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FANTASY FOOTBALL: PINK ZONE COVERAGE

Sarah Bojarski Staff Writer January 6, 2012 8:05AM EST

After Week 1, I made some bold predictions. Apparently overly confident after my April predictions worked out, I decided to be a little bold with these. The result? Not as good, but I did get some right. Let’s go back to Week 1 and find out where I went astray and where I actually was correct.

Quarterback

Bold prediction #1: Matt Ryan will lead the league in total passing touchdowns.

Not quite. After a slow start, Ryan did pick it up toward the end of the season, but he ended up tied for sixth in terms of passing touchdowns. Drew Brees led the league with 46, followed by Aaron Rodgers, who didn’t play in Week 17, with 45. Matthew Stafford edged out Tom Brady for third with 41 (Brady had 39). Tony Romo had 31 and Eli Manning and Ryan tied with 29. Not even close. Despite the emergence of Julio Jones, Ryan didn’t throw for as many touchdowns as predicted. He beat last year’s total by one, but his performance wasn’t enough this year to warrant him as a Top Five pick in next year’s draft. He ended the season with 4,177 passing yards and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for two touchdowns. In 2010, he had 3,705 passing yards and nine interceptions with zero rushing touchdowns. He’s a solid Fantasy quarterback to own; he’s just not worth an early-round pick.

 

 
 

Bold prediction #2: Cam Newton, Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick will outscore Jay Cutler, Eli Manning and Kyle Orton in terms of Fantasy points this season. This is designed not as a sum of all three, but rather those three QBs will each outscore the other three QBs.

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Matt Forte was on track to be a Top Five running back. Photo Credit: Icon SMI

While it wasn’t designed as a sum, if you treat it as one, Newton, Henne and Fitzpatrick outscored Cutler, Manning and Orton by over 100 Fantasy points. Newton was the highest scorer out of the group, by far, followed by Manning and Fitzpatrick. Obviously, Cutler and Henne got injured, and Orton was traded to Kansas City once Tim Tebow took over in Denver. However, at the beginning of the season, when one read that statement, most people thought I was nuts. No one had drunk the Kool-Aid on Newton just yet, and I was predicting he’d score more than Eli Manning? He did. Newton is a Top Five QB for next year’s draft, and while there is the Josh Freeman-sophomore slump risk, he looks to have more talent than Freeman. With a full offseason and training camp, Newton should continue to succeed next year. As for the other five, wait and see what the Bears’ offense looks like before making a decision on Cutler. Manning will be a Top-10 quarterback, and he retains many of his offensive weapons. While I originally thought the Giants would be a run-first offense, Manning looked good this year, and odds are the Giants will continue their passing success in 2012.

 

Running Backs

Bold prediction #3: Matt Forte will end the season as a Top Five running back in terms of Fantasy points.

I never specified whether this was a PPR league or not, but it didn’t end up mattering. Even assuming 0.5 points per reception, Forte finishes 14th, behind Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush and Michael Bush, among others. However, at the end of Week 12 (Forte injured his knee in Week 13), Forte was fourth in total Fantasy points. LeSean McCoy led the league with 224.8, followed by Ray Rice (216.94) and Arian Foster (198.4). Forte ended his season with 997 rushing yards and only three rushing touchdowns. However, he added 52 receptions for 490 yards and a touchdown. The lack of touchdowns did hurt his Fantasy value, and that is the reason he is not being considered a top running back when looking toward next year. Forte’s knee looks to be ok, as he expects to play in the Pro Bowl. However, with the Bears’ coaching staff shifting around, see who is coaching the team to determine what kind of role Forte will likely have next year. McCoy, Foster and Rice look to be the Top Three backs taken next year, with Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson and Forte being next in line in most leagues. Maybe next year he’ll end the season as a Top Five running back.

 

Bold prediction #4: In the preseason, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles were listed in the Top Five running backs. They will not end the season in the Top Five.

In their place, look for the above-mentioned Forte, LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden.

