The 2012 fantasy football season is going to be the wildest one in history. If you’re a die-hard player, then you’ve already discovered this by looking at the upcoming year’s player rankings and you’ve especially seen the evidence in the early mock drafts. Why is it? How do we handle it?
Here’s your first lesson in preparing for the 2012 fantasy football season: forget everything you’ve learned in the past.
We talked about QBs last season and they absolutely set the woods on fire as we saw three 5,000-yard passers in one season, and nearly four as the New York Giants’ Eli Manning was 67 yards away from the historical mark. That translated into QBs finishing as the top five fantasy players of 2011 and eight of the top 10.
So what does this mean for the 2012 season and your approach to the draft? Well, that depends largely on the other owners in your league. If you play in a highly competitive league with other owners who will be readying columns like this one trying to figure master this ever-changing game, then you really need to keep reading and practice what you’re about to learn.
As discussed last week on RantSports.com, there aren’t a stable of stud RBs this year that will dominate the first round of all drafts. Last year saw the most QBs selected in the first round ever and this year that number will rise once again.
If you have a top five pick, you should seriously consider taking a stud QB like the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers or the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady. These two players finished first and third, respectively, in total fantasy points in 2011 and that will likely be the case again this year.
If you’re like me, you waited to draft your quarterback last year and maybe got lucky – I landed the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford in Round 7 and he led me to 2nd-place finish in my league. In fact, Stafford finished fifth overall in total fantasy points in 2011 and he was one of the three 5,000-yard passers. However, Stafford won’t be available in Round 7 this season; heck, he probably won’t be available in Round 2.
So that means we have to adjust our strategy for the upcoming season. No more taking an RB and a WR or two RBs with your first two picks and then looking at the QBs on your draft board. Rodgers will undoubtedly be the most popular No. 1 overall pick in all of fantasy land this year with Brady, Stafford, Drew Brees and Cam Newton not far behind. (That’s your top five finishers of last season if you’re curious).
If your league is as QB-crazy as mine, then you can’t just bide your time while everyone else fights over the elite five. The second-tier of fantasy passers will go by very quickly as well, with many owners taking them as backups to the elite five, and in a season like this, you can’t afford to end up with Josh Freeman as your starter.
However, with the drastically increased value of QBs, there are more available that will serve well as your starter. Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Michael Vick are all solid options for those who wait until Round 3 or later for a QB. Having said that, possessing an elite QB is more important than ever this year because of the numbers.
In 2011, the last of the top five overall scorers (aka the elite five QBs) was Stafford. He finished 50 points ahead of the sixth overall scorer, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice. That means the elite five QBs are more valuable than most fantasy owners realize. Let’s put it into perspective:
Last year, an owner who had a stud RB, a solid No. 1 receiver and a second-tier QB finished with numbers similar to Arian Foster’s 238, Larry Fitzgerald’s 181 and Matt Ryan’s 260 for a total of 679. An owner with an elite five QB, second-tier RB and solid No. 1 receiver had numbers close to Brady’s 352, Steven Jackson’s 170 and Wes Welker’s 206 came up with a total of 728. See the value of an elite five QB now?
Now I’m not saying to sacrifice everything for an elite five QB, but I am telling you to realize the value of the stud QB heading into 2012 and beyond. With RBs at their worst value in history, it’s time to change the fantasy football draft strategy forever.