2014 Fantasy Bouncebacks: QBs and RBs
By Dave Hunter
“Even as I wander I’m keeping you in sight, you’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night.” – REO Speedwagon, 1984
Ah, yes, 80s rock nostalgia is alive and kicking this week as I’ll be holding, oh, so tight, to the memories of Kenny Stills and Pierre Garcon. Sure, I’ll miss them as REO Speedwagon runs through my mind, but it’s sort of nice to get a break from discussing all things wide receiver. Although, how can one truly get tired of talking about bitchin’ dudes who snag footballs out of the air?
I guess I’ll survive, especially since I’ve got bounceback quarterbacks and running backs to lean on this week. I’ve got some sweet-flavored fantasy tidbits coming your way, but before I get there check out these Top 12 Average Draft Positional rankings from last season (courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com):
|1||Rodgers, Aaron GB||15.8|
|2||Brees, Drew NO||17.9|
|3||Manning, Peyton DEN||28.8|
|4||Brady, Tom NE||38.1|
|5||Newton, Cam CAR||38.7|
|6||Ryan, Matt ATL||45.1|
|7||Kaepernick, Colin SF||51.8|
|8||Stafford, Matthew DET||57.9|
|9||Luck, Andrew IND||59.6|
|10||Griffin III, Robert WSH||61.7|
|1||Peterson, Adrian MIN||1.8|
|2||Martin, Doug TB||4.5|
|3||Foster, Arian HOU||5.7|
|4||Charles, Jamaal KC||7.3|
|5||Rice, Ray BAL||9.1|
|6||Spiller, C.J. BUF||9.3|
|7||Lynch, Marshawn SEA||10.1|
|8||McCoy, LeSean PHI||10.2|
|9||Richardson, Trent IND||10.5|
|10||Morris, Alfred WSH||16.3|
Checking out the above ADP rankings, let’s just look at the players that didn’t live up to draft billing last season. I know it hurts, but, come on; we can drudge through it, eh?
Using my Romper Room and Friends mirror, I see Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Oh, and Robert Griffin III and Arian Foster. There you are Ray Rice! And, I see you Doug Martin, Steven Jackson, and don’t you dare try to hide from me Trent Richardson and C.J. Spiller!
Yes, obscure “Romper Room” flashbacks age me like nothing else, but the point here is that it hurts to draft a top player and have pitiful returns. We don’t want to make the same mistakes this season, although we’re highly curious who will bounce back and contribute as they should have in 2013. We are, aren’t we?
I’ve got some bounceback quarterbacks and running backs that I’m looking at targeting in 2014 drafts, at varying ranges of talent of course.
Check out my favorites:
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – It’s not that Ryan had a horrible season in 2013, but it was certainly his weakest showing since 2009. Not only was WR Roddy White absent during the season due to lingering injuries, but WR Julio Jones lost most of his season to major injury which affected Ryan’s production. I mean, come on, Jones and White as targets OR Harry Douglas and any other Falcons WR? Don’t you dare say you thought about that for more than a second. Douglas stepped up somewhat in Jones and White’s absences, but it wasn’t like Ryan took the team woes on his shoulders and dominated with what was left over. The Falcons had a very rough year, and considering the numbers that Ryan has put up normally over his career, he’ll be back to take on the world - Flash Gordon-like. Ryan’s turnovers will cut down, while his career seasonal yardage average will stay on par. Look for a nice increase in TD production on the way to a career season. Yes, I like Ryan THAT much in 2014.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions – Stafford disappointed a ton of fantasy owners last year with only seven TD passes to go along with13 turnovers in Weeks 12-16. Failing to do much of anything during a crucial time pretty much destroyed any chance that the Lions had at making the playoffs. It’s not all Stafford’s fault, but there is room for overall improvement under the new coaching regime in Detroit. I’m not expecting a 40-plus TD season as in 2011, but it’s not out of the question is it? Stafford still has the best receiver in the NFL to throw to in Calvin Johnson, and the newly wrangled Golden Tate makes things much brighter for Stafford’s future. Plus, you have to figure there’s a sanity check here for Stafford with someone decent to throw the ball to opposite of Megatron.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Rodgers has averaged 34 TD passes over the last five seasons, so when he goes down with injury and is only able to toss 17 TDs all year long, we fantasy footballers get a bit cranky. When you draft a guy like Rodgers, you’re supposed to be able to chalk up his yearly average career stats for the season and call it a season. It just wasn’t meant to be in 2013, but Rodgers is fully recovered, as he showed by his late season return and should be firing on all cylinders come the start of the 2014 season. He still has plenty of weapons to throw to, even with the departure of WR James Jones. Plus, an excellent and established running game in Eddy Lacy – woohoo – will help Rodgers out tremendously. Chalk up 35 TD passes to Rodgers this season, with close to 4,000 passing yards. I’d say that’s a nice bounceback year.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills – I’ve been on the Spiller bandwagon for quite some time now, even before last season and even since his rookie year. I love the guy and make no apologies for it, although I’ve been expecting RB Fred Jackson to take a back seat to Spiller for quite some time now. We all know by now that it hasn’t happened the way I expected it to. Spiller’s week-to-week inconsistencies haven’t helped either, but this is the year things change. Jackson seems to be fighting the whole “age-30-thing” for running backs very well, but I don’t see him scoring the TDs he did last season. I also expect more big-play opportunities for Spiller, without fighting the nagging injuries he did in 2013 (ankle boo-boos for running backs can be a tad debilitating, the guy writing this piece sarcastically says).
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts – Are you on board with me here? No? I don’t blame you. Looking at things from Round 1 last season, I can see why any right-minded fantasy football owner would be shy of drafting Richardson. It’s okay; you can come aboard even if you’re not completely drinking the Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper (or Kool-Aid). I touched on T-Rich some weeks ago in my Year In Review: Round One Draft Day Busts piece, but there just isn’t anywhere for Richardson to go but up. He’ll get his mind right and run the ball with much more conviction.
Others that I like to have bounceback seasons, but on a lesser scale:
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – There is worry with Rice because of the drastic drop off in his numbers over his career averages, but he’ll be more consistent in 2014 and find the end zone much more. The expectation is that offensive line blocking schemes will be adjusted with straight ahead plays for a fullback to lead the way.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers – Martin wasn’t exactly having a stellar season before his injury in 2013, but he’s good for 1,200 yards and eight TD. Not a fantastic season, but I’ll take it from a RB2 on my fantasy squad.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins – It was all about the knee brace, or rather the ACL injury that led to the knee brace, which in turn led to the ineffectiveness and lack of mobility by RGIII wearing the knee brace. Blame in on the knee brace? I can buy that. RGIII is a talented kid and will undoubtedly bring his A-game back in the mix this year. Plus, he has a shiny new weapon in DeSean Jackson.