By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)
Every year, there are players who underachieve in fantasy football. The
question owners need to ask themselves is why did a particular player
have a down season? There are a number of reasons. Maybe there was an
undisclosed injury, maybe the offense around the player in question
wasn't as good as it was in previous years. It is up to fantasy owners
to decide whether or not a player can rebound from a poor season to
return to the player everyone knows he can be. Here is a list of players
that did not live up to expectations in 2013 and who could return to
form in 2014. It is because of their poor performance last season that
they will probably drop in drafts and therefore could provide value in
later rounds of drafts for owners willing to forget last year and focus
on this upcoming season. First, let's take a look at the quarterback
Sam Bradford- Before an ACL injury caused Bradford to miss nine games,
Bradford looked like he was finally starting to become the quarterback
the Rams were hoping for when they drafted him a few years back. In the
seven games Bradford played, he averaged 20.5 fantasy points per game
and threw 14 touchdowns to only four interceptions. With what looks like
a stellar defense on paper and a competent ground game led by Zac
Stacy, Bradford could be the perfect bounce back candidate heading into
fantasy drafts in 2014.
Jay Cutler- While it may be difficult to call Jay Cutler a bounce back
player, he did have a disappointing 2013 due to an injury that caused
him to miss six games. Even in the 11 games he did start, his numbers
were not that impressive. Cutler threw for over 2,600 yards and 19
touchdowns while tossing 12 interceptions to go along with those
numbers. He averaged under 20 fantasy points per contest and if he can
stay healthy for an entire season, playing under quarterback guru Marc
Trestman could give Cutler the fantasy season owners have been waiting
Robert Griffin III- This is the most obvious bounce back player heading
into 2014 for me. The Redskins did everything possible to make RG3 a top
quarterback and he is a full season removed from knee surgery. With
DeSean Jackson and a healthy Jordan Reed, RG3 could very well be a top
fantasy signal caller this season. His 2013 numbers weren't what owners
were looking for seeing how his rookie season in 2012 was something
special. Last season saw RG3 play 13 games before getting benched and
threw for over 3,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for 484
yards which was due more to his knee injury than anything else. He
averaged 21 fantasy points per game down from the 24 he averaged in his
rookie season. Fantasy owners should expect a return to glory this
season for the third year quarterback.
Eli Manning- Eli may very well be the most difficult fantasy player to
figure out over the last couple of seasons. He threw nine more
interceptions than he did touchdowns in 2013 and the offense around him
struggled as well. Eli averaged under 17 fantasy points per week and
wasn't considered an option at his position for most of the season.
While Eli could very well be a bounce back player heading into this
season due to a new offensive coordinator, his numbers have been
trending in the wrong direction as of late. 2012 saw Manning average 19
fantasy points per game which was just slightly better than his 2013
numbers. While it may be hard for fantasy owners to consider the
youngest of the Manning brothers a fantasy starter every week, it is
possible for Eli to improve on his dismal 2013.
Matt Ryan- Matt Ryan had a disappointing season simply because
practically every weapon he had missed time for one reason or another.
The offensive line around him fell apart due to injury and after a
while, Ryan's fantasy season fell apart as well. He passed for over
4,500 yards regardless but only threw 26 touchdowns. Not the numbers
fantasy owners would expect from an elite fantasy quarterback. With a
healthy offensive line to protect him and his two favorite weapons in
Roddy White and Julio Jones back in the fold for 2014, owners should
expect a Matt Ryan like season in 2014.
Now it's time to take a look at some of the disappointing running backs
from last year that fantasy owners can expect to rebound in 2014. These
backs underperformed for their fantasy owners last year and did not play
up to the potential fantasy owners know they can play to.
Doug Martin- An injury cut Doug Martin's sophomore season short but he
wasn't exactly tearing up the field while he was playing. In the six
games Muscle Hamster played in, he averaged under 10 fantasy points per
game. The shoulder issue could have contributed to his poor performance
before he went out and now that he is over the injury, could go back to
the running back fantasy owners fell in love with in 2012 when he
averaged 16.5 fantasy points per game.
Ray Rice- By averaging just over eight fantasy points per game in 2013,
Ray Rice did not live up to his first round draft status last year.
Facing a suspension heading into this season, Rice will not be a first
round selection this time around but could provide a boost to owners
that grab him later in drafts. If the issue with Rice in 2013 was really
just a hip injury, fantasy owners can expect a better Ray Rice in 2014.
Trent Richardson- While T-Rich was probably the most disappointing
fantasy player last season, it is a little difficult to believe he just
forgot how to play football. He was practically an afterthought when he
was traded from Cleveland to Indianapolis seeing how he averaged an
abysmal seven fantasy points per game and provided next to nothing in
the passing game as well. While he will drop in fantasy drafts heading
into this season, barring an injury, there is no reason to think T-Rich
can't be a top 10 fantasy running back this year.
