Fantasy Football 2012: Predicting The Top 10 Performers
After just four weeks of the 2012 NFL campaign, we are fully aware of which players have been Fantasy Football studs thus far. Guys like Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III and Drew Brees have been dominate in fantasy land through the first four games.
However, the question is, can they stay the course throughout the season?
I mean, let’s face it, we all know how unpredictable fantasy football can be. Injuries, trades and inconsistency overwhelm owners with question marks all year. Not to mention crazy trade offers that make you go crazy with second thoughts, as well as the surprising breakout players that will undoubtedly be picked up off of the waiver wire. Wouldn’t it just be easier if you knew who was going to be the top guys at the end of the year?
That’s where I come in.
Join me, as I look into my crystal ball to predict the top ten fantasy performers when it’s all said and done. If you own anyone on this list, well good for you. And if not, remember, it’s fantasy football and anything can happen. These are simply predictions that may, or may not hold true. And if they aren’t accurate, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t chase me down the street with pitchforks at hand.
Thank you in advance.
So, who will finish the season with the most fantasy points? Let’s find out as we countdown and predict the top 10 fantasy performers of the 2012 season.
Number 10: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Marshawn Lynch has been known as "Beast Mode" throughout his career. The nickname refers to his abusive and powerful running style.Look for Lynch to continue bulldozing fantasy defenses this year. Lynch is without a doubt the best (and possibly only) offensive weapon for the Seattle Seahawks. He currently leads the entire league in rushing yards, and is second in carries. Clearly demonstrates how much Seattle relies on their monster back.
Rookie quarterback Russel Wilson and the receiving core have not yet established a rhythm in the passing game and the only thing getting it done is Lynch's running. This will not change throughout the season, which easily makes Lynch a top five fantasy running back. Carries are key, and the former Cal back will receive plenty of those.
Marshawn Lynch will score the tenth-most fantasy points out of any player in football when it's all said and done. He is the focal point of his team's offense, which gives him plenty of opportunities to put up big time fantasy numbers. When he is at the goal line, good luck bringing him down. He is a touchdown scoring machine who will get all the touches. So sit back, relax and enjoy some skittles, as Lynch helps you contend for your fantasy championship.
Number 9: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald. All great receivers, agree?
Well, A.J. Green has been better than any of them.
In fact, he has been the absolute best wide receiver in the league thus far. He is currently atop the wide receiver rankings in fantasy and there is no reason he can’t finish the season there as well.
Green is an absolute freak of nature. He has the size, quickness, hands and versatility to be an elite wide receiver. From a fantasy perspective, you should feel comfortable if he is your number one wideout. Sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton continues to look for Green on every passing play, and their chemistry is beginning to escalate into one of the league’s best quarterback/wide receiver combos.
Consistency is very important to see in your fantasy players. Ever since his first game in the NFL last season, Green has shown very consistent production. In his rookie season last year, he had eight weeks with at least 80 receiving yards. That’s as a rookie. So far this season, he hasn’t had a receiving game of under 50 yards, and only one game without a touchdown.
A.J. Green will finish the season as the ninth-best fantasy option. He will also lead the NFL in receiving when it’s all said and done. Green is getting all the looks as the clear number one receiver in Cincinnati and the scary part is, he will only get better. I predict the former Georgia Bulldog will have a stat line of 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Number 8: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III has taken the NFL by storm to begin his career.
If you took a chance on him in the earlier rounds of your fantasy draft, you have been handsomely rewarded.
RG3 has scored the second-most points in fantasy football so far this year. Thanks to him, the Washington Redskins are suddenly a top-scoring NFL offense. He is a dual threat quarterback that excels at throwing and running the football.
These types of quarterbacks are extremely valuable in fantasy football.
