Pro football is about as much of a team sport as you’ll find, with all 11 positions playing an important part. However, this doesn’t mean that 1-2 players can’t make a huge difference on their team and help carry them to victory. So if you’re looking for a few special players in the 2015 NFL season, here are five that could help you win some big bets – along with one that might disappoint you.
1. Ben Roethlisberger will have his Best Season yet
While Ben Roethlisberger had some very good seasons numbers-wise, he’d never put up top-3 quarterback production. This all changed last season, though, with Big Ben throwing for 4,952 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. Expect even bigger stats from the 33-year-old as all of his weapons return, including Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell. The latter should get plenty of carries, but Pittsburgh is now a passing team and we should expect over 5,000 passing yards and 40 TDs from Roethlisberger.
2. Andre Johnson will find the End Zone at least 10 times
Andre Johnson is one of the best wide receivers ever to play the game. But what’s amazing about him is that, despite four different seasons where he’s topped 1,400 receiving yards, Johnson has never had 10 touchdowns. But now he comes to the Indianapolis Colts, where Andrew Luck is fresh off a 40-TD season and primed to throw for even more in 2015. Johnson (34) may have lost some of his speed, but he’s still good enough to be a strong second option for Indy after coming off a year where he caught 85 passes for 936 yards.
3. Eli Manning is going to be Really Good
It was hard to have much faith in Eli Manning after the 2013 campaign, where he tossed a horrific 18 TDs against 27 interceptions. But he bounced back last year after tallying 4,410 yards, 30 TDs and 14 INTs – despite the team finishing just 6-10. We can’t guarantee the Giants will rise up to make the postseason, but you can expect Manning to do even better in 2015. Not only does he have Odell Beckham Jr., who can catch pretty much anything, but he also gets Shane Vereen, the perfect backfield outlet. Add a healthy Victor Cruz to the mix and you have lots of weapons for Eli.
4. Justin Forsett does even Better in 2015
Not since his rookie year in 2009 had Justin Forsett even come close to accumulating 1,000 yards from scrimmage (969 in ’09). That’s why it was such a surprise to see small, 5’8″, 195-pounder become the feature back for the Baltimore Ravens last season. The eight-year veteran racked up over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, with 1,263 of them coming on the ground. With new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman in town, expect Forsett to get an even heavier workload this season – heavy enough to break 2,000 total yards if he stays healthy enough.
5. John Brown will put up Top Receiver Numbers
Judging from the numbers (696 receiving yards, 5 TDs), John Brown had a mildly successful rookie year. However, it’s the highlight-reel plays that he consistently made when Arizona’s quarterback situation was shaky that showed he has even more potential. Carson Palmer is healthy again and ready to stabilize the QB situation, which means that Brown should be ready for an even better campaign this year. Don’t be surprised to see him put up over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
6. Jimmy Graham will see his Stats drop
Our last shocker is not a good thing. It’s very possible that Jimmy Graham, who will be playing in Seattle away from his long-time QB Drew Brees, will put up the least-impressive campaign of his career outside of his rookie year. 2014 saw Graham rack up 889 receiving yards and 10 TDs, which is actually a down year for him. But things won’t get any better in Seattle, where the star tight end is playing on a team that ranked dead last in pass attempts. The good news is that when Seattle isn’t generating impressive rushing stats, the pass will be open.