The offseason is always busy for us, and this year isn't any different. In order to get you prepared for the 2012 Fantasy campaign, we've been looking ahead, talking to players and coaches and breaking down the recent NFL Draft.
We were at the NFL Annual Meeting in March with the chance to speak to every head coach, spent time with players like Ray Rice and Steve Smith and even spoke to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin on the phone from Ethiopia. All to bring you the best information for your Fantasy league.
With that in mind, here is a look at some Fantasy implications for every NFL team following the draft. We've also provided an early look at some sleepers, breakouts and busts, but keep in mind those will likely change prior to training camp. Even though there's a lot of time until Draft Day in your league we want to make sure you're ready to dominate this year.
Harbaugh fond of Moss: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said at the NFL Annual Meeting that he's excited for new receiver Randy Moss. "We just felt that this was a shot we wanted to take," Harbaugh said. "And Randy felt the same way. ... It's exciting that we're at the beginning of a journey that we don't know what the outcome is going to be. But we have a lot of hope that it's going to be really good for both of us."
The good news on Moss is that he's motivated, and Harbaugh, who actually threw passes to Moss during their workout, said he can still run and has great hands. But the downside for Moss is Alex Smith is a mediocre quarterback, he's 35 and three years removed from a good year and the 49ers have other quality targets in Vernon Davis, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree.
The best way to view Moss is as a low-end reserve receiver, and he should only be drafted with a late-round pick. If he struggles, cut him, but if you take him in the right spot he can definitely outperform his draft position if he plays like Harbaugh expects.
Forte vs. Bush: The Bears made two significant additions this offseason with Michael Bush and Brandon Marshall. While Marshall should help Jay Cutler improve (he's a No. 2 quarterback with upside), Bush should cause problems for Forte's Fantasy value, and vice versa.
We're stuck with Bush and Forte sharing carries, assuming Forte doesn't have a problem with his contract. We still consider Forte a starter in all leagues, but he will lose carries and possibly goal-line work to Bush. And Bush won't produce close to what he did last year with the Raiders (1,395 total yards and eight touchdowns).
Forte should be drafted in Round 2 in all leagues, and he's a borderline No. 1 option since his total yards should be fine even if he loses a few touchdowns. And Bush should just be considered a key backup. His best bet for increased Fantasy value will be if he can score eight-plus touchdowns this year.
Green-Ellis helps two teams: We're glad BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed with the Bengals because the move helps his Fantasy value and opens the door for Stevan Ridley to shine with the Patriots. Green-Ellis should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back since Cincinnati will lean on him more than New England did.
Green-Ellis scored 11 touchdowns in 2011, but he had just four games with more than 15 carries. He might not score double digits in touchdowns with the Bengals, but he could reach 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns if he gets close to 250 carries, which makes him worth drafting around Round 5.
Bills have running back depth, dilemma: The Bills have a tremendous backfield coming into the season with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but the problem they will face is keeping both of them happy with enough touches. Jackson, the veteran, is in a contract year, but Spiller is clearly the future of the franchise in the backfield.
In 2011, Jackson was having a monster season (1,376 total yards and six touchdowns through 10 games) before suffering a broken leg in Week 11. Then Spiller took over and had double digits in Fantasy points in four of the final five games, finishing with 67 carries for 391 yards (5.6 average) and three touchdowns and 21 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns over that span.
The way we view it is Jackson remains a No. 2 Fantasy option worth a pick in Round 4, and Spiller should be drafted around Round 7. But Jackson might not live up to his Draft Day value if he and Spiller split carries, and this running back tandem could be a headache for Fantasy owners.
Peyton, Peyton and more Peyton: Whether you like him or not, you have to want Peyton Manning to be healthy after sitting out 2011 following neck surgery. He will do wonders for all Fantasy owners in every league even in his first year with the Broncos.
