Fantasy NFL

Who to choose at No. 1?

By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - You have the first pick in this year's upcoming NFL fantasy draft. There are many talented players, but you can only choose one.

Who will you pick?

Based on the most recent fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts, the choice is primarily between three running backs: LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson.

They are all great backs, so how will you choose between the three players?

I'll give you my analysis and perhaps it will help you make your own decision.

To correctly evaluate which player will be best for you, the first item on the agenda is checking your league's rules.

If this is a PPR league (points-per-reception), it significantly changes the calculations. A more rare option is the league that offers points per rushing attempt.

Actually it's a good idea to check your league's rules every year, even in leagues you have been a member for a while, so you aren't surprised by any changes that may have been made over the summer.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia (ADP 1.9) - Last season, McCoy led the NFL in rushing attempts (314), rushing yards (1,607) and yards from scrimmage (2,146). The dynamic running back thrived in the first year of Chip Kelly's offense which tries to get players the ball in open spaces and let them do their thing. That's McCoy's game.

Some fantasy owners may worry about the addition of Darren Sproles to the backfield, but the move shouldn't change anything for McCoy. Sproles may steal a few receptions, but he'll also allow McCoy to be fresher, a major concern based on last year's workload. The real concern is a 5-foot-10, 215 lb running back getting 366 touches. He could wear down or break down. Which is why the Sproles acquisition isn't a bad thing for McCoy.

As long as Nick Foles and the passing game don't completely fall apart and allow defenses to crowd the line, McCoy's 2013 numbers are repeatable.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (2.2) - While McCoy led the league is rushing, Charles led the NFL in touchdowns (19) while still managing a very respectable 1,287 yards on the ground. What made Charles so valuable to fantasy owners was his 70 receptions for a position-leading 693 yards and seven scores.

Coach Andy Reid has already said he expects to lighten the load on Charles, so there should be some concern that talented backup Knile Davis could see more touches this season, particularly in the red zone where his 227 pounds makes a big difference. We still like Charles to get 300 touches (down from 329) and that's plenty for this explosive talent, but perhaps not enough to overtake McCoy for the top spot.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (2.5) - If you are in a PPR league, Peterson is a clear step below McCoy and Charles. That's because he's never been an integral part of the Vikings passing game. Over his first seven seasons he's averaged just 29 receptions a season. Of course, that's because most of the time the offensive coordinator is calling his number in the running game. Who could blame him? "All Day" has averaged 1,445 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Keep in mind, he's never had an elite quarterback, in his prime, under center to distract defenses (no, a 40-year-old Brett Favre doesn't count). Matt Cassel isn't elite either, so it will be another season of staring down 8-man fronts.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner claims he'll get "AP" involved with the passing game, but I don't think so. That's just the usual OTA hype. Peterson is the surest of the three to get you 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns, but his upside is limited by the team's offense.

Barring any preseason injury or major roster adjustments, it's McCoy, Charles and Peterson in that order.

07/06 14:22:07 ET