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Offseason Extra: The good and bad of 2012

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every year you come to us looking for advice to draft your Fantasy team. And every year we do our best to provide useful information to help you win your league.

The highlights of our Draft Prep coverage is finding sleepers, breakouts and busts and also making predictions that we expect to come true. And when the season is over, we get to look back and see what we got right -- and unfortunately where we went wrong.

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For example, I'm proud to say I touted Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, Demaryius Thomas and Randall Cobb as stars, among others. But I also never expected Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning to rebound at 100 percent, and I liked Michael Vick and Darren McFadden to have tremendous years.

Before we can fully move on to 2013, it's time to take one last look back to the beginning and see how we did in 2012. The best thing about this exercise is what we can learn moving forward to make sure your Fantasy team is successful next year.

Five we got right

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
2012 projection: 45 catches for 774 yards and six touchdowns
2012 stats: 80 catches for 954 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 170 overall (Round 15)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 53 overall (Round 5)
I thought Cobb would develop into a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, which is why he was listed as a sleeper, because even though the Packers were loaded with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, they do a great job of getting their talented players on the field. Injuries to Jennings and Nelson helped Cobb tremendously, but he proved to be one of the best late-round picks of the season. Next year, with Jennings likely gone as a free agent, Cobb should be drafted as a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
2012 projection: 244 carries for 1,176 yards and six touchdowns; 58 catches for 422 yards and three touchdowns
2012 stats: 319 carries for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns; 49 catches for 472 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 38 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 6 overall (Round 1)
The opportunity for Martin was the most alluring thing because all he had to do was beat out LeGarrette Blount for the starting job, which wasn't hard, and he was a breakout candidate. He exceeded my expectations with 1,800 total yards and 12 total touchdowns, and he has the makings of a star. He projects as a slam-dunk Top 10 overall pick in 2013, and he could be drafted as early as No. 5 overall in all formats since he can easily average 50 catches a season.

Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers
2012 projection: 68 catches for 1,184 yards and four touchdowns
2012 stats: 64 catches for 836 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 52 overall (Round 5)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 82 overall (Round 7)
I didn't like Wallace, which is why he was listed as a bust, because of his holdout and playing for new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and the Steelers were committed to Antonio Brown as their No. 1 receiver. Wallace wasn't a complete wash in 2012, but he reached double digits in Fantasy points just five times with only two 100-yard games. He is a free agent this offseason and will almost surely leave the Steelers, but he should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy receiver depending on where he lands.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
2012 projection: 228 carries for 1,135 yards and seven touchdowns; 28 catches for 244 yards and one touchdown
2012 stats: 290 carries for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns; six catches for 51 yards
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 64 overall (Round 6)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 14 overall (Round 2)
I wrote a prediction column that Ridley would be better than his predecessor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but I also listed Ridley as a breakout candidate. I liked the opportunity for him to take over for Green-Ellis and become a featured option for the Patriots. There was risk involved, and we saw that with New England still using other guys in Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden, but Ridley still had a dominant season and looks like a low-end No. 1 running back heading into next year.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
2012 projection: 73 catches for 1,165 yards and nine touchdowns
2012 stats: 94 catches for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 49 overall (Round 5)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 27 overall (Round 3)
There was overwhelming evidence to suggest Thomas and Eric Decker would each have a big year, which is what I said in a prediction column, and Thomas also was a breakout candidate. They both finished as Top 10 Fantasy receivers thanks to the addition of Manning, and each guy was in his third year. Next year, Thomas should be considered a Top 5 Fantasy receiver worth drafting in early Round 3. Decker is a Top 12 candidate worth a pick as early as Round 4.

Five we got wrong

Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
2012 projection: 68 catches for 1,122 yards and five touchdowns
2012 stats: 72 catches for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 70 overall (Round 6)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 33 overall (Round 3)
Jackson was listed as a bust candidate because I thought the transition to a new offense in Tampa Bay and a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers would hurt his production. Instead, he ended up as a Top 10 Fantasy receiver with career highs in catches and yards. He was still somewhat inconsistent with eight games with double digits in Fantasy points and six games with five points or less, but when he was on he was dominant. He should be considered a Top 10 option again in 2013.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2012 projection: 246 carries for 1,213 yards and eight touchdowns; 34 catches for 312 yards and one touchdown
2012 stats: 348 carries for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns; 40 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 24 overall (Round 2)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 1 overall (Round 1)
My concern with Peterson, which is why I predicted he would struggle in 2012, was that his knee wouldn't hold up after last year's ACL tear, and that he rushed back too soon. Clearly I couldn't have been more wrong. He is a medical marvel and deserves recognition as an MVP candidate -- for the NFL and Fantasy owners -- because he might be the steal of the draft at No. 24 overall. He will be the first player drafted in all leagues next year.

Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2012 projection: 291 of 465 passing for 4,565 yards, 33 touchdowns and 12 interceptions
2012 stats: 400 of 583 passing for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 46 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 43 overall (Round 4)
At the time I wrote the prediction column, Peyton was being drafted ahead of Eli Manning, which I thought was a mistake. I was wrong. I expected Eli to be the better Fantasy quarterback with Peyton coming back from a year off following neck surgery. Instead, Peyton was a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback and Eli had his worst year since 2008. Next year, Peyton will be drafted as a Top 5 quarterback and even though Eli will rebound, he's far from his brother's class as a Fantasy option.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
2012 projection: 264 carries for 1,211 yards and 12 touchdowns; 44 catches for 311 yards and four touchdowns
2012 stats: 216 carries for 707 yards and two touchdowns; 42 catches for 258 yards and one touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 9 overall (Round 1)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 32 overall (Round 3)
I expected McFadden to have a career season in 2012 because of Oakland's commitment to the running game and Michael Bush being gone. Instead, McFadden could never adjust to the new zone-blocking scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp -- who was fired this offseason -- and he again missed time with injury, sitting out four games with a sprained ankle. Fantasy owners may never again trust McFadden, but he's still worth drafting as a No. 2 running back in Round 3.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles
2012 projection: 244 of 433 passing for 3,899 yards, 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions; 88 carries for 664 yards and six touchdowns
2012 stats: 204 of 351 passing for 2,362 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 62 carries for 332 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 42 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 165 overall (Round 14)
Vick had a lot of upside coming into 2012, which is why I predicted a Top 5 finish. He was healthy, DeSean Jackson was happy and Vick always had the potential to play at a high level in this offense. But his offensive line fell apart, he battled injuries again (missing six games with a concussion) and his career is now in shambles heading into the offseason. Rightfully so, Fantasy owners are done with Vick, and he will only be drafted as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback if he remains a starter in 2013.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jobbing
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


 
 
 
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