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2012 NFL Free Agents: Predicting Fantasy Football Impact

Gordie GoldCorrespondent IJune 28, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Predicting Fantasy Football Impact

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    Randy Moss and Mario Manningham: one of the top receiving duos in the NFL? Let's face it, you are not going to hear that in 2012.

    With the top NFL free agents signed to new teams, fantasy football owners' draft boards are starting to shape up.

    Heading into the 2012 season, here are fantasy football predictions for NFL free agents who have signed with new teams.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, QB

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    If Peyton Manning is healthy, then there is no reason why he is not a top-three fantasy quarterback.

    That is a big if, though.

    Assuming he is healthy, Manning should have no problem putting up big numbers. He has two solid receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, to go along with running back Willis McGahee.

    Make sure to watch Manning throughout the preseason. If he shows no signs of being bothered by his injury, then he should be one of the first quarterbacks drafted.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR

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    In his last three full seasons (only five games played in 2010), Vincent Jackson has had at least 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

    Jackson is a great vertical-threat receiver, but his fantasy stock was even higher because he was Phillip Rivers go-to receiver in the San Diego Chargers offense.

    Now that he is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, some may think he will not be the same receiver. No need to think that, because I would not expect much of a drop-off with Jackson in 2012.

    I know Josh Freeman went through a sophomore slump last season. However, he should have a bounce-back year and show that he has a promising future like he did his rookie season.

    Also, Jackson is a much better receiver than the Buccaneers former No. 1 receiver, Mike Williams. There is no reason why Jackson should not have 60 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals, RB

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    BenJarvus Green-Ellis may not have a flashy game, but when it comes to fantasy football he gets the job done.

    In his past two seasons with the New England Patriots, Green-Ellis scored 24 touchdowns.

    Now that he is with the Cincinnati Bengals, Green-Ellis should only get better. The Bengals offense was able to make Cedric Benson a 1,000-yard rusher for three consecutive seasons.

    If Benson could do it, then there is no reason to believe that Green-Ellis cannot.

    Look to make Green-Ellis your No. 2 fantasy back.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, WR

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    After getting paid No. 1 wide receiver money and going to the Washington Redskins to become their top receiver, many people expect 2012 to be Pierre Garcon's breakout season.

    Not so fast. 

    Garcon is a rising young talent, but he has a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Robert Griffin III is going to deal with some struggles like any rookie quarterback does.

    In a couple seasons, Garcon may be a solid fantasy receiver, but for 2012 he is a No. 3 fantasy receiver at best.

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos, TE

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    When Dallas Clark got injured in 2010, it was Jacob Tamme who came in to replace him. Not many people knew who Tamme was, but they knew he had Peyton Manning throwing to him.

    Tamme went on to have 67 receptions, 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns in only 10 games.

    Well, Tamme and Manning have been reunited in Denver and I would expect him to put up huge numbers.

    If you do not land Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham early on, wait to draft Tamme in the later rounds.

    Tamme will put up top-five fantasy numbers for tight ends in 2012. You heard it hear first.

Chad Ochocinco, Miami Dolphins, WR

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    After being a huge disappointment in 2011 with the New England Patriots, things are looking good for Chad Ochocinco.

    Now that he is with the Miami Dolphins, there is no reason to believe that Ochocinco could not win the No. 1 receiver job. In Miami he is going up against Brian Hartline and Davone Bess.

    Compare that to going up against the Patriots receiving corps that includes Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

    If Ochocinco is a starter with the Dolphins, he is definitely worth a late-round draft pick and could become a solid No. 3 fantasy receiver.

Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks, QB

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    This has bust written all over it. Matt Flynn is Kevin Kolb 2.0.

    Flynn has only thrown for nine touchdowns and 1,015 yards in his NFL career, yet the Seattle Seahawks were willing to give him a contract that could be worth up to $26 million.

    Things are already looking horrible for Flynn, as it has been reported by SI.com that Tarvaris Jackson will go into training camp as the starter.

    If he can't even beat out Jackson, then you know Flynn's career in the NFL was meant to be on the sidelines.

Robert Meachem, San Diego Chargers, WR

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    After being with the New Orleans Saints for four seasons, fantasy owners should be glad that Robert Meachem is now with the San Diego Chargers.

    When you have a Saints receiver on your fantasy team that is not named Marques Colston or Jimmy Graham, you never know what to expect. Drew Brees loves spreading the ball around, so you could never rely on Meachem to put up solid fantasy numbers consistently.

