The Fantasy Fox details his second listing of the Top 100 Playmakers For 2014, a countdown that relies heavily on running backs in the first 12 picks.
Cam Newton (far left -- 3,964 total yards, 30 TDs last year), Montee Ball (second from left -- the Broncos' likely starter), tight end Rob Gronkowski (second from right -- 39 TDs from 2010-12) and Matt Forte (far right -- 1,933 total yards, 12 TDs) are all primed for big campaigns in 2014.
Sam Sharpe/Ron Chenoy/Stew Milne/Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports
By Jay Clemons
Here's our 2.0 version of the Top 100 Fantasy Playmakers For 2014 -- a countdown that intentionally minimizes the fantasy impact of kickers and defense/special teams. For now.
1. It's crazy to expect Jamaal Charles (1,980 total yards) to replicate last year's 19 touchdowns, considering he had only 24 scores from 2008-12. But he's still a viable candidate for double-digit scores ... and maybe 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
2. The odds of Peyton Manning matching or eclipsing last season's tallies with passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) are astronomically long, factoring in the Broncos' difficult schedule (four games vs. NFC West, four against AFC East, etc.).
That aside, he's still no worse than the No. 3 overall pick -- even if your league awards only four points per touchdown pass.
3. Eddie Lacy (1,435 total yards, 11 TDs) logged 17 or more touches 11 times last season -- a superb number for a rookie back in a pass-first offense. Year 2 could yield a bump in touchdowns.
4. Matt Forte (1,933 total yards) remains a no-brainer Round 1 pick for Points Per Reception leagues, but University of Arizona tailback Ka'Deem Carey (2,058 total yards, 20 TDs for 2013) could potentially cut into the fantasy star's overall chances in 2014.
Of course, of his last seven games -- including a 157-yard, three-TD explosion against the Packers -- Forte (363 touches last year) racked up 100-plus total yards six times.
5. Arian Foster (725 total yards, two TDs) is a risky pick at 18th overall; but heading into his age-28 season, the Texans dynamo has earned the benefit of the doubt here.
Here's why: Against the Seahawks, 49ers and Rams last year (three straight weeks) -- before going down with a substantial back injury -- Foster notched 487 total yards and one TD.
After all, Newton still has Greg Olsen at tight end, and last year's receivers (inclding Steve Smith -- 64 catches, 745 yards, four TDs) were mediocre, at best.
In other words, what kind of dip are we looking at? Will there even be a drop-off for Newton, who has averaged 31.7 touchdowns per season in the pros?
4. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be ranked in the top 30 overall come August, if he's a viable candidate to play against either Miami (Week 1) or Minnesota (Week 2). In the meantime, mid-40s seems fair.
5. Let's take the positive from Steven Jackson's injury-plagued first year with the Falcons (734 total yards, seven TDs): In his final six games, Jackson logged 16 or more touches in each outing ... and collected six total touchdowns in that span.
1. Ben Tate's quality ranking stems from the Browns presumably going without Josh Gordon (the NFL's leading receiver last year) for the entire season. They need someone to fill the interminable time gap between Cleveland's first game ... and Johnny Manziel's first pro start.
It also helps that memories of Tate's 102-yard, three-TD demolition of the Patriots (last December) remains fresh in the mind.
2. Last season, Bears quarterbacks Jay Cutler (2,621 yards passing, 19 TDs in 11 starts) and Josh McCown combined for 4,450 yards passing and 32 TDs.
So, there's a chance that both Cutler and McCown (now the starter in Tampa Bay) are being undervalued for this countdown. Perhaps things will change in August.
3. I'll gladly take Ray Rice (981 total yards, four TDs last year) in Round 8 or 9 in standard-scoring and PPR drafts -- preferably as a RB4.
On the field, Rice has earned the right to escape criticism from one bad season. Off the field, he'll undoubtedly walk a straight-and-narrow path, given that high-profile transgression with his then-girlfriend/now-wife in Vegas.
4. Titans tailback Bishop Sankey draws the highest ranking of any rookie playmaker -- the dual result of his immense talent (LeSean McCoy clone) ... and Tennessee needing a home-run, full-time back to take the place of the departed Chris Johnson (now with the Jets).
5. Speaking of the Titans ... wide receiver Kendall Wright (94 catches, 1,079 yards, two TDs) is an easy Round 5 pick for PPR leagues. But Wright (93 targets in his final 10 outings) will have to sing for his proverbial supper in standard-scoring leagues.
3. I will be shocked if Mike Wallace (73 catches, 930 yards, five TDs last year) doesn't rebound for 85 catches and/or 1,000 yards with the Dolphins. He posted seven outings of double-digit targets ... and scored four times in the final six games.
4. Knowshon Moreno (1,586 total yards, 13 TDs last year/offseason arthroscopic knee surgery) might have garnered a higher ranking with any other NFL team.
But the Dolphins are still a major work-in- progress along the offensive line -- even with the high-round draft selections of Ju'Wuan James (Round 1) and Billy Turner (Round 3).