FOXBORO MA - DECEMBER 06: Aaron Hernandez #85 of the New England Patriots scores a 1-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6 2010 in Foxboro Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
We like lists. It usually has something to do with what someone holds dearest, so a list may contain some of these things: God, Family, Friends, Country... While other lists focus on innately personal items like Cheetos, Fantasy Football, the St. Louis Rams, Yugo-s, sock puppets, Freedonia, and the newest amusement park coming soon to St. Louis - Van Bibberland!
Quite of few place Fantasy Football quite high on their personal lists. Not me of course, but some do and you know who you are!
My "20 Fantasy Football Players to Draft" list may shock a few of you. Ok, it will shock all of you, but what's life without a few things that shake the status quo? The way I choose my top players has to do with keen insights gleaned from
millions thousands tens of pages I've pour over time and... Well actually I kind of skimmed through them, but it's the lack of thought that counts, right?
So here they are - from #20 to #1 - and they are guaranteed by the 3k Fantasy Football Insurance Company to score thousands, if not millions, of points for your Fantasy Football team in 2012.
#20 - Marques Colston (WR) - In 2011, he was the "go to" wide receiver for record breaking quarterback Drew Bree. His 80 reception for 1143 yard - a per catch average of 14.3 yards - and 8 TDs, were a constant reminder to opposing team that he just couldn't be overlooked on any given play. This season, New Orleans will be without the services of Robert Meachem, who left in free agency. It should mean more work for Colston, as the rest of the Saints' deep stock of wide receivers fight to take over where Meachem left off.
Make no mistake, New Orleans is going to be throwing as much or more than last season. There is no better way to shed the ghost of Bounty-Gate, than tallying 500-plus yards passing, and Colston could have a career year. Last season, he was good for over 160 points in Fantasy Football. I think he'll hit 190+ this season. If it weren't for a small dread about his knees, he'd be a Top 5 FF - WR this season
#19 - Dez Bryant (WR) - This will be magic year number three in Dez's carreer. He's been down - like in his rookie year - and up, like he was in 2011. He made great strides inside the Dallas Cowboys offense, changing from a spoiled, immature rookie, to a player quarterback Tony Romo could count on.
His 63 catches for 928 yards and 9 touchdowns gave him a 14.7 ypc. He'll break 1000 yards this season without breaking a sweat, and 14 touchdowns is within the realm of possibility. This is a can't miss #3WR for most any team, and a solid #2 in 14 team leagues.
#18 - Steven Jackson (RB) - Though there are lots of NFL miles on his chassis, Jackson has something this season he hasn't had in a long time - competition for his position. When the Rams drafted Isaiah Pead in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, they may have awakened a sleeping giant in Jackson.
A perrenial 1000+ yard rusher, look for Jackson to tickle his 2006 rushing numbers (1528 yards), and add another 300 yards in pass receptions. He'd be higher on this list if he could count on help from his receiving corp. If he can, the red zone may be Jackson's friend once again. I see 10 to 12 touchdown for #39 in 2012. He's a solid #2 RB pick in any league.
#17 - Matthew Stafford (QB) - Here's two numbers for you to consider - 47 and 16. The fact that Stafford passed for 47 touchdowns last season should be reason enough to have him on this list, but the 16 interceptions is what impresses me most. When you consider everyone in the world knew he was passing to Calvin Johnson whenever he could, that number could have been much higher for a quarterback with lower skills than Stafford.
This season, he has second year wide receiver Titus Young smacking teammates and catching passes in OTAs like he did at Boise State not long ago. Stafford now has a duo of receivers to take pressure off of Calvin Johnson... Well, a little of the pressure anyway? Look for at least a repeat of the stellar numbers Stafford posted in 2011. He's a strong choice in any league for a #1 QB.
#16 - A.J. Green (WR) - On a team I pick to out-right win the AFC North division, A.J. Green will be a star again this season. His amazing rookie campaign of 2011 will be tough to beat, but he's going to do it, and here's why: Er, uh, I have no idea why, but I honestly think he can.
Second year quarterback Andy Dalton seems to laser-lock on Green, so the opportunities are going to be there. The one thing that could stifle him is a lack of a valid second option at wide receiver to take some of the cover pressure off.
