Matt Prater, K, Denver Broncos: Laugh it up fuzzballs ... yep, that's a kicker listed there. Simply put, the Broncos offense is better with the additions of Wes Welker and Louis Vasquez, while the defense will probably be the same, with some improvements offset by the loss of Elvis Dumervil. Thus, Denver should have more scoring opportunities without having to take late-game risks. That translates to Prater padding leads in the fourth quarter with field goals. Do yourself a favor, and take him a round before everyone starts jumping on kickers (ie., the last round).
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: I called Michael Fabiano on the phone and asked him about whether I should replace Tony Romo on my list of "breakout" stars. After imploring me to watch Rocky IV and download "Dream Warriors" by Dokken on Itunes, Fabiano mentioned Spiller. I agree. He was electric after Fred Jackson went down. With a rookie quarterback in EJ Manuel, look for Spiller to catch 50 balls, at least. He caught 43 passes last year. Oh, and he had over 1,200 yards rushing. Guessing he will eclipse that by nearly 200 yards this time around.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots: If Amendola can stay healthy, there will be no stopping him from catching 100 balls. So if you're one of the millions of fantasy owners that play in PPR leagues, this is a MUST draft pick. Amendola will resume Wes Welker's role in the Patriots offense. Welker caught 672 balls in that offense from 2007 to 2012. That's, um, pretty decent, yes?
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Goodbye Greg Jennings, hello Randall Cobb. There are a lot of people out there who feel Cobb is a better option than Jordy Nelson. While I'm yet to be sold on that, I do feel that the slot position is the toughest to defend in pro football. That's where Cobb lives, and, without Jennings around to steal targets, all signs point to increased production for this guy.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: There aren't too many tailbacks left in pro football who are 20-carry guys. You know, the lead back who is on the field 75-80 percent of the time. Richardson, like Amendola, merely needs to stay healthy. If he does, you might be looking at Michael Turner-in-his-prime-production, as the Browns can't afford to lean solely on Brandon Weeden in 2013.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: With Mike Wallace taking his game to South Beach, this is Antonio Brown's baby. So is he going to pull a Robert Brooks and thrive, or a Jerry Porter and fall on his face? Strange things happen when the No. 1 option is gone from a passing attack. Brown proved himself with a 1,000-yard season in 2011, and still has Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball. He could sneak into the five-hole in the WR rankings this season.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts:Andrew Luck will have to throw the football this year, as the Colts are still in need of a big-time back. He also has the legs to score five or six rushing touchdowns -- that's where breakout potential comes into focus. Luck is a very quick, agile athlete playing the quarterback position, and frankly, probably doesn't get enough credit for that aspect of his game.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers:Colin Kaepernick wowed us all down the stretch in 2012, particularly in a record-setting performance versus the Packers in the divisional playoffs. Will he rush for 181 yards every week? Of course not. But his throwing ability -- even without the injured Michael Crabtree -- should net him 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Combined with running the football, he's as strong a contender as Luck.
Minnesota Vikings D/ST: I like the Vikings defense this year. They added Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes on the defensive side of the ball, and with the offense eating up clock, are poised to give up less points. There are two key points at play here: a) how effective will Jared Allen be at 31, and b) how many steps forward will safety Harrison Smith take? Can he be the next Ed Reed?
Miami Dolphins D/ST: The Miami Dolphins didn't trade up 12 spots in the draft to get Dion Jordan so that he could cover people. Look for the Miami Dolphins to put up at least 40 team sacks this year. Cameron Wake -- who will play on the opposite side of Jordan -- should be a 12-sack dude with the added help. That might even be on the conservative side, statistically speaking. The addition of cornerback Brent Grimes and development of safety Reshad Jones will probably equate to more mistakes by opposing quarterbacks. Improved pass rush plus a bolstered secondary equals fantasy points.