The key to fantasy football success isn't necessarily getting the biggest names out there but getting the best value. It's the perfect balance between top talent, solid producers and a deep bench that is the key to long term success. Below are five names that won't jump out of the paper at you but are poised to pay big dividends to the smart manager who takes a chance on them.
5. Eric Decker/Demaryius Thomas, WR Denver Broncos
Anytime you upgrade your quarterback position from a run-first guy to a future Hall-of-Fame player, then the benefits will invariably spread throughout the offense. You will score more points, have a better rushing game and more importantly for our subject here, your wideouts will be more effective. For the Denver Broncos, who signed Peyton Manning this offseason, that means that Eric Decker and fellow receiver Demaryius Thomas will be reaping the benefits this season and should be had at a reasonable drafting position. Decker has been the early favorite possession receiver for Manning in the early going while Thomas is expected to be the big play receiver. Both should be excellent number 2 receivers.
4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Cincinnati Bengals
The jury is still out on how effective BenJarvus Green-Ellis can be as a number one back, but unlike his time in New England, where it was run by committee, Cincinnati should give him every opportunity to show the goods. In only 181 rushing attempts last year, Green-Ellis rushed for 667 yards at 3.6 yards per carry. Bump that attempts up into the 300 range as the Bengals primary rock toter and you are looking at over 1000 yards rushing with potential for double digits in touchdowns. Also, on the plus side, Green-Ellis does not fumble the ball often, which is key to keeping him on the field.
3. Isaac Redman, RB Pittsburgh Steelers
Isaac Redman showed in his playoff start against Denver last season that he can handle being the primary running back for the Steelers. Averaging 4.4 yards in spot duty last year, Redman has the potential to average that and more with 20+ carries a game with Rashard Mendenhall out most of the year. Add in new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who brings a new commitment to the ground game and the addition of two new young stud lineman through the draft and Redman has all the makings of a top 10 fantasy back this season.
2. Jared Cook, TE Tennessee Titans
Remember when tight ends were lumped together with kickers and defenses as the last positions filled on any roster? Well, thanks to both the new rules opening up the passing game and an influx of hugely athletic big men, the tight end position has become every bit as important as the wide receiver. If you're looking to cash in on this new wave of tight ends but don't want to spend an early pick on one, then Jared Cook is right up your alley. After a slow start last season, Cook finished strong with two 100 yard games in the final three weeks and is poised to produce at that level this year.
1. Jay Cutler, QB Chicago Bears
Early word from camp has Jay Cutler looking very sharp, which is right where he left off before getting injured in week 10 against the San Diego Chargers. This year has all the potential of being even better, barring injury, thanks in part to the Bears adding several weapons to their offense. The most notable one is wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall, for those who don't know, was Cutler's favorite target back when they were both in Denver. Chicago also fortified their rushing game with the signing of Michael Bush and the re-signing of Matt Forte. Add all this up and the forecast is clear skies for anyone taking a flier on Cutler.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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