Read The Article That A Subsidiary of ESPN Didn’t Think Was Good Enough!
A few weeks ago, Grantland began a contest to be their fantasy football writer. While I’m not much of a fantasy person (I won my league in 2010, but mostly because everyone else stopped paying attention), I thought I’d give it a try. Sadly, the results came in yesterday, of the 4000 entrants, I did not make the top 10. Thanks to the existence of alcohol, I’m not too broken up about this, but I figured since I did put some work into the column, why not put it out there and give people a chance to read it. If you’re unfamiliar with the rules, the instructions were to name your top 5 fantasy players and one sleeper. So, here’s my rejected entry into Grantland’s Fantasy Football Writer contest. Enjoy!
The Top 5 Fantasy Players of 2012
1. Aaron Rodgers
Usually, when people discuss who the top players in fantasy are, the discussion is about which five running backs are going to go first. And in the past, that generally made sense, because running backs were the most productive fantasy players. These days, that isn’t really the case. The most productive player in fantasy last year was a quarterback, and so were four of the top five. That’s why Rodgers is an easy number one. He was nothing short of a God last year, having the greatest regular season by any quarterback in NFL history. Even if he regresses a bit, he should still be good for about 40 touchdowns, and 11 picks. It’s not an absolute guarantee that Rodgers will be the most valuable fantasy player for a second straight year, but there’s no way he won’t be extremely productive, and as a top pick, there isn’t a safer bet in the league.
2. LeSean McCoy
This spot had been reserved for MJD, but his ongoing holdout makes him too much of a gamble. LeSean gets the nod here because of what I call the Quarterback Principle. This means that when considering a running back’s fantasy value, always think about who the QB is. If it’s an elite starter like Brady or Manning, the carries may be limited. If it’s Blaine Gabbert, you know your back will get his touches. In McCoy’s case, it’s Michael Vick, who isn’t prone to throwing it a whole lot. In his career, he’s never attempted more than 423 passes. Admittedly, Vick runs a lot, too, but not enough to starve running backs of carries. McCoy really broke out last season, averaging an impressive 4.8 ypc, and leading the league in rushing touchdowns. The touchdown factor is another place where the Quarterback Principle strikes. Vick isn’t a threat throw 40 TD passes a year, and he never will be. That’s why McCoy will get his chances near the goal line again this year.
3. Tom Brady
For the past decade, Tom Brady has been the most reliable quarterback in the league. Even in his slightly off 2009 campaign, he was still good for 28 touchdowns. In the last two seasons, he’s thrown 75 touchdown passes and only 16 picks. Helping Brady’s cause is the addition of Brandon Lloyd, who will join Welker, Gronk, and Hernandez among the elite pass-catchers in Brady’s arsenal. Brady has more weapons that he’s ever had before, and he should put up more monster numbers this year.
4. Cam Newton
Is Newton a risky pick? Sure, but it’s all about potential. Newton was the 8th most productive player in fantasy last year, and he’s likely to improve with a full season under his belt. Newton generated 35 touchdowns last season, with 14 of them coming on the ground. His status as a dual threat makes him incredibly dangerous. Could Newton regress? Sure, it’s possible, but now that he’s used to NFL defenders, those interceptions should decrease considerably. If he can replicate last year season, he’ll be extremely valuable. If he can top it, he’ll be a beast.
5. Calvin Johnson
Megatron gets the nod over his QB, if only because Stafford still strikes me as an injury risk. Johnson is the best receiver in the league right now, and it’s not close. He’s a ridiculous athlete whose size and speed make him nearly impossible to defend. There’s a good chance that by the time Johnson’s career is over, he’ll have a season on par with what Randy Moss did in 2007. If Stafford stays healthy, and doesn’t regress too much, he could easily end up doing it this year. He’s an absolute nightmare for defenders, and he should rack up the TD receptions again this year.
Sleeper: Andy Dalton
The Bengals are regarded as a team likely to regress, and I would have to agree. Still, that doesn’t mean Dalton has to decline with them. He turned heads as a rookie, displaying loads of confidence, and firmly establishing himself as the leader of the Bengals offense. A.J. Green gives him a dynamic downfield threat, while Jermaine Gresham might be the best AFC tight end not currently playing for the Patriots. The Bengals may slip to 5-11 this year, but it won’t be Dalton’s fault. He’s a talented QB, with a very bright future