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5 Of Last Year’s Injured Stars Destined To Pay Fantasy Dividends In 2012

If you are one of those people that is in a serious and competitive fantasy pool then you know that everybody in your pool knows who the top picks are and when to draft them. In fact if you are among the well read fantasy players, which most people in a competitive league are, then you can even make educated guesses on where middle and late round players will get drafted too. It’s amazing what a few spreadsheets, statistics and RSS feeds can do for man’s fantasy football team.

However, there is one area that is always subject to debate and that is the discussion about how superstars who dealt with injuries last year will do going into this year. Where you selected these players and the value that you end up getting out of them at the end of season can make or break your fantasy team, especially if you are in deeper leagues with 12 teams or more. There are always fantasy owners out there who are willing to gamble on these guys because with the payoff they can give you the runaway victory in your league. Let’s discuss the top five superstars that got hurt last year that are destined to do well in 2012. Keep in mind that in my league receivers and running backs get one point per reception and we also allow 1 point per 10 yards on kick returns.

1. Adrian PetersonMinnesota Vikings RB

- 17 Carries- 84 Yards, 2 TDs, 1 REC – 3 Yards (12 Games Last Season)

There is no doubt that when Adrian Peterson is healthy he can take over a game the way few players can. His performance in week one made him look just like Vikings fans would expect out of Purple Jesus. He broke through tackles around the goal line and seemed to be running down the field as fast as he was before tearing his ACL and MCL. Given his showing in week one, and the fact that Christian Ponder is inexperienced and lacks a good receiving corps. to throw to, look for Peterson to finish with the numbers of a first round draft pick this season, even though most of us took him in the second or third.

2. Michael VickPhiladelphia Eagles QB

- 29/56, 317 Yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 7 Rushes, 32 Yards (13 Games Last Season)

For my money Vick is still the most electrifying player in the NFL. He is the only player in the league who could reasonably throw for 400 yards in a game and stack 100 yards rushing on top of that (which is absolutely insane to even fathom). Don’t let the four interceptions he threw against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday fool you. The Eagles might have been fool’s gold last year as the "Dream Team", but Vick will eventually string together a full 16 game season. When that happens, people will be calling Philly "The Redeem Team". Vick was the last player taken in the first round of my draft and if coach Andy Reid plans on keeping his job next year, you can bet he’ll convince Vick to be more conservative with his scrambling. The road to your fantasy fortunes could very well be paved with MVP like performances from this late first round pick.

3. Matt SchaubHouston Texans QB

- 20/31, 266 Yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 7 Rushes, 32 Yards (10 Games Last Season)

Schaub slipped all the way down to the sixth round in my most competitive fantasy pool, leaving me scratching my head in the process. Schaub has access to two of the best offensive players in the NFL in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson and the Texans are Super Bowl contenders. Schaub going as a sixth round pick is going to offer up incredible returns to the lucky owner in my league, and even if he went a round higher in yours, Schaub will easily finish the year as a top 10 fantasy quarterback.

4. Andre Johnson – Houston Texans WR

- 8 RECs, 119 Yards, 1 TD (7 Games Last Season)

There aren’t too many receivers in the league who are a threat for double digit reception totals any given week but Johnson is certainly one of them. If he can just keep himself on the field and keep his hamstring at 100% he’ll be a key piece to the Texans season and yours if you’re lucky enough to own him. Johnson could have easily been a top 10 draft pick this year had he been healthy last season. Since he did miss six games, he slipped all the way to the third round before he was selected. As long as you’re ok with his injury prone past and are willing to risk one or two games potentially being lost to injury, grabbing AJ in the third round is not bad at all.

5. Peyton ManningDenver Broncos QB

- 19/26, 253 Yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 4 Rushes, 3 Yards (0 Games Last Season)

Here is the one player that I think every NFL fan was glad to see back on the field this past Sunday night. Though it took him a few snaps to really get into a rhythm, Manning really seemed to be back to his old self and he was able to lead the Denver Broncos down the field in his trademark no huddle style whenever he felt like it. The Pittsburgh Steelers blitzed five players at a time on 11 different occasions throughout the game and Peyton Manning went 9 for 11 in those situations, so the threat of getting hit doesn’t seem to bother him. Although I chose Matt Ryan over Manning when I had a chance to select him with the 12th overall pick in the draft, Manning will only get better as the season progresses and he does have a defense and a running game to rely on as well during moments where he might struggle. Not that seasons can be judged on one game, but I think most people were experienced fantasy players can agree that Manning is a pretty good late round first pick that should justify that selection spot and more with the value that he brings to the Broncos and your fantasy team.

Of the five players I have listed, Andre Johnson and Michael Vick are probably the most likely to get re-injured his season. However if you are the type of fantasy player that believes even injury prone athletes can play a full 16 games once in a while, those two guys are pretty good options to have on your team. Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are the two most likely players to recapture the form they exhibited back in 2010 as they will both be counted on if their teams are going to make the playoffs. As for Matt Schaub, he could leap into the top five among all fantasy quarterbacks but he will have to compete with healthier up and comers like Matt Ryan to gain that sort of a position. Nonetheless as long as you got him a couple of rounds into your draft, you will be more than happy with his results.

If you would like to follow more of the sports stuff that I have been doing, you can follow me on twitter @jackchoros.

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