Written by Quinn Miller
Last year was Freeman’s first year in a vanilla, heavily run-first offense, and yet his 4,065 yards was 9th best in the league, and his 27 TDs tied him for 7th. Yes, the Bucs brought in Glennon to motivate him, but Glennon is a project, and all reports indicate that Freeman is having a great offseason. Given Schiano’s support and a supporting cast that includes a top 3 RB (Martin) and two top 20 WRs (VJax and Big Mike), Freeman has all the pieces in place for a monster year.
Given that his 2012 numbers (3,294 yards, 12 TDs, and 13 INTs) made him only the 27th best fantasy QB, Tannehill isn’t as obvious a choice as Freeman. That said, a closer look at the numbers reveals that Tannehill accomplished those stats with very little help from, well, anyone. Moreover, Ron Jaworski, perhaps the most respected QB evaluator in sports writing, is bullish on Tannehill. “[He] showed a lot of positive traits [in 2012] despite having very few weapons at his disposal.” He demonstrated the ability to “move within the pocket to avoid pressure… [and] was very good at throwing with bodies around him in… a muddied pocket. That’s advanced NFL quarterbacking.” The offseason additions of Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller should, along with the Dolphins resigning Brian Hartline and the emergence of Lamar Miller, create a few more opportunities.
Chris Ivory/Lamar Miller
I’m grouping these two players together because their respective hype-trains are already chugging along at full speed. Both players are unproven and have a history of injuries, with just enough talent to make them exciting. Ivory is in the better situation of the two in that the Jets have a coach with a long established preference for a run-first offense, a stout offensive line, no real stars at WR, and two QBs whose ability to get the ball to their WRs is questionable. I expect Ivory to get 300+ touches. Miller is the superior talent, however I don’t think his talent warrants his being prized above Ivory.
No disrespect for Eddie Lacy, but Franklin is the Green Bay runner I’m most interested in given their respective ADPs. Lacy’s going at 1.05 in rookie drafts and 6.08 in dynasty startups, whereas Franklin’s ADP in rookie drafts is currently 1.11 in rookie drafts and 8.02 in startups. Franklin is an elusive back with a great burst and the speed to break off big plays. He finishes well, exploding into would-be tacklers, has the agility and quickness to exploit holes, and moreover—and this is key given Green Bay’s offense—he’s got the necessary skills to play on third downs: he’s a skilled route-runner with fantastic hands and good blitz-protection ability.
 I’ll take Ball/Bell/Hopkins at 1.05 in rookie drafts, and try to trade up from my second to get Franklin at 1.11 rather than take Lacy at 1.05. In startups I’d take Welker/Ivory/V. Davis at 6.08 and Franklin at 8.02 rather than taking Lacy at 6.08 and having to choose K. Wright/B. Pierce/D. Moore at 8.02.
 Lacy is deficient in all areas pertaining to playing on third downs. C.f., http://walterfootball.com/scoutingreport2013elacy.php and elsewhere.
LeShoure simply has too much talent and too much offense around him to give up on him. He runs powerfully, has better than decent speed and great hands, and this will be his second year back from injury, meaning he should be fully comfortable with the offense. More to the point, he knows that it’s put up or shut up time. Yes, Bush is in Detroit, and yes, that will cut into LeShoure’s playing time initially, but LeShoure is five years younger and thirty pounds heavier than Bush, meaning LeShoure is going to get his fair share of opportunities. Given LeShoure’s talent, I think Reggie becomes a glorified third-down back by mid-season.
This is almost cheating. Amendola is a more versatile, faster Welker, with a greater ability to stretch the field. Moreover, sans Hernandez and Gronk, the Pats are going to need to get Amendola involved immediately and often. Oh, and then there’s this Tom Brady guy who’ll be throwing him the ball. I hear he’s pretty good. If Amendola can stay healthy, he’s a top 7 WR.
A big part of this pick has to do with simple mathematics: the 49ers need three-five WRs to be successful. Anquan Boldin is a lock, but Michael Crabtree’s done for the season and Mario Manningham’s still rehabbing a torn ACL, essentially leaving two every-down WR slots open. The pool of available bodies to fill those slots consists (more or less) of Jenkins, fourth-round pick Quinton Patton, and Ricardo Lockette. Jenkins is the most talented of the 49ers’ options by a considerable margin, and reports coming out of San Francisco indicate that Jenkins has performed exceptionally well this offseason, and that his off the field issues (namely, a questionable work ethic) have been resolved.
Potential, meet Opportunity; Opportunity, Potential. Potential: Streeter is 6’5,” 220lbs, and runs a 4.4 40. Opportunity: his competition consists of Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, rookie Aaron Mellette, and Jacoby Jones, with only Torrey Smith locked in to the starting lineup. Additionally, Streeter has been lauded by coaches for his professionalism and dedication.
I’m honestly not sure what happened last year. Fleener, the titan—he of the 6’6,” 252lb, 4.45 40-yard dash—was the 40th best TE in fantasy football. Baffling. I expect a big leap forward this year as he, Dwayne Allen, and Andrew Luck continue to gel.
We’ve already mentioned that the Buc’s offensive is stacked, and given well-earned props and a shout out to Doug Martin, VJax, and Tampa Mike, but what we haven’t done is mention Luke Stocker. Former player and current nfl.com writer, Bucky Brooks is one of several fantasy experts currently raving about Stocker’s potential, but it is his analysis of Stocker’s situation which is most telling. Brooks writes, “[Stocker] could be the key to unlocking the unit’s explosive potential… [he] is a tough matchup for defenders over the middle, making him a valuable weapon against eight-man fronts (designed to stop Martin) and two-deep coverages (used to contain Williams and Jackson). With Josh Freeman under strict orders to become more effective and efficient from the pocket, Stocker should receive more attention as a designated safety valve in the passing game.”