Jordan Brenner and Josh Berenbaum
Football fans everywhere awoke from their aestivation on Thursday, September 4th to witness the kickoff of the NFL season, where the Seattle Seahawks humiliated the Green Bay Packers 36-16.
Many fans, including Milken students, are beyond ecstatic for the start of the football season, as well as the fantasy football season. Here is a list of players you should and shouldn’t be looking for fantasy this year:
Players to Watch This Season:
Emmanuel Sanders, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Now that star wide receiver Wes Welker has been suspended four games for use of amphetamines, Emmanuel Sanders’ stock has risen mightily. In addition, Welker is recovering from a devastating concussion he received in the preseason. Even with the targets of Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders will most likely score plenty of touchdowns given out by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers had a major turnover on their offense during the offseason. Star receiver Steve Smith has left for the Baltimore Ravens, and another notable target, Brandon LaFell signed with the New England Patriots. This leaves Panthers quarterback Cam Newton with a new wide receiving core, which will most likely go to rookie Kelvin Benjamin. A Florida State standout, Benjamin has the physique for success, standing in at 6’5” and weighing 243 pounds. With Jerricho Cotchery, the only other notable receiver on the roster, Benjamin is poised for a successful 2014.
Mark Ingram, Running Back, New Orleans Saints
University of Alabama running backs have never been top fantasy players. Last year, Eddie Lacy started to break that trend. This year, another former Alabama running back, Mark Ingram, is prepared to have a big season. With Darren Sproles traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, Ingram has a chance to finally enter the spotlight in the Saints. Ingram came to training camp lighter and more agile, giving him a chance to be the featured running back in the team’s powerful offense. His only competition is Pierre Thomas, who although injury-prone, acts as more of a pass-catching running back.
Players to Avoid at All Costs:
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins; Washington Redskins Wide Receivers
Robert Griffin III was the second overall pick in the NFL Draft of 2012 and blossomed in his first year in the league. However, a torn ACL in his rookie playoff campaign has troubled RGIII’s promising career. The talented Baylor quarterback has had trouble adjusting to new coach Jay Gruden’s system after the departure with Mike Shanahan. Gruden and Griffin are also working with a depleted offensive line, that will make it difficult for the high powered offense to operate. This puts both Griffin’s fantasy stock, as well as the talented wide receiving core, in trouble. Both Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon have been premier wide receivers in the past, but this year, avoiding them is the safest bet.
Running Backs Facing the Seattle Seahawks Defense
The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year and shut down the Denver Broncos, allowing them to score only eight points. However, this was no small feat, as the Broncos statistically had the greatest offensive season in NFL history. Although it is hard to believe, the Seattle defense has improved this offseason, the unit appearing in midseason form during the preseason. Unless you have a top option, you should not start a running back when they face the Seattle defense. Last year, they allowed only one rushing touchdown, and this year, they have already shut down Eddie Lacy, one of the most productive fantasy running backs a season ago. However tempting it may be, do not start a running back against the Seattle Defense unless their name is Adrian Peterson, Lesean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, or Matt Forte.
This year, fantasy football will be a challenge. Finding quality second and third tier talent will prove difficult but looking at players with potential to gain spotlight will give you the best chance to succeed. Can you overcome these challenges and win your league? Probably not.