When analyzing duds, the one thing I will be considering is where a player will be drafted in the majority of leagues, versus the production that player will give you.
1. QB – Cam Newton – Newton will be a very strong FF player this season with his ability to run when needed, launch deep passes to WR Steve Smith and make accurate throws in the intermediate passing game. However, the biggest contribution Newton brought fantasy players last year was his 14 rushing TDs. If that number was cut in half, Newton would’ve still been ranked number one in rushing TD’s just ahead of QB’s Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez who both had six and will be sharing rushing td’s this year.
2. RB – Adrian Peterson – Peterson is coming off of an injury riddled 2011 season, playing in just 12 games last year, Peterson finished off the season Christmas Eve furthering his injury woes with the trifecta knee injury tearing his MCL, ACL and meniscus. Peterson will probably see a slow start to the season having only 9 months of rest and rehab after surgery. To further halt the return of Peterson may be a suspension from Commissioner Roger Goodell stemming from a July arrest in a bar altercation with an off-duty police officer.[Photo By:Arvee 5.0 via Flickr]
3. RB – Ryan Matthews - Matthews is being projected by many as a top five RB this year in fantasy football. Matthews is yet to prove two things in the NFL in his two seasons, one the ability to stay healthy, two the ability to run inside the tackles. Now that Mike Tolbert is no longer a Charger, Matthews must be able to stay healthy for 16 games and be an every down back. The upside to Matthews is great, but the probability of Matthews being a feature back is very slim.
4. RB – Matt Forte – Chicago comes into this season fully loaded on offense, which may be Forte’s number one factor in production loss. Forte was very solid for the Bears last year averaging 123.9 total yards per game. However, Forte only found the end zone four times in a short 12 game season. Forte will also likely see his red zone carries limited because of the arrival of Michael Bush from Oakland.
5. QB- Peyton Manning – Denver fans are anxiously awaiting on the start of the NFL season this year, hopes are that Peyton Manning, once considered the best QB in the game, can build on the success that Tim Tebow had last year. While Manning may be the biggest profile free agent the NFL has seen in years, there is a reason the Colts let him go, and it’s not necessarily his health. In 2010, Manning had one his worst year as a pro since 2002. In that 8 year span, Manning never had a lower completion percentage or thrown more interceptions than in 2010. Manning is on the down slope of his NFL career, and he has new WRs, Coaching staff and for the first time a home field that is outside.
6. RB – Darren McFadden – Every year in the preseason you hear reports on ESPN, and various other outlets that say McFadden is back in the best shape of his life, and is ready to break out in a big way this year. And every year, “Run DMC” finds himself spending more time on the sideline then on the field earning you points. McFadden started out 2011 with four games over 150 yards total offense, with at least one touchdown, although in two games he had multiple touchdowns. That big time fantasy production was ceased by injuries and Mcfadden only made it into 7 games. His last game against Kansas City Mcfadden managed only two carries for four yards. McFadden can be a great pick up if you get him in a sixth or seventh round, but don’t go to high or you’ll be wondering at 12 p.m. est., if he’s going to be healthy by 4p.m..
7. WR – Roddy White – While White has been an absolute stud at WR the past few seasons, we need to look at the possibility this is the year White will regress. In 2011, White led the NFL in dropped passes with 15, and he saw Rookie WR Julio Jones stealing targets from Matt Ryan. Because of the drops and the emergence of Jones, White’s numbers dropped as well in TD’s and nearly 100 yards less receiving. With a full offseason under his belt, and another year in the Falcons offense Jones should be a player who may become the Falcons number one receiving option.
8. QB Matt Flynn- . The Seahawks won the free agency battle for one game success story QB Matt Flynn, in one start for Green Bay last year against Detroit Flynn passed 44 times completing 31 passes for an astonishing 480 yards and six touchdowns. Other than that, the cupboard is pretty bare on what Flynn’s past has to offer showing he’ll be a great starter in the NFL. This situation reminds me a lot of QB Kevin Kolb’s initial season in Arizona last year.
9. RB Marshawn Lynch – Lynch made a lot of noise last season in the amplified Century Link Stadium, everyone was on board for “Beast Mode.” But, in 2012 “Beast Mode” looks as though it may be put in to park. See Bust #8 for reasons why Lynch will most likely be facing eight defenders in the box at all times this season. Lynch did have a career year in 2011 having his most impressive year statistically in rushing yards (1,204), TDs (12), and total yards (1,416), but he was all in his last opportunity to sign a big contract as a RB. Lynch got that contract in the 2012 offseason and showed his appreciation by getting arrested for DUI. Add Lynch’s priors; hitting a woman with a car and leaving the scene (2008), and a weapons charge (2009). If history proves as a predecessor, Commissioner Goodell will come down hard on Lynch for his third strike, meaning FF owners and Seahawks fans won’t be going into “Beast Mode” for several games this season. [Photo By: Kell Bailey via Flickr]
10. K- Matt Prater – Alright, I know no one is looking to take a Kicker in the first 10 rounds of a fantasy draft, at least I hope not, but Prater is being viewed as a top Kicker in 2012. Prater’s praise is coming from several games last season when he stepped in to make an improbable kick to win a game after we all watched the Tim Tebow led offense sputter all game, and then miraculously finding a way to give Prater a chance to tie or win a game. In all honesty, Prater wasn’t that great of a kicker. He was only (76%) on all of his field goals last year, and just 3/7 from 40-49 yards away.
While many players on the list above may be great fantasy players in 2012, you have to know when to reach for them. I wouldn’t take any of these players in the first round, yet in several drafts many of these players will be first round picks. The two biggest things to look for in a player in a fantasy draft, is what is this player’s ceiling, and is he likely to stay healthy enough to achieve or possibly exceed that position. Another tip to keep yourself bust free is to avoid trends. Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez may all be gone by the mid second round, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to jump on Jermichael Finley or Vernon Davis