Fantasy Football 2012: Top 5 Players at Each Position This Season

Gordie Gold@ggold3Correspondent IApril 22, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: Top 5 Players at Each Position This Season

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    Heading into the 2012 NFL season, here are the top five fantasy football players at each position.

    In 2011, we saw the rise of many fantasy football studs, especially from the tight end position.

    In 2012, while there is sure to be new stars, many questions still surround the health of some of the top players in the NFL.

Top 5 Quarterbacks

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    1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    If you had Rodgers in 2011, chances are you won your fantasy league. Rodgers dominated, throwing 45 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. He had five games where he scored at least four touchdowns.

    Looking forward to 2012, Rodgers is going to be dominant once again. He will definitely be the first quarterback taken and could possibly go No.1 overall.

    What makes Rodgers the top fantasy quarterback is his ability to run, unlike Brady or Brees. 

     

    2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

    Brady has too many weapons to throw to. Along with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots went out and got Brandon Lloyd.

    Brady will be a fantasy stud once again in 2012.

     

    3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    Despite losing his head coach and not getting a new deal, Brees will still put up huge numbers as usual.

     

    4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

    Newton was the biggest surprise for fantasy football owners in 2011.

    Newton threw for over 4,000 yards and had 35 total touchdowns (14 rushing). If Newton continues to improve, he very well may become the best fantasy quarterback in the close future.

    His ability to score through the air and ground is unbelievable.

     

    5. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions

    Stafford showed that when healthy, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Last season he threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns.

    As long as he stays healthy, expect another elite season from Stafford in 2012.

     

    Next Five (In no particular order): Peyton Manning (would be top five but health is a huge concern), Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers

Top 5 Running Backs

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    1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

    McCoy was the most consistent running back in 2011.

    In 15 games last season, McCoy scored at least one touchdown in 13 of them. McCoy led all players in 2011 with 20 total touchdowns. Not only did he become one of the elite rushers, but he is also one of the top receiving running backs in the league.

    In 2012, McCoy will be even better. The Eagles had a disappointing season in 2011, finishing 8-8. The Eagles will bounce back in 2012 and their offense will be more explosive.

    McCoy is going to be getting at least 25 touches a game and will score 20 touchdowns again next season. 

     

    2. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

    Rice broke out in 2011 as a fantasy stud because he finally started getting the goal line carries for the Ravens.

    Scoring 15 total touchdowns and also catching 76 passes last season, Rice is guaranteed to put up at least 15-20 points every week of the season in PPR leagues. 

     

    3. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

    Foster dealt with some injuries in 2011 that caused him to miss three games. He still managed to score 12 touchdowns and had 1,841 total yards.

    2012 should be another dominant year for Foster.

     

    4.Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

    MJD was the rushing champ in 2011, running for over 1,600 yards. He might be the only player in the NFL who is happy that his quarterback is awful.

    Blaine Gabbert is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league, and that means more touches for MJD.

     

    5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

    Peterson's stock has dropped significantly after suffering a severe knee injury. Assuming he comes back healthy for 2012, Peterson will still be one of the better running backs in the league. However, he will not be the dominant force that he once was.

    Make sure to check his health status before drafting him.

     

    Next Five (In no particular order): Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte

Top 5 Wide Receivers

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    1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

    Johnson showed everyone in 2011 why he is called "Megatron."

    Johnson led all wide receivers with 1,681 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. The Lions gave him a huge contract—and he deserved every penny of it. He is the best wide receiver in the game.

    As long as Matt Stafford stays healthy, Megatron will put up huge numbers again in 2012. Johnson will definitely go in the first round in every fantasy draft. There is no reason why he should not score at least 20 touchdowns next season.

     

    2. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

    Johnson struggled with injury problems last season, playing in only seven games. He will come back strong in 2012 and show everyone why he is still one of the best wide receivers.

     

    3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

    Fitzgerald managed to have over 1,400 receiving yards despite having an average quarterback (at best) throwing to him. Imagine if the Cardinals had landed Peyton Manning.

    In 2012, Fitzgerald is still the only legit threat on the Cardinals offense and will continue to put up strong numbers.

     

    4. Wes Welker, New England Patriots

    Welker bounced back in 2011, showing everyone that he was still one of the top wide receivers in the game. Welker will still be a top fantasy receiver in 2012, but the emergence of Rob Gronkowksi and Aaron Hernandez could take away some of his looks.

    In PPR leagues, Welker is a must-have because he is guaranteed to have at least 100 receptions. It also doesn't hurt that he has Tom Brady throwing to him.

     

    5. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants

    Going into his fourth season, Nicks has become one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Nicks will continue to improve because Eli Manning is now one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

     

    Next Five (In no particular order): Roddy White, Greg Jennings, A.J. Green, Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz

Top 5 Tight Ends

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    1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

    Gronkowski revolutionized the tight end position in 2011. He led the entire league with 17 receiving touchdowns and managed to grab 90 receptions.

    In 2012, Gronkowski is a top-10 receiving option. He could very well be your team's No. 1 receiver. He is only entering his third season and is poised to continue to show why he is one of the most dominant players in the league.

    Not only does Brady look to him often, but he is almost guaranteed to score every time the Patriots get in the red zone. Gronkowski should go in the first three rounds of fantasy drafts.

     

    2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

    Along with Gronkowski, Graham was the other tight end who dominated last season. Graham had 99 receptions, 1,310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. 

    In 2012, expect huge things from Graham. He became Drew Brees' favorite target, being targeted 149 times. Also entering his third season, Graham will be one of the most dominant players in the league.

    He will be gone in the first three rounds of fantasy drafts.

     

    3. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

    Gates' biggest problem is his health. He cannot manage to stay healthy for a full season, and when he plays, he is not playing at 100 percent.

    With Vincent Jackson gone, Gates is going to be getting a lot more targets than he has ever had.

     

    4. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots

    The other part of the Patriots' two-headed tight end monster, Hernandez became one of the top tight ends in 2011.

    Heading into 2012, Hernandez will continue to improve, but he doesn't get targeted in the red zone like Gronkowski does.

     

    5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

    Davis has not been able to recapture the magic he had in 2009, when he scored 13 touchdowns. However, Davis is still a top-tier tight end in the NFL and continues to put up impressive numbers.

    Going into the second year under Jim Harbaugh, expect quarterback Alex Smith and Davis to improve their chemistry.

     

    Next Five (In no particular order): Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, Fred Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek