UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NFL

Team-by-team draft targets, potential disappointments in 2012

Welcome to the heart of fantasy football drafting season. In many leagues teams are good to go, simply waiting for the opening kickoff at Snoopy Stadium, where the Super Bowl champions take their home field against the club formerly known as "America's Team." But for those of you who haven't drafted, here's a quick team-by-team look at some players who should be on and off your draft boards. If they're not, it's time to do some revising.

Arizona Cardinals

Yes, please: It's Larry Fitzgerald's team, but Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams could provide solid fantasy stats should they prove to be healthy. I lean slightly toward Williams as a later-round runner.

No thanks: The Cardinals don't rely on their tight end, Todd Heap. There are just too many better options around the NFL than the former Pro Bowl Raven.

Atlanta Falcons

Yes, please: The Falcons are serious about promoting Jacquizz Rodgers into a major offensive role this season, and he's worth drafting as a flex. Julio Jones will be a fantasy star.

No thanks:Tony Gonzalez had a heck of a bounce-back year in 2011, but with the emergence of Julio Jones and the Falcons' new fast-paced offense I can see a dramatic drop-off coming for the league's most prolific tight end.

Baltimore Ravens

Yes, please:Ray Rice is my top pick, but should something happen to him it looks like Bernard Pierce will be the one getting a lot of work. The rookie from Temple scored 27 times last year.

No thanks:Jacoby Jones is the third receiver and hasn't shown enough to be considered more than fantasy bench fodder. He's scored 11 offensive touchdowns with 1,741 receiving yards in five seasons.

Buffalo Bills

Yes, please:Fred Jackson was leading the NFL in rushing through nine games last season and is fully recovered from a broken fibula, a traumatic, not chronic injury. He's someone who should have second-round value yet is regularly being taken a round or two after that.

No thanks: Given that Jackson is back, C.J. Spiller, largely disappointing in Jackson's stead last year, gets reduced to true backup who'll have an occasional big day. He's not going to be consistent enough for my taste.

Carolina Panthers

Yes, please: By all accounts Brandon LaFell is going to provide the Panthers their best second receiver across from Steve Smith since Muhsin Muhammad's first tenure. Given the talented Cam Newton will be throwing to him, he's worth a pick in the later rounds. I also see a role for former Raider Louis Murphy in this offense.

No thanks: How many years has the two-headed DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart been frustrating fantasy owners? Sure, they'll have great numbers combined, but with Newton playing fullback at the goal line, neither has true RB1 appeal.

Chicago Bears

Yes, please: Should you miss out on the top tier of quarterbacks, don't fret as you'll be able to get Jay Cutler cheaply. Most will consider him a backup, but he affords you the chance to load up at other positions. With Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall to throw to in a new offense, he could have a great year.

No thanks: Perhaps the greatest return man in history, Devin Hester has never been able to parlay his vast skills into becoming a top NFL wideout. He's better left for someone else who'll be disappointed.

Cincinnati Bengals

Yes, please:Bernard Scott has been hurt during the preseason, leaving BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the Bengals' best bet for a quality running game. His exploits in New England have often been shrugged off as simply a byproduct of Tom Brady's greatness, but he's better than that. Brandon Tate, another ex-Pat could also find himself having an impact.

No thanks: The aforementioned Scott is a 1,000-yard runner. Unfortunately, that's exactly 1,000 yards over a span of 45 games in three seasons. His career 4.0 yards per carry is solid but equals his NFL total of 4.0 touchdowns in 278 touches from scrimmage.

Cleveland Browns

Yes, please: Aside from Trent Richardson, who may or may not have a chronic knee issue that may or may not affect him during his rookie season, Greg Little is a potential star receiver who'll benefit from having Brandon Weeden around.

No thanks: There's a feeling that Montario Hardesty's value is increasing because Richardson's health in question, but even if Richardson is out I wouldn't feel comfortable putting him in my lineup on a weekly basis against the likes of the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals.

Dallas Cowboys

Yes, please: There's considerable risk involved in banking on DeMarco Murray to become a great running back since the fourth-round pick has just 13 NFL games (seven starts) under his belt, only three of which could be considered outstanding.

No thanks: Insert broken record: Is this the year Felix Jones finally lives up to his potential? I'd also shy away from Jason Witten, who's recovering from a lacerated spleen based solely on the idea that it doesn't make sense to count on someone who'll have to subject himself to big hits by large angry men while just recovered from an internal organ that's been bleeding due to the same cause.

Denver Broncos

Yes, please: Need a kicker? Matt Prater will be one of the league's highest scorers and is even better in fantasy league's that reward points for long field goals.

