Fantasy Football MVPs of 2012

(twitter.com)

(twitter.com)

It’s not just the first-round picks that make your fantasy team championship-caliber.  It’s the late-round and even free-agent pickups that can bring your team to the promise land.  With that being said, let’s take a look at this year’s top-5  Most Valuable fantasy Players.

Subsequent to jumping into the list, it is worth noting that the simplistic formula to figure out MVPs is expectation vs. output and what it costs to get the player.

Starting with:

(celebritynetworth.com)

(celebritynetworth.com)

5. Andrew Luck

Luck was drafted ,on average, between the 11th-13th round and had little-to any expectations as far as his fantasy value was concerned.  A team that had been gutted by trades and free-agency, Luck inherited an aging Reggie Wayne and a virtually non-existent run-game.  Yet he did not let that deter him from having a terrific rookie-season that is likely to lead  him to Rookie of the Year, and has led his team to the playoffs.

Through 16 weeks Luck had thrown for over 4,100 yards (7th in NFL) with 21 TDs yet 18 INT, adding another 5 TD on the ground to his stat-line.  Luck is the 9th ranked QB in fantasy and 10th overall (Ahead of Eli, Stafford, Flacco, and Dalton) thanks in part to having  7 games with 18+ points with 4 of those games netting he and his owners over 23 points.

4.  Doug Martin

Martin was taken off of the board as early as the 4th round and as late as the 8th round in most drafts.  Concerns lingering around him were the fear that Blount would steal some carries.  Yet, Martin alleviated those concerns, racking up 44 carries in the first two weeks, on his way to back-to-back double-digit performances.

With 16 weeks now in the books, Martin is the number 3 fantasy running back, and has over 1,700 all-purpose yards (1,312 on the ground  good enough for 6th in the NFL and 454 through the air) and 11 TDs (10 rushing tied for 5th in the NFL 1 receiving).  He has had four 100-yard games, two games with multiple TDs, 15 games with multiple receptions, and only 3 single-digit performances all season.

(thescore.com)

(thescore.com)

3. Robert Griffin III

Known for his immense athletic ability, owners drafted RG III in the 8th-9th round in the majority of drafts.  Owners who took him, hopes that he would somehow resemble Cam Newton and his rookie campaign. Those who took the chance on him had their gutsy choice payoff.

For the majority of the season, RG III was the #1 fantasy scorer.  Yet, having to miss time due to injuries, Griffin is still the 5th QB in fantasy, and 5th scorer overall.  Like Newton, Griffin has had his success through the air ( 3,100 passing yards 20 TD to 5 INT) and on the ground (752 rushing yards and 6 TDs).  Griffin had produced eight 20+ point performances with three of those going for 30+ points.  In fact Griffin’s only single-digit performance came when he was knocked out of the game early vs. the Falcons in week 5.

2. Alfred Morris

Undrafted in most drafts, Morris far exceeded his non-existent expectations.  Morris, currently the #6 running back through 16 weeks, has been a model of consistency for fantasy owners who have him everywhere.

Only two games throughout the season has Morris failed to reach 76 rushing yards, which he has more than offset with his 6 100+ rushing yard-games during his rookie season.  Morris has scored double-digit fantasy points in 12 games this season, with two of those games netting him over 20+ points.

Morris is averaging an impressive 4.7 ypc, on his way to gaining 1,413 rushing yards (4th in NFL) and 10 TDs  (5th in NFL) through 16 weeks.  The unknown player-turned fantasy stud has also carried the ball 20 or more times 9 times this season, becoming a real work-horse.

Peterson has been nothing short of amazing this season.(sportsflex.blogspot.com)

Peterson has been nothing short of amazing this season.
(sportsflex.blogspot.com)

1. Adrian Peterson

Is there even an argument here?  After recovering from major knee-surgery, it was unsure if AP would even be ready to go come week 1.  Yet some owners still took a chance on him, as he was drafted on average as early as the 2nd round and as late as the 4rh on average.  Those owners who took the risk were highly rewarded.

