Adrian Peterson Leads 20-Member Fantasy Football Dream Team for 2012

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterJanuary 1, 2013

Adrian Peterson Leads 20-Member Fantasy Football Dream Team for 2012

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    The following slideshow represents the 20-member Dream Team for the 2012 fantasy season.

    In 12-team fantasy leagues, a standard 16-player squad is comprised of two quarterbacks, five running backs, five wide receivers, two tight ends, one kicker and one defense/special teams.

    However, when it came to making steep cuts at 16 assets, it was impossible to deny Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice and Tony Gonzalez from this exclusive listing of seasonal superstars.

    The most notable omissions include:

    Quarterback: Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford.

    Tailback: C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles, Stevan Ridley, Trent Richardson, Frank Gore, Chris Johnson.

    Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, James Jones, Marques Colston and Victor Cruz.

    Enjoy the show!

Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    2012 Stats: 5,177 Yards Passing, 44 TD (1 Rush)


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In Week 17, Drew Brees (396 yards passing vs. Carolina) became the first quarterback in NFL history to amass 5,000 yards passing in back-to-back campaigns.

    2. Here's another singular feat: Brees was the only quarterback this season to account for either 300 yards passing or multiple touchdowns in all 16 games.

    3. In 2012, Brees registered five outings of at least 370 yards passing. Of those games, he racked up 18 touchdowns.

    4. Bottom line: Brees more than justified his preseason top-10 overall ranking.

Quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    2012 Stats: 4,827 Yards Passing, 38 TD (4 Rush)


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Tom Brady notched 4,800-plus yards passing for a second straight season—the first time he's accomplished the feat.

    2. Brady fell just shy of the hallowed 5,000-yard and 40-touchdown marks with only two games of 30-plus completions. Think about that for a second.

    3. The Patriots racked up 30 or more points 10 times this season, the most of any other NFL club.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    2012 Stats: 4,659 Yards Passing, 37 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Peyton Manning has eclipsed 4,000 yards passing in each of his last six healthy seasons (2006-10, 2012).

    2. For Weeks 3-11, spanning eight straight games, Manning accounted for either 300 yards passing or three TD passes. (This is why he gets the nod over Cam Newton.)

    3. For the Broncos' 11-game winning streak to close out the season, Manning notched a completion mark of 60 percent or above (rounding up) in each outing.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    2012 Stats: 4,295 Yards Passing, 41 TD (2 Rush)


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. As the Packers' starting quarterback (five years), Aaron Rodgers (365 yards passing, four TDs vs. Minnesota) has twice passed for 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons (2008-09, 2011-12).

    2. Check this out: Rodgers has absurdly tallied 89 touchdowns (five rushing) in the last two years.

    3. Speaking of TDs, Rodgers passed for 22 scores in his final seven road games.

    4. In 2012, Rodgers accounted for eight outings of three or more touchdowns.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    2012 Stats: 2,314 Total Yards (2,097 Rushing), 13 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In Week 17, Adrian Peterson (199 yards rushing vs. Green Bay) became the seventh tailback in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. He currently ranks No. 2 on that list, finishing a mere eight yards short of Eric Dickerson's 2,105 mark from 1984.

    2. For Weeks 7-15, Peterson rushed for 100-plus yards in eight straight games—easily the greatest streak of his sterling career. In that prodigious span, Peterson racked up nine touchdowns.

    3. Peterson has tallied double-digit touchdowns in each of his six seasons. In fact, he just completed a third straight campaign of 13 scores.

    4. For the season, Peterson incredibly notched 100 total yards or one touchdown in 14 games.

Running Back: Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    2012 Stats: 1,641 Total Yards (1,424 Rushing), 17 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Arian Foster (119 total yards, one TD vs. Indy) finished as the No. 2-ranked tailback in standard-scoring leagues (behind Adrian Peterson).