C.J. Spiller- Heading into 2013, the coaching staff told fantasy owners
that Spiller would get the ball until he threw up. Maybe the lower body
injury played a part in Spiller not seeing the ball until he puked or
maybe the coaching staff was just talking but Spiller was a huge
disappointment last season averaging just over eight fantasy points per
contest and had only 197 yards in the passing game on 34 receptions.
Spiller along with Richardson and Rice did not live up to their first
round billing. Now in a contract year, Spiller has one more season to
impress the Bills and fantasy owners before he's considered a bust and
Pierre Thomas- While fantasy owners may not consider 2013 a bust of a
season for Pierre Thomas, it is possible that he has an even better 2014
seeing how he will more than likely be the starting running back this
season now this Darren Sproles is gone. Thomas' value was mostly in the
passing game where he had 77 catches for over 500 yards and three scores
in 2013. He averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game with Sproles there and
without Sproles to take catches away from him, could end up with better
numbers in 2014.
While there were plenty of quarterbacks and running backs that failed to
live up to fantasy expectations last season, there were also quite a
few receivers as well. It's time to take a look at which wide receivers
could possibly bounce back in 2014.
Victor Cruz- It's hard to blame Cruz for the down season he had last
year seeing how the Giants offense as a whole failed miserably and Eli
threw more picks than scores but Cruz failed to reach 1,000 yards and
had just 73 catches. He averaged just under nine fantasy points per game
and didn't provide the numbers fantasy owners thought they'd get when
they drafted him. With a new offensive coordinator in town, the Giants
offense will look to get back on track in 2014 and Victor Cruz will need
to be a big part of that. Especially with Hakeem Nicks catching passes
from Andrew Luck, Cruz will now start the season as the GMen's number
Aaron Dobson- Now entering his second season in the NFL, this is the
year where it is said that receivers breakout. The Patriots offense as a
whole took a huge step back as far as passing was concerned and will
look to get back to their strengths in 2014. If Dobson is truly over the
foot injury that plagued him late in 2013, he could have the breakout
season the Patriots will need from him. While his rookie campaign wasn't
all that terrible, he did only average less than seven fantasy points
per game and had just 34 receptions in an offense that is well known for
throwing the ball all over the football field.
Brandon LaFell- While his time in Carolina was not really fantasy
relevant, his new team could help propel him to fantasy stardom. His
last season with Carolina, LaFell averaged just over six fantasy points
per game. Most fantasy owners are expecting a chance to play with Tom
Brady to boost his numbers in 2014.
Jeremy Maclin- With the entire 2013 season missed due to an ACL injury
that occurred before the regular season even began, Maclin has not had a
chance to show what he can do in Chip Kelly's offense. With a full
training camp to play with Chip Kelly and the departure of number one
receiver DeSean Jackson, Maclin could very well have one of the more
spectacular fantasy seasons he has ever had. 2012 saw him average 8.5
fantasy points per game and catch 69 balls for over 850 yards. Maclin
could very well end up a draft day steal for fantasy owners that
remember what Jeremy Maclin is capable of.
Roddy White- Before last season, White was a lock in for 100 catches and
1,000 yards receiving. His ankle injury caused him to miss three games
and the games he did play, hampered him significantly. A healthy Roddy
White in 2014 could provide fantasy owners with numbers they have become
more accustomed to. Despite the down 2013, White still managed 63
catches for over 700 yards and averaged almost seven fantasy points per
Now it's time to look at the final position with the Tight end. While
heading into fantasy drafts last year, the tight end position was
considered very weak with injuries to some of the top players at the
position. With most of those players considered healthy heading into
fantasy drafts in 2014, let's take a look at the tight ends that could
return to form this season.
Dennis Pitta- If not for the injury that took out Pitta in the
preseason, he could have been one of the top fantasy players at his
position in 2013. He did manage to return before the season concluded
playing in Baltimore's final four games and averaging under six fantasy
points per game. The positive on those final four contests were the 20
receptions he caught for 169 yards. A healthy Dennis Pitta should
perform as a top tight end for fantasy owners in 2014.
Heath Miller- In 14 games that Heath Miller played, he disappointed with
under five fantasy points per game and only one touchdown. A usual red
zone option for Big Ben and the Steelers, Miller should rebound from his
poor 2013 to help boost the tight end position in 2014 as a tight end
that fantasy owners can grab later in their drafts.
Kyle Rudolph- Quite possibly the only reason Kyle Rudolph had a down
2013 was due to the injury that forced him to play only eight games for
the Minnesota Vikings last year. In those eight contests, he averaged
over six fantasy points per game and caught 30 balls for over 300 yards.
With Norv Turner now the offensive coordinator in Minnesota, most
fantasy owners are expecting the best season from Kyle Rudolph yet. The
fact that he's also a red zone option for the Vikings makes him a top
player at the position for this upcoming fantasy season.