I hope your Memorial Day was a great one. As Joseph Campbell once said, "a hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." There's nothing that I can say or do that could ever equal the contributions of our fallen heroes, but as someone who knows the pride of wearing the uniform, I want to send a big Thank You to all of our service men and women. We appreciate the job you do!
With Memorial Day officially in the books, it's time to open FantasyFootballNerd.com for the 2012 season! Not all of the sites have published rankings, but enough have that a meaningful consensus can be achieved. Here are some of my initial observations:
It's no surprise to see Arian Foster at #1 overall. The guy is just a beast! It also shouldn't be a surprise to see Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy following him at #2 and #3. Aaron Rodgers is the top-ranked QB and 4th ranked player overall ensuring a first round pick for the reigning NFL MVP. Rodgers is projected by many to have more fantasy points than any other player (standard scoring) this season.
The rankings also show me that the fantasy industry is expecting to see a lot more out of Ryan Mathews and Marshawn Lynch this year. Lingering doubts about last year's consensus #1, Adrian Peterson, have him slipping to 18th overall and 10th among RB's. The addition of Michael Bush hasn't materially impacted the expectations for Matt Forte in Chicago as he comes in ranked one spot ahead of Peterson. Two names that are new to the Top 15 rankings belong to DeMarco Murray (#11) and rookie Trent Richardson (#13). Both should see a lot of playing time in their respective offenses.
After a year off, Peyton Manning finds himself rounding out the Top 10 among QB's. That's six spots ahead of his replacement in Indy. Even though Andrew Luck was taken first in the draft, the FFN rankings show that the fantasy community is expecting Robert Griffin III to outperform him this season. Vincent Jackson has moved to Tampa Bay but that fact doesn't appear to do much for Josh Freeman who comes in at #20 among all QB's. The same goes for Alex Smith (#24), even though the Niners have added Mario Manningham and future HOFer Randy Moss to their arsenal.
Seeing Megatron ranked #1 among wide receivers was no surprise. Expectations for Stafford and Johnson are riding high in 2012. Even with the foot injury and successful surgery, Hakeem Nicks is still ranked in the Top 10 among WR's. Teammate Victor Cruz immediately follows him in the rankings. Expectations are higher this year for Brandon Marshall now that he's hooking up with ex-teammate Jay Cutler. Overall, the WR talent pool appears to be pretty deep this year.
You don't have to be a professional prognosticator to put Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham at #1 and #2 among tight ends. These guys played like and put up numbers like WR1's last season. If you don't land either in your drafts, don't worry. There are lots of value picks like Fred Davis (drug-free), Brandon Pettigrew, and Jacob Tamme (teaming up with Peyton in DEN) who will be available in later rounds. Kellen Winslow's move to Seattle didn't do anything to boost his value as he's coming in at #20 and won't see much fantasy playing time except as a bye-week filler or in deep leagues.
I expect to see some changes over the next few months leading up to our fantasy football drafts, but is it too early to start getting excited for the season?