The big name doesn’t always mean big production. It could also mean big disappointment, and that makes for a slipperly slope on draft day. Let’s take a look at some higher profile fantasy players that come with a fair share of questions as we zero in on the start of the NFL season.
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
First it was the thumb clanking off the helmet of his offensive lineman. Then it was the rib injury that led to his early exit from preseason action entirely. Truth be told, while you should have some concern, don’t out-fox yourself and ignore Vick completely on draft day. Injuries are a part of the game, period paragraph. While you don’t want to get too high over rookie quarterback Nick Foles performances in the pre-season, you don’t want to get too low over Vick’s issues either. Neither really matter all that much. He’ll be fine.
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Look, I love Manning just as much as the next guy. Great arm, savvy leader and a tireless competitor. He dramatically raises the value of every skill player around him. But let’s take a step back a bit. It wasn’t that long ago, Manning could barely raise his arm. Throwing? Not even an option. Injuries to the neck and spine are serious if you are a librarian. Manning participates in a full contact sport with grown men who in essence want to kill him. Theoretically speaking of course. On the other side of the coin, Manning possess all those great attributes I mentioned above and next to that previously injured neck is a chip on his shoulder the size of Plymouth Rock.
QB Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Many fantasy owners drafted Rivers in 2011 with high hopes for a banner season. However while he put up decent numbers, his erratic play and ill-timed interceptions were absolute killers. However don’t be consumed with the transgressions of the past. He has a nice group of receivers, a healthy Antonio Gates and a healthy offensive line. Losing a receiver like Vincent Jackson is surely to have some effect, but all in all Rivers should have himself a better season in 2012. Operative word is should – new receivers, RB Ryan Matthews hurt and quite possibility his issues were mental more than physical? Points to ponder, folks.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Exactly what do we do with Jones-Drew? This could be a lengthy and scary stalemate for all involved, including fantasy owners who are brave enough to draft him. Jones-Drew is a top level talent, but from the new owner Shad Khan’s perspective, the Jaguars were 3-13 last season with their star tailback in the lineup. How much worse could it be without him there? He would be opening his wallet why again? RB Rashad Jennings as proved himself to be a capable option and as it sits now, he is tabbed as the starter. Grab Jones-Drew if you like, but this could be a long haul and when/if he does return to action – what are you getting? In shape is one thing.. In game shape is another thing entirely. Ask Titans RB Chris Johnson.
RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
There are a few factors surrounding Charles that you should be aware of. Firstly, the first year back following an ACL tear is always a challenge. Of course, this is coming from a guy who has selected Vikings RB Adrian Peterson in every draft so far this year. So be hesitant yes, paralyzed with fear no. Also remember former Cleveland Brown RB Peyton Hillis is in the mix and will be in line for some carries as well, many of which will likely come in the red zone. This is an obvious handcuff situation if I ever saw one.
RB Chris “Beanie” Wells, Arizona Cardinals
Here we have another guy with skills out the wazoo, yet the fragility of a china doll. It’s maddening, I know. While his draft positioning is sinking, Wells still presents value if selected at the right time, with the right roster depth to compensate for his inevitable issues. You just never know what you are going to get from a week to week basis, and that is frustrating when you consider his overall talent. Proceed with caution and light some therapy candles and chant his name. It could work.
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
On one side of the coin, I see a physical specimen. If any player can be rebuilt and come back in Million Dollar Man style, it’s Peterson. On the other side of the coin, he’s been falling to the latter part of the second round in many drafts for good reason. Less than a year ago, Peterson tore both is ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve no less. Yep, coal in the fantasy playoff stocking. One ligament is tough, two ligaments I have difficulty comprehending. That said, they don’t call the guy Purple Jesus for nothing. But what a risk indeed.
RB Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
His value is skyrocketing in many drafted, going as early as 4th overall, after spending much of July going in and around the 12th spot in many mock drafts. I see rationale with both. When he is healthy, McFadden is a world-beater. However when you lack the ability to stay in the lineup with any consistency, it really compromises your overall fantasy value. With RB Michael Bush gone, McFadden will get goal line opportunities and an overall higher percentage of carries. But with that additional work, durability is certainly a cause for concern. Good God, if this kid stays healthy, look out. Big if.
