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It's an exciting week in the fantasy baseball world, as the looming trade deadline means that several players are changing their uniforms and possibly their fantasy fortunes.
However, it's also a critical week for fantasy football, with a handful of NFL training camps already open and the rest set to start in the next couple of days.
For those of you who want to hear about how much more fantasy value SP Johnny Cueto has after leaving Cincinnati, please skip to the end of this column. If you're more interested in Matt Forte's fantasy value, let's begin:
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN.
It's true that the RBs ranked tops overall last season all took a step back, but don't let that obscure the likelihood that A.P. is poised to have his best season. Healthy and with a lot to prove, he returns to an offense still built around him - and improving.
2. Eddie Lacy, RB, GB.
Everyone assumed last year that he could easily run for 1,500 yards after getting 1,178 his rookie year in 2013. He ended up with 1,139, but his use in the passing game increased from 257 yards receiving to 427 yards. Good chance to be a 1,400/600 man this year.
3. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC.
1,033 yards rushing, 291 yards receiving and 14 TDs last season, but we all expected more from the consensus No. 1 overall pick. KC needs to use him in the passing game, so a rebound looks likely.
4. LeVeon Bell, RB, PIT.
Arguably the No. 1 overall talent, but he'll miss four games under a drug suspension. He's so good that, even given a 12-game slate, he's still in the top five. Pitt's scary good offense will have him running, receiving and scoring often.
5. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA.
The aging beast was nothing short of amazing last season. QB Russell Wilson has new toys to play with in the passing game, but maybe that helps Lynch's ground game. Could easily have another season of 1,300 yards rushing and 15+ TDs.
6. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT.
Remember that scary Steelers offense? Brown is another reason why. Led the NFL with 129 receptions and 1,698 yards receiving. Experts scoffed at his 110 catches in 2013, and figured him for a drop-off last year, but it's now clear he's the next WR superstar.
7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE.
He's possibly bat-shit crazy, but not in a way that hurts his game, gets him suspended or leaves his team hating him. If QB Tom Brady remains suspended for four games, it will hurt, but he's still almost the best receiver in the NFL and is the best TE by a mile.
8. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG.
His highlight reel precedes him. Despite missing the first few games, he caught 91 passes last year for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs - as a rookie. Seems to have helped QB Eli Manning rebound from a horrible slump, so a bigger season awaits.
9. Matt Forte, RB, CHI.
Made an argument for No. 1 overall last year, but that was before the wheels fell off the Bears bandwagon. Still, 808 yards receiving were second to Bell among RBs, and 102 catches were second to none. A few more touches could give him top five value.
10. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL.
At times last year, he caught and scored seemingly at will. Led all WRs with 16 TDs and every other metric increased - except receptions, down from 93 to 88. Loss of DeMarco Murray in running game could mean more passes - and tighter coverage schemes.
11. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN.
Second to Brown in both receptions and receiving yards last year, with a more than respectable 11 TDs. Seems like he should be higher, but a budding running game and aging QB may limit his potential to out-do himself.
12. Julio Jones, WR, ATL.
Huge talent, but the Falcons' offense sputtered badly last year. His 1,593 yards came with only six TDs - a few more scores puts him in the top 10 overall. Don't be surprised if he wins the yardage crown this season, but needs TDs to take the next step.
13. DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI.
The Eagles are an enigma from top to bottom, starting with the head coach, who could use Murray as a running/receiving workhorse or just as a decoy for his no-huddle hijinks. Still, Murray's league-leading 1,854 yards last year are hard to ignore.
14. Andrew Luck, QB, IND.
Luck has gaudy stats - 4,761 yards passing and 40 pass TDs both led the league last year - and almost certainly will step up in the yardage department. Does off-season acquisition WR Andre Johnson have enough left in the tank to help Luck to a few more TDs?
15. Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN.
Maybe a bit under the radar despite a strong rookie year: 1,124 yadrs rushing, 215 receiving yards. Most interesting stat is 5.1 average yards per carry. We're betting he gets a lot more touches this season than the 222 rush attempts and 32 pass targets of 2014.
16. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB.
Best QB in the NFL is too good to achieve maximum fantasy potential. He never throws INTs - 38 TDs to five INTS last year - and GB's offense is so efficient that he never gets the chance for 400-500 yard games that other QBs get while making up for mistakes.
17. Arian Foster, RB, HOU.
Still a fantastic dual threat running and receiving, and the Texans may lean on him this year, so 1,200 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 12-15 total TDs is doable. The limiting factor is an offense that is still a sputtering mess, and he can't take the ball every snap.
18. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB.
Perennially underrated big-play machine had a career-best 1,519 yards last year and tied for second-best in catch TDs with 13. Making him the sixth WR in the top 20 mostly shows how good the first five are.
19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI.
Might be giving him a little bit of a hometown bump here, but he's unquestionably the No. 1 WR in town now. Given that, 1,133 receiving yards and 10 TDs last year should be easy marks to surpass this year, even if the Bears stay conservative.
20. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET.
The mighty have fallen, mostly because the Lions offense got conservative and relied less on Megatron's wing span last year. Still, hard to imagine he can't improve on last year's 1,077 receiving yards and eight measly TDs.
Fantasy Baseball Update
Quick hits from Trade Week, baseball's version of Shark Week:
* Johnny Cueto, SP, traded from CIN to KC: The Royals are being seen as the big winner of the week already, but Cueto may prove the biggest winner, as KC's offense arguably is good enough that a guy with a 2.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP shouldn't lose again this season.
* Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, traded from OAK to KC: He really didn't have any fantasy relevancy this year, except for maybe his .801 OPS, but if he plays every day he'll no doubt see his stats rise as part of the Royals' pinball offense.
* Troy Tulowitzki, SS, traded from COL to TOR: I don't really see much of a stat change - he went from one prolific offense to another, can feast on AL pitching and play home games in a HR-friendly park, but he just left the ultimate hitters' park. Long-term, his injury-prone nature seems a bad match with an artificial surface, but DHing is always an option.
* Jonathan Papelbon, RP, traded from PHI to WAS: Maybe the hardest one to figure so far, because the assumption is Papelbon automatically moves from being closer for a last place team to closer for a firs place team. But Drew Storen, RP, WAS has been awesome, with 29 saves, 12 more than Papelbon. Either Storen's fantasy value just plunged, or he and Papelbon will be the most impressive closer committee ever, which actually limits the fantasy value of both.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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