Even though he’s a rookie, he has a level of maturity that both Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno lack, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he will be Denver’s RB1 come September 5th. He put up huge numbers in his college career at Wisconsin, and has been tearing it up since high school. His traditional style will fit right into Peyton Manning’s offense.
Ahmad Bradshaw has left the big apple, and David Wilson has some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, anyone who was paying attention last season knows what an explosive runner Wilson can be. The Giants have a tough schedule this year – going up against a lot of defenses that are strong against the pass, so they’re going to have to get their ground game going. Summer training should get Wilson to a maturity level that will make him unstoppable this season, provided he can get along with Coughlin. I expect big things from him.
It looks like both NY teams are going to have a difficult time passing this season – all of the Jets’ receivers are hurt (and even if they were healthy, they’re not exactly a strong corps to start). Even with the committee-style running back situation in New Orleans, Chris Ivory put up pretty respectable numbers. Now that he’s the lone RB1, and will probably be the Jets’ “star” player – his fantasy value should be through the roof. Snag him if you get the chance – he’s got the potential to make all of his carries pay off in a big way.
Sleeper Wide Receivers
Probably the most underrated player in the NFL right now. If you had him at the end of last year, he paid dividends for you. If you didn’t pick him up, don’t make the same mistake this year. The fact that he relies on Philip Rivers does give me a moment of pause, but Danario’s athleticism and dexterity more than make up for what his QB lacks. Also, the Chargers are short on offensive weapons this year. Ryan Mathews isn’t what he used to be, so the Chargers will have to take to the air early and often (not too mention they’ll probably be playing from behind most games). Danario has WR1 written all over him.
Yet another rookie that should make a splash his first year in the league. Houston has been searching for a WR to play opposite Andre Johnson for years now, and they finally found it in DeAndre Hopkins. Johnson puts up respectable numbers each year because he’s been the Texans’ only legitimate receiver – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hopkins overtake him by the year’s end in terms of performance. These two could be the Julio Jones/Roddy White of this season.
The entire Packers’ receiving corps is strong this year, and with the departure of Greg Jennings, the big 3 (Jones, Cobb, and Nelson) will rack up the yardage. Our analysis shows that Jones has the biggest potential for growth, and it wouldn’t surprise us if he ends up as a top-10 WR in 2013.
Jennings left the Packers and Boldin left the Ravens. This gives a huge boost to Torrey Smith. With Ray Rice, Baltimore definitely has a strong ground game, but now that Smith is the undisputed WR1, his numbers should increase significantly from last year. He’s a solid WR2 in fantasy value.
Amendola has always been a strong player if he can stay healthy. This year he gets the added benefit of having Tom Brady throw to him. Think of him as Wes Welker 2.0.
Shorts will again pretty much be a dumping ground for Gabbert or Henne. Justin Blackmon has been pretty lackluster, leaving Shorts as the only viable option. MJD can’t get beat up on every play, so the receptions should be there for Shorts, and he has the skill to make the most of them.
The QB situation in Arizona is finally improving. A lot of focus has been on what an asset Carson Palmer will be to Larry Fitzgerald, but Andre Roberts should also see a nice bump in value. I’m not expecting big things from Mendenhall this year, so Arizona will definitely be a pass-first offense.
Sleeper Tight Ends
With Wallace gone, Miller will be an even bigger target for Big Ben. He’s a solid player and should put up Tony Gonzalez-type stats this year. A solid value pick at TE.