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2012 Fantasy Football MVP Race

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2012 Fantasy MVP Race

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Fantasy Football season has been a memorable one. From draft day until today we’ve seen stars emerge, draft picks disappoint and highlight reel performances. We started out skeptical about whether Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson would be healthy. In most cases we decided that Cam Newton and Darren McFadden were more reliable picks, nice.

Then the preseason came along with more hype to cloud our judgment. Antonio Brown led all receivers in touchdowns; let's put a lot of stock in him. Peyton threw three interceptions; let someone else take that risk.

Finally! Week one is here and after all of the irrational, premature transactions, my team looks unbeatable. Did you see the New York Jets destroy the Buffalo Bills and Mark Sanchez make it look easy with those three touchdowns? He’s the clear choice for top waiver pick up. Alfred Morris? Never heard of him. The season was full of ups and downs; we made choices that we were proud of and ones that we would later lose sleep over.

Looking at the fantasy point leaders entering the final week of the season, my advice for next season is this: we know what players are good and what players aren’t; trust your instincts. Don’t be the fool that actually believes that this is the year for Sanchez or Jermichael Finley. Take your chances on up-and-comers instead like Alfred Morris and Stevan Ridley instead. Anticipate the unknown guys making the big splashes, not the washed up ones.

Now that we’ve reflected on the 2012 fantasy season, it’s time to check in on the Fantasy MVP Race. The formula that I’ve generated rates players based on expectations (average draft position), performance (total points) and competition (strength of schedule). The nominees are…

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QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: 79.1; Total Points: 275; SOS (QB): 10th

On average, Griffin entered the season as the 11th quarterback off the draft board, sandwiched between Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler. Now at season’s end, we wouldn’t even mention Griffin in the same breath as those two. He wasted no time establishing himself as an elite quarterback. On route to breaking rookie records and rejuvenating the Washington Redskins franchise, Griffin will in all likelihood finish the season as the #1 overall fantasy performer in 2012. His value to fantasy owners cannot be overstated. Griffin’s season was highlighted by a 76-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in Week Six.

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RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: 15.3; Total Points: 231; SOS (RB): 29th

Peterson did two things in 2012; he erased all injury doubts and proved that he is not human. He was generally selected in the second round as the ninth running back off the board. Returning from a destroyed knee in the final week of the 2011 season, Peterson has done exactly what he is known for, only better. He caught fire in Week seven and nobody has been able to put him out. Peterson has 1313 yards and nine touchdowns over those eight games and has an outside chance to break the all-time single season rushing record. All of these accomplishments have come against the 29th most difficult schedule for running backs. Peterson’s season was highlighted by an 82-yard touchdown run against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13.

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RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: 26.3; Total Points: 214; SOS (RB): 4th

Doug Martin’s impressive rookie season will likely be remembered for the role he played in putting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fantasy teams everywhere on the map. The first-round pick out of Boise State entered the season widely unknown and viewed as a risky pick for fantasy owners. His average draft position made him the 15th running back selected after the likes of Steven Jackson and an injured Ryan Mathews. After a slow start to the season, Martin has delivered in a more consistent and significant way than any other running back Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. He sits near the list for draft value which warrants his inclusion on this prestigious list. Martin’s season was highlighted by his Week Nine efforts against the Oakland Raiders where he accumulated 251 rushing yards and four touchdowns, easily the largest fantasy output of 2012.

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RB Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: 133.9; Total Points: 155; SOS (RB): 16th

Perhaps the widest unknown to hit the fantasy football scene this year was Alfred Morris. As the 37th running back selected after players like Ryan Williams and Toby Gerhart it’s easy to see why Morris is one of the most valuable fantasy players of 2012. He erased the apprehension associated with Mike Shanahan backs by eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark and scoring the 10th most fantasy points at the running back position. Morris has been the thunder to Robert Griffin III’s lightning this season and rewarded fantasy owners when it mattered most with either 100 yards or two touchdowns in each of the last four weeks. Morris’ season highlight was a two touchdown game against the Cleveland Browns in the fantasy semi-finals.

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WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

ADP: Undrafted; Total Points: 129; SOS (WR): 23rd

Randall Cobb showed flashes of brilliance in his 2011 rookie campaign but not enough to warrant a valuable draft pick on him in 2012. Cobb rewarded those that took a chance on him or had the foresight to add him early in the season. Cobb has to be in the discussion for the most dynamic receiver in the NFL after his performance in 2012. He has emerged as Aaron Rodgers favorite target and a PPR giant. Cobb leads all receivers with a catch rate of 77.8%, catching an astounding 77 of his 99 targets this year. Cobb’s season highlight was his effort against the division rival Detroit Lions when he caught nine passes for 74 yards and one touchdown.

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Honorable Mention

Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

These players also demonstrated incredible value during the 2012 NFL season:

ADP; Total Points; SOS

Stevan Ridley: 65.1; 164; 9th

C.J. Spiller: 87.5; 155; 14th

Brandon Marshall: 22.2; 183; 24th

A.J. Green: 25.3; 172; 10th

Cecil Shorts: Undrafted; 117; 8th

Chicago Bears D/ST: 108.7; 170; 11th

Russell Wilson: Undrafted;; 173; 32nd

Marshawn Lynch: 21.3; 183; 28th