    2. Foster posted 17 touchdowns this season, tops among all NFL tailbacks, receivers and tight ends.

    3. For Weeks 1-14, spanning 13 games, Foster produced at least one score 12 times. And the one "clunker" of the bunch entailed Foster collecting 92 total yards (Week 11).

    4. Foster accounted for 100 total yards and/or one touchdown in 14 games.

Running Back: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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    2012 Stats: 1,621 Total Yards (1,143 Rushing), 10 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Ray Rice accounted for 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 11 times this season.

    2. From a points-per-reception standpoint, Rice was one of only two NFL tailbacks (along with Darren Sproles) to collect five or more receptions seven times.

    3. Over the last two seasons, Rice combined for 3,689 total yards and 25 touchdowns.

    4. Here's a little extra credit in Rice's favor: the 4th-and-29 miracle catch-and-run against San Diego in Week 12—my vote for NFL Play of The Year.

Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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    2012 Stats: 1,786 Total Yards (1,590 Rushing), 12 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Marshawn Lynch eclipsed last year's output in rushing yards (1,204) and total yards (1,416).

    2. Lynch twice rushed for 100-plus yards in four straight outings (Weeks 7-10; Weeks 14-17). Prior to this season, the Seahawks tailback had never accomplished that feat.

    3. For the season, Lynch accounted for 93 total yards and/or one touchdown in 14 games.

    4. In Week 14, Lynch shredded the Cardinals for 128 yards and three scores—capping Seattle's 58-0 whitewashing of Arizona.

Running Back: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

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    2012 Stats: 1,690 Total Yards (1,613 Rushing), 13 TD
     

    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In the regular-season finale, Alfred Morris rolled for 212 total yards (200 rushing) and three touchdowns in Washington's 28-18 victory. 

    2. Morris is only one of three rookie tailbacks in history to rush for 1,600 yards (Eric Dickerson, George Rogers).

    3. Including Morris, only nine NFL tailbacks tallied double-digit touchdowns in 2012.

Running Back: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2012 Stats: 1,926 Total Yards (1,454 Rushing), 12 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson were the only tailbacks to amass 1,900 total yards this season.

    2. Of his 16 games, Martin racked up 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 11 times.

    3. Martin finished his rookie campaign with a top-five ranking in standard-scoring and PPR leagues.

    4. In Week 9, Martin rolled for 272 total yards (251 rushing) and four TDs against the Raiders—easily the greatest single fantasy outing, among tailbacks, for 2012.

Wide Receiver: Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

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    2012 Stats: 118 Catches, 1,508 Yards, 11 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. For the season, Brandon Marshall established new career highs in catches, receiving yards, touchdowns and targets (192).

    2. The 2012 campaign also marked the fourth 100-catch season of Marshall's seven-year career.

    3. Of his 16 games, Marshall crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown 13 times.

    4. In standard-scoring and PPR leagues, Marshall finished as the year's No. 2 overall receiver (behind Calvin Johnson).

Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    2012 Stats: 94 Catches, 1,434 Yards, 10 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Demaryius Thomas easily established new career highs in catches, receiving yards, touchdowns and targets (141) this season.

    2. Thomas finished as a top-five wideout in standard-scoring and PPR leagues.

    3. Of his 16 games, Thomas crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown 13 times.

    4. Thomas was one of only four NFL receivers to eclipse 1,400 yards. Of that quartet, only Thomas and Brandon Marshall had double-digit TDs.

Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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    2012 Stats: 97 Catches, 1,350 Yards, 11 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In standard-scoring leagues, A.J. Green was one of only five NFL receivers to finish with 200-plus fantasy points.

    2. The second-year wideout impressively crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown 13 times.

    3. Green registered at least one TD in nine straight games (Weeks 2-11), collecting 10 overall during that span.

    4. For 2013 drafts, Green should rank no worse than the No. 5 wideout and fall no further than a late second-round pick.

Wide Receiver: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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    2012 Stats: 92 Catches, 1,382 Yards, 12 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In 2012, Dez Bryant easily established new career marks in catches, receiving yards, touchdowns and targets (138).

