To accompany the initial projections, as we continue to review, research, analyze the projections, and create cheatsheet rankings, we provide the following commentary by division to give some insight into why we have players projected the way we do at this time.
- Jay Cutler had the highest completion percentage and second highest points-per-game of his career last season. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2009 (15 three times). Cutler is Cutler at this point. He’ll put up some big games with his strong arm but he’ll also be shite half the time. He lost security blanket Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte’s receptions should come down. Former Denver Broncos OC Adam Gase, even under conservative John Fox, could be a plus.
- Forte should not be utilized as much as he was under Marc Trestman, but still a do-it-all RB worthy of a high fantasy pick. The Bears have a couple young players waiting in the wings, planning ahead for life without Forte. Training camp should decide the true handcuff.
- Can Alshon Jeffery do the same for rookie Kevin White that Marshall did for Jeffery, mentor him to become a top NFL wideout? Projecting this year, Jeffery has a good opportunity to increase his targets and receptions, without Marshall and a scale back for Forte. White will start opposite Jeffery but isn’t likely to be ready for a ton of targets. Cutler will lock on to a receiver he is comfortable with.
- Martellus Bennett was second in TE targets last season. With a rookie WR and not much at WR3 for the Bears, he should be in the mix for similar targets this season.
- Matthew Stafford was a disappointment last season, and he can’t blame the absence of Calvin Johnson for three games because Golden Tate was a pleasant surprise, filling in admirably. We’ve got Stafford leading the league in pass attempts, which is in part an indictment of the running game, and desire to get TE Eric Ebron more involved. A modest bounce back for Stafford which makes him a fantasy starter, but not an overly desirable one.
- The running game is Joique Bell, rookie Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Reggie Bush signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Bell is average, Abdullah and Riddick are small at just a hair over 200 lbs. Some fantasy experts are bullish about Abdullah. He’s got a good opportunity for an immediate impact.
- Calvin Johnson recorded his lowest targets, receptions and yards this decade last season. His 3-year average is skewed high due to his record setting 2012 season. The current short downward trend provides an opportunity to acquire Johnson, now 29-years old, at a discount from his natural talent level. Golden Tate was impressive last season, but scaling back his projections this year to 80-1,000-6.
- Ebron is a tough call this season. The team wants him more involved, but is he ready for that? This is one where his cheatsheet ranking should be higher than his projections would place him based on potential.
Green Bay Packers
- Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck are projected extremely close to one another in fantasy points, but Rodgers has 50 fewer pass attempts and 10 fewer rushes. Rodgers ticks all the boxes to justify grabbing an elite QB early in your draft.
- Eddie Lacy followed up a 280 carry, 1,100 yard rookie season with a 250 carry, 1,100 yard sophomore season. That is impressive. He’ll be the workhorse no doubt because there is nothing behind him on the depth chart worth mentioning. Projecting very similar output as last season.
- Jordy Nelson required offseason hip surgery but doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about it. I didn’t expect Randall Cobb to stay healthy to play 16 games last season. He did, and he was great. A repeat 90 receptions for each of Nelson and Cobb might be tough if up and comer Davante Adams gets a bump, but there is still a black hole at TE on this team (for fantasy).
- After a lot of chest pumping, Adrian Peterson returned to Vikings team activities, making our full season workload projection less up in the air. The Vikings have little reason to not run AP into the ground. He won’t be back. We have him down his 3-year average but, similar to Calvin Johnson, the average is skewed due to his near record setting 2012 season.
- Teddy Bridgewater showed nice progress as the season went on last year, especially considering things went off the rails quickly with Peterson. We’re expecting a similar trend starting and through this season, to the tune of a slightly sub-4,000 yard season and 20 TD. He has a nice supporting cast and a smart offensive coordinator in Norv Turner. A solid choice for a backup QB with potential to exceed expectations.
- Mike Wallace comes to town. No doubt his contract has outpaced his on-field performance, but even with difficulties connecting or getting on the same page with the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill, Wallace did score 10 TD last season. Wallace is never going to be a monster reception guy, but Turner can probably maximize what Wallace brings to the table.
- Charles Johnson was a nice surprise last year and earned a projection placing him inside the top 40 WR, but we can’t go too crazy by the time Peterson and Wallace have their touches. Cordarelle Patterson disappointed fantasy owners last season and no real reason to think he’ll ever live up to the 2014 fantasy hype.