Fantasy Football 2012: Team Power Rankings

Contributed by: Cooper Allen
Last Updated: Aug 14, 2012 5:05 PM

After six long months, the first weekend of preseason action is now in the books and we are just a few weeks away from the regular season.

In preparation for this year’s action, Football Nation has brought to you a plethora of power rankings. From teams to players to stadiums, a lot has been covered over the past month or so.

This article, however, will focus on something a little bit different.

In the world of fantasy football there are several players that you can count on to produce week in and week out.

Most teams have a player or two that will come up big for you on a weekly basis. This cannot be said for every team in the league, though. Some have the benefit of having fantasy football stars while other squads are missing a couple of pieces.

Over the course of this article, you will get to see what teams have the best fantasy football producers heading into the 2012 season.

32. Cleveland Browns
This is a team that has a ton of potential. Unfortunately, potential doesn’t get you anywhere in preseason power rankings. This is not really a knock to their offense; they just have a lot of question marks. We do not know how Brandon Weeden will do, Greg Little has not been anything special thus far and Trent Richardson may miss the start of the year with a knee injury.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars
If the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot get Maurice Jones-Drew a new contract then they are in a lot of trouble. Should he play out the contract he signed? Yes, but that is beside the point.  Without MJD, their offense will feature Justin “DUI” Blackmon and Laurent “one-year wonder” Robinson. Ouch.

30. Miami Dolphins
Another team that could be in a lot of trouble this year is the Miami Dolphins. I actually believe that their offense can be somewhat successful; however there is no one on the offense who will put up big numbers.

There is no definitive No. 1 receiving target and the quarterbacks they have will not have games with 300 yards and three touchdowns like some other guys. Reggie Bush is a starter and Davone Bess or even Brian Hartline would be good to have off the bench. Other than that, steer clear of this team until further notice.

29. Seattle Seahawks
I was thinking of putting Seattle a few spots higher considering they signed Terrell Owens. Then I gave my head a shake and realized that it didn’t matter one bit. The Seahawks have a great running back in Marshawn Lynch, but aside from that, there is no one else that should be in your starting lineup. Matt Flynn could be your backup and Doug Baldwin would be a nice option off of the bench. Good thing they have a great defensive unit.

28. St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford had a rough sophomore season in 2011 and the Rams ended up with one of the worst records in football. Despite this, they let Brandon Lloyd go in free agency and added quantity instead of quality at wide receiver. Bradford is a backup fantasy quarterback and their only real positive is Steven Jackson.  

27. Minnesota Vikings
One thing that really killed the Minnesota Vikings' stock is the injuries to their big names. Adrian Peterson worked like a mad man to get back into game mode, but that knee still bothers me. His injury has dropped him from a top-five pick to a late second-round pick at best. Percy Harvin is another player that is great to have, but he has been bothered by migraines in the past. There are question marks beside these two, or else the Vikings may be a few spots higher. 

26. Indianapolis Colts
It would be asinine to judge a player by one preseason game, but Andrew Luck looked great in his first NFL action. He is a guy that you can use a late-round pick on as a backup. Coby Fleener is also a decent option off the bench and Reggie Wayne is a guy you can start at receiver. Give them a year or two and Indianapolis will be a lot higher on this list. 

25. Oakland Raiders
Nothing new... the Oakland Raiders are in some trouble this season. Carson Palmer is a backup quarterback at best and they have nobody at tight end. Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden are the two reasons why they are not in the basement of these power rankings.

24. New York Jets
One of the most talked about teams headed into this year is the New York Jets, largely due to the controversy at quarterback. That said, no matter who wins the quarterback job, they still won’t put up big numbers. Shonn Greene and Santonio Holmes both could be fantasy starters, but they have not lived up to their expectations thus far. Dustin Keller is an underrated tight end that you should be able to steal late and have on the bench. Don’t expect too much from the Jets offense this year in terms of fantasy success.

23. Arizona Cardinals
If they can get their quarterback situation sorted out, then the Arizona Cardinals will have a pretty solid offense. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best fantasy receivers out there and his counterpart, Michael Floyd, would be worth a look in the late rounds of some leagues. Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are both solid running backs and the Cards would be higher on this if they could stay healthy.