Thomas clearly has the most upside and should be drafted as a No. 2 receiver as early as Round 4. Decker should be drafted as a No. 3 receiver as early as Round 7. And Tamme should be drafted as a No. 2 tight end with a late-round pick. But if they live up to expectations then Denver's receiving options could be fantastic this year -- thanks to Manning.
Richardson the next Peterson or McFadden?: The Browns changed the face of their offense in the first round of the NFL Draft with the selection of Trent Richardson at No. 3 overall and Brandon Weeden at No. 22. Weeden will compete with Colt McCoy for the starting job, but no one is drafting either quarterback in the majority of Fantasy leagues.
As for Richardson, we like the pick since the Browns had a hole at running back with Peyton Hillis gone. Montario Hardesty will get some carries in tandem with Richardson, but he's going to be a workhorse.
The reason he's listed as an early bust candidate is because owners will overvalue him on Draft Day. If you take Richardson as a No. 2 running back in Round 4 or 5 then he's worth it, but don't reach for him before that. The recent history of running backs going first in their class isn't great.
The last two -- Mark Ingram (2011) and Spiller (2010) -- were horrible as rookies. Knowshon Moreno (2009) wasn't bad with more than 1,150 total yards and nine touchdowns, but he wasn't a weekly starter in the majority of leagues. Darren McFadden (2008) -- shocker -- was bothered with injuries, but Adrian Peterson (2007) was a star. He had more than 1,600 total yards and 13 touchdowns in his first year.
Can Richardson duplicate that type of performance? Absolutely. But keep in mind he has to face some of the best run defenses in the NFL in his own division with six games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and each finished in the Top 10 against the run last year. It could be a little tougher than expected for this future star.
Bye, bye Blount: LeGarrette Blount was a great Fantasy running back in 2010 as a rookie and suffered a sophomore slump in 2011. Now, he's likely going to struggle again with the Bucs drafting Doug Martin at No. 31 overall.
Martin has the potential to be an every-down back and Blount's role could be reduced to short-yardage work. A good way to view the Bucs is like the Giants the past few years with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Blount will obviously be playing the role of Jacobs. Both running backs project as No. 3 Fantasy options, but Martin has more upside and should be drafted in Round 6. Blount should be drafted around Round 8 at best, and if he can score around eight touchdowns with 700 total yards then you should consider it a successful season.
Warner: Skelton better for Fitzgerald: Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told me that John Skelton and not Kevin Kolb would be better for Larry Fitzgerald's production. Kolb and Skelton are expected to compete for the starting job this season.
"Just watching what they both do, the one thing about John Skelton was he always gave Larry opportunities," Warner said at Anquan Boldin's annual charity event in Pahokee, Fla., in April. "He would look at Larry and sometimes force the ball to Larry knowing he was the go-to guy. If I'm just looking at the way they both played last year, I think Larry is going to get more opportunities and more big-play opportunities with John the way he played last year than with Kevin. Does that mean that's the best situation for the team? No. But if you watched as it played out last year, a lot of Larry's success and a lot of the big plays came when John was at quarterback."
It won't impact Fitzgerald's Fantasy value much whoever starts at quarterback -- he's a Top 5 receiver and should be drafted in Round 2 -- but Skelton might help him play at a higher level. In 2011, Fitzgerald had 80 catches for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns, but in the eight games where Skelton appeared he had 42 catches for 753 yards and six touchdowns. Warner might be on to something with the Skelton-Fitzgerald combination.
Replacing Jackson: The last time the Chargers were without Vincent Jackson for an extended period of time was 2010 when he missed the start of the season because of a holdout and suspension. He wasn't exactly missed by Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates. Rivers had the most passing yards of his career that season with 4,710 yards, and he had just his second year with 30-plus touchdowns. Gates had 50 catches for 782 yards and 10 touchdowns through 10 games before going down with a foot injury.
Now, we know Gates has dealt with foot problems the past two years, which is why he is a bust candidate, but not having Jackson there should help his production. And Rivers should also be fine, especially with new targets in Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Second-year receiver Vincent Brown should also improve and Malcom Floyd remains a threat.
