They told me he was the one. A slam dunk. He would take me to the promised land. They say you never forget the first person to break your heart, and I will never forget mine: CJ Spiller. Full of pride and confidence, I drafted him with the ninth pick. Visions of the 100-yard, 2 touchdown games promised by Matthew Berry flashed through my mind. I imagined the ecstasy of finally lifting the trophy that had eluded me for two years. Every expert had raved about Spiller’s speed and explosiveness. Every. Single. Expert. I had every reason to brag to my friends about the steal I got with this fantasy legend-to-be at ninth. I had every reason to spend the entire night yapping on and on about how CJ Spiller would burn them in the playoffs. Things didn’t quite work out this way.
The point is, fantasy football “experts” are not gods. They are just people who get paid to draw conclusions from the same set of facts to which you and I have access. Being a slave to expert rankings makes for boring, uncreative, and often unsuccessful fantasy football. Form your own opinions, take responsibility for your team, and bet on your own predictions. Here are mine:
Montee Ball will finish as a top five running back.
This one is first because I think it’s the least controversial. If you were one of the lucky few who had faith in Knowshon Moreno, you already know the potential that a starting running back in a Peyton Manning-led offense has. Montee Ball is primed for a breakout season; with more talent than Knowshon Moreno, he’s set to inherit the massive number of touches.
This is Jay Cutler’s year. He will finish as a top quarterback.
If you plug Jay Cutler into Marc Trestman’s pass-happy offense, you might just get the fantasy production of a top-five quarterback. Trestman’s offense has already revealed itself to be centered around the quarterback position, and in the toughest division in the NFL, they’ll need Cutler more than ever. Add that to the fact that Cutler will be throwing to two of the NFL’s top-ten wideouts in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and you have a recipe for an elite fantasy year.
Cordarelle Patterson will have a career year.
Norv Turner is the Minnesota Vikings’ new offensive coordinator. The last young wide receiver to have Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator was Josh Gordon, who happened to be the fantasy standout of the year in 2013. Look for Patterson to continue his success late last year, as he was on par with the league’s top wideouts during the last five weeks of the season.
Zac Stacy and LeVeon Bell will hit sophomore slumps that will keep them out of the top ten at the running back position.
Zac Stacy and Leveon Bell both had incredible seasons last year. They both finished as top running backs after beginning their respective seasons on the bench. But you know who else had a great rookie year? The forgotten Trent Richardson. Bell and Stacy, much like Richardson, are due for a significant sophomore slumps. Upon closer examination, their rookie seasons just aren’t what they seem. Zac Stacy averaged an abysmal 3.9 yards per carry and weeks where he took 10+ carries for less than 30 yards. He had four 100 yard games, but all of those were games where he had more than 25 carries. My interpretation? His success stops the second the Rams realize they can hand the ball to Tre Mason or Benny Cunningham. As for Bell, he had zero 20+ point fantasy games last season, and he’s got real competition in the backfield now. LeGarrette Blount looked great in last year’s playoffs, and looks primed to take carries away from Bell.