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Predicting the Unpredictable: Our Bold Fantasy Calls for 2014

By September 8, 2014 No Comments

Fantasy Football is not for the faint of heart. If you want to be great, you need to take chances, follow your gut, and in some cases, predict the future. Yes, this is easier said than done, but a large part of understanding the games of football and fantasy football, is coming to terms with the fact that ANYTHING can happen. Josh Gordon can miss two games, have one of the worst offenses in the league and lead all receivers in fantasy. Doug Martin can come off a stud rookie year, and completely bust and get injured the next, making you cry and call your mommy. Andy Dalton can throw 20 INTs in 2013, but be the fifth ranked QB. Catch my drift?

After all, I’ve always said sports are the reality TV/ soap operas for men. Our families and girlfriends don’t understand the drama of Peyton’s first game in Indianapolis, or the subtle feud between Rodgers and Favre in Green Bay. Torrey Smith catching a TD the day his brother dies, or how crazy it is that Jimmy Graham was a basketball player five years ago. Only the die-hards understand why football is so great.

Some of us root for the favorites, others the underdogs. We have our favorite teams and players, but we know that every game, every touchdown, every tackle, matters to us in some way. We crave the surprises and the let downs, that’s why fantasy football is so fun. It adds drama to an already dramatic game. A drama we, as fans, can now be a part of. Of course, we will always be on the sidelines, but through fantasy football, maybe we can attain some of the glory we hope to vicariously achieve through our favorite teams and players.

If you research fantasy, you know that the internet is full of all different kinds of writers, bloggers, and tweeters screaming their opinions at you. We here at fantasyfootballpros thank you for choosing us, as we are in fact, the smartest. In this article I’m going to attempt to take each team and make a seemingly unlikely prediction about one of their fantasy players. Now, saying Calvin Johnson will lead all receivers in fantasy in 2014, is not a wacky prediction. Saying Golden Tate will lead all receivers in fantasy however, would be. Get it?

So let’s take a crack at this. At this point I haven’t predicted anything wrong, so if this goes poorly, look for me to be a beat writer for the Montreal Aloutettes next season, profiling Chad Ochocinco’s Canadian fantasy value, eh. When all these crazy predictions are right however, look for this fantasy guru to be racking up the Emmys, Pulitzer’s, Nobel Prizes, or whatever it is they award genius, low-bit, fantasy writers. So here we go.

2014 What the F’s

Arizona Cardinals:  Carson Palmer throws over 30 TDs and finishes in the top 10 of fantasy QBs. Palmer had a decent, bounce back year in his first season at Arizona. He certainly boosted the value of his offense tossing Larry Fitzgerald 10 TDs and the fantasy world seems to unanimously think Michael Floyd is due for a serious breakout. With a more established run game and more comfort in the Arians system, I anticipate Palmer being more efficient and throwing far less INTs.

Atlanta Falcons: Steven Jackson produces one final season of eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards and finishes in the top 15 of fantasy RBs. The Falcons passing game is sexy, but does anyone else notice Mike Smith’s odd tendency to constantly run the ball inside the 10? The Davonta Freeman hype is overblown. The job is Jackson’s. In a banged up 2013 effort, Jackson still had over 700 total yards and 7 TDs in 12 games. I expect the Falcons to run him into the ground leading to a much more productive year for SJax.

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice, despite his suspension, finishes the season as a top 12 RB. I’ll admit, this mostly has to do with Gary Kubiak. Rice’s past struggles can be attributed to questionable offensive strategies where the likes of Jim Caldwell and Cam Cameron will abandon the Ravens best offensive weapon. Kubiak ran some very successful run first offenses in Houston, and I believe his style suits the Ravens O perfectly. Not to mention he loves using backs in the passing game. The Ravens don’t trust Pierce, and neither do I. Update: This was written previous to the video of his assault hitting online.

Buffalo Bills: Bryce Brown ends the season as the Bills highest scoring RB. Yeah this is a crazy one, but I don’t trust the durability of Spiller or the aging Jackson. The Bills have expressed their love for Bryce, saying that he could easily be a starting back in the league somewhere and if Spiller or Jackson goes down or sucks (which is not unlikely) I see a situation where Brown can steal a lot of work. Not to mention his career 4.6 yds per carry is very nice.

