There’s nothing more frustrating than a true bust in fantasy football. You know, those guys that you peg as guaranteed elite performers that come up remarkably short? Yes, the tears come flowing every time you utter their names, and you cringe over the thought of a lost season thanks to their untimely injuries or horrid play.
In 2013, the most notable ones had to be Arian Foster and Doug Martin. Add in Aaron Rodgers as another, as that trio succumbed to injury in a bad way. Rodgers missed roughly half of the year, but at least returned to work some magic for any fantasy owners still playing during the week 17 regular season finale. Foster and Martin owners weren’t so lucky.
The list goes on, but which of these awful busts from a year ago can actually redeem themselves? Let’s take a look at five busts from 2013 that could bounce back in a big way during the 2014 campaign:
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Brady actually still found a way to put up decent numbers despite the perfect storm in 2013. Not only did Rob Gronkowski miss half the year with injury, but Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead jetted in free agency and Aaron Hernandez is being indicted for murder. When the dust had settled, new acquisition Danny Amendola couldn’t stay healthy, Zach Sudfeld was more like Zach “Dudfeld” and Shane Vereen was out for a lengthy period of time after just one week.
Truly, it was the season from hell for Tom Terrific, yet he still put up over 4,300 passing yards and 25 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.
Some have criticized Brady’s long ball as he’s aged, while his accuracy has also been a subject of conversation. There is some truth to mild regression, but a healthy and consistent supporting cast should do Brady wonders in 2014. He should ascend back up the ranks and is probably a top-10 fantasy passer for the new season. That makes him a safe QB1.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Manning’s 2013 season was atrocious. So was everyone’s in New York for the most part. Manning made some terrible decisions to be sure, but his pass protection, running game, wide receiver play and play-calling were all remarkably awful.
All of that has at least been addressed and adjusted heading into 2014, while Manning also had surgery on a nagging ankle injury. He had been a very steady QB1 on a regular, yearly basis before his huge drop-off, so it’s entirely plausible that he’ll bounce back with a solid showing in 2014. He’s not an elite QB1 that you want to throw all of your trust behind, but for a guy who is being drafted in round 14 (or not at all), he offers major value. He remains a high-end QB2 with true QB1 upside.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
It’s not easy to trust a would-be stud runner when the wheels fall off. However, unlikely aging veterans like Michael Turner and Steven Jackson that hit walls the past two years, Foster actually looked quite good before going down with a back injury. He’s also younger than those guys and looks to have a real shot to bounce right back into elite level production.
Houston doesn’t have a quarterback you can put confidence in, which could hurt Foster’s effectiveness, but he shouldn’t want for touches. He’s at the worst a major value pick and stud RB2, but there’s little reason to think he can’t be a beastly RB1 again if he can just stay on the field.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Cobb was very much on the way up before breaking his leg in 2013. After putting up 80 catches, over 900 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012, Cobb got off to a torrid start in 2013 and was on pace for 85 catches, over 1,100 yards and 11 scores. He still has to compete with Jordy Nelson in Green Bay’s balanced passing attack, but the two complement each other extremely well, so it’s not really an issue. Provided he can simply stay healthy this year, Cobb should hit the line he was on pace for in 2013, if not reach higher ground. He’s a rock solid WR2 with WR1 upside.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
How can Harvin not bounce back in 2014? By not staying healthy, sure, but he is otherwise in for a jack-of-all-trades role on offense this season. Golden Tate is gone and Sidney Rice can’t be trusted, making Harvin a key piece for the passing game. He’s still a risk thanks to his long history of injuries, but he showed well when healthy and on the field for Seattle in 2013 and has major upside heading into the new season. Seattle still runs the ball a lot and he still hasn’t fully proven he can be a true #1 target, so temper your expectations a bit and rate him as a high-end WR2.
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.