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It's OK to fall for Matt Ryan, DeMarco Murray in fantasy


No matter who you are, you have almost certainly had multiple crushes in your lifetime. 

Growing up in the 1980s, I know I've had my fair share. Who wasn't head over heels in love with Farrah Fawcett back in the day? When I saw her in "The Cannonball Run", I knew there was something I liked (I was eight so I didn't know what it was that I liked exactly, I just knew I liked it). Oh, and how about Alyssa Milano playing the role of Sam Micelli in "Who's the Boss?" Was there any guy my age who didn't have a huge crush on her? Come on, you can admit it. You watched "Poison Ivy II" and even "Embrace of the Vampire" just to see, um, "more" of Milano.

Now that I'm older, I'm not sure the "crush" definition applies to me. But, I am man enough to admit that I do develop somewhat of a "liking" to several NFL players each year that I think could turn into fantasy superstars. No, it's not like the man crush George Costanza had on Tony in that one episode of "Seinfeld." Call it fantasy man love, call it a little fantasy infatuation. Call it what you want. I just see these guys in a different light. If you think a player can help you win a fantasy championship, there's no shame in expressing your feelings if you land him in drafts.

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(How many times do you hear, "I love that guy" in your fantasy draft?)

Alright, so now that we're on the same page with the whole "fantasy man crush" definition, here are the 10 players I absolutely love heading into the 2012 season.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Quietly, Ryan was a fantasy monster at the end of last season. In the final eight weeks of the fantasy season, he threw for a combined 18 touchdowns and posted 250-plus passing yards seven times. With Michael Turner getting older and an offense that now features Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez in the pass attack, I'm looking for Ryan to make a huge impact. Oh, and his ADP right now is Round 9. That's a steal.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins: I am not expecting Griffin to duplicate Cam Newton's rookie season and score close to 370 fantasy points. That sort of production might never happen again from a first-year player. With that said, I can see RG3 as a top-10 fantasy quarterback because of his combination of arm strength and skills as a runner. Draft him as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback with huge upside. Right now, he can be had for an eighth-round selection on

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: The Chargers appear content with using Mathews in a featured role (don't expect Ronnie Brown to put a dent into his carries), so he'll be in a position to post the best fantasy totals of his career. He showed flashes of major potential in his second season, finishing with 50 catches and over 1,500 scrimmage yards. If he can avoid injuries, which has been an issue, Mathews should be a monster. I can see him being a solid first-round selection.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray was an absolute fantasy machine in the absence of Felix Jones last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't be prominent for coach Jason Garrett in his sophomore NFL season. Assuming he can avoid the trainer's room -- he's now back at 100 percent from last season's ankle injury -- Murray should emerge into a top-10 fantasy option at the running back position. Don't be shocked to see him come off the board in the third round.

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: A prominent member of my fantasy man crush list, Richardson is in a terrific situation to produce at a high level in his rookie season. Browns coach Pat Shurmur will utilize the former Alabama star as his featured back, so he won't be coming off the field very often. I can see Richardson posting 1,500-plus scrimmage yards in 2012, and fantasy owners seem to agree. He's currently sitting with an ADP of 22.26, which puts him at the start of Round 3.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant finished a respectable 20th in fantasy points among wide receivers last season, and that was despite missing a few games due to injuries. He also had to contend with a crowded pass attack that included Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and Jason Witten. Now in his third year at the pro level, and with Robinson no longer a threat to take targets, Bryant should be ready to make his mark in fantasy land. He has top-10 potential among wide receivers.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: A top-15 fantasy receiver during his rookie campaign, Green is an athletic playmaker with the skills to develop into one of the truly elite wideouts in the National Football League. The clear top option in the Bengals pass attack, he'll be in a position to surpass his first-year totals. In fact, I expect the Georgia product to emerge into a surefire No. 1 fantasy receiver this year. He could come off the board as soon as the third or fourth round.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: An exciting wideout with serious home run capabilities in the vertical passing game, Jones would have posted better than 1,000 yards as a rookie had he not missed three games due to injuries. Looking ahead to 2012, his teammate Roddy White and I both expect him to hit that mark with relative ease. You can draft Jones as a No. 2 option, but he should record top-10 fantasy totals. I have him ranked at No. 7 among wideouts, two spots behind White.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: My crush on Maclin is all about his potential to post far better fantasy numbers than his draft position would suggest. At this point in time, he's costing owners a seventh-round selection. That's a real steal for a player with 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown potential. He'll enter training camp at 100 percent (remember he had a mysterious illness last season), and I'm expecting Maclin to have the best fantasy campaign of his NFL career.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: A third-year wideout from Georgia Tech, Thomas will be one of the top breakout candidates in 2012. He was a stat-sheet stuffer down the stretch in 2011, and that was with the inaccurate Tim Tebow under center. With a star like Peyton Manning now at the helm, who he has already started to gain a rapport with, Thomas will be in line to have better than 1,000-plus yards for the first time in his career. I have him ranked 11th among wideouts.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!


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