By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Don't tell Peyton Manning that football is a young man's game.
Seriously though, someone should tell him.
We knew last year's draft class was talented. But we had no idea the class of 2013, a draft that featured offensive linemen as the top two picks, would be this dominant.
What a cool idea for a top ten, right? Glad you agree.
For your convenience, I only included players that are eligible for fantasy. Sorry, Kiko Alonso. Also, that is an absolutely incredible name. Probably going to name my first kid Kiko. ANYWAY, enough stalling ...
10) Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
Fumbling remains an issue for Ball but you have to admire what he was able to do with a limited workload this season (704 yards from scrimmage on just 140 touches). His 4.7 yards per carry average was eighth in the NFL and second among rookies. If Ball had logged 200 carries like Zac Stacy or Eddie Lacy he would have been a lock for 1,000 yards. Maybe next year Knowshon Moreno (1,038 rushing yards, 10 TD) will tail off a bit and the carry distribution in Denver will be closer to a 50/50 split.
9) Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys
T-Will disappeared late in the year but the stretch he had in late October/early November when he hauled in a touchdown in four straight games was nothing short of spectacular. If there's anything we've learned about Jason Garrett's offense it's that Dallas likes to throw the football. They throw it too much actually. But hey, who are we to complain? Williams is going to be a Pro Bowler someday. I have a feeling that day may come in 2014.
8) Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams
Austin was actually the first position player drafted last April and with how he played in 2013, you can see why. He single-handedly won the week for fantasy owners with his 138 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10 (not to mention the return touchdown he had in that game) and overall, he was third on the team in receiving yards despite missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain. If St. Louis can steer Austin away from his current hybrid role and begin using him as more of a traditional wide receiver, sky will be the limit.
7) Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians did a great job with the Cardinals this year but if I were the head coach in Arizona, I would have used Ellington a lot differently. Arians preferred to use him as more of a change of pace back for starter Rashard Mendenhall, which is understandable given Ellington's slight frame (5-foot-9, 199 pounds). But after watching this guy play, it's clear he isn't getting enough touches. Ellington's 5.5 yards per rush average was the best in the NFL this season. He was also outstanding in the receiving game, racking up 371 yards on 39 catches. If Mendenhall leaves in free agency and Ellington gets the backfield all to himself, he's going to be a monster next season.
6) Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
It's "Core-dare-uhl" for those of you trying to pronounce it at home. It took all of three months for Patterson to establish himself as the best return man this side of Devin Hester. He could have stopped right there and it would have been a successful rookie campaign. But that's not Patterson's style. Instead, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder made sure he scored a touchdown in each of his last five games, recording 375 yards from scrimmage over that span. This dude's a superstar waiting to happen. I just wish there was a way we could shorten his name. Does "Cord" work? How about "Cordy"? I'll keep thinking.
5) Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy stuck to its running back by committee approach all season but that didn't stop Gio from having a big year. The rookie out of North Carolina totaled eight touchdowns this season with three on the receiving end and another five on the ground. His 514 receiving yards were eighth-most in the league among running backs. And he managed to stay healthy ALL YEAR! Not bad for a second-round pick.
4) Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Allen was a force of nature this year, leading all rookie receivers (and all San Diego receivers for that matter) with 1,046 yards on 71 catches. He saved the best for last by collecting five of his eight touchdowns in the month of December. I hope the Bengals are reading this. They have to play against this guy on Sunday.
3) Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
My Zac Stacy man crush has been well-documented throughout the season so honestly I think I deserve a ton of credit for having the discipline to only rank him third on this list. He didn't finish the year strong (15 yards on 15 carries against the Seahawks in Week 17) but with four 100-yard performances in an eight-game span, it's safe to say the Stacy bandwagon doesn't have many seats left. If you weren't able to grab him in your keeper league, well, you probably never will. Stacy is the future of St. Louis Rams football. And more importantly, he's the reason why I won three of my four fantasy leagues this season (that's called a humblebrag).
2) Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
If Jerome Bettis is "The Bus" then this guy is at least a tank. Seriously, you try and tackle him. The Browns did their best to stymie Bell last week but he still ended up with 90 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. The week before, he had 124 yards on 26 rushes against the Packers. I guess what I'm trying to say is, Bell gets what he wants. This year he totaled 1,259 yards from scrimmage. Next year he might double that.
1) Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
And the Rookie of the Year goes to ... who else but Steady Eddie. Lacy was a game-changer at Alabama so I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he's already one of the most explosive runners in the NFL, even with only 15 games of experience under his belt. His 1,178 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns led all rookies. And his season isn't even over yet. He'll have at least one more chance to impress us next week when the Packers host San Francisco in round one of the NFC playoffs.
11) Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12) Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
13) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
14) Marlon Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
15) Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions
EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
What will 2014 hold? Hopefully lots of cool names. Preferably more Kikos, if at all possible.
12/30 19:58:42 ET