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Biggest Fantasy Football Winners of 2014 NFL Free Agency

Pee wee football players take note: The big money this NFL offseason went to the defensive players. You build an offense for show, but defense is for the dough, particularly when it came to free agency this spring.
Call it the copycat effect from the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive-led Super Bowl victory over the high-powered Denver Broncos, if you will, but teams apparently bought into the notion defense wins championships.
Darrelle Revis, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis and Jairus Byrd got the biggest money deals on the open market. The only offensive skill position players to come close, Eric Decker and DeSean Jackson, had to sign for less than expected. Heck, D-Jack is coming off a career year at age 27 and had to take a pay cut. Prime-aged Knowshon Moreno, 26, was disrespected off a career year, too.
Offensive fantasy football players felt this harsh winter more than most.
The Carolina Panthers are one significant example of putting their money in the defensive basket, re-signing defensive end Greg Hardy to a $13.116 million franchise-tag tender and watching four wide receivers go—Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon.
DeAngelo Williams, a past-his prime, 31-year-old running back—a dinosaur by fantasy football standards—said his fantasy value is through the roof on the NFL Network’s NFL AM show last week, as The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person writes: 

I joked with people that my fantasy value went up after we got rid of our four receivers, but it’s the truth. I went from probably being drafted in the fifth and sixth round to being in the first round—me and Jonathan (Stewart) alike because we have no receivers.

That is pure hyperbole. No one would draft a 31-year-old back in Round 1 next August. But we did find some fantasy options who should get a realistic fantasy—not a contradiction of terms in our game—bump.
This slideshow presents the top 10 biggest fantasy winners of 2014 free agency. And, no, the Panthers’ Williams didn’t make the cut, but two defensive units did.

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Fantasy Football 2014: Who Gets the Edge in These Elite WR Duos?

For teams with multiple elite wide receivers, which player holds the greater fantasy value in 2014? Chicago Bears perennial touchdown-machine Brandon Marshall or 2013 breakout beast Alshon Jeffery? How about Green Bay Packers studs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb—who deserves higher billing in fantasy drafts this year?
In today’s pass-happy NFL, there is a greater likelihood for a team to have more than one wide receiver capable of top-level production in the same season. For the purposes of fantasy football, an owner’s season could hinge on the decision to choose one player over the other to be their No. 1 receiver for the year.
Should you go with the savvy and consistent veteran likely nearing the end of his prime or the young and athletic freak poised to enter his prime?
It may appear that you cannot go wrong with either selection. However, try to tell that to those who drafted Miles Austin over Dez Bryant in 2012 in an attempt to “play it safe” with the more dependable receiver. One player finished the season top five in fantasy wide receiver scoring (non-PPR), while the other finished outside the top 25.
This year, it seems more than ever that there is not a clear consensus in the fantasy community which of a team’s elite receivers should be rated higher come draft day. To decipher the better value pick, let’s take an in-depth look at two of the NFL’s most dominant wide receiver duos.

JORDY NELSON vs. RANDALL COBB
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is fully healthy, and two of the Packers’ key receiving options from recent years, wide receiver James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley, are no longer with the team. This leaves Nelson and Cobb as Rodgers’ primary targets—two players whom have proven capable of No. 1 fantasy wide receiver production.
Assuming Rodgers and Cobb have both recovered from injuries that kept the two star Packers off the field a combined 17 games in 2013, the connection between the 2011 MVP quarterback and his top wideouts should be fun to watch in 2014.
The question is who, Cobb or Nelson, deserves to be selected first in fantasy drafts this year?

In this corner: JORDY NELSON
Nelson’s fantasy stock dropped precipitously before the 2013 season. In early August, news broke that he would miss the entire preseason after undergoing surgery to fix a nerve issue in his knee—an injury that had “bothered him since his days in college,” according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. Fantasy owners hesitated to burn a high-round pick on Nelson following a recent surgery, but it appears the procedure may have allowed the six-year veteran to play at his best.
[embedded content]
Before Rodgers broke his collarbone last season on the opening series of the Packers’ Week 9 game against the Bears, Nelson was the second-most productive receiver in fantasy, averaging 93 yards and a touchdown per game. Despite losing Rodgers for the next eight weeks, Nelson managed to put up his career high for receiving yards in a season (1,314).
This is an especially impressive feat considering the string of backup quarterbacks the Packers trotted out in Rodgers’ absence. (When Packer Nation breathes a sigh of relief with the arrival of Matt Flynn, a player who had already been released in 2013 by both the Raiders and the Bills—the Raiders and the Bills!—you know your backup quarterback situation is in shambles.)
The point is that Nelson was on pace for 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns for the season with Rodgers behind center—a total that would have easily made him the No. 1 receiver in fantasy for 2013.
Instead, Nelson finished the year approximately 11th in wide receiver scoring while catching passes for half the season from the likes of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzein and Flynn at quarterback. Even if Nelson had not kept up his break-neck pace of production for the entire season, it’s fair to assume that he would have had a top-five fantasy year if Rodgers had not missed time.
Much like last season, Nelson could fly under the radar heading into drafts. With only Cobb (and, to a lesser extent, trendy fantasy sleeper Jarrett Boykin) as his major competition for targets and touchdowns, there’s every reason to rate Nelson as a top-10 wide receiver in 2014.

In this corner: RANDALL COBB
2013 was an up-and-down season for Cobb, the 23-year-old receiver out of Kentucky.
He began the year with a bang, totaling 16 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns over the first two weeks of the regular season. Then, in Week 6, Cobb fractured his fibula. He went on to miss all but Week 17, a win-or-go-home match up against division rivals, the Bears.
Being his first game back from injury, Cobb played limited snaps in the Packers season finale. He totaled a whopping seven receiving yards on one reception during the first 59 minutes of play.
Then, on fourth down, with less than a minute to play and the season on the line, this happened:
[embedded content]
(Sorry, Bears fans.)
Cobb is a special talent, as is Rodgers. The two together can make fantasy miracles happen, as displayed in the above video. Cobb can salvage his fantasy day in one play. His potential is scary.
But that is exactly what Cobb has to offer—potential.

Will Either Packer Finish top 10 in WR fantasy scoring?

Will Either Packer Finish top 10 in WR fantasy scoring?

Only Cobb will finish in the top 10.

