So you have a fantasy football draft this weekend, the first overall pick, and you have no idea what to do? Your welcome.
Chip Kelly runs an extremely fast paced attack, averaging over 65 plays per game last year. This bodes well for his two able-bodied running backs. Each possesses the same skill set, but McCoy has the talent and durability to thrive. If his 314 carries and 52 receptions in 2013 didn’t make that obvious enough, he averaged 100 yards and had 11 total touchdowns. Look for Chip Kelly to keep his foot on the pedal and give LeSean the chance to go for back to back rushing titles.
Offensive / Supporting Cast
A talented, albeit aging line with an average age of 29, they dominated opposing defenses. They were led by Jason Peters (6-4, 340) and Evan Mathis (6-5, 302), both 11 year veterans and All Pros in 2013. Look for Lane Johnson to continue making progress in his sophomore season. In the meantime, it is safe to say that this is one of, if not the best, offensive lines in the league.
For me, it was a bit of a surprise that Darren Sproles would come to Philadelphia. However, the more I thought about it, the more I think it will be the perfect compliment to McCoy. A shifty player in New Orleans for the past 3 seasons, Sproles averaged 3.5 rushing attempts per game and 3.7 receptions per game during the 2013 season and posted 3.6 Rush/G and 5.2 Rec/G during his 3 year stint in New Orleans.
At 31, his best years are surely behind him and his production will regress. However, the biggest question is whether he will impact McCoy’s workload. To compare, Bryce Brown averaged 4.7 rushing attempts per game and .5 receptions per game in 2013. With this in mind, I see Sproles taking away 3-4 attempts per game from McCoy. Ultimately, I think this keeps McCoy fresh and increases makes him more efficient with the touches he will receive.
DeSean Jackson’s speed was an asset that Kelly was sad to lose. His uncanny ability to get behind wide receivers is something that will be missed in Philadelphia as he boasted 82 receptions for 1332 yards and 9 TD. However, I think the return of Jeremy Maclin, and the increased dependence on Riley Cooper will more than make up for this loss (also, look for Jordan Mathews to have an impact on this offense).
Using Maclin’s 2012 numbers as a proxy for potential performance (69 Receptions / 857 Yards / 7 TD), expect big things if he can stay healthy. And as for Cooper, I think catch between 6-8 TD up to 30 more receptions. All in all I think the value of the offense increased as a whole as I think a combination of Maclin and Darren Sproles will boost McCoy’s value.
Talent / Workload
McCoy averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year on 314 attempts, proving that he can handle a high workload. He only has 1468 attempts for his career versus Peterson’s 2239, proving he still has plenty of tread on his tires. With a 2013 rushing yard total that was 268 more than his nearest competitor (Forte), 2014 will be another solid year. Look for him to break some deep runs and continue his late game magic to continue.
- In 2013, McCoy had 6 more attempts of 20+ yards than he did in 2012. He also had 6 more attempts of 40+ yards than he did in 2012.
- He gets better as the game goes on - McCoy averages 6.7 yards per carry in rushing attempts 21-30 compared to 4.5 YPC in attempts 1-10
- Finally, he average’s 5.5 YPC in the 2nd half vs. 4.5 YPC in the 1st half
Durability / Injury Risk
With only a small history of concussions in 2012, McCoy does not pose an imminent injury risk. He averages an impressive 1.2 games missed per season since he came into the league.
His schedule has a 2013 Opponent winning percentage of .479, which comes in at 13th best on the list for this year. He has the 4th best fantasy strength of schedule for running backs including the best playoff fantasy matchups in weeks 15-16 against Dallas and Washington. Look for him to come up big, especially down the stretch.
Norv Turner looks to remove some of the burden by improving the passing game and incorporating more short passes out of the backfield to eliminate the bruising runs. Peterson averaged 5.9 YPR last year, with 171 yards and 29 receptions, the second lowest of his career. With Norv calling the plays, look for upwards of 55-60 receptions for Peterson.
There will be a number of opportunities to get him the ball in space. His 1437 total yards in 2013 were the 2nd lowest of his career but I don’t think that will happen again. I expect between 1500-1600 on the ground and 375-400 in the air.
Peterson had a 4.5 YPC average in 2013, playing 14 games and amassing 1266 yards. Although it was great, it falls 1.5 below his 2012 season. He has unlimited potential and has had double digit touchdowns every year he has been in the league. This year, I anticipate him to do much of the same if his injuries don’t return.
