Fantasy Football 2012: Analyzing the Best Value Pick at Each Position
In fantasy football, having a successful draft is all about finding value.
Not only do you want to stack your team with players that will be productive throughout the season, but you also want to find players whose statistical production outweighs their price tag. That allows you to not only field a competitive weekly lineup, but also procure the sort of depth that is essential to a deep fantasy playoff run.
With that in mind, here's a look at the players at each of the major fantasy football positions who are providing the most bang for your buck so far in fantasy drafts this summer.
Average draft positions courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com.
Quarterback: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
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Average Draft Position: Sixth Round (Pick 65, QB9)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had an up-and-down 2011 season.
Although the ninth-year veteran threw for over 4,600 yards, he also tossed a career-high 20 interceptions.
Rivers' ninth-place fantasy finish appears to be scaring many fantasy owners away. However, with two top-five fantasy finishes in the past four seasons, Rivers presents a very intriguing starting option for those fantasy owners who choose to wait a bit before drafting a signal-caller.
Running Back: Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
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Average Draft Position: Fourth Round (Pick 37, RB15)
The St. Louis Rams were terrible a season ago.
That wasn't the fault of running back Steven Jackson, who racked up over 1,400 total yards and finished as a top-15 fantasy ball-carrier for the fourth consecutive season.
No active running back in the National Football League has more career carries than Jackson, and the heavy workload has led some to predict a breakdown this year that has damaged Jackson's ADP.
However, Jackson has played in at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons, and the 29-year-old is an excellent value pick in 2012—especially for those fantasy teams that eschew the running back position in the first or second round of their drafts.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Average Draft Position: Fifth Round (Pick 57, WR25)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown experienced a big-time breakout in his second NFL season, reeling in 69 passes for 1,108 yards and ending the year as a top-25 fantasy performer at his position.
The Steelers rewarded Brown's performance with a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension.
With fellow Pittsburgh wideout Mike Wallace balking at reporting to camp under his restricted free-agent tender, there's a very good chance that Brown will improve on his two touchdowns in 2011, which would bump his fantasy stock and make him at the very least a rock-solid WR2.
The time to act is now, though. With every day that Wallace fails to show for camp, Brown's ADP will only climb.
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
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Average Draft Position: 10th Round (Pick 114, TE11)
Tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons has seemingly been catching passes since the '60s. However, that didn't stop the 15-year veteran from posting good numbers again in 2011.
The 36-year-old caught 80 passes for 875 yards and seven scores a season ago, finishing the year as fantasy football's fourth-ranked tight end.
Granted, "Gonzo" is getting up there, but the future Hall of Famer has missed all of two games in his career and hasn't finished lower than sixth at his position in fantasy points in this century.
As things stand right now, there's no more undervalued player in fantasy football than Tony Gonzalez.