The 2012 fantasy football season is in the books for most and it’s time to look at the year that was. The ten biggest surprises of the 2012 season will be covered in light of what the expectations were coming into the season as well as where they ended up.
All rankings mentioned are through week 16 and are based upon standard scoring.
The Ten Biggest Surprises
1. Adrian Peterson has to be the biggest surprise of the year considering that he is about a year removed from a major knee injury that many figured would keep him sidelined until mid-season and would keep him limited for most of 2012. Instead, Peterson is within range of Eric Dickerson’s rushing record with almost 1900 yards rushing and is the top fantasy scorer at running back (over 30 points more than 2nd place) and 10th overall. Peterson could very well be the #1 overall pick in fantasy for 2013.
2. Robert Griffin III and to a lesser extent Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who are all in the top 11 in fantasy scoring at quarterback. Many thought that both Griffin and Luck would have value and they were taken as middle to late round fliers that could end up being backups and fill-ins.
Instead Griffin is 5th (and for a good part of the season was first) and Luck is 9th (as high as 6th) and both exceeded expectations that already existed. Wilson is a big surprise in that many doubted he would play much, let alone start, and he has been one of the better fantasy quarterbacks in general over the past month.
All three should project as fantasy starters in 2013 with Griffin a potential first round pick and Luck and Wilson in the early rounds too.
3. Doug Martin surprised many (though not all) by becoming a solid fantasy RB who currently is 3rd in scoring at the position. Martin was seen as a possible low end RB2 and hopes were he would take the starting job over LaGarrette Blount who hadn’t wowed many in Tampa.
Martin started off fine and then mid-season exploded with a 33 point week and then did it again with a 51 point game against the Raiders where he couldn’t be stopped. Martin is a solid RB1 for next year and could go in the first or second round.
4. Alfred Morris is another rookie running back who surprised even more than Martin in that he likely went undrafted in most fantasy drafts and hardly anyone had even heard of him.
Fellow rookie Trent Richardson finished a spot in front of Morris (6th and 7th) which is also surprising but with so many injuries to running backs it left the healthy guys to rise up the ranks.
Morris has over 1400 yards rushing and will probably get overlooked for the rookie of the year vote by his own teammate Griffin, but he should be a nice RB1 for 2013 and go in the early few rounds.
5. Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker both finished in the top 10 at WR which isn’t surprising in who their QB is but is still surprising in that both were mostly unproved fantasy commodities.
Thomas is 6th in scoring and Decker is 10th and both should end up over 1000 yards (Thomas already is and Decker is with 20 yards) with a bunch of TDs.
Both guys were lower picks because of the uncertainty around Manning’s health and their limited history and so those that risked a pick on them were handsomely rewarded.
6. Randle Cobb & James Jones were both surprises (especially Cobb) this year because of unforeseen injury issues to both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. Cobb is 11th in scoring and has emerged as the top option for Rodgers and could be the guy that fantasy owners will want the most in 2013. James Jones is 16th in scoring and heavily benefited from the injuries as well by having a number of multiple TD games. Jones will be harder to trust in 2013 because his value rose when Nelson and Jennings were out while Cobb’s value was there regardless of the injuries.
7.Cecil Shorts finished the season 18th in scoring at WR and was practically an unknown until mid-season when he exploded on the season with a number of 100 yard games for a limited Jaguars team.
Shorts finished the year with almost 1000 yards and could be a solid WR2 in 2013 and definitely someone worth keeping in mind.
8. Blair Walsh & Justin Tucker both emerged as viable fantasy kickers in 2012 as both finished in the top 6 in kicker scoring.
While kicker is not the most important position in fantasy, it does make a difference if he’s scoring consistently and if he’s got the upside to win a week which both of these guys had.
Both should be on the radar for every fantasy owner in 2013.
9. The Denver Defense ended the season third in fantasy scoring which surprised most considering the fact that their defense was middle of the pack last year and Manning’s impact on the team was unknown.
The Broncos started off slow and rounded into form by getting plenty of defense touchdowns and have certainly won their owners a number of games. They should be a solid bet in 2013.
10. Stevan Ridley ended the year 11th at RB scoring and surprised many by that fact that he emerged as the main back (for most of the time) for the Patriots.
There were a number of games where rookie Brandon Bolden and fellow backs Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead rivaled him, but all in all Ridley certainly is the guy to have and proved that he is a legitimate RB2 and should go in the earlier rounds in 2013.
Look for another fantasy football wrap up piece next week looking at the 10 biggest disappointments of the year. Later on a projected first round mock draft for 2013 along with some hints and themes to draw upon from 2012 to use for 2013 will be posted.