A Look Ahead: Fantasy Thoughts on All 32 Teams

Jeff Haseley shares his thoughts on fantasy related topics of all 32 teams. 

AFC East

Buffalo - LeSean McCoy will be hard-pressed to reach 40 receptions this year and it could possibly be less. New Bills Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman took over the coordinator duties for the 49ers in 2011, which was the same year Frank Gore went from a 40-50 reception running back to a 15-25 reception back. Gore averaged 51 receptions per year from 2006 - 2011 and 18 per year from 2012 - present, when Roman was the team's OC. McCoy will still have plenty of carries, but the running back screens and flat routes will be greatly reduced. I have a hard time keeping McCoy in my Top 10. I see more of a Top 15-20 finish at best. Let someone else take him in the late first or early second while you stack your roster with C.J. Anderson and a stud receiver like Julio Jones or Dez Bryant. 

New England - The Patriots may have won the Super Bowl but I see a drop in defensive efficiency this year. It's going to be a challenge to hold opponents under 20 points per game with the loss of key secondary pieces Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington. As a result, the offense will have to score more points to keep pace - which they are capable of doing. James White or Travaris Cadet will take over the Shane Vereen role (my chip is on White). Rob Gronkowski is going to be gronktacular again, leading receivers in every stat but receptions - that will belong to Julian Edelman. Year in and year out, the Patriots either repeat their roles from last year or find new players to do the same. I see no reason to shy away from several Patriots as fantasy threats. In deeper drafts, if you draft LeGarrette Blount, grab Jonas Gray later and start him in Week 1 against Pittsburgh while Blount serves his one game suspension. If you draft James White, consider Travaris Cadet as well. Rostering players on strong offenses is a wise move, especially if you can corner the production share and be able to do so in the middle to late rounds.  

NY Jets - The fact that Chris Ivory is starting to see more involvement in the passing game leads me to believe he will be the back that Chan Gailey will turn to as the Jets primary running back. What's even better is that Ivory can be drafted in the 6th, 7th or even 8th round in re-draft leagues right now. I expect his ADP to increase as we find out more about how the Jets plan to use him. Consider me optimistic about Geno Smith in Gailey's offense, which also means my eyebrows are raised with the possibility of Brandon Marshall having decent fantasy value. It's possible that Marshall leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He's a great value in the sixth round.    

Miami - The additions of Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jordan Cameron and even Greg Jennings is enough to consider a possible drop off in production from Landry, but I'm here to say that won't be the case. Draft Landry as your WR3 (ADP of WR26 in PPR) and reap the benefits. Ryan Tannehill had 4,000 yards passing and 28 total touchdowns last year, which might be his ceiling. If he exceeds those numbers I wouldn't be shocked, but if his production decreases I also wouldn't be too surprised. The good news is, Tannehill isn't getting the draft day respect for someone who finished as the 9th best QB. His ADP is hovering around QB12 and I don't expect it to drop much as we get closer to September. 

AFC North

Pittsburgh - Ben Roethlisberger has finished 8th and 6th in 2013 and 2014 respectively. It's safe to say the Steelers have one of the best offenses in the league, which should lead to another big fantasy season for the trio of Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. Not only will the trio do well, but there's also room for Martavis Bryant to keep jumping up the ranks among fantasy receivers. I wouldn't count out Heath Miller as a second tier tight end target. As for the Bell suspension, DeAngelo Williams has the ability to do a decent job of filling in for the first three weeks @NE, SF, @STL. If Bell gets injured, Williams automatically steps in as a weekly start on one of the best offenses in the league.   

Baltimore - All eyes on Justin Forsett, especially with Marc Trestman as the offensive coordinator. It's a known fact that leading running backs in Trestman's system do exceptionally well as receivers, averaging over 60 catches per season. Let that settle in. Forsett is in line for another Top 8 finish and could possibly reach Top 5 if he can hold off rookie Javorius Allen from stealing touches. I like Steve Smith later in drafts. He should see a lot of targets as the experienced vet of the receiving corps. He may not have consistent weeks, but he's definitely capable of putting up strong numbers when the match up presents itself. Breshad Perriman could carve himself a decent role in the offense, but I wouldn't be shocked to see 6-foot-5 Marlon Brown make an impact, especially as a red zone receiver. Five touchdowns isn't far-fetched. The Ravens have quite a few playmakers at wide receiver. This could be an offense that takes off, especially if the newcomers adapt quickly. 

