Evan Silva

Goal Line Stand

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Silva's Post-Season Top 200

Monday, January 27, 2014

36. Reggie Bush -- Bush was a first-half fantasy monster in his debut season as a Lion before fading down the stretch, and being outplayed by Joique Bell. The biggest concern for Bush's 2014 outlook is whether Detroit's new coaching staff sees him as a feature back. Outgoing OC Scott Linehan ran a pass-heavy, shotgun-based offense in which Bush could function effectively on 270-plus touches. Bell is more of a classic I-formation back. I'd be looking to sell Bush in Dynasty.

37. Frank Gore -- Gore turns 31 in May and has 956 carries over the last three seasons, including playoffs. He'll be the biggest age-workload risk in 2014 fantasy drafts. Throw in Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore as serious competitors for work, and Gore will be a tough sell despite his third straight top-13 running back finish. Over his final ten 2013-2014 games, Gore managed 592 yards and three scores on 162 runs (3.65 YPC). He hit 100 rushing yards once in the final 13.

38. Giovani Bernard -- New Bengals OC Hue Jackson is a run-game believer and will implement an offense built on the ground, attempting to mask Andy Dalton's deficiencies and keep the chains moving rather than ask Dalton to win games. Bernard's 2014 fantasy stock could explode if Cincinnati does something like cut BenJarvus Green-Ellis ($2.5 million) and install Rex Burkhead or Cedric Peerman as the No. 2 back. If they retain Law Firm or sign Darren McFadden, Gio could again be reduced to 14-16 touches per game. Ultimately, it's going to come down to whether Jackson feels Gio can be Ray Rice, or if Hue sees him as more of a complementary scatback.

39. Wes Welker -- Welker's disappointing statistical finish, mounting concussions, and age (33 in May) are certainly worth noting, but could end up making him a value pick in next fall's drafts. Still able to get open early in routes seemingly at will, Welker's arrow could point further upward if Eric Decker walks in free agency. I expect him to, setting up Welker for another strong WR2 season.

40. Cam Newton -- We can nitpick Cam to high heaven, but the guy has finished third, fourth, and third in fantasy quarterback scoring in his first three NFL seasons. In his first year under OC Mike Shula, Newton made major strides with his consistency, completion rate (61.7), and passer rating (88.8). If the Panthers acquire a true alpha-type receiver this offseason, look for Shula to open up the 2014 offense. Shula eased Newton along slowly in 2013, adding more to his plate each week.

41. Michael Crabtree -- Making an impressive recovery from an offseason Achilles' tendon tear, 26-year-old Crabtree wound up appearing in eight games in 2013-2014, racking up 34 receptions for 487 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers don't extrapolate as impressively on a 16-game schedule, but Crabtree mostly looked sharp in terms of run after catch and exploding in and out of breaks. Crabtree will be a popular bounce-back, breakout-type target in his contract year.

42. Shane Vereen -- Slated for a huge role in OC Josh McDaniels' offense, Vereen lost eight games to wrist surgery and was utilized inconsistently as the Patriots became more of a power running team down the stretch. He still totaled 761 yards from scrimmage with seven all-purpose touchdowns across ten appearances, including playoffs. The Patriots' game plan-specific strategy will always impact Vereen's consistency, but I'll be targeting him as an RB2 in PPR, and a flex with upside in 2014 standard leagues. He's more an in-space "satellite" back than true workhorse.

43. Knowshon Moreno -- An impending free agent, the best landing spot for Moreno's 2014 value is staying in Denver, where he would remain the Broncos' most polished all-around back and likely keep the lead role for one more season, barring dramatic improvements from Montee Ball's pass protection and ball security. There are major limitations on Moreno's running ability, and I think he'd be exposed outside of a Peyton Manning offense. So he's a lock to move up or down this list.

44. Matthew Stafford -- New Lions coach Jim Caldwell is something of a quarterbacks guru, which bodes well for Stafford's to-date wayward mechanics. The Caldwell hire doesn't necessarily mean Stafford will continue to put up yearly top-seven QB1 stats. Much of Stafford's box-score success has been attributable to outgoing OC Scott Linehan's pass-happy ways, as Detroit ranked sixth, third, first, first, and fifth in pass attempts in Linehan's five years. Coming from Baltimore, Caldwell may draw up more of a conventional offense with less shotgun and increased base running plays.

