Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
Run DMC is running low on eligibility for “make or break” seasons, so consider this his true last chance. After yet another season was destroyed by injury and inconsistency, McFadden returned to Oakland on a one-year deal.
To make matters worse, he has to share the backfield with Maurice Jones-Drew. It all looks bad on paper, but McFadden is still only 26 and he’s also better than MJD at this point in their careers. If he can just stay healthy for once, he’s going to give fantasy owners a sweet return in relation to where they’re drafting him. And if he doesn’t make it happen this year, he probably never will.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Spiller busted out in 2012 with his first 1,000+ rushing season, which catapulted him to the first round of nearly every league’s fantasy draft in 2013. A nagging ankle issue ruined his season though, and forced meager numbers through long stretches.
Spiller was still a solid play when he took the field most weeks, but he wasn’t the elite performer fantasy owners drafted him to be. That led to the Bills trading for Bryce Brown and could lead to a role change as well. His value is sinking with no one knowing exactly how he’ll be used, but a healthy Spiller is still a heck of a fantasy option. Make sure you snatch him up anywhere beyond round three in drafts.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
It was just two years ago that Ridley was a borderline RB1 in fantasy leagues as a 1,000+ yard and 10+ touchdown producer. Then the fumbles came back.
Ridley coughed up the ball too much early in 2013, which immediately gave way to Shane Vereen in week one and eventually LeGarrette Blount as well. Blount is gone now, so Ridley should get at least one more chance with the Pats. That should give him a shot at RB2 value or better in 2014. If you can land him as a Flex or your RB3, you’re already ahead of the curve.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Nicks was a borderline fantasy stud wide receiver for his first few seasons in the league, but injuries started to bog him down in 2012 and a horrid 2013 has him likely facing a make or break season.
He ran bad routes, dropped passes and somehow scored zero touchdowns a year ago despite hauling in 56 passes. Now he’s on a new team and catching passes from Andrew Luck, and still boasts enough talent and upside to offer hope for a career revival. If you can land him as a WR3 in fantasy drafts, you could be getting a bit of a bargain.