering you'll support those players with a world class quarterback or tight end and one or two high-tier running backs, depending on which of those positions you choose to take in the first two rounds.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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