45. Victor Cruz -- Cruz's '13 production fell off a cliff with the rest of New York's "broken" offense, as opponents sold out to stop the Giants' slot receiver with no real perimeter passing threats. The G-Men have turned to ex-Packers OC Ben McAdoo in replacing Kevin Gilbride. McAdoo was on Mike McCarthy's staff for Randall Cobb's breakout 2012 season. Still only 27, Cruz could be the primary statistical beneficiary of the McAdoo hire. Buy low where possible in Dynasty leagues.

46. Vincent Jackson -- Although new Bucs OC Jeff Tedford is a total unknown at the NFL level, it isn't rocket science to identify V-Jax as Tampa's go-to guy in the passing game. Jackson's week-to-week consistency should also improve if the Bucs restore a viable No. 2 target (Mike Williams) and potent rushing attack. Now 31 years old, Jackson's Dynasty value is beginning to dim but he's been a top-14 fantasy wideout in three straight years and should return solid WR2 value in 2014.

47. Vernon Davis -- My No. 4 fantasy tight end behind Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, and Rob Gronkowski, Davis scored 15 touchdowns in 18 games this past season, including playoffs. And it still felt like Davis wasn't targeted enough. Davis improved greatly as a route runner in 2013, and his usage could continue to rise with Anquan Boldin a free agent. Davis turns 30 on January 31.

48. Roddy White -- I'll bet many 2014 fantasy drafters will be scared off by White's combination of advancing age (32) and recent injuries. So he's likely to be a value pick. Shaking off his knee and ankle ailments late in the season, White racked up 43 catches for 502 yards and two scores over Atlanta's final five games, good for a beastly 138-1,607-7 extrapolation. Look, the guy can still ball. The type of receiver who could remain productive into his mid to late 30s, White is someone to target in Dynasty leagues. I think he could return second- or third-round value in 2014 re-drafts.

49. T.Y. Hilton -- If you saw Hilton play at pretty much any point this season, you'd question why or how this 24-year-old born playmaker wasn't a regular starter until Indianapolis' Week 8 bye. Although there were some bumps along the way as defenses keyed up to stop him, Hilton caught at least five balls in eight of the Colts' final nine regular season games. From Week 9 on -- an 11-game stretch including the playoffs -- Hilton pasted opponents for a 72-998-5 line, working out to 105-1,452-8 on a 16-week projection. Even with Reggie Wayne (ACL surgery) virtually certain to return, Hilton will remain the favorite to lead Indy in receiving yards in year two of Pep Hamilton.

50. Torrey Smith -- Smith will enter his contract season at age 25 having set career bests in catches (65) and yards (1,128) in 2013. The return of Dennis Pitta and a potential upgrade at No. 2 receiver could help Smith, as he faced double teams as frequently as any wideout in football this past season. Smith may never be a 90-catch guy, but he's still ascending and will remain a WR2.

51. Percy Harvin -- The definition of a high-risk, high-reward fantasy pick, Harvin will enter 2014 having missed all but three of his teams' previous 25 games. He's battled an assortment of injuries (hip, concussion, ankle), but doesn't turn 26 until May and has MVP-type talent whenever available. In addition to durability, concerns include Seattle's run-first, receiver-unfriendly offense. But he'll be a must-start whenever he plays next season. I'll let you guess how much that'll be.

52. C.J. Spiller -- Spiller wasn't a 2013 fantasy dud because he suddenly lost running talent. The Bills' rookie coaching staff struggled to give him space early on, and for most of the rest of the season head-scratchingly let Spiller play through a high ankle sprain. Spiller still somehow managed to average 4.62 yards per carry and total 1,118 yards from scrimmage, finishing as the fantasy RB27 a year after ranking seventh at his position. As Fred Jackson will be 33 1/2 when the 2014 season starts, Buffalo's running back pendulum figures to swing back toward Spiller.

53. Matt Ryan -- Ryan will be the best bounce-back quarterback bet in 2014 fantasy football with Julio Jones and Roddy White returning from injury-plagued seasons. A top-eight fantasy passer in three of his last four years, Ryan would benefit from the offseason addition of a tight end to help replace Tony Gonzalez's production. Still under the direction of pass-first OC Dirk Koetter, Ryan has lost nothing off his fastball going on age 29 and remains positioned for statistical success.

54. Kendall Wright -- The touchdowns never quite did come, but Wright's 2013 breakout (94-1,079-2) took full effect despite sub-average quarterback play. Emerging as Randall Cobb South, Wright may be one of the most underrated long-range commodities in all of fantasy. Particularly valuable in PPR, Wright could flirt with low-end WR1 value in that format next season. Dynasty owners should hope ex-Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt utilizes Wright like Keenan Allen in 2014. Allen and Wright have different body types, but are similarly movable around the formation.

