When drafting a fantasy football team, one of your goals should be to minimize risk as much as possible, thereby drafting as many "safe" picks as you can.
While there will always be risk of injury, poor performance or both when building your fantasy squad, some players will give you much more stability than others.
Here is a list of the safest pick at every team. These players are all but guaranteed to remain injury free, and give you a highly productive fantasy season in 2012.
This was a tough call. However, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets the nod over New Orleans Saints signal-caller Drew Brees due to the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the NFC South squad in the wake of the bounty scandal.
After all, head coach and play-caller Sean Payton has been dismissed from the team for the 2012 season.
Except for in 2008—when he went down with a knee injury—Brady has started every single game since he became the starter in 2001. He's shown no ill-effects since.
In his worst season in the last five years (excluding 2008), the Patriots quarterback threw for 28 touchdowns. He's been a stud and looks to be getting better and better with age.
He's the safest pick at QB simply because he produces and doesn't get hurt. That's the bottom line.
Ray Rice is about as close to a sure thing as you can get at running back in the NFL.
He plays a position in which injuries are common, and staying healthy for all 16 games is very difficult. Nevertheless, Rice has been able to play in all 16 games in each of the past three years, which is a great sign for prospective owners.
He's put up over 1,200 yards on the ground and 550-plus yards in the receiving game in each of those seasons as well. Without doubt, Rice has been as productive as anyone in the league.
Some may look to Arian Foster in this spot, but he comes with significant injury risk, which you want to avoid in fantasy football.
Like Brady, Rice produces and doesn't miss games.
Larry Fitzgerald has long been a fantasy football stalwart, and could remain that way for some time to come.
He's the paradigm of consistency at the WR position, he's only missed four games in eight seasons and only one since 2007, so there is minimal risk of injury.
Fitzgerald also produces. Except for in 2009—when he had only 97 receptions for 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns—Fitzgerald has gone for over 1,100 yards in four of the past five years.
In fact, he routinely going for over 1,400 yards.
He's a fantasy machine, and if you draft him, you're absolutely guaranteed solid production.
This was difficult to decide. However, at the end of the day, I have to go with Rob Gronkowski.
Gronk has been in the league for only two years, but all he's done is catch 132 passes for 1,873 yards and 27 touchdowns. If he was a WR, those numbers would still be excellent, and the TD stat would grant him elite status.
All Gronk did last year is set the all-time record for receiving for a TE. He did suffer an injury in the playoffs, but has shown tremendous durability outside of that.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011, Gronkowski took an awkward landing on his neck, but was able to continue. He's so big and strong that it's hard to bring him down, which all but guarantees he'll reach at least 10 touchdowns once again this season.
This one was pretty easy. Last season, David Akers led the NFL in field goals with 44, and had an 85 percent average success rate.
Akers is a great kicker, and due to his team's style of play, he's guaranteed a couple of attempts per game at the very minimum.
This is the case because the 49ers have a good, solid offense. However, the offense is not so good that Akers doesn't get enough shots to kick it through the uprights.
The 49ers don't score an insane amount of touchdowns. Therefore, when they get into the red zone, there's a good chance Akers will be putting points on the board.
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