Peterson, who is the #1 running back by 35 points over #2 Foster, is also the only player who is not a QB to be in the top-10 (Peterson is #8).  AP has posted an incredible seven games with 20+ points (including a 31-point performance in week 9 vs. Sea).  In back-to-back-to-back weeks Peterson posted 28,28, and 27 points.  He also has 9 games where he has rushed for over 100 yards, and two games with over 200 yards rushing.

All of this amazing success this season has Peterson leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,898 which is 408 yards ahead of Lynch and under 200 yards away from Dickerson’s single-season record) yards/game (126.5) and is second in the NFL with 11 rushing TDs, while he is also averaging an awe-inspiring 6.0 ypc.

Doug Martin Explodes, but can he maintain?

Martin walked off the field Sunday with every right to be this excited.
Usatoday.com

For those of us who were able to watch or those of us stuck watching the stat line Sunday when the Bucs took on the Raiders, we all somehow saw Bucs rookie running back, Doug Martin, absolutely go off.

Martin finished  Sunday’s game with 251 yards on the ground and four touchdowns (70, 45, 67, and 1 yard runs).

Martin set many records during his brilliant performance, such as compiling the most rushing yards ever in a game in Bucs history, becoming the first player ever in NFL history to score three touchdowns on runs of 45-plus yards, and putting together the fourth best fantasy football performance since 1970.

Martin’s 51 points (standard scoring leagues) on Sunday is tied with Corey Dillon’s 1997 performance, and only behind Clinton Portis (54 points), Shaun Alexander (52 points), and Jerry Rice (52 points).

In fact, Martin is now the #1 RB in fantasy (1point ahead of Foster).  But, can he maintain this level of play?  I am of course no referring to Sunday’s performance, and I do not expect him to continuously put up over 50 points, but can he keep himself in the mix of the top RB?

I say why not?  Some may argue that with Carl Nicks out, Martin will not have the same blocking, but I say that it didn’t seem to bother him Sunday.  It’s also worth noting that not only Martin, but also Freeman and the Bucs offense as a whole is on fire!

The Bucs currently have the 9th total overall offense, averaging 376.6 yards of offense a game, with 131 (9th in NFL) of those coming on the ground and the reaming 245 (12th in NFL) through the air.  They are also 5th in the NFL in scoring, averaging 28.3 ppg that puts them ahead of New Orleans, New York and Atlanta.

With that offense so hot, teams cannot just key in on Martin, or Freeman will burn them deep.  Martin’s schedule also speaks well to his chances, as 5 of his 8 remaining games are against teams that rank in the bottom half of the NFL in rush defense.

Do not be shocked to see Martin as a top 5-7 RB come season’s end.

Dont Sleep on Josh Freeman, Alex Smith, or Carson Palmer

Heading into this year’s fantasy football draft we all know the likely QBs off the board first will be Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Stafford, and Newton.  Following those QBs, some would argue, will be Romo, Manning, and Ryan, and others; but then who?

Who can that back-up/sleeper QB be this year?  You know, the guy drafted later in the draft, either do to the fact that you waited too long to draft a QB or you believe you need that solid back-up, who can that be?  Well I can give you three QBs that you shouldn’t overlook; Josh Freeman, Alex Smith, and Carson Palmer.

Palmer will look to begin where he left off last season (photo courtesy of silverandblac
kdaily.com)

Carson Palmer:

While his first game under center as a Raider was abysmal to say the least, things started looking up for Palmer as the season went on.  Despite playing in 10 games, and starting in nine, Palmer managed seven double-digit fantasy games, scoring 22 in one. While that may not seem all that impressive, it is important to remember that when Palmer came over to the Raiders last year he was immediately thrown into the fire with little time to learn the system.  Now that he actually has an offseason to work with his team I guarantee his numbers will continue to improve.