55. Andrew Luck -- Through two NFL seasons, Luck has now finished tenth and fourth among fantasy passers while improving his completion rate (60.2%), TD-to-INT ratio (23:9), sack rate (5.3), and rushing yards (377) dramatically as a sophomore despite a dip of 57 pass attempts under conservative rookie OC Pep Hamilton. Luck can be an annual top 3-5 QB1 staple if the Colts open up their offense going forward. For now, he's still only viewable as a mid-range QB1.

56. Philip Rivers -- Rejuvenated in Mike McCoy's quick-hitting pass offense, Rivers played as comfortably in the pocket as he has since 2010, leading the NFL in completion rate (69.5) and finishing as the fantasy QB5 despite losing Danario Alexander (ACL) and Malcom Floyd (neck) to year-ending injuries early on. The concern is that McCoy's run-heavy late-season approach is a sign of things to come for 2014, which would limit Rivers' upside and pass attempts. Including the postseason, Rivers threw the football 30-plus times in just one of San Diego's final six games.

57. Jordan Cameron -- Cameron was a cinch 2013 breakout in Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner's famously tight end-friendly offense, but his skill set isn't limited to one scheme. He's a highly athletic former basketball player whose game evolved rapidly en route to a 80-917-7 line and fifth place fantasy TE1 finish. Cameron battled slumps due to Cleveland's quarterback musical chairs, but took a big leap as a physical presence and could always stretch the field. Whether he can repeat those numbers in the post-Chud/Norv era may still largely depend on the Browns' next QB.

58. Marques Colston -- Colston turned in the weakest first half of his career in 2013, before returning from a midseason knee injury to compile a 61-761-5 line over the final ten games, including playoffs. It's a 98-catch, 1,213-yard, eight-score 16-game pace, which would've placed Colston 13th among fantasy wideouts, just behind Andre Johnson and ahead of Pierre Garcon. Colston's 31-year-old (in June) body may be wearing down some after so many career knee surgeries, but I tend to believe the slow start was an aberration. I'd love him as my WR3 in 2014.

59. Dennis Pitta -- Slated for a heavy-volume role as Baltimore's chain mover to Torrey Smith's deep threat, Pitta's July hip fracture/dislocation was an early nail in the Super Bowl 47 champs' 2013 coffin. Pitta returned in December for stat lines of 6-48-1, 2-24, 4-34, and 8-63 in the final four games. Now a 28-year-old free agent, retaining Pitta is likely to be a priority for Baltimore. He's a relatively safe bounce-back bet with a chance to lead the Ravens in 2014 receptions.

60. Jay Cutler -- The Bears are certainly pleased with Cutler's progress in QB Whisperer Marc Trestman's offense, locking him up for $126.7 million over seven years on January 2. In the ten 2013 games where Cutler was healthy enough to play most of Chicago's offensive snaps, he went 221-of-347 (63.7%) for 2,593 yards (7.47 YPA) and a 19:11 TD-to-INT ratio, good for mid-range QB1 stats (31 TDs, 260-yard average) on a full schedule. Cutler has elite weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Martellus Bennett, and is a lock to be a 2014 fantasy value pick.

61. Eric Decker -- Decker reached elite statistical heights in two seasons with Peyton Manning, finishing as the fantasy WR8 and WR9, respectively. The Broncos will soon have to lock up Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas -- both enter contract years -- so I expect free agent Decker to be the odd man out of Denver this offseason. And I think he could be exposed a bit away from a Peyton offense. Decker remains a good bet to return WR2/3 value, but is highly unlikely to remain a WR1. Reuniting with Josh McDaniels in New England is a possibility.

62. Julian Edelman -- Long an intriguing talent, Edelman finally realized his potential in a breakout 2013 campaign, emerging as easily Tom Brady's most reliable receiver en route to career highs in catches (105), yards (1,056), and touchdowns (6). I ranked Edelman conservatively here because he's an impending free agent, but he'd fly quickly up the list if re-signed by the Pats. More than just a scrappy slot receiver, Edelman wins on both inside and outside routes. He turns 28 in May.