Mohammed Sanu could be what the Bengals desperately need in a big, tough, over the middle kind of guy. Word from the Bengals camp this off season is Green is learning to run routes better... Better? Green had 1057 receiving yards to go along with his 7 touchdowns and a 16.3 ypc. He was worth over 153 points in Fantasy Football in 2011, and I can see those numbers going up. He's a guaranteed winner at a #3WR position, and a solid #2 option in 14 team leagues. Bag this guy if you can in the 3rd or 4th round of your Fantasy Draft.
#15 - Aaron Hernandez (TE) - Stop laughing! Here's the thing: I don't think Rob Gronkowski's surgically repaired ankle is going to be as solid as he and New England Patriots fans want to believe. He hasn't had the time to recover since the injury, and that could spell trouble for Fantasy owners who seem destined to grab "Gronk" in the 1st or 2nd rounds of most Mock Drafts I've seen of late. Therefore, I jump on the Hernandez bandwagon with both feet.
The Patriots offense is Tight End dependent. I see Hernandez going up from his 79 catches and 910 yards (11.5ypc) with 7 touchdowns in 2011. I can easily see him becoming the #2 receiver for Tom Brady this season. 1200+ receiving yards isn't out of the question, and his red zone visits could see him increase his touchdown total to 10 to 12. In Mock draft lately, he's been a steal in the 6th and 7th rounds. He's a starter every week. Don't wait to long to grab this guy.
#14 - Cam Newton (QB) - This is the player everyone will be watching this season. Cam was an absolute monster in Fantasy Football in 2011. I acquired him on September 14, 2011 for my Fantasy team, and he wound up being worth 386.34 points. His 17 TDs passing and 14 TDs rushing made him a dream come true. He passed for over 4000 yards, setting a rookie record for quarterbacks.
The only thing standing in Newton's way is a silly superstition called the sophomore jinx. As I throw a cat over my shoulder and wonder where to find black salt, let me explain how stupid this so-called jinx really is while I walk outside in a thunderstorm with this pesky 10 foot long metal ladder... I'm back! Guess what? Lightning makes you tingle!
Cam Newton is flat out talented. How opposing NFL teams think they can game plan around him is beyond me, but they'll try and fail. His only limitation this season is his aging primary target - Steve Smith. I don't think he has another 1394 yard receiving season in him. Taking Joe Adams in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft could help, but that's a lot to ask of a rookie. Brandon LaFell holds the keys to how far Cam can drive his passing game in 2012. Greg Olsen is an underrated tight end who could see more work this season. No mater who is on the team though, Cam Newton is a special kid. Don't over look an opportunity to draft him if he's there in the 2nd or 3rd round.
#13 - Marshawn Lynch (RB) - Yes he had a big money pay day recently, and yes, it's worse than post coital motivation to run a marathon.
OK, I get it. Staring at mountains of money can get in the way of trivial things like playing football in the NFL. I think Lynch may be the exception to this not so general rule though. First, the guy is an animal. He more than likely already ate the money, thinking it was a salad.
Second, this is a guy who has found his place in life. He's one with the screaming Banshees who inhabit the echo chamber they call a stadium. Add this to the fact the team has improve their offensive line - as well as adding a quarterback in Matt Flynn - and you get a team that's considerable improved on the offensive side of the ball. His 1204 yards rushing should tick up a bit, while his receiving yards should increase from 202 to the 400 to 500 yard range. He is a solid #1 or #2 back in any league, and if he's there in the 2nd round, throw a bag of Skittles his way.
#12 - Fred Jackson (RB) - Buffalo has not so secretly built a powerful defense. With the addition of Mario Williams, the Bills should be more inclined to offering their offensive counterparts decent field position, as well as lower scoring by opposing team. This leads me to believe the "Go for broke" passing offense of 2011 may be more of a balanced attack in 2012. Jackson played in only 10 games in 2011, and rushed for 934 yards and 6 touchdowns. He added another 442 yards receiving. Did I mention he did this in 10 games?
Jackson is a Top tier back who will be a bargain in the 3rd to 5th round in your draft. Don't listen to the C.J. Spiller talk too much. Chan Gailey knows if Jackson lights up the field, there is no way he's going to let him leave. Jackson is the perfect weapon to use against the Bills' AFC East foes, and they are going to see a great deal of this special back during the season.
#11 - Rob Gronkowski (TE) - OK, so I said I don't trust his ankle, but on the off chance I'm wrong, how can you resist taking a guy who shattered every tight end record there is? The answer: You can't, especially if he sitting there staring at you in the 2nd round of your draft.
