Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts 2012

sidney riceThe 2012 Fantasy Football season is just days away and many of you are finishing up your drafts. As most of you know the key to a great season is locking in on those sleepers and avoiding the busts. Here are just a few players to target and avoid in your upcoming draft.

I am a certified fantasy football nut. I start my research for next season a year before by honing in on college prospects, NFL coaching and personnel changes, and watching players and teams evolve throughout the season. Unfortunately in this era of fantasy football, that is the only real way to give yourself an advantage over your opponents. Or you could just let fantasy bloggers and writers like me do the research and bring our information into your process.

Before I get into the meat of the blog, you may be asking yourself what makes me such an expert. That is a fair question. In 2011-12 I went to the title game in every league I played and won all but one championship. How did I do it? I am hardly some kind of fantasy genius. I just happened to put in the hard work, go into draft day with my targets, and get the best value for my picks. You can do it too by grabbing these sleepers and at the same time, avoiding these tempting busts.

2011 Sleepers
Jonathon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs – Baldwin had a disappointing 2011-12 season due to his immaturity and personnel issues that were out of his control. Baldwin is an explosive player, drafted by the Chiefs to be the number-one target going forward. A backfield of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will undoubtedly open up passing opportunities for Cassel and Baldwin. In addition, the offensive line was greatly improved in the offseason with the addition of Eric Winston. At an ADP of 151 you are getting a potential steal with this sleeper.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks – Remember when Sidney Rice was a waiver wire champion a few years back? Unfortunately a plethora of injuries have turned Rice from sleeper to bust over the last couple of seasons. I won’t kid you. Rice is an injury risk. But at his ADP, he is an injury risk worth taking. Now that the Seahawks have given the nod to Russell Wilson, the sky is the limit for this tandem. Compound that with defenses preparing to stop Marshawn Lynch and you have a lot of opportunities for big plays coming Rice and Wilson’s way. Without the injury risk Rice would be go a lot sooner in fantasy drafts. With the risk, he is an absolute steal late in the draft if he stays healthy for even half of a season.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – There is nothing not to like about Wilson starting with the Seahawks. He is an explosive quarterback with a solid offensive line and one of the best running games in the NFL. Pete Carroll is going to give Wilson the opportunity to use his legs which could be big points in your league depending upon the scoring. Your casual fantasy players aren’t even aware that Wilson is the starter! This means you can grab a potential top 10 QB late in your draft. That’s right, I said potential top 10. I would not be shocked to see him crack the top 10, or even 8 if he has a full season behind center.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs – Welcome back to relevance Peyton Hillis. I love his situation in Kansas City. Hillis comes in as part of a 1-2 punch with one of the best running backs in the NFL. I have already written about the improved offensive line in Kansas City. The buzz is that the Chiefs want to give Hillis and Charles 500-plus carries. As the goal line back, Hillis could have gigantic value before the year is said and done.

Martellus Bennett, New York Giants – Bennett was a beast on college yet he never seemed to gel with Tony Romo in Dallas. Eli Manning is a quarterback that loves his tight end. Manning has made tight ends with a lot less talent into fantasy relevant players in the Giants’ offense. He is one of the most athletic tight ends in football. Unfortunately his immaturity makes him a big risk in the eyes of fantasy owners. While that is a valid concern, I have grabbed him in some drafts with my last pick. At that kind of ADP, he could turn into one of the best values of the season.

Busts
Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots – Brandon Lloyd has become the flavor of the year this season in fantasy. Everyone assumes that in the New England offense, reunited with Josh McDaniels, that Lloyd will become a top 10 wide receiver. Unfortunately that will take time. Reports out of New England are that the timing is just not there with Lloyd and Tom Brady. This is an offense that features tight ends first and wide receivers second. I’d feel a lot more excited about Lloyd if he wasn’t competing with Gronk and Aaron Hernandez. I actually look for Lloyd to become a 2013 sleeper with one season under his belt and a disappointing 2012.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks – It is hard to trust a guy that has his first breakout season in a contract year. It is even harder to trust that guy when he is Marshawn Lynch. I had Lynch last year and he was a big reason I won titles. I just find it hard to believe that he can repeat that same kind of productivity in back to back seasons. Oh and speaking of back, he has already had back issues in the preseason. There is also that little tidbit about a possible suspension. Hey I like the guy and I think he will have a nice season. But I would steer clear of taking anyone in the first or second round with this many question marks off the field.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Fantasy writers and talk show hosts have developed a serious fantasy crush on the rookie in Tampa Bay. I like the kid but the hype machine has gotten way out of control for Martin. Right now I have seen him go as high as the second round which is why I am calling him a bust. Are the Bucs all of the suddenly going to be that good where they can sit on leads and run the ball all day long? I don’t think so. There is a great chance that Blount gets all of the goal line carries as well. I’d love to grab him in the fifth round of my fantasy draft, but your expectations are way too high to take him where he is falling. You don’t like what I am saying? Take a look at NFL history. The only rookie running back in recent years to produce was Adrian Peterson. Unless you think Doug Martin is a better back than Peterson was in his rookie year, you’re best advised to stay clear of him.

Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers – Wallace has bust written all over him. He has shown up late to camp in a season with a brand new offense. Wallace is also playing on the franchise tag and we all saw how hard DeSean Jackson played last season when he didn’t have a long term deal. Plus, if the Steelers have no plans to keep him I’d expect them to decrease his role in the offense. Keep in mind that Wallace’s production declined last season down the stretch. Personally, I’d much rather take Antonio Brown later in the draft if you want a Steelers WR with value. At Wallace’s ADP, he will wind up with a bust season.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys – I continue to scratch my head about Murray. What am I missing? Why are fantasy writers and podcasters so high on this guy? I am looking at a guy coming into a season with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, a major weapon (Jason Witten) on the sideline, and potential injury issues at the wide receiver spot. I am also looking at a guy that racked up most of his big games against terrible defenses, while playing pretty average ball against good to great teams. Again I ask you, what am I missing here? Once he snagged the starting job, he only broke two 100 yard games after Week 8 and he has Felix Jones sharing time with him. He’ll have his moments but over the course of a full season he has bust written all over him. There is no way I am investing a first or second round spot in this guy.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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