Looking at the title, I am sure most of you are groaning that I am throwing out yet another fantasy football rankings list. Over the past several months, we have all been inundated with rankings after rankings of all positions. Not this time. The top picks in this year's fantasy football draft were calculated based on our cheat sheet system. These top picks are players that are considerably better than the rest of the pack in terms of fantasy point production and reliability. These players are considered "First-Tier" players. The best of the best.Like him, love him or hate him, Tom Brady is the No. 1 projected scorer on our cheat sheet.
What I did was implement a scoring system for a standard 12-team PPR league using our Draft Guide:
- 6 points for passing/rushing/receiving touchdowns
- 1 point for every 25 yards passing
- -1 point for every 1 interception
- 1 point for every 10 rushing/receiving yards
- 1 point for every 1 reception
Below are the calculations from each position showing which players should be considered Tier-One options by their projected points for the 2012 season. Keep in mind that our cheat sheets contain much more info than I provided like Strength of Schedule, Auction value, etc, but I wanted to give you the projected points as they coincide with the values I entered so you can see how much higher the top few players rank at each position. The players in yellow are the cream of the crop in this year's class.
As you can see, Brady and Rodgers are in a league of their own this year. With both projected to put up well over 400 fantasy points by the end of the fantasy season, these two are what I consider the safest bets amongst all quarterbacks in the top 10. Some will argue that Brees deserves to be in that tier also. But when he is projected to gain 47 points less than Rodgers, Brees is on the outside looking in.
Despite the trend that the NFL is gearing more towards a passing league, there are still quite a few fantasy running backs who you can say are "must-have" players in 2012. One of the biggest reasons is because all the guys who are listed at the top of the running back food chain are excellent pass catchers. Which, if you are playing in PPR leagues, adds a hell of a lot more value. It's no doubt that Foster, Rice and McCoy are three safe bets. And some will argue these three should be the only players in the first tier. But with Mathews and Johnson only 5 and 6 points behind McCoy respectively, I'm going to say that they should also be added. Like Brees, McFadden is left out in the cold since he's projected to score 34 fewer points than Johnson, making him the leader in the tier-two group.
When it comes to fantasy receivers, Megatron is in a class all his own. Some would argue that Fitz belongs in the first tier with Johnson. But with a point projection of 27 points less, he clearly doesn't belong there. If Fitzgerald had a better quarterback, then I could easily see him getting close to reaching the pinnacle of perfection. But with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton battling for the starting job, Fitzgerald is going to have a bumpy road ahead of him.
Like the receivers, I could have easily kept Graham as the only tight end worthy of tier-one status. But because there aren't as many tight end options as there are receivers, Gronkowski deserves to be in the mix. Some would say Gronk deserves the top spot. But the feeling is that with Brandon Lloyd now in the mix and Aaron Hernandez's value growing, Gronk likely won't match the numbers he put up in 2011. Graham, however, has a higher ceiling and will easily lead the team in targets by the end of the year. Gates is Gates. Still a threat in an offense that lost Vincent Jackson, but will come nowhere near the numbers Graham and Gronkowski can put up.
And there you have it. Ten tier-one options that everyone should have on their roster. Chances are you will only be able to get one in a 12 team league. Maybe two if you're lucky and you play with a bunch of people who have absolutely no clue what they're doing. If for some reason you wind up snagging three by shear luck? You might as well tell all your fellow owners to give you the championship trophy right after the draft.