His 90 catches for 1327 yards (14.7ypc), and 18 touchdowns(1 rushing) are the stuff of legends. I still say "buyer beware", and I'd hesitate to draft him in early drafts. This is a guy who you want to draft as close as you can to the start of pre-season. If he's healthy, you can't lose on taking "Gronk" in the 2nd round of any draft, but I'd definitely plan on taking another quality TE to go with him before round nine.
#10 - Jimmy Graham (TE) - Outside of Marques Colston and an aging Darren Sproles, who does Dreew Brees have to count on to be open? At 6' 7" and 265 lbs, Graham offers one of those unique NBA power forward bodies. Just toss the ball up in his general direction, and there isn't a defensive back in the NFL who has a chance. His 99 receptions for 1301 yards (13.2 ypc), and 11 touchdowns make him a sure fire bet on draft day.
Gronk and Graham represent a unique tier among tight ends. The problem here is taking a tight end so high in the draft, when RB and WR talent is there for the taking. While there seems to be a shift in the size of defensive backs in the NFL Draft, I still think trying to game plan around these to star players is a season or two away. Jimmy Graham is the healthier choice between the two of them, so don't miss out if he's there in the 2nd round of your draft.
#9 - Tom Brady (QB) - When the New England Patriots went on a wide receiver spree this off season, they warned all of them when they showed up to not talk about Tom Brady's hair, or a wicked witch named Giselle would eat their kids. Brady has more wide receivers in camp than I can ever remember. Bill Belichick has something up his sleeve, and it probably has something to do with his tight end being his number one scoring receiver. Nightmares for Billy no doubt?
When all is said and done though, few can argue that Tom Brady isn't a future Hall of Fame quarterback. He sees the field like few players at his position ever have, or will. His 41 touchdowns (3 rushing) in 2011were flat out impressive. He took his team all the way to the Super Bowl, and will no doubt be a favorite to return in 2012-13. Why? One reason, and one reason only: Tom Brady.
He is a first round pick, though possible a 6 to 10 pick depending on the league. Take him if he's there no matter what.
#8 - Roddy White (WR) - The Atlanta Falcons can't stop talking about one of their receivers this off season. Julio Jones is the name being touted as the player who's going to light up the score boards in the NFL. Is he going to have a good year? Yes, but not as good a year as Roddy White. While Jones was tending to injuries during his rookie campaign, White did what he always does - excels and show up every game.
He hasn't missed a game in his seven year career. In 2011, his 100 catches for 1296 yards (13.0ypc), and 8 touchdowns represented yet another year where White proved his value. Jones may, or may not, evolve into a top wide receiver, but Roddy White already is, and he'll be very close to the top of every Fantasy Draft board. Only Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are going higher in Mock Drafts. He hasn't made it out of the first round in any Mock I've seen, and for good reason. He's a lock for your team every week. Now, about this Jones guy...
#7 - Drew Brees (QB) - The man may not know his WMDs, but no one can discount how he lights up a football stadium on game day. He is a passing machine. His "field vision" is second to none, and he's a field general in every sense of the word. If anyone can carry his team through "dark times", it's Drew Brees.
His 47 touchdowns (1 rushing), and 5476 yards passing made him a a Fantasy Football scoring dream. His wide receiver corp is one of the best in the NFL , with Marques Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham leading the way. He won't make it passed the 8 pick in any draft, so if QB is high on your list, you can't do much better than Drew Brees.
#6 - Arian Foster (RB) - Every, and I do mean EVERY, Fantasy Football Draft board has Foster ranked as the #1 player. Except mine, of course... Why? Well I'm glad you asked Mr. Helper.
First, it comes down to the Houston Texans as a whole. They lost their right offensive tackle to free agency, their defense lost key personnel, and their franchise quarterback isn't a franchise quarterback any more. Something's wrong when a quarterback who went in the top 4 rounds last year suddenly plummets to undrafted in most Mocks I've seen.
Their #1 wide receiver was a top 10 pick for the last couple of years, but he hasn't played a full season in four of the nine he's been in the NFL - playing in only 20 games out of the last 36 from 2010. He's rated the 6th overall wide receiver on most boards, but in Mock drafts he's going late in the 2nd, or early in the 3rd rounds.
