Fantasy Football 2012 – Planning for the Future

by on October 5th, 2010
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This is the time of year where I scrub my dynasty rankings, evaluate the direction of players’ performances going forward, and get going on my planning for 2012. Here are a few players that I most likely have higher than most in my rankings and, most importantly, the reasons why.

QB

Sam Bradford

I broke down my case for Bradford extensively on my “Under The Helmet” podcast premiere on November 17th, but here are a few of the highlights I presented. Everything has been working against Bradford in 2011: The lockout meant there was no offseason for him to familiarize himself with his 2nd new offense in as many seasons. The Rams are allowing the 2nd-most sacks, 3rd-most pass attempts while being hit, and dropping the most passes with under 300 attempts. Prior to Brandon Lloyd arriving, the pass-catchers for Bradford to throw to were horrific across the board. Despite all that carnage around him, Bradford has a very low interception rate as he consistently makes good decisions and puts the ball on the money with power throws. Bradford is an elite arm talent that needs a full offseason and a better supporting cast.

Here are a few of the recent dynasty trades that I love the side getting Bradford:

Bradford FOR Ponder/Ridley (Ponder a nice, young QB, but lacking Bradford’s elite arm talent and upside)

Bradford FOR Mike Thomas/2012 2nd round rookie pick (This is basically theft)

Bradford FOR Eli Manning/Tony Gonzalez (Giving up some short-term production for long-term value)

Bradford FOR Mike Williams TB (You can probably get a pick on top of Bradford, but like the deal regardless)

Andy Dalton

I have been very impressed with Dalton through 10 games this year. He has thrown for equal or more TDs than INTs in 7 of his 10 games, on pace for 24 TDs, and played well against the Steelers and Ravens in back-to-back division games. Dalton has a good team around him, young weapons to grow with in AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham, and Jerome Simpson (Shipley coming back from IR in ’12), and better arm strength than many projected prior to the season.

Recent dynasty trades:

Dalton/2012 1st FOR Fitzpatrick, Garcon, 2nd (pick upgrade, don’t trust Fitzpatrick long-term)

Dalton FOR 2012 2nd/6th (2012 a deep QB class, but I already KNOW Dalton can play at NFL level)

RB

Jacquizz Rodgers

He is doing everything right as a rookie RB. Rodgers is understanding pass protection, making plays in key situations, and showing toughness and vision between the tackles. Rodgers has 209 snaps on the season to Turner’s 402, so he is already carving out playing time because of his success. Rodgers is ranked 34th among RBs in rushing and 11th in blocking according to Profootballfocus. Michael Turner is closing in on 30 years old and Rodgers is showing the potential to be the replacement as the primary ball carrier in Atlanta. All that points to a player I want on my roster going forward.

Recent dynasty trades:

Rodgers/3rd FOR Greene (This trade shows how much I think of Rodgers and how little I value Greene)

Rodgers/Orton/1st FOR Fitzpatrick/2nd (this is like printing money)

Ryan Williams

He has been injured for the entire season, but Beanie Wells has shown be little in terms of being the bell cow RB for Arizona. Williams is a great dynasty stash to see what happens with his injury recovery and the future distribution of playing time for the Cardinals. I am not a fan of RBs that don’t catch passes (read: Wells) or ones that can’t play hurt (read: Wells). The good news about Williams’ injury is that it happened very early in the year, so he has more time to recover for 2012. His trading value has fallen from the mid-1st rookie pick that was spent prior to his injury, so Williams’ upside is worth the risk.

Recent dynasty trades:

Ryan Williams, Mike Wallace, 1st FOR Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer (love this deal)

Shane Vereen

We saw just a taste of Vereen’s ability in week 11 vs. Kansas City with 8 rushes, 39 yards, a TD, and a wicked jump cut in the hole to spring him outside for a big gain. Nothing has changed with my stance on the 2nd round rookie. Vereen is still the most dynamic and complete RB in New England. If anyone has a chance to be a 3-down back for the Patriots, I believe it is Vereen. 2012 could be a coming out party for Vereen in fantasy football as a top-30 RB.

Recent dynasty trades:

Vereen/Denarius Moore FOR Peyton Hillis (trade was 3 weeks ago, would take less for Hillis if I owned him)

Vereen/1st/2nd FOR B.Wells/Hasselbeck

Michael Bush

Despite closing in on 28 years old, I think Bush finds himself with a lead back role in 2012 as a free agent. He was shown the ability to carry to load and be an RB1 in fantasy on the occasions McFadden has been injured. Bush could have a Michael Turner-esque fantasy career depending on where he lands in free agency. Now is the time to trade for Bush as his value would rise significantly in 2012 if he lands in a good spot.

Recent dynasty trades:

M.Bush FOR 2013 1st/Goodson (Bush can give an owner good production in 2012 before 1st is even used)

M.Bush/V.Young FOR V.Cruz/D.Karim (Cruz is a nice player, but very reasonable price tag for potential RB1)

WR

AJ Green

Despite his great production in 2011 (11th in PPG among WRs), Many are still undervaluing the Cincinnati WR. The biggest knock on Green post-draft was the Bengals’ QB situation. Andy Dalton has proved to not be a hindrance to Green’s fantasy value, so full-speed ahead with Green. I aggressively have Green in the top-5 of my dynasty WR rankings and have no problem paying what it takes to acquire him.