We rank the Chargers receivers like this: Meachem, Floyd, Brown and Royal. Meachem is a No. 3 receiver and should be drafted around Round 7, Floyd should go in Round 9 as a No. 4 option and Brown is a late-round flier. Royal should not be drafted, but he is someone to monitor. The Chargers should be fine even with Jackson gone.
Charles not in charge: Jamaal Charles is a player I will avoid on Draft Day. I don't expect him to live up to his draft status since he will likely be drafted in Round 3, and that is too high given his outlook.
For starters, Charles is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 last year. He should be fine for the beginning of the season, but with the addition of Peyton Hillis, Charles' production won't be the same. Hillis can play on all downs, and he will most likely take away goal-line opportunities.
On top of that, Hillis is being reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Brian Daboll. We can see Hillis having a bounce-back year, and he presents better value on Draft Day then Charles since you can get Hillis with a mid-round pick.
Luck-y enough to be next Manning: The last time the Colts took a quarterback at No. 1 overall was 1998 with Manning, and they hope the addition of Andrew Luck this year will reap similar rewards. Manning took the Colts to two Super Bowls during his tenure, winning one, and multiple playoff appearances.
As a rookie, Manning passed for 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. We're expecting Luck to have better stats than that, but don't expect him to be like last year's No. 1 overall pick, Cam Newton, who had 4,051 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and 706 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
In comparing Luck and Robert Griffin III, we would rather have the Redskins starter in seasonal Fantasy leagues, and Luck should be better in dynasty formats. Griffin should have better Fantasy stats this year with his rushing ability, but Luck projects long-term as the better Fantasy option, maybe as early as 2013.
Murray could be a star: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had glowing things to say about running back DeMarco Murray at the NFL Annual Meeting. "He's a big, strong guy who can run," Garrett said. "He's quick, he's fast and he's versatile. He's a smart football player. You can put him in a lot of different spots. He can catch the ball. ... He's really committed to playing. He wants to be a really good football player. He works really hard at it. We're excited about the prospects of him in the future."
Garrett said the plan is to use Murray and Felix Jones in tandem. "We like each of those guys," Garrett said. "They both have a lot of strengths. One of the things we really like about them is they're both versatile. You can't say DeMarco is the inside guy and Felix is the outside guy or Felix is this and DeMarco is that. Both of those guys can go in there and really do anything we're asking them to do within our offense. That's exciting for a coach."
We view Murray as a No. 2 Fantasy running back with the chance to be a No. 1 option in all leagues. Plan on drafting him by Round 3 at the latest, and Jones should be taken as a No. 3 running back with a mid-round pick.
Are there any Dolphins worth drafting?: There will be players from the Dolphins who emerge during the season as reliable Fantasy options. But heading into training camp there is a lot to be desired with Miami's offense, and Fantasy owners will likely stay away from the Dolphins in the majority of leagues.
Reggie Bush was great in 2011, but Fantasy owners are skeptical of him having a repeat performance, especially with Daniel Thomas and now Lamar Miller part of the backfield. Marshall is gone, which means the top three receivers are Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Clyde Gates. There also is a logjam at tight end with Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay and Michael Egnew, and Egnew has the most upside of the trio.
At quarterback, Matt Moore, David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill will compete for the job, but none of them are worth using in most leagues. It could be a long year for the Dolphins. Bush will likely be the only Miami player drafted in most formats, and then we'll have to sit back and wait to see who else emerges as potential options as the year goes on.
Reid counting on Jackson: Eagles coach Andy Reid said at the NFL Annual Meeting that he is happy to have wide receiver DeSean Jackson back in Philadelphia after he signed a five-year deal worth $51 million. Reid expects Jackson to rebound after last year's disappointing season.
