Adam Levitan

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Fantasy Pro Bowlers

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The NFL announced the Pro Bowl selections Tuesday night, generating the usual controversy over who got snubbed and who is undeserving. Yawn.

Let’s get to the fantasy Pro Bowlers, the guys that won owners the cash. Here is my fantasy Pro Bowl team for each conference, based on value -- not raw production:

QB - Cam Newton, Panthers: Aaron Rodgers scored more points, but Newton was a flier pick at the tail end of drafts. It’s a reminder to always invest in a quarterback with elite running ability. The rest is gravy.

RB - Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: Perhaps I need to reassess my evaluation of Lynch’s talent level. He was able to sustain health and power despite carrying the ball 20 or more times in eight straight games.

RB - LeSean McCoy, Eagles: We thought that Michael Vick would serve as the Eagles’ primary goal-line back, thus capping McCoy’s scoring upside. After all, the Eagles historically struggle to grind out tough yards with running backs. Nope. McCoy was dominant inside the 5-yard line, ending up with a league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns.

WR - Jordy Nelson, Packers: When James Jones decided to re-sign with the Pack, Nelson’s sleeper status took a big hit. That allowed him to sneak under the radar while becoming the clear No. 2 receiver opposite Greg Jennings.

WR - Victor Cruz, Giants: While Mario Manningham struggled with inconsistency and health, Cruz emerged as a dominant player out of the slot. It’s not a fluke. Dating back to his preseason glory, the former undrafted free agent always seems to be making big plays.

TE - Jimmy Graham, Saints: Never sleep on ex-basketball players turned tight ends. Especially when their quarterback is Drew Brees. This one was a layup.

QB - Tom Brady, Patriots: If Tim Tebow would have been given a chance to start the whole year, he would have this honor. Instead, it’s Brady -- who is quietly just 190 yards behind Drew Brees on the season.

RB - Reggie Bush, Dolphins: If you’re betting on players like Bush to transform their careers at age 26, you’ll lose in the long run. But Bush somehow successfully managed to become a feature back and stay healthy in Miami.

RB - Ray Rice, Ravens: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson all were touted ahead of Rice in the preseason. But with Willis McGahee out of the way, Rice predictably cracked double-digit touchdowns and outscored them all.

WR - Wes Welker, Patriots: Who sets career-high numbers at age 30 after tearing an ACL? The slot machine, of course.

WR - A.J. Green, Bengals: Perhaps it was concerns over fellow rookie Andy Dalton that caused Green’s stock to slump on fantasy draft day. Regardless, Green proved to be a steal thanks to remarkable playmaking ability. He easily outscored Julio Jones.

TE - Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: It took some time to wrap our brains around the fact that Gronk and Aaron Hernandez weren’t going to cap each other’s upside. Both play almost every down, serving as the No. 2 and 3 receivers. Of course, Gronk has proven to be unguardable by one mere mortal.

The Niners’ August signing of Braylon Edwards never made a lot of sense. He didn’t attract any real interest on the open market thanks to his bad knee, declining explosiveness and one-dimensional game. That lone skill -- going deep -- wasn’t going to be utilized by the conservative Niners and check-down captain Alex Smith.
So, Braylon predictably busted, catching just 15 balls for 181 yards and one touchdown in 14 games. He got passed on the depth chart by Kyle Williams and coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t like his practice habits.

Edwards is now subject to waivers, meaning any team can put a claim in for him and have him for the playoffs. It’s unlikely anyone will make the same mistake the Niners did.

Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) remains a question mark for the finale. The Steelers want him to play 25-30 snaps. … Mewelde Moore (knee) remains out. Isaac Redman will be the backup. … Legedu Naanee (foot) is out for the finale. Brandon LaFell gets the nod. … Kyle Williams sustained a concussion in Week 16. … Lavelle Hawkins (ankle) has a chance to serve as the No. 3 receiver Sunday. … Felix Jones (hamstring) is expected to be a full go for Sunday night’s do-or-die.

The Saints aren’t tipping their hand as to if they’ll play their starters Sunday. … Josh McCown will start the finale. … LeGarrette Blount played just seven snaps in Week 16 due to his fumble and ineptitude in the passing game. … The Redskins waived Ryan Torain. … Willis McGahee is vowing to play the whole game Sunday.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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