Fantasy Football Draft 2012: Who Is Hot Going into This Season?
The 2012 NFL season is rapidly approaching, and what's even closer are your fantasy football drafts.
This offseason has seen a lot of player movement and injury updates which have significantly altered the fantasy value of some of the highest scoring players in the game.
Here are five players who have seen their stock soar and should be targeted when draft day arrives.
Robert Meachem: WR, San Diego Chargers
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Robert Meachem is an explosive receiver, possessing an excellent 16.1 yards per reception for his career.
But Meachem never had much fantasy worth as a member of the New Orleans Saints considering he was not a top option, receiving the fifth most targets on the team in 2011.
This season, now a member of the San Diego Chargers via free agency, Meachem will be a fantasy stud. He doesn't suffer a huge downgrade in quarterback with Phillip Rivers and will now be on the field for the majority of snaps.
“He (Meachem) adds a real speed dimension to our offense. He’s got a different type of speed because there’s some quickness involved. Vincent Jackson, as much as I love him and had a great time with him, is a build-up speed guy. I think Robert gives us a bit of a different dimension.
Turned also said in April that he believed Meachem would amass 1,000 yards this season.
That might seem a lot to ask from a guy who's never posted more than 722 yards in a season, but Meachem should see a career high in targets by far this year, so expect him to at least come close to reaching that lofty prediction.
Darren McFadden: RB, Oakland Raiders
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After rushing for 1,157 yards in 2010, Darren McFadden was sensational to begin the 2011 season.
Through six games, he ran for 610 yards on 111 carries, which equates to 5.49 yards per carry and 101.67 yards per game.
Unfortunately for McFadden, the Raiders and his fantasy owners, he suffered a foot injury two carries into a Week 7, and his season was finished.
While some might want to shy away from McFadden this year because of the injury, I believe that's the wrong move.
"The thing about Darren is, he didn't have any major surgeries, so he's able to come back her healthy and he's playing at a high level right now and it's offseason," Skipper said. "He's out here. You would never know he got hurt. He's making cuts at full speed, everything."
Considering reports like this and his incredible talent, McFadden should be a top of the second-round pick.
Demaryius Thomas: WR, Denver Broncos
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It's no secret why Demaryius Thomas has gone from someone to consider at the end of your draft to a player to covet in the early rounds: Peyton Manning.
In 2011, Thomas was stuck in a run-first (and second) Tim Tebow offense that severely stunted his ability to put up stats (32 receptions for 551 yards).
Not only will Thomas, who is the Broncos No. 1 receiver, see a huge increase in the 6.36 targets per game he saw last year, but those passes will be coming from one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
With the build and speed of an elite receiver, Thomas has always had great fantasy potential, and with Manning, he will begin to reach it.
If he stays healthy, expect at least 1,000 yards
Brandon Marshall: WR, Chicago Bears
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The two were a lethal combination; Marshall had more than 100 receptions and 1,200 yards in their final two seasons (2007 and 2008) together.
But it's not just the high reception totals Marshall amassed with Cutler that make him appealing in 2012, it's the targets as well. Marshall led the league in targets in each of those seasons (170 in 2007 and 183 in 2008).
Marshall averaged 83.5 receptions in the past two seasons in Miami, but with the amount of passes that history suggests he will have thrown to him this year, expect him to return to the 90-100 range.
Tom Brady: QB, New England Patriots
While there was plenty of reason to love Tom Brady to begin with, the Patriots offseason moves have only made him more appealing for fantasy owners.
He already had a fantastic group of pass-catchers highlighted by Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The only piece lacking in their receiving personal was a true difference maker on the outside.
Well, the club added Brandon Lloyd, who has racked up 2,414 yards and 16 touchdowns the past two years. On top of that, they added a great possession receiver in Jabar Gaffney (947 yards in 2011), who also was a member of the Pats as recently as 2008.
And lastly, the Patriots hired Josh McDaniels back as its offensive coordinator, who was the team's OC when Brady threw 50 touchdown passes in 2007.
To me, Brady, who has posted passer ratings of 111.0 and 105.6 in the past two years, respectively, should be a top-five pick come draft season.