Happy Thanksgiving! The staff here at FST is thankful for three NFL games on Turkey Day, but more thankful for the whole FST family – on the forums, Facebook, and YouTube, we appreciate every single one of you. With that in mind, we wanted to make a list of players that fantasy owners everywhere are thankful for this 2014 season. These guys have either completely justified their high ADP, significantly outperformed it, or have been massive waiver additions, and we’re all happy to own them.

Andrew Luck QB | IND

Here’s the rub: Luck was taken in the 5th round in many drafts (he went 63rd in my $100 league), and he’s the #1 overall fantasy player. There’s been no better bargain from either the draft table or fantasy consistency perspectives. You’ll never get Luck outside of the first round again, and he’s the savior of multiple teams in leagues that I’m in.

Peyton Manning QB | DEN

Manning went as the #1 overall QB, and many (including myself) said that it would be a bad value – that it would be very difficult for him to return value relative to his draft position and the other QBs available. He’s been as good as advertised and more, ranking as the #2 overall fantasy player coming into this week. So, I’m going to have to eat some crow here. While not as good a bargain as Luck, owners that invested in Manning have to feel like they’ve been adequately rewarded for their early round investment.

Aaron Rodgers QB | GB

Coming into 2014, the expectation was that with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacy all healthy, Rodgers would rebound from his injury-plagued 2013 and dominate once again. Things have gone according to plan so far, with Rodgers coming in at third overall in fantasy points. He’s also been over 24 fantasy points seven times and has had very few bust (15 or less fantasy points) weeks.

Jamaal Charles RB | KC

Before the season, there was solid debate in the fantasy industry about which of the ‘Big Three’ RBs – Charles, McCoy, and Peterson – was worthy of the #1 overall selection. If you were working with the top pick, we hope you took our advice and rolled with Charles. McCoy currently sits at 14th in overall RB scoring, and we all know the Peterson situation more or less killed owners who drafted him. Charles is fifth in current RB scoring and has produced 17+ points in each of the last four weeks. He’s a monster.

DeMarco Murray RB | DAL

Talk about a breakout season. There were plenty of knocks to go around for Murray before the season, the biggest of which was his propensity to get injured and miss multiple games. He had also previously been marginalized by a pass-heavy Dallas offense, a poor defense that couldn’t get off the field, and poor play calling. Dallas has seemingly realized what they have in DeMarco, and fed him heavily. He’s been an absolute stud for owners who risked a second round pick, scoring under 10 fantasy points only once this entire year en route to the #1 overall RB slot.

Le’Veon Bell RB | PIT

I have to admit that I wasn’t a big Bell guy pre-season. I felt like what I saw last year was a back that relied on volume and lack of competition more than talent, similar to Zac Stacy. Man, was I wrong. Bell lost some weight and has come back a dynamo in his second season, and it hasn’t hurt that Antonio Brown is taking the top off of basically every defense he plays against. He’s taken the step forward that his supporters expected and should be a top five RB pick for years to come.

Justin Forsett RB | BAL

I think Forsett has already got the waiver wire MVP award locked up, and with his 31-point explosion on Monday night, he’s put himself squarely in the running for overall MVP. Want to know what Forsett’s standard-league ADP was? None. On average, he was undrafted, and was a waiver-wire pickup the first few weeks of the season. He’s performed at a RB1 level most weeks even while being in a theoretical rotation with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro. I had a #1 waiver claim early in the season and passed him up – I regret that call every week. I’d bet that Forsett will be on a great majority of fantasy championship teams.

Antonio Brown WR | PIT

I have to give a shout-out to Brent here. We made a pre-season bet on Antonio Brown – He felt Brown was a top five WR, and I felt he was vastly overrating him. We made a $20 bet, and I took Wes Welker. Bad call, me. Brown has been a difference-making force all year, and he’s the #2 overall WR, a scant three total points behind Demaryius Thomas. Brown, however, was drafted multiple rounds later, going off the board as the WR9. Despite my Brown hate, I ended up with him in multuple leagues, and I’m happy to lose the bet to Brent – my fantasy teams are much, much better for it.

Emmanuel Sanders WR | DEN

It seems like the Broncos ushered in Sanders while at the same time ushering out Welker, and anyone who caught onto this early has benefitted greatly. Sanders was (on average) the 24th WR off the board. He’s 4th in overall fantasy points among all WR, and is a clear-cut weekly WR1.
(about 55% owned)

Mike Evans WR | TB

Evans’s fantasy scoring before Week 7: ~34 points. Evans’s scoring since then: ~100 points. He’s the absolute perfect example of how players can thrive in fantasy while playing on terrible teams with bad QBs. The rookie WR corps from this year are exceptional, and Evans is probably leading the pack at this point with Kelvin Benjamin coming in right behind him. If you had the wherewithal to grab him up in the last few weeks, my hat’s off to you – you’re probably in great shape with the fantasy playoffs coming up.

Rob Gronkowski TE | NE

Gronk came into 2014 with significant injury questions, which pushed him out of the first couple rounds entirely in most leagues. He was a serious draft-day risk, and the risk has paid off in a massive way. He’s the #1 overall TE by almost 20 points over Jimmy Graham, who was taken in the last-first round. In a down year for TEs overall, Gronk has provided owners who had faith in him with a massive week-to-week advantage at the TE spot.