It’s never too early to begin preparing to dominate your upcoming fantasy football season. Mini-camps are just starting up and sooner than later fantasy football preparation will be in full swing. So why not get ahead of the game, start crunching numbers and evaluating players for the 2012 season. I have put together the beginning stages on my “Big Board”, remember it is early so a lot could change from now to opening kickoff. These rankings are for a league with a PPR format, also, 6 points for a passing touchdown.
1) RB, Arian Foster, HOU– For the second season in a row Arian Foster ranks number one on my big board. Foster fought through a hamstring injury early on in 2011 where he missed 3 games however, he still put together a great season statistically. Foster ranked number three in points for running backs behind Rice and McCoy. I like Foster this season because he gets some weapons back in his offense, let’s not forget the Texans were without Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson for a majority of last season. I went back and forth here with Foster and Rice for the number one spot and I went with Foster because I think he has more potential to put up big game numbers. In the postseason Foster rushed for 285 yards in two games against two tough defenses (Baltimore/Cincinnati). Foster will go into the 2012 season healthy and with a healthy offense.
2) RB, Ray Rice, BAL– Rice is coming off of a stellar 2011 campaign where he ranked number one in points for running backs by 43 points. The Baltimore Raven back also has the most points in the last three years for his position. He is consistent and that’s why I love him, along with the fact that he catches the football. Rice caught 76 balls out of the backfield and tallied a league leading 2068 total yards. In the past three seasons Rice has caught an average of 72 balls, the next closest running back to that total is Darren Sproles with a 63 reception average. To top it all off the Rutgers alum scores touchdowns, he is coming off of a career high total with 15 scores.
3) WR, Calvin Johnson, DET– “Megatron” emerged onto the scene in 2009 with his first 1,000 yard season, he became elite in 2011 when he put up dominant numbers. Calvin finished the season with 96 receptions, 1681 yards, and 16 touchdowns, leading the league in yards and touchdowns. A huge reason why Johnson had great success is because his quarterback Matthew Stafford stayed healthy all season long giving the Lions a killer QB/WR connection. The only reason I have Johnson behind Rice and Foster is because I see more depth at the WR position, meaning I could still snag a WR later in the draft whereas the running backs wear thin. Calvin is un-guardable and defeats any one-on-one coverage there is no slowing this beast down.
4) QB, Aaron Rodgers, GB– 45 touchdown passes, 4,643 passing yards, need I say more? Rodgers is the closest thing to what I like to call in fantasy football as a sure thing. A-Rod will keep your team afloat regardless of who you put around him, if you can add some nice talent there is no reason to why you won’t win you fantasy football league. You do have to have a great quarterback in order to win it, he’s your guy.
5) RB, LeSean McCoy, PHI– I have LeSean McCoy ranked here at number five but I’m not sure how long that’s going to last, I’m a little concerned. There have already been reports lurking throughout the media that McCoy’s touches will drop significantly in order to keep him fresh. Last season “Shady” McCoy carried the ball 273 times, 64 more than his previous career high. If you take away his touchdowns in his last five games of the season he really struggled, he averaged 58 yards on the ground. You can’t deny McCoy put together a great 2011 season he scored 20 touchdowns and he catches the football at a consistent number every season. I’m just concerned, how concerned? Time will tell.
6) TE, Rob Gronkowski, NE– GRONK! Rob Gronkowski put up easily the best numbers for a tight end of all time. 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns. If Gronk were listed as a WR he would have ranked number two overall behind only Calvin Johnson. Gronkowski is even more valuable because he plays the tight end position, a position that takes a huge drop after him and Jimmy Graham. My only concern here is that other weapons in the offense take targets away but he is too talented to not kill it again this season. More weapons just means it will be harder to double team him.
7) TE, Jimmy Graham, NO– Wait this guy committed to the University of Miami to play basketball? New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham is a stud and he proved that last season. Graham had an impressive sophomore season where he caught 99 balls, 1,310 receiving yards and finished with 11 touchdowns. Although the Saints will be without Payton and that is a little bit of a concern I still think Graham will put up numbers much like these next season.
8) QB, Tom Brady, NE– Tom Brady might be a “pretty boy” but he gets the job done. If Brady didn’t already have enough weapons with Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez, the Patriots add another solid talent with Brandon Lloyd. Brady is clearly a stud in this league and has proven before that he can be atop the fantasy world after throwing 50 touchdowns in 2007 when he had great weapons. This offense is going to be comparable to that this season I believe. Last season Brady threw 39 touchdown passes and I believe this season he will throw just as many if not more.
9) WR, Roddy White, ATL– Rowdy Roddy White is my number two ranked WR and deservedly so. The guy just does it every single season. He averages the most fantasy points in the last three seasons for wide receivers. Coming into last season there was concern that Julio Jones would steal targets from White however; he led the league with 181 targets once again. Roddy ranked number four in points in 2011 in a season in which he fought through injuries all year long. White finished with 1,296 yards, 100 receptions and 8 touchdowns.
10) WR, Andre Johnson, HOU– If he could just stay healthy… When Andre Johnson is healthy there is no question he is one of the best receivers in the league it is just about keeping him that way. In 2009 the last season in which he played all 16 games he ranked number one among wide receivers. His health issues and the fact he doesn’t tend to score a ton of touchdowns puts him #3 on my WR board, where he will be in a constant battle with Wes Welker and Larry Fitzgerald.
Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch @connerpatch68