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1) Drew Brees – Brees and Rodgers are nearly neck and neck as my top QB picks, and likely top picks overall; both are the leaders of two of the leagues most explosive offenses, equipped with elite receivers. I give the edge to Brees because of the amount he throws the ball and hey, he did just set an NFL record for passing yards in a season. He has recently been slapped with the teams franchise tag which he is not pleased about but I don’t think that will hold him back much; he is a consummate professional and will want to win every game once he steps onto the field.
2) Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers was named this past season MVP and led his Green Bay Packers to an amazing 15-1 regular season record before being ousted by the eventual Superbowl Champion New York Giants by 3 points. For the past three seasons Rodgers has been an elite as well as consistent fantasy football performer and shows no signs up letting up. He has one of the leagues elite receivers cores in Jennings, Nelson, Finley, Driver, Jones
3) Matt Stafford – Everyone knew Stafford had the potential to be a great QB, but he just couldn’t seem to stay healthy, suffering multiple shoulder injuries. In 2010-11 however, Stafford was able to play a full season and did not disappoint throwing for over 5,000 yards. I am expecting another stellar year from Stafford and Calvin Johnson, as well as improved performance from Titus Young.
5) Cam Newton – Newton had a spectacular rookie campaign running for an NFL record for a QB with 14 rushing TD’s while setting a NFL rookie record for passing yards with just over 4000 yards… Wow. Newton was expected to struggle throwing the ball as a rookie but he proved that train of thought wrong by throwing for ove 400 yards in his NFL debut. This season I expect another great year for Cam as he rushes for 5-8 TDs while throwing for 3000-4000 yards with more TDs (21) than last year.
4) Tom Brady – His name is Tom Brady and he just threw for a career best 5200+ yards; Brady is a top 10 overall pick. The Patriots also added Brandon Lloyd recently, making their aerial attack even more threatening.
6) Eli Manning – Eli is coming off a great year in which he led his team to another Superbowl title. In the Preseason he said he was elite and one of the leagues top 5 QB’s. While he may have just proved himself correct, he is not a top 5 FANTASY QB. The legs of Newton and the young arm of Stafford have me ranking him outside the top 5.
7) Peyton Manning – Peyton is ranked below his brother at the moment, and will likely stay here until the season starts. Peyton has proven his entire life he is the superior Quarterback but since he has missed an entire season, is coming off multiple NECK surgeries and will be on a new team, there are just to many what ifs here. Ranking Peyton Manning will be a challenge this year and is very up in the air right now.
8) Michael Vick – Vick can throw and he can run, all he needs to do is stay healthy and he is one of the best players in all of fantasy. High risk, high reward is exemplified by Michael Vick… Draft at your own risk.
9) Philip Rivers – Rivers had a very up and down year in 2011, throwing for a near career best 4600 yards and 27 touchdowns, but also threw a career high 20 interceptions and lost 7 fumbles, many at crucial times. He is still one of the best passers in the game, but will need to have a bounce back year in 2012, and will need to do it without Vincent Jackson. Replacing Jackson as the teams #1 WR is Robert Meachem who has spent the past few seasons in New Orleans. Meachem is a very talented player but is largely untested as a #1 and will be facing some tough match ups against opposing #1 cornerbacks.
10) Tony Romo – Romo had a pretty solid fantasy campaign finishing with over 4000 yards and 31 TDs with only 10 INTs. Romo also did this while missing Miles Austin or Dez Bryant for games at a time; Bryant missed 1 game while Austin missed 6. In their absence, Romo was able to turn Laurent Robinson into a fantasy starter and likely helped Robinson grab that nice new contract he picked up this off season. Miles should be healthy this season along with Dez, who is one of the brightest young talents at WR in the league; I don’t see why Romo can’t put up 4000 and 30 again this year.
11) Matt Schaub – Schaub missed quite a few games last year with what I believe was a foot injury but will be 100% ready for the coming season along with WR Andre Johnson. Schaub should be capable of reaching 4000+ yards and around 30 TDs. I don’t know if Houston is as complete of a team this year, meaning they may not be able to run the ball with as much comfort.