Carolina Panthers: Greg Olsen is the second best TE in fantasy this year with at least 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. I can’t put him ahead of Jimmy Graham but the lack of targets in the Carolina Panther game won’t stop Rivera from letting Cam loose. A lame run game and a banged up Newton should provide a lot of targets for Cam’s security blanket. I expect Olsen to have a big year.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte is the number 1 back in fantasy this season and surpasses 2,100 total yards. The Trestman offense is legit. The Bears schedule is full of terrible defenses and it seems that this very elite RB is still flying under the radar. A healthy Cutler means defenses will continue to scheme against the Chicago high flying receivers. I expect Forte to breakout this year….again.

Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green falls out of the top ten and catches less than 9 TDs for the first time since his rookie season. I’m not saying Jay Gruden’s downfield passing strategies are a large part of Green’s success, but I am. Gruden moved to Washington and Hue Jackson has taken over as OC. Green should still get consistent work, but Jackson likes to run his offense behind a balanced running attack, hence the Jeremy Hill draft pick. With Hawkins leaving and Marvin Jones banged up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bernard become the number one option on this offense.

Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel starts zero games for the Browns this year and Brian Hoyer is a top 15 QB. Addition of Ben Tate gives the offense some balance. Kyle Shanahan brings an offense that helped RGIII set rookie records in efficiency and utilizes the TE. This is preferable since Jordan Cameron is the team’s best pass catcher. Hoyer was a fan favorite last year and we didn’t really get a good look at him due to injury. In those 2 games, the 5 TDs and 590 yards is pretty encouraging. (Suck it Don)

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant is the number 1 WR in fantasy and only has 6 weeks of at least 20 fantasy points. Scott Linehan. Everyone’s talking about how this guy is gonna transform the Cowboys offense into fantasy gold. The NFC East is full of terrible defenses, including the Cowboys. As a result, I expect the Cowboys to be in a lot of shootouts. And why would you not throw to Dez?

Denver Broncos: Montee Ball finishes outside the top 25 for RBs. In that backfield, Hillman is the veteran, and I expect him to get more work than everyone anticipates. EVERYONE is on the Montee Ball train but I think everyone forgot that the job was supposed to be his LAST year until fumbling problems and mental errors paved the way for Moreno. Yes, Peyton Manning RBs are known to have success, but I don’t think Montee Ball’s leash is as long as John Fox lets on. Not to mention Ball missed a large chunk of the preseason due to an appendectomy.

Detroit Lions: At the end of the year, Joique Bell’s and Reggie Bush’s rankings among running backs will be the each other’s ADPs. Bell is going 26th among RBs while Bush is going 15. Bell only finished 6 spots behind Bush last year and scored only 21 less fantasy points. I like Bell as the goal line back and the preferred weapon in the Lions’ new system.

Green Bay Packers: Davante Adams outscores Jarrett Boykin this season and finishes in the top 45 of fantasy WRs. I don’t like the talent of Boykin this year. I believe it’s only a matter of time until he gets worked out of the offensive plan. He was Green Bay’s second round pick and the last time the Pack took a wide-out so early it was Randall Cobb who made an almost immediate impact. If Adams can work his way onto the field more, I like any receiver Rodgers is throwing to.

Houston Texans: From co-writer Vinny Gonzalez - “The Texans defense will finish in the top 8 this year while J.J. Watt breaks the NFL sack record (22.5) and Jadeveon Clowney breaks the NFL rookie sack record (14.5).  Before you freak out let me remind you of some things; Jonathan Joseph is a very solid number one corner, Brian Cushing is back and health at middle linebacker, and D.J. Swearinger is looking to build off of his positive rookie season.  I'd like to add at this point that Watt and Clowney are absolute beasts (in case you didn't know that already).  As far as breaking the sack records it really is doable.  Watt came close in 2012 with 20.5 and I am sure that Clowney will take advantage of every time Watt gets doubled at the line.  Sack city.  Don't overlook this defense in 2014 as they have a serious chance to be one of the greater waiver wire targets in the early weeks of the fantasy season.”

