Fantasy Doctor: Welcome back

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Another August has rolled around and that signals the return of yet another season of the NFL. We are entering the 49th year of the unified Natinoal Football League, but this marks my first year as your venerable Fantasy Doctor.

Tending to all of your fantasy football cuts and bruises will be taxing, but I’m committed to your fantasy football health if you are. I may make bad picks this year, but the next week I’ll come right back brimming with confidence and with new picks in hand.

3 up, 3 down

Every week I will lay out three players who should be on your free agent radar and three who should be off your squad or benched.

Wild Card

Every week I will also add a player or two who could have a bang-or-bust week.

So now, to give you a taste of the season ahead, here are three up and three down for the beginning of the 2014 season.

No. 1 Up: Nick Foles, QB Eagles

Peyton Manning may have had a record-setting season in 2013, but it was Nick Foles who led the NFL in passer rating at the end of the year. Foles will be successful in the second year of Chip Kelly’s high-flying Eagles offense, because defenses will be spending significant time focusing on the Eagles stud running back LeSean McCoy.

No. 2 Up: Eddie Lacy, RB Packers

Lacy was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2013, and should follow up last season with a strong sophomore campaign. Running play action with Aaron Rodgers, and riding an above-average offensive line should allow Lacy to rack up some big time points for your team.

No. 3 Up: Randall Cobb, WR Packers

Cobb is certain to be better than last season, when he vanished after breaking his leg in Week Six. With a healthy Rodgers, Cobb is bound to get some passes thrown his direction this season, especially if Jordy Nelson’s hamstring continues to bother him.

No. 1 Down: Chris Johnson, RB Jets

As a big Patriots fan, I hate the Jets, but this is an easy one. Johnson is following in LaDainian Tomlinson’s footsteps towards insignificance. Johnson won’t be able to thrive in a platoon and probably isn’t worth a spot in your starting lineup.

No. 2 Down: Martellus Bennett, TE Bears

A successful fantasy tight end needs to rack up lots of points in the end zone, especially on throws inside the red zone. Unfortunately for Bennett, the Bears have two premier red zone targets in wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, who will catch most of Jay Cutler’s end zone lobs.

No. 3 Down: Knowshon Moreno, RB Dolphins

Moreno had a good 2013 behind Peyton Manning in Denver’s record-setting offense, but 2014 won’t be as nice for Knowshon. In Miami he’ll run behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill and will have to compete with Lamar Miller for serious carries. Last season’s numbers will be hard to repeat in South Beach.

Wild Card: Tom Brady, QB Patriots

Although he inevitably leads his team deep into the playoffs, my beloved Patriots quarterback spent last season searching for a reliable target and putting up poor fantasy numbers to boot. The health of his recievers and the strength of the Patriots’ ever-changing backfield will determine whether Brady returns to his status as an elite fantasy quarterback. The biggest piece of that is the availability of Rob Gronkowski, who has missed 14 regular season games over the last two seasons due to injury. If Gronkowski plays, Brady owners can sleep well at night. If Gronk is out, they’ll be having nightmares.

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells22.