12) Matt Ryan – Ryan had his best fantasy campaign yet last season throwing for career highs in yards and TDs (4177 / 29); he also added 2 rushing TDs on the season. He still has top-5 WR Roddy White, and also has Julio Jones who had a great rookie year we hope to see improvement from. He also still has Tony G. who despite his age is still one of the best, and easy most reliable TEs in the league.
13) Ryan Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick has proved himself to be a very confusing quarterback; some games will he throw for 300-400 yards and 3 TDs, the other games he will throw 3-4 INTs. He is still young, and is a very smart human being, I do have faith that Fitzpatrick will continue to grow and adapt to the game. He had good numbers in 2011 with 3800 yards and 24 TDS, he just needs to learn to turn the ball over less (23 INTs) and he can be a very good fantasy QB on a week to week basis.
14) Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger had a good season in terms of yardage, breaking 4000 yards for just the second time in his career, but was only able to throw 21 TD passes. However, I think things might be different in 2011. Rashard Mendenhall is currently recovering from a knee injury that could see him miss a few games this season. Mike Wallace has not left and will be a Steeler again this year along side the very talented young Antonio Brown. This season I expect Big Ben to throw for close to 4000 yards once again, while getting closer to the 30 TD range.
15) Jay Cutler – Cutler gets a big boost this year from the signing of former Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall. Both Cutler and MArshall had their best seasons from 2007-2009 when they played together in Denver. The Bears will have a solid running attack with Matt Forte and newly signed Michael Bush, but Cutler now has an elite go-to receiver, one that he has a very good relationship with.
16) Carson Palmer – Jason Campbell as moved on, meaning Carson Palmer is the lone starting QB in Oakland. He had a pretty solid campaign in 2011 considering how little time he had to prepare and get conditioned. In only 10 games last season Palmer put up 2700 yards and 13 TDs; though he did also have 16 INTs. With a full offseason to get ready and train with his team, Palmer should be much more prepared for the 2012 season.
17) Andy Dalton – Dalton impressed everyone as a rookie, throwing for 3398 yards and 20 TDs and a modest 13 INTs. He has a massively talented young WR in A.J. Green, as well as other quality passing options in WR Jerome Simpson and TE Jermaine Gresham. Perhaps we will see a 3500 yards 25 TD sophomore season from the skilled red hed.
18) Mark Sanchez – Statistically, and in terms of fantasy Sanchez had his best season yet, but was greatly criticized along the way as his Jets struggled; the Jets seemed to be a better team when Sanchez acted as a Trent Dilfer type QB with the defence and running game doing the brunt of the work. Knowing that, the Jets may not want to have Sanchez throwing the ball as much a he did it 2011, and with the signing of Tim Tebow there is no telling if he will even remain the starter for the season.
19) Josh Freeman – Freeman gets an obvious boost this season with the addition of Vincent Jackson to the team, I’m sure many people are also hoping that Mike Williams makes a run at his rookie season numbers after his very disappointing 2011 season.
20) Tim Tebow – It is hard to rank Tebow in the top 20 when he is not even a starter, the main reason I am going to keep him on the list is because things could change before the season and he is one of the hottest topics in the NFL. I imagine Sanchez will start the season, Tebow could take over if the team struggles out of the gate. Tebow is likely not a top 20 QB going into the draft since he will not be starting, but should he eventually take over, everyone is aware of the type of fantasy numbers he is capable of putting up.
1) Arian Foster – Foster had another tremendous season in 2011; despite only playing in 13 games due to hamstring issues, he still finished with over 1200 yards and 12 total TDs. The Texans have taken a hit this year in terms on losing some key pieces to the team, but Foster still has the ability to run players over and catch the ball very well; the Texans also have a very strong O-line.
