Starting today (January 17th) a new position will come out every week with the top 10 at that position. Feel free to leave comments on what you agree with or do not agree with about that list. This list was not solely created by myself, I discussed with many people. The most input taken into account next to my own came from the man who taught me most about fantasy football.
By Dylan A. Morton
1. Aaron Rodgers– When healthy its hard to argue that Rodgers is not the best in the world at his profession. Green Bay will definitely look to address its offensive line issues in the draft to keep their number one man healthy for all 16 games. If they can address said issues, Rodgers will go back to his old ways, an extremely productive QB in his prime.
2. Peyton Manning– The sheriff reigned supreme over his league in 2013. Its amazing to think that after 4 neck surgeries Manning had his best statistical year in 2013. Almost equally as amazing, Manning had his incredible season at the age of 37. If it were up to Manning, he would have exchanged a 30 TD 10 INT season for another super bowl ring.
3. Drew Brees– If Brees played every game in New Orleans he would be # 1 by a long shot. He really struggles on the road especially with turnovers. Brees “struggles” still make for a top QB because he more than makes up for it in yards and his stellar play at home.
4. Cam Newton – “SuperCam” brought his A game in 2013 and surprise surprise his team made it to the playoffs. Look for Newton to become even more of a duel threat in 2014 and if he can do that 2015 might see Newton’s name in the top 2 or see him leap frog his divisional foe Brees.
5. Russell Wilson– Most people do not agree with this pick but lets take a look at some stats. Only two QB’s have thrown more touchdowns in their first two seasons than Wilson (Peyton Manning & Dan Marino). He has proven that he is not going to turn the ball over (his second season in a row with less than 10 INTS). That coupled with his running ability and a third year to get comfortable in the NFL is the recipe for Wilson’s place at number 5 on this list. Oh he’s also a Super Bowl winning QB.
6. Andrew Luck – Luck has been everything the Colts have asked him to be. His play has helped them win their first of what could be many division titles with him under center. Like his draft pick number eventually he could be number one in fantasy football as far as QB’s are concerned. In 2013, Luck really focused on limiting the turnovers from his rookie season and he succeeded in that mission cutting his INT’s in half from 18 to 9.
7. Tony Romo- For all the talk about his late game performance Romo is just about shoe in for 30 TD’s every year. Romo has recently undergone his back surgery and argument can be made he does not deserve his #7 ranking but he has been too consistent for too long not to be in the top 10.
8. Matt Stafford- Matt Stafford is one of just four QB’s to throw for 5,000 yards in one season. He has the best wide receiver on the planet to throw to. He almost cracked 30 TD’s in 2013 in which he finished with 29. But the 2013 season saw Stafford throw his most INT’s (19) since his rookie year in 2009. He will have to adjust to a new system with coach Jim Caldwell but as long as Megatron is there Stafford can look forward to a great season.
9. Philip Rivers – Lets call 2013 the Renaissance of Philip Rivers . What a difference a year and a head coach makes. He deservedly won Come Back Player of The Year. In 2013 Rivers added 6 to his passing TD total and reduced his INT total by 4. There is no question head coach Mike McCoy had an impact on Rivers success in 2013. Guess what McCoy will be back in 2014, so does this mean Rivers success will be back too? The short answer yes.
10. Matt Ryan- “Matty Ice” certainly was cold in 2013. Lack of weapons and a running game can be at fault for Ryan’s 2013 campaign. With Julio Jones and Roddy White back healthy, 2014 will see Ryan return to form. The reason he is not higher is the departure of one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the league, but nonetheless Ryan will be just fine.
Honorable Mention: Nick Foles, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton
Rookies to Watch: Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater
1. Calvin Johnson–As fans we can and should just sit and enjoy an incredible player at the top of his game in his prime. Calvin Johnson continues to amaze NFL fans with his ability on the football field. His TD production came back in 2013 with 12 after just 3 TD’s in a record breaking (yards wise ) 2012 campaign. He will continue to be the number #1 wide receiver until someone can pry this spot from Megatron’s hands. P.S. good luck with that.
