Last year saw three QB's pass for over 5,000 yards, tight ends emerge as go-to receivers and the bellcow RB continues to head towards extinction. As the 2012 season approaches, BeastOrBust takes a look at some players and storylines to keep an eye on this season.
Don't assume that CJ Spiller will take a backseat now that Fred Jackson is healthy. What it does is give you an opportunity to buy into Spiller potentially at a discounted rate.
Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill is getting thrown into the fire from the get-go for the Dolphins. He has the intangibles to handle the struggles, but he has zero pass catching weapons to work with. TE Charles Clay and WR Davone Bess are deep sleepers for situational production, however.
If Stevan Ridley keeps the ball off the turf, he could be a nice RB2 this season. No other back on the roster runs inside as well as Ridley and he could be a goal line force.
The Jets offense is a mess, but we are still intrigued by Bilal Powell as an RB sleeper. If the Jets truly return to the ground and pound offense, he's got a very good chance to emerge. Shonn Greene is an underwhelming talent and Joe McKnight is more of a change of pace type.
Joe Flacco is better than he gets credit for. He remains undervalued in both Dynasty and re-draft circles. We have watched his game quietly progress the last two seasons. Once the Ravens implement more no huddle, his numbers are going to spike. Torrey Smith is going to benefit from this hugely.
If BenJarvis Green Ellis gets the same workload Cincy gave to Cedric Benson, Law Firm could be in for a very nice low end RB1 type season. His upside is capped however.
Antonio Brown is busting on the scene in a big way. Brown owners should be incredibly happy Mike Wallace finally signed his franchise tender. The duo compliment each others skill set nicely.
Josh Gordon has big time upside folks. Now is the time to go get him. By the end of the 2012 regular season, we expect everyone will be on to this guy as he rapidly takes over the X position from Greg Little. This will be the time when we start to see Little's numbers improve as well.
The Texans are still searching for a quality WR2 alongside Andre Johnson. Two to watch this season are rookie Keshawn Martin and 2nd year hype candidate Lestar Jean. Martin brings good speed and Jean has the size and hands to emerge.
The Colts are going to have an up and coming offensive unit in the near future. Vick Ballard is the RB talent to keep tabs on, he has the skills to take over as the featured back.
Blaine Gabbert has pleasantly surprised this preseason. If he has turned the corner (still very much a question), the rise to prominence we expect from Justin Blackmon could be accelerated greatly - giving him some sneaky WR2 value in his rookie season. Oh, and by the way, BeastOrBust.com is a huge fan of Rashad Jennings, even with MJD back from his holdout.
The Broncos have a potential dynamic talent in the backfield with Ronnie Hillman. Not a typical bellcow at just 5'9" and 200 lbs., he has an opportunity to be a fantasy factor this year in the passing game.
The Chiefs passing game runs through Dwayne Bowe, as it should. Don't forget about Jonathan Baldwin, though. He's got the size and speed to be a dangerous weapon for Matt Cassel this season. Also, if Bowe does not re-sign, he could very well be the WR1 in 2013.
Everyone knows Darren McFadden can't stay healthy. If/when he goes down, there are three potential fill-ins. Mike Goodson is a solid overall back with good receiving ability. Taiwan Jones is a speedster that could be a lightning rod. And then there is FB Marcel Reece, who has some Mike Tolbert in his game. He's a big back who can catch the ball and be the short yardage bruiser with DMC on the mend. A messy situation on the surface, but each of the "handcuffs" is worth a roster spot in deep leagues, with Taiwan having the most Dynasty appeal.
It's a shame that Vincent Brown broke his ankle this pre-season, as he had a real chance at WR3/4 numbers in the Chargers offense. He's a late season stash with the potential to give your fantasy team a shot in the arm heading towards the playoffs.
Will Dez Bryant's new conduct policy keep him in line? If it does, the Beastly talent has a chance to near his receiving production from the past two seasons combined in 2012. Those numbers were 108 catches, 1,489 yards and 15 TD's. He's got that kind of upside.
Jeremy Maclin is about to break out in a big way although his numbers are tied to Vick's health. He could realistically post WR1 numbers this season. Draft/trade accordingly.
The Packers run game is not going to be the strength of the team, but the situation is still worth keeping an eye. The incumbent, James Starks, has underwhelmed and that led to the signing of veteran Cedric Benson. For Dynasty purposes, though, watch the development/usage of Alex Green. The 2nd year back is recovering from an ACL tear last summer, but he's got the most long term appeal and the best pass catching ability on the team - an essential skill set on this pass happy team.
The Vikings might struggle as an offensive unit this year, but we should get a chance to see what Christian Ponder's future holds. He is solid QB2 upside long term and he needs to show the Vikings he's capable of being a franchise leader. Kyle Rudolph will get tons of targets and we expect him to be a huge factor moving forward.
Brandon Lafell is entering his third season and he's poised to take over the 2nd receiver role in Carolina. He's got solid speed, height and build to be an eventual fantasy WR3 if he can develop his rapport with Cam Newton. We expect this to happen early in the season.
Still wondering if Josh Freeman is going to bounce back in 2012? So are we. Recent reports say the team has concerns with his accuracy. Slow the hype train a bit, the dude still has big time upside. He may be capped by a Greg Schiano run based offense, but in an offense driven NFC South, we still expect to see plenty of passing. Freeman's new backfield mate, Doug Martin, has the look of a complete fantasy back. He's in the RB2-3 range this year, but has legit low-end RB1 upside. Make your move for him now because the price at this time next year will be much higher.
Who is the better former Virgina Tech RB - Ryan Williams or David Wilson? We are not yet sure, but they both have opportunity and a similar explosive skill set to produce nice fantasy numbers. We like the Giants offensive line better than the Cardinals. Both Beanie Wells and Ahmad Bradshaw share declining Dynasty values.
Can this be the year Sam Bradford put it all together? He's healthy, has some potential at receiver and a solid running game behind him. He's still only 24 years old and a true breakout might not be until 2013, but he needs to show why he was one of the most highly sought after Dynasty properties just a few years ago. Our fear is the beating he took the last two seasons is in his head....TBD.
Michael Crabtree will turn 25 years old in a couple of weeks and he has yet to fulfill his promise coming out of Texas Tech. His value in Dynasty leagues has bottomed out, but it could creep back with a more consistent 2012.
Pay close attention to Robert Turbin. Hard nosed runner that already has firm grasp to run between the tackles. An RB prospect we like for the long term should Marshawn Lynch falter even slightly.