Cincinnati - Jeremy Hill finished in the Top 10 last year and he's only going to get better. Expect at least 250 carries if not more with a good chance to reach double-digit touchdowns. In my opinion, he's a steal running back 1 that you can get in the second round, especially if other positions are taken in round one. There may not be a better rushing combo than Hill and Giovani Bernard. Bernard can be a PPR threat and fantasy starter even with Hill's volume on offense. If something happens to Hill, Bernard automatically becomes a weekly must start. Marvin Jones is a bit of a gamble at wide receiver, but as your WR5 or even WR6, he could turn into a flex option. I see A.J. Green as a WR1 but more on the lower end, as opposed to an elite option. Cincinnati is a run-oriented team now. and Andy Dalton isn't on my list of quarterbacks that excite me. Green isn't that high on my board as a result. 

Cleveland - Isaiah Crowell was solid last year despite sharing duties with Terrance West. He has a nose for the end zone which the Browns won't let go of quickly. Having said that, I do believe Duke Johnson will carve out a role for himself, especially as a pass-catching back. He's too talented not to be a key piece of the offense. At some point in the year, Johnson will be starting and everyone will be on his bandwagon. If you're looking for a late round tight end to target, you could do worse than Rob Housler. The Browns don't have a true bonafide go-to wide receiver. Dwayne Bowe, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and Brian Hartline aren't exactly players to hang your hat on. Housler could make an impact by default. Jordan Cameron did well in Cleveland, why not Housler? The fifth year pro is a forgotten commodity who was shunned in Arizona and their lack of a tight end presence in their offense. 

AFC South

Indianapolis - The Colts have a dynamic offense with strong pieces everywhere. A lot of people are high on Frank Gore and for good measure. He's a proven performer who can still bring it after age 30. His pass-catching numbers dropped considerably when offensive coordinator Greg Roman took over in San Francisco in 2011. People forget, Gore was a 50+ catch a year guy until Roman entered the equation, dropping his average catch total to 18 per year from 2011-2014. He could easily regain his pass-catching form with Andrew Luck and the high-flying Colts offense. I am also in the camp that believes Andre Johnson will have a big year with the Colts. Potentially even bigger than T.Y. Hilton. I may be in the minority there, but Johnson is a future Hall of Famer with a quarterback on the same path. Usually that leads to big things. The Colts will likely see more three wide receiver sets in 2015, which means both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener won't be on the field together that often. If I had to guess, Allen would see the field more, simply because he's the better blocker. Allen is a sleeper to reach 8-10 touchdowns in the Colts high powered offense. Mark it down. 

Tennessee - If there's one thing we know about Marcus Mariota, it's his accuracy as a passer. He also has the ability to throw well on the run and make plays with his feet when needed. He sounds a lot like Russell Wilson doesn't he?  We need to see how the offense caters to his abilities, but the benefits to his receivers could be a stark contrast to what we've seen in the past. Kendall Wright could turn into more of a run-after-the-catch threat with Mariota under center. His yards per reception has increased each year he's been in the league (9.8, 11.5, 12.5).We could see a bigger jump this year thanks to Mariota's accuracy. As for running back, I'm not counting out Bishop Sankey just yet, but I'm not going out of my way to give him a spot on my roster. If you're on the fence with the two tight ends in Indianapolis, consider Delanie Walker as a mid-round pick. Walker is capable of catching 5-7 passes any given week. If Tennessee's offense takes a turn for the better, Walker will be an even better play. 

Houston - Last year DeAndre Hopkins outperformed his teammate Andre Johnson in yards and touchdowns with over 40 more fantasy points. This year he'll have the primary receiving role all to himself with a complimentary receiver in Cecil Shorts. The eye test suggests that even with mediocre quarterback play, Hopkins can be a true fantasy threat. If I had to guess, Hopkins will finish higher than his 14th rank last year. He's a strong high end tier two wide receiver who could potentially leap into the elite tier with average quarterback play. As for Arian Foster, he could be a Top 5 running back or fall out of the Top 20 because another injury derails him. Buyer beware, but the reward could be huge. 

Jacksonville - There is so much interest in second year receiver Allen Robinson and somewhat equal interest in rookie running back T.J. Yeldon. If the Jaguars take flight offensively, we'll all be wishing we jumped on that bandwagon. An investment in Allen Robinson or Yeldon is a chip on the Jagaurs in general, which means you believe Blake Bortles can develop as a quarterback. If all of that appeals to you, dig in. Personally, I lean on the side of caution with the possibility of optimism. In other words, I'm staying away unless the value is incredibly in my favor in the draft. I do like a late round pick of Allen Hurns though. Low risk and moderate reward. 