Offense / Surrounding Cast
Offensive Line – mention fullback
John Sullivan anchors the line at center while Brandon Fusco and Charlie Johnson enter as the starts at right and left guard. Johnson brings a veteran presence as well as versatility; he has started at both left guard and left tackle as a member of the Vikings. One of the best offensive lines in 2013, they will continue to pave the way for Peterson.
Matt Asiata will spend another year on the depth chart behind Peterson. Like Knile Davis, he will be a serviceable handcuff if injuries pop back up for Peterson. The important thing to mention is the blocking specialist Jerome Felton will once again be in front of AP. Highly effective in his first season with the Vikings, Felton looks to return Peterson to the 2000 yard mark.
I’m definitely not the first person to write about Cordarelle Patterson. His explosive end to the 2013 season was something to get Vikings fans excited. I think he will continue that trend in 2014, as Norv will get him the ball in space. Greg Jennings is interesting to consider, as he performed relatively well with Cassel as the starter last year. Ultimately, these two options will open up the field even more and allow Peterson to thrive.
Injury / Durability
Everyone knows Peterson has the talent to take the rushing title each and every year he is healthy. After tearing his ACL in week 17 of 2011, he came back in fury during the 2012 season. In 2013, Peterson played through nagging injuries, receiving a small surgery to his groin once the season was over. These troublesome injuries increase his total risk but there is no doubt that that he is the top back if he plays all 16 games.
His schedule has a 2013 Opponent winning percentage of .477, which comes in at 12th best on the list for this year. He has the 8th best fantasy strength of schedule for running backs, however, he finishes up against the stringent Detroit defense and Miami in week 16.
Charles is a great fit for Andy Reid’s coaching strategy where pass catching backs thrive. Charles had a monster season last year but I have a few concerns, which I’ll get into shortly. He is the most prolific target in the offense, and its not even close. Look for him to continue making the best of his targets.
Before last year, Charles never scored man than 8 total TDs in a season. Last year, he more than doubled that total with 19. I think he continues to be the x-factor in the Chiefs offense but his touchdowns will drop to a modest 12-13. With 1265 career touches, he has a considerably less wear and tear on his body than one would think.
He will continue to receive the majority of the touches, which I think will increase another 5-10% this year. The Chiefs will not be as dominant and, as a result, I don’t expect Charles to have an opportunity to rest before the playoffs. Expect his career low 5.0 YPC to ramp back up to the 5.5-5.7 range this year.
Offense / Surrounding Cast
In 2014, I think the entire offense takes a small step back. The team will become more familiar with Andy Reid’s style of offense, but the offensive line lost 3 key starters.
Three of his offensive linemen will not return. Not only does this impact the overall quality of run blocking / pass protection, but it takes time to build report as a unit.
The offensive line is extremely young, with an average age under 24 years old. However, 3rd year center Hudson looks to make a difference and propel this line to the top of the league’s rankings. Charles will get off to a slightly slower start than last year.
There is absolutely no competition for Charles in the backfield. Knile Davis is the clear backup choice for Reid. His 81 targets was second best on the team last year and he will be a serviceable handcuff option in 2014.
The offense as a whole is a well-tuned machine that relies a lot on the short passing game. Jamaal is the best option will continue to see the most targets on the team (last year he had 70 through the air). His closest wide receiver competition is Dwayne Bowe (57 targets last year), and I don’t see that workload increasing.
Injury / Durability
Aside from the year he tore his ACL, Charles has been on the field for almost all of the Chiefs’ games, only missing .4 games a year during his other 5 years. Last year proved that he is healthy and ready to do it again. Don’t be concerned about his small preseason ankle injury.
His schedule has a 2013 Opponent winning percentage of .559, which comes in at 7th worst on the list for this year. He has the 17th ranked fantasy strength of schedule for running backs, however, he finishes up with Oakland and Pittsburgh. If the line begins to click, Charles could propel your team to a championship.
1. Adrian Peterson
Unlimited upside and a limited downside of a low end RB1 in the games he’s active, why wouldn’t you?
2. LeSean McCoy
His skills, combined with the fast paced attack, high volume, and appealing schedule easily make him number 2 in my ranks.
3. Jamaal Charles
At this high in your rankings, you have to scrutinize every detail and the offensive line situation scares me way too much.See The Other Fantasy Stars You Need to Own
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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