RB Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers
Before you run for the hills, remember Matthews was hurt in week one of the pre-season. That alone has given him a nice head-start as far as the healing process goes. Sure, sometimes players sit a little longer than expected, but if you like to roll the dice, you could be handsomely rewarded. The injury has caused him to fall in many drafts, but with every week that passes prior to the season’s start, he’s one week closer to returning. God I hate pre-season.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
In one of my most recent drafts, I was able to procure the services of Larry Fitzgerald with the 9th pick of the THIRD ROUND. That my friend’s is insanity any way you look at it. While I agree he faces challenges at quarterback, little has changed from last season, and he still managed 80 receptions, over 1,400 yards and 8 touchdowns. Not to mention being targeted 154 times. The Cardinals will likely be playing from behind, so regardless of who is behind center for Arizona, they will be called on to THROW. Everytime I mention Fitzgerald’s name I am astounded by the amount of times I hear “Well, look at who’s throwing to him.” News alert, it’s the same yahoos as last season. Star players are stars for a reason.
WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
In one of our past FP911 Hangouts on Google+, the topic of Andre Johnson came up. Despite never having more than nine receiving touchdowns in any season and constantly battling injuries that cost him significant playing time, Johnson continues to be revered as one of the game’s best at the position. While I agree Johnson is a tremendous talent, do you really want the headache and uncertainty that comes with him year after year? To be a top level fantasy player, consistency is key, and unfortunately you just don’t get that here.
WR Desean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Here’s another Eagles player who many will be paying a considerable amount of attention to in 2012. Last season, he pouted his way to suspensions, mediocre play and an equally mediocre season. Personally I would have pitched him to the curb and signed someone else, but the Eagles showed the loyalty to Jackson that he in no way reciprocated to them this past season. Of course, after signing is brand new deal, he is focused and ready to attack the season. Of course that irritates the daylights out of me, but I’ll take him at his word. He is a risk to some extent as his size sets him up to get knocked into next week on any given Sunday, but his dynamic play and versatility makes it a risk worth taking.
WR Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Make sure you don’t go rogue and grab this guy too early. He’s endured multiple surgeries to his knee, has had his run-ins with the law and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and has been away from real game action for entirely too long. That said, skill is skill, and if his erector-set knees are up to par, he could prove to be a late round steal. But of you take everything into consideration, too many question-marks for me.
WR Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The guy possess all the attributes to be a dominant receiver. Size, hands and speed. Of course, he hung up his lightning bolt in San Diego and signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The change in scenery might serve him well, but the step down in quarterback talent from Phillip Rivers to Tampa QB Josh Freeman could be an enormous issue for Jackson. Then again, the presence of a physically dominant receiver could raise the level of Freeman’s game. This gentlemen is the dilemma you will face when opting to select Jackson. Personally I would wait on Jackson and take a flier on fellow WR Mike Williams, who I think really benefits from Jackson’s presence.
TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints and Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
You’re thinking I am out of my mind. What could possibly be wrong with either of these guys? The issue is where both are being drafted in fantasy leagues from coast to coast. While I am in awe over the production put up by both of these dynamic talents, to select either in the first two rounds is absolutely ridiculous. While QB Drew Brees locked in on Graham early and often, the receiver arsenal in New Orleans is packed and there is no true guarantee he’ll continue to dominate. You’ll find a similar situation when looking at Gronkowski. For a spell in New England it was Ben “Winter” Coates, and then you had the likes of Christian Fauria, Daniel Graham, and even Ben Watson. Solid names, all fantasy viable, but despite some awesome fantasy seasons, not one of them displayed that much yearly consistency due to QB Tom Brady’s propensity to spread the ball around. In addition to Gronkowski you also have Aaron Hernandez, the ink still wet on his new contract extension. Expect opposing defenses to be well prepared in 2012 to combat all these guys.
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