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Monday, July 14, 2014

18 Potential Bouncebacks Waiting to Happen

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 position.

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 for.

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 forgotten about.

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 one wideout.

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 game.

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.