Doug Martin -- the most valuable back in the league
How many teams do you know that are truly committed to running the ball, with one featured running back? There's the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens to a lesser extent and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- and that's about it. Doug Martin is in elite company, there, and he's going to get the ball this year. A lot. Perhaps more than last year, if the team's defense really does improve and the team can start running out the clock rather than playing catch up a little too often.
In fact, I could convincingly argue that Doug Martin is a better investment than Adrian Peterson as the top running back. Why? Passes, is why. Adrian Peterson's role as a receiver is very low, managing just 217 receiving yards last year. It's just not a big part of his game. Meanwhile, Martin had a whopping 49 catches, 472 yards and one touchdown as a receiver. That's big value -- especially in a points per reception league. While Peterson is undoubtedly the better runner, Martin's overall value could certainly be higher.
Vincent Jackson -- great value
Vincent Jackson had a terrific season last year, but somehow it seemed to go under the radar a little bit. Despite that, just four players outperformed him in yards and he led the league in yards per reception. That's pretty valuable in leagues with a bonus for long plays, of course. But Jackson is, overall, just a very good fantasy option.
He's no Calvin Johnson, and he won't be force-fed targets the way Brandon Marshall will be, but combined with a lack of great receiving options outside of him and Mike Williams, he should see a lot of production this year.
Mike Williams -- a low-end number two
We'll see whether Williams can live up to his big offseason contract this season, but one thing's certain: he will be a very good number two. He's come close to 1,000 yards twice in his three years in the league, but his biggest value comes from red zone targets and touchdowns. He managed 11 of them in 2010 and 9 of them in 2012 and the Bucs love to target him on fades to the corner of the endzone.
His ability to make contested catches gets him a lot of red zone looks, and the touchdown production should continue this year.
Josh Freeman -- playing the matchups
Josh Freeman was nothing if not inconsistent last season. Those are a lot of double negatives. Still, he should be a good option if you don't have a very good starter, or if you need a bye-week fill-in. Because while we tend to focus on Freeman's end of season game (also known as recency bias), we shouldn't forget his ridiculous midseason stretch with 18 touchdowns against three interceptions over a six-game stretch.
If you can find some good matchups for Freeman or just get lucky in a week, consider starting him. He has a chance to produce like a star every week -- although he'll put up a few duds, too.