Griffin owners can also benefit from running back Alfred Morris’ recent play. Morris has been a pleasant surprise for the Redskins this season, and if he continues to play well, it will open up the play action passing game for RG3. Also, while many fantasy owners may be concerned with the amount of hits he has taken, Griffin has a high football I.Q. He knows when to run with the ball and when not to. Not to mention he is a relatively big guy in the pocket and is as tough as nails.
Robert Griffin III will finish the season with the eighth-most fantasy points. His dual threat abilities cause matchup nightmares for any defense in the league. RG3 will throw for 4,300 yards and 17 touchdowns. He will also tally 700 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, making him an elite fantasy quarterback.
Number 7: Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
It is no secret that Ray Rice is a top three fantasy football running back.
It is also no secret that he is featured in this list.
Not only is Rice one of the best running backs in football, but he is also PPR (points per reception) gold. He already has 22 catches, proving that he is the best at catching passes out of the backfield. The Baltimore Ravens offense flows through their 5 year back. However, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron needs to realize that, as he and the Ravens tend to shy away from the run. Instead, they have been implementing a no-huddle offense.
Regardless, Rice is clearly still a top option for fantasy football.
While they may not use him as much as they should, Rice is the cornerstone of their offense. His versatility is among the league’s best.
Ray Rice will score the seventh-most fantasy points this season, and the third-most among running backs. His stat line will consist of 1,360 yards on the ground with 10 scores. He will also 75 balls for 700 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pretty nice year for the back out of Rutgers.
Number 6: LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
LeSean McCoy is everything you want in a running back.
He has tremendous speed, elusiveness and the ability to cut on a dime (it’s even his Twitter handle). McCoy’s play style has drawn comparisons to the great Barry Sanders, so you know he is an elite fantasy running back.
“Shady” is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he found the end zone 20 times. He is one of the most versatile players in football, and again, is another PPR stud in fantasy. As long as Eagles head coach Andy Reid continues to run the football, McCoy will easily produce. Although he may not be big, he is extremely difficult to bring down. He is one of those guys that make a 3 yard loss into a 5 yard gain by showcasing his elusiveness and slipping off tackles.
Fantasy owners are guaranteed to see a significant amount of catches out of the backfield from McCoy. He is heavily involved in the Eagles’ offense, and with a struggling offensive line, McCoy will get many check down opportunities from quarterback Michael Vick.
LeSean “Shady” McCoy will have the sixth-most fantasy points in football this year, and the second among running backs. Pretty sure you should know who the top back is now. Anyway, I predict McCoy to finish the season with 1,445 yards on the ground and 9 touchdowns. He will also have 55 receptions for 245 yards. McCoy is quickly climbing to the top of the running back rankings, and should help you climb to the top of your fantasy leaderboards.
Number 5: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Eli Manning may be one of the most under-looked fantasy football quarterbacks out there.
He doesn’t have the appeal of a Drew Brees or an Aaron Rodgers. So, why does that matter?
The answer: It shouldn’t.
Manning has all of the tools to be an elite fantasy quarterback. He is coming off a great 2011 campaign in which he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Just four games into this season, and Eli is already on pace to eclipse the 5,000 yard mark.
The Giants receiving core, when healthy, is easily top three in the NFL. Victor Cruz emerged into one of the better receivers in football last year, and is proving that it wasn’t a fluke. Hakeem Nicks is struggling with injuries, but when he is on the field, he is almost uncoverable.
However, despite how talented the wide receiver tandem of Nicks and Cruz is, Manning proves that he can still produce even when one is injured. In the two games Hakeem Nicks was inactive, Eli threw for 597 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Every voice that says Manning is not an elite quarterback should be silenced.
Eli Manning will score the fifth-most fantasy points this year. He will also put up some ridiculous numbers, throwing for 5,270 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Manning has won two championships already and will help your fantasy team win a title of their own.
Number 4: Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
There was once a time where LaDanian Tomlinson was the most talked about fantasy running back.
Now, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has received that title.
