Fantasy Football 2012: 5 NFC Superstars Who Will Stumble

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJune 14, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: 5 NFC Superstars Who Will Stumble

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    Several offensive juggernauts emerged in the National Football Conference last year, but some of those players cannot be trusted to maintain their big numbers in 2012.

    In upcoming fantasy football drafts this summer, many premier performers from last season will come at a hefty price. Instead of selecting a player after a career season, search for players poised to break out this season.

    These five players from the NFC are bound to see their numbers dip in 2012. While they might not become colossal busts, consider dropping these guys down a few spots in your rankings.

Cam Newton

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    Somebody is going to get swept up in the hype of Cam Newton’s amazing rookie season and draft him alongside, or even before proven studs Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

    That someone should not be you.

    Newton delivered more than anyone could have possibly expected, eclipsing 4,000 passing yards and scoring 35 total touchdowns. He earned most of his value from his 14 rushing touchdowns, a feat that he is unlikely to repeat.

    Some drafters selected Michael Vick with the first pick last year after tallying nine rushing touchdowns in 2010. He only managed one score on the ground in 2011, exposing his average passing numbers.

    After torching defenses during his first month in the NFL, Newton failed to pass for 300 yards in a single game after Week 4. As a young quarterback, he also will unravel and throw more interceptions than the other top signal-callers.

    Newton possesses too much talent to label him a bust, but drafting an elite passer like Brees, Brady or Matthew Stafford is the safer option.

Michael Turner

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    The Burner is soon going to burn out.

    With exception to running over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17, Michael Turner looked worn down at the end of the season. He averaged 3.33 yards per carry in Weeks 12 through 16 and contributed another dull performance in the playoffs.

    Turner rushed for 1,340 yards on 301 carries and scored 11 touchdowns, but he also broke free on four runs worth at least 50 yards. A 30-year-old running back hardly known for his breakaway speed will not do that again.

    Although he received more than 300 carries in the last two seasons, the Atlanta Falcons should continue their transition to a pass-first offense with Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones.

    His nonexistent receiving skills also limit his value, especially in points-per-reception leagues. All these factors make Turner a player on the decline to avoid in fantasy leagues.

Frank Gore

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    Let’s pick on another veteran running back.

    In Jim Harbaugh’s run-heavy offense, Frank Gore accumulated 282 carries in his first 16-game season since 2006. He ran for 1,211 yards and picked up eight touchdowns, so why should you stay away from him?

    Averaging 4.3 yards per carry last year and 4.2 yards per carry in 2010, Gore is hardly a dominant runner who warrants a first-round selection. His value stems from receiving plenty of touches, which might not happen again this year.

    The San Francisco 49ers look dedicated to mixing up their backfield, signing Brandon Jacobs and drafting LaMichael James.

    And they still have another quality reserve in Kendall Hunter.

    They also should operate as a more balanced attack after signing wide receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss.

    Usually a reliable source of receptions, Gore only caught 17 balls last season, although he tallied 13 catches in two postseason games.

    A running back quickly approaching the dreaded 30-year-old plateau and about to amass less touches is not somebody you want to draft.

Victor Cruz

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    As a New York Giants fan, nothing puts a smile on my face more than watching Victor Cruz salsa dance in the end zone to the endearing chants of “Cruuuuuuuuz.”

    Unfortunately, it probably will not happen as much this year.

    Cruz emerged as a star receiver for the G-Men last year, reeling in 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. Those gaudy numbers will be hard to repeat since he registered a 99-yard touchdown catch and three other plays of over 70 yards last season.

    If Hakeem Nicks misses any action due to his broken right foot, Cruz will see many double-teams his way. He no longer benefits from sneaking under the radar as an undrafted free agent.

    The Giants will gladly welcome a productive season of 1,000 yards and six or seven touchdowns, but any fantasy football player who selects Cruz in the second or third round will not be satisfied with those figures. 

    Temper your expectations and Cruz will not disappoint. If you draft Cruz as your top receiver, however, you will feel let down when his numbers fall to a more reasonable level. 

Jordy Nelson

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    Like Cruz, Jordy Nelson is the second-best wide receiver on his team who outperformed his star teammate last year.

    In his first season as a starter, Jordy Nelson grossed a team-high 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Only Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson, two mammoth athletes, caught more passes in the end zone.

    With exception to studs like Gronkowski and Johnson, who will certainly see plenty more red-zone targets, don’t count on players to duplicate large touchdown totals.

    The Green Bay Packers boast too many skillful receiving targets for Nelson to score 15 touchdowns again. Expect Greg Jennings to steal some of Nelson's thunder while Jermichael Finley receives more opportunities in the end zone.

    Your top wide receiver should have collected more than 68 catches last year, and Nelson might not even reach that mark this season. Leave Nelson outside of your top 15 wide receivers.