    2. With standard-scoring leagues, Bryant finished as a top-five fantasy receiver.

    3. From Weeks 10-16 (seven games), Bryant absurdly tallied one touchdown in every outing—and 10 during that span.

    4. Bryant was one of only three receivers to post four games of multiple touchdowns (James Jones, Eric Decker).

Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

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    2012 Stats: 122 Catches, 1,964 Yards, 5 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Calvin Johnson finished 36 yards shy of the first 2,000-yard receiving season in NFL history. In Week 16, he broke Jerry Rice's long-standing record for receiving yards (1,848 in 1995).

    2. In 2012, Johnson was the only wideout to collect 200 targets. In fact, I'll wager that he is the first receiver in history to do so. 

    3. For Weeks 9-16, Johnson notched 100 yards receiving in eight straight games—an NFL record.

    4. Of his last 20 outings (including last year's playoffs), Johnson racked up 200 or more receiving yards five times. Yikes!

    5. Calvin crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown in 12 games.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

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    2012 Stats: 55 Catches, 790 Yards, 11 TD (11 games)


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Rob Gronkowski led all tight ends in touchdowns this season. In fact, he was the only one of his positional brethren to post double-digit scores.

    2. In standard-scoring leagues, Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham were the only tight ends to average double-digit fantasy points.

    3. From Weeks 7-11, spanning four games, Gronk absurdly collected 24 catches, 33 targets, 392 yards and seven touchdowns!

    4. For 2013 drafts (standard scoring or PPR), Gronkowski should be a lock for the middle of Round 2, if not higher.

Tight End: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

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    2012 Stats: 85 Catches, 982 Yards, 9 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Jimmy Graham (nine catches, 115 yards, one TD vs. Carolina) has amazingly racked up 184 catches, 2,292 yards and 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons.

    2. In standard-scoring leagues, Graham and Rob Gronkowski were the only tight ends with per-game averages of double-digit fantasy points.

    3. Graham ended up with the second-most targets among tight ends (135).

    4. Of his 15 games, Graham crossed the tight end-elite threshold of five catches, 85 yards and/or one touchdown 12 times.

Tight End: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

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    2012 Stats: 93 Catches, 930 Yards, 8 TD


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. Among tight ends, Tony Gonzalez produced a top-four ranking in standard-scoring and PPR leagues.

    2. Gonzalez racked up 90-plus catches for the fifth time in his Hall of Fame-bound career.

    3. The Falcons star ended up with the third-most targets among tight ends (124).

    4. Of his 16 games, Gonzalez crossed the tight end-elite threshold of five catches, 85 yards and/or one touchdown 11 times.

Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots

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    2012 Stats: 29 Made Field Goals, 66 PATs


    Fantasy Reasons for This Honor

    1. In standard-scoring leagues, Stephen Gostkowski finished as the top-ranked fantasy kicker.

    2. Gostkowski was one of 10 kickers to register 29 or more field goals this season.

    3. The Patriots veteran booted 66 extra points, easily the highest tally of any kicker.

    4. For the year, Gostkowski posted six outings of three or more field goals.

    5. Honorable mentions in this category include: Blair Walsh, Matt Bryant, Lawrence Tynes, Jason Hanson, Shayne Graham, Justin Tucker and Sebastian Janikowski.

Defense/Special Teams: Chicago Bears

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    2012 Highlights

    1. The Bears posted an NFL-high nine defensive touchdowns this season.

    2. Chicago was one of eight NFL clubs to tally 40 or more sacks.

    3. The Bears ranked No. 1 in interceptions (24) and No. 2 in fumble recoveries (20).

    4. In a surprise to no one, Chicago was easily the No. 1 D/ST in fantasy.

    5. Honorable mentions include: Broncos, Seahawks, Patriots, Chargers, Bengals, Titans, Ravens, Texans, Packers, Vikings and 49ers.