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Foster trending up, but beware Moreno next season

Some people would say that I've jumped on my share of bandwagons.

Let me give you an example. I started watching sports in the early 1980s when I was around seven years old. My first NBA experience was the 1980 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. It was Game 6, and this rookie point guard by the name of Earvin "Magic" Johnson went off for 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists ... while starting at center!

Well, I've been a Lakers fan ever since.

I'm also a fan of the New York Yankees (hey, I'm an East Coaster come from an Italian family), the Dallas Cowboys (I loved Danny White and Tony Dorsett growing up) and the North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball team. You got it, my first college hoops experience was watching the team that included Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins and beat the Georgetown Hoyas for the title in 1982.

Even as a little kid I knew a thing or two about jumping on a bandwagon (OK the Cowboys stink now but whatever), but I also have a good idea on when to avoid the hype and stay off the bandwagon ... and I use it when I hear NFL offseason reports.

Here's 12 players who have been in the news a lot and whether the bandwagon meter is pointing up (high score) or down (low score).

Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos: Ball might be in the best position to break out among running backs next season. He's the clear-cut favorite to start for the Broncos, who had enough faith in him to let Knowshon Moreno walk. The Wisconsin product showed flashes of brilliance down the stretch of his rookie campaign, and recent reports out of offseason workouts have all been positive. I'm on the bandwagon with Ball, who could be drafted in the late first round of countless 12-team leagues.

Bandwagon meter: 10

My cousins and I at the 2011 NFL Fantasy Draft Week event. Yup, they jumped on the Dallas Cowboys bandwagon too.
My cousins and I at the 2011 NFL Fantasy Draft Week event. Yup, they jumped on the Dallas Cowboys bandwagon too. (Special to NFL.com)

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Is there risk with drafting Foster, who is coming off a surgical procedure on his back? No question about it. But we're talking about someone who was one of the top fantasy players at his position from 2010-2012. Foster also has little competition for backfield touches, unless you consider Andre Brown a viable threat. Featured running backs remain few and far between, so I'd roll the dice with Foster somewhere in the latter stages of the first round.

Bandwagon meter: 8

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: How many times this offseason have we heard that the Buccaneers want to rotate runners in their backfield under new OC Jeff Tedford? It's getting at least a little worrisome for fantasy fans. I still see Martin as the leader of the pack, but this is a crowded situation with rookie Charles Sims, Mike James and Bobby Rainey in the mix. If Tedford goes with an RBBC, you simply can't draft Martin as your lead runner. He's more of an RB2 at this point.

Bandwagon meter: 5

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: Fantasy owners who drafted Spiller last season are still having nightmares about his lack of production, but offseason reports have all been positive to this point. He's fully recovered from last year's high ankle sprain, and it looks like the Bills want to expand his role in the offense. I would feel safer landing Spiller as a high-end flex starter in a 10-team format, but the arrow is certainly pointing in the right direction for his 2014 production.

Bandwagon meter: 6

Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams: Stacy was one of the best waiver-wire adds in fantasy football last season, finishing 18th among running backs despite starting just 12 games. However, Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer said Stacy is "not guaranteed" to be the team's starter in 2014. I think that statement is for motivational purposes, but owners do need to keep in mind that the team spent a third-round pick on Auburn's Tre Mason. The safest play is to draft Stacy as a mid-tier No. 2 runner.

Bandwagon meter: 6

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins: If you're looking for a bargain among quarterbacks, target Griffin III. He's shed the knee brace that hindered him last season, and reports suggest he looks invigorated under new coach Jay Gruden. In a pass-laden offense and with DeSean Jackson now in his arsenal, RG3 is primed to post a solid 2014 campaign. I'm on board with the former Baylor standout, who has what it takes to return high No. 1 quarterback production for his fantasy owners.

Bandwagon meter: 8

Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Gerhart has become a popular sleeper/breakout candidate. Every offseason report seems to suggest a full workload, which means the potential is there for 300 or more carries. In his final collegiate campaign, Gerhart had 343 carries in 13 games. He's had just 276 in four NFL seasons combined. I'm cautiously optimistic here, but keep in mind the team's quarterback situation and offensive line are concerns. I'd draft Gerhart as a high-end flex.

Bandwagon meter: 6

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins: Wallace was projected to disappoint last season and, well, he did. After ranking in the top 10 among wideouts in two of the previous three years, he finished a mere 25th in his first season with the Dolphins. Things are looking up, though, as the system of new OC Bill Lazor fits Wallace's strengths much better than the previous regime. Ryan Tannehill has two NFL seasons under his belt, so Wallace could turn into one of fantasy's best bounce-back players.

Bandwagon meter: 6

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Rice was one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football in 2013, finishing 26th among runners despite being a first-round selection in drafts. Things haven't gotten better either, as an offseason incident with his then fiancee is expected to result in a suspension. Clearly, the needle is pointing down for the Rutgers product ... and it could be worse if Bernard Pierce impresses. You can't even draft Rice as more than a flex starter at this point.

Bandwagon meter: 3

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins: Moreno was the fifth-best back in fantasy last season, putting up career-highs across the board. Of course, that was in Denver. Now in Miami, his value has taken a tumble. Moreno showed up to OTAs overweight and out of shape, and underwent arthroscopic suregery on his knee that will keep him out for at least a month. Remember how much I liked Lamar Miller heading into 2013? Well, I might have been one year ahead of the game.

Bandwagon meter: 1

Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks: The hype surrounding Michael this offseason has been ridiculous. Heck, he's even been compared to Adrian Peterson. But while he is among the most valuable running backs in dynasty leagues, you can't expect him to make a significant statistical impact while Marshawn Lynch remains atop the depth chart. As long as he passes Robert Turbin during camp, Michael will be an attractive fantasy handcuff in all re-drafts. Just don't reach for him.

Bandwagon meter: 3

Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: If you read all of the positive hype on Matthews this offseason, you'd think he was the second coming of Harold Carmichael. And who knows, he might very well be a productive NFL wideout. But if trends hold true, you shouldn't be reaching for him in re-drafts. From 2009-2013, a total of 154 wideouts have been drafted ... six have finished in the top 20 in fantasy points as rookies. I still see Matthews as no more than a late-rounder.

Bandwagon meter: 3


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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