Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 3 Players at Each Position

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJune 7, 2012

Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 3 Players at Each Position

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    With the fantasy football season rapidly approaching, it is time to start ranking each position so you know exactly who to draft when. You definitely don't want to be the one guy in your league who is consistently reaching for players throughout your draft.

    Well, you're in luck because we've come up with the top three players at each position for the 2012 fantasy football season.


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    1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    Rodgers is the only quarterback that would need to be deeply considered in the first round of your fantasy draft. Few quarterbacks are lucky to have the weapons that Rodgers has, and he consistently gets the most out of his players.

    He's coming off incredible back-to-back fantasy seasons, and all signs point to him being even better in 2012. If that is the case, Rodgers definitely has the potential to lead your team to a championship all by himself. 


    2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    The only reason that Brees doesn't rank in the top spot is because all of the negative situations currently happening in New Orleans. Had Brees signed his big offseason contract and "Bountygate" not taken place, he'd definitely give Rodgers a run for his money as the top fantasy quarterback in 2012.

    However, even with huge question marks for the Saints, Brees is coming off a record-setting 2011 season and shows no signs of slowing down. While he'll miss Robert Meachem, who left for the San Diego Chargers in the offseason, Brees still has plenty of weapons to make him a top producer from the quarterback position.


    3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

    You might be surprised to not see Tom Brady or Matthew Stafford ranked as the third best fantasy football quarterback for 2012, but Newton simply has too much to offer a team to not be ranked this high.

    Not only will Newton improve as a passer in the upcoming season, but he is still a threat to do major damage on the ground. Even with the Panthers bringing in Mike Tolbert as a goal-line running back, Newton should get plenty of opportunities to rack up rushing touchdowns.

    The future is certainly bright in Carolina, and Newton is the biggest reason why. If you're doing a dynasty/keeper league, he might even be worthy of being the first quarterback drafted.

Running Back

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    1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

    Some might say that McCoy's production will drop due to the loss of offensive tackle Jason Peters or Michael Vick getting back to 2010 form, but McCoy is simply too talented and too much of an offensive threat to not be the top rated running back heading into the 2012 season.

    What makes McCoy such a dynamic fantasy player, and the likely top pick in the majority of fantasy drafts, is his versatility. Not only will McCoy rack up points on the ground, but his abilities as a receiver will only increase his production.

    Last year McCoy broke out in a huge way, leading all running backs in total touchdowns. This year he could be even better.


    2. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

    Deciding between Rice and Foster for the No. 2 running back comes to personal preference. The reason why Rice gets the nod here is because of the lack of competition behind him. With Ricky Williams retiring in the offseason, Bernard Pierce is now Rice's backup. As for Foster, he still has to deal with the talented Ben Tate in the backfield, who will likely steal some carries from him throughout the season. 

    We also can't forget that Rice is basically the entire offense for Baltimore. He doesn't have an Andre Johnson or Matt Schaub on his team like Foster does.


    3. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

    To be honest, you could draft any of these three running backs first and no one would think you made a poor decision.

    Like I said earlier, the reason Foster ranks lower for me is because of the production he'll lose to guys like Andre Johnson and Ben Tate. The Texans have a potent offense, and while Foster is definitely the key guy there, they also like to spread the ball around.

    Foster will definitely give you plenty of monster fantasy weeks and will keep your team in line for a championship.

Wide Receiver

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    1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

    There should really be no surprise here. Not only did Johnson have one of the best statistical seasons by a wide receiver in recent memory in 2011, but he is just starting to tap into his full potential. That should be a scary thought for opposing defenses.

    Another full season with blossoming quarterback Matthew Stafford will only improve Johnson's numbers. While some may say that Johnson will lose opportunities to score because of the return of Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure and the emergence of Titus Young, in all honesty, that will only force defenses to focus less on Johnson, making him even more dangerous.

    Last year was a near historic season for Johnson and there is no reason to think that he won't at least match those totals this year.


    2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

    The incredible thing about Fitzgerald is that he consistently puts up incredible seasons despite any true talent at the quarterback situation. If he had the joy of playing with a quarterback like Matthew Stafford or Aaron Rodgers, he'd be the greatest receiver in the league.

