The Fantasy Football season is still several months away. And even though we are waste deep in the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft, it's always good to get an early start on next year. What better way to kick it off than to give a very early prediction for the first round. I know my picks will differ from many others. Even though you had quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton bust out in 2011, I am still in the mindset that if I have the first-overall pick, I'm going running back. This has worked a lot for me in the past, so why fix what isn't broken. For those in the mid-range, going for a Drew Brees or even Calvin Johnson (PPR) might be your best bet.
1 point- 25 Yards Passing
1 points - 10 Yards Rushing/Receiving
6 points - Passing/Rushing/Receiving Touchdowns (This here is the big one. If I only get 3-4 points per passing and/or receiving touchdown, I would rather load up on running backs first).
1. Arian Foster - RB - HOU: I know I know. I should be taking Aaron Rodgers here, but I simply can't bring myself to do it. Even in 13 games, Foster still managed to rack up 141.7 total yards a game with 12 total touchdowns. A restricted free agent, getting the highest tender possible, I see Foster putting up at least 1400 rushing yards and 500 receiving.
2. Aaron Rodgers - QB - GB: There. Happy? If I played in a league that didn't reward 6 points for passing touchdowns, I'd pass on Rodgers and take either Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy. It's difficult to see Rodgers matching his 45 touchdown passes from 2011. But even is he averaged 2 a game (32 total), owners will be delighted.
3. Ray Rice - RB - BAL: The biggest reason I like Rice is because he's safe. He is probably the safest pick in, at least, the top 5. In the last3 years, Rice has averaged 1309 rushing yards, 654 receiving yards and 72 receptions, making him PPR gold. I don't see the Ravens going to a more pass-oriented offense anytime soon, which should put Rice up near the top of the rankings.
4. LeSean McCoy - RB - PHI: I'll get knocked for this being a homer pick, but McCoy's carries and rushing yards have steadily gone up in the 3 years he has been in the league. Many fault Andy Reid for not giving McCoy the ball enough. But since he's not a bruiser, limiting him a game here and a game there will help in the long run. I would like to see his receptions go up. He went from 78 in 2010 to 48 in 2011. The status of DeSean Jackson also figures to come into play.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew - RB - JAX: Might be a little bit too high for MJD, but it's hard to not put him in the top 5 after he led the league in rushing with 1606 yards. And all that was done with the worst, or one of the worst, passing offenses in the league. The Jaguars are going through heavy changes this offseason, including new ownership, a new coaching staff and, hopefully, a new quarterback. It seems like he's been playing forever, but MJD will only be 27 when the 2012 season begins. If the team can make some upgrades on offense, Jones-Drew should easily attain 1600-1700 total yards and 10-12 total touchdowns.
6. Cam Newton - QB - CAR: Two things are against Newton right now. One is the dreaded "Sophomore Slump." After breaking almost every single NFL rookie record, the question will be if he can even come close to any of his 2011 numbers. Another question mark will be the status of Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski, who is gaining interest in the Jaguars' head coaching spot. So given that Newton is a force near the goal-line with his 14 rushing touchdowns, that makes him a strong option alone. But, his value could decrease if it looks like he isn't improving on his mechanics in training camp.
7. Calvin Johnson - WR - DET: Calvin Johnson. Andre Johnson. Both are deserved of the No. 7 spot, but I leaned more towards Megatron not only because I like Matthew Stafford more than Matt Schaub, but also because the Lions' running game has been a question mark. With a healthy Stafford, Johnson averaged 105.1 receiving yards a game, had 8 100+ yard receiving games with 16 touchdown catches. With Jahvid Best one more concussion away from being done with football completely and the status of both Kevin Smith (FA) and Mikel Leshoure (Achilles) unknown for the start of training camp, the Stafford-to-Johnson connection could be in full force again in 2012.
8. Drew Brees - QB - NO: With 6 points per touchdown, why not? 13 300+ passing games and 46 touchdown passes in 2011 will give anyone a chance to be in the fantasy top 10. The biggest thing to watch out for is what happens to Marques Colston. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, there has been no word on what the team plans to do with their No. 1 receiver. Brees' free agency status also muddies up the waters. So if Colston is gone, and he says he WON'T take a hometown discount, Brees' value drops.
9. Andre Johnson - WR - HOU: For those who think Johnson will fall under the radar because of an injury-riddled 2011 season, think again. By the time training camp rolls around, both Johnson and Matt Schaub should be good to go in what will be Johnson's bounce-back season after catching a measly 33 passes in 7 games.
10. Matt Forte - RB - CHI: At one point, Forte was the receiving game for the Bears as he racked up 52 receptions in 12 games. A free agent in 2012, no one know what the future holds. The Bears fired GM Jerry Angelo after many questionable decisions and OC Mike Martz resigned. And as a free agent, it's not yet known if Forte will even be a Bear by the time OTAs begin. Talks have been said to be very far apart, but I just can't see the team letting their best offensive weapon leave. So if the pieces fall into place, Forte should be a strong PPR option next season.
11. Tom Brady - QB - NE: I could of ranked Brady after Andre Johnson, but I don't want to give the quarterback position THAT much love. Brady is one of those quarterbacks, like Peyton Manning, who can make anyone around him look better. With the addition of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Brady set career highs in passing yards (5235), yards a game (327.2) and yards-per-attempt (8.6). Owners can thank a shoddy secondary and a so-so running game for Brady having to heave it up so much. But even so, Brady should be a lock for 4300 passing yards and 35+ touchdowns in 2012 even when the team improves both areas. Brady can move up a couple notches in the next few months.
12. Larry Fitzgerald - WR - ARI: Have to go with Fitzgerald in the last spot. Even with continuing question marks at quarterback, he still caught 80 passes for 1411 yards and 8 touchdowns. The jury is still out on if Kevin Kolb is a legit starting NFL quarterback. But with the news that Ken Whizenhunt might bring Toddy Haley back to call the offense, that could be huge for the Cardinals.