1. Arian Foster finishes the season as a top three fantasy running back.
People seem to be talking about Foster this off-season like his career is about to end, and while I understand bouncing back from back surgery isn’t exactly ideal, his lack of durability is a little overstated considering he’s played more games over the last four years than Jamaal Charles, Reggie Bush, and Ryan Mathews, and just five fewer games than Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, and Frank Gore.
Additionally, when he’s on the field, he’s dominant in between the tackles, at the goal line, and in the screen game, averaging 3.5 catches per game since 2010. The Texans should be much improved this season, and that means a chance at a return to fantasy dominance for Foster.
2. No rookie WR eclipses 800 yards or seven touchdowns.
Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Jordan Mathews have been setting the fantasy world ablaze this offseason, and it’s about time we pump the brakes before we anoint them all as breakout candidates.
Yes, they are talented, and each of them has had major success at the collegiate level, but the jump to the speed of the NFL game is a large one. Big plays will be made, but so will a ton of mistakes. Don’t be the guy counting on his rookie WR as his WR2. You’re likely to be disappointed.
3. Matt Ryan throws for over 4,800 yards and finishes as a top five fantasy QB.
Matty Ice is all over my fantasy teams this year. Currently being drafted anywhere between round 8-11, Ryan is the biggest value among QB’s this season.
Add in Julio, a healthy Roddy White (top 10 WR last five weeks in 2013), and added chemistry with #3 WR Harry Douglas–who was targeted a whopping 133 times in Jones’ absence–makes Ryan a prime breakout candidate in 2014.
4. Dez Bryant breaks the NFL record for receiving yards in a season.
Dez has been at the cusp of something great for a couple of years now, posting back to back 90+ reception, 1,200+ yard, 12+ TD seasons, and now in his age 25 season, is on the verge of something historic.
The former Oklahoma St. star has played in every game over the last two seasons, but he’s been healthy for a little more than half of them, battling injury after injury. 100% healthy coming into 2014, the Cowboys will have to compensate for a miserable defense that’s likely to force them to throw for three-quarters, and has me thinking Bryant could approach 1,900 yards before it’s all said and done.
5. Darren McFadden leads the Raiders in fantasy points.
This statement looks ridiculous in print (especially in bold print), but McFadden has avoided any signs of nagging injury this preseason, and performed reasonably well, carrying the ball 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Likely the favorite for goal line touches, McFadden only has to show a sample of his former burst to pass the slow-footed Maurice Jones-Drew, and if he plays all 16 games (definitely going out on a limb there) he can be a solid FLEX all season long.
6. The 49ers D/ST finishes outside the top 10 in fantasy points.
Annually one of the top three defenses chosen in fantasy drafts (and, the Niners just aren’t the physical force they once were. Boasting the league’s best ILB tandem in Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, the team will be without the later for at least the first half of 2014 due to injury.
Additionally, Aldon Smith is likely to face a suspension of at least four games, and without a decent pass rush, the 49ers shaky secondary is likely to be exploited. I’m not saying they won’t be usable some weeks, but their days of being an elite defense are over.
7. Trent Richardson rushes for less than 700 yards and fails to eclipse 3.5 yards per carry.
This shouldn’t be going out on a limb for a guy who’s averaged 3.3 YPC in his career, but everyone seems to think a bounce-back season in inevitable. Not this guy.
Richardson looks as lead-footed as ever this preseason, and I don’t expect him to wake up one day and find some kind of new found ability. Good luck to those banking on a rebound.
8. Dennis Pitta finishes as a top 3 TE in PPR leagues.
A smart, athletic player that should be featured even more in a Gary Kubiak-offense that feeds the tight end position, Pitta is Flacco’s favorite target between the 20’s and is completely healthy after coming off a fractured hip last year. Expect Pitta to approach 90 catches and 1,000 yards, making him an elite option at his position in 2014.
9. Cordarrelle Patterson finishes outside the top 30 in fantasy points among wide receivers.
Gasp! Not everyone’s breakout candidate!
It’s true, Patterson is an offensive coordinator’s dream. An explosive athlete with the ability to take a reverse to the house just as easily as he can catch an 80 yard bomb, the second year wide out still has a lot of growing up to do despite his athletic talents.
For one, according to Pro Football Focus, he was in the bottom five in route running efficiency his rookie season, and was reportedly begged by his teammates to focus more and learn the playbook in 2013, a tell-tale sign his maturity hasn’t caught up to his ability.
He’s going to be a fantasy monster one day, but I’m just not ready to invest in him at all until he invests in himself.
10. Juwan Thompson rushes for over 1,000 yards and is a top 20 fantasy running back.
Now for a prediction so bold, it’ll make Miley Cyrus blush.
First, I’ll give everyone a second to first Google Juwan Thompson, because chances are, you’ve never heard of him.
Let me give you some info:
-Played at Duke, where he ran for just 1,244 yards and nine touchdowns in four seasons.
-He ran a 4.57 40 yard dash at the combine.
-Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Broncos in May.
Seems like a non story right?
Thompson has been awesome in Broncos’ camp drawing rave reviews from John Fox for his pass protection and has even drawn some Terrell Davis comparison’s from the team’s beat writers.
Currently #4 on the Broncos’ depth chart, Thompson seemingly has a long way to go to reach fantasy relevance, but if Montee’ Ball falters at all in his sketchy pass protection and ball security, Thompson will be right in the thick of things, protecting Peyton Manning and running through truck-sized holes caused by defenses selling out for the passing game.
Follow OPSN Fantasy Football Analyst Shawn Ferris on Twitter @RealShawnFerris for more news, updates, rankings, and analysis.