The 2012 Fantasy Football season is just around the corner, and everyone is starting to think about their draft strategy. Most owners know who’s at the top of the board, and everybody knows who the “elite” players are supposed to be. Early round picks can almost be done on auto-draft, as you’re not going to get any schmucks in rounds 1 and 2.
Owners make their hay with late round picks, sleeper picks, whatever you want to call them. Fantasy Football is all about getting quality players in the middle and late rounds.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 Big Name Players that are a little under the radar this season. Most of these guys played little or no football in 2011, and could be a steal for your team if they regain their prior form.
5. Dallas Clark
The newly acquired tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a prime example of a big name under the radar. Two years ago, Clark was at the very top of the chart of Fantasy tight ends. Injuries have slowed his production, and legitimate questions loom if he can get back to a Pro Bowl level. If healthy, I think he can. Clark should be a favorite target for young QB Josh Freeman.
2012 Prediction – 850 yards receving, 9 touchdowns
4. DeSean Jackson
Coming off his worst season since his rookie campaign, Jackson’s draft stock isn’t exactly high. Contract issues clouded 2011 for Jackson and now that he’s gotten paid, owners have to wonder if his performance will improve. He’s a guy that should be there rounds 5 through 7, and a perfect guy to gamble on. I’m willing to bet he improves his stat line from a season ago.
2012 Prediction – 1,200 yards receiving, 8 touchdowns
3. Randy Moss
The big question, can Randy Moss totally redeem himself with the San Francisco 49ers? Reporters everywhere say Moss has regained his form, and that he looks like the Randy of old. He’s playing on a team that figures to contend for a Super Bowl, and on a roster with a lot of weapons at wide receiver. There’s a good chance we could see the Moss from a few years ago. A year off from the game no doubt improved his physical and more importantly, his mental health, so I expect 84 to be a producer once again. It’s crazy to make predictions on a guy like Moss, because you never know which guy is going to show up, but…
2012 Prediction – 1,001 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns
2. Adrian Peterson
No other big name running back has more questions surrounding them than AP. He’s coming off a double tear in his left knee and everybody knows that historically, production goes down after such an injury. Peterson will be no different. Just the fact that he will be on a carry restriction to start the season alone, will contribute to decreased production. However, AP is a guy that you should be able to get somewhere in the 4th or 5th round, and is well worth the risk at that point as a No. 2 RB or flex play. By the end of the season, he should be the AP of old, or very close to it.
2012 Prediction – 1,050 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns
1. Peyton Manning
Without question the biggest name under the radar in 2012 is Peyton Manning. Manning has been a beast in Fantasy Football for more than a decade. Now with age and injury, Peyton is no longer atop anyone’s fantasy draft board at quarterback. The league has changed, and now many quarterbacks put up Peyton like numbers on a regular basis.
If you’re an owner that doesn’t take quarterbacks early, Manning could be the best option for you. He figures to be there in rounds 4 through 6, and if you’ve got other weapons in place, why not take a chance on Manning? Even if he’s not the Peyton of old, which I don’t think he will be, you’re still going to get very good production from the QB position.
The reality is that Peyton is a guy you don’t go out of your way to get, but taking the risk, could pay off with a high reward.
2012 Prediction – 3750 yards passing, 30 touchdowns
All photos courtesy of US Presswire.