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QB: Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins
RB: Arian Foster, Giovani Bernard, DeAngelo Williams
WR: Andre Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Devin Hester
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas
PK: Steve Hauschka
TD: Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots

Overview:

The quarterback position looks good, and we like your overall strength at the tradionally less important positions as well. Despite not being strong at running back and receiver, we think this team should be the league favorite or very close to it.

Nevertheless, we feel compelled to mention that the RB and WR positions make us a bit nervous and are likely to require some attention throughout the year. We'd feel much better if we knew you were committed to scooping up 2014's breakout players at RB and WR. Getting one or more of these would take this team to the next level.

Players we particularly like on this team include Rob Gronkowski, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Steve Hauschka, the Bengals defense, and the Patriots defense. We have all these guys ranked ahead of where they are typically being drafted.

Bottom line: This team is a virtual lock to go to the playoffs.

In any event, we wish you the best of luck. Here's hoping all your weeks are like week 15 of 2012:

Andre Johnson vs. IND: 151 receiving yards, 1 TD
Drew Brees vs. TB: 307 passing yards, 4 TD
DeAngelo Williams vs. SD: 144 combined yards, 1 TD
Arian Foster vs. IND: 169 combined yards
Kirk Cousins vs. CLE: 329 passing yards, 2 TD

QB Summary:

You don't need us to tell you this, but we'll tell you anyway: Drew Brees should ensure that your production at the quarterback position is among the best in the league. We have him as the #2 QB according to your scoring rules, and we figure he gives you about a 2.5 point-per-game advantage over an average starting QB.

As of now, our projections don't indicate that Kirk Cousins will be a viable backup quarterback. While the presence of Brees minimizes the need for a top backup, we might recommend taking a quick peek at the free agent list to see if you can find some help. We'll offer some specific suggestions at the end of the report.

Incidentally, Cousins has what we project as a neutral matchup (ARI) during Brees's bye.

RB Summary:

Depth is a serious concern, but we do like your starting group, particularly Giovani Bernard as a second running back. Our projections have Arian Foster ranked at #6 and Bernard ranked at #11.

DeAngelo Williams is a little below average as a third running back.

We might suggest adding a bit more depth here. See the end of the report for some suggestions on who to pick up.

A quick note about the same-team Foster/Andre Johnson duo you've got here. Though the effect is probably negligible, this kind of pairing is likely to make your team more (not less) consistent than a comparable-scoring different-team pair. See this article (which was written before the 2008 season) for more discussion.

WR Summary:

We see both your starters at receiver as below average. Andre Johnson is our 14th ranked WR, and we have Cordarrelle Patterson at #15.

Your bench looks good and should help offset the unexciting starting unit. We love Michael Floyd as a third receiver; he's a likely flex starter. Kendall Wright will also be among the best WR4s in the league.

Though some teams will probably be content to roster as few as four players here, it was not a bad idea to take a few extras because you're not particularly strong overall at the position. Of your remaining guys, we like Terrance Williams the best, but you should keep the one you think has the best chance of putting up starter numbers. The rest might be considered expendable if you find you need roster space elsewhere.

TE Summary:

As you are well aware, Rob Gronkowski is an elite tight end. We have him ranked second overall at the position. He's about 2.5 points per game better than an average starting TE in this league. We also think Julius Thomas is a starting quality tight end in this league. He's a luxury.

Kicker Summary:

With Steve Hauschka, you should be above average at the position.

Defense Summary:

Between the Bengals and the Patriots, you should get above average production here.


Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2015 season.


Schedule Analysis

Green means GO (good matchup), red means STOP (bad matchup). Main starters highlighted

At the bottom of the table, the Relative Strength row shows you how strong we project your team to be, relative to your usual strength, in that week. This accounts for byes and matchups.

