Looking Ahead To Fantasy Football 2014: Target Rueben Randle And Other Tips
Most fantasy leagues are already in the books by the time Week 17 rolls around, but you still have some options if you are fiending for a fix. There are Daily Fantasy Football contests on sites like DraftKings, Draftstreet and Star Fantasy Leagues, where you build a team under a salary cap. Then there is SKYLLZONE.com, which has a unique snake drafting twist on daily play. Check those out this weekend and check out these four risers and fallers in an early look at 2014.
Andrew Luck, Colts QB
While he is not going to top his impressive rookie yardage totals, Andrew Luck is having a fine sophomore season. He has improved his completion percentage, limited the turnovers and increased his rushing numbers. He was able to do all that with an inconsistent running game and the loss of Reggie Wayne. He will finish the season as a definite QB1 and has been a consistent week-to-week performer. There is even more upside to his game and he could very well end next season as the most valuable QB in fantasy. Look for the Colts to add a major weapon at WR this offseason, either through free agency or the draft. After Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, you can make a case that Andrew Luck should be the next QB off the board next summer. Keep an eye on his Average Draft position next summer, as he could be a value even in the early rounds.
Zac Stacy, Rams RB
Since being installed as the Rams starting RB 11 weeks ago, rookie Zac Stacy has been an every week starter. He has responded by carrying the load for the Rams and for fantasy owners. Heading into Week 17, he has 958 yards and 8 total TDs, along with another 22 receptions for 118 yards. Even when the matchup seems daunting, Stacy has persevered with a solid stat line. He basically is the Rams offense. With a healthy Sam Bradford and an improved receiving corp., Stacy could be in line for even bigger numbers in 2014. By the time summer hits, we could be talking about Stacy as a first round draft pick and certainly no less than a second rounder. If you can get him as your RB2, consider it a steal.
Rueben Randle, Giants WR
Playing behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, second-year WR Rueben Randle predictably had unreliable weekly numbers. He opened with a 100-yard game in Week 1 and had six TDs over a six-week span in October and early November. The potential is certainly there and in 2014 so will the opportunity. Nicks has likely punched his ticket out of town via free agency and that will elevate Randle into the starting lineup. If the Giants can improve their offensive line this spring and Eli Manning can get back to his less inconsistent self, there are going to be plenty of fantasy points to go around. Randle has Top 25 potential with his skill set. He will be no secret come draft time, but Randle can be had as a high-upside WR3.
Jordan Reed, Redskins TE
His season may have been cut short by a concussion, but Jordan Reed certainly made his presence felt. In nine games a rookie, Reed put up 499 yards, 45 catches and 3 TDs. It is not very often any rookie TE is productive enough to have a fantasy impact, but Reed was the rare exception. He showed an obvious rapport with Robert Griffin III and emerged as the second most reliable option in the passing game. His game is in the mold of Aaron Hernandez, who preceded him at Florida. He has the upside to be the most productive tight end outside of Jimmy Graham and a healthy Rob Gronkowski (no guarantee there). Draft him next year for his high ceiling, especially in PPR leagues.
Andy Dalton, Bengals QB
Much like Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton will finish the season with QB1 numbers. He has improved his yardage and TD totals in each of his three seasons. He is surrounded by playmaking weapons, two of whom have breakout potential in 2014 (Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert). Despite the elite options at his disposal and the impressive numbers, Dalton is not a starting QB you want to rely on. His game logs are a mixed bag of stud performances and mediocre weeks. When it comes time to prep for next season, keep in mind that the overall numbers do not tell the entire story. At best, Dalton is a back end QB1, but let someone else deal with the headache of having him as a starter.
Chris Johnson, Titans RB
There is a good chance that Chris Johnson is in another backfield next season, as he is a candidate for release from the Titans just a year after signing a lucrative contract. No question, CJ1K still has the juice to make big plays with the ball in his hands. However, his weekly numbers were hit or miss…at best. He will likely get over 1,000 yards for the fifth straight season, albeit with an unimpressive 3.8 yards per carry. His fantasy value was saved by an active role in the passing game, as he managed 39 receptions for 331 yards and 4 TDs through the air. The potential of a new uniform and a solid overall stat line could give his value a boost. Still, it would be best to let him be someone else’s problem in 2014.
Stevie Johnson, Bills WR
With a rookie QB under center and injuries slowing him down, Stevie Johnson will fall short of 1,000 yards for the first time since 2008. He had been the picture of fantasy consistency, lacking elite upside but putting up solid performances over the past three seasons. As EJ Manuel takes another step forward, Johnson will still be a viable asset worth having on your roster. With the potential emergence of other WRs such as Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, though, Johnson may not be the target hog that led to three straight 76+ catch seasons. He peaked as a WR2, but he will barely be in the Top 40 discussion next summer. Consider him a low-end WR3.
Antonio Gates, Chargers TE
There are a number of factors that have Antonio Gates’ arrow pointing down in 2014. Despite nagging injuries at age 33, Gates turned in another Top 10 season, with 73 catches for 841 yards and three TDs. He has been a focal point of the Chargers offense for almost a decade, but the tide is changing in San Diego. Keenan Allen has emerged as a legit go-to receiving option and Ladarius Green has gone from raw prospect to potential monster TE. Expect the latter to get more involved next season. At the very least, we can expect Gates to slow down a bit more and the chance that he could fall off quickly. All that adds up to a draft day risk. Take a pass on Gates in 2014 and go for upside with someone like Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz in the next couple rounds.
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