Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012.
People love lists. People also love to argue.
We once promised that, each Thursday, we’d give you a chance to read a list and then argue about it. Well, somewhere along the line, life happened and, basically, we dropped the ball. So let’s pick that ball back up and send it toward the end zone.
This week’s Starting Five is …
I can already hear the “homer” comments now. Or, “What about Matthew Stafford or the Mannings?” Regardless, Rivers deserves this spot. For as crappy as his 2011 season started, he still finished sixth in passing yards (4,620) and notched 27 TDs (eighth). If you go another season back, you’ll see Rivers led the league in yards (4,710). With a certain diva receiver bolting town, Rivers will be forced to revert to his 2010 style, where he spread the love around like a whore at a Secret Service convention. He completed passes to 18 different receivers that season (11 different players scored receiving touchdowns), and it should be more of the same in 2012 because San Diego really doesn’t have a true No. 1 receiver but rather a corps of decent targets. (Note: I did consider Stafford for this spot, but his top target is on the cover of Madden NFL ’13. Gamers know I don’t have to say anything else.)
Newton’s play in 2011 helped to quiet the controversy noise surrounding him from his days at Auburn. The rookie was one of 10 QBs last season to throw for more than 4,000 yards (his 4,051 yards are a rookie record). Also, on top of throwing for 21 scores, he rushed for 14 touchdowns, which is an NFL record for ANY quarterback, not just rookies. With Newton being bigger than the running backs on Carolina’s roster, expect more of the same in 2012.
All this guy does is put up numbers. Last year, with 5,235 yards, he surpassed Dan Marino’s long-standing record … but Brady still doesn’t hold the mark. In his MVP season of 2010, he had a ridiculous 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (36 scores, 4 picks). This season, New England replaces a possibly-washed-up Chad Ochostinko with a quietly effective Brandon Lloyd. Brady still has Wes Welker in the mix and one of the best tight-end tandems this league has ever seen, but the clincher is Josh McDaniels returning to run the offense (McDaniels was at the helm during the season that Brady threw for 50 scores). Outside of Baltimore and San Francisco, the defenses the Pats’ face in 2012 aren’t that tough. All of this puts Brady in position to flash his MVP form and help lead owners to a fantasy title.
No coach, no defensive captain, no problem. Brees is the new single-season yards leader with 5,476 in 2011. Brees, one of three QBs to break the 5,000 mark last season, will be in position to amass a ton of yards again in 2012. He’ll have to, for several reasons: 1.) Head coach Sean Payton is out for the year due to the “Bountygate” scandal, which takes away some of the creativity on offense. Brees is a great QB who can make things happen on the fly. 2.) Defensive captain Jonathan Vilma is also sitting 2012 out, which could mean the Saints’ defense isn’t on the field as much. More possessions for Brees equals more fantasy points. 3.) The Saints have four running backs they’ll use — and not one of them has ever rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. But, they’re all good pass catchers, especially Darren Sproles, who had 86 receptions last season. In short, despite the adversity the Saints will face, Brees is still a wonderful asset to any fantasy team.
In four years as a starter, the Chico product (Northern California represent!) has been as valuable as they come. He’s been over 4,000 yards almost every season (he missed by 78 yards in 2010, but he missed a game as well). He’s thrown for 131 TDs and run for 16 scores — that’s nearly 37 total scores a season. Although he’s missed a game in each of the last two seasons, Rodgers is a safe bet and should be the top pick in most fantasy drafts. Expect Rodgers to “Discount Double Check” his way to more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns by season’s end.