By Kellie Cowan
It's never too early to start scouting for your fantasy football draft, right? After all, NFL betting is a $30 billion annual industry. Not that we're endorsing gambling...
But you have a roster to build, bragging rights on the line and friends and foes alike to impress with your powerhouse team. And what better way to impress the league while earning the ire of your opponents than by snapping up this year's breakout stars?
Cam Newton. DeMarco Murray. Victor Cruz. Jimmy Graham. Mike Wallace. Matt Forte. If you were lucky/savvy enough to have snapped up one or more of those guys in a later round last year --or better yet off waivers-- chances are your team avoided the lowly league basement.
Ready to plan ahead for this year's breakout stars? You won't have to look too far outside the Washington area to find what many experts believe to be the most eligible quarterback. But, as NFL.com's analysts point out, don't expect Robert Griffin III to be Newton 2.0:
"If you expect Griffin to duplicate Cam Newton and score close to 370 fantasy points as a rookie, well, you're going to be disappointed. 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."
"While it'd be almost statistically impossible to repeat what Cam Newton did last year, I do think RG3 will use his big arm, speedy gams and keen noodle to have a great rookie season. If you're in a keeper league, he's worth reaching for as early as the second round."
"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."
So there you have it. Chances are RG3 will go far too early if your league is stocked with DC-area GMs. So let them throw away an early pick on the unproven guy on a rebuilding roster. Keep a level head and think of RG3, whose star is undoubtedly very bright, as a premium #2.
Check out the full list of projected 2012 breakout performers here.