- RUNNING BACKS I BELIEVE IN:
I hate the running backs class this year. I feel like in this year more than any other year there are two many questions marks surrounding the top 25 in the class of backs. On my hate list I included: Ryan Matthews, Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw, Willis McGahee, and Shonn Greene. That's 9 out of the top 25 ranked running backs according to ESPN. Take out the consensus big three (Foster, Rice, and McCoy) and that only leaves you with 13 (or little over half) of the rest of the "top tiered talent" to choose from. Here are some steady guys I like:
- BenJarvis Green-Ellis (CIN)
In 2010 The Law Firm got over 1,000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns for the Patriots while only starting 10 games. Imagine what he can do while starting 16 as The Guy for a team (the Cincinnati Bengals) that made Cedric Benson look good.
- Darren Sproles (NO)
Especially more for PPR and 1/2 PPR league. Sporles was a top ten fantasy back in PPR leagues in 2011.
- Steven Jackson (STL)
The guy is just rock solid, has only missed two games within the last three years, plays for a very run heavy coach in Jeff Fischer and the safety, to me, is worth the risk versus guys like Ryan Matthews and Darren McFadden.
- INJURY PRONE RUNNING BACKS I LIKE:
- Jamaal Charles (KC)
The guy was a top 2 talent in fantasy only two years ago. There is no reason he shouldn't revert back to form. While all injury experts say he won't be the same player early on in the year (so maybe you can take a Rashad Jennings to help even the work load) I think he'll be money in the bank come playoff time.
- Adrian Peterson (MIN)
A.D. is just a physical beast and in this day and age of "consensus top 10-12" running backs being huge questions marks to me, I'll take the guy who has been hands down the #1 overall pick in fantasy leagues for the past three seasons or so. His injury doesn't scare me (although I recommend all A.D. to also draft Toby Gerhart just in case A.D. doesn't play all 16 games).
NOTE: I have the aforementioned five running backs in my top 10 RB rankings.
- I BELIEVE IN HARVEY DENT. AND PHILIP RIVERS.
I have Phillip Rivers (SD) as my 5th best quarterback only behind Rodgers, Brady, Brees, and Newton. Rivers put up his usual yards and touchdowns in 2011 but the fantasy killer (which also affected his other statistics) was the 20 interceptions he threw. Not only do I expect his 2011 season to be an outlier (because it is) but I believe adding Robert Meachum and the subtraction of Vincent Jackson from the Chargers is a good thing for Rivers. Rivers' best fantasy season was in 2010 when VJax held out most of the year and Rivers was throwing to nobody but scrubs. Plus, Rivers is going super late which means you can get a top five fantasy quarterback dirt cheap. In The Cover 3 fantasy league Philip Rivers went for $9. NINE DOLLARS! That's ridiculously cheap.
- TIGHT ENDS I BELIEVE IN:
- Rob Gronkowski (NE)
I know the 17 touchdowns is not repeatable but I'm all in on him and if I were in a snake draft there are many situations in which I would take him in the first round of a ten team league. I will die and sink with with ship and believe he will have another monster season in 2012.
- Fred Davis (WAS)
He's always been talented and underrated but always had Chris Cooley there. Cooley's not there anymore and Davis has a legit QB to throw him the ball.
- Jacob Tamme (DEN)
Joel Dressen there does scare me but the last time Tamme had Peyton Manning throwing to him he was an elite TE in fantasy.
-WIDE RECEIVERS I BELIEVE IN:
- Brandon Marshall (CHI)
Call me a Bears homer but I love Marshall this year. While he is on a new team, that fact doesn't scare me because he has proven, great chemistry with Jay Cutler. The guy has the physical tools to catch the short stuff, run routes, and also has the speed the stretch the field. All great attributes in a player and now has a legitimate QB to throw him the ball (no offense Chad Henne and Matt Moore. Oh wait, yes, I do mean to offend).
- Brandon Lloyd (NE)
Call me an Illini homer but Lloyd has always done great things with coordinator/coach Josh McDaniels. Many have cited Lloyd's presence on the Pats as an excuse to downgrade Gronk and Welker. I think Lloyd hurts Aaron Hernandez most of all and I also think Tom Brady is going to put up spectacular and record-breaking numbers (or close to it) this year. ESPN ranks Lloyd as their 17th best receiver. He's in my top 10.
