In this article we highlight what we think are the Top 10 hookups for 2012 drafts. Some draftniks may prefer diversification and look to spread their eggs in multiple baskets when drafting while some may like and even chase the double-dip. We have a little something for both. It’s meant to be a fun piece but some angles to keep in mind when drafting this year.
In our analysis we looked at four criteria.
* Value: collecting on draft value is a good thing; collecting value on both ends of a hookup is twice is good!
* Potential devestation if it hits
* Similarly, scenarios where it is worth some premium if it hits
* Conversely, those hookups to stop from happening (generally if the 2nd player on the hookup is at fair value)
Here is our Top 10 for 2012
- 10: QB Robert Griffin III (8.03 ADP) – TE Fred Davis (8.02 ADP)
This connection isn’t going to likely win any leagues by itself, hence the #10 listing, but it makes the cut. This draft would be particularly effective if you wait on a quarterback and are the last team to add a QB, and also one one of the latter teams to add a tight end. You could potentially/likely pull this off with a late 7th round pick on RGIII, and then add Davis on the way back in the 8th, or perhaps a RGIII-Davis hookup on the post at 7.12/8.01. It certainly could be fun. You would hopefully be loaded at RB and WR and then roll with RGIII and Davis to round out your starters. We like both. The 2011 Heisman Trophy RGIII is a great athlete with an amazingly strong arm. He ran a 4.36 forty at the Combine, the best mark by a QB since Michael Vick, and can make every throw at the NFL level and has very nice touch on deep passes. Fred Davis is already locked into for a slot on our 2012 “Lifevest Teams”. Davis ended the season suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance policy but prior to that he was an absolute playmaker totaling nearly 800 yards receiving in 12 games. Davis won the Mackey Award in 2007 as the top collegiate TE as a senior and after being signed as the team’s franchise player (one-year, $5.4M contract) he has ample incentive to perform. He could be the rookie QB’s security-blanket but also offers plenty of upside around the red zone as well as down the seams.
- 9. QB Jay Cutler (9.09 ADP) – WR Brandon Marshall (3.06 ADP)
We’re not sure we would necessarily spend a 3rd round pick on Brandon Marshall, but if you do, adding Jay Cutler in the 9th round would make sense. In this scenario, you could either add Cutler as nice value as being perhaps the last team to draft a starting QB, or adding him as a high-end QB2 for your team and the hookup may make sense (unless if you spent a high pick on Aaron Rodgers or one of the other elite 4-5 QBs). It certainly will be interesting to see what these two former Broncos will do now reunited in Chicago. Marshall has cracked 1,000 yards receiving for five straight seasons, finishing last year with a solid 1,214 yards (8th best among WRs) and an impressive 15.0 YPC average, easily the best in his career (aside from a 20-catch rookie season). On the Cutler side of things, in the last season Cutler and Marshall played together in Denver Cutler threw for 4,526 yards. The Bears have also added QB coach Jeremy Bates who worked with Cutler in 2008, additionally Cutler has been given another new receiving weapon in Alshon Jeffrey (2nd round). However, we will have to see what the new offense installed by OC Mike Tice will look like but it’s hard to imagine HC Lovie Smith suddenly going with a wide-open attack (he could have done that the last two seasons with Mike Martz as OC). The hookup though could pay particular dividends in fantasy playoffs. Chicago are at Minnesota in Week 14 (26th ranked pass defense), then have a potential shootout game against the Packers in Week 15 (32nd ranked pass defense), at Arizona in Week 16 (21st ranked pass defense) and at Detroit in Week 17 (23rd ranked pass defense). Keep Cutler upright for the juicy close!
- 8. QB Michael Vick (4.06 ADP) – WR Jeremy Maclin (5.01 ADP)
Jeremy Maclin offers a ton of value if you can snag him in the late 4th or early 5th round of drafts. Maclin is flying a little under the radar after a 63-859-5 TD season last year. However, he battled through injuries and an illness and had an impressive 70-964-10 TD season in 2010. Maclin has good size, the ability to make acrobatic catches and quickly gets to top-end speed. He was exceptional is the red zone last year with 8 catches on 12 targets with 4 TDs. He’s the one we’d target here. However, if Vick falls somehow near 4.12/5.01 and you are able to get a Vick-Maclin hookup it is worth the gamble for delivering potential fantasy pain if it hits. Just a season ago Vick was the 2nd QB selected on average and typically went in the 1st round. He could have a career season and is just a year removed from what was a full-season pace for 4,300 passing yards and 31 TDs, elite enough on its own, but Vick also added 9 TDs on the ground in 11 games. Vick still has elite speed, plenty of desire, is more mature, the team has tremendous offensive weapons and a great coaching staff. However, we’ll also point out there is definite risk here, and on two connecting fronts. Vick has not been able to stay healthy and it’s quite possible the team will reign in his running. He had 3 fewer rushing attempts per game last year and he ran a ton less around the goal line. In his superman 2010 season Vick had 11 carries for 42 yards and 8 TDs inside the ten-yard line; in 2011, however, he dropped to 5 carries, 0 yards and 0 TDs inside the ten.
