Fantasy Football

Fantasy football position rankings

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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined FOXSports.com as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes

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We’re about a week away from veteran football players reporting to training camp. Of note, rookies on the Buffalo Bills were required to report to camp on July 9 – by far the earliest report date.

On the cusp of training camps opening, it’s about time we updated our fantasy football rankings. While the fantasy department will wait until August 1 to update our overall Top 200 (as to allow training camps to play out and depth charts to take shape), Harmon, Halpin, Beall and I have updated our position-by-position rankings.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: QB
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
Aaron Rodgers 1 1 1 1 1 view
Tom Brady 2 2 2 2 2 view
Cam Newton 3 3 4 5 3 view

>>> Click here to view full QB rankings

Quarterbacks Analysis


What a difference a year makes.  No big surprise that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady rank 1-2 in our updated fantasy quarterback rankings.  However, Cam Newton, who went undrafted in plenty of leagues a season ago, has owners and "experts" believing.  While he may lose some goal line touches to new addition Mike Tolbert, Newton's ability to scramble has boosted him into Mike Vick's realm of fantasy potential on each play.  Will he pass?  Will he run?  Defenses have their hands full when the Panthers are on offense.  Newton is at the controls.  A lingering question remains for many: can Newton rely on anybody outside of Steve Smith and, on occasion, Greg Olsen this season in the passing game?  Plenty of quarterbacks behind him have several targets to choose from in their passing games.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: RB
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
Arian Foster 1 1 1 1 1 view
Ray Rice 3 2 2 2 2 view
LeSean McCoy 2 3 3 3 3 view

>>> Click here to view RB rankings

Running Backs Analysis


I think we are about to witness a huge swing in drafting strategy and philosophy this season.  In years past, the fantasy running back was a near guaranteed first round selection because, in most leagues, you could start two (flex = three) running backs every Sunday.  However, with the evolution of the running back by committee, the fantasy running back's value has become stagnant outside of the top six or seven.  On top of RBBC fears, many RBs that in year's past would have been selected in the first or second rounds are returning from season-ending injuries.  Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte are just a few backs with red flags attached to their draft status.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: WR
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
Calvin Johnson 1 1 1 1 1 view
Larry Fitzgerald 5 2 2 2 2 view
Andre Johnson 2 4 3 3 3 view

>>> Click here to view WR rankings

Wide Receivers Analysis


Even without a serious number two receiving threat in Detroit, Megatron still gets his every week.  Calvin Johnson is the top fantasy receiver in a landslide.  While I disagree with my fantasy cohorts on Larry Fitzgerald (more because of Kevin Kolb than Fitz), we all believe a healthy Andre Johnson will bounce back in 2012 with a healthy Matt Schaub behind center.  After the top three, I think several receivers enter the conversation as plausible top five fantasy targets this season.  The top 10 includes Cincinnati's A.J. Green who some believe will match his 2011 production if not exceeed it.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: TE
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
Rob Gronkowski 1 1 2 1 1 view
Jimmy Graham 2 2 1 2 2 view
Jason Witten 3 3 4 7 3 view

>>> Click here to view TE rankings

Tight Ends Analysis


I'm on record and it's no profound statement that Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham rewrote the fantasy tight end rule book last season by erupting for over 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns combined.  They have locked up the top two spots in our rankings with ease, but there is growing concern about Gronk's off-the-field shenanigans becoming a distraction in addition to a crowded Patriots' receiving corps that added Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney this offseason.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: K
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
David Akers 1 4 1 3 1 view
Sebastian Janikowski 2 3 4 1 2 view
Stephen Gostkowski 3 2 3 2 3 view

>>> Click here to view K rankings

Kickers Analysis


My advice is simple: draft one in the last round.

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: DST
  Ryan Fowler Joel Beall John Halpin Mike Harmon Fox Sports Fantasy Baseball FantasyPros Icon
Player Name Ryan
Fowler
Joel
Beall
John
Halpin
Mike
Harmon
Staff
Consensus
FantasyPros
All Experts
San Francisco 49ers 1 1 1 1 1 view
Baltimore Ravens 6 6 2 2 2 view
Pittsburgh Steelers 2 8 3 5 3 view

>>> Click here to view DEF/ST rankings

Defenses Analysis


Even with a healthy Terrell Suggs and a committed Ed Reed in training camp, the Ravens' fantasy value would take a backseat to San Francisco.  A trend to note is that different teams enter the top fantasy scoring defenses annually.  So, unless you are really sold on a defense and/or their ability to return kicks/punts (Arizona), I suggest you wait until the final three rounds to go that direction. 

What do you think? Sound off! Tweet at the fantasy department:

Tagged: Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Patriots, Saints, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Panthers, Ravens, Cardinals, Texans, Sebastian Janikowski, Tom Brady, David Akers, Ed Reed, Jason Witten, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Ryan Fowler, Aaron Rodgers, Stephen Gostkowski, Calvin Johnson, Ray Rice, Mike Tolbert, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Cam Newton

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