Only Nelson will finish in the top 10.

Both players will finish in the top 10.

Neither play will finish in the top 10.

Total votes: 0

Yes, in 2012 he led the Packers in receiving yards, but he’s never actually put together a No. 1 fantasy receiver season. Cobb has never totaled 1,000 receiving yards or 10 receiving touchdowns in a season (to be fair, he added 132 rushing yards in 2012 to his 954 receiving yards—a total of 1,086 yards from scrimmage). He has only 136 receptions in his three-year NFL career. Yet, when he makes a play like the one above, it’s hard not to imagine that he is capable of a huge season.

Therefore, to draft Cobb over Nelson requires a small leap of faith. With presumably less competition for targets and touchdowns with Jones and Finley gone, there are plenty of divinely thrown passes from Rodgers to go around. Both players have the skills and opportunity to be No. 1 fantasy receivers. For 2014, it comes down to odds—who is more likely to top the charts?

The Decision: JORDY NELSON 
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Both receivers have a similarly high ceiling for production, but Cobb’s floor is lower. Based on past performance and injury history, Nelson gets the edge. He should be drafted as a no-brainer, top-10 wide receiver. Cobb should be a lock for the top 20, and a safe bet to finish in the top 15.

2014 Projection
Jordy Nelson:
85 REC
1,475 REC YDS
13 TDS
Randall Cobb:
75 REC
1,100 RED YDS
11 TDS
BRANDON MARSHALL vs. ALSHON JEFFERY
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Marshall is listed at 6’4” and 229 pounds, and Jeffery at 6’4” and 230 pounds, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. Therefore, Jeffery should be drafted higher, right? OK, problem solved. Next…
If only it were that easy to distinguish between these two modern-day “monsters of the midway.” Both guys finished in the top 10 in wide receiver scoring for 2013 with Marshall a few points ahead because of his 12 receiving touchdowns (compared to seven for Jeffery). They edged out the Denver Broncos’ dynamic receiving tandem of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker as the league’s most productive duo in terms of total yards (2,821 versus 2,718).
A case can be made to have both players in the top five in preseason wide receiver rankings. The hype train for Jeffery is sure to grow louder leading up to the start of the season, so both receivers will likely come at a premium in drafts. So, who is the better value?

In this corner: BRANDON MARSHALL
With Marshall now on the wrong side of 30 and entering his ninth NFL season, questions about his age are not entirely irrelevant. Most receivers who see as many snaps and targets as Marshall has over his illustrious career usually begin to show signs of slowing down.
Since his rookie season, Marshall has averaged 99 receptions, 1,249 yards and just under eight touchdowns. In 2013, he posted 100 receptions, 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns.
About those signs of slowing down?
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By all indications, Marshall is at the peak of his prime. Since joining the Bears in 2012, Marshall has been arguably the most consistent No. 1 receiver in fantasy. He has played in every game since 2011 despite showing up on the injury report intermittently with injuries to his back, foot, quad, knee, groin, shoulder and hamstring, according to USA Today Sports. He’s a tough player with an aggressive passion for the game and clearly thrives within the Chicago Bears’ high-octane passing regime.
Has the emergence of Jeffery affected Marshall’s production? Just the opposite. Following the Bears’ Week 8 bye, Marshall actually increased his weekly average in receiving yards and touchdowns compared to the first half of the season. It seems that head coach Marc Trestman’s offense can accommodate two behemoth wideouts.
Marshall is at the top of his game and should remain there for at least another year. Along with fellow wide receivers Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green, Marshall has boasted back-to-back, top-five fantasy seasons—not bad company. While an increase in production in 2014 seems unlikely, another consistent year from Marshall would be nothing short of incredible, yet completely expected.

In this corner: ALSHON JEFFERY
Talk about making the sophomore leap.
If it weren’t for Josh Gordon’s mind-blowing year in Cleveland, the buzz on Jeffery’s breakout 2013 season would be even more buzzin’. After a somewhat quiet start to the year, Jeffery deafeningly announced himself to the fantasy world in Weeks 4 and 5, totaling an eye-popping 325 yards and two touchdowns.
He remained consistent throughout most of the season, including one of the all-time great receiving games in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings. Jeffery exploded for 249 yards and two touchdowns that week, a performance that led analysts such as NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano to exclaim the following:

Holy Alshon Jeffery! What a catch – he is GOING OFF! Nine catches, 215 yards, 2 TDs.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) December 1, 2013

Toward the end of the season, every week Jeffery seemed to make an astounding acrobatic play on a deep ball, including the following gem from Week 14 against the Dallas Cowboys, courtesy of NFL.com:

How did Alshon Jeffery catch this?! AMAZING! MUST-SEE: http://t.co/vWDOH5qPku #DALvsCHI
— NFL (@nfl) December 10, 2013

When asked about the difference between himself and Jeffery, Marshall told ESPN’s Erin Andrews that the two receivers were “totally different guys.” Marshall continued, “I didn’t start, you know, really, adjusting to the deep ball until Year 5 or 6 of my career. [Jeffery] does it naturally, so, there’s really no comparison between us. Just that we make plays.”
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Which receiver poses the better fantasy value in 2014?

Which receiver poses the better fantasy value in 2014?

Brandon Marshall

Alshon Jeffery

I can’t put one above the other.

Total votes: 4

Considering the sheer quantity of passes going to Marshall and running back Matt Forte, it would be logical to assume that the Bears’ “deep threat” receiver would suffer from fewer looks and more boom or bust stat lines. But in a Marc Trestman offense, there’s rarely a shortage of targets. Jeffery saw 150 in 2013, compared to 163 for Marshall and 94 or Forte. Proving to be more than just a deep threat, Jeffery still left his fantasy owners with some decent production even in games in which he didn’t make any huge plays.

Jeffery quickly emerged as a No. 1 fantasy threat in 2013 and validated by season’s end that his production was no fluke. He’s here to stay among the fantasy receiving elite and is poised to challenge Marshall’s throne as the Bears’ top receiver going forward.