From an undrafted rookie to the consensus number one pick in fantasy drafts, Foster has become the face of NFL running backs. Why is this?
One word: Consistency.
In the past two seasons, Foster has averaged 15 touchdowns and 2,000 all-purpose yards. He has been the safest bet at the position to get you double digit fantasy points each week. He also plays for a team that is run heavy. In just four games this year, Foster already has 103 carries, which leads the league. Although Ben Tate is a very reliable backup, Foster will still get the majority of the workload.
Foster’s running style is rare, showcasing a combination of speed and power. Not to mention, he too, is a great receiver out of the backfield. See a theme here? All of these skills make Foster the best running back in the NFL.
At the end of the season, Arian Foster will have ran for 1,522 yards and 15 touchdowns. He will also catch 35 balls for 160 yards and 4 touchdowns. Your number one pick will help you contend for that number one spot in your league.
Number 3: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Need I say more?
Alright, you talked me into it. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football. Any more brain busters? There is nothing he can’t do. Name a throw and Rodgers can make it. He also has a mobile skillset that allows him to extend plays.
Although Green Bay says they are trying to run the ball more, the Packers will always be a pass-heavy offense. Rodgers has some tremendous weapons in his arsenal, even when Greg Jennings is dealing with a groin injury.
Rodgers is one of the safest bets when it comes to fantasy football. He has finished in the top three among quarterback rankings since 2008.
Aaron Rodgers will be the third-best fantasy performer based on point production. So, how about his final stats for the year? I predict Rodgers to throw for 4,400 yards with 31 touchdowns. Discount double check it off.
Number 2: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
How many of you saw Matt Ryan as the best quarterback in football through four weeks?
Not many, I imagine.
However, believe it or not, Ryan has been just that. Already, Ryan has a quarterback rating of 112.1 with 11 touchdowns. He commands one of the most explosive offenses in football with weapons at every position. The league MVP through the first four games gets to face the horrible Washington Redskins secondary this week, and should be able to add on to his already impressive numbers.
Matty Ice currently has more fantasy points than anyone in football according to Yahoo! leagues. There is no reason that he can’t continue to be a top fantasy quarterback. He has the weapons on the outside in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Not to mention, the future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez as a huge red zone target.
Another benefit Ryan has is his division. The Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers are all terrible against the pass. Ryan gets to play each of them twice a year, which could result in some monster fantasy days.
Matt Ryan has been an awesome surprise for those who drafted him this year (cough cough me). But can he continue to play at a high level? The answer is yes.
Ryan will finish the season with the second-most fantasy points in football. He will throw for 4,720 yards and 37 touchdowns. And, an additional note, he will get his first career playoff win this season.
Number 1: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
While the 0-4 New Orleans Saints (yes I said 0-4) simply do not look the same, veteran quarterback Drew Brees looks as good as usual.
Brees has already thrown for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. I predict Brees to league the lead in both categories when it is all said and done. Here’s why:
The Saints defense is absolutely terrible. They cannot stop anything. Why does this matter? Well, this will create many of the Saints’ games to be shootouts. Brees will most likely have to win most games with his arm, which he is very capable of doing. This is why I like Brees more than Rodgers and Ryan from a fantasy perspective.
Also, Brees still has a plethora of guys to sling the ball to. Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles just to name a few. He is great at spreading the ball around, giving others opportunities to make big plays.
Brees is a proven elite quarterback in this league. He is coming off a season where he eclipsed Dan Marino’s single season passing record, and is on pace to at least break his own.
Ladies and gentlemen, Drew Brees is my number one fantasy performer for the rest of the season. He will throw for a whopping 5,460 yards to go with 39 touchdowns. He will also win the league MVP, however, the Saints will just barely miss the playoffs. Brees will be throwing the ball more than any quarterback in the league, which allows him to put up big numbers. If you own this signal-caller on your fantasy team, succeeding in your league will be a Brees. Get it? Breeze? Ahh, nevermind.
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