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Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Believe it or not, Andy Dalton was an elite fantasy quarterback in 2013. Obviously Peyton Manning made just about everyone look like a scrub, but you absolutely could have taken home your league title with Dalton. The Red Rifle pit up career highs across the board in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s suddenly pass happy offense with 33 touchdowns and 4,296 passing yards on 586 pass attempts.
Not only did Gruden’s offense help Dalton mature, but obviously having a stud receiver like A.J. Green and fresh rookie talents like Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard helped quite a bit. Unfortunately, Dalton will be tasked with putting up similar numbers without the help of Gruden, who jetted for the head coaching gig in Washington.
New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson shouldn’t rattle his cage with too many changes, but expecting there be to minimal hiccups might be a tad foolish. Add in a tough division and Dalton’s already clear shortcoming in reading coverages, and establishing new career highs probably isn’t in the cards.
That’s not to say Dalton can’t still be a decent fantasy passer, but if you’re drafting him to be a stud QB1 for the second year in a row, prepare for disappointment. Fifth round draft pick A.J. McCarron could be waiting in the wings.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
While Jay Gruden’s exit might hurt Dalton, his arrival in Washington will probably thwart Morris’ upside. Morris already was a one-dimensional back with the Redskins, as he’s caught just 20 receptions in two full seasons as a starter. With Gruden, his role as a receiver out of the backfield should be almost non-existent.
Gruden is also going to ditch the read option packages for the most part, partially because he doesn’t use it, and also in an effort to keep quarterback Robert Griffin III healthy. Less pistol plays could mean fewer rushing attempts for Morris, while the offense Gruden led in Cincinnati grew more pass happy by the year. Add the signing of DeSean Jackson, and the writing is more than a little on the wall that this offense is changing.
Considering Morris already dipped in production from 2012 to 2013, we can safely expect his value to be curbed once again. That might actually result in fantasy owners getting him at a bargain in fantasy drafts, but we simply can’t bank on him to return to the RB1 he was as a rookie. Defenses know him now, he lacks versatility and his new head coach is installing an offense that is slowly but surely moving away from him as its feature piece.