    However, Fitzgerald will once again be receiving balls from either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. His talent alone will make him the second receiver drafted in leagues, but it won't be until well after Johnson is already off the board.


    3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

    There are quite a few receivers that could land at this spot. Guys like Andre Johnson, Mike Wallace, Wes Welker and Roddy White all deserve consideration here, but those players also have big questions surrounding them. Whether it's injuries (Johnson), contract (Wallace), too many receivers (Welker) or the emergence of Julio Jones (White), there are all major doubts about these guys to make them the No. 3 receiver.

    That is why Green is the logical choice. He had a phenomenal rookie season and is only going to be better during his sophomore campaign. When you add to that the fact that Cincinnati will likely be forced to throw more due to taking a step back in their run game, Green could be in for a fantastic season for fantasy owners.

Tight End

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    1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

    Now before you write me off as completely insane, hear me out on why Graham ranks over Gronkowski at the tight end position.

    In New England, Gronkowski is going to have to deal with Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Donte Stallworth, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco and pretty much every other receiver in the world. That is a lot of talent for Tom Brady to deal with, and the likely outcome is that he'll spread the ball around.

    For Graham, he has to deal with Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles. He'll get more touches than Gronkowski and will have a better statistical season.


    2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

    Don't get me wrong, Gronkowski still deserves to be taken early in the draft, and its likely that he'll be drafted right before or after Graham comes off the board.

    As far as a complete tight end goes, there isn't a tight end in the league that can even touch Gronkowski. He has the potential to be one of the best to ever play the game. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he'll be sharing the ball quite a bit this year, which knocks him down a notch in my book.


    3. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

    There are a number of options for the third best fantasy tight end, much like with the wide receivers.

    Finley has been expected to have a "breakout" year for the past two seasons, and while we've seen flashes of his ridiculous potential, we've yet to see him put it all together. I'm expecting a full offseason with Aaron Rodgers to fix that issue as he'll finally establish himself as one of the most dangerous threats in the NFL.


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    1. San Francisco 49ers

    When your defense is stacked with a number of legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidates, its quite likely that your defense is going to be pretty good.

    The 49ers are led by Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. They also have plenty of other talent with players like Aldon Smith, Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson.

    This was the best defense last year and will likely keep that honor throughout the 2012 season.


    2. Houston Texans

    The Texans have had one of the worst defenses in the league for years and years. However, the 2011 season saw a gigantic swing as Houston boasted one of the top defenses in the league.

    Even with losing Mario Williams (who was basically lost the majority of last year), the Texans should continue to dominate on Sundays with their defense. What makes them so valuable as a fantasy defense is their ability to create turnovers. 

    They may get into a few shootouts over the course of the season, but overall, the Texans should be a fantastic defense for your league.


    3. Green Bay Packers

    Even though the Packers had one of the worst overall defenses of the 2011 season, they forced the most turnovers by any team in the league. They also had a successful NFL draft and free agency period to correct some of their bigger issues on defense, which is why they'll get back to being one of the premier fantasy defenses.

    As long as Charles Woodson can continue to make plays, Clay Matthews can get back to racking up sacks and B.J. Raji gets back to penetrating at the point of attack, the Packers could boast a rather dominant unit.


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    1. Alex Henry, Philadelphia Eagles

    There are two reasons why Henry will be the top fantasy kicker during the 2012 season. First, the Eagles have struggled scoring touchdowns in the red zone recently. That will give Henry plenty of opportunities to score points.

    Secondly, while Henry struggled early last year, he really picked his game up over the last half of the season. He'll likely continue that trend through the start of the 2012 season, making him the top kicker to draft.


    2. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

    Whenever you have a kicker that can consistently kick the ball 50-plus yards, you have a kicker that will score plenty of fantasy points.

    Add that to the fact that the Raiders could struggle getting into the end zone, and Janikowski will once again be a viable option as a fantasy football kicker.


    3. Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans

    A few years ago, Bironas kicked eight field goals in one game. Since then he has always been worthy as a top kicker for fantasy football.