Last year the season exploded upon us in a fast and furious frenzy. We had so little time to savor it. We have been able to sit back and enjoy each and every moment leading up to opening night of the 2012 NFL season. We have seen a potentially great class of rookies, witnessed many free agency surprises, some good and others quite frankly, not so good.
We have seen the usual holdouts and there are questions looming about the potential successes, or failures of Mike Wallace and MJD. Will Peyton Manning be able to stave off that one hit that could end a Hall of Fame career? Will this be the year that Darren McFadden will finally stay healthy? Will Andrew Luck and RG III succeed, or will one of them turn into Ryan Leaf? There are so many questions and now, after a long hot summer, the door to the 2012 fantasy football season is opening and the questions are starting to be answered.
It’s exciting being a part of the Fantasy Insights team. Dish Adams is becoming a fantasy football force to be reckoned with. Our very popular weekly radio show on VoiceAmerica http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/64089/fantasy-insights is now drawing thousands of listeners per week and we are having some great guests from the fantasy football industry each and every week.
Kudos must go out to both Dish Adams and Mike Armon for the continuing development of the Fantasy Insights Custom Rankings Tool. It is a must to have this at your finger-tips for developing your draft strategy. I think you will all agree that the revamping of our website over the last year has been a big plus. There is a better flow to find and access information. Giving you, our loyal subscribers the Fantasy Insights Advantage is our #1 goal.
For those not familiar with this weekly feature, we try to make you aware of trends—players who are on their way up productivity wise, as well as those who are fading. We try not to deal with the obvious, like MJD and Mike Wallace may not be at their normal levels for Week 1. No, we prefer to emphasize the not so obvious aspects of the game we play and love.
This week we will use a broader brush to paint the market picture. Then as the season progresses we will micromanage a bit and point to current trends as a means of seeing who is hot and who is not. As a new feature we will also throw deep sleeper picks into the mix from time to time. We all know that someone will emerge in a month or so that will be a complete surprise. Maybe we can help you start to focus on some players that might be of use to you down the road.
QB Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Matt Schaub has been off the fantasy radar this summer. In missing six games himself last year, coupled with an injured Andre Johnson, Schaub was a fantasy disappointment. But this is a new year and Schaub and Johnson are both healthy. After a preseason in which Schaub completed over 70% of his passes, everything is in place for a potentially big year.
QB Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Last year was one of those years everyone in Chicago wants to forget. Injuries to Cutler and Forte, unreliable backups and a porous offensive line were all part of the Mike Martz traveling circus. Martz has been replaced as OC by Mike Tice. Cutler is healthy as is Forte. The pedestrian WRs have been joined by Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. If the OL can help keep Cutler stay on the field, he could move up and be an elite Top 6-8 QB in 2011.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Last year at this time, both Russell Wilson (University of Wisconsin) and Matt Flynn (Packers backup) were playing football in Wisconsin. Flynn was signed by Seattle as a highly touted free agent and Wilson was considered by many to be a dubious draft choice. As they say, that’s why they play the game. What appears obvious on paper is not always the case. Wilson won the job in the preseason. As for Flynn—two words—Kevin Kolb.
RB Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
Without a glance at fantasy points, Darren Sproles is an afterthought in stud RB discussions. In San Diego he put up decent, but not great numbers. But as a part of the Saints RBBC he was a Top 10 RB scorer in both PPR and non-PPR leagues. With a combined 173-1313-9 stat line, including 86 pass receptions he could very well be in for another big year. Once again, he promises to have a very productive 10-12 touches per game.
RB David Wilson, New York Giants
With Brandon Jacobs gone and only the oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw ahead of him on the depth chart, the future is now for David Wilson. With his explosiveness and ability to catch the ball and break tackles, it will be hard to keep Wilson off the field. Yes, he will share carries with Bradshaw to start, but it is just a matter of weeks until he becomes a dominating RB.
RB Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers
In a tumultuous offseason, which saw nobody stepping up to become THE RB in Green Bay, Cedric Benson was brought in and has a great opportunity. He is durable, a versatile pass catcher and more importantly, has three consecutive 1,000+ seasons on his resume. He will make an outstanding offense even more dangerous.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
Michael Turner is 30 and although he has only been the #1 RB for the last four years of his eight year career, his age is a cause of concern. The second year RB Rodgers played a bit as a rookie but could see more time as a “Darren Sproles” change of pace back this year. He could be fantasy gold in another year or so, especially in a PPR format.
RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With LeGarrette Blount beaten out Martin is expected by many to be the #1 rookie RB in 2012. If he is, the Bucs could be on their way out of the deep hole they disappeared into last year. After a promising 2010, 2011 was nothing short of a disaster.
WR Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
After earning a pretty fair 70-966-5 stat line in a 2011 split between two passing challenged teams in Denver and St. Louis, Lloyd was signed by New England as a complement to Wes Welker. With Tom Brady spreading the balls around liberally, look for Lloyd to have a great year and to be a strong #2 WR in your fantasy lineup.
