Ed Bonfanti
Face the Future: 2014 First Round

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We’re now in the final two weeks of the fantasy football playoffs and that means the vast majority of owners have had their seasons come to an end. It’s tough. Let’s be honest about it. These are some of the toughest days of the year, my friends.

Still, if you can somehow crawl out of your depression, if only for a few moments, let’s talk about next season. It’s not even this year. It’s next year but it feels like it could be a decade from now. Still, next August will come eventually. Free Agency. Training Camp. Preseason. A ton of things are going to happen between now and next August. Nevertheless, here’s an inappropriately early look at the 2014 First Round.

1) Jamaal Charles

After years of Adrian Peterson having the top spot, next year will finally be the year we have a new 1st overall pick. Charles has A.P. beat in points, receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns. Charles has been one of the most consistent fantasy players this season, while A.P. has had a couple clunkers while battling a hamstring injury and poor QB play earlier in the season. He's also been more durable than A.P., who battled his share of injuries over the season, including his latest foot injury, which might have him miss the fantasy playoffs. If we're talking prime versus prime, I'm taking A.P. over Charles but for the 2014 season, in A.P.'s age 29 season, give me Charles, a much safer bet.

2) LeSean McCoy

I'm giving Charles the edge over McCoy because I just feel Charles is more consistent than McCoy and he's the main focus of the Chiefs offense while the offense McCoy plays in has numerous weapons and he gets less opportunities as a result. Still, McCoy has been a fabulous dual threat for owners, especially in PPR leagues with 40 receptions for 439 yards receiving plus ten total touchdowns. He's been a beast, highlighted by his 217 yard performance in the first round of the fantasy playoffs last weekend.

3) Matt Forte

I think ranking Charles and McCoy above A.P. is understandable but when I'm drafting Forte before A.P., now it becomes more questionable. My friends, I have to tell you, I hinted at it above, but I have grave concerns for A.P. next season. We saw these warning signs with Arian Foster last season and they came true when Foster went down for the year earlier this season.

A.P.'s going to be 29. He's had an enormous amount of wear and tear on his body. Billions of carries. Forte, on the other hand, is in the prime of his career and is playing in one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, as opposed to A.P. who plays in one of the worst with one of the worst quarterbacks in the game. Forte is having a career year and while he's behind A.P. in rushing yards and touchdowns (7-10), he more than makes up for it in receptions (66-28) and receiving yards (516-169). This early in the draft, you want someone that is as safe as it gets and I think Forte's a safer bet in 2014.

4) Adrian Peterson

Okay, enough with the hating on A.P. He's still A.P. and he's still elite but I just think the three guys I have ranked above him have more upside and reliability. A.P.'s still an enormous talent and he's still Top 4 in scoring among RBs. Let's not forget that it was less than two weeks ago that he ran for over 200 yards. When he's healthy, he's still a major force to be reckoned with. I'd be happy to have him on my team next season, as long as Charles, McCoy and Forte are already off the board.

5) Josh Gordon

The A.P. debate was really just a distraction to the most shocking bit in the article. I'm taking Josh Gordon as the first receiver off the board before Calvin Johnson . There. I said it. It needed to be said. What Gordon has done over the last three weeks, 649 receiving yards with three touchdowns, is beyond incredible. He had a great rookie season but was suspended for the first two games of the season and yet he's still only nine points behind Johnson in points scored among all wideouts this season. He's had some of the league's worst QBs throwing to him and yet he's still become a dominant force, putting owners on his back and single handely winning games for them in this last month.

As I spoke above about A.P., there are durability questions when it comes to Johnson. Calvin will also be in his age 29 season next year and he's already missed a game this season due to injury and was basically used as an injured decoy in another game. Calvin will go down as one of the best receivers of the modern era but the injury concerns help lift a younger and matchup-proof star like Gordon over the top.

6) Calvin Johnson

He's still the best in the business when healthy and he plays in a great offense with a quarterback that loves to throw to him in triple coverage. Once again, he's been the top fantasy football receiver in scoring. While his receiving yards have gone down from the previous year, he has a chance to triple his touchdowns from 2012, if he can get three TDs in his next three games. His current TD total stands at 12. He should be the second receiver taken off the board only because of injury concerns.



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