- 7. QB Peyton Manning (6.08 ADP) – WR Demaryius Thomas (4.07 ADP) or WR Eric Decker (6.06 ADP)
First off, all three of these players off a ton of value in our eyes at their respective draft price, particularly Peyton Manning and Eric Decker in the 6th round. We don’t have any problem whatsoever adding Demaryius Thomas in the 4th round. If you did, we wouldn’t think twice about adding Peyton Manning for other end of the connection in the 6th. Fantasy football is also about fun and how much fun will it be watching your Manning-Thomas hookup each week, including Week 1 on a Sunday Night Primetime game, or the week after that on Monday Night Football. Despite an injury-riddled receiving corps, Peyton passed for 4,700 yards in 2010, actually the most ever in his career. Prior to missing last year, in 13 NFL seasons Manning averaged 4,217 yards passing per season and never missed a start. Eric Decker however may hold the most value of these three. He’s a better route-runner than the more beastly-looking Demaryius Thomas and Decker and Manning have reportedly forged an instant connection on and off-the-field in Denver. With Kyle Orton under center last year in the beginning of the season, Decker exploded out of the gate with 20 catches, 270 yards and 4 TDs in the first four weeks.
- 6. QB Drew Brees (2.01 ADP) – WR Marques Colston (4.09 ADP)
There appears to be five-six uber-elite QBs and they make a big difference in your fantasy success. The NFL’s new $100M dollar man is definitely on that uber-elite list. It’s been a prolific career for Drew Brees but 2011 was on a whole different level: another season 5,000 yard season for Brees, finishing with an NFL-record 5,476 passing yards and easily a career-best 46 TDs. There is no way in our eyes Brees should not be in the 1st round of drafts. Barring injury, pencil Brees in for another 4,733 passing yards and 34 TDs, his average season over six years since joining the Saints. If you have Brees, adding Colston at the right price for the double-dip simply makes sense. Colston carries red flags - he’s had six various knee surgeries in the last four years. However, Colston hasn’t missed much time and he posted yet another solid performance last year with 80 receptions, 1,143 receiving yards and 8 TDs. He may not have elite upside, but then again with Robert Meachem now gone, Colston becomes even that more important in the offensive attack and Colston showed he can get in a groove. He was particularly hot down the stretch last year finishing as the #3 fantasy WR from Week 6 on. If you see Colston coming around to the Drew Brees owner, this might be one you want to block.
- 5. QB Aaron Rodgers (1.04 ADP) – WR Jordy Nelson (4.05 ADP)
Collecting here gets a little tricky. Assuming you select Aaron Rodgers in the 1st round, you either need to take Jordy Nelson a little high in the third (which we are perfectly fine with by the way) or hope he comes back in the 4th (not likely). Drafting Rodgers in the 1st round needs little analysis. While the Packers’ 2011 season ended in disappointment (an early exit in the playoffs after a 2010 Super Bowl win and starting 2011 at 13-0), on a macro scale however it was a legendry year for Rodgers. The 2011 NFL MVP had one of the best seasons ever by a QB in NFL or fantasy history: 4600 yards passing, 45 TDs to just 6 INTs plus another three rushing scores. Green Bay scored a whooping 63 TDs last year. Frighten your weekly opponents with the Rodgers-Nelson hookup each week. You will have to pass on other talent in the 3rd round, but if it is essentially on par with Nelson we would do it (we’d roll with the Rodgers-Nelson hookup, for example, in lieu of adding Rodgers-Mike Wallace, say, but don’t pass on Dez Bryant). Say what you want about Nelson, he isn’t going to suck. He plays in the elite of elite passing attacks, knows the offense as well as Rodgers, has a 6-3, 220 pound frame with solid route-running skills which are a perfect fit for the Packers' yards-after-the-catch oriented offense plus can deliver the big-play as well. Nelson averaged a whopping 18.6 yards per catch last year and comes off a season where he delivered a blistering 15 TDs.
