Back at the beginning of August, I made some bold predictions about the Fantasy production of some NFL players for the coming season. I hadn’t watched much, if any, of preseason games. The season hadn’t started yet, and Fantasy teams hadn’t been drafted yet. I did this with the hope of helping out Fantasy owners… and to hopefully pat myself on the back once the Fantasy season was over. How’d I do? Let’s take a look.
Bold prediction #1: Not only will Jimmy Graham outscore Rob Gronkowski (for Fantasy purposes), but so will Aaron Hernandez.
It’s hard to say I’m right when there were so many injuries to all three tight ends this year. But the prediction was made without taking injury into account. In a league where receptions were awarded half a point, Graham came out on top with 85 receptions for 982 yards and nine touchdowns. Gronkowski did have more touchdowns (11) but only 55 receptions for 790 yards. Hernandez was hampered by an ankle injury, but finished fourth among tight ends (Antonio Gates was ahead of him). Hernandez had 51 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns. It’s hard to say what would have happened if Hernandez was healthy all season. Either way, Graham and Gronkowski went in either the first round or early in the second round, while Hernandez could be found in either the fourth or fifth round. The value for Hernandez ended up being better than Gronkowski’s. Although, all there owners likely aren’t complaining.
Bold prediction #2: Tom Brady will throw the most touchdowns in 2012.
Well, I certainly didn’t expect Peyton Manning to do what he did this year. The QB who threw the most touchdowns was Drew Brees with 43. Aaron Rodgers followed him with 39, Manning was two behind with 37, and Brady was fourth with 34. If we added in rushing touchdowns, Brady would surpass Manning, as he had four rushing touchdowns in 2012. However, he’d still be behind Brees (44 total) and Rodgers (41 total). Matt Ryan rounded out the Top Five with 32 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. The best value of the group is Manning. For owners that took the risk on him in the mid-to-late rounds, the risk paid off. Owners that used their first round draft pick on one of the big three – Brees, Rodgers and Brady – also were likely happy with their selection.
Bold prediction #3: Felix Jones will be Fantasy irrelevant by the bye weeks.
Well, DeMarco Murray got hurt, as predicted, but Philip Tanner was a useless handcuff for Fantasy owners. Lance Dunbar ended up passing him on the depth chart, but he wasn’t a good Fantasy option either. Jones did end up getting the start once Murray went down, but he wasn’t effective. Fantasy owners thought he’d be a solid waiver wire pickup around Week 6, and he did well that week, but regressed for the rest of the season. It’s unfair to say that Jones was Fantasy irrelevant by the bye weeks, but owners that either hung on to him or picked him up off waivers weren’t thrilled with having him take up a roster spot. Jones is a free agent and likely will not return to the Cowboys. Watch to see where he ends up before determining his potential Fantasy value in 2013.
Bold prediction #4: Robert Griffin III will have more Fantasy points than Peyton Manning and Cam Newton (separately, not combined).
I was wrong, although it was much closer than I would have thought. In a league that awards six points per passing touchdown or rushing touchdown, Manning ended up with the most points (384.96), followed by Newton (361.46) and then RG3 (357.50). Newton threw for 19 touchdowns; RG3 threw for 20, so if the scoring was adjusted to four points for a passing touchdown, they would be separated by less than a tenth of a point. The key here is that Newton went early in drafts; owners in redraft leagues took a flier on RG3 as their second quarterback and ended up benefitting. Manning was still the best bet of the three, but that may change heading into 2013. RG3 is coming off reconstructive knee surgery and will be a risk at quarterback. The surgery and recovery, even if successful, may hinder his ability to move about in the pocket and scramble. Without the rushing yards, RG3’s value is significantly lower. Manning is an injury risk as he gets older and he looked tired in the playoffs. He’ll still be drafted higher than RG3, but Newton is the QB to own out of this group. He proved he didn’t have a sophomore slump and should only improve heading into 2013.
Bold prediction #5: Matt Ryan will be a Top Five quarterback by the end of the season.
In terms of Fantasy points, again, with passing touchdowns being worth six points, Ryan finished at No. 5. He is very close to Newton and RG3, but he’s likely hit his plateau. While Newton has the potential to surpass him next year, Ryan will likely continue as is: a QB1, but not one of the elite. He had his best receiving corps and he still couldn’t prove himself an elite QB.
Bold Prediction #6: Calvin Johnson won’t finish the 2012 season as the wide receiver with the most Fantasy points.
Wrong again. While Brandon Marshall was very close, Johnson still had the most Fantasy points among all wide receivers in 2012. He ended the season with 122 receptions for 1,964 receiving yards. Marshall had 118 receptions for 1,508 yards. What’s interesting is both of those receivers are the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on their respective team. Sometimes the tendency of Fantasy owners is to shy away from the top receiver (perhaps not Megatron) for fear that he will receive all of the coverage. These two proved that targets and talent can overcome defenses. Johnson laughed in the face of the Madden curse, and is the top option at wide receiver in 2013 as well.