No thanks: There's a lot of support for Jacob Tamme because he played with Peyton Manning in Indy and is seen as someone who knows the system. However, while he did have big numbers in part of a season with Manning at the helm, he was also often chided by No. 18 for NOT knowing where to be.

Detroit Lions

Yes, please: There's a lot of firepower here and some will be available on the cheap. Titus Young is a quality young receiver who'll be worthy of a roster spot all year while Ryan Broyles could become a consideration in PPR leagues.

No thanks: Even if he's cleared to play following last season's concussion, can anyone really trust Jahvid Best in their lineup?

Green Bay Packers

Yes, please:James Jones is currently the Packers third wideout, but Randall Cobb displayed a knack for getting open downfield and holding onto the ball, something that Jones has had problems with in the past. If he's not drafted, Cobb won't last long on the waiver wire.

No thanks: There was no greater vote of "no confidence" in James Starks than the late signing of Cedric Benson. The former Bear and Bengal should take over the role formerly occupied by Ryan Grant and will score touchdowns, but he leaves Starks as a fantasy non-starter in the early going.

Houston Texans

Yes, please: Sure he's a backup, but I love Ben Tate's game and the Texans' offensive line. He's capable of putting up 90 yards while simply providing a breather to Arian Foster.

No thanks:Andre Johnson's season has been cut short by injuries in three of the past five seasons. While it would be great to have him in your lineup, he just spends too much time on the sidelines to commit the high draft pick it will take to get him. Should he fall to the fourth or fifth round, however, swoop in without hesitation.

Indianapolis Colts

Yes, please: Do you feel Luck-y? The NFL's top overall pick, Andrew Luck, certainly looks like someone who can play in this or any league. While I still wouldn't count on him as your top quarterback, his potential makes him an attractive asset to have.

No thanks: I'm rooting for Austin Collie, but following another possible concussion against the Steelers in the preseason, he's just not someone I would use. Again, he may not be more susceptible to concussions than anyone else, but his history makes him more of a candidate to be rightly treated with kid gloves at the slightest sign of distress. Unfortunately, that will mean the potential for the fantasy lineup's worst enemy, the DNF (did not finish).

Jacksonville Jaguars

Yes, please: So perhaps there's hope for Blaine Gabbert after all. The second-year QB looked comfortable in the preseason and his 126.1 rating is second only to Sam Bradford among likely starters. That doesn't mean he should be drafted, but at least Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson should have decent value.

No thanks: He came into the league with a ton of potential, but save for a fluky 10 TDs in 2010, Marcedes Lewis has been virtually useless in his five other seasons.

Kansas City Chiefs

Yes, please: Get this straight: They're going to run and they're going to be successful doing it. That's why it's a great idea to have faith in 2011's biggest running back busts, Jamaal Charles (torn ACL but now recovered) and Peyton Hillis (myriad problems, now in the past) on your radar. Also, look for big things from Jonathan Baldwin, who wasn't ready as a rookie last year but has made major strides.

No thanks: This is a running team with a much improved defense; Matt Cassel will be lucky to average much more than 200 passing yards per game.

Miami Dolphins

Yes, please:Hard Knocks has given an inside look at Miami's camp, and for those who have watched you can't tell me that your ears didn't perk up when they were talking about Chris Hogan, the receiver from Monmouth who also played lacrosse at Penn State. Called 7/11 by his teammates because he's always open, Hogan isn't draftable but is certainly someone to keep your waivers sights on.

No thanks:Daniel Thomas is the primary backup to Reggie Bush but he's a vestige of the last coaching staff and has to contend with Lamar Miller behind Reggie Bush. It's not a promising outlook.

Minnesota Vikings

Yes, please: You may remember him from that ridiculous highlight last year when he leapt over a defender and into the end zone, landing on his feet no less, but Jerome Simpson figures to be a big part of the Vikings passing game this season.

No thanks: Even if he plays from the start of the season, Adrian Peterson likely won't be at full speed at the start of the year, which makes it even harder to believe that he'll be able to recapture the form that made him a top fantasy back the past few years. You can still pencil him onto your 2013 first round.

New England Patriots

Yes, please: There's a lot to like here below the Brady/Gronkowski level, whether it's Brandon Lloyd, Stevan Ridley, Aaron Hernandez, or even a much improved, ball-hawking defense.

No thanks: Another case of having to use too high a pick to secure someone's talents, Wes Welker is a second/third round pick who'll give you fifth/sixth round numbers with Brady having so many mouths to feed.

New Orleans Saints

Yes, please:Robert Meachem is gone, so Lance Moore becomes an even more important part of Drew Brees' receiving corps than before. He's a solid mid-round pick who should be at worst a WR3.

No thanks: The Saints backfield is among the most talented in the league, and that was before Travaris Cadet became the preseason's most pleasant surprise. They all serve to cancel one another out, although Darren Sproles will be a PPR machine again.