- Jordy Nelson (GB)
Last year Nelson was ranked 2nd in DYAR (total value) and 1st in DVOA (value per play) according to FootballOutsiders.com. You know the last breakout player to have similar numbers? Mike Wallace. While the touchdowns may not be legitimate (or at least the crazy amount he had) I believe Nelson's talent and fantasy production is.
-Mario Manningham (SF)
I always liked Manningham's talent and route running capabilities and I drafted him very high in 2011 with the departure of Steve Smith from the Giants (as it turns out I was correct in that the WR opposite of Hakeem Nicks would be a fantasy superstar, I just choose the wrong guy). While Super Mario is now on the conservative throwing 49ers I believe his route running skills will translate into fantasy gold in Jim Harbaugh's scheme. ESPN has him as the 43rd ranked wide out. I have him at #30.
- Reggie Wayne (IND)
Why do I like him? I just do. Probably mainly for the value but I own him in one league and tried to own him in my other (I did not enough money to go to $3 for Wayne in that league. Sad face.). He think he has a Steve Smith (CAR) -esque bounce back year in 2012.
-QUARTERBACKS I LIKE:
- Tim Tebow (NYJ)
While Tebow is not a good real life quarterback his rushing skills and rushing touchdowns make him a great fantasy quarterback. Not only is Mark Sanchez not good at football but the Tebow hype will force the Jets to start Tebow and I think Tebow starts more games than Sanchez does. Tebow is a top ten fantasy QB on a per start basis.
- Josh Freeman (TB)
It's hard to bang the Josh Freeman drum when he's my 17th ranked QB but I kinda like him this year. Probably only for 2 QBs leagues or if you're desperate for a back up but the one player no one is talking about that I think has the best chance to crack into the top 10 who is going super late in drafts or not being drafted is the Tampa Bay signal caller.
-BACK UP RUNNING BACKS I BELIEVE WILL BE THE STARTER (AND GOOD) BY WEEK 8:
-Mikel LeShoure (DET)
The guy was a great prospect coming out of college but off-the-field issues and injuries have derailed his professional career. While he's suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season his competition is still Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith, and Keiland Williams. Best and Smith are almost mortal locks to have season ending surgery by Week 8 and if Keiland Williams is theonly competition then LeShoure will be given the RB reigns and will not let go.
- Ryan Williams (ARI)
God, I just hate Beanie Wells so damn much. So do the Cardinals.
- C.J. Spiller (BUF)
Even though Fred Jackson has really done nothing to prove he shouldn't be a 20-25 carry a game back, I just believe in Spiller this year.
-Ronnie Hillman (DEN)
I just don't trust the 31 year old and recent Ray Rice back up Willis McGahee. Also, running backs in a Peyton Manning scheme tend to do very well if they have even a modicum of talent. Just look at Edge James and Jospeh Addai in his rookie year.
-Taiwan Jones (OAK)
I can pencil it in right now that Darren McFadden will miss at least 6 games this year which allows for plenty of carries for his back up. I believe Jones and not Mike Goodson will be the guy based on the information coming out of Raiders camp.
-RUNNING BACKS IN TIME SHARES I WANT TO OWN:
-Peyton Hillis (KC)
In 2010 both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones were great fantasy players. I expect the same thing to happen in 2012 where both Chiefs running backs will be great. I have always liked Hillis (expect for last year where he suffered from the Madden Curse) dating back to his days in Denver and I like him again this year. The kid's got skills and will see plenty of carries which is a great recipe for fantasy success.
-Michael Bush (CHI)
See: Forte, Matt in my Negative Edition
-Ben Tate (HOU)
Truthfully I just like Houston's run blocking offensive line and Tate's talent more than I like Tate as a fantasy running back but skills + good O-line + *some* carries and touches makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Although I might have Ben Tate blinders on seeing he only average some odd 7 touches a game when Arian Foster started the game.
-LaGarrette Blount (TB)
I just think the hate has gone too far on Blount and the love of Doug Martin has gone too far as well. Don't get me wrong, I only like Blount for his super late value and for deeper leagues but I kinda like him this year. And yes Doug Martin lovers, there will be a time share in Tampa Bay.
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