Fantasy Football Rankings 2012: Top 5 By Skill Position

Aug 23, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball to during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

We break down the top five fantasy football players by skill position heading into the 2012 NFL season.

Week three of the preseason is coming to a close, which means we have likely seen as much of the starters as we are going to see. Starters will get some time in week four, but for the most part the final game is a chance for a team to make those final 53-man roster decisions. The good news is that most of the significant injuries are likely past us. Big names could still get hurt, but odds would seem to decrease considerably that your draft will be impacted further by injury.

The next seven days are the biggest of the fantasy football draft season. With most people drafting, here is a quick cheat-sheet of the top skill position players for you to consider in your standard league drafts.

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Matthew Stafford
5. Cam Newton

Over the last month I've wondered whether or not I am undervaluing Cam Newton. If he does not suffer a sophomore slump, he remains as dangerous as most any QB because of the rushing totals. And yet, I keep coming back to a potential regression. If you're not concerned about a regression, I think Newton is as high as the No. 3 QB.

Running Back
1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. LeSean McCoy
4. Chris Johnson
5. Darren McFadden

The big sleeper among this top five has to be Darren McFadden. When healthy, DMC is one of the most talented running backs in the league. And yet, that's the rub. He struggles to stay healthy. If healthy, he could challenge any of the top three backs, but it just doesn't happen. Chris Johnson gets bumped up ever so slightly because of that.

Wide Receiver
1. Calvin Johnson
2. Julio Jones
3. Andre Johnson
4. Larry Fitzgerald
5. Brandon Marshall

Fairly recently, I was plenty fine with Larry Fitzgerald as the number two receiver behind Megatron. While I think he still gets his numbers in 2012, I really think we have to discount him with the bizarro QB situation they have in Arizona. Add in an atrocious offensive line and his numbers may take a hit. Brandon Marshall may surprise some of you, but he and Cutler seem to be hooking up and he was just outside the top-10 by the end of last year. Keep that in mind.

Tight End
1. Jimmy Graham
2. Rob Gronkowski
3. Antonio Gates
4. Vernon Davis
5. Jermichael Finley

Everybody will be jumping on Graham and Gronkowski in the second and third round. Normally the first tight end results in a run, but in this case, there is a distinct difference between the first two and everybody else. And yet, you can get quality value if you wait a couple of rounds to grab Gates, Davis or Finley. You have to think Gronk and Graham come back to earth a little bit. Why blow a second or third round pick on that?

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