The Decision: ALSHON JEFFERY
David Banks/Getty Images
With Trestman, Marshall, Jeffery and quarterback Jay Cutler all heading into their second season together, it’s difficult to imagine a more prolific offense in 2014. However, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reported in March that Trestman sees room for improvement. “There’s an awareness that we have a good offense, but we feel we could have done a lot better,” Trestman commented at an NFL owners meeting. He continued: “We left a lot out there. We’re highly critical of ourselves that we didn’t play better than we did.”
If the Bears offense continues to improve in 2014, 24-year-old Jeffery should benefit the most. With only two seasons under his belt, he is still coming into his own as a receiver. While Cutler and Marshall have a connection dating back to their 2006 rookie year in Denver, Jeffery is the receiver with room to grow.
Considering his 1,526 yards from scrimmage were good for second among all wide receivers in 2013, any further growth would put Jeffery in rarefied territory.
Marshall should continue to put up his consistently impressive stats this year; meanwhile Jeffery could challenge for the top wide receiver spot in fantasy.

2014 Projection
Brandon Marshall:
104 REC
1,300 REC YDS
11 TDS
Alshon Jeffery:
92 REC
1,500 TOTAL YDS
13 TDS
 
Follow @JamesParadisNFL

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Fantasy Football 2014: Arian Foster Is Being Undervalued

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has been medically cleared to return to football activities following his season-ending microscopic lumbar-discectomy surgery. Despite the encouraging signs of Foster‘s rehabilitation, many analysts believe his fantasy value is on the decline due to his questionable durability and health concerns.
Foster’s 2013 regular season was brought to an end after playing two snaps in the Texans’ Week 8 game against the Indianapolis Colts. He suffered from a lumbar-disc herniation that caused lower-extremity radicular symptoms, so he underwent a season-ending microscopic lumbar-discectomy surgery on November 13 to alleviate his symptoms.
Foster announced on March 16, via Twitter. that his physician cleared him to return to football activities:

And for those wondering, I’ve been medically cleared by my doctor.
— Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) March 16, 2014
However, regardless of these encouraging signs that the 27-year-old Foster could be healthy heading into the preseason, many fantasy analysts are ranking Foster outside their first-round picks.
ESPN.com’s Christopher Harris ranked Foster as 10th among all fantasy running back for the 2014 regular season. ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry also has Foster as his 10th-ranked running back and as his 20th-ranked overall player.
Berry’s primary reason for ranking Foster so low—relative to previous seasons—is due to concerns about his health and durability.
Berry stated on ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football Podcast , “[Foster] is tough to evaluate right now because you just don’t know how healthy he is going to be. … If he is healthy, the concern is not his production, but can he hold up for the whole season, because he has had a lot of wear-and-tear over the past few seasons.”
In Foster’s five-year career, his injured body parts have included: knee, hip, quadriceps, calf, hamstring, and back. This plethora of various injured body parts suggests that Foster has a legitimate durability concern.
However, his lack of durability has been slightly overstated.
Excluding the eight games he missed last season due to his low-back surgery, Foster missed only three games in the three seasons prior to that. He has also played in 53 regular-season games since the beginning of the 2010 season.
As it appears now, following his physician medically clearing him, Foster’s microscopic lumbar-discectomy surgery was a success. And it bodes well for Foster that the majority of NFL players who have had this same surgery have not experienced a significant decline in their on-field production.
A 2010 retrospective cohort study (via journals.lww.com/spine journal—site subscription or article purchase required) by Dr. Wellington K. Hsu MD, “Performance-Based Outcomes Following Lumbar Discectomy in Professional Athletes in the National Football League,” concluded that NFL players who underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery, and then returned to play, did not see a significant decline from their pre-injury level of production.
Per the study: “There was no significant difference between the Performance Score preoperatively and postoperatively over the length of the players’ careers. Age at diagnosis, body mass index, Pro Bowl appearances, and position played did not significantly affect outcome.”
These results should put fantasy analysts and players more at ease regarding Foster’s health concerns.
When Foster has been healthy, he has been an elite fantasy running back. From the 2010 to 2012 regular seasons, he was a top-four fantasy running back each season.
Additionally, in 2013, Arian Foster finished the regular season with a respectable 4.5 yards per carry; which left him ahead of many of the top running backs in that regard.
Yards Per Carry (YPC) by Star Running Backs in 2013 Regular Season

Player

YPC in 2013 Regular Season

Le’Veon Bell

3.5

Doug Martin

3.6

Eddie Lacy

4.1

Marshawn Lynch

4.2

Knowshon Moreno

4.3

Ryan Mathews

4.4

Adrian Peterson

4.5

Reggie Bush

4.5

Arian Foster

4.5

Jamaal Charles

4.9

LeSean McCoy

5.1

As Foster’s 2013 game tape shows, he still has the physical attributes of an elite NFL running back. This includes his impressive running vision, top-end running speed and agility. 
[embedded content] Arian Foster’s 16-yard run against Tennessee Titans in 2013 Week 2 game. Credit: NFL Rewind
[embedded content] Arian Foster’s 41-yard screen play against St. Louis Rams in 2013 Week 6 game. Credit: NFL Rewind
[embedded content] Arian Foster’s impressive cut move during nine-yard run against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 Week 5 game. Credit: NFL Rewind
As of now, Foster’s situation appears good for 2014. Heading into OTAs, Foster is the Houston Texans premiere running back—backed up by the newly acquired and truly injury-prone Andre Brown. Additionally, the Texans have the 10th-ranked offensive line for run blocking by Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.
As long as Foster does not have an unforeseen setback with his post-discectomy rehabilitation—which there is a very low chance of that occurring—his elite-level abilities and past production make him the sixth-best fantasy running back heading into the 2014 season.
In no specific order, he ranks behind only the following running backs: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch.
Fantasy players are advised to not get caught up in the unjustified panic about Foster’s health, and draft him based on his past production and abilities.

All aforementioned statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required) and ESPN.com’s fantasy football statistics.

