2012 Contract Year Players: Offense July 23, 2012  |  Brien Bonneville

The Fake Football hired an independent consultant (@BBonneville Labratories) to conduct some studies* and here’s what we found:

The studies showed that people like money.

Through separate rigorous testing, we found that all NFL players, other than Kickers, are, in fact, people.

Conclusions: NFL players like money.    

Motivation for Kickers: Unknown

 * – this was not an scientific experiment. I have not seen numbers backing up that contract year players perform better but I have seen players have monster seasons just before pay day. The Contract Year effect could be totally exaggerated but I always pay attention and wanted to pass along the information I look at on draft day. 

Given these new scientific developments, I thought I would take it a step further: players eyeing a big pay day, may play harder, thus increasing on-field and fantasy production. I know you are thinking, “wow, this is groundbreaking stuff.”

Before drafting, you may be searching for an in-draft target list or during your drafts you may be at a crossroads when choosing between two, somewhat-evenly matched players. I suggest that if you believe in this science, you choose or target players who are in a contract year and playing for their financial future.

Here’s a list of some interesting players in contract years (players I make special note of are in bold):


  • Jason Campbell, CHI
  • Joe Flacco, BAL – This is the year where Flacco jumps to the next fantasy QB tier. 
  • Matt Schaub, HOU – Sure, they’ll be rushing a ton but even so, he always puts up the points. 
  • Vince Young, BUF

Running Backs

  • Reggie Bush, MIA – He learned to be an effective NFL rusher last year. In a contract year, and with no other playmakers in Miami, he will be a great number 2 RB and will keep Daniel Thomas at bay. Aside from the looming pay day, he has extra aggression to get out on the field with old flame, Kim Kardashian, dating Kanye West. 
  • Shonne Greene, NJY – Maybe he’s been saving himself for 2012?
  • Jacob Hester, SD
  • Tim Hightower, WAS – Is expected to begin as the starter but I refuse to touch a Mike Shanahan-coached RB. Draft him or Helu at your own head of hair’s peril. 
  • Lex Hilliard, MIN
  • Peyton Hillis, KC
  • Brandon Jacobs, SF
  • Rashad Jennings, JAC – If MJD holds out, look out for this guy. 
  • Felix Jones, DAL
  • Brian Leonard, CIN
  • Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
  • Isaac Redman, PIT – It is kind of hard to call Redman a “sleeper” with everyone in the fantasy world screaming it. He was a sleeper last year, then took over for an injured Rashard Mendenhall at the end of the season with plenty of success and has career average of 4.5 ypc. Mendenhall will begin 2012 on the PUP list and Redman will shine as the starter. 
  • Marcel Reece, OAK
  • Owen Schmitt, OAK
  • Steve Slaton, MIA
  • Alfonso Smith, ARI
  • Kevin Smith, DET – He could be a nice sleeper because, when healthy and on the field, he performs. The Lions may deploy some sort of committee system to try and preserve Jahvid “Mr. Glass” Best. His other competition for carries, Mikel Leshoure (2 possession arrests), has been smoking more pot than Ricky Williams this off-season. Roger Goodell suspended Leshoure for 2 games (thank you to Benny in the comments for setting the record straight on Leshoure’s suspension). 
  • LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARI
  • Jonathan Stewart, CAR
  • Michael Turner, ATL – is a bit older and looked like he was slowing down last year. With defenses concentrating on their elite WRs (Roddy White and Julio Jones), he should have plenty of opportunities to shine. I expect 2012 to be Michael Turner’s last big year before he gets paid and fades away. 
  • Danny Woodhead, NE

Wide Receivers

  • Danny Amendola, STL – injured in week 1 last year and still recovering. In 2010, he showed us some of what he can do. Looking to bounce back along with Sam Bradford, in a contract year, I expect Wes Welker-lite to perform.
  • Devin Aromashodu, MIN
  • Deion Branch, NE
  • Antonio Brown, PIT – Standout guy, playing on 6th round money. Time to get paid. 
  • Dwayne Bowe, KC
  • Josh Cribbs, CLE – pulled from offense. If you are in league that rewards return men, draft him. 
  • Victor Cruz, NYG – had a huge breakout last year and with a chance to get paid after this, I can’t see why he would suffer a down year. I’m drafting as a low-end number one receiver.
  • Donald Driver, GB – He’s old and I just don’t care.
  • Malcolm Floyd, SD – Sleeper
  • Brandon Gibson, STL
  • Devery Henderson, NO – Should see an increased role with Meachem out, but I’m not sure he’s the one who benefits. I look to Lance Moore. 
  • Greg Jennings, GB – I think Jordy  Nelson’s success helps Jennings a bit this year. I think there will be a few more opportunities with defenses eyeing Nelson Jennings will capitalize on most of them with the extra contract motivation factoring in. 
  • Johnny Knox, CHI
  • Randy Moss, SF
  • Legedu Naanee, MIA
  • Chad Ochocinco, MIA
  • Chaz Schilens, NYJ
  • Jerome Simpson, MIN
  • Steve Smith, STL
  • Wes Welker, NE – I think Welker will be on his game as always. You’ve heard this before but there just may be too many mouths to feed in New England. 

 Tight Ends

  • Travis Bechum, NYG
  • Martellus Bennett, NYG
  • Dallas Clark, TB
  • Jared Cook, TEN – had a hell of a finish to 2011. With a suspension likely coming for Kenny “Life of the Party” Britt stemming from a DUI arrest, he should be targeted quite a bit early on. 
  • Fred Davis, WAS
  • Tony Gonzalez, ATL
  • Todd Heap, ARI – Awful in 2011, but he’s better than that and in a contract year. He could be a late steal.
  • Leonard Pope, PIT
  • Dante Rosario, SD
  • Alex Smith, CLE
  • Delanie Walker, SF
  • Ben Watson, CLE
  • Who cares

There are many more players in a contract year and all can be viewed here: http://www.spotrac.com/free-agents/nfl/2013/

  • 2012 Fantasy Football: Running the Fantasy Gauntlet(thefakefootball.com)

3 Responses

  1. benny says:

    We already know that Goodell suspended LeShoure for 2 games following those arrests. Happened back in June.

  2. Chris says:

    I see an article like this pretty much every year. What I have yet to see, and what is missing here, is concrete numbers to back up the assertion that contract year players perform better. How have contract year players performed in the last 5 years? Without that information I can’t tell if this is a useful piece of information worth tracking or a waste of time.

    • Brien Bonneville says:

      I’d say its not the end-all-be-all of things to pay attention to. It simply another factor. If you’re in sales, you have an incentive-based pay. Some people are lazy and happy to make just enough sales not to be fired on the base pay, while others are motivated to make a ton of sales and a ton of cash.

      I’m sure its overblown, but I choose a guy looking to get paid, just above a similar guy who isn’t in a contract year.

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