Biggest Fantasy Football Steals of 2012
In fantasy football, nothing sets up a team better for the upcoming season than finding value in your draft: getting players who will make a big contribution to your team for a much lower price than their level of production would indicate.
Identifying and targeting these players each year can give your fantasy team a huge advantage over the opposition, so here's a look at one player at each of the major positions who has represented a "steal" of sorts in fantasy football drafts so far this summer.
Average draft position courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
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Average Draft Position: Round Two (Pick 21, QB5)
I'll freely admit that I'm not a huge proponent of selecting a quarterback early in fantasy football drafts, but if you go that route, the signal caller that will afford you the most bang for your fantasy buck is likely Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions.
The fourth-year pro, who threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns last season, was fantasy's fourth-ranked quarterback in points per game in 2011, trailing Tom Brady of the New England Patriots by only 1.5 fantasy points per contest.
That negligible differential is more than mitigated by Stafford's lower ADP than the so-called "big three" quarterbacks (Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees), making Stafford the best value play for fantasy owners set on having a top-five option under center.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
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Average Draft Position: Round Five (Pick 54, RB20)
There are several veteran running backs that appear to be undervalued heading into fantasy drafts this summer. This includes Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner, who was fantasy's eighth-ranked running back last year in leagues that award a point for receptions.
However, many pundits have predicted that this is the year that the proverbial wheels fall off for the ninth-year pro, dropping him to the bottom of the top 20 fantasy backs off draft boards.
With that said, Turner has topped 1,400 total yards and scored double-digit touchdowns in three of the past four seasons. With no real competition for carries in Atlanta—even should his production drop off—he'll still likely well outperform his draft slot in 2012.
Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
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Average Draft Position: Fourth Round (Pick 47, WR18)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston was fantasy football's tenth-ranked wide receiver in 2011 after catching 80 passes for 1,143 yards, the second time in the past three seasons that the six-year veteran has finished among the top 15 fantasy options at his position.
With fellow wideout Robert Meachem now in San Diego, Colston could easily be in for an uptick in targets this year, making the 29-year-old a very interesting upside play as your fantasy WR2.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
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Average Draft Position: Round Ten (Pick 114, TE 11)
I've been banging on this particular drum for quite a while, but given the ridiculous value that Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez currently represents for fantasy drafters, I'd be remiss if I didn't keep banging away.
Sure, Gonzalez is 36, but not only has the future Hall of Famer been incredibly productive throughout his career, he's also been remarkably durable, missing only two games in 15 NFL seasons.
Add those factors together, and you get a top-five upside at a bargain basement price, making "Gonzo" quite possibly the single biggest steal in fantasy football drafts this year.