By: C.J. Doon
It’s that special time of year again – a time where men (and women) with absolutely nothing better to do sacrifice their time, money, and perhaps a little bit of their sanity in pursuit of the most coveted prize available on the Internet: Fantasy Football Champion.
It’s been eight long months, and I think I speak for all fantasy football players when I let out a celebratory “Jeah”! (Oops, I forgot. That’s been trademarked. Sorry Lochte. )
Without further ado, I present to you the top five fantasy football players of 2012! And if you call in the next ten minutes, we’ll include a late-round sleeper at no additional cost!
1. Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers) – There’s plenty of reasons to be excited about the Packers, but can we please stop doing the Discount Double Check for a few seconds and take a look at Aaron Rodgers’ stats? 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns (to only 6 interceptions), and a completion percentage of 68.3%, while also rushing for over 250 yards and 3 scores. Even after 5,000 yard performances from Brees, Brady, and Stafford in 2011, Rodgers remains the league’s premier fantasy quarterback, due to his consistency, mobility, and an uncanny ability to improvise on the field.
2. LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia Eagles) – “Shady” McCoy has become a fan favorite in Philly (Really? Those exist?) due in large part to a stellar 2011 campaign in which he amassed more than 1,300 yards on the ground, including 17 rushing touchdowns. Along with being a brilliant ball-carrier, McCoy is also a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. In Marty Mornhinwheg’s offense, McCoy often lines up in the shotgun set next to Michael Vick, making him a threat to run the draw, option, or catch a swing pass out of the backfield. It’s unlikely that McCoy will be able to score 17 rushing touchdowns again this season, but his production will still remain among the best in the league at his position.
3. Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore Ravens) – Rice, now immortalized on the cover of NFL Blitz, is a hot commodity amongst fantasy owners after a stellar 2011 performance, which included 1,300 yards rushing, 700 receiving, and 15 total touchdowns. The Ravens star recently inked a 5 year, $40 million extension, so those of you who believe in the curse of the big contract (Does the name Chris Johnson ring a bell?), draft at your own risk.
4. Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans) – Namaste fellow fantasy gurus. Arian Foster is here to teach you the ancient art of winning your head-to-head matchups, and it all starts by finding a way to draft this guy. Foster is projected to be the top fantasy player of 2012 by ESPN, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t improve on last year’s remarkable campaign (1,200 yards, 15 total touchdowns, 600 yards receiving). He also led the league in touches in 2011, a stat critical in determining fantasy value. On a side note, Foster adopted a vegan diet this offseason, so he’ll likely be looking to evade would-be tacklers sporting all kinds of ferocious animals on their uniforms.
5. Megatron Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions) – Now that Matthew Stafford has emerged as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks, Calvin Johnson becomes an even bigger threat to opposing defenses. Last season, Johnson led the league in yards (1,681), touchdown receptions (16), yards per game (105.1), and coolest nickname. The Fearsome Leader of the Decepticons also led the league in catches of 40+ yards with 10, proving he is unquestionably the most dangerous deep threat in the game.
And, as promised, a bonus pick for biggest sleeper!
Peyton Hillis (RB, Kansas City Chiefs) – Remember when Hillis was taking the league by storm and posing on the cover of Madden? That was only two seasons ago, but it seems like an eternity in fantasy land. Hillis is due for a big season with the Chiefs, starting the season as the backup to Jamaal Charles, who is coming off a nasty ACL tear and may not be 100%. It is very possible Hillis will see more carries than Charles in the beginning of the season as they try to ease him back into game shape, and could hold on to the job if he performs well. The former cover boy will also get most of the handoffs on the goal line, leading to big fantasy numbers for those smart enough to take the risk and draft him.