Originally posted on The Hair of the Dog Sports Blog  |  Last updated 6/4/12

Guest Post by Scott Jack

Roy Helu Getty Images

The 2012 NFL season is still a few months away, but every fantasy sports player knows that the sooner you start doing your analysis for the upcoming season the better. In this article I want to analyze some football players that have early draft value based on looking at the ADP from multiple sources on the internet and that are also primed for big seasons.

RB Roy Helu – Washington Redskins

Roy Helu is going around 60th in early mock drafts this season. I think by the time drafts roll around this season Helu will be even lower due to the fact that the Redskins resigned Hightower. Last season Helu played in 15 games while starting 5 of those. Helu carried the ball 151 times and gained 640 rushing yards (4.2 YPC) plus he caught the ball 49 times for 379 reception yards.

Last season Helu averaged 8 points per week during fantasy football for his owners, which ranked him 30th in the NFL at RB. This year I think Helu will be given the chance early on to lead the Redskins. Having RG3 at QB will help open up the field because a defender will need to be glued to the Griffin to make sure he can’t break off big runs.

You can’t draft Helu as a #1 or #2 RB, but having him as your #3 option or flex option on the bench would be a great choice. Helu will be given playing time, as most fans in Washington want him starting this season. When used in the right situations Helu will excel and if you can pick him up in the later rounds as a quality flex or RB3 I think you’ll be happy with his production.

WR Brandon Lafell – Carolina Panthers

Brandon Lafell is a true sleeper I think this year at the WR position. Not too many owners are even going to recognize this name let alone draft him on their team. Last season with the Panthers Lafell played 16 games and caught 36 passes. Lafell had a total of 613 receiving yards and 3 TD’s including one 91-yard TD.

Lafell has speed and he can catch the football very effectively. Lafell wasn’t targeted that much in Carolina last season and this year he should start getting a lot more targets from QB Cam Newton. Last year 5 players had more receptions than Lafell, but two of those players (Shockey & Naanee) aren’t with the Panthers this season.

Lafell averaged 17 yards per catch last season and if he can keep that average while receiving more targets he could potentially break the 1000+ receiving yards and 10 TD milestones, which would make him around a T10 WR. Right now Lafell is being drafted around 180th in mock drafts so you won’t need to risk anything by drafting him near the end of your draft.

QB Alex Smith – San Francisco 49ers

Alex Smith signed a 3-year deal with the 49’ers during the off-season and I think he’ll be able to have a big season. I wouldn’t draft him as your #1 QB, but right now he’s going around 180th in mock drafts. Alex Smith isn’t getting any respect in early mock drafts despite finishing last season ranked 17th amongst QB’s in fantasy points.

Smith had a 90.7 QB Rating last year while throwing for 3144 passing yards and 17 TD’s. Smith only threw 5 INT’s all season and really made smart decisions for the most part on the field last season. This year the 49’ers should be even more potent on the offensive side of the football because of the addition of 3 WR’s (Randy Moss, Mario Manningham & A.J. Jenkins.

San Francisco drafted Jenkins in the 1st round this year and they signed Moss plus Manningham. Smith is going to have way more targets on the field this season. Davis is still the TE in San Francisco and Gore is another year older. I really think this could be the season where Smith ends up hanging with the top 10 QB’s in the league.

Like I said, you don’t need to draft Smith early and he’ll make a great back-up QB. Smith can play your bye week and if your #1 QB goes down with an injury you’ll have a reasonable replacement that can fill-in.

This fantasy football analysis was written by Scott Jack who blogs about his Sports Picks and analysis daily.

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