WR Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
In his rookie season, Baldwin produced a 21-254-1 stat line, which was less than impressive. The fact is though, that was following a summer where he was unable to learn the offense and gain the trust of Matt Cassel because of the lockout. This year as a result of the Dwayne Bowe holdout, Baldwin was able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Cassel. That investment in time should pay nice dividends in 2012.
WR Darius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
Staying true to the third year WR theory, the oft maligned Heyward-Bey had a pretty fair stat line in 2011, putting up 64-975-4 numbers. Frequent FI radio quest, Jim “the Fantasy Taz” Day is a big fan and thinks he will be a solid performer in 2012. I agree with that assessment.
WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Every year the NFL holds a supplemental draft and as big as the actual draft is, this is a total non-event. This year the Browns selected Gordon by spending a 2013 2nd round draft choice. He has had a strong preseason and on a team with an historically weak passing attack, he could come in and put up some decent stats as a rookie.
WR Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Garcon and RGIII could be a match made in fantasy football heaven. As a promising young WR in Indianapolis, Garcon had a 70-947-6 stat line last year with less than a stellar QB situation. This year he could have a leap of a couple tiers in the rankings if he performs up to his potential.
WR Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago Bears.
Our Doc Moneyball says this guy is the real deal. Watching him throughout the preseason, I have to agree. Jeffrey is a diamond in the rough, but as he gains experience and confidence, he is a sky’s the limit prospect fantasy wise. He will get better as the year goes on and should be in line to be a good #3/#4 WR in your lineups to start off the season.
TE Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos
For those whose analysis doesn’t go past “what did he do last year (10-177-1)?” Tamme won’t even get noticed. For those who remember his 2010 season (67-631-4) where he replaced the injured Dallas Clark and put up some great numbers with Peyton Manning, in basically half a season, Tamme could be fantasy gold in 2012.
TE Kellen Davis, Chicago Bears
In the Mike Martz era, the tight end was an afterthought in the offense. They were used as an extra blocker, period. In the last three seasons, Davis has only 28 catches, but nine were for TDs. New OC Mike Tice (a former TE himself) has said that the TE will play a prominent role in the new Bears passing friendly offense. Look for Davis to become the beneficiary of that new way of thinking.
TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers.
As we keep saying, the 2011 lockout was instrumental in throwing teams out of synch. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen have had a chance to work together now. Coupled with the loss of Jeremy Shockey, Olsen should put up better numbers than he did in 2011, where his 45-540-5 stat line did not stand out in a TE rich NFL.
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
While I love Vick when he is healthy, his reckless style of play scares me. In order to cover the games he is hurt (seven in the last two years), you are forced to take a high level backup QB where you should be taking a #3 RB or #3WR. I would rather just avoid the problem altogether and go with a safer pick.
Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow, New York Jets
I respect Tim Tebow as a person, but in football he seems to have a divisive effect on teams. We saw it in Denver last year and see it starting in New York. The Jets look like a team to avoid fantasy wise in 2012. Can Rex Ryan survive in a situation that looks so thoroughly out of control?
RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
He began 2011 and looked horrible. He rebounded quickly and went on to have a big year (282-1211-8///17-114-0). In 2011 he had the most rushing attempts since 2006. Now at 29, the question is how long can he keep going? The 49ers answer is to have Kendall Hunter and newly drafted LaMichael James standing by to take over.
RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos
At 30 years old, McGahee has played well for years on fragile knees. His 2011 stats (249-1199-4///12-51-1) helped the Broncos get to the playoffs. Yet, he is at the age where RBs fade fast. Ronnie Hillman is in line to take over. He has great potential, especially in a PPR format.
RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
At 29 Jackson has been a steady producer fantasy wise over the years. In 2011 (260-1145-5///42-333-1) Jackson was the source of most of the Rams offensive highlights. His career is winding down and Isaiah Pead is the heir apparent.
WR Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
After a short stint near the top of the WR rankings, Austin (2011—43-579-7 in 10 games) has fallen victim to what seems to be recurring hamstring issues. You don’t want a guy on your roster that you cannot rely on. Could he be another victim of the dreaded Kim Kardashian curse?
WR Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Speaking of Austin, when he got hurt last year, Laurent Robinson stepped up and had a great season (54-858-11). Signed by the Jags as a free agent, expectations were high for 2012. Unfortunately the reports out of Jacksonville say that Robinson, has been a dud thus far, both in practice and in games. I would watch this situation closely to see how it develops. The talent is there. The question is where is it?
QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Everyone is ignoring him. Does he have game?
WR Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys
With everyone else hurting, can he slip in and fill the Laurent Robinson role from last year?
WR Chris Hogan, Miami Dolphins (Practice Squad)
Made famous by HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with the nickname “7-11” because he is always open, he is loved by the Dolphin QBs. Don’t write him off just yet.
That’s it for now. As always, feel free to send us your questions or comments. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Good luck! Have fun!