Frank Gore, Colts:
A sure upgrade to a historically subpar Colts run game (Trent Richardson, Donald Brown), Gore will take his talents to Indianapolis and improve an already dangerous team. Gore has nearly no competition in the system and should see a huge jump in receptions this year, under the pin-point Andrew Luck. During his nine seasons in the NFL, he boasts an average 12.6 position in the league among RBs, and has yet to finish outside of the top-21 in PPR formats. The real concern for Gore at this point is that he’s already 32-years-old and even though he’s been healthy, he slows down towards the end of the season. Gore is a fringe RB1 who completes the Colts’ powerhouse of a team and could be the defining factor that takes them to the Super Bowl.
Brandon Marshall, Jets:
Yes, it seems like the New York Jets are getting nowhere in their quest for the Lombardi trophy. Yes, their quarterback platoon is still very subpar, featuring a wildly erratic Geno Smith and an average veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. But let’s not forget what Marshall has shown us ever since he came out of Central Florida: a streak of seven straight seasons of breaking the 1,000 yard barrier, ending last year; five seasons of 100+ receptions; and a career average of 12.6 YPC. Marshall has stated that the Jets will be the last team he will play for, so watch this seasoned veteran end a solid career with a bang.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers:
The lesser-known wideout from Clemson to Sammy Watkins, Bryant featured a spectacular rookie season that saw him score seven times in nine career games with the Steelers. Already a sure red-zone target for Big Ben in the upcoming season, expect his numbers to remain consistent or even improve. Had last year’s numbers remained steady over the course of a full season, we might be looking at a Pro Bowl-worthy season. Not too shabby for a rookie.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals:
After an untimely injury to Gio Bernard opened the way for this rookie to deliver plentifully in Cincinnati, Hill is finally getting the recognition he deserves. The young RB phenom finished with over 100 yards in five of his eight starts and a total 1,124 yards on 222 carries. A near-sure lock to be the featured back in the Bengals’ potent run game as well as a consistent red zone threat, Hill’s fantasy ceiling is ultra high. As long as he stays healthy, Hill will undoubtedly deliver to fantasy owners again this season.
LeSean McCoy, Bills:
One of the league’s premier backs since erupting onto the scene in 2009, McCoy’s numbers declined massively last season, and the Bills’ weak(er) offensive line won’t really help his cause. But playing under a classic ground-and-pound coach like Rex Ryan and a run-minded offensive coordinator in Greg Roman will allow McCoy to take back his spot in the fantasy elite. Let’s not overlook the fact that Roman turned Frank Gore into a workhorse in San Francisco, in a system that placed top-three in rushing yards, rushing attempts, and rushing yards per game for three consecutive seasons. Furthermore, the powerful Bills defense, featuring 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, and a league-leading 54 sacks, is key in limiting opposing possession times, which means even more snaps for McCoy. Even with Fred Jackson in the scene, McCoy is a sure top-five pick who should be drafted with confidence.