5,477 Yards. 55 touchdowns. 115.1 QB rating. Those are just some of the awe inspiring numbers Manning put up last season. Therefore, of course, Manning is the top fantasy QB, no questions asked. Despite the loss of Eric Decker, the Denver offense will still be one of if not the best in the league. With weapons like Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Montee Ball, Emmanuel Sanders, and Julius Thomas, Manning is the most stacked man under center. His fantasy numbers will likely reflect that. Consider Manning the only QB worthy of a first round pick.
Drew Brees, the ultimate professional, brings in a better offense than last season to help with his fantasy tirades. One weapon that Brees is sure to love is rookie Brandin Cooks. This swiss army knife athlete is Brees’ new and improved Darren Sproles, and the quarterback is likely to exploit him. Brees still has Marques Colston, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Kenny Stills to produce numbers alongside also. Throw in Jimmy Graham, the best tight end in football, and Brees is definitely worth a second round pick in a draft, something many QBs don’t qualify for.
Cam finally cracks the top three fantasy quarterbacks. You may ask, but what about his depleted receiver core? So I’ll answer that question with another question. Have you seen Kelvin Benjamin? Benjamin has looked amazing in preseason. Benjamin is also complimented by talent like Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, and Jason Avant. Cam Newton can make a cake out of dirt, so giving him these kind of tools as well as halfbacks Jonathan Stewart, Deangelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert, he should be able to produce just as well, if not better, than last season.
Cam doesn’t need a star-studded receiving core to put up elite numbers, just look at last season. Steve Smith led all Panther wide receivers with a mere 745 yards. Newton has always been a fantasy stud for whoever drafts him, but always was held back by a high interception total and a lot of no-show games. This will be the year that he sheds that baggage and sets himself apart as the best fantasy run and gun combo quarterback.
McCoy, my pick for MVP, has set a bold target for himself: 2000 rushing yards. The reason he is the top fantasy back this season is because that goal is more than achievable for him, and he’ll probably get it. In a perfect situation in Philly, McCoy has a quarterback that wants to give him the ball (Foles), a fellow halfback that stretches the defense (Sproles), and a defense that can get the ball in his hands.
McCoy is one of the most explosive backs and can see the play before it evolves. He has a good attitude and motivation to lead his team and his stats to success.
Charles is now in total control of Kansas City’s offense, and it is up to him if he wants them to make the playoffs again and build off the success of last season. With the defense back in tact and the offense mostly unchanged, the Chiefs should be a solid team again this year. Whether he scores on the ground or off receptions, Jamaal Charles is an explosive threat with a knack for finding the endzone (19 touchdowns last season, most among non-quarterbacks).
Charles will be putting up monster numbers every week just like last year, and that is why he warrants the second if not first pick in your fantasy drafts. If you have the first, though, look to McCoy.
AP, the ultimate running back, struggled to recreate the magic of his 2011-2012 season last year, where he nearly broke the all time rushing record. Still, AP put up 1,266 rushing yards and 10 TDs last season and is headed into a better Minnesota team. With a few more weapons on offense and a quarterback issue solved, if not improved, Peterson should still be bet on as a top 3 running back this season.
Calvin Johnson Jr.
Megatron is still the most reliable fantasy option at the position. Johnson Jr. has gotten over 1ooo yards each of the last four seasons and caught over 12 TDs in three of those. With a gunslinger for quarterback and a respectable cast of weapons beside him (Bush, Bell, Ebron, Tate, Broyles) that can stretch the field and ease the immense pressure defenses put on him, Johnson Jr. will be the top force in fantasy football receiving-wise once again.
Green has gotten better and better each year. Green is just a touchdown away from a career 30 mark and has already surpassed 3800 yards in his three seasons. He remains in a solid situation with Cincy as the clear cut no.1 receiver and he has no competitors for that job. In fact, QB Andy Dalton has no other legit targets at WR to throw to, so he has to go to Green. Whether or not this is good for Cincinnatti, it is definitely good for Green’s fantasy production. Green should be the second selected receiver in any fantasy draft, and any team that can get their hands on him should be counting their blessings.
Touchdowns. Touchdowns. Touchdowns. Peyton Manning. Touchdowns. That is what makes Thomas so valuable in every league. With Manning at the helm, Thomas is always a threat for multiple scores a game. Now with Eric Decker gone and Wes Welker stuck in his role as a slot receiver, Thomas is the leading man in Denver’s receiving game. And, with that, he is the top fantasy receiver in the AFC, save A.J. Green.
With the contract dispute finally over, both the Saints and their star tight end are ready to get back to football. And, since the circumstances remain the same as last season, so should Graham’s tight end ranking.
Graham was a record setter last season, putting 16 touchdowns in the books for the Saints. He is likely to replicate that success with Drew Brees still at the helm and no other tight ends putting any competition to the ranks. Many fantasy owners would be opposed to selecting a tight end in the first round, but Graham is an exception. While you should definitely target a running back with the first picks of your draft, do not be afraid to draft Graham if he’s available near the end of the first round.
Gronkowski is looking to bounce back from a rough injury last season and this year may be the year he challenges Graham. Gronk is still a physical beast for the Pats, and still Tom Brady’s favorite and best target. Gronk shouldn’t go before round three, but don’t be afraid to grab him early in three. There are only a few elite tight ends that can change games week to week, so lock him up if Graham is gone.
JT has a good shot at winning the touchdown race this season among all receivers this season. Manning made him a fantasy gem last year and his emergence gave every new Manning target fantasy value. Thomas is now the clear cut number one tight end now that he doesn’t have to worry about Jacob Tamme stealing targets. JT should be the third TE off the board in rounds 3-5.