A new year of fantasy football dawns on some when their drunken August redraft rolls around at their local bars. Some actually study up with the air conditioning cranked during July. Many dynasty owners find themselves in a pinch when their rookie drafts heat up in June. The select few who never stop watching and reviewing their prospects for the upcoming season see the cyclical news being thrown at the masses year after year; they hear the terms ‘sleepers’ and ‘busts’. Average fantasy joe picks up X magazine or reads a certain four-letter website blurb on these subjects and thinks “Man, I see that, I knew there was a reason not to draft that guy.” This is fantasy trend. I urge you to think past publications with cookie-cutter formats and do your research. This $70 billion industry begins and ends with your decisions as an owner and how you read and react to the NFL. It’s personnel and situations like injuries and suspensions that arise. You are an individual and you should treat your team as such.
Busts are common. They are a direct reaction to the fantasy community buying into hype that is getting spun by common news sources. These sources often are looking at stats that don’t reflect coaching changes, personnel moves, and upcoming schedules. This year’s popular “Busts” have some substance, but again, I urge you to look past the way many determine these lists and make your own opinion.
The more you hear the words: “Chris Johnson is overrated,” take note. These words are echoed throughout football. Understand that this man is one of the fastest, most explosive players in football and moves to New York behind one of the best run blocking offensive lines in the game. In six years of service, Johnson has yet to rush for less than 1,000 yards and is capable of getting close to that with a backfield that includes bangers Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, as well as change-of-pace back Daryl Richardson (who may or may not make the final roster). All of these players will help keep what was one of the most electrifying backs in the game fresh. Yes, ‘CJ2k’ has lost a step, but this stable of runners should bracket Johnson for 12-18 carries a game. Beyond the data, this might be the ticket to extending Johnson’s career and drawing the best performance, week after week.
Nobody is hyping Johnson: his career yardage and circumstance firmly plant him in a sleeper role while many talk about him like he will be a bust. His situation in New York is favorable because nothing outstanding is expected of him and the scheme and players around him are already geared for him to succeed.
2014 Projection: 210 Car. 987 Yds. 9 TDs, 40 Rec. 421 Rec Yds. 3 Rec TD
Ray Rice’s indictment on aggravated assault will certainly not carry any substantial jail time for the former Pro Bowler, but he will miss 4-6 games this year and will possibly find himself behind Bernard Pierce as the lead back in Baltimore. Nothing to ‘like’ necessarily about those muddy circumstances, but with a new offensive coordinator in Kubiak and extra time to heal and ideally get back to the player we knew prior to 2013, we might just find a light at the end of the tunnel for Rice, who is only 27. Beyond Pierce, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Cierre Wood and Fitzgerald Toussaint, he probably don’t stand a chance of taking a whole lot of opportunities from the diminutive Rutgers alum when he gets back in week five or seven. Everybody knows of Rice’s uber-public humiliation and will be attempting to draft him accordingly. Understand that he has plenty in his tank and will be looking to gain traction quickly within the Ravens’ run scheme.
2014 Projection: 195 Car. 888 Yds. 7 TDs, 55 Rec. 402 Rec Yds. 4 Rec TD.
The Seahawks are still on cloud nine. Winning their first Super Bowl trophy has yet to hit the hangover period. Somehow nobody has uttered the word ‘Repeat’ this offseason. Let me do that for you. This repeat cannot happen without Marshawn Lynch having another outstanding year. Marshawn had more carries than any other running back last year (Including playoffs) and has carried the ball over 1,000 times in the past three seasons. His yards-per-carry did go down at the end of last season and he is looking like a trendy “draft with caution” candidate for 2014, especially after recent talk of possible post-Super Bowl retirement surfaced.
Lynch and his Skittles will be back. He may have taken some heavy punishment the last couple of years and may not have six years left, but he should have at least three good ones. His downgrade in production was purely based on defenses cueing on the running game spending the clock when down. This retirement talk is pure contract leverage, as Lynch is angling for that post-Super Bowl contract that makes it so hard for teams to repeat in the salary cap era. Marshawn will be effective and focused on winning another shiny trophy with plenty of backs (Christine Michael and Robert Turbin) ready to rotate.
2014 Projection: 263 Car. 1285 Yds. 12 TDs
The Detroit Lions are perennial trendy picks to buck their disappointing ways and make their way past the NFC North. Reggie Bush’s involvement was supposed to put them over the top last year. While he had flashes early on, Bush sputtered as the season went on and was occasionally benched for fumbles. His impact on PPR leagues was there, but he was sharing too many carries with Joique Bell for his owners to truly enjoy his assets.
This year the experts are calling for even more decline and a loss of targets with the inclusion of tight end Eric Ebron and the evolution of the Lions’ passing game with former Seahawk Golden Tate. Bush will buck any and all trends with a successful adaptation to the new offense installed by Jim Caldwell, which should make the most of Bush’s pass catching and dynamic cut abilities. Bell will find his carries in the red zone while Bush handles something around 65% of the snaps and 80% of the backfield targets. A healthy campaign and thorough shelling of the division will result in quite a year and a positive outlook in a new offense for the former Heisman award winner.
2014 Projection: 220 Car. 1115 Yds. 7 TDs, 55 Rec. 650 Yds. 4 Rec. TDs
Many will tell you that coming off a career year into a brand-new team with a newly minted coach and system is a recipe for disaster. After what was a series of misunderstandings and hearsay, DeSean Jackson was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles for having possible gang affiliation. In the post-Aaron Hernandez era, the Eagles felt they were saving face. In reality, cutting the most talented player on their roster outside of LeSean McCoy was a heavy-handed farce. Jackson will be the player he was last year and then some. Revenge will be clear and executable by way of cutting a swath through the NFC East and especially the Eagles’ defense. This year, DeSean will find an equal across the field from him in Pierre Garcon, who will split attention like no one he played with in Philadelphia. Robert Griffin III should be airing it out behind an improved, experienced offensive line on his quest to shed his own ‘bust’ label. This year’s Redskins have all the makings of something special on offense and DeSean Jackson is no exception.
2014 Projections: 72 Rec. 1120 Rec. Yds. 8 TDs
Taking account of player reputations is important for choosing your fantasy team, but please understand that the word ‘Bust’ is thrown around because most experts don’t favor some teams, players, and roster situations and have to find a scapegoat to illustrate their point. Please proceed with caution when reading ‘The ones in the know’, taking information into account and formulate your own opinion based on your own findings.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio will continue every Monday from 1-2pm EST. We will wrap up the N.L. side of the amateur draft with Bryan Luhrs as well as discuss some players to sell with Bryan Robinson. Use this link for the June 23rd show.
We will be starting the baseball show a half hour early on Monday the 30th of June at 12:30pm – 1:30pm so we can accommodate a featured guest. You will want to tune in for Phil Weiss. He is a financial expert, has been on numerous TV shows, is a Major League Fantasy Baseball owner, youth baseball coach, and is a sabermetric expert.