Well, two out of three isn’t bad. Foster did end up in the Top Five, but Johnson and Charles did not. While Charles was lost to injury, Johnson just ended up as a disappointment to any Fantasy owners that drafted him. The call on Charles was based on the mediocrity of Kansas City, and it is hard to say how he would have done across an entire season. No other Chiefs running back stepped up in his absence, but Charles should be back by the beginning of the season next year. Forte and McFadden didn’t crack the Top Five, but that was because of injury as well. McCoy did, however, earning second-place honors in almost every league (PPR or not). The big question is where to draft these guys next year. With McFadden as an injury risk, he has to fall out of the Top Five RBs, potentially falling outside the Top 10 in leagues that have owners wary of his ankle/foot/injury problems. Forte, health-wise should be fine, although he will likely have the same contract issues that Johnson had this year. Johnson has the potential to have a huge bounce-back year, rewarding owners that pick him in the middle of the first round on Draft Day. Charles is another risk, coming off ACL reconstructive surgery, leaving Foster and McCoy as the top two backs out of this list.

 

Wide Receivers

Bold Prediction #5: Dez Bryant will end the season with more Fantasy points than Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne or Hakeem Nicks.

Here’s how those four ended up, assuming no points per reception:

Dez Bryant: 139

Dwayne Bowe: 137

Reggie Wayne: 113

Hakeem Nicks: 154

Again, two out of three isn’t bad. Given Bryant’s injury struggles as well as second-half of the game struggles, he faired decently this season. Without Peyton Manning, Wayne struggled more than anyone predicted he would heading into the year. Bowe lost his quarterback as well, not to mention the loss of the top running back on the Chiefs. Only Nicks still had his quarterback and remained mostly healthy through the year. He only missed one game this year for injury. Despite the emergence of Victor Cruz, Nicks was able to remain (arguably) the No. 1 receiver for the Giants. It will be interesting to see what happens next year with both Nicks and Cruz on the field all season as the top two wideouts on the team. Both WRs will likely go around the same time on draft day – and both will also likely go before Bryant, Bowe and Wayne.

Tight Ends

Bold Prediction #6: Out of my original list of Top Five tight ends (Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis), only two will end the season in the Top Five in terms of Fantasy points. I’ll even go so far to say the two that will be in the top will be Witten and Finley.

I did go on and say Jimmy Graham will likely be in the Top Five. I liked Fred Davis as a sleeper to crack the Top 10, and I remained neutral on the Patriots’ tight ends, because it was anyone’s guess which TE will have the better game. Turns out, I was on the right track. Depending on if the league awards points per receptions, the two tight ends to end the season in the Top Five are either Jason Witten or Jermichael Finley. In either type of league, Rob Gronkowski was the clear-cut top tight end, followed by Graham, Aaron Hernandez and Tony Gonzalez. Gates and Vernon Davis ended up in the Top 10, but Fred Davis did not. Clark was outscored by Ben Watson, Dennis Pitta and Visanthe Shiancoe. Ouch. Looking ahead to next year, the Patriots’ tight ends should continue to be successful in that high-powered offense. Same goes for Graham with the Saints. Gates will continue to be an injury risk, and should not be considered a Top Five tight end. Witten and Finley should have similar seasons. However, don’t expect Clark to make a comeback just yet. Also, watch for Gonzalez to have a down year as his age finally catches up with him.

Just for fun lucky #7 prediction: The Detroit Lions will make the playoffs; the Philadelphia Eagles won’t.

Yes! Got this one correct!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know at sbojo32@rotoexperts.com or follow me on Twitter @RotoExpertSarah

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2 Comments »

  1. jwmann2 February 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm -

    Lesean Mccoy had a monster year. I expect him to be in high demand this upcoming season in the fantasy world.

  2. Sarah Bojarski, Staff Writer
    Sarah Bojarski, Staff Writer February 20, 2012 at 11:35 am -

    I agree… with all the injuries to RBs this year, he is likely a Top Three RB off the board.

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