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Fantasy Football: The 15 Biggest Boom or Bust Players for 2014

Fantasy Football 2014: The 15 Biggest Boom-or-Bust Players

Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football 2014
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A few well-calculated risks that turn out each year are essential to success in fantasy football. Injuries and fluctuating roles can change circumstances very quickly, and suddenly a player that was drafted early becomes a bust and players looked at as draft day values become barely roster-worthy.

Here are my top 15 "boom or bust" players in fantasy football for this year.

15. New York Giants WR Rueben Randle

Rueben Randle, Fantasy Football
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15. New York Giants WR Rueben Randle

Rueben Randle, Fantasy Football
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Randle is in line to take over the starting job vacated by Hakeem Nicks, which puts across the board career-highs easily within reach for him this year. But Odell Beckam was not drafted as high as he was to have a minor role, so Randle is a WR3 with WR2 upside and waiver wire fodder downside.

14. Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington

Andre Ellington, Fantasy Football
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14. Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington

Andre Ellington, Fantasy Football
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Ellington will take over as Arizona's No. 1 running back, and his fantasy stock has risen significantly based on that. But if he cedes significant goal line work (and scoring opportunities) to other backs, I think he'll have a hard time justifying his draft position.

13. Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush, Fantasy Football 2014
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13. Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush, Fantasy Football 2014
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Bush has played at least 14 games in three straight seasons, and he has finished as a top-15 fantasy running back in all three campaigns. But with his injury history, advancing age (29) and Joique Bell in line for a larger role disappointing production could come this year for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

12. Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler, 2014 Fantasy Football
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12. Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler, 2014 Fantasy Football
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Cutler has nice weapons at his disposal, but if he misses multiple games again this year he will take his own fantasy value down along with those around him.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin

Doug Martin, Fantasy Football 2014
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11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin

Doug Martin, Fantasy Football 2014
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Martin missed 10 games last year with a shoulder injury, and was not particularly good when he did play (3.6 yards per carry; 12 receptions). If the Buccaneers use a backfield rotation this year, Martin's will not come close to his 2012 numbers (1,454 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and 49 catches) even though he'll be No. 1 on the depth chart.

10. Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray, 2014 Fantasy Football
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10. Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray, 2014 Fantasy Football
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Murray played a career-best 14 games last season, and his production (1,121 rushing yards and nine touchdowns along with 53 receptions) reflected that. He could take the next step into the elite class of fantasy running backs this year, or miss a lot of time again and leave his fantasy owners searching for a viable replacement.

9. New York Giants QB Eli Manning

Eli Manning. 2014 Fantasy Football
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9. New York Giants QB Eli Manning

Eli Manning. 2014 Fantasy Football
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Manning had arguably the worst season of his career in 2013, with a league-high 27 receptions and less than 20 passing touchdowns (18) for the first time in a full season as the starter. A new offensive scheme should help him get back on track, but it's possible last season was the start of Manning's decline.

8. Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders, Fantasy Football 2014
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8. Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders, Fantasy Football 2014
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The move to Denver has Sanders' fantasy stock on the rise, and rightfully so to some degree. But I'm fairly skeptical, with last season's pedestrian numbers (67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns) standing as his career-highs when he's had a capable quarterback throwing him the ball in Pittsburgh.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart

Toby Gerhart, Fantasy Football 2014
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7. Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart

Toby Gerhart, Fantasy Football 2014
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Gerhart moves atop the depth chart for the first time in his career for his new team, which itself limits his fantasy downside some. But if he ends up being the centerpiece of a Jaguars' offense that’s not exactly talent-laden, things could go either very well or very poorly.

6. Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson, Fantasy Football
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6. Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson, Fantasy Football
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2013 was a lost year for Richardson, due in part to an early season trade to the Colts and a new offensive scheme. He could be a real value pick on draft day with significant upside, or he could just as easily struggle again and be replaced by some combination of Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard.

5. Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed, Fantasy Football 2014
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5. Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed, Fantasy Football 2014
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Reed missed seven games as a rookie last year, but still finished with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He could either finish as a top-five fantasy tight end this year, or miss a lot of time to injury and fail to justify an average draft position that has some assumed risk built in.

4. Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel, Fantasy Football
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4. Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel, Fantasy Football
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Manziel may be highly productive and start all 16 games, be on the bench for the majority of the season, or anything in between, including the potential for a significant injury. Add in the likelihood of inflated value on draft day, and Manziel is a risky option even as a QB2.

3. Seattle Seahawks WR Percy Harvin

Percy Harvin, 2014 Fantasy Football
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3. Seattle Seahawks WR Percy Harvin

Percy Harvin, 2014 Fantasy Football
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Harvin is a dynamic talent when healthy, and he enters the season as Seattle's No. 1 wide receiver with the departure of Golden Tate. But the prospect for more missed time, and a run-oriented Seattle offense, makes Harvin a risky proposition as a weekly fantasy starter.

2. Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Tony Romo, Fantasy Football
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2. Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Tony Romo, Fantasy Football
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The arrival of Scott Linehan means a lot of passing for the Cowboys this year, and if Romo can stay healthy after having two back surgeries in less than a year he has significant upside. On the flipside, he may simply be in for a decline at age 34.

1. New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski, Fantasy Football 2014-
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1. New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski, Fantasy Football 2014
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Gronkowski seems to be on track to play Week 1 right now as he works his way back from a torn ACL. He could easily finish as the top scoring fantasy tight end this year, but a myriad of injuries over the last couple years adds significant risk and puts "Gronk" at the top of this list.