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In the NFL, defense wins championships and offense sells tickets. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the top ticket sellers in the league going into next year.
10. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
There are fantasy performers, and there are leaders. Brady finds a way to do both. The lack of quality receiving options outside of the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski has never seemed to slow Tom Brady down. The defense in New England continues to struggle and that means Brady is going to have to shoulder the load and put up points to win games for his team. All this guy does is win.
9. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
The young Cowboys receiver had some issues early on in his career, but he had a breakout season last year. With the defense being as porous as it is in Big D, expect the Cowboys to be playing from behind and trying to hit up big plays, which likely means lobbing it up for Dez on the regular. A new shiny contract may serve as a distraction, or it just might have him wanting to prove how much he deserves it.
8. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
There is likely only two players (Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson) in the league who have their offenses revolve more heavily around them than Shady. The team needs McCoy to run for 1000+ yards and catch at least 45 passes to have a shot at being balanced on offense. Yeah, I know that having 35 percent of your offense go through one guy doesn’t sound like balance, but the truth is the rest of the guys aren’t good enough to beat double coverage. Shady needs to be the man to draw the defense to create openings for others.
7. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
“Are you feeling lucky punk?” I am sure the Colts were when they let Peyton Manning go and picked up one of the best young QBs in the league. The problem in Indy has always been the defense isn’t going be stellar. It puts pressure on the offense to score, but Luck has been able to lead the unit to do so. Having a really solid receiving corps certainly doesn’t hurt.
6. Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints
You might tend to forget about the Big Easy, as the NFC South yo-yos more than the toy that bears the same name, but the Saints and Drew Brees have put up massive numbers even in their “off” years. I’d be silly to think you’ll see anything less than 4,500+ yards and close to 40 TDs out of one of the shortest guys on the list. Good things come in small packages don’t they?
5. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Speaking of small packages, the Chiefs found a fit with Andy Reid (wait, no, that can’t be right?). It’s not that Charles wasn’t a star before the new coach came to town, but as soon as the offense was more than just “hand the ball to Jamaal” it opened things up for the running back. The team still leans heavily on JC to carry this team, however. I do expect there to be a bit of a step back this year as teams figure out how Reid works his system in Kansas City. Even with a step back, Charles will still put up solid numbers.
4. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
Graham received a big contract as one of the best offensive tight ends, let alone offensive weapons, in the game. Graham is on the list and Gronkowski isn’t because Graham has not been injured as often and is in a pass-happy offense in New Orleans. He’s a threat no matter where the team is on the field. The lock as your top pick for fantasy football tight ends, and a lock for this list.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
He’s broken 2,000 yards, he’s the team’s only real offensive threat, and he still keeps coming. The team has something of a quarterback now with Matt Cassel, certainly enough of a threat to make sure that defenses are hurt when they constantly commit eight men to the box. Peterson wants another 2,000-yard season, and he just might get it. Enjoy the show that is AP on any given Sunday.
2. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Double cover the guy. Oh, he got 100 yards and two touchdowns?! Ok, triple cover the guy. What? He got 150 yards and three touchdowns? Seriously, short of putting a clone of Megatron out there to cover, the guy is going to put up 100 yards and a couple of TDs every game. It’s scary how much better this guy is than virtually every other receiver in the game. Jerry Rice should be worried, if he can stay healthy Johnson might have his name at the top of every receiving record by the time he’s done in the league.
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Ok, yes, it’s an obvious choice, but in fairness would you have not questioned my sanity if he wasn’t at the top of the list? Eric Decker being lost to free agency hurts. Wes Welker being injured really impacts things. With all of that, is anyone doubting that Peyton will pass for 5,000+ yards and close to 45 TD’s? Barring an injury, pencil Peyton in for those numbers.