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Fantasy Football 2014: Projections for Eric Decker and 5 Other Wide Receivers

The pass-happy NFL has made 1,000-yard receivers as prevalent as red hairs on Andy Dalton’s head.
That is why receivers broke the bank in free agency this offseason, scooping up millions of dollars from teams looking to upgrade their receiving corps. Eric Decker was the top free-agent receiver on the market and signed for multimillions with the New York Jets, but will he have the best fantasy season out of the bunch?
Here are Decker and five other wide receivers who signed with new teams and what they should give fantasy football owners in 2014:

Eric Decker, New York Jets
Decker goes from being a secondary option in Denver to being the main man in New York’s passing offense. Sounds like a plus, right? More targets means more receptions, more yards and more touchdowns, right?
The problem is that Decker also goes from having future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning throwing pinpoint passes to him to having Geno Smith throwing passes at his feet, over his head and into the arms of awaiting safeties.
Decker racked up 2,352 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches with Manning passing to him, but Decker has proven he is not totally useless when he is paired with a subpar quarterback. He had eight touchdown receptions in 2011 when Tim Tebow was his QB for much of the season.
The Jets will probably remain a run-first team until Smith or newly acquired Michael Vick establishes that he can throw passes over 10 yards accurately. And extra opportunities will not translate into a career year for Decker when Manning is not the one throwing the passes, especially when Decker will be facing more double coverage than he has ever faced before.
Projection: 1,010 yards and seven touchdowns.

Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens
At almost 35 years old, Smith cannot escape double-teams or separate from premier cornerbacks anymore. He needed to be in a situation where he was the second or third option in the passing attack, not the first. The Carolina Panthers did his fantasy value a favor by cutting him.
Smith is not going to have 90-catch, 1,200-yard years in Baltimore like he did during his prime, but having Joe Flacco as his quarterback instead of Cam Newton and having receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta as his running mates instead of Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen will make Smith’s life easier.
Smith will want to show his old team what a mistake it made by releasing him, so look for him to come out blazing early in the season. But Father Time will slow him down, and Flacco’s penchant for picking Smith and Pitta for passes will keep Smith from being a 1,000-yard guy again. Smith will still be helpful on fantasy rosters as a No. 3 or No. 4 WR, though.
Projection: 845 yards and six touchdowns.

Hakeem Nicks, Indianapolis Colts
Nicks had one of the most interesting seasons in the NFL in 2013. No receiver had more yards without scoring a touchdown in the league. Having this distinction ranks right up there with being the least annoying Real Housewife on the Bravo network.
Even though he entered the campaign as one of the top-20 receivers in fantasy football and only missed one game, Nicks not only did not score but failed to crack the 900-yard mark for the second straight season. He seemed a step slower, so his patented sideline sprint routes ended with incomplete passes instead of 30-year gains like in years past.
Signing with Indianapolis should be a help more than a hindrance to Nicks’ fantasy value. With Andrew Luck as his quarterback and playing his home games indoors rather than at the windy MetLife Stadium, Nicks could really be in for a career turnaround.
The only things standing in Nicks’ way are his brittle body and fellow receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, who will prevent Nicks from being targeted as often as he was with the Giants. Look for him to have his best season since 2011, but he will still stop short of the 1,000-yard mark.

Which wide receiver will have the best fantasy season in 2014?

Which wide receiver will have the best fantasy season in 2014?

Eric Decker

Steve Smith

Hakeem Nicks

Brandon LaFell

James Jones

Emmanuel Sanders

Total votes: 3

Projection: 985 yards and six touchdowns.

Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots
LaFell has never been confused with Calvin Johnson. If Johnson is “Megatron”, LaFell is “Mediocretron.”LaFell has 13 touchdown receptions in four years and has never caught 50 passes or had 700 receiving yards in any season. But those seasons were spent in Carolina. Now he will be in New England with a quarterback who makes all the pass-catchers around him better.
LaFell should find more open space in a high-powered offense where defenses will be more concerned covering Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the slot and tight end Rob Gronkowski whenever he returns from his torn ACL. That should open up room on the outside for LaFell, and that Tom Brady guy who quarterbacks the team has a knack for completing passes to open receivers.
The problem is there is no guarantee LaFell will even start. Youngsters Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Tompkins showed flashes of talent in their rookie campaigns last year. Is LaFell an upgrade? Training camp and the preseason will answer the question. If he’s not on the field full time, it does not matter how accurate Brady is or how potent is the passing attack.
Projection: 720 yards and five touchdowns.

James Jones, Oakland Raiders
Not having Aaron Rodgers throwing to him is going to severely hamper Jones’ fantasy value this upcoming season. It is like Mario Chalmers not having LeBron James on the Miami Heat to boost his fantasy basketball value.
Jones did not show the nose for the end zone in 2013 that he had in past years. After scoring 14 touchdowns in 2012 he got into the end zone only three measly times last season, although his 814 receiving yards were a career high.
But Jones always had to fight for Rodgers’ attention like the youngest child in a family of 14. He will not have to do that with Oakland. Can anyone even name another Raiders receiver right now? Many may think Darius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford are still there. They are not.
Jones will be targeted more than he ever has in his career. The trouble is Rodgers will not be doing the throwing; Matt Schaub will. While Schaub helped Andre Johnson to some 1,400-yard years in Houston, he is not Rodgers, and Jones is not Johnson.
Projection: 855 yards and seven touchdowns.

Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
Sanders is going to slip into the Decker role in Denver’s vaunted passing attack, and that right there makes him the luckiest free-agent receiver this offseason. Just like fast food makes a person’s calorie count go up, having Peyton Manning as your quarterback ups a receiver’s fantasy value.
Sanders will have to be patient when it comes to having his number called for pass plays, though. With Wes Welker and the two Thomases, Demaryius and Julius, firmly in front of him on the target chart, Sanders might only see six targets per game.
This is Sanders’ chance to show he is more than just a complementary receiver. If one of the other receivers goes down with a major injury, Sanders could move up in the pecking order and end up being a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time in his career. And even if that does not happen he should set new career bests across the board.
Projection: 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

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Darren McFadden’s Fantasy Value Not Derailed by Addition of Maurice Jones-Drew

Darren McFadden’s fantasy value is impossible to predict, but that is due to his lengthy injury history, not the Oakland Raiders’ recent signing of veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew. 
Just the mere pairing of McFadden’s name with the words fantasy football is enough to send many into the fetal position in some dark corner. Is there a veteran fantasy football player out there who has not been burned by McFadden over the years? 
McFadden has played six NFL seasons since the Raiders selected him fourth overall out of Arkansas in the draft. He’s never played more than 13 games in a season, and he’s only had one season where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards. 
That came in 2010 when McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards gained at an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He also added 507 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. He played 13 games that season, and when he was healthy, he was clearly one of the elite backs in the league. 
[embedded content]
That season also came just as fantasy owners were ready to give up on the back, and that season is the reason why many have gone back to McFadden in following drafts. 
Of course, the injuries have returned, and so have McFadden’s meager stats. Over the last two seasons combined, McFadden has played in 22 games while rushing for 1,086 yards gained at a measly 3.3 yards per carry. 
Combine his declining average yards per carry with the addition of Jones-Drew, and there is no reason to ever consider McFadden in this year’s fantasy drafts, right? Not so fast. 
For starters, if McFadden plays up to his enormous talent, Jones-Drew won’t cut into his carries, and there is no reason to worry about the news in the following NFL tweet:  

