Fantasy Football: 10 Bold Predictions for 2014 (PPR)

1. Peyton Manning will NOT finish as the #1 QB in fantasy:
This has to be a typo, right? Wrong. Peyton Manning is criminally overrated entering this season. He loses Eric Decker and gains Emmanuel Sanders, which is a clear downgrade. He’s one year older and I’m curious as to how much longer his neck can hold up enough for him to play. Denver will have the 3rd most difficult schedule, according to FFToolbox’s strength of schedule calculator.

2. Joique Bell will score more fantasy points than teammate Reggie Bush:
Reggie Bush (14th at RB) is being drafted over Joique Bell (24th at RB) in PPR formats thus  despite Bell’s breakout 2013. Reggie Bush has missed 23 games in 8 seasons and has only played 16 games per year twice. Bell is younger, a better receiver, and isn’t the health risk that Bush is.

3. Eric Decker will have more success in New York than Emmanuel Sanders will in Denver:
The most common “unspoken rule” I’ve learned from fantasy football over the years is that anyone who plays with Peyton Manning usually gets an automatic boost. However, as I noted in my WR ranks, Decker is the more talented receiver and is the go-to-guy for his new squad. Sanders will likely wind up as the team’s 4th or 5th option in New York’s passing game. In New York, Decker is undoubtedly and unequivocally the #1 option in their passing game. He is a WR who can play the ball deep but can also catch passes over the middle of the field. I’d be much more comfortable with Decker as my WR3 than Sanders. Decker has the talent and opportunity to become a WR2 while Sanders’ ceiling is most likely stuck on WR3 avenue.

4. Charles, not Shady McCoy will finish as the #1 RB in PPR:
I’m not sure why I have to make this a bold statement because Charles finished last year as the #1 RB in PPR by 45 points. There is nothing that would suggest that Charles is going to see any decrease in touches this season as Kansas City did basically nothing to shake up their offense. However, the Eagles added PPR monster Darren Sproles who figures to eat into some of Shady’s production. So the question is: why are fantasy owners saying McCoy will have a better year than Charles? And the answer to that is: no freakin’ clue. Charles had 104 targets last season, while McCoy had wait for it; 64! That should only decrease with the addition of the former Saints’ speedster. Sure, the Eagles lost Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson, but with Sproles in town along breakout candidate Zach Ertz, McCoy’s arrow seems to be pointing down.

5. Jason Witten will outperform Julius Thomas in 2014:
Last season, Jason Witten had more receptions and yards than Denver’s Julius Thomas. He only finished 9 points behind Thomas and that was because Thomas had 4 more scores. Nothing has changed in Denver as far as personnel outside of replacing Eric Decker with Emmanuel Sanders. In Dallas though, Scott Linehan has arrived and is ready to make the Cowboys an even more pass-happy offense. As I pointed out in my tight end ranks, Witten has 10 straight seasons without missing a game, while Thomas missed two games last season with a knee injury. Witten is the poster boy for reliability in the NFL. Last season Witten had more targets, receptions and yards than Thomas. Peyton Manning isn’t going to pass for nearly 50 scores again this season, and because of that, Thomas’ value will go down. Witten is a PPR monster who will once again rack up the numbers for an explosive Cowboys attack.

6. Antonio Brown will finish this season no worse than the #2 WR in PPR:
Last season, Brown had a breakout season and finished behind only Demaryius Thomas for the #1 WR spot in PPR. I firmly believe that Brown will be the #2 WR this season and has potential to finish as #1 points-per-reception option. He is Big Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite and most reliable target. One of the biggest issues last year in Pittsburgh  was getting used to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s playbook and offensive scheme. That problem went away as the season progressed and shouldn’t be an issue coming into this season. Brown is a near lock for 100 receptions this season after having 166 targets a year ago. He can act as a slot option or stretch the field when needed. He could gain over 1,500 yards this season and will probably flirt with double-digit scores. Brown’s arrow is going nowhere but up and has probably the highest floor of any WR in PPR this season.

7. Jay Cutler will finish within the top 10 for QB this season:
There is only one reason why people won’t agree with this: health. Cutler only started 11 games last season and has been known to battle the injury bug during his time in Chicago. Cutler was hit a lot last season, as is evident by his true sack rate which ranked 8th worst in the league. His offense line is vastly improved entering 2014. This year, Cutler will have the benefit of working with them at their best along with the best WR tandem in football in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The Bears also have a pretty good pass-catching back, I think his name is Matt Forte; stud. Cutler has the talent, offensive line, weapons and coaching staff to make him a top 10 QB and this year, book it.

8. Kyle Rudolph will be a top 5 TE this year:
Where is the love for Rudolph? It’s mind-boggling how little respect the industry is giving him. A team doesn’t just give a 5-year extension worth up to 40 million dollars to anybody, they give it to someone who is going to be a huge part of their offense. He did miss half of last season with a fractured foot, but it was reported back in February that he was having no issues with it, so 6 months later, he seems 100%. Rudolph dropped 15 pounds this offseason to help with his quickness of the line. Norv Turner helped Jordan Cameron break out last season in Cleveland with a sub-par QB situation. Rudolph has a much more stable situation, has a big body and is a beast in the red zone. He may also wind up being the Vikings’ go-to target. I’m confident that he will lead the team in targets, yards and scores. I’m snatching him everywhere possible.

9. Bishop Sankey will not perform as an RB2 in 2014:
I’ve got several reasons for this proclamation. Sankey is going to be involved in a committee backfield where he will be a two-down from the get go. Veteran runner Shonn Greene figures to take 3rd down and goal line work while Dexter McCluster will likely take the passing down snaps. Sankey’s talent and abilities have been in question since his college days and he may have a hard time adjusting to the NFL. Ken Whisenhunt is known for his affinity to pass the ball and will be motivated to turn Jake Locker around with the help of their talented receivers. All in all, limited touches, a pass-happy scheme and durability concerns are all reasons why I am staying away come draft day. I’m not confident at all in Sankey turning in even the lowest of RB2 production. Don’t reach for the diamond in the rough because you may find coal.

10. Percy Harvin will not be a top 25 WR this season:
Percy Harvin has all the talent in the world but is capped because of the offense he is in as well as his checkered injury history. Not only is he in a run-first offense but Golden Tate , who was Seattle’s #1 a season ago failed to record 200 fantasy points in PPR last season. Harvin is not known for being a reception machine but rather making people miss after the catch or returning kicks. With durability already a concern, it remains to be seen how often the Seahawks coaches utilize him in the return game. Harvin certainly has the upside to be a WR2 given his talent, but that is a gamble I am unwilling to take. He is  probably more of a WR3 or flex option for PPR gamers.

Statistical credit: Fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Rotoworld.com, ESPN.com, Bleacherreport.com, Yahoo.com, fftoolbox.com, footballoutsiders.com

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

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