Fantasy Football 2012: 3 Valuable Lessons Players Have Learned This Season

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystNovember 13, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 04:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins talk following the Panthers 21-13 win at FedExField on November 4, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There's still a lot of football to be played in 2012, and the stretch run and fantasy postseason have yet to play out, so there's little doubt that a season that's already contained its fair share of surprises will regale us with a few more.

However, we're far enough into the season to be able to say with some certainty that certain trends have displayed themselves this season, and keeping these lessons in mind could bring with them huge rewards when draft season 2013 rolls around next summer.

And let's face it, for some of us all there is at this point is looking towards next year. Now you know how fans of the Cleveland Browns feel all the time.


LESSON #1: The Belief that Rookie Quarterbacks Can't be Trusted in Fantasy is Bunk

It's long been a prevailing school of thought in fantasy football that due to the learning curve in the NFL rookie quarterbacks rarely make a big fantasy impact.

That school was in session again this season, as even after Cam Newton's top-five season for the Carolina Panthers last year both Robert Griffin of the Washington Redskins and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts were nowhere near the top 10 in most preseason rankings.

Um, oops.

Through 10 games in 2012 both Griffin (6th) and Luck (8th) have been viable fantasy starters, outperforming much more "proven" players such as Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers by a significant margin.


LESSON #2: Tight Ends are NOT Worth a First-Round Draft Pick

While many fantasy owners waited too long before taking a flier on a first-year quarterback this year, just as many fantasy owners jumped the gun on a pair of players at another position.

After posting the two-best single season performances by a player at their position in over a decade both New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints went very early in fantasy drafts this year, with one and sometimes both players being taken in the first round.

Um, oops.

Granted, both players are enjoying great seasons, but not only are Graham and Gronkowski both well off their paces from a season ago but neither leads the tight end position in fantasy points in 2012.

That would be Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons, who was available at least five rounds later in drafts.


LESSON #3: Aaron Rodgers is a Viable Top-Five Overall Pick

I will freely admit that when it comes to the first few picks of a fantasy football draft I am very much a traditionalist, and if I have a top-three pick in a draft in 2013 that pick will all but certainly be spent on a running back such as Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.

However, I'll also admit that my days of snickering at the fantasy owner who takes Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the top five are over, as even after a slow start and with banged-up wide receivers Rodgers is the top signal-caller by a significant margin over the past month and a half.

It's in that margin, and not his total points, where Rodgers' fantasy value truly lies. Far too often fantasy owners just look at the total number of points a player scores, but it's how many points a player has relative to the other top options at his position that truly sets the elite players apart.

It's there where Rodgers has excelled, as since week 4 of this season Rodgers has outscored the next best fantasy quarterback (Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints) by four fantasy points a game after posting a nearly eight point a game margin in 2011.

I'd still go running back with any of the first three picks, but after that, once the waters begin to muddy a bit, that margin at quarterback makes Rodgers worth the scrambling you'll be doing to fill in your running backs later on.

Never thought I'd hear myself say that, but hey...lesson learned.