MJD, McFadden to compete for starting job in Oakland: http://t.co/M2EviV9cXF
— NFL (@nfl) March 29, 2014
Jones-Drew has had a wonderful career, but the 29-year-old has taken a ton of abuse in his NFL career and has been battling injuries himself. In other words, Jones-Drew is roughly 197 in running back years.
In 15 games last season, Jones-Drew rushed for 803 yards gained at an average of 3.4 yards per carry. That is well below the 4.2 mark, which was his previous career low. 
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The bowling-ball of a running back has lost a step, and he does not have enough left in the tank to keep McFadden off the field if McFadden is right. 
McFadden is not only three years younger, but he’s had almost 1,000 less NFL carries than Jones-Drew. 
As for McFadden being right? He has a chance to get his career back on track. 
McFadden was a free agent this past offseason, and he wound up returning to the Raiders for a relatively cheap, one-year contract. In other words, McFadden signed a show-me deal, which means McFadden will be running not only for the results on the field, but also his future earning power. 
The Raiders website passed along this quote from McFadden following the deal: 
“I am really excited to be back in Silver and Black. There is no place I’d rather be. I want to prove to the team that drafted me that I am a top running back in this league, and I really want to help this team win. I’m happy to be back in Oakland.”
He will be doing so behind a vastly improved offensive line. The Raiders hit the free-agent market to remake an offensive line group that had struggled since McFadden’s breakout 2010 season.
The offensive line now features the likes of Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe. Neither are dominant, but both are proven veterans in a power-blocking scheme, and that last part is key. 
McFadden has spent much of his NFL career in a zone-blocking system. This has never fit his style. The 2010 season was the year in which the Raiders hired Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator, and Jackson switched the Raiders to power blocking from then-head coach Tom Cable’s preferred zone system. 

Who will have more rushing yards next season?

Who will have more rushing yards next season?

Jones-Drew

McFadden

Total votes: 0

McFadden excelled, and he looked good in that system the following season until he was injured. In 2011, he rushed for 614 yards gained at 5.4 yards per carry in his seven games. 
Following that season, Dennis Allen was hired as head coach, and he promptly installed a zone scheme. It was a disaster, and the Raiders switched back to the power scheme last season. The problem was, they didn’t have the personnel to pull it off with any effectiveness. 
The Raiders have the bulls up front to be a quality run-blocking team this season, and McFadden still has the explosion and power to break off huge chunks of yardage. 
NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano thinks neither Jones-Drew nor McFadden should have many fantasy hopes pinned on them:

I wouldn’t draft Darren McFadden or MJD as more than a high-end RB4 in fantasy leagues next season.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) March 28, 2014
I expect Fabiano’s opinion to be a popular one. The easy thought here is that both players will cut into each other’s carries if they are healthy. As I stated, however, McFadden has the potential to be the clear-cut starter and get all the carries he can handle. 
So, if you’re considering drafting McFadden this year (and please don’t spend a premium pick on him) the debate needs to be about his health, and not how much Jones-Drew will cut into his carries. 

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Fantasy Football Early Bird: Previewing the Green Bay Packers Offensive Weapons

Charles Rex ArbogastExpect Boykin to have secured a role as the Packers number three wide receiver.

Jordy Nelson
Those who follow the Packers won’t be surprised to see Nelson recently qualified in a story by ESPN’s Matt Williamson as one of 14 No. 1 receivers (subscription required). Nelson weathered injuries to Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley to finish with 85 receptions for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns—and the 11th-ranked receiver in fantasy football.
Lacking competition from James Jones (now in Oakland) or Finley (still a free agent), Nelson represents Rodgers’ surest target. While Cobb plays the necessary role of possession receiver—and does so very well—Nelson shreds defenses on deep passes, demonstrating underrated quickness and very consistent hands. Per Sporting Charts, Nelson dropped only three of his 127 targets in 2013. Among wide receivers with as many targets, only Larry Fitzgerald dropped fewer.

Randall Cobb
Regarding the offense’s aforementioned “possession receiver”—an unfair and often oversimplifying designation—Cobb’s role in the offense will continue to grow as long as he’s healthy. Missing 10 games last season, he finished with just 31 catches. That doesn’t paint a complete picture. Rodgers targeted Cobb nearly eight times per game, an increase over the prior season of almost one, and he finished with 80 receptions in 2012.
Target both Packers receivers this summer; while Nelson figures to best Cobb in yards and scores, the latter will likely see more passes thrown his way, bridging the gap between them. And though Williamson classified him as a No. 1 receiver in real football, Nelson’s fantasy value falls somewhere between WR1 and WR2; Cobb’s ought to be considered in mid-WR2 territory.

Jarrett Boykin
Boykin didn’t catch on until the Packers’ receiving options tapered; he didn’t register a catch until Week 5, after which he caught 48 for 638 yards and three touchdowns. Extrapolate those numbers over the course of a season and Green Bay would nearly have another 1,000 yard receiver—and your fantasy team a solid WR3.
“I can’t say enough about Boykin,” McCarthy said at the NFL Annual Meeting (per NFL.com). “The young man is a heck of a player, he’s done it the right way, special teams, he’s performed every opportunity he’s given.”
Barring an impressive rookie joining the corps, Boykin has likely cemented himself as Rodgers’ third wide receiver. Given Green Bay’s lack of a sure-thing tight end, that role ought not be underestimated. He’s very capable of, if not likely to, catching 70-plus receptions this season.
Doubtful to be among the first 30 wide receivers off draft boards, pick Boykin as a WR3 with high upside.

