I finally concluded all of my fantasy drafts and certain patterns began to take hold by the end. I always make a list of fantasy football players. I like to prepare for these drafts, but the fact that these guys kept ending up on my teams made it clear that I am higher on them than most people. I know this is a little late for you to actually draft these guys, but at least you can feel great if they are already on your team or trade for them if they have a disappointing week one. Here are the fantasy football players I expect to outperform their projected totals for 2014.
Quarterback – Matt Ryan
I love Matt Ryan this year. I had him targeted as my guy right when I saw ESPN’s fantasy rankings, and every week I hoped that they would not adjust him off spot 100. He was a top-5 quarterback two years ago when he had healthy receivers, and going into the year, Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas are all healthy. He could definitely rise up to be a top-5 quarterback again, especially since Atlanta’s defense is weak, so they are likely going to find themselves in some shootouts.
Honorable Mention – Tom Brady
I had Brady rated just below Matt Ryan, and they were going in the same area. Brady struggled early but figured out his rhythm with his band of misfit receivers as the year went on. He’s still Tom Brady, and that means he is a very good quarterback.
Running Back – Trent Richardson
This is one of the best scouting pieces I have read this offseason. I was terrified that others in my league may have seen it, because I was already high on Richardson going into this year, but then I was head over heels in love with him after reading through the piece. I remember Richardson at Alabama, and he was ridiculous. Yes, he was helped by a very good offensive line, but he made plays that 99% of backs cannot dream of making. Size, speed, moves, he is an incredible talent. Indianapolis’s offensive line was awful last year. My dream is that they can get to average, but even if they get to acceptable, Richardson could bust out 1200 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Honorable Mention – Lamar Miller
The Dolphins are taking some Chip Kelly principles with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and that alone makes Miller a valuable running back. He will be the lead dog over Knowshon Moreno.
Wide Receiver – Keenan Allen
He was great last year when they moved him to the starting lineup. Now he will be in the starting lineup the entire year. He’s going to put up a big year.
Honorable Mention – Hakeem Nicks
Nicks was disappointing last year, but he still almost 900 yards receiving, he just couldn’t get in the end zone. Reggie Wayne is getting up there in age and coming back from a serious injury. T.Y. Hilton is a good number two receiver but has his limitations. I expect Nicks to pick up the slack and have a big year.
Honorable Mention – Jeremy Maclin
Talent-wise, he is the best receiver on the Eagles. So if he’s healthy, he will be the beneficiary of a lot of balls from Nick Foles.
Tight End – Travis Kelce
He’s been getting a lot of buzz as the athletic tight end who is poised for a breakout year. Guys who have previously gotten this buzz include Jimmy Graham and Jordan Cameron. Kelce fits that mold, and considering the other receiving options in Kansas City, Kelce will be targeted on plenty of balls.
Honorable Mention – Tyler Eifert
I feel like people forgot that the Bengals took Eifert in the first round last year. He didn’t do much his rookie season, but it also wasn’t an awful performance. I think they phase out Jermaine Gresham and focus on Eifert a lot more in the passing game, especially with Marvin Jones out for the first half of the season.
Defense – Cleveland Browns
I love the Cleveland Browns defense, and I have pretty strong opinions about the Browns overall. Barkevious Mingo is going to break out this year, and Browns’ opponents will be terrified.
Honorable Mention – Houston Texans
Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt are in their athletic primes and on the same team. I may not watch a snap of the Texans offense; I may not miss a snap of the Texans defense.