2. AJ Green- Another solid season for AJ Green (98 receptions, 1,426 yards and 11 TD’s). Teams know he is getting the ball and still cannot stop him (lead all receivers with 180 targets). Giovanni Bernard took some of the pressure off of him in the passing game last season but Green is still the clear number 1 option and a nightmare for opposing defenses.
3. Demaryius Thomas- Thomas is playing with arguably the best quarterback to ever walk this earth. In his two seasons with Manning Thomas has showed that he can get it done. Even with Wes Welker’s presence Thomas production did not see as steep decline as some thought. Many thought Welker’s presence and emerging TE Julius Thomas would lead to less targets but his targets actually went up, granted it was only by 2 compared to 2012. With so many fish in the Bronco offense Thomas is still eating the most. Year 3 with Manning will reap some of the same results as year’s 1 and 2.
4. Julio Jones- Jones was one his way to having a great season in 2013, then he got injured. He is an extremely talented receiver and has taken over as the number one passing option for the Falcons. He possesses size and speed that make him virtually un-guardable (not sure that is a word but now it is).
5. Josh Gordon– Perhaps the hardest receiver to rank after his great 2013 season was Josh Gordon. At 23 years old Gordon lead the league in receiving yards (1,646 yards) and finished with 9 TD’s. Lets not forget he missed 2 games due to suspension!!! If he can fix his off the field problems he can make a very nice career for himself. Gordon proved that it did not matter who his quarterback was he was going to produce. He is a match up nightmare with his size and speed. He comes in at 5 because he has not proven he can keep this production over the course of multiple seasons (Braylon Edwards come to mind). Make no mistake if he can continue his success he may be greatest threat to Megatron’s perch at number 1.
6. Brandon Marshall– Marshall and Jay Cutler have become a formidable one two punch up in Chicago and earlier in Denver. This year Marshal finished with 100 receptions on 163 targets, 1,295 yards and 12 TD’s to make for a solid year. With emerging receiver Alshon Jeffery on the other side Marshall may have to “fight” for more touches in 2014 but he is still a supreme talent and a reliable option for Jay Cutler.
7. Antonio Brown– Quick who had more receiving yards than Antonio Brown this season?…. Answer only one person Josh Gordon. Brown had a great season in Pittsburgh to the tune of 110 receptions, 1,499 yards and 8 TD’s. Those are some big stats for a guy who checks in at 5’10 185 pounds. Unlike most of the guys on this list he is a bit smaller, which may or may lead to forgetting what a great 2013 he had. At just 25 years old he may not have reached his full potential, which is scary to think about.
8. Dez Bryant- Say what you want about Dez Bryant when he gets between the white lines he brings his A game week in and week out. As long as Tony Romo is ready to go in 2014 Bryant will continue to be a productive receiver and a WR 1in fantasy football. I worry however for Cowboy fans if Bryant has reached his ceiling.
9. Jordy Nelson– One of Aaron Rodgers most reliable targets Jordy Nelson checks in at 9 after a great 2013 season. His biggest problem was the health of the man tossing him the rock. Even with Rodgers out for a good portion of the season Nelson still managed this line : 85 catches, 1,314 yards and 8 touchdowns. Expect more of the same but probably more if Rodgers stays on the field in 2014.
10. Alshon Jeffery– The only team with two receivers in the top 10 belongs to the Chicago Bears. After playing in 10 games in 2012 Jeffery played his first full season in the NFL in 2013. He finished 2013 with 89 receptions on 150 targets 1,421 yards and 7 TD, not bad for the first full season. Alshon Jeffery proved at times last year he can be the number 1 threat in the Bears attack. 2014 will be his third year and that’s generally when receivers take off and put up great numbers even in 2013 Jeffery put up great numbers. Soon he could the number 1 threat permanently, but for now he sits at a close second to Brandon Marshall (in terms of pass options).