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts backfield produces the lowest fantasy total of any backfield this year. The Trent Richardson trade will go down as one of the worst in recent memory in the NFL. Richardson and Bradshaw have saved fantasy teams in the past but look for Pagano and the Colts to HEAVILY rely on that growing passing game.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Marqise Lee catches 5 TDs and is a top 35 WR. If you listen to our podcasts, you’ll know that I’ve been raving about this kid’s sleeper potential for weeks now. I think Chad Henne is out by week 4 or 5 and Bortles and Lee create a nice chemistry. Between Lee’s preseason, and the new look Jags offense, I like an offensive weapon to emerge as a legitimate NFL threat. Might as well be Marqise.

Kansas City Chiefs: from co-writer Nick Schreck - “Travis Kelce is a top 5 Tight End after being undrafted in 2014 fantasy drafts and becomes a waiver wire savior. Starting in week 1 the Chiefs are without Dwayne Bowe, which means the Chiefs need guys to catch the ball. There are no other fantasy receivers on the team that warrant consideration and Anthony Fasano isn't a roadblock to playing time. Andy Reid loves the passing game, Alex Smith loves throwing between the hashes and Travis Kelce has already shown flashes of talent. With Smith showing in the second half of 2013 that he could step up, by throwing 16 touchdowns in his last 6 games and more than 280 yards in the air 4 of those times, he needs someone to throw to. It won't be all Charles and Bowe hasn't proven much. Kelce won't finish one or two (if Gronk is healthy), but a finish in the top 5 is absolutely in reach. Don't sleep on Travis Kelce.

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill is a top 10 QB without the help of Mike Wallace. I like the new look Dolphins, and I trust Tannehill’s talent and progression. Again, if you’ve listened to the podcasts you’ve heard me rant about Wallace’s inconsistency. I hate him. I hate him more than DeSean Jackson. I turned being “Mike Wallace’d” into a fantasy insult. Despite all this, I like Hartline, Clay, and the running game to all bounce back and improve this year, resulting in Tannehill emerging as a top talent in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings: From co-writer Nick WalshGreg Jennings finishes as a top 20 receiver. If Matt Cassell  is the quarterback, Jennings will get targets. Sure, Cordarelle Patterson is the exciting name, but people are counting Jennings out a little too quickly. I’d expect a thousand yard season and a handful of touchdowns to go with it.

New England Patriots: Shane Vereen finishes as a top 10 back in all formats. In the confusing, crowded Patriots backfield, Vereen is the only RB that fully has the trust of grumpy Belichick. With an injured campaign interrupting his production last season, look for Vereen to bounce back and also get many more rushing attempts as well. He’s more than doubled the snap count of the next highest used back this preseason in NE and I anticipate him returning to his “high floor low ceiling” reputation (at least 9 points in 5 of 8 games last season.)

New Orleans Saints: From co-writer Vinny Gonzalez  - “Brandin Cooks will be the Tavon Austin of this year AND Austin will post the better numbers of the two in 2014.  It isn't outrageous to expect the same fate of Cooks as Austin from last year.  Undersized wideout?  Explosive speed!?  In the words of Zapp Branigan, "I'm seeing double!"  Cooks is inheriting a much better offense than Austin did in 2013 but how many times have we seen a Saints wide receiver have crazy good games and then disappear?  Answer: all the time.  I know that most of the fantasy community was up on Cooks leading up to drafts but I would advise that owners temper their expectations as he is most likely going to be a very inconsistent play from week to week.  In regards to Austin posting the better numbers this year I just think the Rams will need to get the guy involved as much as humanly possible since Bradford is now lost for the season.  They need offensive firepower in anyway they can find it.  Also, a year of NFL experience under his belt could hurt either. “

New York Giants: Rueben Randle has a better fantasy year than Victor Cruz and is in the top 25 of WRs. I think Randle’s undervalued this year. The Giants offense should still be lame, but you know they will throw. I wouldn’t be surprised if Randle caught 9 TDs. He caught 6 last year, but I like Randle to emerge as the number one red zone threat for Manning

New York Jets: Eric Decker leads the NFL in targets/Chris Ivory is a top 25 RB. The Decker one isn’t that crazy since the Jets will throw and they don’t have many options. I believe in Ivory’s talent and thought he was greatly undervalued this year. I think he fits Ryan’s style better and that the Jets will love him in the red zone.

