With the 2012 NFL season approaching fast, the talk has gone from preseason position battles to fantasy leagues and which players are going to be absolute studs.
That’s why we’re here to help.
As great as it is to have the top picks in your draft, having so much to choose from can leave a fantasy player feeling overwhelmed. Wherever you pick in the first round, the following guide will help you take the best player available at each position.
While not all of the following names are the conventional best, they will all finish in the top three for their respective positions and likely steal the highest honors.
Although you shouldn't depend on New Orleans Saints star quarterback to have almost 5,500 yards again in 2012, the suspensions on the defensive side of the ball will keep the scores much closer this season.
The team may need their star QB to launch that many passes once again.
With a healthy set of wide receivers and a backfield improving every day, picking Drew Brees over Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady may seem crazy, but his 5,000 yards passing and 45 touchdowns will lead the NFL this year.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
The best dual-threat running back in the NFL is Philadelphia Eagles star tailback LeSean McCoy and his wild ability to run the ball effectively and also be the team’s most consistent receiver.
No matter who is under center, McCoy has the speed and elusiveness to get to open space. If your league awards any points per reception, the battle for best running back won’t even be close.
In 2012, fantasy owners should expect close to 300 rushes from the speedy back for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns but it will be his 60 receptions and five receiving touchdowns that puts him as the elite back of this season.
Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
There is no better wide receiver in the NFL than Calvin Johnson. If you have Megatron in your fantasy lineup, a win is never out of reach.
As great as last season was, there is no doubt that the Lions will lean heavily on their star once again and will look to throw to him even more.
With a predicted 100 receptions, 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns, Johnson will again be the top wide receiver at year’s end.
Tight End: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
While everyone wants to point to Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as the star tight ends for 2012, fantasy players need to look no further than Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers to get a good value that will turn into the best player at that position.
With the team's health issues at wide receiver and the departure of Vincent Jackson, Gates will not only stay healthy through the season, he will catch 80 passes for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
It will be a career year for the veteran tight end.
Team Defense: San Francisco 49ers
Most experts don’t believe that the San Francisco 49ers defense can duplicate the dominant season they had in 2012, but as long as the production is close, they will remain the top defensive team in the league.
In a mediocre NFC West, the 49ers will likely be in plenty of defensive battles and could match their numbers from 2011 or even possibly outshine them with the proper development of all the younger players coming into their own.
Players like Justin and Aldon Smith working with Patrick Willis, the 49ers defense is scary good.
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
While you shouldn’t be taking a kicker until the very last round, there is only one man that can honestly be justified if taken earlier than that: Sebastian Janikowski.
As much trouble as Oakland had last year getting into field goal range, their improved offense and the fact that Janikowski can kick the ball from a mile away will have him atop the kicker standings at the conclusion of 2012.
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