Honorable mention: Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson
Rookies To Watch: Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin
1. Jamaal Charles– Charles has to be #1 going into next year. His pass catching and big play ability make him almost impossible to keep out of the end zone on a weekly basis. Besides the year has gotten hurt he has put up great numbers in the pro’s. He finished 2013 with 1,287 rushing yards, good for 3rd in the league and he also tied for the league lead with 12 rushing TD’s. But he becomes a bigger asset in the passing game, he finished 2013 with 70 receptions for 693 yards and 7 TD’s.
2. LeSean McCoy– McCoy proved that a running back can succeed in Chip Kelly’s offense and boy did he ever. McCoy lead the league in rushing this year with 1,607 yards on the ground. When he is in open space defenders begin to shake in their cleats. McCoy is able catch passes out of backfield like Charles but does not have quite the same big play ability.
3. Adrian Peterson– There is no secret that running backs do not last long in the NFL. Adrian Peterson is the exception not the rule he has held up well injury wise and when he has gotten seriously injured he came back to put up 2,000 yards in a season. He is still an elite running back and belongs in the top 3. With that being said, he will have to get accustom to a new offense and possibly another quarterback. If AP doesn’t put up his usual numbers it wont be for physical reasons.
4. Matt Forte– This year Forte finished tied for 3rd amongst running backs with 74 catches out of the backfield. Forte had arguably his best season in his pro career this year. He finished second to LeSean McCoy in rushing with 1,339 yards. He nearly got to 10 rushing TD’s finishing the season with 9 TD’s on the ground. With Cutler back and another year in that offense Forte will again be a productive back.
5. Eddie Lacy – After a great rookie season an argument can be made that Lacy should be higher on the list. But just one season is not enough to over take the top 4. He finished off a great rookie campaign with 1,178 yards and 11TD and missed 2 games. Hopefully Aaron Rodgers can be healthy for a full season as that really helps Lacy’s development. If he puts up good numbers again next year in 2015 Lacy could see him in the top 3.
6. Marshawn Lynch– Another year, another Marshawn Lynch appearance in the top 10. Like Peterson, Lynch has had a lot of miles on his tires. Lynch is a tough runner who gives out punishment instead of taking it which is why he is so affective. He has greatly helped Russell Wilson giving the young Wilson a wonderful crutch. Look for him to continue to be the anchor of the Seattle offense in 2015.
7. Le’Veon Bell– This is perhaps the biggest risk of the running back group. However, I really liked what I saw out of Le’Veon Bell this season. Bell quietly had a pretty good rookie season overshadowed by Eddie Lacy’s great rookie campaign. With 45 catches in 2013, 2014 could see Bell catch a lot more passes making him a PPR dream. Like Lacy, Bell really has chance to ascend. His youth makes him great for keeper leagues. Eventually we could be writing about Bell and Lacy being much higher on this list.
8. DeMarco Murray– Murray’s biggest problem is the Cowboys refuse to give him the ball. That and injury concerns land him at 8.If he could ever stay healthy for a full season he has top 5 fantasy running back ability. But if he is an RB 1 he just simply cannot be trusted at this point to play a full season.
9. Ryan Matthews – The back the Chargers thought they were getting finally showed up in 2013. Matthews ended the season with 285 attempts for 1255 yards and 6 TD’s hopefully he follow up his good 2013 season with another one in 2014. His biggest problem is staying healthy if he can do that he will continue to produce in San Diego.
10. Arian Foster– I saw this coming before the season started. Foster had a lot of carries the previous couple of seasons even though he was still relatively productive for the short time he played. His body simply did not hold up, in 2014 he will be in a new offense so make note of that. He is still talented enough to return from back surgery and be productive again.
Honorable Mention: Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Chris Johnson,
Rookies to Watch: Tre Mason, Bishop Sankey