Fantasy Football 2012: The Preseason Top 150 Overall Players, Vol. III

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Fantasy Football 2012: The Preseason Top 150 Overall Players, Vol. III
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Detroit's Matthew Stafford, a consensus top-five QB in fantasy drafts, threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns last season.

Here is my revised listing of the top 150 overall players in standard-scoring leagues, which now reflects the injury-related status drops for Cleveland's Trent Richardson (knee scope) and San Diego's Ryan Mathews (broken collarbone).

On the flip side, I've yet to penalize Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Wallace and/or Dwayne Bowe for their respective contract disputes, but that could change soon.

Obviously, a lot can change between now and after the third full week of the NFL preseason. But right now, this should serve as a fairly accurate profile of my thinking heading into August.

For an in-depth look at the top 60 players, click here.

1. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
2. RB Arian Foster, Texans
3. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
4. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
5. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
6. QB Drew Brees, Saints
7. RB Chris Johnson, Titans
8. RB Matt Forte, Bears
9. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
10. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
11. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
12. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
13. TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
14. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
15. QB Cam Newton, Panthers
16. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
17. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
18. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
19. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
20. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
21. WR Roddy White, Falcons
22. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
23. WR Victor Cruz, Giants
24. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
25. RB Michael Turner, Falcons

 

Breakdown of Nos. 1-25

  • I reserve the right to change my mind between LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster (1,841 total yards, 12 TDs in 2011) through August, but it's hard to deny the 20-touchdown wunderkind (McCoy) from a year ago—even if he only has a 15 percent chance of replicating that figure in 2012. Still, he's a good bet for 1,730 total yards and 17 TDs.
  • One quick note on Foster's behalf: The Texans draw the Colts and Vikings at home for Weeks 15 and 16. If that isn't a freebie gift from the fantasy gods, I don't know what it is.
  • You won't encounter many preseason fantasy rankings without Aaron Rodgers slotted in the top four, and that represents major progress for an industry that once frowned upon attaching Round 1 value to quarterbacks. It used to be that QBs who threw for 45 touchdowns one year had no chance of duplicating that feat the next, but the unflappable Rodgers (4,643 yards passing) could probably tally in his sleep. Hence, back-to-back 45s is feasible. 
  • Chris Johnson (1,465 total yards) posted seven games of 100 total yards or more last year; he also recorded season highs in targets (79) and receptions (57). Put it all together, and it's enough to believe the 26-year-old speedster will rebound in a major way. Targets: 1,709 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
  • Calvin Johnson (96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TD) led the NFL with eight games of 100-plus receiving yards last season. In fact, for three of the Lions' final four games—including the playoff loss to New Orleans—Calvin ridiculously amassed 200 yards.

 

26. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
27. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
28. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
29. QB Eli Manning, Giants
30. RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
31. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
32. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
33. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
34. WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
35. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
36. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
37. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
38. QB Tony Romo, Cowboys
39. RB Darren Sproles, Saints
40. RB Shonn Greene, Jets
41. WR Brandon Marshall, Bears
42. TE Vernon Davis, 49ers
43. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
44. QB Matt Ryan, Falcons
45. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
46. QB Peyton Manning, Broncos
47. TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
48. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
49. WR Marques Colston, Saints
50. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers

 

Breakdown of Nos. 26-50

  • I'm a little worried Packers wideouts Jennings and Nelson might cancel each other out in terms of garnering an elite ranking. Then again, if Rodgers throws for 42 touchdowns this year, should it really matter if Jennings outperforms Nelson or Nelson trumps Jennings?
  • The Gore vs. Steven Jackson dynamic is difficult to characterize right now. They're both high-end backs with a lot of questions surrounding their respective supporting casts, which ultimately could affect their per-game touches. For Jackson, I'm thinking 1,461 total yards and eight touchdowns. 
  • From Weeks 4-15 last year (spanning 11 games), Eli Manning averaged 40.36 passes per outing, a dream figure for fantasy owners who worship at the church of More Reps, Bigger Numbers with quarterbacks. 
  • Given the recent surgeries of Ryan Mathews (collarbone) and Trent Richardson (knee) and general uncertainty surrounding Detroit's Jahvid Best (concussion), Ahmad Bradshaw (2,475 total yards, 19 TDs in 2010-11) has suddenly earned a battlefield promotion back into my fantasy heart...and the top 30 in standard-scoring leagues.

 

51. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
52. QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
53. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
54. TE Jermichael Finley, Packers
55. RB Trent Richardson, Browns
56. WR Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
57. RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins
58. QB Matt Schaub, Texans
59. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
60. RB Roy Helu, Redskins
61. WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
62. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
63. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals
64. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
65. RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
66. RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers
67. TE Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
68. RB Isaac Redman, Steelers
69. TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
70. WR Steve Johnson, Bills
71. RB Willis McGahee, Broncos
72. QB Carson Palmer, Raiders
73. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
74. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
75. QB Jay Cutler, Bears

 

Breakdown of Nos. 51-75

  • The Bengals might have fostered the best non-quarterback signing of the offseason, luring BenJarvus Green-Ellis away from New England. Cincinnati's offensive line is very underrated, and Green-Ellis (24 TDs from 2010-11) has the tools to be a rock-solid fantasy back—between the 20s and in the red zone.
  • Even before his recent groin injury, I had reservations about Isaac Redman (142 total yards vs. Denver in the wild-card round) being a full-time feature back with the Steelers in September and October while Rashard Mendenhall rehabs and recovers from a serious knee injury (last January). But a Pittsburgh runner needs to represent well here; the franchise has earned the benefit of the doubt in that realm. Someone will take charge in this role, whether it's Redman, Mendy or Jonathan Dwyer.