- 4. QB Tom Brady (1.11 ADP) – WR Brandon Lloyd (5.07 ADP)
This hookup is both potentially lethal and likely will fall right into your lap. We love Tom Brady in the 1st and the 1.11 ADP spot is too low. Brady seems like a lock for 5,000 yards. That’s crazy to say of course but he had 5,235 last year and things only look better. He has weapons galore - Wes Welker is back, a seemingly unstoppable 1-2 TE combination in Rob Gronkowski (23 years old and fresh-off utterly and completing demolishing the NFL record book with 17 TDs) and Aaron Hernandez, now Brandon Lloyd, even a little Jabar Gaffney if Brady gets bored throwing to the others. How is sure-handed and fast Bradon Lloyd going to fit into the offense you think? Lloyd led the NFL in 2010 with 1,448 receiving yards. Traded mid-year to the Rams last year, and having to absorb QB struggles/injuries when he got there, Lloyd collected a fairly studly 70 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards. He’s now reunited with his New England OC Josh McDaniels. If you draft Tom Brady, you can’t click the Brandon Lloyd button fast enough in the 5th round, especially in what will like be your 3rd WR. Deadly.
- 3. QB Matt Ryan (6.12 ADP) – WR Julio Jones (3.04 ADP)
If you walk away from your draft with this connection, you should be filling extremely jacked. Getting Julio Jones in the 3rd round is Grand Larceny (in the 2012 Fantasy Index Experts mock draft we landed Jones with the 3.06 pick). As a rookie, the beastly (more on that later) Julio Jones posted nearly 1,000 yards (and he missed three games), 8 TDs with a beefy 17.8 YPC average. He was elite down the stretch, the #3 WR from Week 14 on where he caught 6 TDs in the final four games. Jones had TDs of 80, 75, 50 and 48 yards last year (teammate Roddy White hasn’t had a reception that long since the 2009 season). Like Calvin Johnson to some extent, Jones is an athlete of different dimensions than we’ve ever seen. At the 2011 NFL Combine, Jones threw down a 11'3" broad jump with a 4.39 40-yard dash - with a fracture in his foot! We are very high on Jones. He’s ranked #3 in our 2012 WR projections. Jones will be on our 2012 Lifevest teams in August – as will his QB Matt Ryan. If you could guarantee us Matt Ryan in the 6th round we’d take it every single time. Ryan again finished as the #7 fantasy QB last year (for the second year in a row) and passed for more than 4,000 yards for the first time in his three-year NFL career and had a career-best 29 passing TDs. He has almost no chance of missing time and Atlanta is likely to pass more in 2012 than ever. In terms of ADP, the math for this one is too, too juicy.
- 2. QB Tony Romo (5.09 ADP) – WR Dez Bryant (3.12 ADP)
See above. Getting Dez Bryant in the 3rd round is Grand Larceny (in the 2012 Fantasy Index Experts mock draft we somehow landed Bryant with the 4.07 pick). Adding Tony Romo as your QB and making him a hookup to boot in the 5th round is a lethal component to a first five rounds of drafting. We are very high on Bryant. He’s ranked #4 in our 2012 WR projections. In this era of uber-elite, 5K QBs, Tony Romo is falling to mega-value prices. It was a disappointing season for the Cowboys team last year although Romo turned in his second best statistical season with 4,184 yards passing and 31 TDs. Over the last five seasons, the Cowboys rank 4th in passing yards per game (268) and 4th in passing TDs (30.6 per season).
- 1. QB Matthew Stafford (2.10 ADP) – WR Calvin Johnson (1.05 ADP)
Do not let this happen! Calvin Johnson owners were richly rewarded last year with a truly mammoth season: 96 receptions, 1,681 yards and 16 TDs as he and Matthew Stafford were an absolute groove to close out the season, particularly with Stafford trusting Calvin to make the play regardless of double and triple teams. It is officially the NFL reign of Megatron! Detroit rewarded Calvin with a 7-year, $132M contract extension through 2019 during the off-season. Matthew Stafford in the late second (and perhaps anywhere in the second) is also Grand Larceny. Stafford was great in the first half last year with 272 YPG and 19 TDs but he took it to a whole new level on the back nine with 22 TDs and a league-best 357 YPG in the second half of the season. Starting a team with Calvin-Stafford is simply a devastating combination and has the potential to destroy your league competition like you would have done with Tom Brady –Randy Moss in 2007.
Note: our Average Draft Position (ADP) is taken as an average between MFL and fantasyfootballcalculator.com.