    In the Chargers offense, though, Meachem's fantasy stock has greatly increased. The Chargers gave him a contract around $25 million, so you know he is going to be one of their top wide receivers.

    Make sure to keep an eye on the training camp battle for the Chargers No. 1 receiver spot between Meachem and Malcom Floyd. If Meachem can win that battle, he will have a breakout season in 2012 with Phillip Rivers throwing him the ball.

Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders, RB

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    Mike Goodson is not a big-name running back. Heck, Goodson is not even a starter.

    However, fantasy owners need to remember his name because he has the potential to put up huge numbers.

    Being the Oakland Raiders backup running back to Darren McFadden is almost like being a guaranteed starter. You know McFadden is going to injured, it is just a matter of when.

    Michael Bush made a living out of filling in for McFadden and fantasy owners have loved him the past couple seasons.

    Goodson will be Michael Bush 2.0 when McFadden gets banged up, so draft him in the late rounds of your fantasy drafts.

Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots, WR

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    In his last two seasons in Josh McDaniels' offense, Brandon Lloyd has flourished, racking up 2,414 receiving yards.

    Now that the two of them are together in New England with Tom Brady under center, Lloyd should become a top-15 fantasy receiver, right?

    Not quite.

    Lloyd still has solid fantasy value, but I would not expect him to put up big numbers like he has the last two seasons.

    In Denver and St. Louis, Lloyd was the outright No. 1 receiver. He had no competition and was the only legit receiving target on his team.

    On the New England Patriots, though, Lloyd is arguably the fourth-best receiving option for Brady. He is going to have to compete for targets against Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

    Lloyd is definitely still worth drafting, but he is now a No. 3 fantasy receiver. Sixty receptions, 800 yards and five touchdowns is a realistic 2012 stat line for Lloyd.

Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars, WR

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    It was nice while we knew you, Laurent Robinson.

    After catching 11 touchdowns last season, Robinson has gone to the "Black Hole," also known as the Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

    There is not a chance Robinson comes close to matching his 2011 performance with Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback.

    Avoid him at all cost.

Michael Bush, Chicago Bears, RB

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    Michael Bush with the Chicago Bears will not have the same fantasy impact like he did with the Oakland Raiders.

    Bush made his living off of Darren McFadden getting injured and filling in for him. Now that he is in Chicago, Bush will no longer have the luxury of being a backup running back to an injury-prone starter.

    Despite last season, Matt Forte had never missed a game in his NFL career. 

    Bush may get some goal-line carries, but he does not have much fantasy value in 2012.

Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers, RB

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    In his last two seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Mike Tolbert scored 21 touchdowns.

    He was their goal-line running back and Ryan Mathews was often injured. With the Carolina Panthers, things will change for the worse for Tolbert.

    Not only is he joining a crowded backfield with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but Cam Newton is going to take a majority of his goal-line carries.

    Tolbert may get a few scores, but his fantasy value has significantly dropped.

Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers, WR

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    Leaving the New York Giants passing offense to join the San Francisco 49ers passing offense is like committing fantasy football suicide.

    This is probably the last we have hear of Mario Manningham.

    With Alex Smith as the starting quarterback, the 49ers are going to stay committed to the run and Manningham will have very little production.

    Manningham may be worth a late-round draft pick since he should be the No. 1 receiver, but chances are you are rarely going to start him.

Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers, WR

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    Randy Moss is back in the NFL. For years Moss has been one of the most dominant fantasy receivers.

    However, that time has passed. Had Moss joined a team with a legit passing game, he would have some fantasy value. 

    Being a part of the San Francisco 49ers receiving corps, Moss will be almost non-existant.

    His best weapon is using his speed and size on go-routes. With Alex Smith throwing him the ball, I would not expect Moss to be catching many deep balls in 2012.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs, RB

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    After being one of the biggest fantasy busts in 2011, Peyton Hillis will have a bounce-back year in 2012.

    Hillis had too many issues to deal with last year, whether it was his contract or his nagging injuries. Now that he is with the Kansas City Chiefs, things will be different for Hillis.

    Although he will be splitting time with Jamaal Charles, that should not scare anyway any fantasy owners. Charles usually only gets 10 to 15 carries per game. Hillis will be getting a majority of the carries for the Chiefs.

    Not only will he be getting at least 15 carries per game, but Hillis is the Chiefs goal-line running back.

    Many people will be afraid to draft Hillis after his disappointing 2011 season, but I guarantee he will be a great No. 2 fantasy back in 2012.

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