By: Dennis Fithian
1. LeSean McCoy RB Phi – There’s no clear cut number one pick this year. I’ll go with the running back that will have the best year. Expect even more receiving yards this season from ‘Shady’ who turns 24 in July.
2. Arian Foster RB Hou – Struggled last year with the hamstring, but you can see when healthy he produces rushing and receiving yards like no other.
3. Aaron Rogers QB GB – Don’t take a QB this early. That’s old school thinking. Brees, Brady and Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards last year but Rogers was number last year overall in points because of his arm and feet. Expect the Packers to be one of the best teams this year. Expect Rogers to throw for close to 5k and run for 300 plus yards with four scores on the ground.
4. Tom Brady QB NE – Sucks that the Pats didn’t win the Super Bowl last year against the Giants. Motivation for Brady who will turn 35 before the season starts. 5,000 passing yards & 40 Td’s. He’s worth the pick this high.
5. Calvin Johnson WR Det – How many players have put up the amount of TD’s and receiving yards in one season that Megatron produced last year? Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice. The rules are only going to favor the passing game going forward.
6. Ray Rice RB Bal – Has played in all 16 games the past three years for the Ravens. He’s looking for a Chris Johnson/Adrian Peterson type contract. Is one of the best combinations for safe and spectacular.
7. Drew Brees QB NO – I don’t see the Saints team making the playoffs this season. This is fantasy football and Brees is a stat machine. Not the numbers for last year but still go enough to win you some money.
8. Chris Johnson RB Ten – Big contract and Johnson looked like a big bust last season. I like the Titans adding Steve Hutchinson to their offensive line. I like how Johnson’s talking like he’s going to be the best back in the league this off season too.
9. MJD RB Jax – MJD has been consistent even with how bad the Jags have been. Having a really good player on a really bad team catches up to you at some point.
10. Cam Newton QB Car – I traded AP last year before he was hurt for Cam. Newton should be better this year but the Panthers didn’t do a lot to get any play makers.
11. Darren McFadden RB Oak – Guy can do everything except stay healthy but the talent slots him here over Lynch, Mathews & Turner.
12 Andre Johnson WR Hou – Expect Matt Schaub back and expect Johnson to return to battle Calvin as the best wide receiver in the league.
13. Ryan Mathews – RB
Last year in only 14 games Mathews rushed for over 1,000 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry all while sharing carries with Mike Tolbert. Tolbert has moved on to Carolina and Mathews is now the lead dog in San Diego and if he can stay healthy is poised to have a big year in fantasy.
14. Rob Gronkowski – TE
Normally this is WAY too early to take a tight end, however Gronk makes such an impact in a fantasy roster that he warrants the use of a high draft pick. Even if you took away his 17 TD’s Gronkowski’s 90 catches and 1,327 yards made him the number three TE in fantasy last year. So if the TD’s drop, which they probably will, you can still count on insane production from the Gronk.
15. Matt Forte – RB
Now that Forte has his long term deal and is scheduled to participate in all of training camp he should be all set to continue his streak of four straight years of 1,400 yards from scrimmage. He has been the lead guy in rushing and receiving for the Bears offense. He only slips to 15 due to the additions of Michael Bush (RB) and Brandon Marshall (WR) who will probably take away some of his touches.
16. Larry Fitzgerald – WR
In five of his eight years in the league Fitzgerald has had 90 or more receptions and two seasons over 100. The addition of Michael Floyd should pull some coverage away from Fitzgerald but he drops in the draft due to the questions at the QB position. As in, no one knows who will be throwing him the ball.
17. Matthew Stafford – QB
Stafford made a lot of fantasy teams happy last year who took a chance on him late in their drafts. For the first time in his short career he started and finished all 16 games and showed the entire world that he is a franchise QB. And can be a franchise guy on your fantasy roster as well. He threw for 5,038 yards 41 TDs and only 16 ints. And the still absent running game of the Lions means he is set up to throw just as much in 2012.
18. Roddy White – WR
White is coming off of back to back 100 reception seasons and last year lead the league in targets. The emergence of Julio Jones will take some of White’s targets and receptions but look for Jones to take some safeties deep with him leaving the middle of the field open for White.
19. Greg Jennings – WR
In only 13 games last year Jennings still had 67 receptions for 949 yards and nine touchdowns. He is still the number one wide out in Green Bay and if he can stay healthy for all 16 games in 2012 his production will reflect that. He only drops to 19 because of how many mouths there are to feed in Green Bay. Jennings will be number one, but numbers two –seven will be right behind him with their stats.
20. Marshawn Lynch – RB
Lynch ran for a beastly 1,204 yards and 12 TDs last year and is the clear number one RB in Seattle. However a recent DUI arrest could mean a suspension is pending and because of his below great average yards per carry (4.2) Lynch will need every game he can get to repeat his success from last year.
21. Wes Welker – WR
Welker had 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns last year plus lead the league with his 122 receptions. He was the number two WR in fantasy last year but coming into 2012 the patriots are showing a number of signs Welker will not be their number one receiver this year. They signed Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney plus have not offered Welker a long term deal. His production will probably drop this year however he is still a guy you want on your roster because a drop off for Welker could still leave him in the top ten of fantasy wideouts.
22. Jimmy Graham – TE
If Rob Gronkowski had not emerged as the number one TE last year Jimmy Graham would be what everyone was talking about at the position. His stats looked more like those of a wide receiver than a TE (99 rec, 1,310 yards, 11TDs). Again, normally you wouldn’t take a TE in the 2nd round but both Graham and Gronk will have big enough impacts on a roster that they make it worth it.
23. Demarco Murray – RB
Yes, there are many injury questions surrounding the 2nd year running back. And he is a bit of a risk however the reward you may get with him makes him worth a late second round pick. He played in 13 games in 2011 starting seven of them, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and rushed for 897 yards. If he stays healthy and can avoid a sophomore slump he may end up as a top 5 RB in 2012.
24. Julio Jones – WR
Much like Murray, injuries kept Jones from reaching his full potential as a rookie. He only had 54 receptions however averaged 17.8 yards per catch for a total of 959 yards and scored eight times. Coming into this year with a full off season under his belt (no lockout) Jones could possibly have a breakout year. Roddy White will take a lot of underneath coverage and Julio has the speed to beat a corner and a safety deep. Julio could be a steal at 24.