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Randy Moss and Fantasy Studs You Must Target Early

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIMay 31, 2012

Randy Moss and Fantasy Studs You Must Target Early

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    Randy Moss is re-entering the NFL after a year off, and he could be ready to explode with a monster season for the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. He'll surely be an undervalued commodity when the time comes for your fantasy draft, but you shouldn't be shy about targeting him early.

    The following is a breakdown of Moss and a few other guys who are flying under the radar, but who you should target early in your fantasy draft. 

Randy Moss

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    I don't know that Randy Moss has ever been listed as "under the radar" before, but he has also never been coming off a season-long absence from the league. In addition to that, Moss is 35 years old and has a considerable amount of mileage on his legs. 

    The San Francisco 49ers are certainly taking a chance by bringing Moss on board at this stage of his career, but when you consider that they had the NFL's 29th-ranked passing attack in 2011, the move doesn't seem all that crazy.

    In his last full season with one team in 2009, Moss caught 83 passes for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. I don't expect him to replicate those numbers, but I do think 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will target him a lot. 

    According to Pro Football Talk, Niners tight end Vernon Davis recently told ESPN that Moss has looked outstanding, and he could be a steal if you jump on him early in your fantasy draft. 

Ryan Mathews

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    Mathews was expected to come in and immediately transform San Diego's running game as a rookie. That didn't happen. However, entering his third year, the Fresno State product seems to have finally hit his stride and he could give the Chargers the boost they need on the ground.

    While splitting carries with the now-departed Mike Tolbert in 2011, Mathews rushed for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns on just 222 carries. That was good enough for an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He also caught 50 passes for 455 yards.

    With Tolbert gone and now that he has former Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain blocking for him, Mathews should finally get the work of a true No. 1 back. 

    It's not hard to imagine him leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2012, as the Chargers will want to take pressure off quarterback Philip Rivers after a tough 2011 season.

    Mathews is certainly someone to target early.

Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan set career highs in yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating in 2011, but the general consensus seemed to be that he and the Atlanta Falcons were a disappointment.

    Well, in 2012, the Falcons are poised to take a big step forward.

    Ryan will have a ton of weapons at his disposal with receivers Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner. That is an absolutely stacked set of skill-position players.

    In addition to that, new Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is likely to use a vertical passing attack which should mean Ryan will be throwing downfield much more. 

    Expect the 27-year-old quarterback to post some great numbers in his fifth season.

Trent Richardson

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    After being selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, big things are expected out of Trent Richardson this year.

    The Cleveland Browns will install the Alabama product as their No. 1 running back and feed him early and often as they break in new quarterback Brandon Weeden. It really isn't hard to picture Richardson leading the NFL in touches as a rookie, since he will be a three-down back with almost no competition for carries.

    Richardson will only be a rookie and he will improve in future seasons, but if you want a workhorse who will get a ton of carries and have every opportunity to shine, he is your guy.

Dez Bryant

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    Dez Bryant was a big factor in 2011 despite playing through a quad injury and not running consistent routes. If fully healthy in 2012, he could be a monster.

    Bryant hauled in 63 receptions for 928 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games during his second NFL season. The 23-year-old now has another year under his belt and will likely have a more consistent rapport with quarterback Tony Romo.

    The Oklahoma State product's athleticism and natural gifts have never been questioned. However, with another season in the bank, he'll almost surely be a more polished target for Romo.

    Expect big things from Bryant in 2012 and target him as one of the top receivers out there. 

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