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Fantasy Football: Atlanta Falcons Stars That Will Bounce Back in 2014

Following a disastrous 2013, what does the upcoming season hold for the fantasy values of former star Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White and quarterback Matt Ryan?
Falcons fans hope that the debacle that was the 2013 season will be soon forgotten following a 2014 resurgence. Atlanta endured a tremendous number of key injuries throughout the year, per SportsIllustrated.com, stumbling to a depressing 4-12 record.
Top wide receiver tandem Julio Jones and White battled injuries all season long, and their struggles understandably hampered Ryan’s production. Atlanta has plenty to prove in the coming year, and a huge part of its success hinges on a revitalized passing game.
Despite missing most of last year due to a foot injury suffered in Week 5, Julio Jones has not fallen out of favor with the fantasy community. With positive reports of a successful recovery, according to NFL.com, most expert projections have Jones soaring back into the fantasy receiver elite in 2014.
Meanwhile, there seems to be more hesitancy to trust Jones’ teammates, White and Ryan, to return to their pre-2013 form. Despite the doubters, there’s a case to be made that White and Ryan represent two of the safest value picks this upcoming fantasy football season.

Roddy White
David Goldman
Over a six-season stretch between 2007 and 2012, White epitomized consistency at the wide receiver position. During that stretch, White played 16 games every season and averaged 94 receptions, 1,295 receiving yards and eight touchdowns per year—a fantastic stat line for just about any receiver in the NFL not named Megatron.
Some speculated that when Jones inevitably exploded in his 2012 sophomore season, that White’s production would surely take a hit. How’d “Mr. Consistency” fair that year? He posted 92 receptions, 1,351 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. In fact, White even managed to out-produce the bigger, stronger and more athletic Jones in fantasy scoring that season.
Now, after missing a few games in 2013 due to injuries for the first time in his nine-year career, public perception may be that White is on the decline. At 32 years old, some may speculate that he will see fewer snaps in favor of the team’s leading wide receiver from last season, Harry Douglas.
Several fantasy experts’ early 2014 rankings generally reflect this perception. For now, White’s consensus offseason rank among analysts falls in the 18 to 25 range for receivers. That’s a precipitous drop from last season when White’s average draft position was in the five to 10 range among receivers, according to the web’s most popular fantasy football services.
White was considered a clear-cut, No. 1 fantasy receiver just seven months ago.
Should we really now write White off as a low-end No. 2, high-end No. 3 wide receiver? Isn’t this all too reminiscent of another aging generational talent who just about everyone underestimated coming off a down year in 2011—Reggie Wayne? How did that work out again?

Is Roddy White Still an elite fantasy receiver?

Is Roddy White Still an elite fantasy receiver?

Yes, he will return to greatness in 2014.

No, he’s not the same guy he used to be.

Total votes: 5

White reminded us how productive he can be when healthy at the end of the 2013 season. Over the final five games of last year, White actually outpaced his 2007-2012 rate of production, averaging over 100 receiving yards and 8.5 receptions per game.
Now, with the retirement of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, Ryan’s security blanket and favorite red-zone target, the Falcons offense could employ plenty three-receiver sets. With more targets to go around following Gonzalez’s departure, the offense could be tailored to prominently feature White, Jones and Douglas.
Considering that Jones has proven to be the more severely injury-prone receiver over his career (Jones has missed 14 games in three seasons; White has missed three games in nine seasons), another Jones injury could equal the most targets of White’s career.
2014 Projection:
98 receptions
1,325 receiving yards
9 touchdowns
Matt Ryan 
Marcio Jose Sanchez
Ryan threw for more than 4,500 passing yards in 2013, fourth-most in the league. So is a bounce-back year really necessary for seven-year veteran?
While Ryan’s raw yardage total is impressive, he still finished down around 15th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks. The yards were there, however, the Falcons collapsed as a team, and Ryan’s overall performance suffered as a result. With his uber-elite pass-catching duo of Jones and White banged up for much of the season, he threw for the fewest touchdowns since 2009 (26) and most interceptions in his career (17).

Will Matt Ryan be a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2014?

Will Matt Ryan be a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2014?

No, there are too many other good QBs.

Yes, he’s going to have a great year!

Total votes: 1

His 651 passing attempts were also the most of his career, largely due to the team playing from behind in several games and needing to throw more than usual. More passing attempts do not always equal greater production, especially if those extra throws are made under duress in late-game, desperation situations when the rate of incompletions and interceptions increases. 
Though “garbage time” stats still count in fantasy, Ryan’s value thrives when the Falcons thrive as a team. When Atlanta boasted the NFC’s best regular-season record in 2012, Ryan posted career highs in total passing yards (4,719) and touchdowns (32)—good for a top-10 finish in fantasy scoring.
Ryan is likely to slip in some fantasy drafts this year due to the emergence of young, productive quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck and Nick Foles, among others. Those fearful of another down year in Atlanta may opt for these supposedly safer options. Therefore, Ryan could come as a great value pick later in the draft.
2014 Projection:
4,650 passing yards
34 touchdowns
13 interceptions

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Fantasy Football: 26 Players to Avoid in 2014

They’re ticking time bombs and they’re here to ruin your fantasy football team. Avoid these 25 players in 2014 and spare yourself the agony of a lost season.
Winning your fantasy league is all about finding value. To be specific, it’s about building more collective value on your roster than every other owner in your league.
Whether it be in the draft, on the waiver wire or in a trade, every roster move made during a fantasy season is about receiving the highest possible return on investment. Any trade should perceivably benefit your team at least as much as it benefits your trading partner. A third-round draft pick should yield at least a third-round value. If not, you made a poor investment.
The purpose of the following list is to predict the players who will yield some of the worst relative values in the draft. Did you happen to select Trent Richardson or Ray Rice in the first round last year only to promptly fall to the bottom of your league’s standings by midseason? Don’t let that happen again this year.
The following 25 players will (and should) get drafted in all leagues. Their fantasy value is not zero. However, their expected draft position significantly overrates their expected return on investment.
Name recognition, more “favorable” situations, talk of bounce-back years—there are many reasons why players become overrated in the offseason. They might look great on your roster following the draft—on paper, your team looks stacked!
Then, the season starts.
Tick, tick, tick, tick—boom. Your season was over before it started.

