All-Fantasy First Team
QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos
RB1: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
RB2: C.J. Anderson, Broncos
WR1: Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
WR3: Keenan Allen, Chargers
TE: Travis Kelce, Chiefs
K: Connor Barth, Broncos
1. Amari Cooper, Raiders: I think we definitely have a case of recency bias with Cooper’s ADP. Last year’s rookie class has the expectations for this year’s group through the roof. I can’t get behind Cooper being drafted as WR19 in the fourth round. Cooper is uber-talented, yes, but the Oakland offense is still one of the worst in the league with a quarterback in Derek Carr who averaged a pitiful 5.5 YPA as a rookie. Cooper should lead the Raiders in targets and threaten 90-plus catches, but I’m concerned about his touchdown potential in addition to the presence of capable pass catchers Michael Crabtree and Rod Streater. The Raiders are going to run the ball as much as they can.
2. Owen Daniels, Broncos: Daniels being drafted as TE8 ahead of Jordan Cameron, Delanie Walker and Jason Witten among others is actually pretty hilarious. I get he’s a Gary Kubiak guy and will be playing with the best quarterback he’s ever had, but Daniels is going to be 33 and was hobbling around on one leg at times last season. Unlike in Baltimore last season, the Broncos have a red-zone dominator in Demaryius Thomas. Daniels isn’t going to be stepping into Julius Thomas’ old role.
3. Cody Latimer, Broncos: Latimer is being drafted ahead of Kenny Stills and Rueben Randle. I’m pretty sure I’d take those two over Latimer if given the choice. Latimer has gobs of upside, but he’s likely going to need an injury to Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders to have any redraft value in regular-sized 12-team leagues. Those two haven’t missed a game in four years. While Peyton Manning offenses of the past could support multiple receivers, this year’s version will lean more on C.J. Anderson and the run game with two-tight end sets.
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1. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs: Rotoworld’s own Patrick Daugherty had a great writeup on Maclin being undervalued at his current ADP here. Nobody is expecting Maclin to match last season’s numbers when he was WR9 overall, but he’s still the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on his team playing for a coach in Andy Reid who absolutely adores him and plans to funnel the ball his way. There’s zero chance Chiefs receivers are going to be held out of the end zone for a second consecutive year. While Alex Smith is certainly a drain on receivers, Maclin wins at all levels. He’s a great value in the sixth round.
2. Philip Rivers, Chargers: Most forget about Rivers’ piping-hot start to last season when he compiled 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions the first eight weeks. Injuries later ravaged the Chargers, striking Rivers first, as he was dealing with both rib and back problems. Now healthy, loaded with more skill-player talent and a sturdier offensive line, Rivers is a late-round quarterback favorite. Keenan Allen is poised for a bounce-back, Stevie Johnson is an upgrade, and Ladarius Green is finally expected to see serious run as a pass catcher. Danny Woodhead is also back from injury.
3. Stevie Johnson, Chargers: Rotoworld head honcho Evan Silva has been leading the charge on Stevie Johnson for months now, and we’ve supported the Bolts’ addition since Johnson signed on after getting cut by the 49ers in a salary-cap move. The 49ers probably would have preferred to keep him, but couldn’t at his $5 million-plus price. Malcom Floyd turns 34 ahead of Week 1. Johnson is still just 29 and can play all three receiver spots as a crisp route runner and technician. He’s an upgrade on the diminutive Eddie Royal and will play an even bigger role while Antonio Gates is suspended. If Keenan Allen somehow can’t find his rookie-year form, Johnson would be a candidate to lead San Diego in receiving. Either way, he’s going to be a big part of the offense.
1. Ladarius Green, Chargers: Green gets talked up every summer, but the #FreeLadarius movement might finally come to life in 2015. With Antonio Gates banned the first four games, Green will be the Chargers’ No. 1 tight end. Coach Mike McCoy insists the offense will remain the same sans Gates, meaning Green will see a spike in usage for at least the first month of the season. Even when Gates returns, the Chargers have said they want to find ways to get the ball to Green.
2. Albert Wilson, Chiefs: Wilson became a full-time player over the course of the final month last season. After a full offseason, Wilson remains the favorite for No. 2 duties behind Jeremy Maclin, especially with rookie Chris Conley missing what has now been a week-and-a-half of practices with a knee injury. We doubt the Kansas City offense can support much more than Jamaal Charles, Maclin, and Travis Kelce, but Wilson will definitely have weeks where he pops off. At 5’9/200 with 4.43 wheels, he’s worth a flier in deeper formats and would come into play if Maclin were to get hurt.
3. Roy Helu, Raiders: Helu is listed as Oakland’s No. 2 running back behind Latavius Murray, but should have a role on offense right out of the chute on passing downs. Murray has yet to show he can carry a full load at the NFL level and was dinged up at times late last season. If Murray goes down, Helu and his career 4.4 YPC average would be in line for double-digit touches. Trent Richardson showed up to camp out of shape and is currently No. 4 on the depth chart. In PPR leagues, Helu has standalone value as an RB3/4.
4. Danny Woodhead, Chargers: Woodhead missed all but three games last season with a broken leg and ankle. Prior to getting hurt, Woodhead has been a fixture in San Diego’s offense as the third-down and pass-game back. That’s not going to change, even with Melvin Gordon in town. Gordon has very little experience as a pass catcher and has struggled in pass protection at camp. Most view Woodhead as a PPR-only running back, but he was RB19 overall in standard formats in 2013.