One main reason I believe so is because he will benefit from his underrated receivers.  That is not to say that his receivers are even Pro-Bowl-caliber, however they get a worse rap then deserved.  For starters, Darrius Heyward-Bey may not be the most reliable WR out there, but he benefitted highly from Palmer’s arrival.  Setting career highs in receptions, yards, and TDs last year (although that wasn’t that hard) Heyward-Bey had three of his four TDs and two of his three 100+ yard games with Palmer as his QB.  Denarius Moore also will help Palmer after his solid rookie season.  Like Heyward-Bey, three of Moore’s 5 TDs came with Palmer, as well as two or his three 100+yard games.

Alex Smith:

Smith silenced doubters last year (courtesy of blogs.sun-sentinel.com)

Everyone, including myself, doubted him.  Nobody trusted him.  He was thought to be one of the bigger busts in recent history, but what did Alex Smith do last season when the pressure was on?  He produced.  Career highs in completions, completion percentages, and yards last season helped Smith to be the #14 ranked QB in fantasy last year.  While that may not sound impressive to some, he finished only five points behind Roethlisberger, and six behind Fitzpatrick.  He also finished ahead of guys like Flacco, Dalton, and Freeman.  Smith did all this last year with no real receivers, with the exception of Davis (who by his standards had an average season) and Michael Crabtree who didn’t really start to blossom until later in the season.

Then this offseason, the 49ers go out and draft the talented A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois, and nab Manningham and Moss out of free agency.  Not only that but then they went and bulked up their backfield by adding Jacobs, which all together makes the 49ers offense much deadlier than a year ago.  All of these additions bode well for Smith, as he should benefit the most from these players.  I am not advocating he will a top-tier QB, however do not be surprised if he quietly sneaks his way into the top-10.

courtesy of zimbio.com

Josh Freeman:

After such a promising rookie and second season, Freeman suffered last year.  In spite his poor performance, Freeman set career highs in yards and completion percentage.   Freeman also managed to keep his fantasy value somewhat relevant with his size and athleticism, averaging 12 points/game.  Also, heading into this season he will be without Kellen Winslow who lead the team in receptions last year, and was second in yards.  In spite of what he lost and his play last year, I see Freeman becoming significant to fantasy football again this year.

Like the two QBs before Freeman on this list, his success will too come from off season acquisitions.  With Blount’s fumbling and health an issue, the Bucs went out and drafted Doug Martin, a rookie I think will have a great impact this year.  In addition to Martin, Freeman will have one of the best deep-threats in the league, as his team went out and signed Vincent Jackson, the speedy 6’5” WR, yet that wasn’t even their biggest move.  While these two new weapons are great upgrades, they would be useless if it weren’t for the Bucs signing OG Carl Nicks.  Nicks, who spent the previous four seasons protecting Drew Brees, is regarded as one of the best OG in the league.  This move will allow Freeman more free time as he was sacked a career-high 29 times last year.

NFL 1st Round Draft Picks; Offensive Players, Who’s Worth Drafting?

RG III blazing the 40-yard dash. Photo courtesy of verbumsapsat.com

This year’s NFL was a wild one.  Though some of the shock and awe value was taken out when everyone knew who the first two picks would be there was no certainty after that.  With all of the trade up and trade downs, many teams put themselves in amazing situations, picking up some great players.  Although I am aware that there were 11 offensive players drafted in the first round,  I will only take a look at the ones worth picking up for your 2012-2013 fantasy football teams.

Although I don’t recommend him, I cannot write about first round picks without mentioning:

Andrew Luck I absolutely love his NFL future, however I cannot recommend picking him up in any fantasy league.  Luck himself is a physical specimen, standing 6’4” 235lbs with the capability to run a 4.63 40-yard dash, to coincide with a high football IQ, but that’s not enough.  While Luck is one of the highest regarded players in the last 20 years, his fantasy value this year looks bleak.  Looking at the stats, the Colts ranked 27th in passing yards in the NFL last year with 187.2 YPG.  Granted, that may have been with a bunch of make-shift QB’s, yet they still had Dallas Clark, Garcon, and Addai, all players they are without this year.  In addition, although he was out all last year, Anthony Gonzales is also gone.  That leaves Reggie Wayne, who turns 34 in November and is entering his 12th year in the league.  Also, Luck better not rely on his run game for any help, as they ranked 26th in the NFL last year, averaging a mere 99.6 YPG.  Bright NFL future, dim fantasy (as of this year).