"When DeSean is right he's hard to stop," Reid said. "Listen, these guys have personalities like everybody else. They can get weighed down on one thing or another, and it can affect them. I thought he put everything to rest the last six games, and we really got a chance to see what he's all about. He's had a great offseason and is working hard. He's excited to get back and play. He's in a good place."
Jackson struggled in 2011 with 58 catches for 961 yards with four touchdowns, but it was evident his contract was on his mind. Once he got past that he played well to close the season, and Reid seems confident he can play at a high level once again. The good thing about Jackson is he will slip on Draft Day, and you might be able to draft him as a No. 3 Fantasy option around Round 4. He should outperform his draft value and he is a great bounce-back candidate for 2012.
Turner no longer the burner: Michael Turner remains a potential No. 1 Fantasy running back because if he's healthy you can pencil him in for 300 carries, 1,300 rush yards and double digits in touchdowns. He's reached those totals three of the past four years. But Turner could be headed for a down season.
He's 30 and has 1,189 carries the past four years, which is a ton of work. The Falcons want to limit his reps this season, which should open the door for more work for second-year rusher Jacquizz Rodgers. And the Falcons are trending toward a passing team.
When Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones turned things up a notch in the second half of 2011, Turner disappeared. He had two games with over 100 rushing yards and four touchdowns after Week 7, including rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns in Week 17 against a terrible Tampa Bay defense.
We still expect Turner to gain 1,000 rushing yards and score close to 10 touchdowns, but he should only be drafted in Round 2 of standard leagues and closer to Round 4 in PPR formats. Rodgers has the chance to be a sleeper this year, and he's worth taking with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Giant new options: The Giants have some of the best Fantasy players with Eli Manning, Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. All should be considered No. 1 options on Draft Day. But the Giants have added some new weapons, and there are some intriguing options among them with David Wilson, Rueben Randle and Martellus Bennett, who could all make an impact this season.
Start with Wilson, who is expected to be the No. 2 running back behind Bradshaw. We know Bradshaw has problems with his feet, and he missed four games in 2011. Jacobs is gone, and if Bradshaw goes down then Wilson could start in an explosive offense. He should be drafted with a late-round pick.
Randle has the chance to replace Manningham as the No. 3 receiver for the Giants, and Manningham had 39 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games last year. If you project his stats over 16 games, he would have finished with 62 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns, and Randle can try to reach those totals. Draft him with a late-round pick as well.
As for Bennett, he's always been considered a potential star at tight end, and the Giants have a big need with Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum both dealing with significant knee injuries. He is worth drafting as a No. 2 tight end with a late-round selection, and we hope Manning continues to rely on his tight end as he has his entire career.
Jaguars offense on rise: The Jaguars had one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2011, but they did a great job this offseason to improve and put weapons around second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This offense has the chance to surprise people.
The Jaguars signed Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans and drafted Justin Blackmon, who was considered the best receiver in the draft. They are giving Gabbert a chance to succeed, especially with a stud in Maurice Jones-Drew and a rebound candidate in Marcedes Lewis.
Jones-Drew is astill worth drafting Top 10 overall. Robinson will be drafted with a late-round pick even though he won't repeat his stats from last year. And Blackmon, who would have benefitted going to a different team with a more proven quarterback, is also worth taking late in most formats.
Gabbert shouldn't be drafted in most leagues, but if he takes advantage of his new weapons he could turn into a bye-week or injury replacement. He is someone to monitor once the season starts and could even be drafted late in two-quarterback leagues.
We already know the Jets want to use Tebow for about 20 plays on offense, and he will likely see plenty of time in the red zone. There's also the chance Sanchez could get benched if the Jets get off to a bad start early in the season.
Sanchez was a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback in 2011, but the Jets tried twice to replace him -- unsuccessfully with Peyton Manning and then with Tebow. The Jets also want to return to a ground and pound offense, which means less throwing and more running.
Both quarterbacks are only worth late-round picks at best in the majority of leagues, but if you're looking for upside and potential then drafting Tebow is the way to go.
