Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While it's true that we don't know where running back DeAngelo Williams will be plying his trade this season or whether wideout Plaxico Burress will be the No.2 receiver for Matt Schaub in Houston, there are still a few assumptions that can be made about the upcoming 2011-12 fantasy football season.
Below are 10 thoughts which have been rattling around inside my head:
1) Michael Vick is being listed as the No.1 or No.2 quarterback in most early-season rankings, but in eight seasons he's played all 16 games just one time and missed a total of 30 games (98 of 128). If you select him that high, be prepared to select a competent backup for the games he misses. In contrast, the other quarterback being selected that high, Aaron Rodgers, has played in 47 of his last 48 games.
2) Drew Brees has thrown more than 600 passes in three of the past four seasons, but the year he didn't reach that mark, his New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. The drafting of stud running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, in the first round should tell you where head coach Sean Payton wants his offense headed. Balance. Be wary of selecting Brees too high.
3) Peyton Manning led the league in passing attempts and completions, threw for 4,700 and 33 touchdowns despite losing much of his receiving corps during the season (Dallas Clark missed 10 games, Austin Collie 7, Pierre Garcon 2). If they are all healthy this season, he'll throw for 40+ touchdowns.
4) Like Manning, Philip Rivers' receiving corps was decimated by injury yet he threw for a league-high 4,710 yards and 30 TDs versus 13 interceptions. If the team acquires Carolina's Steve Smith to go along with Antonio Gates and possibly Vincent Jackson, Rivers could be a top-three fantasy quarterback. He's made 80 consecutive starts - durability isn't a problem.
5) Before you select Arian Foster No.1 overall off his fantastic 2010 season, remember that Houston's Steve Slaton was all the rage in 2009 after a 1,282- yard, 50-catch season the previous year. He was a top-10 pick the next year and failed to live up to expectations. Picking Foster No.1 is a bigger gamble than selecting Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson.
6) Many expects have Jamaal Charles in their top-four among running backs, but Thomas Jones got 245 carries last season and will continue to share in the workload. Barring injury, Jones' continued presence will limit Charles' touchdown total and the former Texas Longhorn star should be ranked in the second half of the top-10.
7) Jonathan Stewart is a top-10 running back if DeAngelo Williams is playing somewhere else, but his current ADP according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. is 45. If you are drafting early in the preseason, before Williams' 2011 destination is known, he's definitely worth the fourth-round pick as he could produce 1,400 yards and 12 TDs in a one-man backfield.
8) Don't expect Roddy White's targets to drop just because the Atlanta Falcons traded up to get talented Julio Jones in the first round of this year's draft. White led all receivers in 2010 with 179 targets and 115 receptions and was second in yards receiving with 1,389. Jones' looks will come from the 73 targets aimed at Michael Jenkins and 53 for Harry Douglas last year. White is still a top-three fantasy receiver.
9) Hakeem Nicks is a great receiver with top-notch red zone skills, but if Steve Smith is 100% healthy the two receivers will share the load equally. That means that Nicks' current ADP of 16.5, might be a bit too high and Smith's 80 ADP too low. The key, however, is Smith's health which after micro-fracture surgery is still unknown.
10) Before selecting Larry Fitzgerald in the second round (current fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP 23.6), you MUST know who will be throwing him the ball. Fitzgerald's reception total dropped to 90 and TDs to six in 2010, his lowest totals since an injured 2006 season, but his skills haven't deteriorated. If John Skelton is his quarterback, that's a problem. If it's Kevin Kolb or even Mark Bulger his numbers could return to "normal."
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