Offseason Extra: The good and bad of 2012
What did our Jamey Eisenberg get right and wrong back in training camp and more importantly, what can we learn from it? He runs through his annual self-evaluation exercise.
Every year you come to us looking for advice to draft your Fantasy team. And every year we do our best to provide useful information to help you win your league.
The highlights of our Draft Prep coverage is finding sleepers, breakouts and busts and also making predictions that we expect to come true. And when the season is over, we get to look back and see what we got right -- and unfortunately where we went wrong.
For example, I'm proud to say I touted Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, Demaryius Thomas and Randall Cobb as stars, among others. But I also never expected Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning to rebound at 100 percent, and I liked Michael Vick and Darren McFadden to have tremendous years.
Before we can fully move on to 2013, it's time to take one last look back to the beginning and see how we did in 2012. The best thing about this exercise is what we can learn moving forward to make sure your Fantasy team is successful next year.
Five we got right
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
2012 projection: 45 catches for 774 yards and six touchdowns
2012 stats: 80 catches for 954 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 170 overall (Round 15)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 53 overall (Round 5)
I thought Cobb would develop into a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, which is why he was listed as a sleeper, because even though the Packers were loaded with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, they do a great job of getting their talented players on the field. Injuries to Jennings and Nelson helped Cobb tremendously, but he proved to be one of the best late-round picks of the season. Next year, with Jennings likely gone as a free agent, Cobb should be drafted as a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
2012 projection: 244 carries for 1,176 yards and six touchdowns; 58 catches for 422 yards and three touchdowns
2012 stats: 319 carries for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns; 49 catches for 472 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 38 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 6 overall (Round 1)
The opportunity for Martin was the most alluring thing because all he had to do was beat out LeGarrette Blount for the starting job, which wasn't hard, and he was a breakout candidate. He exceeded my expectations with 1,800 total yards and 12 total touchdowns, and he has the makings of a star. He projects as a slam-dunk Top 10 overall pick in 2013, and he could be drafted as early as No. 5 overall in all formats since he can easily average 50 catches a season.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers
2012 projection: 68 catches for 1,184 yards and four touchdowns
2012 stats: 64 catches for 836 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 52 overall (Round 5)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 82 overall (Round 7)
I didn't like Wallace, which is why he was listed as a bust, because of his holdout and playing for new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and the Steelers were committed to Antonio Brown as their No. 1 receiver. Wallace wasn't a complete wash in 2012, but he reached double digits in Fantasy points just five times with only two 100-yard games. He is a free agent this offseason and will almost surely leave the Steelers, but he should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy receiver depending on where he lands.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
2012 projection: 228 carries for 1,135 yards and seven touchdowns; 28 catches for 244 yards and one touchdown
2012 stats: 290 carries for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns; six catches for 51 yards
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 64 overall (Round 6)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 14 overall (Round 2)
I wrote a prediction column that Ridley would be better than his predecessor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but I also listed Ridley as a breakout candidate. I liked the opportunity for him to take over for Green-Ellis and become a featured option for the Patriots. There was risk involved, and we saw that with New England still using other guys in Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden, but Ridley still had a dominant season and looks like a low-end No. 1 running back heading into next year.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
2012 projection: 73 catches for 1,165 yards and nine touchdowns
2012 stats: 94 catches for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 49 overall (Round 5)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 27 overall (Round 3)
There was overwhelming evidence to suggest Thomas and Eric Decker would each have a big year, which is what I said in a prediction column, and Thomas also was a breakout candidate. They both finished as Top 10 Fantasy receivers thanks to the addition of Manning, and each guy was in his third year. Next year, Thomas should be considered a Top 5 Fantasy receiver worth drafting in early Round 3. Decker is a Top 12 candidate worth a pick as early as Round 4.
Five we got wrong
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
2012 projection: 68 catches for 1,122 yards and five touchdowns
2012 stats: 72 catches for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 70 overall (Round 6)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 33 overall (Round 3)
Jackson was listed as a bust candidate because I thought the transition to a new offense in Tampa Bay and a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers would hurt his production. Instead, he ended up as a Top 10 Fantasy receiver with career highs in catches and yards. He was still somewhat inconsistent with eight games with double digits in Fantasy points and six games with five points or less, but when he was on he was dominant. He should be considered a Top 10 option again in 2013.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2012 projection: 246 carries for 1,213 yards and eight touchdowns; 34 catches for 312 yards and one touchdown
2012 stats: 348 carries for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns; 40 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 24 overall (Round 2)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 1 overall (Round 1)
My concern with Peterson, which is why I predicted he would struggle in 2012, was that his knee wouldn't hold up after last year's ACL tear, and that he rushed back too soon. Clearly I couldn't have been more wrong. He is a medical marvel and deserves recognition as an MVP candidate -- for the NFL and Fantasy owners -- because he might be the steal of the draft at No. 24 overall. He will be the first player drafted in all leagues next year.
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2012 projection: 291 of 465 passing for 4,565 yards, 33 touchdowns and 12 interceptions
2012 stats: 400 of 583 passing for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 46 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 43 overall (Round 4)
At the time I wrote the prediction column, Peyton was being drafted ahead of Eli Manning, which I thought was a mistake. I was wrong. I expected Eli to be the better Fantasy quarterback with Peyton coming back from a year off following neck surgery. Instead, Peyton was a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback and Eli had his worst year since 2008. Next year, Peyton will be drafted as a Top 5 quarterback and even though Eli will rebound, he's far from his brother's class as a Fantasy option.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
2012 projection: 264 carries for 1,211 yards and 12 touchdowns; 44 catches for 311 yards and four touchdowns
2012 stats: 216 carries for 707 yards and two touchdowns; 42 catches for 258 yards and one touchdowns
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 9 overall (Round 1)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 32 overall (Round 3)
I expected McFadden to have a career season in 2012 because of Oakland's commitment to the running game and Michael Bush being gone. Instead, McFadden could never adjust to the new zone-blocking scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp -- who was fired this offseason -- and he again missed time with injury, sitting out four games with a sprained ankle. Fantasy owners may never again trust McFadden, but he's still worth drafting as a No. 2 running back in Round 3.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles
2012 projection: 244 of 433 passing for 3,899 yards, 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions; 88 carries for 664 yards and six touchdowns
2012 stats: 204 of 351 passing for 2,362 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 62 carries for 332 yards and one touchdown
2012 Average Draft Position: No. 42 overall (Round 4)
2013 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 165 overall (Round 14)
Vick had a lot of upside coming into 2012, which is why I predicted a Top 5 finish. He was healthy, DeSean Jackson was happy and Vick always had the potential to play at a high level in this offense. But his offensive line fell apart, he battled injuries again (missing six games with a concussion) and his career is now in shambles heading into the offseason. Rightfully so, Fantasy owners are done with Vick, and he will only be drafted as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback if he remains a starter in 2013.
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