5 Bold Fantasy Football Predictions for 2012 Season
Photo Courtesy of Becky and Jon are Out
In order to be successful at fantasy football, team owners spend countless hours pouring over statistics, doing research on players, examining trends around the National Football League and watching hours of tape on teams across the league.
Then they make an educated guess, hope they get lucky and pray for the best.
In the truest spirit of a little of the former and a lot of the latter, here's a look at five BOLD predictions for the 2012 fantasy campaign.
Please note that these are BOLD predictions, so keep that in mind before breaking out the pitchforks and torches and fitting me for a pair of cement loafers.
I wear a size 12 by the way...leave room for my toes to wiggle.
1. Russell Wilson Will Score More Fantasy Points Than Cam Newton
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Hey, I said these were BOLD.
No player was a bigger surprise to fantasy football owners in 2011 than Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who threw for more 4,000 yards as a rookie while scoring an NFL-record 14 rushing touchdowns and finishing the year as a top five fantasy option.
This year the biggest surprise among the five newcomers who will be starting in Week 1 is undoubtedly Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a third-round pick that no one expected to ascend to the starter's role this early.
Like Newton, Wilson is a dual-threat quarterback (albeit a significantly shorter one), but this year it will be "Mini-Cam" that shocks the fantasy football world.
Not only will Wilson perform better than anyone would have dared hope, finishing among the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks, but he will actually outscore his larger counterpart, who will regress statistically even while his NFL game progresses.
2. The Top Fantasy QB Will Not Be Brady, Brees, or Rodgers
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There's a fair amount of debate in fantasy football circles whether this year's top signal-caller will be Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers or Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Wrong, no and try again.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford topped 5,000 passing yards a year ago, and with the NFL's best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, an up-and-coming second option in Titus Young and a very suspect running game, it will be the 24-year-old who reigns supreme among fantasy quarterbacks in 2012.
3. None of the "Big Three" Running Backs Will Be Fantasy's Top Ballcarrier
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Much like with the quarterbacks this season, the running back position is basically a three-horse race.
Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles are the top three backs off the board in the vast majority of fantasy football drafts this summer.
With that said, none of that esteemed trio will finish the 2012 season as the top running back in fantasy football.
In fact, fantasy's top running back in 2012 will be a player who just one season ago tore their ACL, as either Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs of Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings will demonstrate both modern medical advances and their own recuperative powers by claiming the title of top fantasy back in the land.
4. Eric Decker Will Be the Top Wide Receiver in PPR Leagues
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The next league where Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions isn't the first wideout off the board will be the first I've ever seen.
However, the wide receiver position has been known to produce upsets, as Brandon Lloyd of the Denver Broncos showed two years ago when he came out of nowhere to finish as fantasy football's second-ranked player at his position.
Well, these are BOLD predictions, so I'll go one better than that.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker has quickly developed a rapport with quarterback Peyton Manning in the Mile High City, and as the "Wes Welker" of the Broncos offense the third-year pro will pile up the catches and yardage, finishing the year as fantasy football's wide receiver numero uno.
5. No Gronkowski, No Graham as Fantasy Football's Top Tight End
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After posting ridiculously productive statistical seasons, tight ends Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints were far and away fantasy football's top options at their position in 2011, and the duo are the first two tight ends off fantasy draft boards this year.
However, those were also the two most productive fantasy seasons by tight ends in NFL history, and it's not entirely unreasonable to expect both players to come back to the pack a bit this season.
That will open the door for Gronkowski's teammate Aaron Hernandez, who The Boston Globe's Greg Bedard says has emerged as Tom Brady's favorite target this summer, to sneak in and steal the mantle of fantasy football's top tight end.