2012 PPR Preview
Going Up - With all the talk about Dez Bryant and his much publicized push to supplant Austin as the team's #1 wide out, it does very little to change Austin's value (or his upside). Another situation where there is value to be found when the hype fades, Austin is still in a fantastic position should he end up the team's #2 in a world where Bryant is demanding double coverage. Miles is healthy, and has no competition for playing time. If he can stay on the field he should be good for 75+ catches, 1000+ yards and 8-10 TD's. Not bad for a guy who could slip to the 5th or 6th round.
Going Up - Plagued by injuries the last 2 years, owners won't be fighting for the opportunity to draft Gates early. But with the high risk can also come high rewards. If you believe that Phil Rivers has the talent to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 then he's going to need to lean heavily on his favorite target now that Vincent Jackson landed in Tampa Bay. Gates lost weight in the offseason and is doing all the right things to finish his career in dynamic fashion. When healthy, Gates is still one of the most feared TEs in the game. I think he'll play the whole year, and in the process amass 80+ catches, 900+ yards, and double digit touchdowns.
Going Down - I hate to jump on the Anti-Forte bandwagon. The guy has been everything from "serviceable" to "great" for the last 4 seasons in PPR formats; Often undervalued and overlooked. Unfortunately, he's now coming off an injury, is unhappy with his contract, and twice has expressed an interest in being a power running team. To that end, they added Michael Bush. Bush can handle a full share of carries, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn't cut substantially into Forte's production. He'll still have a role in the passing game and carries between the 20s, but (purely on the basis of opportunity alone) I see his reception total dropping into the 40 range with very little chance of having the same contributions in other categories.
Going Down - It seems like people have been predicting when father time will come for Tony Gonzalez for years now. Gonzo showed he still had a lot left in the tank in 2011, dramatically improving on his 2010 numbers. Truth be told, Gonzalez will probably have another solid year as a player, but Julio Jones managed 959 yards and 8 touchdowns on just 54 receptions. That kind of production demands more touches, and those touches have to come at someone's expense. From a fantasy standpoint, I can't see the future hall of famer making the same impact in 2012, and should see 10-15 catches and 200 yards fall off last year's line.
Going Down - Last year's 79 catches were his most since 2008. There's going to be a lot of Cam Newton owners counting on another big year from Smith; I won't be among them. Smith slowed way down in the second half of 2011, catching just 33 balls for 476 yards and 3 touchdowns. Respectable numbers, but nothing demanding serious attention in the higher rounds of the draft where he's going. Smith is 33, an age where decline is imminent, and the Panthers have done very little to add other dymanic weapons around him in the offseason. It's fun to watch him play the game, but I still see his totals slipping back to the 65 catch and 1000 yard range.