12345678910111213141516
Drew BreesATLCLEMINDALTBDETGBCARSFCINBALPITCARCHIATL
Kirk CousinsHOUJAXPHINYGSEAARITENDALMINTBSFINDSTLNYGPHI
 
Giovani BernardBALATLTENNECARINDBALJAXCLENOHOUTBPITCLEDEN
Arian FosterWASOAKNYGBUFDALINDPITTENPHICLECINTENJAXINDBAL
DeAngelo WilliamsTBDETPITBALCHICINGBSEANOPHIATLMINNOTBCLE
 
Michael FloydSDNYGSFDENWASOAKPHIDALSTLDETSEAATLKCSTLSEA
Devin HesterNOCINTBMINNYGCHIBALDETTBCARCLEARIGBPITNO
Andre JohnsonWASOAKNYGBUFDALINDPITTENPHICLECINTENJAXINDBAL
Cordarrelle PattersonSTLNENOATLGBDETBUFTBWASCHIGBCARNYJDETMIA
Terrance WilliamsSFTENSTLNOHOUSEANYGWASARIJAXNYGPHICHIPHIIND
Kendall WrightKCDALCININDCLEJAXWASHOUBALPITPHIHOUNYGNYJJAX
 
Rob GronkowskiMIAMINOAKKCCINBUFNYJCHIDENINDDETGBSDMIANYJ
Julius ThomasINDKCSEAARINYJSFSDNEOAKSTLMIAKCBUFSDCIN
 
Steve HauschkaGBSDDENWASDALSTLCAROAKNYGKCARISFPHISFARI
 
Cincinnati BengalsBALATLTENNECARINDBALJAXCLENOHOUTBPITCLEDEN
New England PatriotsMIAMINOAKKCCINBUFNYJCHIDENINDDETGBSDMIANYJ
 
Relative Strength10110110010110392104104110100103989910010199

Schedule and Matchup Notes:

  • Please note that the Relative strength numbers above account for both byes and matchups.
  • Remember that you might have starters on bye in a given week, but still have a high relative strength. This could occur because of favorable matchups, or it might be because you are projected to be missing less production than an average opponent will (your opponents have to deal with byes too).
  • Week 6 presents serious bye week issues for you: Drew Brees is off.
  • In weeks 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 you'll probably be better off than your opponent, as far as byes are concerned.


Potential Free Agents

Listed in order of preference. We don't know exactly who is available in your league, but here is a list of players who might be available and could be upgrades over some of your depth players, listed in order of preference. Your players are listed in red for comparison. Players who might not mesh well with the bye weeks of your key players are grayed out.


QB: Ben Roethlisberger (12), Alex Smith (6), Ryan Tannehill (5), Joe Flacco (11), Eli Manning (8), Jake Locker (9), Carson Palmer (4), Geno Smith (11), Shaun Hill (4), Ryan Fitzpatrick (10), Josh McCown (7), Johnny Manziel (4), EJ Manuel (9), Derek Carr (5), Chad Henne (11), Teddy Bridgewater (10). We have all these players rated ahead of Kirk Cousins.

RB: Carlos Hyde (8), Chris Ivory (11), Ahmad Bradshaw (10), Jonathan Stewart (12), Dexter McCluster (9), Lance Dunbar (11), LeGarrette Blount (12), Knile Davis (6), Jonathan Dwyer (4), Donald Brown (10), Terrance West (4), C.J. Anderson (4), Mike Tolbert (12), Jacquizz Rodgers (9), Roy Helu (10), Benny Cunningham (4).

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (10), Terrance Williams (11), Golden Tate (9), Jordan Matthews (7), Anquan Boldin (8), Kelvin Benjamin (12), Malcom Floyd (10), Brian Hartline (5), Tavon Austin (4), Riley Cooper (7), Justin Hunter (9), Dwayne Bowe (6), Andrew Hawkins (4), Doug Baldwin (4), Jeremy Maclin (7), Miles Austin (4). We have all these players rated ahead of Devin Hester.

TE: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

PK: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

TD: New England Patriots (10), San Francisco 49ers (8), Buffalo Bills (9), Kansas City Chiefs (6), Chicago Bears (9), Houston Texans (10), Green Bay Packers (9), New York Giants (8), Baltimore Ravens (11), Cleveland Browns (4).