22. Cincinnati Bengals
A surprise team in 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals will look to Andy Dalton again in 2012 to lead them back into the playoffs. Depending on matchups, Dalton would be a good pickup when your starting quarterback is on his bye week. Tight end Jermaine Gresham is in the same boat. Newly acquired running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a borderline starter while wideout A.J. Green is a great option as your No. 2 receiver. Cincinnati has a lot of young talent, but they need to put up bigger numbers if they want to be higher on this list.

21. Washington Redskins
Stuck in a stacked NFC East division, if Robert Griffin III lives up to the hype, the Washington Redskins are just a couple of pieces away from being a contender. Roy Helu had over 1,000 combined yards in just five starts last season and would be a great piece to have on the bench. Fred Davis is a sleeper that can start at tight end and Pierre Garcon is also someone to pick up later in the draft.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers
If Rashard Mendenhall was healthy and Mike Wallace was with the team, then you could make an argument for the Steelers to be a lot higher on this list. Without these two, however, their offense is not the same. Big Ben is a borderline starter as is Heath Miller. Antonio Brown is a solid No. 2 or flex.

19. San Francisco 49ers
They do have the best kicker and the best defense in fantasy football, but that only counts for so much. Until Randy Moss proves that he is the Randy Moss of old, then this is about as high as San Francisco will get. The 49ers have one of the better tight end options in Vernon Davis and Frank Gore is not a bad option as your No. 2 back, but they do not have the assets that the teams ahead of them have.

18. Tennessee Titans
One of the harder teams to predict this season is the Tennessee Titans. They have most of the pieces to be a playoff team; it is just a matter of putting them all together. In terms of fantasy football, Nate Washington is a valuable backup and Kenny Britt could crack a few starting lineups if he cleans his act up.

The winner of their quarterback battle could be your backup and Jared Cook is a quality tight end reserve. Where they rank this time next year, though, will more than likely come down to Chris Johnson and whether or not he can have a bounce-back year.

17. Buffalo Bills
After a solid offseason, the Buffalo Bills are a team to watch this year. They have one of the best running back duos in the league to go along with a decent quarterback and a quality receiver. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and C.J. Spiller are quality backups while Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson put up starting-caliber numbers.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One team that did quite well this offseason is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They added wide receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency and drafted running back Doug Martin. Both players are fantasy starters, while Dallas Clark, Mike Williams, LeGarrette Blount and Josh Freeman should all be drafted as backups. Without their offseason additions, the Bucs are at the bottom of this list. With Jackson and Martin, however, they are a middle of the pack team.

15. Baltimore Ravens
I am not a Ravens fan and it was really tempting to put them lower on this list. That said they have one of the biggest fantasy football game-changers on their team. Ray Rice is one of the top running backs in football and has consistently been a top-five pick in fantasy drafts. Aside from him, Joe Flacco is a backup and Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are both borderline starters.

14. San Diego Chargers
Despite losing their No. 1 wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, in free agency, the San Diego Chargers still have players on offense that can produce. Philip Rivers had an off year in 2011, but he is a guy who can start for you at quarterback.

Ryan Mathews recently suffered an injury and may miss a couple of games; however he should still be taken within the first three rounds. Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd are bench players and it is hard to forget about Antonio Gates, who was arguably the NFL’s best tight end prior to last season.

13. Carolina Panthers
First overall pick, Cam Newton, turned a lot of heads last season, breaking multiple rookie records. While this got Carolina pretty much nowhere in the standings, it made a lot of fantasy football owners happy.

Many people believe he will continue his success this season and be a quality fantasy starter. The same is said about wide receiver Steve Smith, who had a solid bounce-back year in 2011. Jonathon Stewart, Deangelo Williams and Greg Olsen are quality backups.

12. Kansas City Chiefs
After an injury-riddled 2011, the Kansas City Chiefs are set for a breakout year in 2012. In the fantasy football world, Matt Cassel serves as a quality backup. Tight end Tony Moeaki, running back Peyton Hillis and wide receivers Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston also fit this description. Dwayne Bowe is a starter is he gives up this holdout game he is trying to play and Jamaal Charles would be a great choice for your No. 2 running back slot.

