Bobby Lemaire, Contributing Writer
As a new NFL season rapidly approaches, that can only mean one thing…fantasy football is back! This ever-increasing game has become just as much a part of fall as the actual NFL season. Each position in fantasy football is just as essential as in the actual NFL – that is why I went through the players and chose the best and worst to help your fantasy teams come out on top this year.
Top Pick: Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): Rodgers is coming off one of the best seasons ever, in which he threw 45 TDs and over 4500 yards, there is no doubt who the top QB is this year and should be in consideration as the top pick overall.
Bust Pick: Phillip Rivers (San Diego): Rivers had a down year, by his standards, last year with a career-high 20 interceptions along with WR Vincent Jackson leaving for Tampa Bay and TE Antonio Gates and RB Ryan Matthews, known for being injury prone, Rivers’ options will be limited and will struggle this season.
Sleeper Pick: Robert Griffin III (Washington): RGIII has the ability to run and throw all over defenses, much like how Cam Newton did last year, and seems very composed for a rookie and could make an immediate impact.
Top Pick: Arian Foster (Houston): Foster is coming off a year in which he missed three games due to injury, but with other offensive weapons like Andre Johnson, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box to stop the run game.
Bust Pick: Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville): This has nothing to do with the physical abilities of MJD, but his holding out for a new contract simply means that he won’t be ready for the Jaguars since he hasn’t been practicing with the rest of his teammates.
Sleeper Pick: Trent Richardson (Cleveland): The rookie from Alabama is going to be the opening day starter for the Browns and running behind All-Pro offensive lineman Joe Thomas, Richardson could be dynamic on a rather weak offense.
Top Pick: Calvin Johnson (Detroit): Megatron is easily the best wide receiver in football. At 6’5”, he can out jump anyone and get any ball thrown to him. Last year, he had over 1600 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns and is fully expected to match those numbers again this season, as long as QB Matthew Stafford can stay healthy.
Bust Pick: Randy Moss (San Francisco): The future Hall of Famer is coming out of retirement and with an average quarterback Alex Smith throwing to him, plus the 49ers are a run first team and Moss has never had the best attitude when he isn’t getting the ball and at age 35 Moss is nothing special physically anymore.
Sleeper Pick: Rod Streater (Oakland): An undrafted rookie, Streater impressed during the preseason with 18 catches for 165 yards. With injuries to Raiders WR’s Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, Streater has a chance to starting on opening night and could be a cheap option.
Top Pick: Rob Gronkowski (New England): As long as Tom Brady is throwing the ball, Gronk will continue to dominate. Last year, he set the record for touchdowns by a tight end with 17 TDs.
Bust Pick: Greg Olsen (Carolina): With the two headed rushing attack of Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams and Steve Smith as a number one wide receiver, there will be less opportunities for the skilled tight end to get the ball.
Sleeper Pick: Jared Cook (Tennessee): Every year of his young career, Cook’s numbers have increased and with second year QB Jake Locker starting this season, expect Locker to rely heavy on Cook especially around the goal line.
Top Pick: San Francisco 49ers: Last year, the 49ers had the fourth overall ranked defense and with the continued development of Aldon Smith, who is a top defender in the league, mixed with the fact that the 49ers play weak offensive teams in the NFC West, you can’t go wrong choosing San Fran as the top defense this year.
Bust Pick: Green Bay Packers: People are high on the Packers defense because of players like Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and Charles Woodson, but the fact remains that last year, they ranked 31 out of 32 and gave up a ton of points.
Sleeper Pick: Philadelphia Eagles: They had a down year defensively last season but the Eagles still have an elite core. With Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the corners and Trent Cole and Jason Babin on the line, this team should be feared on defense.
Top Pick: Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland): Easily has the biggest leg in the game and can drill field goals over sixty yards, but with an improved offensive game, Janikowski will have better opportunities than ever before.
Bust Pick: Dan Carpenter (Miami): This is not a knock on Carpenter but instead on the Dolphins for not being able to give him a chance to rack up the points with such a bad offense.
Sleeper: Alex Henery (Philadelphia): The Eagles offensive is better than it showed last season and should get plenty of points this year, which means Henery will get points too, it’s just a matter of how many.