Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and wide receiver Kris Durham (18) stand around during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Giants beat the Lions 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Part of building a successful NFL fantasy team is knowing where the bread is buttered. Which players should be first round locks in 2014?
If 13 Pro Bowls and four MVP awards wasn’t enough to convince people that Peyton Manning is a surefire NFL fantasy kingpin, his 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards last season should. He might not repeat that stat line in 2014, but he’ll still get his points.
At age 35 there is no signs of Drew Brees slowing down. His offensive weaponry remains strong and Sean Payton remains his trusted play caller. Having posted three-straight seasons of over 5,000 yards passing, his constant dominance is evident.
The injury last year was a slight concern given the number of hits he takes, but Aaron Rodgers remains arguably the best player in pro football. He’s an elite passer who should post over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and is also a serious threat to run as well.
In spite of his maddening inability to win consistently, Matthew Stafford has at least become an establish go-to guy in NFL fantasy circles. He regularly goes above 4,600 yards passing and has at least 29 touchdowns in two of his last three seasons.
It really doesn’t matter what the opposition does every year. One reality is for sure. Come hell or high water Adrian Peterson is going to top 1,000 yards rushing and scoring at least 10 touchdowns. Being the best running back in the league makes that easy.
He certainly talks like he’s the best in the league but LeSean McCoy has earned his spurs. There might not be a better dual threat running back in football, as he proved last season when he scored 278 fantasy points. He’s in the same offense for 2014, so nothing changes.
The only man to surpass McCoy last season was Jamaal Charles by virtue of scoring more touchdown. He too is a nightmare on the field because of his speed and versatility, but NFL fantasy owners should be wary. Charles lost three key offensive linemen up front.
As far as arguments go, they are pointless. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the business and a fantasy honey holes in both yardage and touchdowns. Even with the new additions in Detroit, don’t expect Megatron not to get his customary numbers.
Part of being an NFL fantasy ace is not just being great but being great consistently year in and year out. Brandon Marshall fulfills that requirement glowingly in Chicago. He hasn’t posted fewer than 1,000 yards since 2006 and has double digit touchdowns the past two years.
Peyton Manning is his quarterback, first and foremost, but what sets Demaryius Thomas apart from the other top receivers in the league is his ability to find the end zone. He scored 14 times in 2013. There is no reason to doubt that will continue for at least another year.