1. Caught on Cam.Cam Newton outscores Michael Vick by 50 points. Vick was a freaking beast in 2010 with 310 points in 12 games. Newton eclipsed that stratosphere in 2011 with 369. In 2012, it will be Newton easily again, as Vick slows down running the football, while hoping to stay healthy for a full slate of games. It's hard to fathom, but he's not the same freak athlete that carves up the field with his legs. Vick has slowly morphed into more of a pocket passer, which will affect his fantasy value.
2. Almighty Megatron falls.Calvin Johnson doesn't sniff his 2011 numbers. Megatron put up 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Receivers just don't go back-to-back with that kind of production. No receiver has ever hit 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Ever. Jerry Rice came the closest in 1993-1994-1995. That was Jerry freaking Rice. Johnson has a ton of potential, and is a great player, but 1,300 yards and 11 TDs sounds more realistic. That's still top five, but not 2011's crazy production.
3. Drop in QB production. Passing numbers and the top 10 scorers at quarterback will drop a notch in 2012. Three quarterbacks threw for more than 5,000 yards last season. Three guys threw for more than 40 touchdowns. While there's no question quarterback play was outstanding -- and the rules changes had much to do with that -- how much of that production was a result of secondaries being affected by the lockout, no OTAs, and an abbreviated training camp? Quarterbacks and wideouts could still get in reps together. What could corners do? Practice zone coverage responsibilities with a bunch of squirrels? DBs need a professional receiver to go against. They were hurt by evolving rules without the benefit of normal practice time. Not this year.
4. Rebound season for Rivers.Philip Rivers throws for 4,800 yards and 30 touchdowns, while cutting his interceptions in half, distancing his 2011 numbers by more than 40 points. The Chargers are relying in Ryan Mathews to stay healthy in 2012. Good luck. Meanwhile, Rivers knows his penchant for turnovers severely hurt the Chargers' chances at an AFC West title last year. Trust Rivers' competitiveness and desire to be great.
5. So long, Steel Curtain. Unlike past years, Pittsburgh's defense is not a lock for the top five ... or the top 10 necessarily. While they were second overall in fantasy points in 2010, the Steelers finished 13th in 2011. Thirteenth sounds far more likely than second at this point. Facing the NFC East in 2012 will be a much tougher assignment than the fantasy-weak offenses of the NFC West that Pittsburgh played last year. Age exists all over the front seven, while safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are not the same players they once were, leaving the secondary exposed. Cornerback Ike Taylor had his best season in 2011, but he's 32. Pittsburgh also doesn't have a Patrick Peterson type to tack on the return points.