AFC West

Oakland - Oakland is a fantasy wasteland right? Well, maybe that landscape is changing? Amari Cooper's presence suggests the Raiders offense could become something we'd all be interested in. Cincinnati struggled as an offense before they landed A.J. Green. Perhaps the same can happen for the Raiders? Amari Cooper has that same pedigree. Latavius Murray has my attention, especially if he can reach over 200 carries and have a respectable yards per carry average. I like his chances more if Oakland can grow into a .500 team or better. 

Denver - Denver is supposedly going with a two-wide receiver base offense that coach Gary Kubiak is known for. The running game will be front and center this year, especially if Peyton Manning's decline becomes more evident. For that reason, I am a big fan of C.J. Anderson as a Top 5 candidate. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should thrive in Kubiak's two wide receiver offense. Thomas moreso than Sanders. I'd be willing to take a late round flier on Owen Daniels, who has performed with Kubiak in two previous teams. The addition of Manning could make him fantasy relevant, even in the twilight of his career. Remember, Manning made Dallas Clark a household name and even made Jacob Tamme a fantasy star for a brief period. Why not Daniels, as long as he is healthy.

Kansas City - The Chiefs offense will be all about Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce. The question is, can both score enough to be dominant fantasy contributors? That's where I'm unsure. Charles has been a top flight fantasy back in the past and Kelce is definitely capable of big things in his pseudo second full year in the league. I'm not so sure they can both do it together, which is the only reason why I shy away from targeting Kelce before the mid-fourth round. Don't get me wrong, Kelce may reach 70-80 receptions this year but his touchdown totals may stay under six or seven. Is that elite?  Maybe, but there is some uncertainty in an average offense. 

San Diego - All eyes on Melvin Gordon. There is usually some hesitation when forecasting the success of rookie running backs, especially over the last few years when a committee approach has gained steam around the league. In years after LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers have struggled to find a true go-to running back to handle the load. Ryan Mathews was substituted out on many third down plays and known passing plays. Will Gordon be any different? How will Danny Woodhead's niche skill play into the Chargers offensive game plan? If Gordon sees a lot of action in the preseason with the first team offense and importantly key passing downs or third down plays, then I'm all in. I'll spend a third round pick (preferably mid-late) on him as my second running back. If San Diego continues to sub out their main back (Gordon) for Woodhead, then I'm off that bandwagon, as he won't justify the pick at his current ADP. 

NFC East

NY Giants - Rashad Jennings has caught my attention. When he starts, he has proven that he can do it all. Run for tough yards, especially goal line carries, catch passes and have enough durability to go a strong four quarters. He's my target in the sixth round and that should stay that way all the way into September, because there is still a lack of clarity on how much of a role Shane Vereen will have. Put me in the camp that believes Odell Beckham Jr. will pick up where he left off last year. His route running prowess, incredible hands, body control and run after the catch skills aren't going anywhere. Eli Manning is also someone I like to target as my backup quarterback or quarterback by committee approach. 

Philadelphia - I am convinced that Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor will dominate targets for the Eagles this year. Zach Ertz will also see plenty of action, but the receiving duo of Matthews and Agholor will be the team's primary fantasy threat. Agholor's ADP is two to three rounds after Matthews, which tells me Agholor is a better value if my predictions are correct. I'm virtually staying away from DeMarco Murray this year. His 450 touches in 2014 plus being on a different team is enough for me to exercise caution. He had 1,000 yards rushing before contact last year behind the Cowboys remarkable offensive line. Philadelphia has a decent line, but will they be good enough to give him gaping holes like he had in Dallas? Plus Darren Sproles will vulture his targets which lowers his value even more. Again, I'm likely staying clear of Murray unless he drops into the late second round, which I doubt happens. 

Dallas - The Cowboys are expected to have a good offense this year which means plenty of fantasy opportunities - outside of Dez Bryant, who are the main beneficiaries? I still believe Jason Witten has plenty left to offer. He's a good tight end to target after the first 8-9 are off the board. Right now it looks like a running back by committee approach with Joseph Randle leading the way, but a few fumbles in the first few games could result in Lance Dunbar getting a shot. I also wouldn't rule out a player that is not currently on the team - Perhaps Ahmad Bradshaw or Pierre Thomas if things don't pan out. I am not that high on Darren McFadden, but if the NFL is as crazy as it's always been, he could wind up being a fantasy steal if he can stay healthy. A name to file as a potential waiver claim if he hits is Devin Street. Terrence Williams isn't the answer as the team's second receiver opposite Bryant and the role could bounce right into Street's lap. 