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Fantasy Football: 25 Players to Avoid in 2014

They’re ticking time bombs and they’re here to ruin your fantasy football team. Avoid these 25 players in 2014 and spare yourself the agony of a lost season.
Winning your fantasy league is all about finding value. To be specific, it’s about building more collective value on your roster than every other owner in your league.
Whether it be in the draft, on the waiver wire or in a trade, every roster move made during a fantasy season is about receiving the highest possible return on investment. Any trade should perceivably benefit your team at least as much as it benefits your trading partner. A third-round draft pick should yield at least a third-round value. If not, you made a poor investment.
The purpose of the following list is to predict the players who will yield some of the worst relative values in the draft. Did you happen to select Trent Richardson or Ray Rice in the first round last year only to promptly fall to the bottom of your league’s standings by midseason? Don’t let that happen again this year.
The following 25 players will (and should) get drafted in all leagues. Their fantasy value is not zero. However, their expected draft position significantly overrates their expected return on investment.
Name recognition, more “favorable” situations, talk of bounce-back years—there are many reasons why players become overrated in the offseason. They might look great on your roster following the draft—on paper, your team looks stacked!
Then, the season starts.
Tick, tick, tick, tick—boom. Your season was over before it started.

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What DeSean Jackson Signing with Redskins Means for Fantasy Owners in ’14

DeSean Jackson might have left the uptempo, attacking Philadelphia Eagles offense, but his deep-threat skills are not going to go to waste for fantasy football owners with the Washington Redskins. If you’re a burner, a run-oriented offense is exactly the type you can thrive with.
Jackson and Robert Griffin III owners are in for a treat next season. Pierre Garçon and his touts won’t be as nearly excited, but it is a numbers game. There are five weapons to cover—and one dynamic, running quarterback to contain. You cannot double all six of those players. Defenses have only 11 players, of course.
It fits together all so brilliantly.
The threat of the run helps remove a safety from the equation over the top, and Jackson is still going to find himself in a lot of one-on-one situations downfield after signing with the Redskins late Tuesday night, according to NFL insider Adam Schefter.

On DeSean Jackson’s 3-year, $24M deal with Washington, $16M is fully guaranteed and he will make $8M this season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 2, 2014

The Washington Post’s Mark Bullock took an in-depth look here at how Jackson can beat single coverage deep. Football nuts will enjoy that blog post, but casual fans should already know what the threat of the run does for the vertical passing game.
The running games in Philly and Washington might be worlds apart in pace, but they are both equally effective.

Where would you slot DeSean Jackson among fantasy wide receivers now?

Where would you slot DeSean Jackson among fantasy wide receivers now?

Top five: He’s going to explode

Top 10: He is a legit fantasy No. 1

Top 15: He is a solid fantasy No. 2

Top 20: He is now a low-end fantasy No. 2

Out of the top 20: This move hurts him

Total votes: 1,561

Philadelphia had the No. 1 rushing offense in football last season, rushing for 2,566 yards. It led to Jackson posting the best season of his career to the tune of 82 catches for 1,332 yards and a 16.2 average. Among players with as many receptions, only Josh Gordon (18.9) and Calvin Johnson (17.8) averaged more yards per catch than Jackson. That is some company.
A methodical run-oriented team like Washington might not run as many plays or get as many passes off, but Jackson should find himself getting deep in one-on-one coverage a lot. The Redskins didn’t lead the league in rushing like Eagles did, but they weren’t far behind at No. 5, with 2,164 yards. In fact, Washington was even closer in yards-per-carry (4.8, good for third in the league) to Philly’s 5.1.
Tallying this up, you have to figure Jackson will lose some catches and yards—just because of the fewer plays the Redskins likely will run—but he should remain just as effective getting deep and scoring.
Let’s make this an early projection of Jackson’s 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early DeSean Jackson 2014 Fantasy Projections
2013
16
82
1,332
16.2
9
3YR AVG
14
62
998
16.2
5
2014 PROJ
15
65
1,050
16.2
8
Pro.Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Also, remember, Jackson was a relative one-man show last season in Philly, because Jeremy Maclin (knee) was out for the year. He will have to share some targets with the likes of Garçon and fellow offseason signee Andre Roberts.
The rough-sketch numbers we pin on Jackson above would put him around the top 10-12 wide receivers in fantasy, just as he was in Philly last year. Let’s generally move him from being a borderline No. 1 fantasy receiver to being a very good No. 2. It should still bring him off the board among a team’s first five picks, even if it might drop him a round. 

RGIII Impact
As much as Jackson’s situation shouldn’t radically change with the move to Washington, RGIII’s certainly is looking golden.
While he will have to deal with a change in head coach with Jay Gruden, new offensive coordinator Sean McVay is a holdover. That gives RGIII some continuity there. The upgrade comes with the weapons now at his disposal.

Roberts gives the Redskins a very good slot receiver, and returning go-to man Garçon is coming off a year of surprising health, playing in all 16 games. Tight end Jordan Reed looked like a future star at times as a rookie—thanks in part of McVay as his position coach—and he should prove far more consistent in Year 2.

Where would you slot Robert Griffin III among fantasy quarterbacks now?

Where would you slot Robert Griffin III among fantasy quarterbacks now?

Top five: Jackson is a game-changer for him

Top 10: He’s a sure-fire starter now

Top 15: RGIII is still unproven and an injury risk

Total votes: 510

Running back Alfred Morris will still be the focal point of a ground-based attack, of course, but that should be seen as a good thing. You have to move that safety up in the box to respect one of football’s most potent rushing attacks.
This certainly lines up as a dynamic set of weapons for Griffin. You can make a case this is a poor man’s Peyton Manning-Denver Broncos group. Reed can be the next Julius Thomas, and while neither Garçon is a great excuse for Demaryius Thomas nor Roberts for Wes Welker, Jackson is yards, if not miles, better than Emmanuel Sanders.
This has the makings of a receiving group that can combine for 4,000-plus yards passing. Couple that with a 2,000-yard running game, and the Redskins offense will be a pulsating fantasy beast led by Griffin week to week.
Let’s make this an early projection of RGIII’s 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Robert Grifffin III 2014 Fantasy Projections
2013
13
274
456
3,203
16
12
489
0
2YR AVG
14
266
425
3,202
18
9
652
4
2014 PROJ
16
300
500
4,000
25
10
500
4
Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

It might seem like a leap of faith to move RGIII from 3,200 yards to 4,000, but you have to figure if Garçon-Jackson-Roberts-Reed-Morris all stay healthy, it is far more plausible. They will each have to get theirs.
Also, the defenses the Redskins face in the NFC East were ranked 32nd (Dallas Cowboys), 29th (Philadelphia Eagles) and eighth (New York Giants) a year ago. Only the Giants made significant improvements. The Cowboys have no place to go but up, but they will have to do it without DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher—cap casualties, all.
The above rough projections on RGIII would have slotted him as a top-eight quarterback in fantasy football last season. He is going to be drafted after the likes of:
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Some might also make a case to draft these quarterbacks before RGIII:
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
That is one more quarterback than would be a weekly starter in 12-team league.
With his outfitted weapons, RGIII is no fantasy backup in 2014. He is potentially a steal in Round 6 or later. Late-round quarterback fans, take note.

