Every fantasy football season, more than a few players disappoint. The question always is, will these players bounce-back, or is downward their new trajectory?
I think everyone will agree that Chris Johnson, Michael Vick and Stevie Johnson are a handful of top names that belong on last year’s list of disappointments.
Will these three bounce-back in 2012? Are there other players aside from these three worth discussing? Let’s get to it!
Top Bounce-Back Players
1. Chris Johnson (TEN)
Johnson is my top-ranked bounce-back candidate heading into 2012. No fantasy football player disappointed his owners more than CJ2K did in 2011, as he was a top 1-3 overall pick in almost every format, yet, he produced mediocre rushing stats and finished as the 13th to 15th-ranked rusher (depending on your scoring). While Johnson is certainly doubted by many, it’s important to note that his ADP is still around the 1.06-1.08 range, so you’re not going to steal him away from anyone come August. Still, because Johnson still has the ability to finish as a top 1-3 overall player in 2012, he is a bargain grab at the tail-end of that first-round in 2012 fantasy football drafts!
2012 Projections: 1300 rushing yards, 7-8 RuTDs, 65 receptions for 450 yards, 2 ReTDs
2. Michael Vick (PHI)
Vick has both “bounce-back upside” and a ridiculously-low average draft position (4.02-4.07). Considering Vick has the ability to finish as a top 2-3 fantasy quarterback, and top 5-10 overall player, he has “steal” written all over him entering August drafts. There are several factors that attributed to Vick’s struggles in 2011. For starters, it’s important to note that, since 2006, this is Vick’s first real off-season as the Eagles’ starting quarterback… Vick was out of the league from in 2007 and 2008, then there was the lockout last year, and in 2010, Vick entered the season as the back-up. On top of offensive line issues, as well as not having a healthy Jeremy Maclin all season long (which in turn affected the performance of DeSean Jackson), Vick had a lot going against him last season… for more on Vick’s potential bounce-back season in 2012, click here.
2012 Projections: 3,400 passing yards, 24 PaTDs, 650 rushing yards and 7-9 RuTDs
3,400 24TDs, 11 INTs, 650 9
3. Stevie Johnson (BUF)
Stevie Johnson is one of my favorite underrated fantasy wide receivers heading into August drafts… his ADP is in that 5.04-5.09 range, and he has low-end fantasy WR1 upside… what more can you ask for? At 5th-round value, and assuming that he stays relatively healthy, he almost can’t disappoint… the thing is, Johnson‘s 2011 stats didn’t really fall too far from his 2010 stats, but because he vanished for a string of games during the middle of 2011, he is on a lot of “avoid” lists heading into August. In 2010, Johnson pulled in 82 receptions for 1,073 yards and 10TDs… in 2011, Johnson still managed to pull in 76 receptions for 1,004 yards and 7TDS. With C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson set to keep defenses honest, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick set to have a bounce-back campaign himself, I firmly believe we’re looking at a low-end fantasy WR1 season out of Stevie. Believe!
2012 Projections: 85 receptions for 1,100+ yards and 10-11 TDs
More Bounce-Back Players
Jermichael Finley (GB)
The season Jimmy Graham had last year (which we predicted, by the way), well, I predicted that same season out of Jermichael Finley. While he didn’t meet those lofty expectations, Finley still managed to pull in 55 for 767 yards and 8TDs. That’s not a bad season at all. In fact, it’s hard to even call him a bounce-back candidate. If it weren’t for the extremely lofty expectations I had for him last season, he wouldn’t even be on this list. Expect more like 900-1,000 yards and 9-10TDs in 2012!
Brandon Marshall (CHI)
Only 6TDs last year, and 3TDs in 2010; Now that he is reunited back with Jay Cutler, get ready for the Marshall we remember, and expect more like 9-11 TDs in 2012!
DeSean Jackson (PHI)
With Vick set to bounce-back, and with Maclin healthy, it’s going to be tough for defenses to stop DeSean Jackson in 2012! Invest, especially at his 5th- to 6th-round value.
Peyton Manning (MIA)
It’s hard not to doubt Manning (neck) heading into 2012, but we firmly believe a top 4-6 fantasy QB season is possible. No receivers? Limited weapons? Once upon a time, Reggie Wayne was not expected to be a big-time fantasy WR1. Weapons are not the concern, only his health is.
Philip Rivers (SD)
Rivers had some turnover issues last year that really had people scratching their heads early on… Well, consistency will return in 2012, and a top 5-6 fantasy QB season is possible.
Greg Jennings (GB)
Injury issues are the only reason Jennings disappointed last season. While everyone jumps on the Jordy Nelson wagon, we say get ready for some Aaron Rodgers to Jennings action in 2012! Jennings can still be a true fantasy WR1.
Miles Austin (DAL)
Miles Austin disappointed in 2011, but only because he missed games. He played 10 games according to game logs, but he played less than 10 actual games. During that time frame, he pulled in 43 receptions for 570 yards and 7TDs. Before missing games to injury, beginning in Week 3, Austin pulled in 90 yards and 1TD in Week 1, then 143 yards and 3TDs in Week 2. He was on fire. While I have Dez Bryant as the true WR1 in Dallas this year, Austin will have a nice bounce-back season in 2012.