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.
2. Montee Ball (704 total yards, four TDs on just 140 touches last year) has a clear path to fantasy greatness with the Broncos — in the neighborhood of 1,200 total yards.
But let’s hold off on deifying him as a shoo-in for double-digit touchdowns — like Knowshon Moreno from last year.
3. On paper, the Panthers’ wideout corps of Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina’s Round 1 draft pick), Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, Tavarres King and Tiquan Underwood looks brutal. But in respect to the fantasy prowess of QB Cam Newton (3,964 total yards, 30 TDs) … does that really matter?
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.
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).
2. Love the Jaguars’ draft from the weekend (QB Blake Bortles, WR Marqise Lee, WR Allen Robinson, RB Storm Johnson) … loathe that Toby Gerhart remains Jacksonville’s top rushing option (on paper).
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.