With the preseason beginning and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2015 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers:
- Tom Terrific – If Brady’s 4-game suspension is upheld, you can count on a loss of about 8 TDs and about 1200 passing yards. That’s killer if you had your eye on him as your starter, but what about drafting his as a backup? Playing with fire after returning in Week 6, Brady could lead your team to postseason success. But you’ll need a solid QB for the first few games.
- Speaking Of – What about Eli? He had an excellent year last year (30 TDs, 4400 Yds) once he began to understand his new OC’s system, and that was without WR Victor Cruz for 10 games. With another Training Camp under his belt and with a stellar cast (WRs Beckham, Cruz, Randle, Jones, RBs Jennings, Williams, Vareen, TE Donnell), Eli could put up career numbers.
- Crab Legs – Running QBs used to be all the rage, but even if your league gives more points for rushing touchdowns than passing touchdowns, be careful picking a mobile QB as your franchise guy. With the exception of DangeRussell Wilson, I’d steer clear. Cam, Kaep, Bridge, Jameis, Mariota, RG3; these guys aren’t your ticket to a championship.
- So Who Is – Well, the answer might lie in mediocrity. Apart from the giants (Rodgers, Luck, Peyton, Brees) who not everyone can be lucky enough to nab, there are a whole mess of QBs who you can trust to put up good numbers to back up your elite RB or WR. Big Ben, Romo, Rivers, Ryan, Stafford, even Ryan Tannehill; there is a good chance here to get great production from unexciting but dependable players.
- Red Rocket – When Jay Gruden left, so did Andy Dalton’s touchdowns. He went from 35 total TDs in 2014 to 23 in 2015, also dropping 1000 yds. And while his second year under his new OC could signal improvement, the days when Dalton was an elite fantasy talent might be over. I’d draft many others before I grabbed Dalton; Palmer, Flacco, even Jay Cutler, as bad as that would feel.
- Mind The Gap – There isn’t one must-have backer this season. There are around 10 who should be the first to go, followed by a bit of a drop off, but no one RB demands that you mortgage your future. From the top of that group (Peterson, Lacy) to the bottom (Forte, Murray) the points just don’t dip far enough down to force your hand.
- Stew Beef – With DeAngelo Williams leaving Carolina for Pittsburgh, this could finally be the year for Jonathan Stewart. Back in 2008 & 2009, he scored 10 TDs each year, but hasn’t done squat since. He’s not old, he’s not overly used, he’s just been part of an odd platoon that hasn’t ever really worked. If he can avoid injury, Stewart can set a career mark in yardage and score enough TDs to make fantasy owners smile.
- Jungle Cats – Almost overnight, Giovani Bernard went from the next great thing to the next solid backup, as Jeremy Hill stepped up, took the reins, showed us what he could do, and looks to have a hold on Cinci’s starting RB slot. Look for nice numbers from Hill, enough to make him the worst #1 or the very best #2 in your league, but don’t count out Gio completely, as the Bengals could have two 1000 yd backs.
- Bucking Broncos – Denver has a similarly fluctuating backfield, with C.J. Anderson up and Montee Ball down. But unlike with Cinci, Anderson looks to be the workhorse while Ball could find himself almost out of the picture. Look for him on short yardage or goal line situations, and he’ll end up with a few TDs as a result, but Anderson is the Bronco you want on your team, enough to pick him quite high.
- Namaste – With news of his groin injury, Arian Foster’s stock plummeted downward. And then, when word came out that it might not be so bad, it rose again. Either way, I’m not sure I’m interested. He had a great rebound season last year after a disappointing 2013, but if he’s already injured I have no faith that he’ll be healthy at all this year, making him more a headache than a hero.
- Megatron – Calvin Johnson is no longer the clear #1 WR off the boards. Turning 30 in September, this once unguardable player may have seen his best fantasy days pass by. Part of that is the Lions, who have changed into a solid defensive team, and part of that is Stafford, whose numbers have been steadily declining. Johnson will still catch his fair share of TDs and should be a Top 10 guy, but don’t expect records.
- Sophomore Slump – Last year’s rookie WR crop was incredible. Beckham, Benjamin, Matthews, Evans, Watkins; these guys went wild for their teams last season, putting them high atop fantasy ranking going into 2015. But will they repeat or will defenses adjust? Draft these sophomores with caution, but expect their number to stay up, as WRs don’t always slump and the NFL is an offensive league.
- Andre the Giant – During his tenure in Houston, Andre Johnson was constantly putting up yards, but TDs were hard to come by. This made him a reliable fantasy WR, but not a very exciting one. Now 34 and off to Indy, the exact opposite should occur. He won’t get as many targets as he did when he was a young man in a Texans uniform, but look for redzone TDs and enough points to keep him viable.
- Veterans – On the flip side are a number of older guys whose new teams (Brandon Marshall,Torrey Smith, Jeremy Maclin) just don’t score enough to make them exciting prospects any longer or whose lowering production (Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston) should keep them from being any more than solid backups.
- Pittsburgh #2 – There’s a debate going on who will be the second option for the Steelers: Martavius Bryant or Markus Wheaton. I’d put my money on Bryant, and if Pitt really does put up points this year, he could help your fantasy team. But perhaps not incredibly. Brown is #1 by a mile, Heath Miller is still solid at TE, and Bell is a receiving RB, so how many TDs will there actually be to spread around?