2014 Outlook: Last season Smith averaged 17.4 yards per catch, behind only Josh Gordon (18.9) and Calvin Johnson (17.8) among players who caught 50-plus balls. Not bad company. The only thing that kept Smith from WR1 status? He faced so much double coverage that Joe Flacco targeted him only 130 times, tied for 20th. The addition of Steve Smith and the renewed health of Dennis Pitta should make the double-teams a little less frequent.
2014 Outlook: If Bruce Arians would commit to Ellington, the second-year back could be a breakout star. But we're not convinced that's going to happen. Just as faded veteran Rashard Mendenhall siphoned off 200-plus carries in 2013, the unimpressive combination of Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor will likely do the same this season. It wouldn't be a surprise if Ellington got only 12 to 15 touches per game, which would be a shame because this kid has open-field chops comparable to those of Gio Bernard and C.J. Spiller. If given the opportunity, he could add another dimension to Arizona's pass-heavy offense.
2014 Outlook: Oy. Last season T-Rich cratered harder than The Lone Ranger at the box office. After finishing his rookie season as fantasy's No. 11 running back, Richardson wound up being traded to Indianapolis, where he averaged an atrocious 2.9 yards per carry and lost work to Donald Brown (yes, that Donald Brown). But his skills didn't just vanish. He's still big, he still has some wiggle and he still can catch. With Brown gone and only a combination of Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw in his way, Richardson has a chance to erase his miserable 2013 in a Pep Hamilton offense begging to emphasize the run game.
2014 Outlook: Floyd has flown mostly under the fantasy radar since being drafted 13th overall in 2012. But consider this: His 14.6 yards per catch the last two seasons is better than that of guys like A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and ' Larry Fitzgerald. In fact, it isn't a huge stretch to think this will be the season Floyd supplants Fitz as the Cards' No. 1 fantasy receiver. Floyd led Arizona in vertical targets (64) and vertical receiving yards (762), and his 34 vertical receptions was tied for eighth most among WRs. Fitzgerald will get drafted first, but Floyd has a very good chance of providing a better fantasy return on investment.
2014 Outlook: It's not fair to say that CJ2K has lost his speed. There were moments in 2013, especially in the receiving game, when he broke a few long gainers in the open field. But Johnson finished 45th out of 47 qualified running backs in average yards after contact and lost much of his decisiveness at the line. With the Jets, he'll team up with Chris Ivory -- a younger, bigger player whose bruising style will be a contrast to Johnson's speed. As such, workload concerns are enough to push Johnson out of the ranks of fantasy studs. He'll be a feast-or-famine player who'll need long touchdowns to earn his keep.
2014 Outlook: This winter the Lions could've kept Bell for one year at the second-round tender but instead worked out a two-year extension guaranteeing him $4.3 million -- more than they gave Reggie Bush a year ago. That says everything you need to know about new coach Jim Caldwell's plans. Bell is no longer merely an adjunct to Bush; he's a more physical and consistent rusher who also catches passes, and he'll warrant slightly less than half the Lions' halfback snaps. Bush has the game-breaking quicks that can win you weeks, and as such he's still the better fantasy commodity. But Bell is an acceptable flex in standard leagues and is more like an RB2 in PPR leagues.
2014 Outlook: After one season, Patterson's special-teams prowess is already legendary in NFL circles. He averaged more than 30 yards per kick return and took two the distance from 100-plus yards. But on offense, Patterson had only seven catches of at least 20 yards and averaged an underwhelming 10.4 yards per reception. The reason? His 1.53 vertical targets per game ranked 92nd in the NFL. That's an inexplicably low number for a guy with Patterson's speed. We're betting that changes in 2014 -- and when it does, watch out.
2014 Outlook: Vereen's 2013 season was ruined by a broken wrist he suffered in Week 1. He missed eight games, and by the time he returned, the Pats had begun to transform into a power running offense. So why are we bullish on him this year? As long as Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady are around Foxborough, there will always be work for a pass-catching back like Vereen; even in a shortened season last year, he nearly eclipsed the 50-catch mark. A legit candidate for 90 to 100 grabs and 1,200-plus scrimmage yards, he's extremely valuable in PPR leagues.
2014 Outlook: Edelman's first season as Wes Welker's body double had its moments -- both good and bad. As expected, he dominated on short passes, ranking third in fantasy points (95) and sixth in receiving yards (656). His biggest problem was consistency. After compiling 34 catches for 319 yards through Week 4, Edelman had only 18 catches for 181 yards over his next six games. But it's hard to quibble too much with a season that netted 105 catches and 1,056 yards. Edelman will be a strong contributor in standard leagues and a cornerstone player on your PPR roster.
2014 Outlook: An ACL injury caused Maclin to miss the Chip Kelly Express last season. And for all the talk about Philly's prolific run game, the Eagles also showed a willingness to chuck the ball downfield. A lot. Their 70 stretch vertical attempts in 2013 tied for fifth most in the league. With DeSean Jackson now in Washington, many of those targets will go to Maclin, who's more than up to the task. In 2012, he tallied 22 vertical receptions for 540 yards and 5 TDs, which outpaced Jackson's totals (19 for 449 and 2 TDs). As long as his recovery goes as planned, Maclin isn't a bad mid-draft pickup.
2014 Outlook: Here's a fun fact: Hilton had only two games with more than 15 fantasy points last season. Two! Granted, he was absolutely breathtaking in those two games, shredding Seattle and Houston for 12 catches, 261 yards, 5 TDs and 56 fantasy points. The problem? He had only 76 points in the other 14 games combined. So which Hilton will show up this season? More than likely, he will probably be a mixed bag again. That's just the reality for a receiver who's so dependent on big plays to put up double-digit fantasy points.
2014 Outlook: The age-30 rule is rarely wrong: Once a running back hits that milestone, he's playing on borrowed time. Last year we hoped Jackson would prove to be an exception, lining up in a high-octane Falcons offense that propped up a fading Michael Turner for years. But Jackson tore a hamstring in Week 2, missed four games and wound up averaging a career-worst 3.5 yards per carry. Things figure to be better in Atlanta, as the line is rebuilt and Julio Jones should be healthy. But Jackson, 31, is looking more and more like a two-down player. With the prospect looming that his days as a 1,000-yard rusher are over, he'll need a bunch of short-yardage TDs to sneak into the top 20.
2014 Outlook: Those looking for some positives in Sanders' metrics can point to his career highs in receptions (67), yards (740), targets (112) and TDs (6) last season. Those fishing for negatives can point to his 11 yards per reception, a mark that ranked him 32nd out of 34 wide receivers with 100 or more targets. Teaming up with Peyton Manning should lead to more of the positives, but competing with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for targets could stall some of Sanders' statistical momentum. However, with Welker gone for the first four games as well as his continued concussion issues, Sanders could see a few more targets come his way.
2014 Outlook: If you listen closely, you can hear Pats fans groaning about Ridley's losing another fumble. Few players had a better opportunity to take control of a high-yield backfield in 2013 than Ridley. Instead, he earned Bill Belichick's ire with four lost fumbles and eventually found himself in a platoon with retread LeGarrette Blount. With Blount gone, most of New England's goal-line opportunities should belong to Ridley, provided he can hold on to the rock. The Patriots had 12 rushing scores from inside an opponent's 5 last year and lead the NFL with 56 since 2010.