Washington - There are those who draft Alfred Morris and there are those who do not. I am usually in the camp that stays away from him. I do not see Washington's offense as a high point producing unit and therefore I tend to shy away from certain players. Pierre Garcon burned a lot of people in 2014. His long term stats resemble a career year in 2013 and it could happen that he may never crack the Top 25 again. DeSean Jackson is boom or bust type of player who fits the best ball mold better than the week to week format. He'll have some big games but also disappear at times. The level of quarterback play will dictate how good he can be this year. I'm not sold on Robert Griffin as a difference maker in that equation. 

NFC North

Green Bay - Load up on the Packers, right? This is a shot in the dark prediction, but I can see a scenario where DaVante Adams takes away some of Jordy Nelson's thunder. Randall Cobb's role is safe, but Adams' emergence could result in decreasing numbers for Nelson. Consider this scenario - It's the first round and I have the seventh pick. Eddie Lacy is there, but I pass for someone better. Why pass on Lacy as a first round pick? He has finished as a Top 10 back in each year he's been in the league. What's not to love?  Aaron Rodgers is why. He throws too many touchdown passes that results in Lacy not being an every week lock to score. Could he?  Yes. Does he?  No. He scored 13 times last year, however there were seven games where he didn't score. That's not quite good enough for me to take him as my number one running back. I'll take Marshawn Lynch of C.J. Anderson instead. 

Minnesota - There is a lot of love for Adrian Peterson, and for good measure. There is also a lot of love for Teddy Bridgewater. Fact: Only one Vikings quarterback finished in the Top 20 in passing yards since Peterson was drafted - Brett Favre in 2009. Granted there were several mediocre quarterbacks who lined up under center for Minnesota to yield that statistic, but it concerns me that people are expecting too much from Bridgewater in 2015. 

Detroit - Calvin Johnson had 8 receiving touchdowns last year and nobody else was close. Matthew Stafford threw only 22 touchdowns and he took every snap. The word is that Detroit is going to rely more on their ground game this year. Ameer Abdullah is the back that I'm excited about. Joique Bell has proven to be a strong fantasy back, however the injuries he suffered last year and offseason surgery, give me pause. The uncertainty at running back is probably one of the reasons why Detroit selected Abdullah in the second round. If Abdullah impresses early and Bell shows a decline, the rise of Abdullah could be sooner than expected. 

Chicago - I can see Matt Forte as a Top 15 running back this year, but I don't see him in the Top 5. He's not catching 90 balls, let alone 80, let alone 70. Before Marc Trestman put his stamp on the Bears offense, Forte was a Top 10-20 back. That's probably where he'll finish in 2015. Alshon Jeffery is a good second round consolation prize at wide receiver, but I'm not sure if he'll crack the Top 8. People are concerned about Kevin White not seeing a lot of snaps as a rookie, especially if John Fox has anything to say about it. Before I nod my head in agreement, I need to see how he's used in the preseason. Remember when DeSean Jackson took the Eagles by storm as a rookie? I can see a similar path (not playing style, but path) if White is heavily utilized from the beginning. His draft stock is still low. If he hits in the preseason, it could climb significantly. 

NFC South

Atlanta - The Falcons led the league in receptions to wide receivers last year with 284 (DEN was 2nd with 268). Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter is now with Tampa Bay, but it's clear that Matt Ryan loves to target his wide receivers. Without a household name at tight end, we will probably see more of the same in 2014. Julio Jones is the jackpot in the offense and is worth every first round decision. Roddy White seemed to take a step back last year, so it wouldn't surprise me if we see an equal or similar decline this year. Rookie Justin Hardy could become a sneaky fantasy start at some point if he can pick things up quickly and play a role. Harry Douglas is with Tennessee and the void needs to be filled. The often inconsistent Leonard Hankerson could also garner some interest. Keep an eye on these two receivers. I'm not ready to turn the rushing role over to rookie Tevin Coleman, but he's the type of flier who could pay big dividends if he does pan out as a the Falcons lead back. 

Carolina - This is my thought process behind Jonathan Stewart. When Carolina plays well, Stewart usually has a good game. He was one of the better fantasy backs in the league in the latter part of the season in 2014. If Carolina can take control of the NFC South, Stewart has a shot at being a fantasy relevant weekly start. The presence of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess (not to mention Greg Olsen) is a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Panthers receiving game take their game to another level this year. Their schedule is favorable and Cam Newton is healthy and eager to take a step forward among his peers. 