Leshoure is running back to target: The Lions will have a three-headed backfield this season with Mikel Leshoure, Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith, but we would target Leshoure on Draft Day. He could be in line for a big season if he's 100 percent healthy following last year's Achilles' injury.
Detroit has an explosive offense, but the Lions need to do a better job running the ball. Best is a star when healthy, but concussion problems could ruin his career. And Smith is more of a safety option in case the other two struggle. But Leshoure has the chance to shine.
He not only has to prove he can stay healthy, but he also was arrested twice for allegedly using marijuana, and he could face a suspension. Still, he's a good combination of size (6-foot, 233 pounds) and speed, and he could reach 1,000 total yards and 10 touchdowns. We like him as a No. 3 Fantasy running back with upside, and he should be drafted with a mid-round pick.
A running problem: The Packers made a surprising move this offseason by not signing or drafting a running back, and Ryan Grant is not expected to return. That leaves James Starks, Alex Green and Brandon Saine as the top options in the backfield.
Starks is the only running back worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but we watched him struggle in 2011 when he had the chance for an increased role. He could improve this season, but he can't be considered a starting option.
Green is coming off a torn ACL suffered in October, and he could be limited to start the year, potentially going on the PUP list. And Saine is really just there to provide depth, but he is someone to monitor once the season starts. If Starks struggles again, our guess is Green could have the most upside in this backfield. He might turn into a valuable addition off the waiver wire during the year.
Smith still going strong: Panthers receiver Steve Smith told me at Boldin's event that he's using boxing to train this offseason. "To stay in shape, it's always tough," Smith, 32, said. "You always have to come up with new, creative ways to engage your mind and also your body. Your body gets used to the same routine over and over and over, so you have to adjust. This year, I've started doing some boxing. Me and my wife box together."
Smith had a productive year in 2011 -- his first with Newton -- with 79 catches for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns. He hopes to improve in 2012.
"I can improve on everything," Smith said. "There's probably about 15 receptions that I think I should have had either by allowing a guy to tip it or not getting my feet down. As an individual, I left a lot of real estate on the field. That's what I think I can improve on."
Smith is fond of Newton, but he knows he can't rest on his accomplishments from his rookie year. "He needs to improve just like I need to improve," Smith said.
Newton is a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, and he should be drafted in Round 2. He should continue to help Smith make plays, and Smith is a solid No. 2 receiver worth drafting in Round 4.
Believe it or not, Ridley a good option: The Patriots haven't been known for their rushing prowess since Tom Brady attacked the record books in 2007, but this year New England could have a running back Fantasy owners should target in Ridley. He has the chance for a productive season with Green-Ellis gone.
We'll most likely see a three-headed backfield of Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead, but Ridley has the most upside. He played well in limited action as a rookie in 2011 with 91 carries for 462 yards and one touchdown and four catches for 17 yards. He should be a candidate for 1,100 total yards and seven touchdowns, and we like him as a solid No. 3 Fantasy rusher worth a mid-round pick.
Vereen and Woodhead can work on passing downs, but we would gamble on Vereen's potential over Woodhead on Draft Day. Both are late-round selections, especially in PPR formats, but Vereen could see a huge boost following a down rookie campaign.
The Patriots are still going to be dominant in the passing game, especially with the addition of Brandon Lloyd to go with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But Ridley will still prove valuable now that he should be the starter in New England's backfield this season.
Who is this year's Bush?: We hope McFadden can stay healthy for a full year, but he's coming off a Lisfranc foot injury and has missed 19 games in four career seasons. It's tough to count on him for 16 games, and now the Raiders have a hole with their second running back now that Bush is in Chicago.
Two running backs will vie for the backup role in Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones, and Goodson has more potential for Fantasy owners in standard leagues. Jones can be helpful in PPR formats, but if McFadden goes down both will likely share touches.
If you're looking for a handcuff option to McFadden then spend a late-round pick on Goodson. He won't post Bush-like stats if McFadden goes down, but he can turn into a flex option if he ends up starting a few weeks, even sharing with Jones.