New York Jets

Yes, please (kind of): Rex Ryan knows defense and has perhaps the league's best defender on his team in Darrelle Revis. They're a lock to be a top-10 fantasy defense again in 2012. And you know you want to do it, so if you must, go ahead: take Tim Tebow in Round 12 or 13.

No thanks: New York's offense is lacking so much right now that with the exception of Tebow and Dustin Keller, I might stand clear of Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, and the rest of Gang Green entirely.

New York Giants

Yes, please: As good as the offense is, the defense, featuring Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck is one of the league's fantasy elite.

No thanks:Domenik Hixon is replacing Mario Manningham as the Giants slot receiver but with the talented rookie Rueben Randle around along with starters Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to compete for Eli Manning's attention, there isn't enough action to make the veteran too attractive, even in a prolific unit.

Oakland Raiders

Yes, please:Denarius Moore is one of the league's most entertaining and acrobatic receivers. Playing a full season with Carson Palmer, who helped make Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh fantasy mainstays, is enough to make him one of the league's best WR2s.

No thanks: Cross your fingers and hope for the best when you take Darren McFadden because the former Razorback backfield mate of Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis could be the league's top back if he can manage to stay healthy, which is possibly the biggest clause in fantasy football this season. I'm rooting for him, but picking against him.

Philadelphia Eagles

Yes, please: Receiver Jeremy Maclin will be a member of the starting lineup for every roster he's on.

No thanks: Once a devoted DeSean Jackson owner, I can't see myself putting up with another season of poor attitude, poor decisions, and worst of all, poor results.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Yes, please: The longer Mike Wallace holds out the more valuable Antonio Brown becomes. With the backfield in flux due to Rashard Mendenhall's injury, Brown is the top Steeler to own right now.

No thanks: There's no way that I take Mendenhall this season. Not only is he in jeopardy of missing a significant number of games early in the season, there's no guarantee that he'll be anywhere near full strength when he finally does strap it on. But if he is, he takes out any value Isaac Redman has, rendering the whole backfield iffy at best.

St. Louis Rams

Yes, please: The Rams are amassing a large stable of targets for Sam Bradford to throw to and while the only one with any past fantasy relevance is Danny Amendola, Brian Quick, the rookie form Appalachian State should prove to be the best of the bunch before long.

No thanks:Steven Jackson is the bell cow but he's also 29 with a history of under performing on the stats sheet. I'd rather take a chance on a younger back later in the draft, possibly even Isaiah Pead who stands to gain the most if and when Jackson steps aside.

San Diego Chargers

Yes, please:Curtis Brinkley isn't a household name yet but as the backup to often injured Ryan Mathews and the rapidly aging Ronnie Brown, he could end up playing a major role this season. He's worth a 15th round pick.

No thanks:Ryan Mathews. (see past columns)

San Francisco 49ers">49ers

Yes, please:Vernon Davis is the league's third-best fantasy tight end, but it's conceivable he would approach Gronk/Graham numbers should defenses pay too much attention to an improved receiving corps.

No thanks: The 49ers added two big names in Brandon Jacobs and Randy Moss, but the chances that either has much of a fantasy impact on this team are slim and none, respectively.

Seattle Seahawks

Yes, please: Even with his legal problems I believe that Marshwan Lynch is the best of the second tier backs this season. But to be safe, it you draft him, be sure to pick up Robert Turbin as well.

No thanks: Everyone involved in Seattle's passing game is tough to like right now although in dynasty leagues, you have to be intrigued by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Yes, please:Vincent Jackson is one of the league's elite receivers and playing on Florida's West Coast won't change that fact.

No thanks: He's one of his generation's best but memories of Dallas Clark will surely outweigh his contributions as a fantasy player this season, especially while he plays second fiddle to Luke Stocker. Still, many will draft him on name recognition alone.

Tennessee Titans

Yes, please: The more you look at the running back landscape, the better you feel about taking a chance on Chris Johnson. If he falls to the middle of the second round, he has the potential to be the steal of the draft.

No thanks: I really hope that in a few years we don't look back on Kenny Britt's career, shake our heads and wonder "what might have been?" But with injuries and off-field incidents, it's unfortunately headed that way. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Washington Redskins

Yes, please:Robert Griffin III is a stud and will be owned in 100 percent of leagues this season; however his biggest fantasy impact may not come as a fantasy starter but as a supply line to make Pierre Garçon, Fred Davis and Leonard Hankerson all playable.

No thanks: On the heels of his rookie year and even early in this offseason it looked like the starting running back job was Roy Helu's to lose. Well, now Tim Hightower is re-signed, Evan Royster is getting first-team carries and Alfred Morris is making more headway in the running back race.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NFL

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.