As any veteran fantasy player knows, draft day is unpredictable beyond belief. But ADP data can help you unearth under-the-radar gems, and avoid reaching for overrated bums. We’ve yet to even reach the AFC/NFC Championship games, but my one track mind is already thinking ahead to what 2012 fantasy drafts have in store. Below, I’ll delve into how I could see the first round of many 12-team drafts shaking out …
Note: Number in parentheses indicates players’ fantasy rank at their respective position (QB, RB, WR) for the 2011 season. Non-PPR scoring was used to determine each ranking.
1.1: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens (1st): Rice has played in all 16 games in each of the past three seasons, turns just 25 years-old later this month, and has a rock solid run blocking line in front of him. He’s also averaging a mere 1,962 total yards per season since ’08.
1.2: LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (2nd): His slight build and high volume workload might make him an injury risk, but his upside is through the roof. Shady scored in all but two games he was active for this season.
1.3: Arian Foster, RB, Texans (4th): Foster’s 2011 ranking is particularly impressive because he missed three full games. He led all RBs in fantasy points on a per game basis (19), due in part to his 52 red zone rushes – third most behind Michael Turner (60) and Frank Gore (54).
1.4: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings (8th): A.D. might begin the 2012 season on the PUP list, which would obviously wipe him out of the first round. But if summer reports out of Minnesota prove to be positive, you can bet he’ll be selected in his usual top-five position.
1.5: Matt Forte, RB, Bears (15th): Forte’s MCL sprain won’t be an issue in 2012. In fact, he’s been lobbying to play in the Pro Bowl later this month. I wouldn’t count on that, but a resurgent 2012 is likely in order. Forte ranked as fantasy’s RB5 before getting injured in Week 13 and will remain a staple of Chicago’s offense next season.
1.6: Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions (1st): For the first time in his career, Johnson enjoyed stability at the quarterback position. What resulted was the best fantasy showing from a WR since Randy Moss in 2007. As long as Matt Stafford remains healthy, Johnson will remain a stud through his prime years.
1.7: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (3rd): While much of fantasy nation will buy into a repeat of his 2011, I’d lean towards tabbing MJD as a “first-round bust.” I just think the wheels are ready to fall off after he’s tallied an insane average of 361 touches over the last three seasons.
1.8: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (17th): Like that girl from high school, Johnson teased…and teased…and teased this season. He’ll tempt plenty of fantasy owners again heading into 2012, and will benefit from a full training camp. To me, he’s the ultimate high risk, high reward pick.
1.9: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs (96th): Don’t forget about J Chaz. He tore his ACL early in the season (September 18th), but the good news is, well, he tore it early in the season. He remains on track in his recovery and will be a threat even if limited to 12-15 touches per game. His career YPC stands at a healthy 6.1.
1.10: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks (5th): Skittles has little wear and tear on his tires, and turns just 26 this offseason. He garnered a career high 313 touches on his way to a career high 1,416 total yards and 13 TDs in his second season with the Seahawks. I don’t anticipate Seattle adding the type of back through free agency or the draft that would eat into Lynch’s workload. Beast Mode has earned this job.
1.11: Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders (34th): Michael Bush looked dominate at times filling in for Run DMC. But when McFadden is healthy, he’ll command the lion’s share of the touches in Oakland’s backfield. The real question is, how many games will he play? The injury prone runner hasn’t appeared in more than 13 games in a season over his four-year career. He was limited to a career low seven in 2011.
1.12 Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (2nd): I really believe either Rodgers or Brees will find a home in the first round in the vast majority of drafts. That’s not to say I buy it, though. The crop of fantasy signal callers is extremely deep, with comparable guys like Vick, Rivers, Ryan, Manning (both, perhaps) and Roethlisberger up for grabs in the later rounds. Brees and Rodgers do bring a proven track record to the table, as both have finished among the top-four fantasy QBs since 2008.
Kevin English is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a one-stop-shop for tailgating games and much more.
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