Superstars and surprises lead Fantasy Football 2015

Fantasy-Football

AUGUST 2015 – A lot of study, preparation, skill and luck is involved in picking your NFL fantasy football team.Yes, injuries can wreck havoc with with your selections. Picking a relatively unknown rookie who bursts into NFL stardom can boost a fantasy team. When does Peyton become too old to pick? Will Tom Brady miss four games or none if he wins his appeal in federal court.? Will Robert Griffin III and Sam Bradford remain healthy all season, therefore putting up incredible numbers as both are capable. But shy away from those unstable picks when selecting your team. Have a lot of luck — make Andrew Luck your numero uno choice.

 

Quarterback:

Andrew Luck (IND) – Peyton who?  Luck will cross the 5,000-yard threshold and be one of the top two in passing touchdowns.  Adding Andre Johnson as a target is icing on the cake.  If he cuts down his interceptions – it’s OK to throw it away once in a while, Andrew – he will be the top fantasy performer in the league in 2015.

Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Rodgers has the weapons at his disposal and knows how to use them.  However, he can’t be expected to live up to his 2014 MVP season; he’ll be overdrafted in most leagues.  Avoid the temptation to take Rodgers in the first round.

Russell Wilson (SEA) – He’s just not that great of a passer, but Wilson manages the game well, too.  The edge he adds comes from his legs, although that should diminish in 2015.  Can he make up the difference with his arm?

Peyton Manning (DEN) – The ageless one may not be so ageless after all.  He is an absolute master at reading defenses and is one of the most precise passers in the history of the game.  He’s also 39 years old and about as immobile as a statue.  His late-season injury didn’t help and he won’t be any more nimble this year.  It’s hard to throw accurately on your back, which is where Peyton may find himself all too often this year. But Peyton still possess the quick release.

surplusexchange.orgCam Newton (CAR) – Because of his injury history, Newton presents a significant risk, but it’s a high risk/reward play.  If he stays healthy all year, he’ll score plenty of points with his legs alone.  If you draft Newton, be sure to have a backup plan in place.

Note:  A full-season Tom Brady would rank ahead of Wilson, but facing a four-game suspension drops him out of the top ten.  Still, it presents an interesting draft choice once the top picks are off the board.  Twelve games from Brady with a fill-in for the first four games is still going to be a better fantasy plan than taking a full-season middle-of-the-road QB.

Running Back:

Le’Veon Bell (PIT) – One of the most consistent 2014 performers, Bell managed 11 TDs and 2,215 yards from scrimmage once he took over the job. He’s in his prime and has found his niche.  Bell will be one of the first three picks in nearly every draft, and will earn it.

Jamaal Charles (KC) – Due to a decreased workload, Charles took a step back from 2013 when he was arguably the most valuable fantasy football performer.  On a per touch basis, Charles was still just as dangerous.  The Chiefs offense works best when Charles gets the ball.  A revitalized Charles who gets 20-plus touches per game could again contend for fantasy MVP honors.

Arian Foster (HOU) – It’s too bad injury isn’t a fantasy category or Foster would be MVP.  Overuse led to Foster being banged up and missing several games each of the past two years.  The Texans struggled when he wasn’t in the lineup and they are working to keep him fresh.  When he’s out there, Foster is one of the most effective backs in the game.  If you’ve got the nerve, taking Foster late in the first round will pay dividends.

Adrian Peterson (MIN) – Remember hit?  Due to off-field issues, Peterson played just one game.  He’s expected to be back and should be in good health with rested legs.  While he’s no longer a 2,000-yard back, Peterson is still one of the game’s top talents and due to last season’s problems, could slip into the middle of the second round in some drafts, making him a potential steal.

Eddie Lacy (GB) – Not-so-steady Eddie gave his owners a bumpy ride early last year, but he came on strong to finish in the top 10 for overall fantasy points.  Lacy’s just coming into his prime and is also becoming more of a receiving threat.  Even if he’s limited to just punching it in from a couple of yards out for the potent Packers offense, Lacy is a strong threat to be among the top five RBs in 2015.

Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – He doesn’t like to talk to the media, but if you listen carefully, you can hear what he says because he speaks loud and clear on the field.  Lynch has consistently produced solid fantasy seasons for four straight years.  If the steady pounding from more than 20 touches per game, week in and week out hasn’t worn him down, Lynch will again be a top 10 back.

Matt Forte (CHI) – Don’t let the down year fool you; Forte is still one of the best in the NFL. While he won’t be as much of a receiving threat as he was when he set a running back receptions record, he will still get plenty of touches.  The new Bears offense can’t be much worse than last year, and that all plays into a surprising and productive rebound season for Forte.

DeMarco Murray (PHI) – Despite being the NFL rushing leader in 2014 while with the Cowboys, Murray is due for a fall in 2015. It will take time to sort out the Eagles offensive scheme.  He’s still top 10 material and if you have a chance to trade for him midseason, do it as he’ll be just hitting his stride.

