Last week on Twitter and Facebook, I asked you, the fantasy football enthusiast, to give me your "Frightening Five" for the 2012 NFL season. That is, the five players you are more scared to take in a fantasy draft. The response was enormous (and I thank you all for your submissions!) In fact, I went from the original "Frightening Five" and expanded list to what I'll now call the "Terrifying Ten."
So without further ado, here are the 10 players who scare you the most in 2012:
10. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: This isn't a surprise, as Vick is uber-talented but also prone to injuries because of his style of play. You might even call him a bust last season, as Vick finished 11th in fantasy points at his position one year removed from being the top-scoring quarterback in fantasy land. Based on his potential to score, both as a passer and a runner, it will be tough to pass on Vick if he falls into the fourth or fifth round. But if you do land him, it's important to grab a No. 2 quarterback you can lean on should he go down with an injury once again.
9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Gronkowski is coming off the best fantasy season ever for a tight end, posting 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and an NFL record 17 touchdown catches (18 total). It's those numbers that make him a bit scary from a fantasy perspective, because duplicating that high level of success in back to back seasons is going to be difficult. If you're in a draft with someone who believes in him, Gronkowski could come off the board as soon as Round 1 or 2. Personally, I won't be drafting a tight end that high -- I'll wait and land someone like Fred Davis.
8. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: I was surprised to see that on average, you were more scared of Johnson than other runners like Frank Gore, Michael Turner and Steven Jackson. But that's what happens when you're a top-five pick and fail to finish in the top 15 at your own position (based on fantasy points). While that's a good reason for some level of fear, I think CJ2K bounces back and has a solid season in 2012. There will be no lockout, no holdout and no distractions for the talented running back, so don't be afraid to grab him somewhere in the second round on draft day.
7. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Charles was a top-five pick in most 2011 fantasy drafts, so it was a crushing blow for owners when he went down with a torn ACL in the second week of the season. All seems to be going well in his recovery, but we all know that most runners coming off reconstructive knee surgery need at least one full season to get back to their previous level. When you factor that with the addition of Peyton Hillis, and there is cause for concern. When you consider the running back position as a whole, however, Charles is still a high-end No. 2 option this year.
T-6. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: See what the threat of a contractual holdout will do to a player's value? Forte was on pace to post a monster season in terms of receptions and yardage in 2011, but a knee injury cost him the final four games. Now entrenched in what could become an ugly battle over money with the Bears, Forte could turn into a risk-reward fantasy pick. Another reason to fear Forte is the presence of Michael Bush, who could steal carries and vulture touchdowns in the red zone. I still see him as a No. 1 fantasy back, but Forte's stock is dropping right now.
T-6. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: Newton's unbelievable rookie season is what has fantasy owners afraid to draft him in 2012. After all, it would be tough for any player to duplicate the absolutely ridiculous 369.34 fantasy points he scored as a rookie. What's more, there's also the threat of that dreaded sophomore slump that has victimized so many second-year players before him (Mike Williams, anyone?) I still have Newton listed as a late first rounder, but you have to expect at least some decline in production -- especially in the rushing touchdowns department.
4. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos: Missing an entire season and coming off multiple neck surgeries will make any fantasy leaguer a bit fearful, so it's no surprise to see Manning on this list. It also doesn't help his cause that he'll enter next season at the age of 36. Still, can you really pass on one of the best quarterbacks to ever grace the gridiron if he falls to you in the fourth or fifth round? Manning will have a ton of talent on offense, so a season with 4,000-plus yards and 30 touchdowns is well within reach. Just don't be the guy who reaches for him in Rounds 1-3.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: If I had tweeted out the same question this time last year, Peterson's name wouldn't appear on the list. But coming off a late-season ACL tear is going to make him one of the bigger risk-reward runners in fantasy land. If you want to eliminate the fear, you should pass on Peterson as a No. 1 fantasy back and target him as a No. 2 instead. The numbers don't lie when it comes to runners coming back from major knee reconstruction -- the stats typically aren't there the first year -- so you almost have to expect Peterson's totals to decline.
2. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: McFadden's presence on this list is easy to explain. Not only is he coming off a season where he missed nine games with a foot ailment, but he has never played in more than 13 games in a single NFL season. While all reports on his recovery have been positive, McFadden has much to prove before he can be trusted in fantasy land. With that said, he is also too talented to pass up if he falls into the third round. Owners who do take a chance on McFadden also need to add the winner of the Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson battle as insurance.
1. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: So, you guys are just a little superstitious huh? Believe it or not, but more fantasy fans listed Megatron on their "Frightening Five" list than any other player in the NFL. So why did that happen, I wonder? Yes, the "Madden" curse has everyone running scared like a teenager at Crystal Lake. But can you really pass up on the best wideout in fantasy land, especially after a huge 2011 campaign? Based on the history of the curse, I wouldn't touch Megatron in the first round. If he falls to me in Round 2, though, not grabbing him would be a little more difficult.