Dynasty owners are constantly looking for rankings, projections and comparisons as they make offseason moves preparing for the following season. At BeastOrBust, we focus on 5 groups, the fantasy skill positions (QB, RB, WR and TE), along with Rookie Rankings for each season. We had an overall rankings list as well, but felt there was too many variables league to league and discontinued it last year. We are unveiling our Top 25 Dynasty Players Under 25 Years Old as a list that focuses on the game's youth and their long term potential.
Beastly QB's have the longest shelf life and on this list you'll see that valued highly. Someone like Cam Newton has the potential to be producing stud numbers long after a young RB or even WR has retired. There has been much written about the longevity of RB's in the NFL. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but by and large they are the most injury prone and have the shortest careers of the fantasy skill positions. On the flipside, in most leagues, the elite ones have the scoring ability to win championships almost single-handedly. It is a delicate balance that needs to be weighed and considered very carefully in Dynasty leagues. Wideouts, though, are 2nd to QB's in terms of longevity. While they may not produce as big of numbers as RB's, the added years carry weight in Dynasty leagues. The entire tight end scene is changing, but elite ones have known to be productive into their early 30's.
LeSean McCoy debuts at number 1 on our list. He is a speedy, big play threat that could have a Beastly prime. He'll enter 2012 at age 24 with a career 4.8 ypc average, over 3,000 total yards and 28 TD's (20 coming last year). If he can remain relatively healthy in the next 5 seasons, his production should overcome the career durability questions outlined above. Game changing talent.
Cam Newton had probably the best rookie season for a QB ever. He'll be 23 years old in 2012 and has the skillset to be the best fantasy QB for the next decade. Just like most run-first QB's, his legs will eventually slow down. Lucky for Cam, though, he has a potentially elite arm that should make up for any speed slippage in his late 20's. He still has a lot to learn, but the future is very bright.
Matt Stafford finally stayed healthy in 2011 and everything else fell into place. He dropped over 5,000 yards passing and 41 TD's. Did we mention he just turned 24 years old? Scary. He and Megatron have an opportunity to break records together.
Hakeem Nicks has the profile of an elite level WR with large, soft hands, after the catch ability and redzone prowess. He has not put together a truly Beastly season because of nagging injuries. If he can work past these in future seasons, the sky is the limit.
Rob Gronkowski just might find himself at the top of this list with another season like 2011. He breaks countless tackles with brute strength, has surprising quickness and an excellent knowledge of route running. His first two years have been insanely productive, with 28 TD's in 32 career regular season games. All of that from the tight end position and he's going into the 2012 season at the tender age of 23. .
AJ Green was billed as a potentially elite WR with the ability to make an instant impact. That is exactly what he delivered, with 65 catches, over 1,000 yards and 7 TD's as a rookie. If he can fill out his frame while keeping most of his explosiveness, Green will be unstoppable.
Ryan Mathews is on the verge of big things, if he can manage to stay out of the trainers room. He's missed 6 games in his first two seasons, but has flashed bellcow ability when healthy. Last season in 14 games, he managed over 1,500 total yards on 272 touches thanks to 50 catches and 4.9 ypc. Should Mike Tolbert leave town, Mathews has a legitimate shot at finishing as the top RB scorer.
Julio Jones played in 13 games as a rookie, showing difference making talent. He had 8 TD's, 54 catches and 959 yards (17.8 yards per catch). He added 6 rushes for 56 yards. His physicality and skillset might lead into the conversation for the league's most dangerous WR in the near future. Should be the Falcons WR1 by the end of 2012.
Dez Bryant could be number one on this list if Dez Bryant feels like it. He'll enter his third season needing only consistency to become an elite option. Production has been solid, but has not matched his talent thus far.
Percy Harvin is a versatile threat and untapped upside. He's yet to have a 1,000 yard receiving season or double-digit TD's, but brings valuable game to game consistency. He appears beyond his migraine issues and with increased looks, he might fulfill his potential as a high caliber WR2.
Josh Freeman had a mistake prone rookie season, but flashed franchise ability. It all came together as a sophomore, where he put up over 3,500 yards and 25 passing TD's. He relapsed in 2011, but was still productive in fantasy thanks to career highs in passing attempts, completitions and rushing TD's. He could be an average income man's Cam Newton and has Top 5 upside long term.