63. Nick Foles -- Foles didn't beat out Michael Vick to start Opening Day, but flourished when his opportunity came. Starting all but one game from Week 6 on, Foles led the NFL in yards-per-attempt average (9.1), QB rating (119.2), and touchdown rate (8.5%). He posted a near-flawless 27:2 TD-to-INT ratio and ranked sixth among signal callers in per-game fantasy scoring. Foles is something of a "system" quarterback, as he lacks elite physical traits and was inarguably buoyed by Philly's league-best rushing attack. But you can't argue with his 2013 efficiency. Foles will be a back-end QB1 with upside in 2014 drafts. I'd balk at leaning on him as a long-term Dynasty QB1.

64. Jordan Reed -- Aaron Hernandez lite, fellow Florida alum Reed was emerging as a top-end TE1 before a Week 11 concussion ended his season. The Shanahans utilized Reed as the Shannon Sharpe to Pierre Garcon's Rod Smith. The brain injury isn't expected to affect Reed's future outlook, but Washington's coaching change to Jay Gruden could. In three years as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator, Gruden never oversaw a tight end who reached 750 yards. Reed will have to improve his blocking to max his potential in Gruden's rotation-heavy offense.

65. Ben Tate -- Tate is ranked conservatively because I have no idea where he'll be playing in 2014. The free agent won't return to Houston and has battled injuries for significant portions of three of his four NFL seasons. Turning 26 before next season, Tate has averaged a robust 4.73 yards per carry on 421 career totes, with ten touchdowns and 58 catches. He will rise if he lands a clear starting job on the open market. Tate is a downhill power back with above-average talent.

66. Stevan Ridley -- In between two fumbling-induced benchings, Ridley shredded the league for a combined 95-441-7 line in Weeks 4-11, averaging 4.64 YPC and playing like every bit the back who finished as fantasy's RB10 the season before. Now entering the last year of his rookie deal, 25-year-old Ridley figures to get one last crack at New England's lead back role with Shane Vereen as his "passing-back" complement. Things could get trickier, of course, if the Patriots re-sign free agent LeGarrette Blount. Ridley figures to be a boom-or-bust fantasy selection in 2014.

67. Montee Ball -- After beginning his rookie year painfully slowly, Ball wound up finishing the regular season with a 4.66 YPC average (Knowshon Moreno's was 4.31) and earning a timeshare with Denver's impending free agent starter. Including playoffs, Ball handled eight-plus touches in nine of the Broncos' final 11 games. Ball remains imperfect in pass protection -- critical for any tailback in a Peyton Manning offense -- but will get a chance to win Denver's 2014 lead back role if his improvement continues. There is no question that Ball is the Broncos' best pure runner.

68. Cordarrelle Patterson -- A rookie All-Pro kickoff returner, Patterson led the NFL in return average (32.4), 40-plus-yard returns (10), return touchdowns (2) and yards per carry (13.2) among rushers with at least 12 attempts. He scored six touchdowns over his final five games. With video-game talent, Patterson the Playmaker will be a trendy 2014 breakout pick. Obstacles for Patterson will be his continued rawness as a route runner and Minnesota's quarterback woes.

69. Tony Romo -- The Cowboys' identity-less offense was all sorts of dysfunctional in 2013, and playing Miles Austin way more snaps than he deserved essentially inserted a black hole into Dallas' lineup. Romo still finished a respectable tenth in per-game QB scoring and threw 31 touchdown passes, tied for the second most of his career. The arrow is quietly pointing up on Romo, as Austin is expected to be a June 1 cap cut. Look for a lot more of promising pups Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Gavin Escobar behind Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in '14.

70. Steven Jackson -- Jackson's on-field performance improved slightly as he finally recovered from a Week 2 hamstring tear down the stretch, but he still failed to clear 4.0 yards per carry in 9-of-12 appearances. Atlanta's cap savings would be minor ($1.83 million) were Jackson released, so I think the odds still slightly favor his return. The Falcons' offense is a lock to improve with Julio Jones and Roddy White back healthy, but Jackson turns 31 in July and remains the NFL's active leader in carries -- by 365 over Frank Gore. He'll be worth a look as a 2014 flex pick, not an RB2.

71. Robert Griffin III -- RG3's nightmarish sophomore year saw his running ability sapped by the previous season's knee injury, and Griffin's per-game scoring plummet from fantasy's QB5 as a rookie to QB12 in 2013. At age 24 with 21 months between the ACL/LCL tear when the 2014 season starts, Griffin will be a better bet to rebound than not. Boosting his volume will be new coach Jay Gruden's pass-first offense, as Gruden allowed Andy Dalton to rank ninth in the NFL in pass attempts per game this past season despite far inferior talent to Griffin. RG3 ranked 16th.

