Drew Brees now has the cache to shake his fist at Roger Goodell and make Pepsi commercials with One Direction.
Despite the distractions, Brees maintains his dominance on the field once again this season.
Primary target tight end Jimmy Graham returns to form after being injured most of last year. Brees has enough returning pass-catchers to crack 5000+ yards and 40+ touchdowns for the third consecutive year.
The New Orleans defense is soft, and this should contribute to some shootouts in the Bayou.
Peyton Manning returned to machine-like form after regaining his arm strength early last season. He has enough left in the tank to put up similar numbers this season if not a little better, now that he’s settled in.
Like New Orleans, Denver may be chasing in some games due to the loss of a couple of key defenders.
Brees and Manning can easily function as first-round draft picks for owners willing to go with “fresh legs” at running back in later rounds.
Giselle will likely be more of a Joe Sixpack fantasy than Tom Brady this year.
Brady will drop a notch fantasy-wise, lacking seasoned weaponry on the outside and playing small ball, while handing off in the Red Zone. Danny Amendola tries to fill in for Wes Welker, but will be forced to a No. 1 wide receiver role, when he is best suited as the slot.
Expect defenses to start to crowd the smaller Patriot receiving corp without an experienced and respected wide out to stretch the field. Following a first week cakewalk in Buffalo, New England scoring should be down in general this season.
Aaron Rodgers has been increasingly under defensive pressure the past two seasons, and this has lead to frustration and tension on the offense. Green Bay lost their starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga in the preseason, complicating matters more.
With WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb nursing injuries to open the season, the smart money is on Rodgers to continue trending downward. Some in-the-know pundits have Rodgers ranked as low as seventh in the QB ratings.
I’m going to buck that trend and say Rodgers has a stellar season and finishes just behind Drew Brees in the QB ratings. Rodgers is just two years removed from having one of the best seasons in NFL history, and he looks like the second coming of Joe Montana.
To all the haters: Here’s 40+ Discount Double Checks in your face with a vengeance.
Matt Ryan has become more of a solid and dependable player than a superstar, as most have hoped.
He seems to have hit his ceiling despite having the best receiving corps in the NFL. Those who go RB first round in their fantasy drafts will be looking for Ryan to complement their teams in rounds 4-5.
Cam Newton is expected to turn things around after a modest sophomore slump last year.
Newton’s re-ascension depends largely on his legs and the legs of WR Steve Smith, who also had a down year in 2012-13. Smith’s age should give modest pause to those expecting improvement in Carolina.
WR Brandon LaFell can muscle into the red zone, but he won’t reach the upper echelon of wide outs. And the Panthers have the worst strength-of-schedule rating in the NFL this season.
A trio of second year players are expected to move into the top-10 QBs this year.
Russell Wilson performed very well in the second half of the 2012-13 season, once Pete Carroll removed the training wheels. Wilson lacks a standout WR with Percy Harvin shelved for a minimum of 6 games—and probably longer.
Sidney Rice has never regained form after his injury two years past.
Golden Tate is the go-to guy, and his ceiling is likely in the Decker/Jordy Nelson neighborhood.
Bad Boy Colin Kaepernick has been a popular reach in a plurality of fantasy circles.
He brings a half-season of above-average performance into the 2013-14 season. With No. 1 WR Michael Crabtree out and Vernon Davis slumping under Kaep’s leadership, a lot is going to be asked of new acquisition Anquan Boldin.
With an aging Frank Gore, this SF offense might be in a bit of trouble this year.
I’m leaning toward regression for Kaep similar to Cam Newton’s modest falloff last year.
Andrew Luck will once again try his...luck after performing well during a super-soft NFL schedule last season.
Reggie Wayne (200+ targets last year) is nearing his AARP qualification.
If T.Y. Hilton lives up to hype and expectations, he might don a blond wig and do a trendy pornographic video.
Seriously, this one could go either way. Luck could continue to move forward while racking up yardage playing from behind in many more games this year. Or he could regress and throw a bunch more pick-sixes (which he is prone to do despite his prowess).
Robert Griffin III is my pick of the second year QBs.
RGIII is not listed in the top 10 of most ADP QB lists. The shadow of doubt surrounds him much the same way it did Peyton Manning last season.
I expect RGIII to shine and outperform all of his sophomore classmates.
Just behind the young upstarts are a collection of veterans looking to prove they are still fantasy worthy.
Tony Romo is years removed from the Jessica Simpson debacle and the botched snap that helped label him as a choker with a weak pedigree. He has yet to dodge that perception, as the Dallas team continues to resemble somewhat of a circus with ring leader Jerry Jones.
The sound and precise persona of head coach Jason Garrett has yet to rub off on the team.
Nonetheless, the skill players—including a maturing Dez Bryant—are there to propel Romo into the top-five fantasy QB performers.
Michael Vick should get some fantasy love in Chip Kelly’s new system.
However this is a dangerous proposition, as Vick will be toting the rock more on the aging, brittle legs that sidelined him last year.
Rex Ryan is an old hat, and Kelly’s Corner is the place to be. There is great anticipation for the clicking cue cards and the multiplicity of uniform combinations.
However, like the impending extinction of Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Eagles could go pterodactyl in a hurry if they underperform. Their defense was the tar pits last season, so I wouldn’t expect a complete form reversal despite the evolution of the new Kelly regime.
Matthew Stafford and Detroit look to rebound from an abysmal 2012-13 season.
The Lions’ organization has a long history of poor head coaching choices, and Jim Schwartz fits that Motor City mold.
The team is undisciplined on both sides of the ball.
Reggie Bush could help the passing game if he can stay upright on the turf. Stafford has a bit of an injury history, and there is pressure on this team to perform. The only saving grace is Detroit’s worst strength of schedule last season. I don’t like the algorithm here.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for looking past Stafford in their fantasy drafts.
“Provocative” QB ADP Top 20
1. Drew Brees
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Peyton Manning
4. Tom Brady
5. Matt Ryan
6. Tony Romo
7. Robert Griffin III
9. Andrew Luck
10. Cam Newton
11. Russell Wilson
12. Matthew Stafford
13. Eli Manning
14. Colin Kaepernick
15. Andy Dalton
16. Michael Vick
17. Ryan Tannehill
18. Philip Rivers
19. Joe Flacco