LeSean McCoy (BUF) – Perhaps fittingly, McCoy follows the man who took his spot in Philly.  McCoy is quick, quick, quick, and he’ll have to be in Buffalo, but he’ll get plenty of chances.  Still in his prime and still one of the game’s best backs, he shouldn’t be overlooked even as he slips to the middle of the second round.

Melvin Gordon (SD) – When others are looking for their second RB, steal this rookie.  He’ll get the carries left over from departed Ryan Mathews, and he’s got the build and speed to make them count.  Watch him get stronger as the season progresses.

 

Wide Receiver:

Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – Manning-to-Thomas will turn Chiefs fans’ stomachs while lighting up the fantasy scoreboard.  A prime-time end zone threat that gets as many targets as any other receiver in the league, Thomas will come off the draft board in the first round.

Antonio Brown (PIT) – No receiver is more reliable than Brown, and he’s capable of the big play, too.  The league’s defending receptions and receiving yards leader is the only threat to Thomas as the top fantasy WR.

Dez Bryant (DAL) – Possibly the most dangerous receiver in the league, Bryant’s nose for the end zone – and occasional penchant for disappearing – can make or break a fantasy week. If you want a game-breaking wideout and are willing to risk his occasional off week, Bryant’s your guy.

A.J. Green (CIN) – After stellar 2012-13 seasons, his numbers dipped last year after missing missed six games with injury.  On a per game basis, though, his numbers were still solid.  He’s healthy again and in his prime, and ready to reclaim his spot among the league’s top five receivers.

Julio Jones (ATL) – Jones’ talent has shone through despite his often playing in less than desirable circumstances.  As the Falcons offense improves, Jones’ numbers will improve, too.  Fantasy owners who have been waiting for Jones to step up will be rewarded in 2015.

T.Y. Hilton (IND) – With Andrew Luck becoming a top-tier QB, Hilton has become a favorite target. Projecting second-half performance from last year puts Hilton among top five fantasy receivers.

Jordy Nelson (GB) – Age (30) might catch up to the former Kansas Stater a little this year, but the slide will be very slight as Nelson is one of the steadiest performers in the league and almost injury proof.  Just being Aaron Rodgers #1 receiver will keep him in the top ten for fantasy.

Alshon Jeffrey (CHI) – As with Forte, it couldn’t get much worse for the Bears offense, and the revitalized offense will boost Jeffrey even more.  Jeffrey will slide into second receiver territory in many drafts; he can be a fantasy steal.

Odell Beckham (NYG) – Beckham won’t sneak up on anyone this year; as he attracts more significant defensive coverage it’ll be harder for him to be such an easy receiving target.  A sophomore slump awaits.

Calvin Johnson (DET) – No longer one of the elite receivers, Johnson will slip further in 2015.  His unreliability makes him an iffy pick as a No. 1 fantasy receiver.

 

Tight End:

Rob Gronkowski (NE) – The Gronk will be the first TE off the board in every draft and will go two full rounds before the next tight end because he performs like a wide receiver.  Little will change in 2015, despite Brady’s suspension.

Jimmy Graham (SEA) – Gronk’s only challenger for top TE honors and a distant one at that, Graham is a reliable if unexciting target when healthy.

Greg Olsen (CAR) – The steadiest tight end in the game, Olsen will earn four or ten points every week, depending upon whether he gets in the end zone.  Grab him when the tight end run starts.

Jason Witten (DAL) – He’s no longer one of the elites, but Witten is still a solid receiver and can still find the end zone.

Travis Kelce (KC) – Kelce has earned his status as Chiefs top receiving target and will continue to progress. He could be the No. 2 fantasy tight end by season’s end.

 

Defense/Special Teams:

Seattle – It’s hard to overstate just how strong the Seahawks defense has been in recent years, despite a slow 2014 start.  They’re solid in every aspect of the game and returning all their top talent.  In the “defense wins championships” argument, the Seahawks are Exhibit A.

Houston – When you’ve got J.J. Watt anchoring your defense, it’s going to be pretty good. With a bit better luck in the red zone, the Texans defense could come close to rivaling the Seahawks.

Baltimore – It’s a strong unit, getting stronger, led by one of the best defensive line units in the NFL.

Buffalo – The Bills defense took a lot of chances in 2014 and most paid off. They won’t be as fortunate this year, but their sack attack will still keep them in the top five.

St. Louis – Not long ago the Rams were one of the worst defensive squads in the game.  Smart drafts have rebuilt the unit into one of the league’s best.  Be patient with this group as they may have a few difficult weeks early in the season, and look for a strong second half.

 

Kicker:

Stephen Gostkowski (NE) – The prolific Patriots offense will give Gostkowski more opportunities than any other kicker.

Adam Viniateri (IND) – Like Gostkowski with the Patriots, Viniateri will benefit from the Colts offensive prowess.

Conner Barth (DEN) – Lots of red zone chances and that thin Mile High air give Barth a distance edge.

Steven Hauschka (SEA) – One of the most reliable FG kickers in the game; Hauschka has missed just once from inside the 40 the last three years.  He’ll get his chances, and he’ll make them.

Matt Bryant (ATL) – Bryant is also as steady as they come. He didn’t miss inside the 50 last year.

Article by Marc Bowman

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