Top Ten Biggest Fantasy Impact Games of 2014 - (No Slideshow Required)
The NFL schedule was released last week, so let's take a closer look at some potential high-scoring affairs. Forget about defense winning championships because the only thing we care about is lighting up the scoreboard.
10. Week 7: Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts
QB Andrew Luck has some new toys at his disposal. WR Hakeem Nicks has been added to the fold and WR Reggie Wayne is healthy again. Also keep an eye on deep sleeper WR Da'Rick Rogers. The Ravens also poached the NFC for some talent by adding WR Steve Smith from Carolina. The lingering question for both clubs is which RBs will be a factor. RB Trent Richardson has underachieved for most of his young career. Although it may not matter if RBs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw are unable to carry the load. In Baltimore, RB Ray Rice may face a suspension or could very well be demoted with RB Bernard Pierce close on his heels in production. The Ravens offense was very underwhelming and they will have hopefully found their strides by Week 7.
9. Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons
Due to his injuries, it is really easy to forget how prolific WR Julio Jones could be. In just five games last year, he caught 41 passes for 580 yards and two TDs. Extrapolate that over a full season and he could have had something like 130 catches for 1,800 yards and six TDs. Not to be outdone, WR Antonio Brown had a career season in his own right. He caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards and eight TDs; in the process, securing himself a place among the Top 10 WRs in the NFL. Speaking of similar players, RB Steven Jackson is listed at 6'2" and 240 lbs. RB Le'Veon Bell is 6'1" and 244 lbs. Both backs use their tremendous power and quick feet to churn out those tough yards. Bell is in a great position to continue to build upon the momentum of his rookie campaign. Jackson has obviously lost a step, but can still lay the wood. Just ask Washington Redskins defensive back Josh Wilson.
8. Week 8: Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last offseason, everybody and their mother was in love with RB Doug Martin. He closed out his rookie year very strong and now, there are some wondering if he'll split snaps with two other guys. Sure, a split backfield is possible but Martin is 25 years old and in the prime of his career. Speaking of crazy talented RBs, Minnesota has a pretty good one as well. RB Adrian Peterson is a future Hall of Famer. No amount of praise will suffice here and he should have few problems against Tampa's reconfigured Cover 2 defense. Who will be Minnesota's QB? Will Tampa draft a QB or revert back to Mike Glennon or Josh McCown? Without QBs to lead the way, both Martin and AP will be asked to lead the way.
7. Week 8: Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
This rivalry didn't amount to much last season, but expectations are always high with these two franchises. The big story right now is how Washington QB Robert Griffin III will fare after his disappointing sophomore season. The Skins also added WR DeSean Jackson in one of the bigger coups of the offseason. Washington now has a much-improved receiving corps.
Dallas may not have the best reputation among NFL fans in general, but they certainly have offensive firepower. QB Tony Romo has to be considered at least a low QB1 every year. RB DeMarco Murray and WR Dez Bryant both have the potential to be in the Top 5 at their positions as well. Second-year WR Terrance Williams could be in line for a bigger seat at the table with WR Miles Austin out.
6. Week 14: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
This game is bound to have playoff implications for the NFC South as well as your fantasy league. Both QBs, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, are sure-fire locks to be starters in every league. There are a lot of unanswered questions for both offenses though. Carolina has no true No. 1 WR and New Orleans desperately needs one of their young WRs (Kenny Stills or Nick Toon) to step up and take some pressure off of WR Marques Colston. Both teams lack a workhorse back as well and it'll be interesting to see how that position shakes out if injuries occur.
5. Week 13: New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers
QB Tom Brady statistically carried his team wherever they needed to go last year. It wasn't his best year, but many doubted him due to a lack of reliable playmakers. On the other hand, QB Aaron Rodgers is still respected by anyone with a brain; however, he simply hasn't played much recently due to injury. Fantasy football is a "what have you done for me lately" type of game. Don't discount either player. Both signal-callers have realistic chances to be fantasy's No. 1 scorer and in Week 13, your league will be likely on the eve of its fantasy postseason. Almost every position player on both teams will be on a roster and will be worth monitoring all year long.
4. Week 6: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Head coach Chip Kelly's offense was the talk of the NFL for most of the season. Let's not forget QB Nick Foles though. The former Arizona Wildcats QB was effective and efficient all year. The third-year QB will lead a slightly revamped offense led by RBs LeSean McCoy and the newly-acquired RB Darren Sproles. No WR DeSean Jackson shouldn't be a big problem with the return of WRs Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. On the other sideline, the Giants are still trying to figure out who will carry the ball: The oft-injured and potential bust RB David Wilson or the recently-signed RB Rashad Jennings. QB Eli Manning is typically a solid fantasy backup due to his struggles with turnovers.
3. Week 16: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Don't sleep on QB Jay Cutler. The Bears were vastly improved last year and it shouldn't be considered a fluke. Everyone already knows about RB Matt Forte and WR Brandon Marshall. This year must pick up right where it left off for WR Alshon Jeffery. The former South Carolina Gamecock was an absolute beast last season. What makes this game more intriguing could be the total lack of defense. The Bears have fallen off a cliff defensively and it's not like they can cover WR Calvin Johnson anyway. Detroit has two great RBs in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. The addition of WR Golden Tate finally provides a realistic weapon to pair with Megatron.
2. Week 13: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Forget about the media frenzy that will undoubtedly surround WR Michael Crabtree vs. CB Richard Sherman. The 49ers could have RB Marcus Lattimore banging on all cylinders by this point. If WR Percy Harvin can stay healthy, he'll undoubtedly be a huge factor in this game as well. There is the chess match between head coaches, superstar QBs, aging RBs with something left to prove, punishing defenses and who knows what else might happen between then and now. One of the great new rivalries in the NFL.
1. Week 16: Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
This Monday Night Football game should crown many fantasy champions in Week 16, including our very own FFWC Fantasy Football World Champion. Check out that link for more information about our fantasy contests. The aforementioned QB Peyton Manning will be chasing yet another postseason while trying to outduel QB Andy Dalton. The former TCU QB quietly finished as a solid QB1 across all fantasy formats last year. It will be interesting to watch the development of second-year RB Giovani Bernard under the leadership of a new offensive coordinator. WR A.J. Green could also blow up against Denver's weak secondary, which had a lot of problems with the last couple seasons.