Projections and Player Summaries

PlayerCmpAttYDY/ATDINTRshYDTDFPTRank
Drew Brees40460047888.0381622441439.82
Kirk Cousins33553967.221621031.939

Drew Brees - Drew Brees signed with the Saints in March 2006, joining first year Coach Sean Peyton. Together, they resurrected the team and the City of New Orleans who had suffered the ravages of Hurricane Katrina just the year prior. Brees led the league in passing in 2007 with 4,418 yards and also had 26 TD passes. Brees and Payton were perfect fits and the team's offense flourished. During his years in New Orleans, Brees has won a Super Bowl, been named Super Bowl MVP, and been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. In 2011, he set the then single season NFL passing record with 5,476 yards. That same season, he set the still standing NFL record for highest completion percentage in a season at 71.2%. With the Saints, Brees has consistently excelled, passing for an average of 4,842 yards and 35.4 TDs. His worst statistical Saints' season came in 2012, with Peyton suspended for the year and Brees still completed 63% of his passes, averaged 7.7 yards per pass attempt and passed for 5,177 yards and 43 TDs. The Saints defense had a remarkable turn-around in 2013 and finished as the NFL's fourth best, giving up only 305.7 yards per game, yet Brees remained the focal point of the offense. Down the stretch last season the Saints showed more commitment to run the ball. They averaged 30 rushes per game for the final four games, but still ranked 25th on the season with only 92.1 yards rushing per game. The Saints' primary issue a year ago was road games, where they were only 3-5. Brees' production suffered as well, completing only 64% of his passes, compared to 73% at home. He also threw 9 road interceptions compared to only 3 at home. There has been a lot of off-season discussion that the Saints are planning to shift more emphasis to the running game. The offense lost Darren Sproles, one of Brees' favorite targets for the past 3 seasons and his 77 receptions per year, as well as the reliable Lance Moore during the off-season. However, the team moved up in the first round of the NFL Draft to select Brandin Cooks, a playmaker who could step right into the role vacated by Sproles. The offense still has Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Pierre Thomas so they should remain explosive. Brees will continue to be the Saints' offensive focal point and once again be among the league leaders in passing in 2014. Despite missing some time and most of the pre-season games resting his strained left oblique, he is ready to go in the season opener.

Kirk Cousins - If the reports were true and Washington could've fetched a conditional 2nd round pick for Kirk Cousins, then it was a colossal mistake to pass on the deal. Cousins star is fading, at least in terms of his being an NFL starter. Cousins' woeful play in place of Robert Griffin III last year was to blame. In three starts, Cousins completed just 52% of his throws and managed four touchdowns against 7 interceptions. Washington is better off keeping Cousins and hoping he adjusts to Jay Gruden's offense in the same way Andy Dalton flourished in Cincinnati.

PlayerRshYDY/RshTDRecYDTDFPTRank
Arian Foster26010924.28493872203.96
Giovani Bernard1907794.17564763181.511
DeAngelo Williams1656604.05221761117.633

Giovani Bernard - Giovani Bernard should only be helped by new Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson's offensive philosophy, as Jackson is a run-first coach all the way. Bernard could push 300 total touches this season as a workhorse runner. Jackson likened Bernard to Ray Rice, who went from 107 carries in his rookie season to 254 in his second. Should Bernard see a similar uptick in attempts, his production should also soar. He's a very talented player who impressed mightily in limited action (170 carries, 56 receptions) last season. Bernard is a three-down player who should only come off the field in certain short-yardage situations, if he does at all. Bernard was even given some goal line carries last season, and he saw some success. There's no guarantee that he'll be removed from the field in those situations in 2014.

Arian Foster - After three years of success and high mileage usage, Arian Foster finally took a step backwards due to knee, calf and back injuries. He was shut down after week eight last year to heal a disc injury that required surgery. Foster is planning on being back to full strength for the 2014 season, but the Texans offense is not the same as it used to be. Head Coach Gary Kubiak was replaced by Bill O'Brien and Foster's leading fullback Greg Jones appears to not be in the equation. This year is a definitely a crossroads for Foster. If he can rise to the occasion and be a success after returning from injury, playing on a team with a new coaching staff and 14 consecutive losses, then his legacy deserves to be remembered.

