Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the 2012 starting roster for the Rich Liberal Trendy Cause!
First, at quarterback, hailing from New England...Tom Brady! Fresh off an incredibly disappointing Super Bowl defeat at the hands of the New York Giants ...again..., Brady is the absolute most valuable player on the Cause. He will have a new weapon on offense, deep threat wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, and he will have had a full off-season to help tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to improve on already-otherworldly numbers. I expect Brady to make a run at 400 fantasy points this season, and I would be surprised to see him finish outside the top-3 at the position.
Next, at Running Back #1, from San Diego, Ryan Mathews! Mathews begins the season on the injury report after breaking his collarbone early in the season, but the good news is that this is a fully recoverable injury and he should be back by Week 2, and possibly even for the opener. The better news is that, for several stretches last season, he was one of the best running backs in the business, and even despite missing a couple games he finished 9th in points at the position. Mathews is an injury risk, but one I am willing to take. Unlike many running backs this year, Mathews is the clear-cut starter on his team and has talent to match.
At Running Back #2, starting for Cincinatti this year, The Law Firm, BenJarvis Green-Ellis! Apart from having a simply wonderful nickname, The Law Firm carved out fantasy value as a part-time player for New England last year, and now he finds himself as the starter for Cincy. Interesting stat on The Law Firm - he has never fumbled the ball in his career. I don't expect him to be the best player in the league, but he will be a solid, reliable RB2.
Next, the Wide Receivers, from New York, Hakeem Nicks, and from Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown! My wide receiver pairing has loads of talent and they both possess top-10 level upside. Nicks is a bit fragile, but he tends to play through injuries and he has enough of a relationship with Eli Manning that he doesn't need practice reps to build his timing. Antonio Brown was a revelation last year in Pittsburgh - I believe he is going to be the best wide out on the team, despite Mike Wallace's presence on the roster. He has speed to burn, he has soft hands, and he runs great routes - in short, he has everything a good quarterback could want. And his signal caller, Big Ben, is a good quarterback.
At the Flex position, from Baltimore, wide receiver Torrey Smith! Torrey Smith is fast. Like, really fast. As Anquan Boldin gets older, he will shoulder more and more of the responsibility at wide receiver in Baltimore. Also, his quarterback, Joe Flacco, had an uncharacteristically atrocious conversion percentage last season on deep passes, Smith's specialty. If Flacco's numbers improve to be more in line with his career stats, Torrey Smith will challenge for a top 15 wide receiver spot this season. I like his upside.
At Tight End, hailing from New Orleans, Jimmy Graham! Another integral piece of the puzzle, Graham was the 2nd best tight end last season, behind only the Gronk. I believe that, given the plethora of options available in New England and the loss of a couple wide receivers in New Orleans, Gronkowski's value will regress a bit, while Graham's might actually increase. Even if he doesn't improve on last year, Graham will give us a huge positional advantage at tight end over almost every other franchise.
And for the Defense/ Special Teams, the Philadelphia Eagles! I hate the Birds from Philly, but they have a ball-hawking, turn-over oriented scheme, which is exactly what I want out of a fantasy defense. I expect to be rather fast and loose with my defense over the season, and I plan to look for favorable waiver wire match-ups, should the Eagles prove to be less than stellar.
And finally, at Kicker, From Denver, Matt Prater! Kickers are kickers - it's been shown time and again that predicting the best one is like trying to turn lead into gold, and even if you do peg the right man, the difference between number 1 overall and waiver wire replacement level is almost negligible. That said, I like that Prater is kicking at altitude all season, and I like that Peyton Manning runs his offense. That team should score points in bunches.