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2012 Fantasy Football: Seven Season-Ending Lessons Heading Into 2013

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Reflecting on the 2012 Fantasy Football Season

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For many fantasy football owners, the 2012 season has reached its conclusion. All the scrambling to get the perfect waiver wire additions, the long hours of trade negotiations with hopes of building the perfect squad and the trash talking after a sweet victory, all suspended until next September.

At the end of it all, some may feel content with their season-ending performances while others may not have gotten over that singular lineup change from that last week that lost them their matchup in the fantasy playoffs. But there is at least one thing we all have in common at this point, and that’s looking forward to next season.

For me, fantasy football is a twisted game that carries very little logic, and can simply drive a man insane! For instance, I was fortunate enough to land Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford late in the third-round of this year’s draft when fantasy experts predicted he’d be gone by the early rounds thanks to a 5,000 yard passing season the year before; fortunate or ill-fated?

A roller coaster ride would be the best way to put it. Stafford’s first game with multiple passing touchdowns didn’t come until Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks’ top-5 defense (at the time), of all defenses. That’s seven weeks of mediocrity from a quarterback who was projected to produce like a top-5 player at his position heading into 2012 (not to mention he has Calvin “Megatron” Johnson at his disposal), all while Robert Griffin III, who had an Average Draft Position of 83.13, had been dominating fantasyland all season long. It just doesn’t make sense!

Here are seven season-ending lessons of 2012 that will hopefully give you an edge for next season’s championship run.

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Lesson #7: Don't draft a quarterback in the first round.

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Drafting a quarterback in the first round of your fantasy draft is one decision that could prove to be a boom or bust for your season.

Much like Matthew Stafford in 2011 or Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in 2012, you can find a legitimate quarterback option in the later rounds of the draft.

You want to be smart with your early round picks, so selecting a running back or an elite receiver would be ideal choice since running backs are typically the scarcest position every year. And although the receiver class is usually fairly deep, after the elite group (e.g., Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, etc.) the rest of the No. 2's and 3's are hit-or-miss.

So unless the quarterback you're about to take is named Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees, just wait it out.

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Lesson #6: Don't select a tight end too early in your draft.

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This has been hands down the most inconsistent position in fantasy football this season.

Even the elite tight ends have had their ups and downs, just like the others who weren’t even drafted in your league.

You could be rewarded with a monster performance by a Rob Gronkowski or a Jimmy Graham, but the moment one of them has a bad game, you’ll be scratching your head wondering why you wasted a third, second or even a first round pick on this guy when your opponent has a running back or a wide receiver drafted in the same round going absolutely bananas on you.

Bottom line, refrain from selecting a tight end early in your draft, even if his name is Gronkowski, Graham or Tony Gonzalez, because it's likely there's someone just as capable waiting in the later rounds.

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Lesson #5: Be patient with your team.

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Don’t go on a trading binge in Week 2 just because some of your big name players didn’t meet your expectations in Week 1.

Remember, there’s 17 weeks in a season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie RB Doug Martin was mediocre for the first half of the season and then exploded to top-3 status during the second half.

Patience is key.

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Lesson #4: Injury-prone players will always be injury-prone.

Darren McFadden
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Darren McFadden is a perfect example.

The Oakland Raiders feature running back was hyped up to be a top-3 fantasy player at his position in 2012, if he could just stay healthy.

Well, for the most part he remained healthy as a horse, he just never seemed to adapt well to the newly implemented zone-blocking run scheme. Then as his fantasy owners waited patiently for him to turn his season around, he got hurt (surprise, surprise).

Other notable injury-prone players that had multi-game absences (or were limited due to injury) in 2012:

    DeMarco Murray (foot)
    Ryan Mathews (collarbone)
    Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles)
    Andre Johnson (groin)
    Michael Vick (concussion)

Avoid injury-prone players at all costs. But in the situation that you happen to land one in your draft next season, wait for a big performance then sell high!

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Lesson #3: Don't get cute in the fantasy playoffs.

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For instance, if a sleeper like San Diego Chargers newly acquired, breakout receiver Danario Alexander catapults himself into fantasy relevance after putting together a string of dominant performances late in the season, don’t throw him in your flex spot over a guy like RB Chris Johnson, WR Dez Bryant or WR Danny Amendola during the fantasy playoffs just because those guys had spotty performances in recent weeks.

Stick with your studs.

You selected them with a high draft pick for a reason!

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Lesson #2: Don’t trust the preseason hype.

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The Detroit Lions were supposed to be a fantasy goldmine in 2012 with the likes of QB Matthew Stafford (aka Mr. 5,000), WR Calvin Johnson (aka Megatron), TE Brandon Pettigrew and RB’s Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith.

While Johnson took a little longer than expected, he still eventually reprised his role as the league’s most dominant receiver (minus the touchdowns). On the other hand, Stafford never returned to 2011 form.

Julio Jones was expected to be the NFL’s best hope at wide receiver to give Megatron a run for his money. Now, I’m not bashing on Julio, saying that he wasn’t a good receiver this year because he still finished in the top-10. But let’s be real here, fantasy dominance in every other game just isn’t cutting it. Consistency, Julio!

Don't let preseason hype blind you from taking the real studs like an A.J. Green or Brandon Marshall.

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Lesson #1: Adrian Peterson is a freak. Don’t ever forget it.

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Peterson was entering the 2012 season fresh off of reconstructive knee surgery, which in turn, hurt his fantasy value and ultimately dropped him out of the first-round in many drafts. If you were smart enough to look past this and take him ahead of all the other fantasy dimwits, touché.

You were rewarded with the league’s most dominant running back during his best season.

On his way to breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record (that hasn’t been touched for nearly 30 years), Peterson has taken the term “weekly starter” to an entirely new level, having rumbled past the Bears (twice), Seahawks and Buccaneers, just to name a few stout rushing defenses he’s embarrassed this season.

If you own the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, it would be wise to select Adrian Peterson.