2012 Fantasy Football Season Recap
(Note: average draft position (ADP) is according to FFToolbox.com, and player rankings are according to Yahoo)
Steals: "Don't do it," the analysts said. "Don't fall victim to the hype around RG3, he'll never repeat what Cam Newton did." Okay, Robert Griffin III may not have quite duplicated Newton's spectacular rookie numbers from last year, but that doesn't mean those analysts were correct in advising against drafting him. RG3 finished 7th among quarterbacks (Newton was 9th), with an ADP that ranked 12th at his position.
I have to say, if I weren't a Raider fan, I would have been all over Peyton Manning in the middle rounds of my fantasy draft. His ADP was 59.52, making him a late-sixth/early-seventh round pick in most leagues. Peyton rewarded those who took a risk on him, scoring the 3rd most points among quarterbacks, topping Tom Brady, whose ADP was 7.95.
My biggest regret of my fantasy draft (from the day of the draft to this very day) was missing out on Matt Ryan. I knew he was set for a big year, but I tried to sleep on him one round too long. He was the first of the non-elite quarterbacks taken, and there was a big drop off from Matt Stafford (5th highest ADP) to Ryan (6th highest). Ryan played like one of the elite, however, ranking 5th in fantasy points, which topped highly coveted draft day quarterbacks Cam Newton and Matt Stafford.
Busts: I mentioned him twice in the steals section, but not for good reason - Cam Newton was very disappointing for owners who reached for him early in the draft. His ADP had him going in the middle of the second round, but his play had him ranked behind several quarterbacks that could have been snagged much later in the draft.
Before the season, Eli Manning was beginning to be talked about as a Hall of Fame quarterback. His exceptional 2011 season that he capped off with a second Lombardi trophy certainly warranted that talk, but it set owners up for a letdown when Eli struggled this season. After a solid start to the year, Eli played absolutely terrible football in the middle of the season, likely single-handedly losing games for his fantasy owners. His ADP was 7th among quarterbacks, but he finished 16th in points, behind players like Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer.
Finally, we have the ever-controversial Michael Vick. It seems there's always a reason to be talking about this guy, and this year it was because he led his Eagles to a 3-6 start and was benched for a rookie. Vick returned for one last hoorah in Week 17 against the Giants, in which he saw the scoreboard light up in favor of his opponents, 42-7. His ADP had him drafted before three quarterbacks who finished the season ranked in the top seven.
Steals: Why did we ever doubt Adrian Peterson? We all knew he wasn't human. Why did him coming back from a devastating knee injury and being the best football player in the NFL surprise us? Peterson's ADP had him going in the early-third round - 9th among running backs. He pleased owners with the most impressive season a running back has ever had. Finishing just nine yards short of the single season rushing record, Peterson was the top fantasy running back by a long shot.
Your second ranked fantasy running back also happened to be a steal on draft day - rookie Doug Martin. His ADP of 42.81 (18th among running backs) was that high simply as a result of his expected heavy workload, but I don't think anyone expected him to be as effective with those touches as he was (if they did, he would have been drafted higher). As I said, he had the second most fantasy points among running backs, in large thanks to his 49 catches (second most among 1,000-yard rushers).
Finally, we have another sensational rookie - Alfred Morris. ADP: ??... He wasn't even drafted in the large majority of leagues, as Mike Shanahan (as usual) was extremely unclear during the preseason who would get the bulk of the carries in his backfield. He was picked up in all competitive leagues after Week 1, and finished the season as the 6th best fantasy running back.
Busts: Thanks to one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, Darren McFadden couldn't capitalize on his enormous potential. He did miss a few weeks due to injury, but was completely ineffective even when he was on the field. It seemed like he ran into a wall of defenders on every carry, and many in Oakland are now saying that McFadden doesn't fit in offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme. McFadden's ADP was 10.92, and no owner could possibly be happy about taking him that early.
I didn't want to put anyone on here who was simply a bad pick because of injury, but I think Maurice Jones-Drew still deserves a spot on this list. MJD did get hurt in Week 7 and miss the rest of the season, but he was completely unproductive in four of the five games before he got hurt. After his lengthy holdout, I knew I wasn't touching him on draft day, but he still had an ADP of 17.21. He finished as Yahoo's 226th ranked player, and was extremely disappointing in four of the five full games he did play.