Jackson still a workhorse?: New Rams coach Jeff Fisher said at the NFL Annual Meeting that he's looking forward to working with running back Steven Jackson. He still considers Jackson a workhorse running back and plans to give him a heavy load.
"I was told a long time ago when you're evaluating the productivity of a big back as he gains more and more experience over the years you look to see if he's being tackled or being hit," Fisher said. "Steven is still getting tackled, which is a good thing. He's not just getting hit. That's a good thing. Steven is still a very aggressive runner."
Jackson had a solid season in 2011 with 260 carries for 1,145 yards and five touchdowns, 42 catches for 333 yards and one touchdown on 58 targets and one fumble. He is on the decline for his career, but he should still have some quality moments. He will have a great schedule in 2012 against potentially weak run defenses in Green Bay, Washington, New England, the Jets, Tampa Bay and Buffalo, along with his division opponents, and Fisher will emphasize the run.
We consider Jackson a low-end No. 1 Fantasy running back. He should be drafted in Round 2 or 3, and you have to be prepared for him to have some bad games, which is why he is a bust candidate. The addition of rookie Isaiah Pead will also hurt Jackson as the season goes on.
Smith has lofty goals: Ravens receiver Torrey Smith told me at Boldin's charity event that his goal for 2012 is to gain at least 1,000 yards and score 10 touchdowns. He expects to improve on his productive rookie campaign in 2011.
"Just being consistent," Smith said. "If I was consistent with my plays last year I would have had well over 1,000 yards. That's my goal. I just have to be more focused, become a better technician and be more consistent. Everything else will take care of itself."
Smith had 50 catches, 841 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and he's already working this offseason on improving. "I feel like I was able to have an OK season last year," Smith said. "That's pretty much as raw as it gets for me. I feel like I have nowhere to go but up. I'm far from a finished product. I just want to work this whole summer, try to get my technique down and go out and dominate next year."
We like Smith a lot heading into this year, and he has the chance to be a solid Fantasy contributor. He should be viewed as a No. 3 Fantasy option, but he could be a starter in all leagues if he continues to progress based on his rookie year. He should be drafted by Round 7.
|Sleeper||Robert Griffin III||QB|
Hello, Helu: Griffin will get the most attention coming into the season and rightfully so since he could be the Redskins best quarterback in a long time. But he's not the Fantasy option I'm most interested in for the Redskins.
Roy Helu has the chance to be a solid rusher, and he's someone I would target as a No. 2 option around Round 4. He has the chance for a quality year in 2012. Even coach Mike Shanahan seems excited.
Shanahan told me at the NFL Annual Meeting that he liked what he saw from Helu as a rookie in 2011. "Roy had a heck of a year for a young guy coming in," Shanahan said. "We put him in some tough situations. Overall, I was impressed. He played hurt. Coming into this year I expect big things out of him."
Helu emerged as a midseason starter for the Redskins and rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games -- setting a Redskins rookie mark -- and finished with a team-best 640 yards and two touchdowns on 151 carries. He also caught 49 passes for 379 yards and one score. He will likely share carries with Evan Royster this season, but Helu has the chance to shine if Shanahan sticks with him as the full-time starter.
Ingram a sophomore surprise: Mark Ingram had a disappointing rookie campaign with 474 rushing yards and five touchdowns and 11 catches for 46 yards. He was limited to just eight games because of injuries, and he was outplayed by Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.
Fantasy owners should be skeptical of Ingram, but he should present better value this season on Draft Day since he will fall to the later rounds. In this offense, if he stays healthy, Ingram has the potential for 10 touchdowns.
Sproles is still the best Fantasy running back for the Saints and Thomas will play a prominent role. But the Saints drafted Ingram to score touchdowns, and this should be the year he starts to show his ability as a quality rusher.
