2014 Outlook: Last year D-Willy topped 200 carries and 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first time since 2009 and made enough explosive plays to keep the fantasy hopes burning on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, when the Panthers got near an opponent's goal line, Williams just wasn't part of the plan. Instead, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton got 16 of Carolina's 21 carries inside the 5. Williams is now 31, and there's a chance Jonathan Stewart could return to more substantive action in 2014. Simply put, there's not much upside to Williams' fantasy situation.
2014 Outlook: Year two for Wilson wasn't much better than his less-than-stellar rookie campaign. He fumbled twice in Week 1, was barely involved in the pass game, broke zero runs longer than 18 yards and suffered a neck injury so severe that it required spinal fusion surgery. So we've been burned by Wilson in back-to-back years, believing his incredible college tape destined him for big-play NFL stardom. No more. The Giants think Wilson can be healthy enough to contribute in 2014, but it still feels risky. While Wilson's raw ability is light-years ahead of that of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis, he's only a flier fantasy pick.
2014 Outlook: Pierce's dreadful stats during his second season combined with Ray Rice's bad year indicates that perhaps what actually ailed the Ravens' running game was bad blocking. On paper, Pierce is a big, decisive runner who appears to be a nice fit for Gary Kubiak's incoming zone systems. And if Rice really is on a slide -- or if he ends up facing a league suspension -- Pierce should be positioned to contribute. But he needed shoulder surgery this winter, which could limit his participation in OTAs, and we have no guarantee the holes will be any bigger in 2014. As such, Pierce is still probably more of a high-level handcuff than an exciting draftee.
2014 Outlook: Cooper had his share of statistical highlights last season. Most notably, his 17.8 yards per catch ranked second among WRs with 40 or more receptions. He also tied for fifth with four stretch vertical scores and ranked 13th in offensive snaps by a wide receiver (937). He's the Eagles' leading returning wideout in terms of targets (85), receptions (47) and yards (835). Jeremy Maclin's return is a slight concern, but there will be plenty of targets to go around, making it likely that Cooper replicates his catch and yardage totals from 2013. His fantasy upside will be tied to his touchdown total.
2014 Outlook: To no one's surprise, injuries got in the way of Amendola's making a huge impact in his first year with the Pats. After sitting out four games last season with a recurring groin injury and a concussion, he's now missed more than 30 percent of his NFL contests. And when he did play, Amendola's fantasy production was merely OK. He ranked 37th in short-pass fantasy points per game (3.1) and scored only 2 TDs all season. If he can stay on the field and carve out a niche in New England's crowded WR corps, Amendola has the chops to be a decent fantasy player. But those are some big ifs.
2014 Outlook: Through the first eight weeks of 2013, Cameron was fantasy's No. 2 TE behind Jimmy Graham. He had 49 grabs and 6 TDs and was only 34 receiving yards behind the prolific Graham. Defenses got wise to Cameron thereafter, and his second half featured only 31 catches and one score. Now that Rob Chudzinski no longer coaches in Cleveland, it's fair to wonder whether the offense will revolve around the TE position as much. Cameron is still a tough matchup and a fantasy starter, but last year's early-season dominance was probably a bit of an outlier.
2014 Outlook: Andy Reid's arrival in KC -- along with the signing of Alex Smith -- was supposed to make Bowe fantasy sleeper material. But outside of an eight-catch, 150-yard performance against the Colts in the playoffs, the new regime resulted in Bowe's numbers falling through the floor. He posted his second-lowest single-season totals in targets (103), receptions (57) and yards (673). More disturbing is the 34 vertical targets, a mark that ranked 49th among wide receivers. Don't count on anything much better this year.
2014 Outlook: Ho-hum. All the Super Bowl champs did in 2013 was allow the fewest total yards (4,378), fewest passing yards (2,752), fewest yards per play (4.4), lowest red zone efficiency (36 percent) and lowest QBR in the NFL (29). There have been a few defections: Red Bryant and Chris Clemons from the D-line and Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond from the secondary. But DE Michael Bennett, who had 8' sacks and 39 hurries in 2013, gave Seattle a hometown discount to stay, and Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Malcolm Smith and Bobby Wagner are also still around to re-create the league's best defense.
2014 Outlook: Kaepernick was fourth among quarterbacks with 524 rushing yards, backing up his reputation as a terrific ground gainer. The surprise, though, was some of his passing metrics. Kaepernick is among the few quarterbacks who produce big on downfield passes (38 fantasy points on stretch vertical throws, ranked ninth) while still expertly protecting the ball (1.6 percent bad-decision rate). Were it not for a slow start -- he scored single-digit points in three of his first five games -- Kaepernick would have been a top-five QB last year. He certainly has that potential this year.
2014 Outlook: Just about everything that could go wrong for Ryan did go wrong last year. He lost a top receiver, Julio Jones, for much of the season and dealt with massive offensive line issues (44 sacks, tied for worst in the NFC). Yet Ryan still ranked seventh with 12.3 vertical yards per attempt and 14th in overall fantasy points among QBs thanks to 151 total points on short passes. His consistency and durability -- only two games missed in six NFL seasons -- make him a fringe QB1 and a great QB2.
2014 Outlook: Paydirt was the missing ingredient in Nicks' fantasy season last year. He was the only wide receiver to score more than 50 points without registering at least one receiving touchdown. The Colts don't shy away from throwing in the red zone (74 attempts last season, tied for 13th), so Nicks should be able to end his scoring drought. If he does, it won't take much to move him into flex territory; a mere 4 TDs last year would have placed him 32nd in WR fantasy points.
2014 Outlook: Nobody knows how the Saints' offense will look in 2014. By releasing Lance Moore and trading Darren Sproles, it's reasonable to wonder whether New Orleans committed to a more traditional attack. That would be good news for Robinson, a player who has only 54 career carries but showed startling power and burst in limited action last season. With Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas still around in the Big Easy, split carries are inevitable. Robinson has the look of a fantasy star in the making, but we're worried the Saints will continue to bring him along slowly.
2014 Outlook: Zac Stacy is ensconced as the workhorse in St. Louis, but his backup job is wide open. Benny Cunningham was serviceable in small doses in 2013, but Mason is a quicker-footed player. (Plus, his dad was in De La Soul, and that's awesome.) Mason may not have ideal feature-back size at 5-foot-8, but his college tape portrays him as an explosive player unafraid of contact and willing to run with a low pad level. And because he's reliable in pass protection, it's not hard to imagine that he'll carve out a supplemental role to Stacy right away.
2014 Outlook: It's fair to be concerned that Carolina's inexperienced WR corps will allow defenses to focus on Olsen. But it's not exactly like Panthers wideouts set the world ablaze last year either. Regardless of the supporting cast, Olsen's past two seasons in Carolina have been remarkably consistent: around 70 grabs for 800 yards and 5 TDs. A mountain of a man with good hands, Olsen sits atop the above-average TE tier. There's no reason to reach for him in a draft, but you'll be fine if you end up with him.
2014 Outlook: With Chris Johnson gone from Nashville, a whole lot of carries are available in the Titans' backfield. Greene's first season with the Titans was a bust, as he needed a knee scope after Week 1 and missed five games. (He also required another knee surgery this spring.) But even when healthy, Greene is simply a slap-in-the-face, straight-ahead mauler. He won't do much of anything on his own except get tackled. He relies on big holes to gain yardage and volume to wear you down. His competition will be second-round rookie Bishop Sankey, whose college profile indicates he's more likely to be a big-play fantasy asset.