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The Bold And The Disputable: Fantasy Predictions For 2014 Season

The Bold And The Disputable: Fantasy Predictions For 2014 Season
Posted Thursday, September 4th 2014 @ 9am  by Brad Evans

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(Yahoo!Peyton Manning, who was on 60.8 percent of Yahoo championship rosters, ruled the roost a season ago. Who is your top Fantasy MVP candidate this year? 

Brandon – DEMARYIUS THOMAS. I'm going with another Bronco. The stars seem to be aligning for DT, as he'll absorb a lot of extra targets (including even more lucrative red zone looks) left behind by the departed Eric Decker. And now we have the Wes Welkersuspension news, costing the slot machine four games to open '14. Sure, Thomas will draw double teams, but with his size, speed and strength, not to mention a very WR-friendly NFL rulebook, I'm not worried at all about that.

Brad –  MATT FORTE. Kodiak, grizzly, polar, short-faced – the rusher will be all deadly ursine rolled into one. He has zero competition for touches, is arguably the league's most versatile back, is in the midst of his prime, has a top-five offensive line blocking for him and should register 20-25 touches per game in a prolific offense. Close to 2,000 combined yards and 15 touchdowns aren't out of the question. Investors, enjoy the career year. 

Andy – First of all, Jamaal Charles ruled last year's fantasy roost, not Peyton. Jamaal gave us 215 yards and five touchdowns in Championship Week. Charles was, without question, the man. If you made it to the title matchup with JC, you did not lose.

This year, I'm gonna say DREW BREES delivers the best combination of elite regular season performance and ridiculous Week 15-16 production. He's been a top-two fantasy QB in five of the past six seasons. Brees also gets a home matchup with Atlanta in Week 16, and there's no way that goes bad.

Scott – I know it's oh-so-trendy to scoop up the premium receivers these days, but I see nothing wrong with taking an elite running back in the early going - if you're completely sold on him. That's how I feel about SHADY MCCOY, a versatile 26-year-old stud playing for a brilliant head coach. If I had the first pick, there would be zero hesitation. (And here's what no one seems to be saying about the 2014 receiver pool: it's surprisingly deep in the middle and late tiers. You'll always find affordable guys you like. That's not true at running back.)

Dalton – I’m going with EDDIE LACY, who won’t cost a top-three pick but will finish as the No. 1 fantasy back in 2014. In a league that continues to steer toward the passing game and more RB committees, a true workhorse is increasingly rare and more valuable than ever. Lacy is a member of a lot of fantasy title teams this season. 

Rookies, including Eddie Lacy and Keenan Allen, last year, have made significant impacts in recent memory. What greenhorn will take home the ROY hardware this fall? 

Brandon – BRANDIN COOKS. I'm torn between Cooks and San Fran running back Carlos Hyde, but Hyde's going to need a Frank Gore injury to make a major impact. Cooks looks poised to start blazing a trail from the opening bell. His ability to get from "zero-to-60" is elite, and he combines that with excellent route running. Drew Brees will make good use of that, especially with Darren Sproles gone.

Brad – BRANDIN COOKS. He possesses track speed (4.33 40-yard dash), ankle-breaking juke moves and ultra-versatility. There are mouths to feed in the Saints' spread, but he should be a focal point whether underneath, in the slot or on the edge. Approximately 1,000-1,100 combined yards with 7-9 TDs are in my fearless forecast. 

Andy – Well, if I think Brees is gonna surge in the biggest weeks (and I do), then I might as well take BRANDIN COOKS here. Based on pure talent, Sammy Watkins still looks like the best rookie receiver to my eye. But there's no arguing with Cooks' situation.

Scott – I'd love to nominate BISHOP SANKEY or CARLOS HYDE, but I can't say when the Titans will flip the switch, and I don't see Frank Gore going down without a fight. With that in mind, JEREMY HILL gets the call - a battering ram set to plow away in a steady Cincinnati offense. He has to share with Gio Bernard, of course, but Hill figures to be the man at the goal line.

Dalton – This rookie class features a bunch of intriguing receivers, and while this category winner is more often than not a quarterback, it’s unclear how soon guys like Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater will get the chance to start. I’m taking CARLOS HYDE, thinking this is the year Frank Gore finally breaks down and in that event, it’s not so crazy to envision Hyde being a weekly top-10 fantasy back.

[More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports: Power Rankings]

What undervalued commodity, a la Le'Veon Bell last year, will have the biggest return on investment this time around?

Brandon – FRED JACKSON. He was a top-12 fantasy RB last season and, tell me, what's changed? Last time I checked, he's still expected to handle goal-line work and be the lead running back in passing situations, not to mention splitting regular down duties with C.J. Spiller. For a run-heavy Buffalo offense, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jackson placed inside the RB top 20 again, and he's going as the No. 36 back in average live drafts. That's a nice ROI.

Brad – CODY LATIMER. The star of Broncos training camp will make a sizable impact at some point this year, possibly out of the gate. Wes Welker's four-game suspension opens the door of opportunity. According to local reports, the rookie is expected to tag-team with Andre Caldwell on the outside opposite Demaryius Thomas. Hello single coverage. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, he is Eric Decker revisited. Already slated for red-zone duty, he could prove to be much, much more in the opener vs.  Indianapolis and beyond. 

Andy – Really? Le'Veon was the best "undervalued" fantasy commodity we could come up with? Pffft. Wasn't he, like, the fourth or fifth best value among rookies? In any case, give me JAY CUTLER, for obvious reasons. He's dirt-cheap at the draft table, and, if we've nailed our ranks on his receivers, then Jay is a near-lock for 4200 yards and 30 scores.

Scott – Your leaguemates are probably giving you GREG JENNINGS for nothing. Take it, thank them out the door. Jennings clicks with Matt Cassel - if you prorate their work from 2013, Jennings gets 88 catches, 1018 yards and eight touchdowns. I'm certainly not promising numbers that rich, but this is a perfect fourth or fifth receiver.

Dalton – SHANE VEREEN currently has an 85.3 ADP in Yahoo leagues, which is ridiculous. He’s going to finish as a top-15 fantasy back in standard leagues and top-10 in PPR formats. He looks incredibly undervalued entering 2014. 

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