Sunday evening I will have my first of two Fantasy Football drafts for the 2012 season. The league, a 12-person league, is a standard yardage scoring league (QB 1 pt = every 20 yards, RB/WR 1 pt = every 10 yards) with QB TD’s being four points and WR/RB TD’s being six points.
Many feel that 2012 fantasy will be the rediscovery of it being the year of the QB. Last season roughly 68% of plays in the NFL were passing plays, and it seems that each year over the last 5-7 years teams are getting more and more away from running the ball.
So, with all that in mind, here’s my take on the first round, 12 players that I think deserve to be in the round. Mind you we have yet to pick the first round order, so I don’t know where I will end up.
12. Cam Newton QB Panthers – I know, many think that there’s no way Newton will repeat his 14 rushing TD’s from a season ago, and a lot of people think that defenses will have him figured out. I don’t buy it. Newton vowed to work harder this offseason and avoid a sophomore slump, and even if he rushes for 7-8 TD’s, he’s worth it at #12.
11. Chris Johnson RB Titans – Last season was considered a bad year for C.J., and he still had over 1000 yards with four TD’s. I look for him to have a bounce back season in 2012, and be a lot closer to his 2010 numbers of 1364 yards and 11 scores. With a new starting QB in Jake Locker, Johnson will be counted on heavily to carry the load for the Titans, a good sign for fantasy owners.
10. Larry Fitzgerald WR Cardinals – The QB situation in Arizona is going to scare a lot of teams from grabbing Fitz, but let’s face it, whoever is the QB is going to put the ball up to him quite a bit. Last season the team went 8-8 with a QB carousel, and he still had 1411 yards with 8 TD’s. Bottom line still a top 5 receiver in the game.
9. Matt Forte RB Bears – Forte is a happy camper with a new deal in place and the Bears are a team that I think is going to challenge in the NFC, and he will be the biggest weapon in their offense. Health is a key issue, as he missed four games a season ago, putting up 83.1 yards per game with 3 TD’s on the ground, and another 490 yards and one TD in the air. Michael Bush in Chicago is a concern, but Forte is too good to pass up at nine.
8. LeSean McCoy RB Eagles – Many will argue way too low on the list, as most have him in the top 5. Some reasons I don’t have him as high as others – I don’t think he will repeat 20 TD’s combined from 2011 (9 the season before is more the range for him), and with Michael Vick prone to injuries, McCoy isn’t going to sneak up on any teams at all and will be the focus of every defense he plays. Still, he’s a solid pick at 8, and I like him at this spot on my board.
7. Tom Brady QB Patriots – Tom Terrific is back for his 13th season, and there’s no doubting that he’s by far one of the top 2-3 QB’s in the league still. Last season threw for over 5000 yards (team record) and 39 touchdowns while throwing 12 picks. With a solid core of pass catchers, Brady’s numbers will be high once again, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see mid 4000 yards with 35-40 TD’s in 2012.
6. Drew Brees QB Saints – The Saints will be playing ticked off in 2012 after an offseason full of turmoil, and with a new deal in hand, Brees will lead that charge. 5476 yards last season with 46 touchdowns and 14 picks, Brees is playing at a high level, and that should equate to Tom Brady like numbers from above. The Saints offense should be as good as a season ago, good news for those that grab Brees.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew RB Jaguars – While the Jaguars were not very good last season (5-11), Jones-Drew had a monster season, putting up 1606 yards (100.4 per game) with 8 TD’s, and another 3 TD’s with 374 yards through the air. Don’t fret about his holdout, he will be just fine once he steps foot on the field, and the holdout will be long forgotten.
4. Calvin Johnson WR Lions – “Megatron” had a huge 2011, putting up 1681 yards with 16 touchdowns, numbers any fantasy owner can live with from their #1 wide out. Matthew Stafford finally stayed healthy, and it paid off for owners of Johnson, who were more than happy seeing him put up an average of 105 yards per game. He’s the best WR in fantasy, easily worth the risk at #4.
3. Aaron Rodgers QB Packers – Talk about a season to remember in 2011, Rodgers was the runaway MVP, putting up sick numbers – 4643 yards with 45 touchdowns and 6 picks. He also ran for 257 yards with three touchdowns. Despite losing OC Joe Philbin to the Dolphins, the Packers offense still is a high powered machine, making those that snag Rodgers in the top three very happy with a franchise QB.
2. Ray Rice RB Ravens – Just about every top 12, top 25 sheet I have seen over the last few weeks seems to have 1-2 exactly the same, starting with Ravens pinball back Ray Rice. Last season Rice piled on 1364 yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground, with 704 yards with 3 TD’s in the air. I don’t think there’s much keeping him from similar numbers in 2012, so if he’s there at number two and you have the pick, sit back and enjoy the franchise back.
1. Arian Foster RB Texans – Entering his 5th year, there’s not much question that Foster is the best player entering 2012 in fantasy football. He’s got speed, size, and a knack for the end zone (30 TD’s the last two seasons). He missed three games last year due to injury, but still ran for 1224 yards and caught 53 passes for 617 yards. Many feel his 2012 numbers will be even better, making him an easy pick with the 1st overall pick in nearly all fantasy drafts.
Email Matt Loede your Fantasy Questions at Matt@NFLGridironGab.com. We will have a new “Fantasy Mailbag” each week here on Thursday’s entering the start of each NFL week of games.