11. Denver Broncos
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Denver Broncos heading into 2012 and while I don’t think they will live up to it, there are still some players who will put up respectable numbers. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are both poised for breakout years and Peyton Manning will have Jacob Tamme - one of his favorite Indianapolis targets - to throw to. If the older Manning can get going, then their offense could be deadly.

10. New York Giants
One of the biggest surprises in 2011 was the breakout season that Giants wideout Victor Cruz had. He went from being undrafted to one of the top point producers at the wide receiver position. Cruz, along with fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks are both starters. When healthy, Ahmad Bradshaw could also get the nod as your No. 2 back. Eli Manning solidified himself as a starter last year.

09. Chicago Bears
In 2011, the Chicago Bears saw their whole season go down the drain when Jay Cutler and Matt Forte got injured. This past offseason, they made sure that would not be an issue in the future, adding Michael Bush and Kyle Orton.

Cutler is a borderline fantasy starter and if he gets injured again, Orton would be a good free agent pickup. Forte is an early-round pick while Bush is great to have off of the bench. Brandon Marshall is a decent option at the No. 2 receiver spot and people will likely be hitting waiver wire a couple of weeks into the year to pick up Alshon Jeffery.

08. Dallas Cowboys
He may not be the most clutch quarterback out there, but Tony Romo is one of the top fantasy football quarterbacks in the league. In addition, they also have four players who could be starters. Jason Witten is one of your better options at tight end and DeMarco Murray is a starter on most teams. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are riskier options as they both are facing injuries heading into this year. When healthy, they are starting-caliber wideouts. 
07. Atlanta Falcons
Due in large part to the bounty scandal and the “downfall” of the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta seems to be the popular choice for NFC South champion. If they are going to live up to this, then their offense will have to carry the load.

Michael Turner does not have the same value as in years past, but he is still a quality No. 2 running back. Julio Jones and Roddy White are also starters while Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez are borderline first-stringers. This offense has a lot of fantasy talent and it is only a matter of time before they deliver in the post season. 

06. Detroit Lions
After many years of disappointment, the Detroit Lions finally returned to the playoffs in 2011 largely due to the play of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. These two shredded opposing defenses last season and are two of the most highly-touted fantasy stars this year.

Johnson is the first receiver taken in most drafts, while Stafford will be off the board by the end of the second. Titus Young, Nate Burleson and Jahvid Best are all backups and Brandon Pettigrew is a starter at tight end.

05. Houston Texans
With Peyton Manning out of the AFC South, it is now the Houston Texans' division to lose in 2012 and beyond. Their offense features a top-five running back and a top-five wide receiver. When healthy, both Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are two of the best in the business. Foster should be drafted early in the first round and Johnson is not far behind. Matt Schaub and Ben Tate are two guys to keep an eye on as well.

04. New Orleans Saints
After an offseason filled with controversy, the New Orleans Saints are heading into 2012 without their coach and defensive leader. That said they still have the players that made this offense click last season. Drew Brees is back with a brand new contract as is Marques Colston. Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham round out an offense that expects to take the league by storm again this season.

03. Philadelphia Eagles
Many people have Arian Foster pegged as the No. 1 back this year; however I am leaning towards LeSean McCoy. Despite the Dream Team’s struggles, “Shady” had a combined 20 touchdowns last year and averaged almost five yards per carry. The key to this offense is the health of Michael Vick. If he is not injured, then you have a squad that features a top-6 fantasy quarterback, two solid receivers and a decent starting tight end option.

02. New England Patriots
One of the most dominant teams over the past decade has been the New England Patriots and if they are going to continue this, it will be because of their offense. There is not much you can say about Tom Brady that hasn’t already been said, so let’s look at the rest of the team.

They have the best tight end in football in Rob Gronkowski, followed by another top-five tight end in Aaron Hernandez. Wes Welker showed last year that he is a reliable wideout and they also added Brandon Lloyd in free agency. If Lloyd is productive right from the get go, then they will be tough to stop this season.

01. Green Bay Packers
Heading into 2012, the Green Bay Packers are the best NFL team in terms of fantasy football producers. It starts under center with Aaron Rodgers, who is not only the best quarterback in the game, but the highest point producer from 2011.

They also have Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, who are No. 2 receivers at worst. The two combined for over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. Having Jermichael Finley and Mason Crosby is just an added bonus.

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