DeAngelo Williams - DeAngelo Williams led the Panthers' running backs in production last year by default - Jonathan Stewart missed 10 games last season due to his ongoing ankle woes and then a torn MCL in his knee (week 14), after only playing in nine contests during 2012. Williams managed over 1,100 yards combined with 201/843/3 rushing and 36 targets for 26/333/1 receiving during 2013. As usual, Cam Newton accounted for a hefty portion of the team's rushing yards and TDs, with 111/585/6 rushing to his credit - Williams simply doesn't get many shots at six-point plays as Newton is so effective around the goal line. Williams has publicly stated his concerns over facing 7-8 men in the box this year due to the lack of top receivers on the squad, saying 'I mean, I don't know where we go from there.' when asked about the wide receiver stable. He also stated on April 13 that 'I joked with people that my fantasy value went up after we got rid of our four receivers, but it's the truth. I went from probably being drafted in the fifth and sixth round to being in the first round, me and Jonathan (Stewart) alike because we have no receivers.' The Panthers' line also suffered a huge loss when LT Jordan Gross retired, but the team drafted only one offensive guard this year and hasn't made much in the way of free agency moves to address the hole on the offensive line, either. Williams will likely see a lot of opportunities to carry the football this year, but whether there will be holes to run to is another matter entirely.

PlayerRshYDTDRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Andre Johnson00090117013.06151.014
Cordarrelle Patterson1213217289312.47148.515
Michael Floyd0006998714.38144.716
Kendall Wright0007693512.36127.529
Terrance Williams31205479914.86115.138
Devin Hester0001825714.3237.7102

Michael Floyd - Michael Floyd started to come on at the end of his rookie year in 2012, and had a legitimate breakout season last year. Floyd is a big, physical receiver, and in some ways is a more impressive athlete than teammate Larry Fitzgerald. He is not as savvy a route-runner as Fitzgerald, but has tremendous big-play ability and can exploit single coverage against smaller corners. Not much has changed in the Cardinals' passing offense since last year, but Floyd is a year more experienced and could build on his successful 2013 campaign. He was a borderline fantasy WR2-WR3 last season, and can reasonably be expected to climb a bit more firmly into WR2 territory in his third year.

Andre Johnson - At age 33, Andre Johnson is not getting any younger, but on the same token he is coming off two consecutive seasons with 100+ receptions and is still a viable fantasy option at wide receiver. His quarterback situation makes it difficult to assume the same results are inevitable, but this is the same player who found Pro Bowl success with David Carr and Sage Rosenfels under center. If he can stay healthy and be the go-to option for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, he'll have a good chance to finish in the Top 20. There was talk about Johnson having mixed feelings about staying with the team during their new rebuilding phase, however that appears to no longer be a concern. Houston was adamant not to trade him and Johnson changed his stance. He is now committed to working with and meshing with Fitzpatrick, who was a student of Harvard and is veteran of the game and quarterback position. Johnson should still be an asset to the team and major contributor similar to years past. His numbers overall may drop off some, due to the new offense and the growing pains associated with that. Second year receiver DeAndre Hopkins also figures to have an increased role that could put a squeeze on Johnson's sheer number or targets.

Cordarrelle Patterson - Patterson showed some nice flashes last season, and he has the potential to become a real NFL star. It's unfortunate for him that he's stuck on a team that might not be able to take advantage of his big play potential, although new offensive coordinator Norv Turner reportedly put 10 plays in the offense for Patterson as his first action in his new position. Patterson should finish the season as the Vikings top receiver. Just how high that puts him for fantasy leagues is difficult to gauge, but it could be higher than we expect.

Terrance Williams - Terrance Williams did enough as a rookie to put the nail in Miles Austin's coffin. Williams is now unquestionably the starter opposite Dez Bryant, and as a result has the opportunity to ascend into every week fantasy relevance. The 6'2", 208 pounder provided Tony Romo with his best deep threat in years, averaging nearly 17 yards per reception and being a perfect 9-for-9 in throws of 20 yards or more downfield. It's perfectly normal to expect marked improvement in year two, particularly when a receiver plays regularly as a rookie. As long as Tony Romo is healthy after back surgery, Williams is a compelling mid-round fantasy breakout candidate.

