Sigh. Fantasy football season. It's certainly getting close to draft time and some people have already done their drafting. I personally like to wait until after a preseason game or two, just in case of injuries, to get started. Fantasy football can be as unpredictable as the weather(and I don't mean San Diego like weather. More like Michigan weather. Ugh). So to try and help you out I've created a list of players who you should really be considering, guys who might fall to the later rounds but have great seasons, and guys who might not do as well as you think. More after the jump
Must haves: Cam Newton. I know there are some POD readers who aren't a big fan Cam. Well I'm not one of them. Last year he carried me to a fantasy championship with all those rushing touchdowns. Remember that in most leagues rushing touchdowns count for more points than passing touchdowns. People think defensive coordinators are going to create successful gameplans against Newton, but the fact of the matter is he is one of those players you really can't really gameplan against. Cam is a true playmaker and if he even comes close to his numbers from last year, he'll be a solid starting option. If he improves.....that's not good for the rest of the NFC South.
2011 Stats: 4051 yards 21 tds 17 ints: 706 rush yards 14 tds(!!!)
Matthew Stafford: I'll be honest. I can be a bit of homer. Therefore this isn't going to be the last Lions players you see in this post. But everyone at POD recognizes Stafford is nothing less than the real deal. He'd be a top 10 QB without Megatron. With him, I think he's at least top 3. If he's there, take him.
2011 Stats: 5038 yards 41 tds 16 ints
Keep an eye on: Jay Cutler. Any Bears fans in the building? None. Ok. Great. I dislike the Bears but Cutler can throw. Not to mention he's got a familiar target to throw to in Brandon Marshall, newcomer Alshon Jeffrey and a healthy Matt Forte. It looks like unfortunately the Lions will have to deal with two top 10 offenses in the division this year.
2011 Stats: 2319 yards 13 tds 7 ints
Be weary of: Peyton Manning. I keep hearing, "Peyton is Peyton." To that I say "A neck injury is a neck injury." I'm one of those people who worries about injuries. I'm not saying it's going to be a big issue, because, I mean he is Peyton(see what i did there?). I just think you should be careful with how high you take him.
2011 Stats: N/A
RB: This is easily the hardest position to find talent considering the direction the NFL is going in
Must haves: Ray Rice. If anybody is a must have it's Rice. AP is coming off a torn ACL and Arian Foster also had hamstring issues last year. Rice is a true all purpose back, averaging 4.7 ypc last season with almost 300 carries and had over 700 receiving yards. As long as he gets those redzone carries he's a top notch fantasy option, because he's going to accumulate the yards.
2011 Stats: 1364 yards 4.7 ypc 12 tds; 76 rec 704 receiving yards 3 tds
Jamaal Charles: We all know how Charles' season ended last year, tearing his ACL in week 2 against Detroit. Why him instead of AP, you ask. Because he's had much more time to rehab his than Peterson who tore his in week 16. Before that Charles has an outstanding 2010 and is another one of those all purpose backs. I expect Charles and Kansas City for that matter to have a bounceback season.
2011 Stats: 12 carries 83 yards; rec td
Keep an eye on: Ryan Matthews. Something has to give in San Diego, right? I think they make a few changes to the offense and run it more. Matthews was a former 1st round pick and the talent is there. 50 catches last season sounds great and expect him to carry the ball more than 220 times with the departure of wideout Vincent Jackson
2011 Stats: 1091 yards 4.9 ypc 6 tds; 50 rec 455 yards
Demarco Murray: An ankle injury prevented him for going over 1000 yards last season but i expect him to be the Cowboys feature back and have an outstanding 2012.
2011 Stats: 895 yards 5.5 ypc 2 tds; 26 rec 183 yards
WR: This is where you might want to listen up. I'm good with these guys.
Must haves: Calvin Johnson: Well duh. Is there a bigger must have when it comes to must haves? There isn't a thing on the field this guy can't do. There isn't a guy than can stop him(I'm looking at you Darrelle Revis). Plus he has a premier QB to throw to him. Double coverage, triple coverage, blanket(and a pillow) coverage, it doesn't matter. Chances are he's going to catch it.
2011 Stats: 96 rec 1681 yards 16 tds
Larry Fitzgerald: If anybody is as good as going up to get a ball as CJ is, it's this guy. He's a class act and never gets injured(sounding more and more like CJ). Fitz doesn't have a good QB throwing to him but he didn't last year either. The numbers: 80 catches, 1411 yards, and 8 tds. Don't pass on this guy.
2011 Stats: 80 rec 1411 yards and 8 tds
Keep and eyes one: Hakeem Nicks: This guy has GIANT hands. He can go up and catch the ball. He has the QB in Eli to make him even better. Victor Cruz across from him as another legit pass catching threat. I think this guy is bound to break out this year.
2011 Stats:76 rec 1192 yards 7 tds
Chad Johnson: I know, I know. Trouble grasping the offense is New England(blah blah blah). He can still play. And I'd be willing to bet on that. It's not like Miami has any other options in the pass game anyway. I think Chad catches 60+ passes for at least 1000 yards with 7 tds. Write that down and let me know if I'm wrong in January.
2011 Stats:15 rec 276 yards 1 td
Be weary of: Wes Welker: I think New England has found a viable No. 2 receiver in Brandon Lloyd. I think Welker is still going to get some catches but Gronk, Hernandez, and now Lloyd? Watch the catch totals. They might drop a bit.
2011 Stats: 118 rec 1343 yards 7 tds
TE: Tough one here
Must haves: GRONK! This guy honestly gets on my nerves, but he's Brady's main target. Redzone or not. Just like Welker there are other weapons to batlle with for catches, but his stats speak for themselves.
2011 Stats: 90 rec 1327 yards 17 tds; rush td
Jimmy Graham: He and Vernon Davis are the most physically gifted tight ends in the NFL. The difference: Alex Smith or Drew Bress? I'll give you time to think about that one. Graham is a prime redzone target and can score from deeper out.
2011 Stats: 99 rec 1310 yards 11 tds
Keep an eye on: Brandon Pettigrew. We know what Pettigrew can do. He's a legit redzone and short yardage target. He can struggle with a case of the dropsies but I'm counting on him to improve upon that in the upcoming season.
2011 Stats: 83 rec 777 yards 5 tds
Coby Fleener: The rookie tight end is a good prospect. But it certainly helps that his college QB, Andrew Luck, is going to be throwing him passes in the NFL. Expect the Colts to design a few plays around these guys to make them comfortable.
2011 Stats: N/A
NOTE: I left Brady, Bress, and Rodgers off of must haves but I'm sure we've all heard enough about them