Oakland Raiders: From co-writer Nick Walsh - “Latavius Murray finishes as a top 20 RB. McFadden has an injury history. MJD is aging, if both were to go down, or be ineffective, Murray could be in line for a lot of touches. The UCF product ain’t no slouch either. His college career and preseason has shown he has the skillset to succeed at the next level.”

Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz emerges as a top 5 fantasy TE. Towards the end of the season, Ertz got a large increase in work, especially in the red zone. The presence of Brent Celek is concerning, but the Eagle fast paced offense and frequent two Tight End sets should prove fruitful for Ertz. Could see 7-8 TDs.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Markus Wheaton catches 7 TDs and finishes 25 spots ahead of his ADP. Another young talent I like. Replacing Sanders in that passing game, you know he will get targets from Big Ben. Antonio Brown will get a lot of attention from top CBs and I anticipate Wheaton reaping the benefits in a breakout year. Roethlisberger’s projected to throw around 27 TDs, and remember, there’s about 10 from ex Steeler Jerricho Cotchery? to go around.

San Diego Chargers: Donald Brown is second most productive RB in the AFC West this season. I see Donald Brown as a potential goal line monster. He scored 6 TDs last season in limited work and for some reason the third RB on the Chargers is always successful? If an injury prone Ryan Mathews were to go down or fumble too much again, Donald Brown has proven that he can be a usable, starting running back in fantasy AND real football (which we don’t care too much about). I’d like to see what Brown can do with a steady workload.

Seattle Seahawks: Percy Harvin plays 16 games and is a top 5 WR. They use him in the backfield, there’s no other legitimate receiving threat in Seattle. The 11 touches in the season opener is extremely encouraging. Harvin’s main concern is health. He fits Pete Carroll’s slow tempo, clock managing style. If Harvin is healthy, He will be fed.

St. Louis Rams: Zac Stacy finishes 15 spots below his ADP (11 among RBs) and only 5 spots above Benny Cunningham. Forget Tre Mason, Cunningham will be effective in the St. Louis backfield. The NFC West defenses scare me and Stacy is overall, unproven. With Shaun Hill and an “eh” receiving corps, I’m not sure the Rams can produce the numbers fantasy owners expect from Stacy, despite his 2013 effort of 7 Tds in 12 games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin finishes the season as a top 3 fantasy back and surpasses his rookie numbers. Sure, I think Martin getting 1900 yards and 11 scores is not a gimme, but I believe McCown and Lovie Smith bring a new consistency to Tampa this season. If Martin can stay healthy, he certainly has the talent to be one of the top backs in the NFL this season.

Tennessee Titans: From co-writer Nick Walsh Jake Locker finishes as a top-10 quarterback. Before he got hurt, Locker was actually having a decent fantasy season. With a full season, a more seasoned Justin Hunter, and underrated rushing ability, Locker very well could become a fantasy stud. He’s a great play against bottom-half passing defenses, and he’s got the potential to evolve into a viable every-week starter.

Washington Redskins: DeSean Jackson catches less than 3 TDs and finishes outside the top 35 at WR. Never trusted Jackson’s boom or bust production, and when he finally finds a consistent offense in Philly, he ships out to an always unstable Washington offense where there’s question marks and a better WR (Garcon). I don’t own DeSean in any leagues this year and think he is a HUGE bust candidate if RGIII doesn’t click with him early.

Predicting the Unpredictable

Well there ya have it friends; some crazy predictions for fantasy football this year. When they all come true I expect a bevy of complimentary emails and cool gifts. As of right now, I CANNOT BE PROVEN WRONG!! But please don’t go out and pick up Bryce Brown or drop Victor Cruz based on these outlandish predictions. Think my picks are way too bold, or not bold enough? Let me know! We love talking fantasy here at Let's Talk Fantasy Football.

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Matt Rodgers

Matt Rodgers

Sr. Fantasy Analyst at Let's Talk Fantasy Football
New Jersey Packers fan living in Hoboken. Fantasy football is a way of life and makes Sundays the greatest day of the week. I will lie to you during trade talks
Matt Rodgers