2) LeSean McCoy – McCoy was the model of consistency last season rushing for over 1300 yards and 17 TDs while adding 3 more in the air, I owned McCoy in my main fantasy league and don’t think he had a week below 10 points. The Eagles had a disappointing season as a team, but McCoy was definitely the only all-star who really played like one. I, and likely many others expect the Eagles to have a better go around this season, and while it will be hard for McCoy to reach 20 total TDs again, he is still one of the most electric and consistent RBs in the league. McCoy only lost one fumble all of last season on 273 carries, while averaging just under 5 yards per carry.
3) Ray Rice – Rice is a workhorse for the Ravens, rushing for another 1300 yards and 12 TDs last season while catching another 700 and 5 TDs. The Ravens did seem to forget about him at time, but when they rush him 20 times in a game (like they should) he rarely disappoints.
4) Maurice Jones-Drew – You have to love MJD; he plays for team that struggled all of last season and had one of the leagues worst passing games, yet was still able to rush for a league best 1606 yards for 8 TDs. Despite teams regularly stacking the box to stop Maurice, he somehow manages to bust out huge runs and game changing plays. He is also a quality pass catcher, going for 374 yards and 3 TD.
5) Darren McFadden – Everything with McFadden depends on if he can stay healthy, and most signs point to no he won’t. McFadden went out in week 7 last year with a foot injury I had hoped it would not be last we had seen of him that season, but alas, it was; before going down to the injury McFadden was the leagues leading rusher with over 600 yards and 5 total TDs. McFadden is easily one of the most dangerous RBs in the game, but his injury risk seems to be too high. And now with Michael Bush gone to Chicago to play with Matt Forte and the Bears, it seems that McFadden will NEED to stay healthy if the Raiders want any kind of success. His backups at the moment are likely Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reese.
6) Marshawn Lynch – Lynch is coming off a career season in which he rushed for 1200 yards and 12 TDs while adding 200 yards and a TD in the air. After a bit of a rough patch in Buffalo, it seems that Lynch has found a fit in Seattle. The Seattle offence often struggled behind the QB play of Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, with Lynch being focal point of the offence. Defences often knew that stopping Marshawn was the key to winning, but he was still able to produce great fantasy performances week to week. I believe with Flynn in Seattle, teams will be tempted, or even forced to ease up on stuffing the run when they play the Seahawks, opening up more running lanes for Lynch.
7) Chris Johnson – Have to put Cj2k in the top 10; but he did have a pretty steep drop off in 2011, finishing the season with 1000 rushing yards, 400 receiving and only 4 total TDs. Hopefully the drama that surrounded him before last season is all in the rear-view and he will play at the level everyone knows he is capable of.
8) Darren Sproles – Last year Sproles set a single season record for total yardage with 2696 all purpose yards on the season while scoring 9 TDs. He is dangerous carrying the ball, catching the ball and as a returner. He is likely going to be an integral part of the Saints offence, and a favourite weapon of Drew Brees once again.
9) Ryan Mathews – Great news potential Ryan Mathews owners, Mike Tolbert has been shipped out of San Diego! Mathews had an improved sophomore season hitting the 1000 yards mark, but only scoring 6 TDs to the 7 he scored in his rookie season, largely due to Tolbert. With Tolbert gone, their is even potential for Mathews to have a great fantasy campaign.
10) Michael Turner – As I begin to write this I believe I will be ranking Turner higher than 15 pretty soon and am not sure why I ranked him this low when I first compiled this list. Turner had another great year rushing for over 1300 yards and 11 TDs. Atlanta seemed to focus more on passing this year with the drafting of Julio Jones, but it didn’t translate into wins, and Turner was still able to churn out a great season, the Falcons may focus on Turner more this coming season.
11) Demarco Murray – Had an electric rookie campaign getting his first serious action in week 7 against The Rams in which he rushed for 265 yards on 25 carries, setting a Dallas Cowboys single season record. Despite only 6 starts on the season, Murray finished 2011 with just shy of 900 yards. Murray looks to be the greater talent compared to Felix Jones and will be looking to cement himself as the starter this season.