Kenny Britt could have been inside the Top 7 on this list had he not torn his ACL in Week 3 last season. He has 12 TD's in the last two seasons, which is both impressive and frustrating because it came in just 15 games. Should he rebound healthy and out of trouble, he could be one of the best WR in the game. He'll turn 24 just after the 2012 season starts, two months younger than AJ Green and two months older than Dez Bryant.
Jeremy Maclin has a similar fantasy profile to Percy Harvin. Both are WR2 types that have yet to record a 1,000 yard season. Where Harvin brings rushing ability to the table, Maclin offers more redzone ability and higher overall upside. 2012 is a pivotal year for J-Mac as he looks to take the next step.
Demaryius Thomas was the first WR drafted in 2010, ahead of Dez Bryant. He had unlimited upside, but played an injury-plagued rookie season that was capped off by a February Achilles tendon tear. His impressive performance during the last 5 weeks of 2011 and two playoff games gave reason for optimism even if Tim Tebow was to remain under center. With Peyton Manning in town now, he could help Bey Bey reach his sky high ceiling as a potential WR1. Just remember the risk for injury is higher than most others.
Aaron Hernandez is the Tight End version of Percy Harvin. He's versatile, dynamic and won't turn 23 until November. At the TE position, he is part of the new breed. Not the physical mismatch types like Gronk and Jimmy Graham, but the supremely athletic undersized ones that line up as receivers almost, if not more than they do at TE.
Antonio Brown is complete receiver with WR2 upside as he matures and develops. He broke out in 2011 with 69 catches and 1,106 yards, although he managed just 2 TD's. He has after the catch ability to keep secondaries honest and also upside as a possession type. Primed to take another step in 2012.
Mark Ingram did not end his rookie season as planned. He only played in 10 games, finishing with less than 500 rushing yards, 5 TD's and a season ending case of turf toe. He might be limited to RB3 value in the next season or two, Ingram still profiles as elite long term. He'll play much of 2012 as a 22 year old and the limited wear and tear early in his NFL career might benefit him in his mid-20's.
Sam Bradford had a solid rookie season and followed that up with a disatrous 2011. It's time for him to produce, take shots downfield and develop into the franchise QB he has the potential to be.
Demarco Murray has the speed and playmaking ability of a top notch RB threat. The only hurdle here is the fact that he has the injuryproneness of a Felix Jones. If he can manage to stay healthy, he should pile up yardage and TD's in 2012. To truly reach his ceiling, the Cowboys will need to utilize his elite ability in the passing game.
Jake Locker is not an accurate passer, but that did not stop the Titans from taking him at 8 overall in the 2011 Draft. What he does bring to the table is a strong arm, elite athleticism for a QB and tremendous instincts. If he can complete around 55% of his passes, Locker could be a Top 10 fantasy QB in future seasons.
Torrey Smith has the size and build to be more than just a deep threat. Should he continue to improve and develop his possession skills along with his speed, he has top end WR2 upside. If he shows more physicality and ability to go over the middle in 2012, big numbers will follow.
Greg Little was a raw receiving prospect entering the 2011 Draft and managed a solid, if unspectacular rookie season. He needs to take more advantage of his ability to break tackles and make more plays, but his physical skillset is enticing. He needs to show more explosive play on the field to maximize his potential.
Denarius Moore burst onto the fantasy scene in the summer, getting constant hype from local beat writers and fantasy sites alike. While most Raiders receivers are fast, Moore brings a special dynamic to the table. He runs quality routes, great body control and excellent hands. If he can add consistency to his game, Moore has high level WR2 upside.
Roy Helu was a Combine warrior that got an early opportunity to show what he can do as a rookie. He combines shifty moves with excellent receiving ability, along with solid size and build. Even though he profiles as more of a 15-20 touches per game back, he should be a very productive fantasy back.
Andy Dalton was not expected to be anything more than pedestrian as a rookie QB starter in Cincinnati. He finished the year with over 3,300 yards and 20 TD's and just 13 INT's. He added another TD and 137 yards on the ground. If not for the dominating performance by Cam Newton, the Red Rifle might have gotten more attention. He tops out as a QB2 type because of a lack of physical gifts, but that has plenty of value in a Dynasty league.
Next 5: Ben Tate, Jermaine Gresham, Titus Young, Chris "Beanie" Wells, Michael Crabtree
All players listed are under 25 years old as of Week 1, 2012. Throughout the season, we'll be updating this rankings list, removing players who no longer qualify because of age and shifting others based on performance and long term ability. 2012 Draftees will be added to the list only after they make their official NFL debuts.