With the preseason beginning and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2016 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to running backs and wide receivers:
- Johnson vs Gurley – I had the incredible luck of picking up both David Johnson & Todd Gurley from the waiver wires last season, which ultimately led to my Championship. No one will be so lucky this season, as they’ll probably both be in the Top 5 RBs this year. So which one do you pick, given the chance? I say DJ, for many reasons. One, his offense is better overall, leading to more chances for scores, not just yardage. Two, he catches the ball out of the backfield, leading to more opportunities. And third, I think Gurley has the feel of someone who could have a sophomore slump, especially now that he’s been identified as the best thing the Rams have to throw at you. Adrian Peterson still scores points even though he’s targeted, but I wouldn’t trust Gurley to be AP quite yet.
- Bell Cow – Pittsburgh responded last year in a big way after Le’Veon Bell was suspended. DeAngelo Williams stepped up and the Steelers rolled without him, something they’ll need to do again this season. Bell’s out at least for the first two games, maybe more, putting him in that same awkward spot Tom Brady finds himself in. So the question becomes when do you draft him and what is he worth. My strategy is to project his numbers out to a full season, slot him according to those statistics, and then hope I can nab him a few spots lower than I think he’s worth. If I can do that I’ll take him being out for a while, happily enjoying the boost he gives my team when he returns.
- Zeke – The biggest RB question mark this year is Ezekiel Elliott. His starting spot with the Cowboys equals instant appeal, knowing what that offensive line did with DeMarco Murray and even Darran McFadden last season. Can Zeke slide right in, producing fantasy numbers from the get-go? I think he can. In my Draft, which is full of OSU fans, I won’t have to worry, he’ll be gone far before I would naturally take him. But perhaps he’ll be there for you, and I think he’s worth the shot. Talent, supporting cast, a team that typical scores points; I think you could do much worse and would trust Zeke in the Top 10, perhaps even the Top 5.
- Middlemen – Eddie Lacy and Doug Martin are two backs who should meet up somewhere around 12th place. Lacy, after a poor year, looks to be back in shape and should be part of a Packers team that gets right back where they belong at the top. Martin, who had a resurgence last season, should come back to Earth. Raise expectations for Lacy, lower them for Martin, and slot them close together.
- Namaste – It’s a gamble, but it might be worth a shot to stash Arian Foster on your roster. Perhaps you should pick up Ajayi as well, just in case, but the veteran might have a little left in the tank to give to your fantasy team. By all accounts he’s in great shape, and his new role with the Dolphins might be just what he needs to get a second wind. Now, he is injury-prone, so a solid backup for the guy is a must, but I would take a flier on Foster as my #2 back as long as he keeps his job through Training Camp. If you want to be conservative, take him as your #3 if he’s still around.
- The B Boys – After Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, there’s not another wideout to compete for the top spots overall. Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins are solid, but I wouldn’t trust their QBs if I were you. No, Brown & Beckham are the only two worthy of immediate consideration, at least as far as the early rounds go. They could catch double-digit touchdowns apiece, as well as buckets of yardage, and if you plan ahead you might be able to get Big Ben or Eli to go along with them, a pretty deadly combination either way.
- Jordy, Jordy, Jordy – For the Packers, it’s all about Jordy Nelson. Look what happened when he was away. Rodgers struggled, Lacy was boxed in, James Jones stepped up, but as a team GB was never in sync. Nelson is back this season and should have a positive impact immediately. With that comfort, Rodgers will be back to form. With that threat, lanes will open up for Lacy. And with him on the outside, other Pack receivers will find their bubbles growing larger. Jordy himself won’t go insane perhaps, but I think he’s a shoe in for 6-8 TDs, 1000-1400 yds.
- Charge! – As a Bronco fan, I’ve learned to despise San Diego, but there’s one player I wouldn’t hate to have on my team this year, and that’s Keenan Allen. With Stevie Johnson out for the year and with Antonio Gates about to retire, I can see Allen stepping up in a big way. If Phillip Rivers has any kind of year Allen will be the guy on the receiving end, so to speak, helping your fantasy out greatly if you were lucky enough to nab him.
- The Red Zone – With the resurgence of Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are on the fantasy map in a big way. All three of their starting wide receivers are fantasy relevant, and what’s more, I have them ranked back to back to back. Right around 20th overall, these three guys could put up similar numbers, as Palmer spreads the wealth. That might mean frustration from week to week, but if you can stick by Floyd, Brown, or Fitz for the whole year, you could end up with solid statistics.
- Painful – It hurts me to rank Denver wideouts so low, especially given how well they’ve done in recent years, but this just might be the season not to draft them very high. With Sanchez slotted as the starting QB, I can’t expect either Thomas or Sanders to explode statistically. I actually have them both way down my list, and would be pleasantly surprised if either of them surpassed 1000 yds or 6 TDs.