12) Frank Gore – Gore had a bounce back year in 2011 going for 1200 yards and 8 TDs, helping the San Francisco 49’ers to a 13-3 record and division title. The 49’ers were unable to draw in the talents of Peyton Manning but were able to lock down Alex Smith for a few more years. Smith was rumoured to be a little miffed at the 49’ers for courting Manning, but after all the 49’ers have been through with him, he owes them one. Smith did have a career season but much of that could be attributed to new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Lets get back on track… Since Alex Smith is still no franchise QB and the 49’ers will still have the bulk of the elite defence returning from last season, they should be able to achieve success with their ability to stop opponents, and with Frank Gore’s legs. Gore has never played in less than 11 games in a season.
13) Jamaal Charles – I was really looking forward to seeing Jamaal Charles play last season, a privilege that was cut short (and hurt a fantasy team or two); Charles injured his ACL in week 2 of the season and was placed on for the remainder. He has had an entire season to heal and should be good to go, but unfortunately has taken a big pre-season hit to his value with the Chiefs signing of Peyton Hillis. The Chiefs have been known to balance their running attack, using Thomas Jones as a power runner in complement to Charles dynamic speed and agility. Thomas is now a free agent and it seems that Hillis will not be sharing the ball carrying duties with Charles.
14) Adrian Peterson – Adrian Peterson may move up on the list as we approach the season and we hear news on Peterson’s knee, providing it is good news. Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL in a game late December and will be hard pressed to be 100% for the regular season. Peterson is a perennial top-5 fantasy selection, but coming off injuries like that, I certainly have my doubts as to how his 2012 campaign will be.
15) Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall could very likely move down this list if he isn’t ready for the 2012 season due to the injury he suffered late last season. There are also rumours that he may not be playing in Pittsburgh next season or that the Steelers may try to add a quality backup, should wither happen, his vale will be greatly affected. Presuming he is still a Steeler next season and receives at least 200 touches (228 in 15 games last season), he should be able to get around 1000 yards with 8+ TDs (928 and 9TD last season).
16) Matt Forte – Forte suffered a sprained ACL in week 12 of last season, but is expected to be good to go for the begin of the 2012 campaign. Forte was a stud in fantasy land last year rarely be held to less than 100 yards in a game, his only problem was getting to the end zone. Forte’s value takes a big hit this year however with the signing of RB Michael Bush from Oakland. Forte carried the bulk of the Bears offence, leading the league in that category before being inured. Bush is a veteran RB who has the talent to possibly serve as a starter for many teams and did so last season when Darren McFadden went down. There are already rumours going around that Forte feels insulted by the signing of Bush.
17) Fred Jackson – The Bills have made some major moves this offseason, signing two key defensive players in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. With that said, many are hoping that the Bills won’t be playing from behind as much, giving Fred Jackson more opportunities with the ball. Jackson was already having a fantastic season last year before going out to an injury in week 11. If the Bills are more competitive and Jackson s healthy, he should be able to run similar to the way he was running last season.
18) Steven Jackson – Jackson is the model of consistency having not gone under 1000 yards since his rookie season in 2004 while also being a very talented pass catcher. He ran for 1145 yards last year while adding 333 yards receiving, with 6 total TDs. I am hoping this season Sam Bradford can improve from his struggles last season and that St. Louis can add some weapons around him; especially now that Brandon Lloyd has left for New England.
19) Ahmad Bradshaw – Brandon Jacobs was released by the team, making Bradshaw the official bell-cow, so I will likely have to move him up in the rankings soon. Bradshaw can be a big of an injury risk, but if he plays a 14-16 game schedule he should be able to have the best season of his career.
20) LaGarrette Blount – Blount regressed in 2011, rushing for only 700 yards and 5 TDs on the season. It is not solely because of him though seeing as how the entire Buccaneers team regressed. Blount is a powerful runner and exciting to watch break tackles, I had high hopes for him last year and am seriously hoping he lives up to them this time.
21) Beanie Wells – Beanie bounced back from his disappointing sophomore year, breaking the 1000-yard mark while scoring 10 TDs. The Cardinals will likely struggle again in the coming season unless Kevin Kolb turns a corner, but Beanie has at least shown he can reach the level that was expected when the Cardinals drafted him in 2009.
