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2012 Season Opener: Risers and Fallers

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AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills- Fred Jackson Jackson  was tearing it up in the Bills offense until an injury ruined his run at the rushing title. A broken leg derailed what could have been the top fantasy performance for 2011. Accidents happen and Jackson looks to be completely ready to pick up where he left off. If he falters though, C.J. Spiller proved to be more than able to pick up the slack. This is Jackson's chance to cement himself among the elite running backs and hold Spiller to just a change-of-pace back.

Miami Dolphins- Reggie Bush- Bush's 2011 totals are pretty impressive given the situation on offense. The Dolphins ran through quarterback after quarterback but still Bush managed to excel. The question in this equation is if the production was due to Reggie's sudden emergence or due to Sparano's borderline obsessive call for the run? Daniel Thomas missed a large portion of the season furthering Bush's use. With Thomas healthy and calling for carries and Tony Sparano now with the Jets, Reggie needs to prove that he is in fact, the real deal and not just the product of the stars aligning in 2011. Bush could potentially move himself to a low-end No. 1 back or he could fall all the way back to a third option.

New England Patriots- Aaron Hernandez- We all saw how much of an offensive powerhouse the Patriots were in 2011. Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski were dominating at their respective positions. Added to the big three was the elite production of Aaron Hernandez. While defenses spent their time trying to plan for Gronkowski, Hernandez was able to quietly destroy the secondary. The Patriots used Hernandez at times as a slot receiver, an opening drive running back, and at times as the deep pass threat. With Brandon Lloyd in New England, Hernandez's role as the deep route runner will take a backseat. It'll be interesting to see if Hernandez receives the same amount of looks in 2012 given the addition of Lloyd and the consistent nature of Gronkowski and Welker. Hernandez's production could slide back in 2012 or he could make himself a lengthy annual feature as a Top-3 option.

New York Jets- Take your pick- Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez will either earn their keep or take a seat this season, but given Santonio Holmes' antics from 2011 he earns the top bubble spot. I understand that going from Ben Roethlisberger's arm to Mark Sanchez's isn't exactly apples-for-apples. But depending on how 2012 shakes out, things could get worse before they get better. What if Tim Tebow replaces Sanchez? That's an even further drop from Roethlisberger. Holmes needs to perform to a level at which Sanchez remains starting worthy. They need to help save each other from fantasy purgatory. The Jets have looked terrible this preseason. Ownership won't stand for another loud mouthed, underwhelming season in 2012. The quartet of Greene, Sanchez, Holmes, and even Rex Ryan are all on the bubble.



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