What does it mean to be a top 5 player in fantasy football? Do you need an ADP of 3.1 like Aaron Rogers? Do you need to be considered safe like Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy? I don’t think so. I say a top 5 player needs to help you win your league through production and value on draft day.
In 2010 it was Jamal Charles, drafted in the middle 3rd to early 4th round who produced 1,467 yards rushing, 468 yards receiving and 8 total TDs. That’s value, that’s a top 5 pick in the third round.
In 2011 it was Matthew Stafford who had an ADP of 98 and threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns against only 16 interceptions.
That means you could have spent your whole draft loading up on wide outs and running backs then taken your QB in the 9th/10th round and received one of the top 10 seasons of QB production of all time. So, who will be this years Jamal Charles? Who will be this years Matthew Stafford?
All of this brings us to this years top 5 list. A month ago I liked Matt Ryan to have a break out season. After watching a couple preseason games and seeing him hook up with Julio Jones for 109 yards and a TD in week one and throw for 174 yards and a TD in week two, I’m really excited.
Some argue if Matt Ryan was going to break out, he would have done it by now. I disagree. Roddy White is the pillar of consistency logging 4 straight seasons as a top 7 receiver. Add Julio Jones in his second year, void of a lock out so he’s getting all the practice and conditioning he didn’t get last year. Then there’s the explosive Jacquizz Rodgers who’s having a nice preseason and some old-timer named Tony Gonzalez. I say they all add up to a top 5 QB available in the 5th or 6th round.
What does a receiver need to succeed? Opportunity. Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers will have lots of opportunity this year. Hines Ward is retired and the backfield is a mess. The Steelers won’t be able to play ball control football the way they used to. Last year Brown had 1,108 yards but only 2 touchdowns. His ADP is currently 53 meaning a 6th round pick. Given the Steelers will be airing it out mixed with Brown’s speed I think its fair to assume his yardage total goes up as do the touchdowns. That’s a lot of value in the 6th round.
Running back is a mess this year, after the top 4 or 5 there are questions galore. The key to a championship will be landing the right lottery ticket late in a draft. Kevin Smith of the Detroit Lions is currently going late in the 7th round. While not the healthiest of players, if he can stay on the field this season he will be a monster. There’s little competition with Jahvid Best nursing continuing concussion symptoms and Mikel Leshoure with hamstring and suspension issues. The Lions strength is not power running but expect Smith to excel in PPR formats with Stafford coming close to last year’s 663 attempts. Dink, dunk, value.
Ever heard of Reggie Wayne? Didn’t think so, he’s new. He’s new to Andrew Luck that is and Luck seems to like throwing his way. Wayne has an ADP of 77 which puts him smack in the middle of the 8th round. Luck will air it out this year coming to the league as the most polished NFL prospect since Peyton Manning. I think Wayne has a bounce back year and is well worth the late round pick.
I’m waiting on TE this year. There are just too many options late in the draft. I think Fred Davis joins the elite in 2012. Its common place for rookie signal callers to lean on their TE’s and RG3 will be no different. Davis had the 3rd best YAC through 12 games last year behind only Gronk and Graham. Did I mention he’s going in the 10th round? #Value.
My sleeper in 2012 is Mike Williams of Tampa Bay. Vincent Jackson is in town so defenses will have to respect his deep threat ability. Williams has gobs of talent, is going in the 13th round, and could easily get back to and exceed his 2010 form of 964 yards and 11 TD’s.
- Todd McDannell