22) Willis McGahee – With Peyton a Bronco now, the team will obviously be moving to a pass-first system. Provided Manning stays healthy, it’s hard to imagine McGahee getting the number of touches he got last season. I would be wary drafting McGahee this year and already had very little faith in his current rushing partner Knowshon Moreno. I have to take McGahee right off the top-25 lift eventually and replace him with someone like Green-Ellis, who now has a starting job in Cincinnati.
23) Roy Helu – Helu had a very promising rookie year rushing for 640 yards and 2 TDs while proving to be a very talented pass catcher adding 379 yards in the air with a TD. The good majority of those yards however came over a 4 week span. From weeks 13 through 17 Helu scored his 2 TDs while totalling 387 yards rushing with another 118 receiving. The Redskins made some pretty drastic moves this off-season but with how well he played late last season the Redskins would be foolish to not develop him.
24) Reggie Bush – Bush had a career year in Miami, going for 1000 yards and 6 TDs, becoming one of the bright spots on the Dolphins roster. The ‘Fins have lost Brandon Marshall and a few other pieces while adding nothing to date so things may be a bit tougher for Miami next season (as if last season wasn’t tough =/ ); but Bush may also become even more of a focal point of their offence in light of his success. Bush is also capable of making an impact as a receiver and in the return game.
25) Shonn Greene – I have such little face in Shonn Green and will not draft him as anything more than a backup. I owned him 2 years ago and was greatly disappointed and have since held a grudge against him. Still, here he is in my top-25, draft him if you like.
1) Calvin Johnson – This is a no brainer really; Johnson finished last year with just under 1700 yards receiving with 16 TDs. He is the most talented WR in the game and is now being paid like it, signing a $132 million dollar contract with the Detroit Lions. He has a young stud in Matt Stafford throwing him the ball who looks to only improve, provided he is healthy. Johnson should the first WR taken of the board in every draft.
2) Andre Johnson – Andre had been considered the top WR in the league but has now been usurped by Calvin. Last year in one of my drafts I had the choie between the 2 Johnson’s and in my naivety, selected Andre… damn. Johnson didn’t play mosto of last year afte hurting his hamstring, selecting instead to play it safe and wait a few weeks than perhaps he needed. THe result though should be a 100% ready to go Andre this season; QB Matt Schaub should also be ready to go for the regular season. I am hoping Andre can get closer to the back-to-back 1500 yard seasons of 2009 and 2010.
3) Larry Fitzgerald – Another year without a decent quarterback, and another year the Larry Fitzgerald has managed to have a very good fantasy campaign. Despite the extremely up and down (mostly down) play of Kolb and Skelton, Fitz as able to go for 1400 yards and 8 TDs on the season. No matter who is throwing the ball Larry is going to see a ton of targets and probably make a ton of catches due to his extreme talent.
4) Wes Welker – Welker finished the 2011 season with 122 catches (123 is his career high) and a career best 1569 yards and 9 TDs, making him one of the top WRs in all of fantasy; if you play PPR Welker is even more of a monster. Welker is Tom Brady’s favourite target and one of the best route runners and has some of the best hands in the game; despite this years addition of Brandon Lloyd, Welker should have no problem producing another quality fantasy campaign.
5) Steve Smith – Smith had a massive bounce back season alongside Rookie standout QB Cam Newton. Newton has rejuvenated a stagnant Panthers offence with talent, hard work and explosiveness, and it has paid dividends for Steve Smith. Smith is one of the leagues most exciting WRs and it is great to see him having fun and playing at a high level again. With Cam Newton in town and presumably getting better and better, Smith should be able to continue having great fantasy seasons.
6) Roddy White – White declined from his stats in 2010, but still managed 1200 yards and 8 TDs on 100 total catches. He has a quality QB in Matt Ryan whom are still expecting to improve and sees as many targets a game as anyone in the league on a weekly basis. Julio Jones had a good rookie campaign going for 900+ yards and 8 TDs, but only caught 54 balls. Roddy is still more experienced and will see more targets per game than the second year wideout opposite him.
