So, let’s face it, every year there are players that you get enamored with as a fantasy owner. Whether it’s a player that carried you the previous season, plays for your hometown team or you have a gut feeling about, it happens. Is it the most logical approach on draft day? Heck no. However, does anything feel better than rostering this year’s break out player in all your leagues and being able to say “I told you guys he was going to blow up!” Last year, I had a man crush on LeSean McCoy. I thought he was going to do everything he did and more. I targeted him in every league I could. I am still kicking myself for taking Jamaal Charles over him in my big money league because it was the “smart” choice. Never again — it’s my team, and I will always “reach” for guys I have a hunch on. Below are the players at each skill position that you will see on every one of my teams this year if possible, because I am drinking their Kool-Aid.
QB Jake Locker
This is a gut thing. I always like to look for upside in my backups. I don’t think there is a QB anywhere close to Locker’s ADP that has the potential to be a fantasy QB1 like he does. In looking at Locker’s admittedly small statistical history, it’s hard not to be impressed. He has a 57.4 completion percentage, 7.5 yards per attempt and also ran for 7.5 yards per attempt. To put that in perspective, Can Newton had a 60 completion percentage, 7.8 YPA and 5.6 yards per carry. Something to stew on there, isn’t it? I know Locker is inconsistent, and I know he isn’t even technically the starter, but by the time I need a bye-week replacement, he will be locked and loaded.
Runner up: Michael Vick, consensus No. 1 QB last preseason, Round 4 or 5 pick in 2012.
RB Darren McFadden
I get it, there is a strong chance he will miss games next year. I hate that too, but here’s why I am overlooking it. First off, I think Taiwan Jones or Mike Goodson will be inexpensive handcuffs, and that offense can make them serviceable if McFadden goes down. However, the real reason I want McFadden this year is what he does when he was on the field. He was an absolute beast last year. Last season he averaged 6.12 yards every time he touched the ball. Arian Foster, everybody’s No. 1, was at 5.5 yards. Consider this: McFadden has averaged 88.5 yards on the ground and 33 in the air per game over his last 20 games, with a nice TD total of 15. All of this occurred with one of the most talented backup running backs in the NFL vulturing touches (Michael Bush). The Raiders let Bush walk. Health is the only thing keeping McFadden from being the No. 1 fantasy back for 2012. I’m taking the plunge this year
Runner up: Fred Jackson, being vastly undervalued.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Last year was the perfect storm, in a bad way, for Maclin. He had some mystery illness that cost him to lose 15 pounds and miss almost all of camp. He was clearly not physically ready for the season. He dealt with hamstring issues most of the season, probably related to his conditioning, then had a shoulder injury. He missed all or parts of five games. So it was a lost season for him, right? Not quite. He still produced as a WR2. If you project his per-game average of 20 points over the five games he missed, he is top 10 overall. It was also pretty apparent to me that down the stretch he was Vick’s top target and security blanket. Still just 24 years old, Maclin is the absolute breakout WR of 2012. I will be shocked if he is not top 10, and I project him as the No. 6 WR. I am all in.
Runner up: Eric Decker, 100-catch potential in Round 6.
TE Fred Davis
Before Davis went down last year, he was a rock solid TE1. He was right in line with the production of Jason Witten, Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley. He missed four games and still ended the season as a top 15 TE. Davis enters the 2012 season healthy and with a dynamic rookie QB running the offense, and rookie QBs always seem to like their TEs. He has breakout written all over him. I am not saying he is going to be top three at his position, but him outperforming all but Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham is completely attainable. The cherry on top is his current ADP of 7.10. That is rounds after the three he matched last year, and I expect him to improve. It is also important to realize 25 percent of his 2011 catches went for over 20 yards. That is very rare in a TE.
Runner up: Kyle Randolph, has the tools and is getting rave reviews early in camp.
While none of these players can be considered sleepers, I suspect I will be drafting them earlier than almost every ranking out there tells you to. My only hope is that they stay under the radar. If I had done this list a month ago, guys like Doug Martin, Brandon Marshall, Jacob Tamme and Matt Ryan would have been on here. Their ADPs have gone up enough that others will be reaching as well. My guess is come draft day many of the guys listed in this article will do the same.
Just an average guy that enjoys talking fantasy. Follow me here in the forum under username murphysxm.
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