Recent dynasty trades:

Green FOR V.Jax/Cutler/1st/2nd (seems steep but Jackson/Cutler are maddeningly inconsistent & nearly 30)

Green/Cook FOR Witten/Hartline (outright theft)

Green/Amendola FOR Roddy White/Hester (equal or greater short-term production, plus 7 years younger)

Torrey Smith

For those frustrated about Smith inconsistent fantasy production week-to-week, remember he is a raw rookie that had numerous question marks coming into 2011. Smith has done nothing but impress me on film this year with his consistent separation, plays in the clutch, and ranks 35th in WR PPG despite limited snaps in weeks 1 & 2. Through week 12, Torrey Smith’s 16-game projected numbers are 55/1090/9. That is truly impressive as a rookie in a run-based offense with an inconsistent QB. I like Smith heading into 2012 as a Mike Wallace-type breakout player (dependent on QB play, of course).

Recent dynasty trades:

T.Smith/Mendenhall FOR Britt/LeShoure/Dam.Williams (Lots of question marks on the other side)

T.Smith FOR Harvin (higher upside with no injury concerns)

T.Smith/Winslow/1st/2nd FOR M.Austin (a good haul for Austin. Smith may outproduce him alone in ’12)

Demaryius Thomas

Thomas is a high risk/reward dynasty player. I have seen enough flashes of his post-injury play to know that his upside is still intact. For Thomas to realize that potential, Tebow needs to improve dramatically as a passer (unlikely in my opinion) or there needs to be a QB chance in Denver. I think Tebow is not the long-term starter, so that will provide a window to buy Thomas for cheap as he will have severely depressed statistics during Tebow’s reign.

Thomas FOR J.Battle (outright theft in dynasty)

Thomas FOR P.Parker/Bess/2nd (a quality prospect for 3 pieces that are unlikely to ever contribute)

Thomas/S.Rice FOR 1st/2nd (2 young upside WRs for future lottery picks)

Randall Cobb

The Packers passing game is a breeding ground for fantasy production (even James Jones puts up startable numbers close to half the time). Cobb has been a playmaker in his severely limited snaps and only lacks playing time to move up the fantasy ranks. Cobb has caught 17 of 21 targets this year with 4 missed tackles and 15 YPC (per profootballfocus). In addition to his situational offensive play, Cobb has averaged 27.8 yards/kick return and 13.4 yards/punt return. Patience is required with Cobb, but the potential upside with a highly talented WR playing with Aaron Rodgers is worth the wait.

Recent dynasty trades:

Cobb FOR Starks (I would much rather invest in the GB passing game than the rushing attack)

Cobb/1st FOR D.Jackson (a very aggressive trade, but Desean is so difficult to predict when to start)

Cobb FOR 2 2nd round picks in 2012 (I know Cobb can play, 2nd round picks next year? No idea.)

Cobb/D.Moore FOR Tebow (Tebow is a short-term play in my opinion, so Moore/Cobb is a great haul)

McGahee/Moreno/Cobb/F.Davis FOR Gore/M.Lewis (Gore valued more on name value in this one)

TE

Kyle Rudolph

Rudolph is another player I outlined in detail on my November 17th podcast “Under The Helmet” on Blogtalkradio. He is a huge target (similar in size to Gronkowski) with great hands that blocked well. Rudolph is the only TE in the top-10 for pass blocking and run blocking according to profootballfocus in 2011. Rudolph has caught 17 of his 20 targets was the most complete TE in the 2011 draft class. He has the ability to grow with fellow rookie Christian Ponder for years to come. Visante Shiancoe is a short-term roadblock to full-time snaps, which only keeps his price down to acquire Rudolph in the near-term.

Recent dynasty trades:

Rudolph, 2 1st round picks in 2012 FOR V.Jackson (a high price, but a good haul for V.Jackson)

Rudolph FOR 2nd/Battle (I love this trade all day)

Jermaine Gresham

Talk about having a short memory in fantasy football. Gresham is an atheltic freak still rounding into form after a 2009 major knee injury in college. He is a dynamic weapon with a good young QB in Dalton and a weapon to take coverage away from him over the middle (AJ Green). Gresham has top-5 upside at the TE position and his usage is my only concern heading forward.

Recent dynasty trades:

Gresham FOR Addai (an old RB for a high-upside TE…yes, please)

Gresham/2nd FOR S.Jackson (getting out of the old RB business)

Gresham/J.Rodgers/S.Smith (CAR) FOR Gore/Hunter/2nd (Smith WR1 short-term, more valuable than Gore)

As always, follow me on twitter @NFL_fantasy1 and listen to my podcast “Under The Helmet” every Thursday night at 6:30pm EST on blogtalkradio.com here http://www.blogtalkradio.com/profile3.aspx?userurl=nfl_fantasy1


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