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QB Peyton Manning
Under first-year offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Peyton Manning had the best statistical season of his future Hall of Fame career. Manning was simply on another level in 2013, and there's not many reasons to think he won't come close to the same size of numbers in 2014.
In 2013, Manning threw for NFL single-season records in both passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55). He began the fantasy season by throwing for seven touchdowns against the Ravens in Week1, and that was good for around 50 (or more) fantasy points. Manning only had one game below 20 fantasy points (Week 12 at New England) all season long.
Not only is Manning spectacular as a "set-it-and-forget-it" fantasy starter, but he's also incredibly consistent. The Broncos offense runs through Manning, and they have no problem running up the score on an inferior opponent.
During the offseason, the Broncos lost starting wide receiver Eric Decker and starting running back Knowshon Moreno in free agency. Neither were courted by the team to stick around, and the Broncos have plans in place to replace both players. The offense should look the same as it did last year for the most part.
Emmanuel Sanders has speed that Decker did not. He's already working to establish strong chemistry with Manning, and he could actually be an upgrade over Decker. Montee Ball is likely to be the lead back for the Broncos. So long as he proves himself in pass-protection, Ball should be able to put up better numbers than Moreno did as a runner. It will be tough to duplicate what Moreno did as a receiver (60 receptions), but Ball could easily catch over 40 passes this year.
Manning is showing no signs of throwing down. It wasn't that long ago that some questioned whether or not he could continue playing after four surgical procedures to fuse his neck. Now, Manning is back on top of the mountain--and he's gunning for some of Brett Favre's all-time records. At this pace, it won't be long before he owns every important statistical record for quarterbacks in the NFL.
It's a no-brainer to add Manning as your QB1 at any point in your draft.
QB Drew Brees
QB Aaron Rodgers
It's Aaron Rodgers. Of course he's going to do well. The Packers struggled without him and nearly missed the playoffs. But he came back strong and won a tough road game against Chicago to lead his team to the playoffs. With a full off season to recover, Rodgers should be 100% by the time the season begins. A strong running game and some inexperience at WR might limit his upside, but Rodgers has always proven his favorite target is the open man. He always seems to find a way, and that shouldn't be any different this season. He may not make it back to the top two from a fantasy prospective, but a top five finish should well within his reach.
QB Matthew Stafford
Yet again, Matthew Stafford stands at a crossroads in his career. Is he really an elite NFL quarterback or just a guy who throws the ball to Calvin Johnson all the time. Can his competitive nature really take his team to the next level or is he just a guy who piles up the stats with nothing to show for it. This could be the season that he finally silences the critics. No matter what the outcome though, fantasy owners will be happy with the results. Stafford is a guy who likes to throw and throw and throw. With a stud like Calvin Johnson catching the ball and Reggie Bush finally getting the running game on track, Stafford will definitely put up solid numbers. But the addition of Golden Tate finally gives Stafford another weapon with some real experience. And rookie tight end Eric Ebron will make a nice complement to Brandon Pettigrew. Look for Stafford to mentally make a shift this season, setting him up for the next several seasons as the captain of Detroit's offense.
QB Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck is entering his third year in the league and second with the same coaching staff led by head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Luck amassed 4,374 yards passing in his rookie season, only to drop his yardage totals down to 3,822 with the same number of touchdown passes (23). Interestingly enough, he finished higher in fantasy rankings last year compared to 2012. Luck adds a rushing threat to his arsenal, rushing for 9 touchdowns in his first two years in the league. If he can put it all together and accumulate more passing touchdowns, he'll be near the top among fantasy quarterbacks. It is definitely possible for Luck to take the next step forward this year and become one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. The Colts will have a strong mix of talent in the receiving game for the 2014 season. The trio of wide receivers, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks will handle the majority of the load. There's also the combination of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener at tight end, who will provide additional weapons. The blueprint is in place for Luck to continue to rise to fame. He has always been a consistent and capable quarterback from a fantasy perspective with little to no risk. If there is any one quarterback in the league that is capable of taking his game to another level, it's Andrew Luck. The Colts have a bye in week 10, with five other teams. From a drafting standpoint, his bye week concern is moderate.
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