|National Football League|
Star Trio Staking Claims To Be No. 1 Fantasy Pick
By TOM KESSENICH
(AP) -- We've crept into June and although NFL OTAs have begun, we're still a long ways away from the start of the season. After all, Drew Brees hasn't signed his new contract yet with the Saints so you know it can't be time to be real serious about the season.
However, fantasy football drafts are in full force with the National Fantasy Football Championship. That means it's never too early to see who the top players in the country believe are going to be the dominant keys to a championship season.
Usually by the start of the season, a consensus No. 1 overall pick has emerged. Last season, it was Adrian Peterson, who carried the torch as the top player typically being selected in NFFC drafts. So far this season, however, no consensus player has emerged. In fact, three players have been featured at the top of NFFC drafts.
Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson each were selected first overall twice in the first six NFFC drafts of the year. Foster went first in the seventh draft, giving him an early advantage over the competition.
Again, it's early and one player could emerge as the dominant No. 1 selection as we get closer to the start of the season. But having a variety of No. 1 overall selections at this juncture provides early evidence this could be a very wild and unpredictable draft season for fantasy players.
It very well could be that who goes No. 1 overall this season is more about personal preference than one player having clearly separated himself from the pack. For now, though, three players are being targeted most often for that lofty draft position. Let's take a look at each player and assess their viability as a potential No. 1 pick this season:
Arian Foster - Foster tied Ray Rice for the top spot among running backs in NFFC scoring last season, averaging 23.5 points per game. Foster essentially missed the first three games of the year with a hamstring injury but was a beast after that. He topped 20 points in nine of the final 12 games and had more than 100 yards rushing in a game seven times. Foster also provided plenty of help in the passing game, catching three or more passes in 11 games. He'll continue to be spelled by Ben Tate but that will serve to keep Foster fresh throughout the season and should not be viewed as a fantasy deterrent. Foster is a tremendously talented and versatile back who has produced double-digit touchdowns in the past two seasons. He's a fantasy stud on a run-first team and is firmly planted atop my personal rankings as the No. 1 player in fantasy this season.
Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers was the No. 1 scorer in the NFFC last season, averaging a whopping 36.9 points per game. He scored at least 25 points in every game and topped 35 points six times, including a monstrous 59-point performance in Week 4 against Denver. Can he deliver another year like that? Maybe not at quite that level, but Rodgers has topped 4,000 yards passing in three of the past four seasons while throwing at least 28 touchdowns every year. More importantly for Rodgers owners, the Packers did nothing to address their lackluster running game which means he'll be throwing a lot again this season. With a plethora of terrific talent to work with in the passing game, Rodgers is a legit fantasy stud and well worth an early first-round selection. I wouldn't take him No. 1 overall, but he's fourth on my draft board and I wouldn't hesitate to build my team around him.
Calvin Johnson - No wide receiver was more dominant in fantasy last season than Megatron. He averaged 22.5 points per game, nearly two points per game better than the next-highest receivers (Wes Welker and Kenny Britt). His 96 receptions were easily a career high and he topped 20 points in nine games, including a pair of games in which he posted 40-plus point performances. He was third in the NFL in targets and topped 80 yards receiving 12 times, including a pair of 200-yard receiving games. Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback and the Lions successfully integrate Johnson into all phases of their routes, giving him the opportunity to not only reel in plenty of passes but strike for big plays as well. Personally, I wouldn't take him No. 1 overall because I like Foster more, but in a point-per-reception league it's difficult to question anyone who puts Megatron at the top of the list. He's a fantasy beast.
Tom Kessenich is the Manager of High Stakes Fantasy Games for STATS LLC. Find out more about the NFFC at nffc.stats.com or email Tom at email@example.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. Follow him on Twitter TomKessenich.
Updated June 7, 2012