 

76. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
77. QB Mark Sanchez, Jets
78. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
79. RB Toby Gerhart, Vikings
80. RB Donald Brown, Colts
81. WR Antonio Brown, Steelers
82. WR Nate Washington, Titans
83. QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins
84. RB Stevan Ridley, Patriots
85. WR Kenny Britt, Titans
86. WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
87. RB Michael Bush, Bears
88. RB Mark Ingram, Saints
89. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys
90. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
91. TE Dustin Keller, Jets
92. WR Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
93. RB Ben Tate, Texans
94. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
95. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
96. RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
97. QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
98. WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers
99. WR Santonio Holmes, Jets
100. WR Brandon Lloyd, Patriots

 

Breakdown of Nos. 76-100

  • Robert Griffin, the Redskins' Week 1 starter, is flush with seven stupendous playmaking options: receivers Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, tight end Fred Davis and tailbacks Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower.
  • Brandon Lloyd drew 150 targets with the Broncos and Rams last year, fifth best among NFL wide receivers. He also followed offensive guru Josh McDaniels from Denver to St. Louis to New England in the process.
  • McDaniels and Lloyd have expressed a mutual admiration for one another's talents, leading fantasy experts to believe that Lloyd could be in a monster year. But for now, I'm going to take a conservative tone on this matter, even though Lloyd (77 catches, 1,448 yards, 11 TDs with Denver in 2010) is one of my all-time PPR favorites.
  • From an average draft position (ADP) perspective, Mock Draft Central currently has Griffin as the No. 12 quarterback (86th overall), and owners shooting that high are obviously thinking "starter"...not "pricey backup." For now...I'll buy that logic.
  • The first half of Titus Young's inaugural NFL season with Detroit was awash in inconsistent targets and minimal catches. But things took shape in the latter half, with Young drawing 57 targets and catching 33 balls for 365 yards and five touchdowns.
  • Of equal importance, four of Young's six seasonal touchdowns were within 10 yards, demonstrating his effectiveness in the red zone. And yet, Young still has the breakaway speed and athleticism to score at least three times from beyond 40 yards. In other words, it wouldn't be a stretch to grab Young at the beginning for Round 9.

 

101. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
102. TE Fred Davis, Redskins
103. QB Andy Dalton, Bengals
104. RB Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
105. WR Titus Young, Lions
106. QB Joe Flacco, Ravens
107. D/ST San Francisco 49ers
108. QB Andrew Luck, Colts
109. RB James Starks, Packers
110. WR Eric Decker, Broncos
111. RB Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
112. RB Jahvid Best, Lions
113. RB Felix Jones, Cowboys
114. WR Torrey Smith, Ravens
115. WR Sidney Rice, Seahawks
116. D/ST Chicago Bears
117. RB Ryan Williams, Cardinals
118. WR Greg Little, Browns
119. WR Mike Williams, Buccaneers
120. D/ST Green Bay Packers
121. QB Alex Smith, 49ers
122. WR Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
123. TE Brent Celek, Eagles
124. D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
125. RB LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers

 

Breakdown of Nos. 101-125

  • On the positive front: of the three times Pierre Garcon registered 100-plus receiving yards with Indy last year, he scored two TDs on each occasion. On the negative end, Garcon (six double-digit efforts in targets) was only one of two wideouts with at least 76 targets to fall short of 1,000 receiving yards.
  • Alex Smith posted career highs in passing yards and pass attempts (445) last season while almost breaking new ground in TD passes (17) and fewest interceptions (five). But does that make Smith a top-20 option in the fantasy realm? In 2011, he attempted 30 or more passes 10 times, and in those outings, Smith combined for 2,000 yards passing (200 per game) and 11 passing touchdowns (or 1.1 per game). 
  • By comparison, Joe Flacco had 11 games of 30-plus passes; he also had per-game averages of 258.3 yards passing and 1.18 TD passes. 
  • It's easy to look past Greg Little's rookie contribution with Cleveland, as he cobbled together just one 100-yard game and two touchdowns. But from Weeks 4 through 16 last year (spanning 12 games), Little was a perfect 12-for-12 in collecting six or more targets; and for Week 15, the Browns wideout crushed the Cardinals for five receptions, 131 yards and one touchdown. Fantasy owners should be thrilled to land Little anytime after Round 10 (12-team draft).

 

126. RB Evan Royster, Redskins
127. WR Denarius Moore, Raiders
128. RB Ronnie Brown, Chargers
129. TE Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
130. QB Matt Flynn, Seahawks
131. RB David Wilson, Giants
132. QB Christian Ponder, Vikings
133. WR Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs
134. TE Jared Cook, Titans
135. RB Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
136. QB Jake Locker, Titans
137. D/ST Baltimore Ravens
138. TE Kellen Winslow Jr., Seahawks
139. WR Jerome Simpson, Vikings
140. RB Isaiah Pead, Rams
141. D/ST Philadelphia Eagles
142. WR Robert Meachem, Chargers
143. D/ST New York Jets
144. RB Robert Turbin, Seahawks
145. WR Mario Manningham, 49ers
146. K David Akers, 49ers
147. RB Brandon Jacobs, 49ers
148. K Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
149. RB Montario Hardesty, Browns
150. TE Coby Fleener, Colts

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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