1. Le’Veon Bell two game suspension – Stemming from an arrest due to marijuana possession and DUI last summer, will the distinct possibility that Bell won’t play in two games this upcoming season significantly impact his fantasy value? The answer is no. The league’s second leading rusher was a revelation last season. Having slimmed down and displaying newly found lateral quickness, agility, acceleration and long-speed in addition to his customary pass-catching and tackle breaking ability the Pittsburgh star, demonstrated that he is a featured back in a league of committees. Bell, was second among running backs with 83 receptions and led all running backs with 854 receiving yards. The only knock on Le’Veon going into the 2015 season is the possibility that he will miss two games to suspension. We could nitpick regarding his touchdown totals, but we at CPGM will take 11 TDs and all of that all-purpose yardage with a Top 5 pick in all formats. However, he’s not worthy of the first pick overall outside of a PPR league if he indeed misses those two games.
2. Demarco Murray’s future – The 2014 AP Offensive Player of the Year, churned out the yardage on the ground and did so in spectacular fashion. Murray’s injury history is the reason why he was had in the second or third round of some drafts for exceptional value. Despite his incredibly heavy workload, 392 carries, Demarco stands to have another 1500+ yard rushing season if he stays healthy and IF he remains a Cowboy. Dallas’ ability to retain Murray’s services are severely lacking considering their salary cap challenges and the need to re-sign Dez Bryant. If Murray ends up playing behind a less formidable offensive line or a team with questionable quarterback play expectations must be tempered. However, no organization willing to pay Murray $9-$12 million annually, the going rate for upper-echelon running backs, will shy away from feeding Demarco. In this day and age featured backs who can contribute in the passing game are selected in Round 1 injury concerns and all.
3. Adrian Peterson post tumultuous 2014 – Peterson will be 30-years-old in March, but he is a special case that defies logic. Not only is he “super-human” but due to the suspension/exempt list stint on the heels of a child abuse allegation he actually avoided the typical wear and tear of a running back during a grueling 16-game season. While his reputation off-the-field will never be the same, on-the-field Peterson is still special. Peterson and Minnesota’s front office are reportedly at odds and with a $15 million cap number Peterson could be relocating. There has been speculation suggesting Peterson would like to play in Dallas but that chances of that happening are probably less likely than Dallas re-signing Demarco Murray. The embattled Vikings’ running back is an elite option in standard leagues and still demands first round consideration in all leagues no matter where he plays in 2015 (virtually anywhere).
4. Julius Thomas sans Peyton Manning – “Orange Julius” struggled to stay on the field due to injuries and front office Czar John Elway is poised to let Thomas test the open market via free agency. The tight end position flourishes with Peyton at the helm and Thomas has only known success playing with Manning. That being said Thomas would be a legitimate red-zone threat in any offense as evidenced by his 12 TD receptions in an injury plagued, and disappointing 43-catch 2014 campaign. The talented “move” tight end will never again be the bargain he was during 2013 , but if he finds himself on a roster that features a pass catching tight end and has competent quarterback play, 60-750-8 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. That still warrants Thomas being taken as the third tight end after Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
5. Randall Cobb vs. Jeremy Maclin – This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison as they both differ in style but their similar level of production and contract status make for an interesting fantasy football quandary. Reports suggest Cobb is looking for $9 million per and on the heels of a 91/1287/12 season he may actually find a taker. Maclin was finally able to stay healthy for a full season and silenced any doubters regarding his ability to take the top off the defense with the departure of DeSean Jackson. The former Missouri Tigers standout gambled on himself after accepting a 1-year deal in 2014 and may strike gold after his 85/1318/10 line. If both receivers hit the open market there will be no shortage of suitors but who to target in fantasy drafts? If, all things are equal Maclin strikes CPGM as more of a true #1. Cobb is an accomplished slot receiver with a knack for finding the end-zone. It’s important to note that Cobb has played with Aaron Rodgers his entire career and has established himself as a 2nd tier fantasy wide receiver with top tier upside annually (in Green Bay). Maclin, put up spectacular numbers in 2014 in a run-first offense with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez at the controls. If Maclin winds up in a situation where there is better quarterback play, despite his injury history, he becomes a more intriguing fantasy option than Cobb. This rings even more true if Cobb is no longer playing with Aaron Rodgers.