NFL Fantasy 2012: Who Will Be This Year's Calvin Johnson?

Evan BudrovichCorrespondent IJune 20, 2012

NFL Fantasy 2012: Who Will Be This Year's Calvin Johnson?

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    Calvin Johnson had a career year in fantasy football for the Detroit Lions, catching 96 passes for 1,681 yards while racking in 16 touchdowns. Who is the next Calvin Johnson in fantasy football?

    Here is a list of five wide receivers who will shine and put up Calvin-esque numbers in 2012. 

    After reading this article, feel free to leave a comment or debate our selections as to who will have a breakout season in 2012.  

No. 5 Steve Johnson

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    Last season Johnson took a step back from his 2010 campaign composing of 1,073 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.This was in large part due to the turmoil of the Bills in the second half of the season as opposed to his declining skill level. 

    Johnson needed a year to mature and understand the pressure and expectations that come with being a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. This season, Johnson will take a step forward as a route runner and deep threat receiver, resulting in 10-plus touchdowns and 1,000 yards.

    For the right price, fantasy owners would be foolish not to draft Steve Johnson, who at 25 years of age, is primed for a career year catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick.  

No. 4 Dez Bryant

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    When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones selected Dez Bryant with the 24th pick of the first round, he trusted Bryant's skill to develop into a big time deep threat. 

    Last season Bryant played well, adding 63 receptions for 928 yards while grabbing nine touchdowns. This offseason, Bryant has been praised by his quarterback Tony Romo for his work with the Cowboys, giving fantasy owners reason to believe that he will improve from last season.  

    Expect Bryant to pass the 1,000-yard and 12-touchdown marks to become the consistently elite fantasy receiver that owner Jones expected from Day 1.    

No. 3 Brandon Marshall

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    Cutler to Marshall will be pure brilliance this season for the Chicago Bears and for Marshall fantasy owners. 

    In a three-year span with Jay Cutler from 2007-2009, Marshall averaged 102 receptions, 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns. Expect this season to be very similar to that stretch, allowing Marshall to strive in Chicago. 

    As the No. 1 offensive option behind Matt Forte, Marshall will receive a bulk of the catches and will excel under above average quarterback play—something he did not receive with the Miami Dolphins.

    Marshall will break 1,200 yards receiving this season and grab 12 touchdowns, making fantasy owners very happy.   

No. 2 Andre Johnson

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    The closest talent to Calvin Johnson in terms of skill, size and speed has to be Andre Johnson. Johnson has proven throughout his nine-year career that he can flat out play and dominate opposing defenses when healthy. 

    Fantasy owners have reason to be concerned with the previous health issues that Johnson presents, but the production he provides will validate their selection. Not only is Johnson healthy for 2012, but quarterback Matt Schaub is healthy and ready to build upon their ridiculous combination from 2008-2009. 

    In each season, Johnson caught at least 100 passes for 1,500 yards and a minimum of eight touchdowns. If Johnson can play for 16 games, which I believe will happen, then he will put up numbers similar if not better than in 2008-2009 and reward fantasy owners for their investment.  

No. 1 A.J. Green

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    Andy Dalton to A.J. Green will be the most dynamic combination in 2012. The route running and pure speed that Green possesses makes him a matchup nightmare on every play, which was used to perfection last season for the Bengals. Expect Green to rack up godly numbers next season similar to Johnson in 2011. 

    Last season during his rookie campaign, Green racked up 65 receptions for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. With his first real offseason to work with Dalton, expect Green to break 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns this season for the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Fantasy owners take note: A.J. Green is primed to carry the Bengals this season and become the breakout offensive player of 2012 that Calvin Johnson was in 2011.