Verdict: Stay Away

Robert Griffin IIIYou can’t help but love this guy.  While Luck is a physical specimen, RG 3 is an athletic freak.  Also, like Luck, I project a bright future for him in the NFL.  However, unlike Luck I also project a high fantasy value for him as well.  While RG 3 may not be inheriting a hall-of-fame wide receiving core, he is coming into a good one.  Ranking 14th in passing yards/game last season the Redskins have all of their big receivers returning, with some additions like Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon.  Besides RG 3’s receiving core, let’s also not overlook his ability to run.  A former Gatorade High School Track Athlete of the Year, RG3 he has shown he sure can run, running a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, and collecting over 2,200

Richardson showing off his strength, photo courtesy of muscleprodigy.com

yards rushing and 33 rushing TDs at Baylor.  Although I do not believe he duplicate, there have been talks of him putting up Cam Newton-like numbers.  Not likely, however he will get it done through the air and on the ground.

Verdict- Late-round selection, great back-up QB

Trent RichardsonQuite possibly the player with the highest fantasy value from this year’s draft.  Trent Richardson is an absolute beast, and has the clearest path to dominate his new team’s backfield touches, and scads of all-around ability.  In addition to his presence in the backfield, there is also a new QB to be under center for the Browns this year in Brandon Weeden.  Therefore, in order to relieve some pressure off of Weeden, Richardson will bear the brunt.  Yet, do not let Richardson’s hype fool you into drafting him in the first round, as that would be far too high of a spot to select him.  While he will be great, do he may serve best as your 2nd RB or flex WR/RB option.

Verdict-if you need a second RB in middle rounds, get him, fantastic back-up or flex option

Justin Blackmon– He isn’t the fastest or the biggest, and his QB, Blaine Gabbert, was flat out awful last year, yet I remain optimistic.  With the addition of the speedy Laurent Robinson, Mercedes Lewis back to 100% and MJD still in the backfield, Blackmon will manage to make an impact.  Blackmon will play the flanker role while Laurent Robinson will play the split end, allowing many targets to fall Blackmon’s way.  Though he may be great, I still have my doubts about Gabbert, still I would take him.

Verdict- late-round WR, good back-up for your bye weeks

Michael Floyd– At 6’3” 224lbs, Floyd possesses the size and speed (ran a 4.42 40-yard dash) to be a serious #1 receiver in the future.  Some think that having Fitzgerald line up alongside him will hurt his stock, however I disagree.  Having Fitz will take some pressure off of the rookie, since most defensives will be keying in on him,

Martin showing off his skills, photo courtesy of idahostatesman.com

it may leave room for Floyd to slip through the cracks on his way to a solid rookie year, with decent fantasy numbers.

Verdict– Depending on how hot/cold Kolb is Floyd could be a great bye-week filler or even a great flex option.

Doug MartinAt 5’”9 223, Martin has earned his nickname “The muscle hamster”, and there is a reason the Bucs got him in the first round even though they already have Blount.  Due to the fact that Martin is already a better blocker and pass-catcher than Blount; he could see some extra time and added carries.  I like his chances to make somewhat of a fantasy impact.

Verdict- Good fill-in for your bye-weeks, if Blount has fumble issue again he could see his carries increase

 David Wilson-Plain and simple, Jacobs is gone, Manningham is gone, and Nicks is out for up to 12 weeks leaving Cruz and Bradshaw as the only real threats.  That is unfortunate for the Giants, but great for Wilson as his productivity could be higher than expected due to all of these absences.  Though he likely will not make a huge impact, his name will be known.

Verdict- Bye-week filler, draft late in draft, worth taking a shot on