Red Zone Reindeer to shine again
Adrian Peterson may finally be getting consistent help, and Kyle Rudolph must be stoked that the Minnesota Vikings hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator. Turner is back in his offense-focused niche on the sidelines. Matt Cassel, or whomever Minny drafts in May, should be competent enough to run Turner's vertically minded setup. Tight ends have been a major part of the Air Coryell design, and if the Notre Dame alum can recovery smoothly from his fractured left foot, he could cement himself among fantasy starters.
With the late-season success he found after Minny started featuring him, Cordarrelle Patterson was already an exciting sleeper target before Turner's arrival, but the thought of him showing some Josh Gordon-like flashes means he'll be bolded on my cheat sheets, as well.
The Cincinnati Bengals have their own change to be excited about. From overseeing Joe Flacco's successful rookie year to Darren McFadden's career year (plus another career half-year) to the Chad Johnson-T.J Houshmandzadeh emergence with these Bengals, Hue Jackson had a hand in some fine offensive performances around the league, by supervising nearly every offensive position.
Whatever semantics Jackson chooses to spew about Cincy's play-calling balance (as ESPN's Coley Harvey examines based on history), the odds of their offense becoming more efficient and effective, regardless of split, look promising.
Giovani Bernard is the obvious top beneficiary; Jackson probably sees plenty of similarities in game-breaking ability between the sophomore and the old McFadden.
Beware: Bernard likely will be called often in the first round of fantasy football drafts without having earned the title. I love him, but I also want to be careful. If he falls to PPR Round 2 (good luck), I'm more inclined to gamble that he'll become this year's Eddie Lacy (somewhat justified reach for talent/opportunity) with about 30 percent more receptions. PPR leagues, naturally, give him a bigger boost, but you have to remember that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still in town to vulture some scores.\
(To be fair, the qualifications to become a second-rounder in a fantasy football draft are dwindling, so Bernard may just comfortably fall there regardless.)
I'm not banking on any of the non-A.J. Green receivers every week. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert will continue to cannibalize each other when they're both active. The secondary options are too fluid.
But Andy Dalton once again should earn top fantasy-backup consideration. Sure, Jackson said he wants to focus on the run, but his knowledge of the vertical game (with this very team) should raise Dalton's ceiling in what he does on his attempts.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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