72. Ray Rice -- Leave out Week 11 against Chicago's historically sieve-ish run defense, and Rice managed 529 yards and three touchdowns on 189 carries (2.80 YPC) in his other 14 games. Rice allegedly played most of the season through a painful hip injury, but it's entirely possible past workloads have simply caught up with him. Greg Schiano ran Rice 910 times in three seasons as a college player, and including playoffs he has amassed 1,621 more across six years in the NFL.

73. Tom Brady -- Brady's intermediate to deep accuracy has regressed in back-to-back seasons, and his supporting cast continues to be a huge question mark with Julian Edelman scheduled for free agency, Rob Gronkowski nursing ACL and MCL tears, and Danny Amendola fantastically flopping in his first season in Foxboro. Brady turns 37 before next season and isn't taking the Peyton Manning late-career path. It certainly doesn't help that New England is transitioning from a pass-first to run-heavy team. I expect to feel at a disadvantage if Tom Terrific is my 2014 QB1.

74. Rashad Jennings -- Rebounding from a brutal year in Jacksonville, Jennings outplayed Darren McFadden en route to a rock-solid 163-733-4.5-6 rushing line with career highs in receptions (36) and yards (292) despite playing behind one of the league's least talented offensive lines. Jennings won't be a coveted free agent going on age 29, but could return RB2/flex value by staying on as a stopgap starter in Oakland. Dynasty owners should be hoping Jennings does not change teams.

75. Chris Johnson -- The Titans should have cut him two offseasons ago. Although Johnson still intermittently flashes game-breaking ability, his on-field effort has been inconsistent to be kind, and his 2013 YPC average of 3.86 was the worst of his career. Turning 29 early next season and a certainty to be released by Tennessee, Johnson is likely to prove no more than a 2014 tease. The ability hasn't evaporated, but the desire to be great went out the window several years back.

76. Reggie Wayne -- Before tearing his right ACL and meniscus on October 20, Wayne was on pace for 87 catches, 1,150 yards, and five touchdowns. Those numbers look somewhat enticing on paper, but expecting a 35-year-old receiver coming off a major knee injury to return better than middling WR3 stats would be awfully bold. Still, the Colts aren't parting ways with Wayne at a reasonable $4 million salary. Look for Wayne in a clear possession role in 2014. With the emergence of T.Y. Hilton, there is reason to believe Wayne's days of high fantasy impact are over.

77. Jason Witten -- Although Witten isn't showing major signs of decline going on age 32, he's just a keep-you-competitive tight end starter whose weekly scoring falls well short of the top four. He's not worth a premium fantasy pick. There's an argument to be made that you could stream tight ends and come very close to Witten's game-by-game production, even beating it some weeks.

78. Trent Richardson -- The biggest disappointment of the football season in both real life and fantasy, Richardson performed like a disinterested plodder in 2013, running without instincts or confidence as his YPC average plummeted to 2.92 in 14 regular season appearances as a Colt. Confirming their displeasure with Richardson's performance, the team let him touch the rock four times in two playoff games. Richardson rewarded them with one yard. T-Rich wouldn't be the first left-for-dead running back to experience a career revival (see Marshawn Lynch, Cedric Benson, Knowshon Moreno), but he needs to shed weight and rediscover his quick-twitch explosion. Even with Donald Brown entering free agency, the Colts won't be handing Richardson a starting job.

79. Rueben Randle -- Randle will be a wildly popular 2014 breakout pick as he replaces Hakeem Nicks in the starting lineup. Ideally, new Giants OC Ben McAdoo -- formerly Green Bay's QBs coach -- will utilize Randle in the Jordy Nelson role, with Victor Cruz filling Randall Cobb's shoes. A certified playmaker on limited to-date playing time, 22-year-old Randle is sitting on a combined 60-909-15.2-9 line through two NFL seasons. He has some warts, but is a touchdown scorer.

80. Russell Wilson -- Wilson has ranked ninth and eighth in fantasy quarterback scoring through two NFL seasons, but Seattle's run-heavy philosophy has a limiting effect on his production, and Wilson's stretch-run decline is cause for 2014 concern. He was a noticeably ineffective passer over Seattle's final six games, including the Wild Card and Divisional rounds. Wilson should be viewed as a low-end QB1, but rising higher will require better play and a more wide-open offense.

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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
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