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Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: If there is any quarterback that has an opportunity to break into the top ten in fantasy this year, it's RG3. He's a rookie, yes, but according to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, he'll start from Day 1. Griffin can get you major points on the ground and in the rushing touchdown department, a la Cam Newton last season. Also bear in mind that the Redskins signed wideouts Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, and hope to get a lot out of 2011 rookie Leonard Hankerson.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: There aren't a lot of lead backs in the NFL anymore, so the best running backs in committee systems will sneak in the top 10 point scorers at their position. Murray is one of those guys. The former Sooner rushed for 897 yards despite being Dallas' feature back in only eight games. Murray could explode. The two concerns are a) Felix Jones, and b) the fact that Murray only scored twice last season. I expect him to be the 10th best running back in fantasy this season regardless.
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns: Cleveland needs to run the football in the worst way, especially when you look at their overall receiver corps. Enter Richardson. The third overall pick in the draft was considered the best running back in the draft, hands down. With fellow rookie Brandon Weeden potentially starting, Cleveland will need to lean on the ground attack heavily. That spells "touches" for Richardson. With all of the running back-by-committees in fantasy, breaking into the top 10 seems like at least a 50-50 proposition for Richardson.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Ryan could be due for a breakout year. In the interest of full disclosure, I had Kenny Britt in this spot before knee problems and knucklehead issues got in the way. But back to Ryan. Currently I have him as the 12th best QB in fantasy, but slots 7-12 are thisclose. Running back Michael Turner is 30 years old, and probably won't get 300 carries again. Pencil in Atlanta for five more pass attempts per game potentially. Couple that with Julio Jones development (and a healthy hamstring to boot), Ryan could erupt.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Like Britt, Bryant brings a lot of athleticism to his position. More than Britt, Bryant attacks the football. If the Cowboys can get him to play more than a quarter and a half before disappearing, he's a top 10 fantasy wideout. Bryant is just picking up the nuances of being an NFL wide receiver, yet he still produced 928 yards and nine touchdowns in his second season. He also missed a game. The only concern for Bryant is that the Cowboys play the Ravens, Steelers and Browns ... three of the top four pass defenses in the league last season.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Green didn't quite make the top 10 in fantasy last season, but he wasn't far off with 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. With Jordan Shipley coming back, as well as former Rutgers standout Mohamed Sanu joining the mix, defenses won't be able to just bracket Green with a safety. Fellow rookie Andy Dalton developed a repoire with Green last year, and with no lockout both will have the benefit of their first full training camp. Watch out.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Atlanta paid a king's ransom to get Jones in the 2011 draft, and the kid paid off handsomely ... when he was healthy that is. Jones posted 959 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing three games. He was an absolute monster at times, including putting up a ridiculous 28 fantasy points against the Colts. With Atlanta becoming a pass-first team, and running back Michael Turner turning 30 recently, look for Jones to get a lot of looks in the Falcons offense.
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: Fleener to Indianapolis just made sense. Top overall pick Andrew Luck's best receiver at Stanford will be joining him with the Colts, and should result in at least a 50-catch, five-touchdown year. The thought here, though, is that the potential exists for it to be a 70-catch, seven-touchdown season ... putting Fleener in the top 10 among fantasy tight ends, despite being a rookie.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Broncos: Remember Tamme two years ago? The dude came out of nowhere to catch 67 passes in only 10 games after Dallas Clark got hurt. People said that was a result of Peyton Manning getting Tamme in mismatches against linebackers, etc. Maybe so. Guess who Tamme's quarterback is this season? Peyton Manning. Look for Tamme to easily crack the top 10 in fantasy points at the tight end position as familiarity breeds production.
Cardinals defense: The Cardinals played some pretty good football for coordinator Ray Horton as the season wore on, and were the primary reason Arizona finished 2011 on a 7-2 tear. With Patrick Peterson getting four punt return touchdowns, the Cards' D snuck up on a few people. This season, Arizona could break into the top 10. For now, the starting quarterbacks in the NFC West that Horton's defense will face are Alex Smith, Tarvaris Jackson (or Matt Flynn) and Sam Bradford.