Editor’s Note: Draft Day is coming quickly and Fantasy CPR continues to have you covered in your Fantasy Fotoball draft prep. We’re excited to welcome some new contributors to the team this week, and today we’ll feature an article from Justin Dade who will be contributing throughout the coming season. He shares with us five players you should have on your target list as you get your draft strategy together.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver
Thomas will be the first to benefit from the number one off-season acquisition of Peyton Manning. The upgrade from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning is enormous, giving Thomas the potential to produce impressive numbers. It was a rocky start for Thomas last season, but picked it up late in the year. Thomas combined for 25 Catches, 448 Yards, and 3 TD’s in his last five regular season games. It only got better when the playoffs rolled around. Posting 4 catches for 204 yards, and the game winning touchdown in overtime to surge past the heavily favorite Pittsburgh Steelers. Thomas grabbed 6 balls for 93 yards in the defeat to the New England Patriots. With last season in the books, I am fully ready for the 1st round pick from 2010 to fully blossom this season and post some interesting numbers with Manning at the helm.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
I hate to say it, but the LeGarrette Blount days in Tampa are long gone. Blount’s lazy mentality and attitude will not fly in first year head coach Greg Schiano’s vision of the “New Bucs”. Tampa Bay improved vastly on offense after signings of Vincent Jackson, and Carl Nicks. With Jackson in town, Tampa has a number one receiver on their hands to help struggling quarterback Josh Freeman. Carl Nicks was one of the most prized players heading into free agency. Nicks is an all-pro Gaurd, and is considered on of the best run blocking guards in the entire NFL. With Schiano in town, his philosphy will derive from discipline and smashmouth football. Schiano coached one of the best RB’s in the NFL in college in Ray Rice at Rutgers. Schiano was very efficient in calling the right plays for Rice. When it comes down to it, there is a reason why the Bucs spent a first rounder on Martin, and it’s because they have high hopes for this elusive back out of Boise State.
Phillip Rivers, QB, San Diego.
I will be the first one to say how awful the year went for Phillip Rivers last season in San Diego. Rivers had a career high 20 interceptions last year, and only threw 27 touchdowns. Injuries plagued the San Diego offense last season, with Antonio Gates missing four games last season, and never really recovered. The offensive line was the main issue last season. Marcus McNeil and Kris Deilman played in only a combined fifteen games. The Chargers let McNeil go to free agency, and they also let star receiver Vincent Jackson take a hike to Tampa Bay. However, the Chargers made many positive moves this off-season to help Rivers. The Chargers got key signings of Jared Gaither (re-sign), Robert Meachem, Le’Ron McClain, and Nick Hardwick (re-sign). With a healthy Offensive line, and more weapons, I fully expect Rivers to return to form in 2012, and be the elite quarterback we all know he can be.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh
We got a pleasant surprise from Brown last season, he recorded 1,108 receiving yards, including three 100+ receiving yard games, good for 15th in the entire NFL. With most #1 corners on opposing defenses focusing on teammate Mike Wallace, Brown was able to shine on the other side of the field. Brown has blazing speed, and great hands, allowing him to be another deep threat for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. With Tod Haley taking over for Bruce Arians at the offensive coordinator position, be ready for a whole new look on offense for the Steelers in 2012. Haley has a versatile playbook, and that should bode well this season for Antonio Brown, as he looks to improve on last season’s success.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington.
Fred Davis was on pace for a 1000+ receiving yard season until he was suspended the last four games for drug use. Davis recorded 796 yards in the first 12 games of the year, and one of the few bright spots on the Redskins last season. Davis was affected by the issues at quarterback with John Beck and Rex Grossman. With the upgrade of first round pick Robert Griffin III, Davis could be in for a breakout season. Davis is a good option for owners who don’t want to spend a high pick on guys like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Davis will be available in the later rounds for owners who need a tight end. With the acquisition of Pierre Garcon at WR, Griffin III has some decent options to use in 2012. If Davis can stay healthy, and out of trouble, be on the look out for him this season.