6. Michael Vick / Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
- Don’t get caught up the debate over Vick’s standing among NFL signal-callers. Whether he’s top-5, top-10 or top-15, the rifle arm and crazy legs ensure that Vick remains one of the league’s most electric performers every time he steps foot on the field. From a fantasy perspective, though, it’s his surrounding talent that makes the difference between mid-range QB1 and the highest ceiling in the game. As I pointed out in May, my fantasy sports philosophy
essentially boils down to targeting the player with the highest upside in a best-case scenario. Vick was averaging nearly 10 points per week more than the next-closest quarterback down the stretch run two years ago. That’s the holy grail of fantasy in a nutshell.
Eagles beat reporters issued, in unison, a “breakout alert
” for a noticeably stronger
Maclin this spring. They weren’t alone. Vick and former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah
are both predicting a “huge year
” for Maclin. One trusted national source has confirmed to Rotoworld privately that Maclin was a beast in offseason practices. On pace for 90 receptions and over 1,200 yards before shoulder and hamstring injuries limited him to 19 catches and 253 yards in the second half, Maclin is a prime candidate to crash the top-10 fantasy receivers in 2012. Keep in mind the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft is just two months older than A.J. Green
7. Mike Wallace, Steelers
- Antonio Brown
may be a superior route runner, but there’s no comparison between the top two Steelers receivers in terms of pure talent. Brown fashioned an impressive second-half while capitalizing on single coverage. Wallace is first in yards per reception and fourth in touchdown rate
in the entire NFL over the past ten years while hauling in 42 percent
of the team’s receiving scores in 2010 and 36 percent last season. Despite facing bracket coverage, Wallace hasn’t finished out of the top-10 fantasy receivers since entering the starting lineup. Don’t mistake the wide-receiver pecking order in Pittsburgh; Wallace is the one with the unique talent.
8. Andre Johnson, Texans
- I was recently asked on Twitter
if Johnson qualifies as a “buy” considering his age and late injury history. Despite the twin hamstring injuries last year, Johnson was still getting open at will in the playoffs, racking up 13 catches and 201 yards on 24 targets in two games.
Still viewed by none other than esteemed NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell as the league’s top receiver
, Johnson is a Hall of Fame talent with 2-3 elite fantasy seasons left under his belt. The age and injury concerns have lowered Johnson’s value to the point where he’s an affordable acquisition for contending owners seeking that final piece to put them over the top in 2012. If your first-round draft selection isn’t in the top three or four picks, flip it for a player who can add put the trophy on the mantle over the next few years.
9. Jake Locker, Titans
- After rewatching Locker’s rookie-season relief appearances, Rotoworld matchups guru Evan Silva compared the athletic dual threat
to a young Donovan McNabb
. Locker boasts every necessarily physical tool in spades while possessing natural playmaking ability.
What has me just as excited in Dynasty formats, though, is the plethora of young talent surfacing in Tennessee’s offense. Chris Johnson
’s 4.8 YPC average in the final nine games was right in line with his career mark, Kenny Britt
is a legit No. 1 receiver, Jared Cook
is a freakishly athletic tight end and Kendall Wright
falls in line with Percy Harvin
as the model for the dangerous new-age slot receiver. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer is expected to implement a wide-open, “explosive
” offense with more multi-receiver sets.
10. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
- From the outside looking in it certainly appears the initial reaction to Bryant’s first-ever arrest has brought more hand-wringing than Marshawn Lynch
’s third arrest. Widely respected Dallas Morning News scribe Rick Gosselin, who does have access to high-placed sources, is calling for a team-issued suspension while noting that Bryant “puts himself on a pedestal
above his team in uniform and out.” As NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal points out, on the other hand, disciplining Bryant could be tricky
for the NFL and the Cowboys.
My opinion on Bryant’s Dynasty outlook hasn’t changed since last year
. I still view him as a clueless kid ignorant of basic adult responsibilities rather than a bad seed of Brandon Marshall
proportions. Offseason reports suggest Bryant has shown tangible improvement on the field
while finally transforming his body
into freakish football shape. One reliable source has confirmed to Rotoworld that Bryant has indeed honed his route running and chemistry with Tony Romo
as the light switch has flipped on. By October, the misdemeanor arrest will be fading in the rear-view mirror.More trade targets: Percy Harvin
, Demaryius Thomas
, Eric Decker
, C.J. Spiller
, Aaron Hernandez
, Jonathan Stewart
, Denarius Moore
, Jahvid Best
, Kyle Rudolph