7) Greg Jennings – As long as Aaron Rodgers is the QB and the Packers throw as often and put up as many points as they do, Jennings will be a top WR in fantasy. He was unable to play in 3 games last season but still finished with 900 yards and 9 TDs. If Jennings plays a full 16 game schedule he should be a lock for 1000+ yards and 9+ TDs. Jordy Nelson has emerged as a viable threat also, but much like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, will have a much harder time maintaining the high numbers; Jennings will be the man for Green Bay.
8) Mike Wallace – The Pittsburgh Steelers took a gamble in letting Mike Wallace drift in Free Agency, but it looks like the move will pay off as the team will get their superstar WR back this season. Wallace is one of the fastest wideouts in the league and is coming off an 1196 yard, 8 TD season. Antonio Brown has also emerged as one of Big Ben’s new favourite targets, but Wallace is still #1. Hines Ward ha also been released, freeing up more targets for Wallace and Brown.
9) Hakeem Nicks – Nicks took a bit of a back seat in 2011 as Victor Cruz exploded onto the scene, becoming a top 5 WR on the season. Despite the emergence of Cruz, Nicks was still able to finish with a career high 1192 yards while grabbing 7 TDs (11 in 2010). Many people will be tempted to take Victor Cruz infront of Hakeem Nicks in this years draft due to this, but I think that Nicks will be the more valuable player. Nicks is still younger than Cruz while having more experience, he has some of the biggest hands you will ever see and is extremely fast. They are both extremely talented WRs and quite possibly the best duo in the league now, but Nicks has the better chance to maintain his success.
10) Kenny Britt – Britt went down early in week three of the 2011 season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL and missed the rest of the season so may not be as high on many other rankings, I however have a lot of faith in Kenny. His 2010 season ended with over 700 yards and 9 TDs with Kerry Collins as his QB. Before he went down in 2011 Britt had 14 catches for 271 yards and 3 TDs, pretty damn impressive. I believe that Britt has the talent to be a top-10 WR in this league and should he stay healthy, will have his first 1000 yard season.
11) Brandon Marshall – Marshall had a good season in terms of yards, but once again this season had trouble getting to the red zone, much of that blame can be placed on the style and play-calling of the Dolphins. Marshall is now a Bear however and has been reunited with Jay Cutler. Cutler was Marshall’s QB in Denver where he was his most dangerous and had three consecutive 100+ catch seasons. Marshall only ever caught 9 TD’s in his 2-years in Miami; he should be capable of doing that in one season with Cutler in Chicago.
12) Marques Colston – Colston signed a new deal that will keep him with the Saints for a few more years, good news for him and Brees. Colston is a tall, veteran WR who has been the teams best, and most consistent WR for years. Colston has only ever gone under 1000 yards once in his career in a season that was cut short by injuries. He is coming off a 1100 yards and 8 TD season in which he played 14 games. Brees will be an even bigger part of running the offence this season with no Sean Payton (who was their OC basically) and will not have the services of WR Robert Meachem this year.
13) Victor Cruz – What can I say about Cruz, he was the talk of the league for much of last year, setting a Giants single season receiving record with over 1500 yards on the season. I imagine this season Cruz will take a bit of a step back as defences adjust to slow him down, however with Cruz and Nicks both on the field, it will still be a nightmare for opposing defences. I give the edge to Nicks in 2012 with both players capable of topping 1000 in the same season.
14) Jordy Nelson – Nelson had a great season with limited action compared to other WRs on the team. While Nelson may not haul in another 15 TDs, one of the guys in the podcast stated that he was a lock for 1200 yards and 10 TDs. The way the Green Bay Packers offence is running in recent seasons, their isn’t much of an argument as to why he wont. The bottom line: draft Jordy with confidence.
15) Percy Harvin – Ayyoooo Percyy, I love this guy. Harvin had another great season in what was his third in the NFL, I believe it was actually his best year yet. The Vikings were a pretty ugly team but Percy still managed to keep fantasy owners happy with over 800 receiving yards, 300+ rushing and 500+ return yards for a total of 8 TDs. The Vikings are going to need more solid play from Percy in 2012 if they want to improve from last seasons 3 wins.
