2015 Outlook: Yeldon looks like a feature back (6-1, 226), and he figures to take over the Jaguars' lead job that Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson shared in 2014. Sounds amazing, right? Alas, this ointment comes with a couple of flies. We're not fully sold on Yeldon as a prospect: He fumbled 10 times in college and didn't always run like a big back, often losing significant time to his Alabama teammates. Also, it's worth wondering how valuable the Jags can make any RB. In 2014, the team produced just 10 carries inside an opponent's 5-yard line, 29th in the league. Yeldon's workload should be great, but don't reach too high for him.
2015 Outlook: In his rookie year, Coleman presents a conundrum. He landed on one of the NFL's RB-neediest teams, where only Devonta Freeman figures to threaten his workload. But is Coleman ready to be a star? He was incredibly productive as a collegiate junior (2,036 rush yards), and when he hits a crease he's gone. But even in Kyle Shanahan's one-cut zone scheme, creases could be tough to find behind a subpar O-line. Coleman doesn't make tacklers miss with great vision or cutting in the open field -- skills Freeman possesses. We're guessing Coleman will lead Atlanta's platoon, but Freeman could be a legit drain.
2015 Outlook: Last year the Cardinals used Ellington (5-9, 199) as their lead RB, and through 10 games he averaged 22.7 touches. Predictably, that turned out to be too great a workload for a man his size, and Ellington suffered hip and foot injuries and needed sports hernia surgery. In this spring's NFL draft, Arizona selected David Johnson, who doesn't always run tough, but at 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds, he's a threat to steal short TDs. While there's no doubting Ellington's open-field elusiveness and tremendous acceleration, we believe Bruce Arians will be determined to keep Ellington healthy in 2015 by curtailing his workload.
2015 Outlook: Bernard will lay down some of the prettiest highlights you'll ever see: weaving, electric masterpieces that make him one of the game's most fearsome open-field RBs. But he's also a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of runner, and as 2014 rolled on, Cincy fell out of love with that approach. Bernard injured his hip in Week 8, and by the time he returned, rookie Jeremy Hill had excelled in the lead role. Make no mistake, there should be work for both men. From Week 12 on last season, Hill averaged 20 touches per game and Bernard averaged 13.3. But if you're taking one Cincy back early, it's Hill, not Bernard.
2015 Outlook: Jennings enters 2015 with too many questions for you to rely on him as a Week 1 fantasy starter. He's 30 years old, and he missed five games in 2014 with knee and ankle injuries, meaning he still hasn't played a full season. He's also yet to finish higher than fantasy's No. 22 RB (2013). Jennings still has the Giants' best combo of size and short-area quickness, and if he stays healthy, he should lead the team in carries. But Andre Williams is a goal-line natural, and Shane Vereen has come aboard to catch passes. While we'd probably draft Jennings before any of his backfield mates, this situation promises to frustrate from week to week.
2015 Outlook: The last time Sean Payton had a thunder-and-lightning RB tandem that led to fantasy glory for both rushers was in 2006, when Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush each posted top-15 fantasy seasons. Since then, the Saints haven't carved out major roles for both a power back and a quick pass catcher. In 2015, though, Spiller will join Mark Ingram and look to fashion such an arrangement. There will be some weeks when Spiller explodes in the box score, but we expect him to max out between 10 and 12 touches per game, meaning he should continue his history as one of fantasy's premier roller-coaster rides.
2015 Outlook: Jackson finished a disappointing 35th in fantasy points among WRs last season, but it's important to note his lack of luck in the TD department. He scored only twice last year, due in part to an ugly 13 percent conversion rate on his 15 end zone targets. (He converted 43 percent of his end zone targets into TDs the previous five seasons.) Tampa Bay surely isn't paying Jackson almost $10 million to watch Mike Evans carry the offense, so expect the 32-year-old to be a major part of OC Dirk Koetter's game plan. With Jameis Winston now under center, Jackson is a sure bet to see a boost in TDs.
