Rodgers vs. Foster: Who should be No. 1?

This is what will now be known as TCTMFDWW. The Column That Michael Fabiano Disagrees With Wholeheartedly. As our thoughts turn to the 2012 fantasy season, the biggest question to ask, and be answered, is this:

Who do you take first overall?

There aren’t a lot of candidates, but the debate is heated. To me, it comes down to this: Aaron Rodgers or Arian Foster?

Rodgers is the most valuable QB (for now edging out Cam Newton and Drew Brees) and Foster is the top ball carrier (narrowly ahead of Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy). Despite missing nearly three full games, Foster is only 30 points behind McCoy.  So who are you taking? For the longest time it’s been “default to the RB.” Fabiano will tell you Foster in a blink.

I think that era is over. I’m going with Rodgers.

Why? There are lots of reasons. While there are fewer and fewer bell cows than ever before, you want to get as many of them as you can. However, the injury rate at RB is tremendously high. Look at 2011. Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Fred Jackson, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Peyton Hillis, Ahmad Bradshaw, DeMarco Murray and even Foster all missed significant amounts of time if not the majority of fantasy season.

More importantly, Rodgers currently has 397 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. McCoy is the RB with the most fantasy points with 280. So right off the bat, that’s 117 more points for Rodgers.

But of course, it’s not just about who you take in that top spot, because you have the rest of your roster to fill out as well. So let’s stretch it out and make it about your first two picks. If you took a RB at #1, you’d probably go QB with your second pick, and vice-versa.

If you drafted Rodgers No. 1 this year: You got him and his 397 fantasy points. The ADP (average draft position) for a RB around No. 20 was either Michael Turner or Forte, whose average selections were No. 18 and 22. Say you took Turner and his 176 points. Overall you would have 573 points from your first two picks. Not bad.

If you drafted a RB No. 1 this year. It was either Peterson (189 points) or Chris Johnson (157 points). Say you took All Day. The ADP for a QB around No. 20 was Philip Rivers, whose average selection was 19th overall. He has 232 points. So if you went RB/QB you have 421 points total. That’s 152 fewer points than if you took Rodgers number one overall. I don’t need to write any more on this, but because I’m rolling, I will.

One defense of Fabiano’s is always that you can get a great QB later who will give you close to the production of the QB you took number one. While that is true in a vacuum, I don’t think it applies. Because you have to a) be able to identify who that QB is, and b) actually have the chance to draft him. In retrospect you could say “Oh, I could have done almost as well with Eli Manning or Matthew Stafford.” But you don’t know that at the draft.

Now, I’m going to use Fabs’ point against him. Rogers had the most QB fantasy points (397) and currently at No. 10 is Mark Sanchez (226). McCoy is tops at RB (280) while Turner is No. 10 (176). So the differential in QB points is 171. The same differential at RB is 104. I don’t know about you, but I sure could have used an extra 67 points over the course of my fantasy season.

But in all fairness, I do realize my entire argument goes out the window if Rodgers is on the cover of “Madden NFL ’13.”

See Jason Smith on “NFL Fantasy Live,” airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the “NFL RedZone” channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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