Michael Conroy/Associated Press
No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck is as good as advertised, going on to break many of Peyton Manning’s rookie records -- which causes team owner Jim Irsay to injure his thumbs tweeting about it.
Mel Evans/Associated Press
Kirk Cousins will end up starting a game this season because coach Mike Shanahan is bat-crap crazy. Seriously, #shanahanigans is not just for running backs. RG3 will get a reprieve at the end of the year when Shanahan is dismissed and replaced by Jon Gruden.
Brandon Weeden undergoes a rite of passage when he’s required – as all rookies are – to purchase donuts for the entire team. The good news is he earns a senior citizen discount on his purchase, thanks to his advanced age.
Adrian Peterson’s return is boosted by the dominating play of left tackle Matt Kalil who enjoys a standout rookie season. But the lack of success by the Vikings as a team brings Kalil close to becoming the NFC’s version of Joe Thomas.
Paul Battaglia/Associated Press
Surprise, the Jaguars have drafted the NFL rookie of the year! No, it's not Justin Blackmon, but instead, punter Bryan Anger, who sets all sorts of records for punting.
Morris Claiborne has a huge impact on the Cowboys this season, helping an improved defense lead the team to an NFC East division title. The bad news for Tony Romo is that he’s now out of excuses.
Julie Jacobson/Associated Press
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Former Boise State running back Doug Martin becomes a three-down back for the Buccaneers -- the final act of revenge on LeGarrette Blount for his punch on Martin's former Broncos teammate Byron Hout.
Networks fight amongst one another to get Dolphins’ games on the air. Not because the team is playing well, but for more crowd shots of Lauren Tannehill.
Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Luke Kuechly avoids calling himself an icon and entertainer after he joined the Panthers as the team's first-round pick, but his play contributes to the Panthers winning the NFC South. Yes, I'm still on board with the Panthers winning the division.
Stephon Gilmore makes his presence known in the AFC when he intercepts a pass from Tom Brady the first time they play. I was going to say he would intercept a pass from Tannehill, too, but everybody is going to do that.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have had some struggles finding the right fit for the middle of their defense, but Dontari Poe ends up challenging for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
The Eagles will take years to develop third-round pick QB Nick Foles. Then they will turn around and swindle some poor quarterback-desperate team for a couple of great draft picks despite Foles never doing anything of note on the field. Yeah, probably the Cardinals again.
Matt York/Associated Press
Cardinals wideout Michael Floyd becomes noted, not for his receiving skills, but for his tremendous blocking ability. And by default, earns a rather dubious title of being the best blocker on the team – including the offensive linemen.
St. Louis Football Club
St. Louis got a steal in Michael Brockers, helping free up defensive end Chris Long, who improves on his 13 sacks from a year ago to earn a Pro Bowl bid. The team’s defense becomes one of the NFL’s best, and St. Louis challenges for a playoff spot but eventually falls short.
Forget Tim Tebow, Seattle's rookie QB Russell Wilson becomes the en vogue, change-of-pace signal caller in the NFL in 2012. The Seahawks will still finish at 7-9. And Pete Carroll will be the coach at Arizona State.
New York Jets
The Jets added two major projects onto their roster with Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill. But not to worry Jets fans, your team has the solid locker room that will help these guys succeed. And yes, I realize that's more of a statement than a prediction, but still.
Mike Carlson/Associated Press
Everybody remembers the story of Mohamed Sanu being pranked during the NFL Draft, but if you’re looking for a rookie receiver to excel for the Bengals, look no further than Marvin Jones.
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
San Diego Chargers
A.J. Smith channeled his 2004 self with an inspired draft that included first-round pick Melvin Ingram. The Chargers go 10-6 to earn a wild card spot, which saves the jobs of Smith and head coach Norv Turner. Chargers fans don't know how to react.
Rich Glickstein/Associated Press
The Bears greatly improve their offense with the trade for Brandon Marshall and using a second-round pick on Alshon Jeffery. And Jay Cutler responds with a Pro Bowl-like season and has better fantasy numbers than Peyton Manning.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright makes Titans fans forget all about Kenny Britt, recording 58 receptions for 947 and six touchdowns during his rookie season.
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
New England Patriots
Chandler Jones becomes an instant force for the Patriots’ defense. But this time it’s the offense (in particular the O-line) that lets the Patriots down this season.
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
First-round pick Riley Reiff will celebrate his all-rookie season and a team playoff berth with a "Footloose"-like dance in the South Dakota barn where he spent his draft night.
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Thanks to the unfortunate injury to David DeCastro, the Steelers are going to be forced to abandon plans to run the ball, having to air it out. The Steelers fail to make the playoffs.
Dave Martin/Associated Press
Whether he goes on to play in a Pro Bowl or not, Whitney Mercilus joins another exclusive club -- the most intimidating names in the NFL list. The Texans defense continues to get better as the team wins consecutive AFC South titles.
Green Bay Packers
With the addition of Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy, the Packers defense once again regains its dominant form from 2010, when the team won the Super Bowl.
Paul Sakuma/Associated Press
San Francisco 49ers
49ers fans complaining about the draft pick of A.J. Jenkins would do well to remember their feelings after San Francisco drafted Aldon Smith. Although, Smith wasn't dependent on Alex Smith throwing him the ball nor did he have Randy Moss as a mentor.
New York Giants
The Giants replaced Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham with David Wilson and Rueben Randle. Seriously, how do the Super Bowl champions do that? But watch, the Giants will be that team that improves its record (to 10-6 this year) but fails to make the playoffs.
John Minchillo/Associated Press
OLB Courtney Upshaw will be regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league only because the Ravens pick him. Oh wait, this already happened.
Ed Andrieski/Associated Press
Hey, when you have a 36-year old quarterback who missed a full season because of neck surgery, you have to back him up with a rookie quarterback whose biggest knock is his inexperience. Brock Osweiler will be forced into action at some point during the 2012 season. (And yes, I know they have Caleb Hanie.)
The Falcons beef up the offensive line thanks to the picks of Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes, but neither will be enough to slow the inevitable decline of starting running back Michael Turner as the Falcons fail to reach the postseason.
Dave Martin/Associated Press
New Orleans Saints
Wide receiver Nick Toon will be off to a slow start, thanks in part to a foot injury. But Toon catches his stride and becomes an integral part of the Saints’ offense in the second-half of the season.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
The Raiders have a dearth of receivers, so look for Juron Criner to get some playing time. Though, Criner doesn’t fit the figure of a typical Raiders receiver, as he runs a 4.68 40-yard dash.
More Photo Essays:
- Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8
- Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Picking the semifinalists
- Week 7 fantasy stock watch
- Manning and Favre milestone touchdowns
- Mind-blowing stats for Week 7 of the 2014 season
- Top 25 ranked fantasy players: Week 7
- Predictions for top 10 college games of Week 8
- Dirty Dozen: 12 most disliked college football players
- Top 30 fantasy scorers: Week 6