For the past few fantasy seasons, I have wondered why Ryan Mathews is always ranked so high going into the draft. I've never been too impressed with him on the field, he has a spotty injury history, and he runs behind a bad offensive line. His ADP dropped to 24.66 (11th among running backs) thanks to a broken collarbone in the preseason, but I still thought that was way too high - and I was right. Mathews scored one touchdown all season, was benched for an ineffective Jackie Battle, and averaged only 3.8 yards per carry. He was 30th among running backs in points, finishing behind backups such as Joique Bell and Danny Woodhead.
Steals: It's always tough to know when to take a guy like Dez Bryant. He has exceptional ability, but you never know if he'll have his head in the game or if he'll be on the same page as Tony Romo. The second half of this season, Bryant played just about as well as any receiver in the league. He even played through a painful broken finger on his way to being the 4th ranked receiver in fantasy football. For those that drafted him at his ADP of 43.35 (14th among receivers) - good job.
Everyone knew that the addition of Peyton Manning would increase the value of the Broncos' receivers, but I'm not sure many people thought any of those receivers would improve as much as Demaryius Thomas did. Thomas' ADP had him ranked 18th among wide receivers, and he finished the as the 5th highest scorer at his position, making plenty of Top 10 worthy plays along the way.
I'm not sure anyone considered Michael Crabtree a bust for the 49ers before this season, but he certainly hadn't performed as well as fans in San Francisco had hoped since being drafted 10th overall in 2009. Crabtree finally looked like that early first-round pick this season, racking up 85 catches for 1105 yards. With an ADP ranking 36th among wide receivers, owners who grabbed him in the 11th round got a great bargain, as he finished with the 13th most points at his position.
Busts: There is one bright spot on the Cardinals' offense, but his fantasy value was thwarted by miserable offensive line and quarterback play. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented receivers in football, but he simply couldn't put up big numbers this season in an abysmal offense. Though his ADP ranked second among wide receivers, he finished 34th at his position.
Hakeem Nicks was banged up quite a bit this year, but even when he was on the field (played in 13 games), he rarely satisfied his fantasy owners. With the 12th highest ADP among receivers, Nicks was a huge disappointment as he finished 53rd at his position. He didn't even have a catch in his final two games.
A lot of people snagged Kenny Britt in the middle/late rounds thinking they'd have a stud receiver when he returned from his offseason knee surgery. Unfortunately, Britt never really got things going, and had owners holding onto him, waiting for his breakout game, all in vain. Britt finished the season as the 59th fantasy receiver, with only a small handful of decent games (and one good game) to his credit.
Steals: You should never doubt a Hall of Fame player who still starts in a high powered offense. Tony Gonzalez dropped to the 10th tight end drafted (on average), in large part due to his age. He proved that he's still got quite a bit left in the tank with another sensational year, finishing 2nd among tight ends in fantasy points.
There's a decent chance you still don't know who Brandon Myers is, but I'll have you know he was a great pickup after draft day if you didn't snag one of the top tight ends. Myers was undrafted in most leagues, but finished the year 6th in points at his position as the Raiders' leading receiver.
It's kind of hard to call Jason Witten a "steal," but he was definitely a bit undervalued in drafts this year. With an ADP of 77.38, Witten pleased owners with a career-high 110 receptions (most among tight ends) on his way to being the 3rd highest scorer at his position.
Busts: It seems that age may be catching up to Antonio Gates, who managed to stay healthy for almost the entire season, but still posted his lowest totals in receptions and receiving yards since his rookie season. The eight-time Pro Bowler was the fourth tight end taken (on average), but finished with the 12th most points at his position.
It's strange to see Vernon Davis have such a down year, as he is so immensely talented, is only 28 years old, and is coming off a string of great seasons. His ranking of 18th at his position surely made owners who drafted him as the fifth tight end (on average) quite unhappy.
Another player who had a peculiar bad season was Jermichael Finley. Finley has all the tools to be an electrifying play maker in the passing game, but has yet to tap into that potential, despite playing in a high powered offense. Finley's ADP was 6th among tight ends, but he only scored the 16th most points at his position.
There's no such thing as steals and busts when it comes to kickers and defenses. Have a good fantasy offseason, everyone.