16) Miles Austin – Miles only played in 10 games last year but still hauled in 7 TDs on 43 catches for 579 yards. At the moment I am having a very hard time deciding who will have more fantasy value between Miles and Dez, but for now I am leaning with Austin. Miles is more experienced and seems, at least for now as Romo’s preferred target. I would love feedback as to what you guys think about Miles and Dez in 2012.
16b) Dez Bryant –Dez had a very good sophomore season hauling in 63 passes for 969 yards and 9 TDs, at time playing as the #1 WR with Miles Austin out due to injury. Bryant is extremely athletic and talented and in all likelihood a future star in the NFL. In his second year and while missing a game he was still on the verge of breaking 1000 yards and 10 TDs. Due to his explosiveness and big play ability I would not be surprised if he finished the season ahead of Miles Austin
17) Antonio Brown – Antonio finally had a great season in terms of yardage, the only bad thing about his season was that it took him until week 8 of the season to score a TD and only ever scored one more for a total of 2 on the season to go along with his 1100 yards. Wallace will still be a Steeler this season, but Ward is gone, meaning the 3 main WRs for Pitts will be Wallace, Brown and Sanders. I’m expecting this year Brown will crack 1000 yards once again while adding quite a few more TDs.
18) Jeremy Maclin – Maclin dropped off a bit in 2011, but that could be attributed to the struggles of the Eagles and the fact that he missed 3 games. Maclin is the more consistent pass-catcher on the team between himself and Jackson. Provided the Eagles play more at the level of the skill they possess, Maclin could be in for a very good season.
19) Dwayne Bowe – I must say, I don’t think have heard Dwayne Bowes name mentioned at all really this offseason, perhaps he slipping under the radar after his 5 TD season. He did however still catch more than 1100 yards and was missing starter Matt Cassel for most of the season; replacing him was the terrible Tyler Palko. With Cassel bac under centre Bowe should be able to have similar yardage and more TDs.
20) Brandon Lloyd – Lloyd’s value drops in the move to Patriots; while yes he will be playing with an all time great in Tom Brady, he will also become the 3rd option, maybe even the 4th. Welker and Gronkowsi will still be the go-to receivers for Brady, with Hernandez also in the mix. He does give the Patriots a very talented deep threat however and will likely be cashing in eventually.
21) DeSean Jackson – Jackson had another typical season if you ask me, about 1000 yards with only 4 TDs. I will always value Jackson behind Maclin until he proves he can be more consistent and get into the end-zone. While he is capable of big plays and multi TD games, Jackson also has to much of a history of disappearing for an entire game.
22) Stevie Johnson – Went from 1000 yards and 10 TD in 2010 to 1000 yards and 7 TDs in 2011. My guess for 2012? Maybe 1100 and 8 TD?
23) Julio Jones – Jones had a great rookie campaign, reaching almost 1000 yards and cashing in on 8 TDs; he extremely athletic and explosive capable of creating big plays. I am worried though that with the regression of the Falcons in 2011, and their apparent focus on throwing the ball, that they will revert back to running the ball more with Turner to set the tempo and control the game. (Not a bad thing for the Falcons, just a bad thing for Julio)
24) Reggie Wayne – Reggie Wayne will be a bit of a mystery this year, he has reigned with the Colts who no longer have Peyton Manning, but will be getting the talented young Andrew Luck. I would think that when Luck hits training camp with the Colts he is going to be doing a lot of work with Reggie Wayne in an effort to get their chemistry on track. Their is a great cance Wayne will become the favourite target of Luck very soon.
25) Demaryius Thomas – I firmly believe that Demaryius Thomas will finish the season with more fantasy points than Eric Decker, provided you DO NOT play in a PPR league, in which Decker will likely have greater value. Thomas is very athletic and should be able to capitalize on having a QB as skilled as Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. If you draft Thomas or Decker, pray that Peyton’s neck holds out.