2015 Outlook: Cooper, whom the Raiders selected with the fourth overall pick, is not overly intimidating from a size standpoint (6-1, 211), but he makes up for it with good speed (4.42 40) and deadly open-field abilities (26 forced missed tackles, top among FBS WRs in 2014). And though he needs to improve as a blocker, the Alabama product would seem to be Oakland's No. 1 WR, ahead of Michael Crabtree and Rod Streater. After catching an FBS-high 124 passes in '14, Cooper clearly can handle a high target volume. Still, if second-year QB Derek Carr doesn't take a big step forward, Cooper's ceiling will be limited to that of a flex WR.
2015 Outlook: After spending four years limited by Seattle's run-heavy offense, Tate had a breakout first season with Detroit. So why are we expecting a regression? Tate cashed in during the four games in which Calvin Johnson played fewer than half the snaps, totaling 483 yards and three scores and ranking as fantasy's No. 3 WR. But in the other 12 games, he finished 32nd at the position. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Detroit's primary slot man is unlikely to produce many touchdowns, but he stays on the WR3 radar as long as he continues to tear it up after the catch (709 yards in 2014, first overall).
2015 Outlook: From 2007 to 2010, Johnson's touchdown numbers read: eight, eight, nine and eight. But over the past four seasons, those numbers dipped to two, four, five and three. Houston's QB woes were primarily to blame for Johnson's TD deficiency; since 2011, he ranks 10th in targets and 42nd in receiving scores among wide receivers. Expect those numbers to reverse course now that the former Texan is part of Indy's high-scoring attack. Locked in as one of Andrew Luck's top two targets (alongside T.Y. Hilton), Johnson has a ton of upside and is a legitimate candidate to reach a career high in scores.
2015 Outlook: One of the league's top fantasy wideouts of the past decade, Marshall has garnered 1,242 targets since 2007. That's 70 more than the next closest WR. His 37 touchdowns over the past four seasons is tied for fifth among wideouts, but his league-leading 86 end zone targets suggests he's actually underperforming in the scoring department. Now 31, Marshall heads to New York, where he'll see plenty of action in OC Chan Gailey's spread scheme. It's hard to imagine he'll eclipse half a dozen or so touchdowns with Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, but 70 catches and 1,000 yards is within reach.
2015 Outlook: When the Bears selected White seventh overall in April, they found their ready-made replacement for Brandon Marshall. White (6-3, 215) is a bit smaller than Marshall, but he owns sub-4.4 speed and is exceptional on jump balls down the field. Already a decent blocker, White will quickly make an impact as a deep threat on the perimeter while also contributing as a returner. Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett are, of course, still in town, but White stands to get plenty of end zone balls thrown his way. A candidate for 1,000 yards and 6 to 8 TDs, the West Virginia product is a quality flex option.
2015 Outlook: LeGarrette Blount has a Super Bowl ring. That's kind of galling, isn't it? Blount earned his release from Pittsburgh by quitting on the Steelers after Week 11, then re-upped with the Patriots for the stretch drive. A front-runner's front-runner, Blount is adept at racking up big yards in a blowout, but he's unreliable in a crucial spot. For some reason, though, the Pats like him, and if you're the top carrier for Tom Brady, TDs are available. The rub with any New England RB is that Bill Belichick changes strategies weekly. So in any given game, you could see Blount, James White, Jonas Gray, Travaris Cadet or someone else leading the way.
2015 Outlook: You can mark Olsen down for 800-plus yards and 6 TDs every year. He blocks well, runs great routes and has reliable hands, albeit with limited explosiveness and elusiveness. With just one 20-plus-point fantasy game in the past three, Olsen rarely wins a week by himself, but he almost always contributes. Cam Newton knows he can come to Olsen on his second or third read, because the TE will be exactly where he should be. That's how Olsen accounted for 56 first downs in 2014 (second among TEs). Many other fantasy TE options are boom or bust. We like penciling Olsen in for his modest numbers most weeks.
2015 Outlook: If the Browns honestly assess their 2014 film, they'll establish Crowell as their lead rusher. Unfortunately, that seems like a big if. The cluelessness of the Cleveland staff affected the entire roster last year, and the backfield was no exception. First, the Browns opted for a punchless Ben Tate, then fluctuated between Crowell and Terrance West seemingly at random. We see Crowell as a good, not great, NFL starter along the lines of RBs Rudi Johnson and Marion Barber: a professional banger who'll get stronger with more carries. But he might need an injury to West to ensure a bigger workload.