Tampa Bay - I have a sneaky feeling that Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense will be among the league's leaders in pass attempts in 2015. If that's true, Mike Evans will be a stud, Vincent Jackson will have weekly starter value and Austin Seferian-Jenkins could see an uptick in production in his second year. This also means that Winston could become a low end tier one quarterback . Don't rule out rookie Kenny Bell as someone who could have intermittent value here and there. The Bucs offensive line is among the bottom ten of the league, which gives me pause on committing too much effort on Doug Martin or Charles Sims. If the offense struggles, the running game will too - hence the reason for so many pass attempts. 

New Orleans - The Saints offense is one of my biggest uncertainties heading into the season. Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas and Kenny Stills leave a huge void in the receiving game. Either Drew Brees will find others to fill the void or the offense in general will take a step back. I do believe that C.J. Spiller is going to have an immediate impact and will be just as good, if not better than Darren Sproles was in his prime with the Saints. In other words, he has tier one running back status on a weekly basis in PPR leagues and significantly high value in standard leagues. Brandin Cooks is also someone to be excited about. The Saints game script could feature plenty of passing if the defense struggles to improve. Cooks could see 7-10 receptions per game in the early going against a schedule that is capable of putting up points. I'm not all-in on Cooks, but I do want to have some shares in my roster portfolio. 

NFC West

Seattle - The Seahawks aren't exactly a fantasy thrill ride, but the addition of Jimmy Graham gives the needle a tilt upwards. I don't see Graham putting up video game numbers in Seattle's conservative, run-oriented offensive approach, however I see him scoring often. Seattle can definitely reach the red zone and that's where Graham shines. A double digit touchdown season is possible and even likely. Catching 80+ passes and exceeding 1,000 yards may not be in the cards. Marshawn Lynch appears to improve with age. If that's true we could be in for another solid year of fantasy production. Russell Wilson should see an uptick in yards and fantasy potential simply due to Graham. If he's available in the sixth round, take him. 

Arizona - One of my biggest Kool-Aid gulps of the off season is second year receiver John Brown. Bruce Arians has thrived with smallish, gritty, energetic and high work ethic receivers. Case in point Hines Ward, Antontio Brown and T.Y. Hilton. Brown is equally capable and has the opportunity to seize a sizable role in the Cardinals offense this year. He has a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer and an offense that can move the ball. Before Palmer's injury last year, the Cardinals were ahead of Seattle in the NFC West and were looking to take control of the division for good. Then the walls fell down. How quickly we forget how good Arizona was with Palmer under center. Andre Ellington is also someone who I am targeting in the late third or fourth round. Arizona upgraded their offensive line in the offseason and Ellington (foot) is now healthy. The Cardinals are ripe to be a threat on offense and I am looking to purchase a ticket on the train. 

St. Louis - It's entirely possible that rookie running back Todd Gurley (knee) won't see the field for at least the first few games, if not longer. The Rams are built to run and stop the run. Jeff Fisher is looking for the 10's version of Eddie George and Gurley is the man....but when?  In the meantime, take a flier on Tre Mason, because he's going to see a lot of looks in the early going. At least it seems that way as we enter camp. I'm not high on any Rams receivers other than Brian Quick and even Quick is someone I'm not going out of my way to draft. I don't trust Nick Foles and the Rams don't scare me as a team to score over 17 points per game this year. In short, unless Gurley returns quickly and confidently, I'm staying clear of the Rams for fantasy appeal. 

San Francisco - The 49ers may have lost head coach Jim Harbaugh in the offseason, but the coaching staff and their tendencies are largely still in tact. Their defense took a hit with injuries and retirements and the offensive line has been raided by other teams in the offseason. San Francisco may be lucky to win five games this year. Usually teams who struggle on offense and defense are poor fantasy producers - with Jamaal Charles being the exception. I don't see any reason to draft Carlos Hyde. He's not a big pass catching back. They have Reggie Bush for that. If the 49ers are often trailing, their running game won't be a force. If anything the passing game could actually be worth something. Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and one of my favorite sleepers, Bruce Ellington, could have decent value this year. Ellington has a skill set similar to Percy Harvin's and could be an offensive threat as a rusher or receiver if the play calling is creative enough to involve him more. I am not a fan of the boring 49ers offense, but Ellington gives me promise, if they can figure out a way to use him as a weapon. 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com

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