1) Rob Gronkowski – Easily the number one ranked TE after his record setting 17 TD season. Gronkowski is massive and a nightmare for anyone trying to guard him. Most experts are expecting a bit of a drop off from last years totals, but you can still likely count on AT LEAST 10 TDs from Gronk in 2012.
2) Jimmy Graham – Graham had a stellar season in 2011 but was overshadowed by the Patriots Gronkowski. Graham become the Saints #1 option last year catching 99 passes for 1300 yards and 11 TDs, simply amazing numbers for a TE; and he was only in his second year. This year I think he has the chance to come close to matching those numbers.
3) Antonio Gates – Despite his foot woes Gates still gets the #3 spot, though I will admit I will be wary of drafting him. For the past 2 seasons Gates has had to struggle through multiple foot and ankle injuries. Still, despite missing significant time in last 2 seasons he has totalled 1500 yards and 17 TDs in them, pretty damn impressive. It seems Gates only needs 10 or ore games to have a big impact in fantasy, the problem will be finding a replacement for the other 6.
4) Jason Witten – Witten gets his usual top-5 rankings again this year. Witten had a good year in terms of yardage but was on able to haul in 5 TDs. The Cowboys look to be a better team this year and I expect them be able to score more points week to week. Witten should be able to improve upon his numbers from last year.
5) Vernon Davis – Vernon is the star of the 49’ers receiving corps. The 49’ers ave brought in Moss and Manningham, but I still think Vernon will be Alex Smith’s favourite target. With more mouths to feed Vernon might not get all the targets he used to get, but he might also be more open with defences forced to cover Moss, Manningham and Crabtree.
6) Jermichael Finley – While it may not have been as dynamic as some of his owners were hoping, Finley did have his best season yet in 2011; he caught 767 yards and 8 TDs on the season (Which he finally played all 16 games of). Finley is still a Packer and still has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. With Greg Jennings and now Jordy Nelson getting a lot of attention, we could see an even better year from Finley.
7) Brent Celek –
8) Aaron Hernandez – 2 TEs from the same team both inside the top-10, but that is the system the Patriots are running, and running with efficiency in recent seasons. While missing 2 games in 2011, Hernandez totalled 970 yards and 7 TDs, solid numbers for the TE position. I expect much of the same from Hernandez in 2012.
9) Tony Gonzalez – The model of consistency and a future hall-of-famer; it seems that you can’t really go wrong with Tony G. In 2011 he had another 875 yards and 7 TDs.
10) Dallas Clark –
11) Brandon Pettigrew –
12) Jermaine Gresham – Gresham was a solid TE last season and should be again this year, with the young and talented Andy Dalton leading the Bengals offence. The guys at CBSSports seem to see a lot of potential in Gresham, with many of them saying that they currently have him ranked above Jacob Tamme and Jared Cook going into the 2012 season.
13) Owen Daniels
14) Jacob Tamme – Tamme gets a big boost with his move to Denver along with Peyton Manning. For anyone who isn’t aware, Tamme was also a Colt for the past few seasons and was a massive waiver wire acquisition when Dallas Clark went down with an injury. Tamme should be able to have a good season alongside Manning as a Bronco.
15) Jared Cook Jr. – Cook had the attention of many fantasy experts last season, with many expecting him to make a splash in the fantasy world. While he didn’t have the biggest season in 2011, he did have a few big games and showed what he is capable of. Cook is a big, strong an fast TE, prototypical of the current TE trend that is taking place. As one of the guys in the podcast pointed out and I have to agree with, if Chris Johnson plays well and Kenny Britt is healthy, Cook will have some great opportunities.
16) Jake Ballard
17) Dustin Keller
18) Heath Miller
18) Fred Davis / Chris Cooley
19) Jared Cook Jr.
20) Kellen Winslow
This is simply an initial list I compiled this morning in about an hour. And so, as I do more research and players are moved, traded and released, these are sure to change.
Be sure to check back often! Any players you expect a breakout year from, or players you think will be busts? Let me know!
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I tweet and retweet sports information as well as general information (I study Journalism @ College) and funny / interesting videos.