All this is to say Foster doesn't have as much of a team around him as he's had as recently as last year, when he scored 10 TDs, rushed for 1224 yards, caught 53 passes for 617 yards and 2 TDs. He did it all in 13 games before going down due to injury. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? Sure, it's great, but I don't like hanging my Fantasy Football hat on a peg that could fall off the wall. Foster is a super player, and being rated #6 by me will give a few of you reason to snicker. But there are two better values to come on this list in my opinion.
Would I draft Foster if he's there at pick 5 or 6? Hell yes, but drafting him would change my draft day strategy to making sure I had a quality #2 RB to go with him.
#5 - Larry Fitzgerald (WR) - There are two - and only two - elite beyond words wide receivers in the NFL. Fitzgerald is one, and you may be able to guess the other... Fitz is special. If the Arizona Cardinals didn't have the quarterback they're currently in, Fitz would be breaking every record in the book. The addition of Michael Floyd in the 2012 NFL Draft could help free up some defensive coverages, but I think that'd be wishful thinking at best. Fitz succeeds in spite of the fact he makes a living while double teamed on every play. This is a guaranteed #1 WR for any team, anywhere. If he's there, you take him - period.
#4 - Aaron Rodgers (QB) - In 2011, this Green Bay Packers' quarterback was just this side of perfect. The kind of perfect like a huge diamond, and then someone says it's gaudy. OK, pal, but it's a damn diamond, it's huge, and it costs more than Wisconsin. Rodgers is pure diamond - big and gaudy the way he scores at will - in every way. He passes, he runs, he scores points, he... I think I'm going to be ill... I suddenly had a vision of a huge block of cheese with a scraggly beard throwing a touchdown pass...
This guy is the best quarterback in the NFL, and he makes it look easy. In 15 games last season, he threw 343 passes for 4643 yards, while only throwing 6 interceptions. He rushed for 257 yards, and his combined total of touchdowns: 48
I'm not even going to suggest you draft him. If you don't, you may want to draft Darwin...
#3 - Calvin Johnson (WR) - I wonder how much Calvin Johnson hates the "Transformer" movies? In a twist of movie name placement, the star Detroit Lions wide receiver has been forever branded as "Megatron". Which is odd, since the movie character is a villain, and the Detroit version is a quiet, unassuming guy? Maybe it's because he's.... TAKING OVER THE NFL WORLD! Too campy? It might be, but Johnson surely owns every secondary battle he takes part in. His stats border on the surreal: 96 receptions for 1681 yards ((17.5ypc), and 16 touchdowns. Oh Fitz! See what a difference a quarterback makes? Missing Kurt Warner more each day, aren't you?
Johnson is the cream of the wide receiver crop. He'll go between #1 and #4 in every Fantasy draft.
#2 Ray Rice (RB) - In the slow world that is the Baltimore Ravens offensive backfield, Ray Rice is a blur. He here, then there, and somehow running for a touchdown? In 2011, Rice was scoring bliss. His 1364 rushing, and 704 receiving yards were flat out amazing. He scored 15 touchdowns, and his per carry average was 4.7 yards.
He's tough as nails, and pounds the ball while the rest of the Ravens offense exists in some kind of time-dilation field. Rice actually makes the rest of the offense look bad... I mean really, really bad. I doubt Flacco would complete many passes if it weren't for defense spending their time hunting for the 5' 8" - 218 lbs hyper ball that is Ray Rice. Yes, he's a top two pick on any Fantasy draft board, and rightfully so.
#1 - LeSean McCoy (RB) - Here he is, my #1 choice in any draft I'm in if I have the first overall pick. In most every Mock Draft I've seen, he goes at the 3 or 4 position, and he'd be a bargain there. This is a running back who failed to fail in the Philadelphia Eagles "Dream Team" debacle of 2011.
While Michael Vick was being pounded by junkyard dogs, and Desean Jackson sulked his way through post routes, McCoy burned it up for 20 touchdowns. He's a threat in the open field, and down in the red zone. He possesses ankle breaking moves, and the hands of a receiver. His 1309 yards rushing tells me he's the favored choice near the goaline, as well as every down. McCoy averaged an outstanding 4.8 yards per carry. He had 315 yards receiving, and only fumbled once. This is the guy to draft above all others in my opinion.
...OK, it's time to laugh, tell me DCRamFan is crazy, and that Sergey606 looks funny in a Tu-tu. I get all that, but just remember... It's Ryan's fault for letting me write here... Plus, if you guys had signed up for Fantasy Football sooner, you may had me in your league. So you'd have that going for you, which is nice...