The 2014 Pro Bowl rosters are set, as the AFC and NFC will face off in a tradition that started all the way back in 1970. Coincidentally, the coaches for that game were John Madden of the Oakland Raiders and Dick Nolan of the San Francisco 49ers. The game had two Most Valuable Players, Fred Carr of the Green Bay Packers and Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys, and the NFC took home a 27-6 win. The contest, which was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, had a reward of $2,000 for each player of the winning team.
Had fantasy football been prominent in 1970, the fantasy Pro Bowl team would have included John Brodie, Fran Tarkenton, Ron A. Johnson, MacArthur Lane, Gene A. Washington and Dick Gordon. Brodie led the league with 2,941 passing yards, which isn't so impressive compared to today's gaudy totals. Johnson would have been a fantasy superstar, though, as his 1,027 rushing yards, 487 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns would have earned him a top-10 finished among all 2014 runners. Washington, who recorded 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns, was comparable to Mike Evans in the stats.
Starter: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers -- The highest-scoring fantasy player in 2014, Rodgers recorded 4,381 passing yards, 40 total touchdowns and threw a mere five interceptions. He also put up 20-plus fantasy points in 10 different games and failed to score at least 15 points just five times. He will no doubt be the first quarterback picked in most 2015 drafts and might be the lone signal-caller who is worth a first-round selection.
Starter: DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys -- Murray and his fantasy owners enjoyed a breakout season, as he posted career-bests across the board while also finishing with 294.1 fantasy points. His 1,845 rushing yards set a new Cowboys record, and he posted 100 or more yards on the ground in each of his first eight contests. While he's almost assured of being a first-round fantasy pick in 2015, his 449 touches could be a major cause for concern.
Starters: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers; Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants -- Brown followed up his 2013 breakout season with an even more successful campaign, as he posted over 1,600 yards, 13 touchdowns and a league-high 251.9 fantasy points at that position. Brown was also consistent, posting double-digit fantasy points in all but two of his games in standard scoring leagues. Beckham, who missed the first four games of his rookie campaign, was given the nod over other star wideouts because of his 17-point-per-game average. Projected over a full 16-game season OBJ would have finished with more fantasy points than even Brown.
Starter: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots -- This one was a no brainer, as there was Gronkowski and everyone else at the tight end position. He put up 1,124 yards, 12 touchdowns and an impressive 184.4 fantasy points, which was 30.3 more points than the second-highest scorer. Not bad when you consider he sat out the last game of the regular season. Look for Gronkowski to be the first tight end picked in most 2015 fantasy drafts.
Starter: Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots -- Another season, another first-place finish among fantasy kickers for Gostkowski. His 158 fantasy points, which tied Cody Parkey for the top spot, were more than LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. Gostkowski has now finished no worse than second in points among kickers in each of the last four seasons, and he'll no doubt be the first kicker taken in all re-drafts.
Starters: Morgan Burnett, Green Bay Packers; Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders -- Burnett missed one game in 2014, but he still scored more fantasy points than any other defensive back. While some of his numbers aren't overly impressive (he had just one interception and four passes defensed), Burnett did lead this position in total tackles with 94. Woodson has shown that he gets better with age, at least in the stat sheets, as he finished 2014 with 81 tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defensed. Assuming he returns to action next season (Woodson will be 39), he'll likely remain one of the better fantasy defensive backs.
Starters: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans; Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants - -Watt's stat sheet was absolutely loaded in 2014 ... he finished with 59 tackles, 20.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries, 10 passes defensed and two defensive touchdowns. Oh, and he also scored three times on offense! Overall, no IDP was within 20 fantasy points of Watt's 173.9. He'll be the first defensive player picked in all 2015 drafts. Pierre-Paul was the second highest-scoring lineman with 104 points ... or 69.9 fewer than Watt. His numbers were solid, as JPP recorded 53 tackles, 12.5 sacks and six passes defensed during the course of the season.
Starters: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers; DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions -- Kuechly ranked in the top five in fantasy points (148.5), tackles (99) and passes defensed among linebackers, making him an IDP superstar. The Boston College product has now finished first in fantasy points at his position in two of his first three seasons at the NFL level, making him the top fantasy linebacker heading into 2015. Levy was also impressive in the stat sheets, scoring a mere 0.5 fewer fantasy points than Kuechly on the season. It was his best campaign in the pros, as Levy manned the weak side and was strong as a tackler and a pass defender.