Kendall Wright - Kendall Wright broke out last season, but his fantasy impact was hampered by a lack of touchdowns. That was primarily a result of his usage in the end zone, Wright had just one end zone target on his first 121 targets last season. That target resulted in a touchdown against the Houston Texans. While his usage in the redzone moving forward is unclear, it appears that Wright will feature heavily in Ken Whisenhunt's offense. Whisenhunt's offenses consistently throw a lot to the slot receiver. What Wright did last season, 94 receptions for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns, should be the floor of his expectations entering next season.

PlayerRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Rob Gronkowski72101514.111165.52
Julius Thomas7284211.710142.23

Rob Gronkowski - Finally, reports have Rob Gronkowski ready to go Week 1, which will make fantasy owners and Patriot fans breathe a sigh of relief. The Patriots wanted to make sure he was 110% before clearing him and it seems they have finally hit that mark. the litany of injuries over the last few years might make some owners hesitate to roll the dice on Gronk come draft day, but keep in mind most of his issues were freak injuries, not the sort of nagging conditioning issues which worry fantasy owners. As long as he is healthy he is Tom Brady's go-to guy here in the offense and he should have a tremendous season.

Julius Thomas - What a difference a year makes! Entering the 2013 season, Thomas had career totals of seven targets and one reception for five yards in two years as a pro. An ankle injury during his rookie season (and the surgery required to repair it) had stunted his growth in the NFL. It was shaping up to be a make-or-break season for Thomas last year. Thomas didn't only make it, but he made it big in 2013. His season-opening performance against the Ravens (five catches, 110 yards, two touchdowns) put him on the fantasy map and he didn't slow down much after that. The former basketball star at Portland State still has tremendous upside. He's only been playing organized football for five years now, and he's still learning the nuances of the position. Thomas has worked hard to build strong chemistry with Peyton Manning, and his work ethic shows through on the field. Thomas is a mismatch every time he lines up. Linebackers can't cover him because he's too fast and athletic in the open field. Safeties struggle to cover him because he's too big and knows how to effectively "box out" smaller defenders. He missed two games last year due to a knee injury, and Thomas still finished as the 3rd-best fantasy tight end in 2013. If he stays healthy for the full season he should push Jimmy Graham (Saints) as the best tight end in the league. Thomas is a weapon, and he's one the Broncos will use time and time again to move the chains and threaten defenses. He should be selected as high as the second tight end off the board in your fantasy draft behind Graham. Now that he's arrived, everybody knows his name--and Julius Thomas can be a great asset for your fantasy team.

PlayerFGMFGAXPMXPAFPTRank
Steve Hauschka33374545144.02

Steve Hauschka - Clint Gresham is back for a fifth season as the long snapper. Back for a seventh year is punter is Jon Ryan, who also serves as the holder. Potential free agent kicker Steve Hauschka was re-signed to a 3-year deal in March. He comes off his best year yet in 2013, when he hit 33 of 35 (94.3%) on field goals and added 44 extra points. The Seahawks ranked 7th in attempted kicking points last year for their first top ten finish since 2007.

PlayerSackFRINTTDYd/GPt/GFPTRank
Cincinnati Bengals441118533119.9139.33
New England Patriots421118534720.7136.17

Cincinnati Bengals - The one word you'd read over and over in this report is deep. This defense has as much depth in all three units as any in the league. The Bengals will count on a stout (and deep) defensive line to once again lead the way for their defense. Geno Atkins returning at full strength would be a huge step in that direction. Carlos Dunlap should continue to get pressure from the outside as should whoever they line up opposite him as long as Atkins draws double teams. The Bengals are just as deep at linebacker, if not quite as talented. Burfict has been everything the Bengals could hope for and more but there are plenty of questions about who will play the other two spots. If Leon Hall is healthy the secondary should be really good with the addition of Darqueze Dennard. Dennard has been praised heavily by the coaches early in camp.

New England Patriots - This was a very talented defense that became even more so after the signing of Darrelle Revis. Revis should shut down one side of the field leaving Devin McCourty free to roam and help on the other side of the field. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich provide a dynamic defensive end duo that can get to the quarterback and support the run. Donta' Hightower is a solid young MLB but there are some question marks at OLB. A healthy Jerod Mayo would answer one of those questions and make this a very solid unit. With Revis in the mix and a very good pass rush this should be a unit that provides a lot of sacks and big plays on the back end.