Flynn is in: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told me he's excited for new quarterback Matt Flynn. "We really think he is the next guy coming up," Carroll said at the NFL Annual Meeting. "We think that he's been through a great quarterback school, and we're benefiting from that. He went through the same process that Aaron (Rodgers) went through, and we know how that turned out."
Despite the praise, Carroll said Flynn will open training camp in a competition with incumbent Tarvaris Jackson. "We're going to bring him in, and he's going to go nose to nose with Tarvaris and see how it goes," Carroll said. "Tarvaris will take the first snap (in training camp) because he's been with us and has worked hard for that. From that point forward it's going to be as even as you can get, and we'll see what happens. We're going to let them fight it out."
Flynn has the potential to be a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, but he should be drafted as a No. 2 option with a late-round pick. He should help all the Seattle receivers, especially Sidney Rice. Look for Rice to rebound as a No. 2 receiver, and he should present great Draft Day value since he will be selected with a mid-round pick.
Avoid Mendenhall in all leagues: By the time we get to training camp we should know the health of running back Rashard Mendenhall, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 last year. Even if he's able to play this season I would not draft him. The Steelers are even concerned about his long-term health.
The running back to target for the Steelers is Isaac Redman. He looked great in the playoffs against Denver with Mendenhall out, rushing for 121 yards on 17 carries with two catches for 21 yards, so he showed he can handle the role. Chris Rainey will compete for reps with Redman, especially on passing downs, but for now he seems to be the most likely candidate to not only pick up 15-plus touches per game but also work at the goal-line.
Redman is someone to target with a mid-round pick, and if you can draft him as a No. 3 running back then your team is in good shape. You should pass on Mendenhall this year because his knee injury will limit his production and Fantasy value.
Is Johnson still safe as a No. 1 receiver?: Andre Johnson is my No. 2 Fantasy receiver this year behind Calvin Johnson, and I expect him to play well. I'm not afraid of him getting hurt even though he hasn't been able to play 16 games each of the past two years.
Johnson is a difference maker, and the last time he played 16 games was 2009 when he finished with 101 catches, 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns. I'll take my chances on him coming close to those stats again, and he should be drafted in Round 2 in all leagues.
I can definitely understand the fear of taking him since he played in just seven games last year due to hamstring problems, but he had three games with double digits in Fantasy points in those outings. The upside with Johnson is he has a standout quarterback in a complete offense, plays in a weak division and doesn't have much competition for targets.
When you draft Johnson just make sure you have a capable No. 3 receiver in case he goes down again, but his potential makes him worth the risk. He is an excellent bounce-back candidate in 2012.
Johnson will rebound: We all know Chris Johnson struggled in 2011. He signed a huge contract following a holdout and then managed just eight games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. He only had four games with 100 rushing yards and scored just four touchdowns. It was easily the worst season of his career.
The good news is Johnson should have gotten all of the bad play out of his system. He came into last year out of shape and the Titans offensive line didn't help him out much. Tennessee has improved things up front with the addition of left guard Steve Hutchinson, and Johnson has worked out with the Titans this offseason.
He should return as a No. 1 Fantasy running back, worthy of being drafting toward the end of Round 1. Some Fantasy owners will pass on Johnson based on last year's performance, but he should rebound in a big way. Don’t be surprised if he reaches 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s what he had in 2010, and he’s easily capable of doing that again in a comeback campaign.
Peterson will not run all day
Peterson is trying to get back on the field for Week 1 despite suffering a terrible knee injury in Week 16 last year. We hope he can do it, but we're skeptical.
It's interesting that Mendenhall, who was injured one week later, is being considered questionable to even play at all. We know Peterson is an athletic freak, but the Vikings should use caution in rushing him back. And Fantasy owners should use caution with Peterson on Draft Day.
There's no way he should be drafted in Round 1, and I wouldn't touch him in Round 2. In fact, I'm not drafting Peterson at all, but you can gamble in Round 3 if you like. I would rather target Toby Gerhart with a late-round pick because I envision him as the best Vikings running back this season.