PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We are eight days away from the opening Thursday night NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. More importantly, for many, we’re eight days away from another fantasy football season.
With many fantasy drafts being completed over the next week or so, here are my six bold fantasy football predictions for the upcoming season.
*Note: Average draft positions (ADP) from CBS Sports
No rookie receiver will be a quality fantasy starter in standard formats
Last season, Keenan Allen became only the 12th rookie receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in his first season. It’s a rarity. And rookies are “sexy” because we envision their talent and college ability immediately translating into the pro’s.
Guys like Brandin Cooks (96.84 ADP), Sammy Watkins (97.46 ADP), Kelvin Benjamin (106.46 ADP), and Mike Evans (112.31 ADP) are all being properly drafted in the middle rounds. So don’t reach for them. I’m not saying they can’t be solid contributors, but I don’t want to have to rely on any of those guys.
Kendall Wright is a top-20 WR in point-per reception (PPR) formats
Last season Wright caught 94 balls, seventh most in the NFL. That’s more than Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffrey, Josh Gordon, Jordy Nelson, and Calvin Johnson to name a few. He was the 20th ranked WR in PPR league’s.
Why so low? He only scored two touchdowns. Although Wright is only 5’10” and isn’t a red zone threat, if he can bump that TD number up to, say, five or six and continue to catch a ton of passes, he’s easily a top-2o PPR WR.
Wright’s ADP is 87.72, which is a late-eighth round pick in standard 10-team leagues. If you can steal Wright, a potential top-20 WR, as your WR3 or flex option, you’ll be in good shape.
Doug Martin is way over-valued
Martin’s ADP is 24.65, which is a mid-second round pick in a 10-teamer or a late second, early third-round pick in a 12-teamer. That’s way too high. I don’t want Martin as my RB1, and to be honest, I don’t even love him as an RB2.
Yes, the ‘Muscle Hamster’ was brilliant in his rookie season rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, catching another 49 balls, for over 400 yards, and another TD. Last season Martin missed 10 games due to injury. However, people conveniently forget, how bad he was before the injury.
In the six games he played in last season, Martin rushed for a combined 456 yards and one touchdown, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. With Martin out, the Bucs found hidden talent in their backups Bobby Rainey and Mike James, both of whom return in 2014.
I think we’re looking at a running back-by-committee situation in Tampa Bay, a team that wants to throw the ball with big targets like Vincent Jackson and rookies Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Martin may have a shorter leash than you think.
Other RB’s being drafted in Martin’s ADP range: Alfred Morris, Le’Veon Bell, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellington, and Reggie Bush. I’d rather have any of those guys over Martin.
The hate on Eric Decker has gone way too far
Eric Decker’s ADP is 98.21. That’s lower than the aforementioned rookies like Cooks and Watkins.
Look, I know, Decker isn’t as good as his last two seasons with Peyton Manning may suggest. After all, with Manning as his QB, Decker’s average stat line was: 86 catches/1,176 yards/12 touchdowns. I don’t expect that kind of production from Decker, but he’s the No. 1 option for the New York Jets. By accident, he’ll have something like: 65/800/6 and has the upside for much more.
As a late ninth round, potentially 10th round pick, Decker could have the most value in the draft right now.
I’d rather own Michael Floyd than his teammate, Larry Fitzgerald
Michael Floyd, 24, is 6’2″, 220-pounds and is trending upward. Entering his third season in the NFL, Floyd is coming off a season where he caught 65 passes, for 1,041 yards, and five touchdowns.
Larry Fitz, on the other hand, is 30 and his career is winding down. He hasn’t had 1,000 yards receiving since 2011, and only tallied 954 yards last year, to go along with 10 touchdowns. Fitz’s ADP is 38.7, while Floyd’s is 62.03. The unpredictable touchdown numbers are the only reason these two players are so far apart, in terms of draft position.
Without a doubt, I’d rather own Floyd. He is the better value as a potential sixth rounder, and comes with tremendous upside as a third-year receiver. And, I actually think Floyd will outscore Fitzgerald this season.
Adrian Peterson will be the best player in fantasy
After Jamaal Charles’ and LeSean McCoy’s respective massive fantasy seasons last year, Adrian Peterson is now often being drafted third overall. While I love both Charles and McCoy as well, both have dealt with minor preseason injury concerns, Charles plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, and Darren Sproles will take touches away from McCoy.
In Minnesota, it’s all quiet on the AP front—meaning, we haven’t heard much about Peterson. No preseason new is always good news. Therefore, Peterson is kind of flying into 2014 under the radar, and with Norv Turner—a guy who loves to get his running back the ball through the air—as the new offensive coordinator, AP could very well catch 40-plus balls this season.
Throughout his career, Peterson has only caught 40 or more balls twice—in 2009 and 2012. Those were his two best fantasy seasons, as he rushed for 18 TD’s in 2009 and 2,097 yards in 2012.
Last year, AP ran for 1,266 yards and 10 scores in 14 games, which ranked him as the seventh best fantasy RB. If AP can bump his 29/171/1 receiving line from 2013 to something like 45/350/3 in 2014, look out.
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