Team-by-team draft targets, potential disappointments in 2012
Jay Cutler's cheap draft price tag will allow owner to target other positions earlier
DeMarco Murray could be great but has only seven starts to his credit in the NFL
Even with legal problems, Marshan Lynch may be best of second-tier RBs this year
Welcome to the heart of fantasy football drafting season. In many leagues teams are good to go, simply waiting for the opening kickoff at Snoopy Stadium, where the Super Bowl champions take their home field against the club formerly known as "America's Team." But for those of you who haven't drafted, here's a quick team-by-team look at some players who should be on and off your draft boards. If they're not, it's time to do some revising.
Yes, please: It's Larry Fitzgerald's team, but Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams could provide solid fantasy stats should they prove to be healthy. I lean slightly toward Williams as a later-round runner.
No thanks: The Cardinals don't rely on their tight end, Todd Heap. There are just too many better options around the NFL than the former Pro Bowl Raven.
Yes, please: The Falcons are serious about promoting Jacquizz Rodgers into a major offensive role this season, and he's worth drafting as a flex. Julio Jones will be a fantasy star.
No thanks: Tony Gonzalez had a heck of a bounce-back year in 2011, but with the emergence of Julio Jones and the Falcons' new fast-paced offense I can see a dramatic drop-off coming for the league's most prolific tight end.
Yes, please: Ray Rice is my top pick, but should something happen to him it looks like Bernard Pierce will be the one getting a lot of work. The rookie from Temple scored 27 times last year.
No thanks: Jacoby Jones is the third receiver and hasn't shown enough to be considered more than fantasy bench fodder. He's scored 11 offensive touchdowns with 1,741 receiving yards in five seasons.
Yes, please: Fred Jackson was leading the NFL in rushing through nine games last season and is fully recovered from a broken fibula, a traumatic, not chronic injury. He's someone who should have second-round value yet is regularly being taken a round or two after that.
No thanks: Given that Jackson is back, C.J. Spiller, largely disappointing in Jackson's stead last year, gets reduced to true backup who'll have an occasional big day. He's not going to be consistent enough for my taste.
Yes, please: By all accounts Brandon LaFell is going to provide the Panthers their best second receiver across from Steve Smith since Muhsin Muhammad's first tenure. Given the talented Cam Newton will be throwing to him, he's worth a pick in the later rounds. I also see a role for former Raider Louis Murphy in this offense.
No thanks: How many years has the two-headed DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart been frustrating fantasy owners? Sure, they'll have great numbers combined, but with Newton playing fullback at the goal line, neither has true RB1 appeal.
Yes, please: Should you miss out on the top tier of quarterbacks, don't fret as you'll be able to get Jay Cutler cheaply. Most will consider him a backup, but he affords you the chance to load up at other positions. With Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall to throw to in a new offense, he could have a great year.
No thanks: Perhaps the greatest return man in history, Devin Hester has never been able to parlay his vast skills into becoming a top NFL wideout. He's better left for someone else who'll be disappointed.
Yes, please: Bernard Scott has been hurt during the preseason, leaving BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the Bengals' best bet for a quality running game. His exploits in New England have often been shrugged off as simply a byproduct of Tom Brady's greatness, but he's better than that. Brandon Tate, another ex-Pat could also find himself having an impact.
No thanks: The aforementioned Scott is a 1,000-yard runner. Unfortunately, that's exactly 1,000 yards over a span of 45 games in three seasons. His career 4.0 yards per carry is solid but equals his NFL total of 4.0 touchdowns in 278 touches from scrimmage.
Yes, please: Aside from Trent Richardson, who may or may not have a chronic knee issue that may or may not affect him during his rookie season, Greg Little is a potential star receiver who'll benefit from having Brandon Weeden around.
No thanks: There's a feeling that Montario Hardesty's value is increasing because Richardson's health in question, but even if Richardson is out I wouldn't feel comfortable putting him in my lineup on a weekly basis against the likes of the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals.
Yes, please: There's considerable risk involved in banking on DeMarco Murray to become a great running back since the fourth-round pick has just 13 NFL games (seven starts) under his belt, only three of which could be considered outstanding.
No thanks: Insert broken record: Is this the year Felix Jones finally lives up to his potential? I'd also shy away from Jason Witten, who's recovering from a lacerated spleen based solely on the idea that it doesn't make sense to count on someone who'll have to subject himself to big hits by large angry men while just recovered from an internal organ that's been bleeding due to the same cause.
Yes, please: Need a kicker? Matt Prater will be one of the league's highest scorers and is even better in fantasy league's that reward points for long field goals.
No thanks: There's a lot of support for Jacob Tamme because he played with Peyton Manning in Indy and is seen as someone who knows the system. However, while he did have big numbers in part of a season with Manning at the helm, he was also often chided by No. 18 for NOT knowing where to be.
Yes, please: There's a lot of firepower here and some will be available on the cheap. Titus Young is a quality young receiver who'll be worthy of a roster spot all year while Ryan Broyles could become a consideration in PPR leagues.
No thanks: Even if he's cleared to play following last season's concussion, can anyone really trust Jahvid Best in their lineup?
Green Bay Packers
Yes, please: James Jones is currently the Packers third wideout, but Randall Cobb displayed a knack for getting open downfield and holding onto the ball, something that Jones has had problems with in the past. If he's not drafted, Cobb won't last long on the waiver wire.
No thanks: There was no greater vote of "no confidence" in James Starks than the late signing of Cedric Benson. The former Bear and Bengal should take over the role formerly occupied by Ryan Grant and will score touchdowns, but he leaves Starks as a fantasy non-starter in the early going.
Yes, please: Sure he's a backup, but I love Ben Tate's game and the Texans' offensive line. He's capable of putting up 90 yards while simply providing a breather to Arian Foster.
No thanks: Andre Johnson's season has been cut short by injuries in three of the past five seasons. While it would be great to have him in your lineup, he just spends too much time on the sidelines to commit the high draft pick it will take to get him. Should he fall to the fourth or fifth round, however, swoop in without hesitation.
Yes, please: Do you feel Luck-y? The NFL's top overall pick, Andrew Luck, certainly looks like someone who can play in this or any league. While I still wouldn't count on him as your top quarterback, his potential makes him an attractive asset to have.
No thanks: I'm rooting for Austin Collie, but following another possible concussion against the Steelers in the preseason, he's just not someone I would use. Again, he may not be more susceptible to concussions than anyone else, but his history makes him more of a candidate to be rightly treated with kid gloves at the slightest sign of distress. Unfortunately, that will mean the potential for the fantasy lineup's worst enemy, the DNF (did not finish).
Yes, please: So perhaps there's hope for Blaine Gabbert after all. The second-year QB looked comfortable in the preseason and his 126.1 rating is second only to Sam Bradford among likely starters. That doesn't mean he should be drafted, but at least Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson should have decent value.
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