2012 NFL Training Camp: Top Position Battles to Watch
NFL Training camps are here, which means preseason games and the impending start to the 2012 NFL season both are not far away at all. But before we get to the real thing, we have to figure some things out. There are some truly heated battles that are about to go off in NFL training camps, and a lot of them have fantasy implications.
Here are the top nine in my eyes, and my expectations as to who prevails and holds the most value in fantasy football for 2012:
Note: This article focuses on just the offensive side of the football for fantasy purposes.
Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton (Arizona Cardinals)
Skelton clearly was the better quarterback in 2011 in terms of wins, but Kolb is the guy owed the fat paycheck, any by all accounts, the better overall talent. Skelton should get a fair shake, but if the competition is even remotely close, the guy owed the money (Kolb) is getting the job. I think we’ll see improvement out of Kolb in 2012, too, and he’ll actually be a bit of a fantasy sleeper.
Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee Titans)
It’s the young pup oozing with potential versus the seasoned vet. I love Locker’s arm and mobility, but Hasselbeck is still the more polished passer. I think the team wants a veteran leader under center, but if the going gets rough (and it will with a tough schedule early), I think the Titans turn to Locker mid-season. That still gives Locker solid sleeper value late in drafts.
Matt Flynn vs. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Flynn got paid, but it looks like he has his work cut out for him to unseat incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, while rookie Russell Wilson seems to be a perfect fit for the Seahawks’ West Coast system. Ultimately, Flynn is the best fit here, as he showed with the Packers. That probably means T-Jax gets cut, and Wilson ends up being Flynn’s top backup. This should give Flynn solid sleeper status, but I’m starting to think he won’t blow up in 2012, but instead will just be serviceable.
Matt Moore vs. David Garrard vs. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)
Moore was solid as the starter down the stretch last year, but a healthy Garrard is easily an upgrade and makes Miami’s offense more competitive. Miami will want the rookie Tannehill to learn and push the veterans, but I don’t buy him starting the year as the top guy. I wouldn’t even be shocked if he didn’t play at all in year one. I see Garrard pulling this off, but his bad back suggests Moore will see the field at some point. None of these guys are worth messing with in fantasy football until they prove otherwise.
Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow (New York Jets)
I know there’s no real competition here, but this will be fun to watch and wonder about. Ultimately, Sanchez took a turn for the worse in 2011, and he needs to prove that’s not the guy he truly is. If he can’t do that early in the season, Tebow will get his shot. On another note, we need to see just what Tebow’s role will be in his “Wildcat” package and see if he’s worth drafting late in drafts.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Blount fumbles too much and lacks versatility, while the rookie Martin could take over as the feature back from day one. He’s more explosive and versatile, and has the ability to render Blount irrelevant in fantasy circles. More realistic, however, is the two splitting work early and Blount owning goal-line duty. I think Martin gets the depth chart starting nod, still, and is easily the one to own of the two. He has a real shot at stable RB2 value as a rookie.
Stevan Ridley vs. Shane Vereen (New England Patriots)
I don’t trust either Ridley or Vereen. Ridley has had fumbling issues and Vereen has struggled to stay healthy, while both are still fairly inexperienced. Ultimately, Ridley is the one to own as the expected starter, but no Patriots back is a sure thing, as the team figures to use several backs in a rotation all year long.
Josh Gordon vs. Mohamed Massaquoi vs. Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns)
I drank the kool-aid. I believe Gordon is a special talent and that the Browns made the right choice to spend a second-round pick on him in this year’s Supplemental draft to get him. Massaquoi is one-dimensional and injury-prone, and Benjamin just isn’t the talent Gordon is. As long as he can prove to be consistent, Gordon should take the #2 job behind Greg Little. Once that happens, there’s room here for this guy to shock the league. I’d like to see him win the job first, but he’s already steadily rising up my rankings. Keep him on your radar.
Michael Floyd vs. Andre Roberts (Arizona Cardinals)
I was very high on Floyd from the moment the Cardinals drafted him in the first round, but my enthusiasm has been sliced down to moderate anticipation because it seems he’ll start the preseason as the team’s #4 receiver. He’s too talented to stay there all year long, but he’s no lock to unseat Andre Roberts, either. I’ll still take a flier on him late in fantasy drafts as a WR4 with potential, but until he passes Roberts, he’s a risk.
Check out what all the top fantasy experts think of all the guys involved in position battles with the Cheat Sheet Wizard.