Effect on Other Redskins Receivers

I like Pierre Garçon…

Less: D-Jax cuts into him, significantly

More: D-Jax should free Garçon up

No change: Garçon is a fantasy No. 2, regardless

Total votes: 316

Pierre Garçon
We said above Garçon might be the only player in Washington not doing back flips after the signing of Jackson, but that is only because it muddies the line between who will be RGIII’s primary receiving threat. Garçon’s targets might conceivably drop with the additions of Jackson and Roberts—not to mention the continued emergence of Reed—but Garçon’s effectiveness and efficiency could rise.
The Washington Post’s Jason Reid writes Wednesday morning:

Garçon’s work immediately becomes easier. Few Redskins players were as mentally drained as Garçon after last season’s 3-13 debacle. The losing was bad enough, and Garçon also was frustrated because he rarely had the opportunity to help the Redskins as much as he envisioned, people in the organization say. The problem? Double coverage.
There’s no nice way to put this: Garçon was the only Redskins wide receiver who concerned opponents. He often was covered by the cornerback opposite him and a safety. On deep routes, Garçon almost always was “bracketed.” Even if Garcon was not completely double-teamed, a safety usually would move toward Garçon’s side of the field.

This is where Jackson’s addition is most key. You cannot double Jackson, Garçon, Roberts and Reed, while focusing on stopping Morris in the running game. You are going to run out of defensive players to counter with in a hurry here.
If we assume Garçon takes a dip in quantity with a subtle uptick in quality, let’s make this an early projection of his 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Pierre Garçon 2014 Fantasy Projections
2013
16
113
1,346
11.9
5
3YR AVG
14
76
975
12.8
5
2014 PROJ
14
90
1,080
12.0
8
Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Garçon is coming off a career year in which he lead the league in receptions (113) and tied for No. 1 in targets (181) with Andre Johnson. Expect the presence of Jackson to cause Garçon’s receptions, targets—you don’t get fantasy points for those anyway—and yards to decline. His touchdowns can rise, though, as the Redskins offense becomes decidedly more potent and threatening.
Garçon’s overall ranking in fantasy circles won’t change much in that event. He remains a solid No. 2 fantasy receiver, even if you might be lured to draft Jackson before him now based on the hype of his offseason move from a mediocre quarterback to a potentially elite one.

Jordan Reed
The tight end will have a nice backing in the Redskins’ new-look offense, because the coordinator, McVay, is the former position coach here. As we said, Reed was already going to be a candidate for a nice bump in his second season.
Having Garçon and Jackson draw the attention of safeties can make Reed a huge threat down the hash marks.
The Post’s Reid wrote Wednesday morning:

Reed runs routes so smoothly and finishes them so sharply, he’s essentially another highly effective wideout. Now that they have better tools with which to work on deep passing plays, Gruden and McVay plan to fully capitalize on what Reed is capable of doing in the middle of the field.

Let’s make this an early projection of his 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Jordan Reed 2014 Fantasy Projections
2013
9
45
499
11.1
3
2014 PROJ
14
70
780
11.1
5
Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

We have to admit, those numbers are modest expectations for Reed in his second season. They were reached merely adding the games of a more healthy year. The numbers reflect the relative production his nine-game rookie season would have paced out to for 14 games. He could prove to be far more than that in this dynamic, new-look Redskins offense.
Regardless, Reed is a tight end that was going to be drafted as one of the last starting tight ends in standard fantasy leagues, behind the likes of:
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Rob Gronkowski (knee), New England Patriots
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Greg Olson, Carolina Panthers

Are you inclined to draft Jordan Reed as a fantasy starter now?

Are you inclined to draft Jordan Reed as a fantasy starter now?

Yes

No

Maybe, but I have to see how the summer and my draft unfolds

Total votes: 203

This ignores the likes of: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts; Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears; and Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers. Reed has to at least jump that sketchy group now…if you don’t want to take the leap of faith that he can penetrate the top five most productive fantasy tight ends going in.
We have a hunch that is where the rising value of Reed will wind up, though, particularly if Gronk isn’t 100 percent coming off another serious surgery.

Andre Roberts
The Jackson addition slides the former Cardinals slot man into the position for which he is best suited, running the underneath routes. Roberts lost some fantasy steam after Jackson’s signing, but it isn’t any steam that was yet to be realized. He remains a solid option to round out your fantasy backups.
In fact, if you assume Garçon, Jackson and Reed remain as susceptible to injury as they have been in their young careers, there are going to be weeks where Roberts is a must-start fantasy option. It makes him a very good late-round pick as a reserve fantasy wideout.

Early Andre Roberts 2014 Fantasy Projections
2013
16
43
471
11.0
2
3YR AVG
16
53
605
11.4
3
2014 PROJ
16
55
605
11.0
3
Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Those numbers don’t give much draft-day fantasy intrigue to Roberts, but you have to assume some missed games for the trio ahead of him in the Redskins/RGIII pecking order. There are going to be games/weeks Roberts performs like a fantasy starter. Consider him a viable bye-week replacement option.

Would you consider picking Andre Roberts late?

Would you consider picking Andre Roberts late?

Yes, I buy what Eric Mack writes here

No, there are too many better options

Maybe, but I won’t target him, necessarily

Total votes: 164

The sum of the parts will make the Redskins one of the most difficult offenses to stop next season. The front office did a great job dressing up RGIII’s targets for what should be a huge third season. Jackson is merely the piece that completes the whole puzzle.

Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.

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