Instant Debate: Which 2011 stars could falter in 2012?

Which fantasy player who broke out last season is most likely to disappoint in 2012?

  • Michael Fabiano NFL.com Fantasy Editor
  • Nelson no lock for 2012 success

So, let's start off with a little fantasy trivia. Which wide receiver finished second in fantasy points behind Calvin Johnson in 2011? It wasn't Larry Fitzgerald. Wes Welker? Nope. How about Andre Johnson? Nah, you can't score points from the sidelines. The answer is Jordy Nelson, who hauled in 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. OK, maybe he can come close to his yardage totals in 2012. Maybe. But if you think Nelson is going to score another 15 times, well, I'd like to play in a league with you. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see him post less than half of that total in 2012. Remember, Greg Jennings is back from a knee injury and entering a contract year. Jermichael Finley and James Jones remain in the mix as well, and defenses won't let Nelson beat them as often again. To me, he's only a No. 2 fantasy wideout.

  • Dave Dameshek NFL.com Fantasy Analyst
  • Nelson won't be a top wideout

You heard it here first - Nelson will not be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver in 2012. Don't get me wrong, he'll have a good season (as will everyone else catching passes from fantasy superstar Aaron Rodgers), but his stats were a little bit inflated last season because the Packers' top target, Jennings, missed essentially the last month of the season with a knee injury. With Jennings back at 100 percent, Nelson is almost guaranteed to see fewer targets in 2012. Also, I'd look for sophomore burner Randall Cobb to be more prominent in coach Mike McCarthy's offense this year. Don't forget about JerMichael Finley, either. Now two years removed from a knee injury of his own, Finley will have his best pro season. Draft Nelson as a No. 2, but don't expect him to post close to the totals he had in 2011.

  • Elliot Harrison NFL.com Analyst
  • Megatron could falter in 2012

I covered this in our five fantasy predictions columns, but I believe it merits mentioning again. 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! While Calvin Johnson was the best wideout in fantasy last season, I have a hard time seeing him go for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns again. Matt Stafford has to stay healthy, and the Lions line must play well. Detroit also plays the AFC South, which has three decent defenses in Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. Green Bay's defense will be better as well. To me, 1,300 yards and 11 scores sounds more realistic. Maybe he exceeds that and is again the top fantasy receiver. But a word of caution to those fantasy owners that are thinking he's worth a top seven overall pick.

  • Adam Rank NFL.com Writer
  • Newton won't repeat 2011 totals

One of the reasons I haven't seen the Avengers movie (other than the shabby treatment given to Jack Kirby) is because of the high expectations. The buzz for Cam Newton is so high now, there's no way he can reach the expectations. Newton's unreal rookie year is the reason for those expectations. He set the NFL on fire with more than 4,000 passing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, but you can't expect him to reach those lofty totals again. For starters, defensive coordinators are going to have a full year of film to game plan for Newton. You already started to see it at the end of last year, as Newton had just one rushing touchdown in the final four weeks and didn't top 300 passing yards after Week 4. Expect Newton to be good this year with 3,000-3,500 passing yards, but his rushing touchdowns are coming back to earth.

What's the line from that holiday classic, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas? I wouldn't touch Marshawn Lynch with a 39 1/2 foot pole. You have to beware the monster year that comes midway through a player's career. He was an absolute beast, but he needed to get paid. Seattle also knows it's a quarterback-driven league now, so they're going to have to air it out just a tad more than they did a year ago. That's something they can actually do this season, because the team has a quarterback in Matt Flynn who can hit open receivers and make plays in the passing game. Here's how far I go on Lynch: He is on my 'Do Not Draft List.' There's a plethora of players I'd rather take in the second round. Remember, fantasy is about projecting forward, not looking at stats from a year ago and expecting to get that this time around.

  • Matt "Money" Smith NFL.com Fantasy Analyst
  • Newton, Cruz have me worried

I'm torn between two players. I want to go Newton, because you could see his numbers drop dramatically in the second half of the season (save two games against awful Tampa). However, Victor Cruz piled up so many points on fluke plays that I contend he won't have anywhere near the same production. An internal debate has me questioning why I would pick against Eli Manning's favorite target, or a quarterback like Newton who likes to tuck it and run. The difference is that Cruz won't be selected nearly as high as Newton. While he will remain a top-10 quarterback, Newton is not going to be one of the top five overall players based on fantasy production. But when Tony Romo and Michael Vick are both putting up bigger numbers than the Panthers quarterback, you'll be questioning why you took him so high on draft day.

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