2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers 2.0

Following free agency, the NFL draft, and unfortunately a few suspensions, there’s a disturbance in the balance of the force at wide receiver. #2’s change teams, top prospects get selected, and Martavis Bryant gets busted for violating the league’s substance policy.

With new players in the mix, the rankings have changed significantly since our original list. Checkout who’s moved where and joined the Top 40.

1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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Julio Jones led the league in catches (136) and receiving yards (1,871) last season and was neck-and-neck for best overall at the position with Antonio Brown. Helping put Jones over the top were some free agent additions that should give him more chances in the end zone. The Falcons signed All-Pro center Alex Mack to sure up the middle of their offensive line and give Matt Ryan more time to find Jones getting open. Then they picked up Mohamed Sanu, who should draw some attention away from Jones down the field.

 

2. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

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Odell Beckham Jr. has video game ability. In two seasons, he has scored nearly as many touchdowns (25) as games played (26). Down the stretch from Weeks 8-13, OBJ averaged 7 catches and 132 yards while scoring 8 touchdowns over that span. In the “Josh Norman incident” that eventually led to a one-game suspension, Beckham still caught 6 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. His quarterback, Eli Manning, challenged OBJ to get better. If this dude gets any better, he’ll easily be in the Julio/Antonio discussion…maybe better. Getting a healthy Victor Cruz back and adding Oklahoma slot WR to a group with Dwayne Harris should open things up for Beckham to excel to that level.

 

3. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Losing Bryant for the season doesn’t help Antonio Brown. Although Brown tied the league lead for receptions (136), was 2nd in yards (1,834), and scored a few more touchdowns than Jones (10), Bryant took a lot of pressure off of him to get open deep and over the middle. That’s not to say the running back combo of Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams won’t keep defenses honest, but they’ll be able to scheme for Brown better than in the past unless Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bay can step up in Bryant’s absence. Brown’s return ability is an X-Factor that will still set him apart from Jones and OBJ for production.

 

4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

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Besides Brock Osweiler, DeAndre Hopkins is the next biggest winner from the Texans’ 2016 NFL Draft. They added a burner in Notre Dame WR Will Fuller, who will take the top off defenses while Hopkins works the outside and middle of the field. They also selected Braxton Miller from Ohio State, who will need some polishing while converting from QB to WR but will draw attention away from Hopkins in the red zone. The new Texans offensive weapons should help him build on the 111 catches, 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns he recorded in 2015.

5. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Jaguars have had a great offseason so far, improving their defense mightily in the draft and free agency. They also added strength to their offensive line and Chris Ivory who should help the ascending Blake Bortles stay upright in 2016. That only helps Allen Robinson, who broke out in 2015 with 80 catches, 1,400 yards and a league leading 14 touchdowns.

 

6. AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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AJ Green saw his #2 and #3 WRs, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, walk in free agency. They may not have had the talent of Green, but they did have similar builds and commanded attention. To replace them, the Bengals added New England WR Brandon LaFell and 2nd round pick Tyler Boyd from Pitt. It will be interesting to see how the new supporting cast benefits Green but you know for sure he’ll get most of Andy Dalton’s targets after a nice resurgence in 2015 for 86 catches, 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns.

7. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

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Jarvis Landry was Miami’s best player in 2015. In the right scheme, Landry could jump to former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr.’s level. Enter new head coach Adam Gase, who is committed to utilizing Landry’s freakish speed and catching ability downfield. Despite scoring just 5 touchdowns and another from returning, Landry recorded 110 catches last season 1,157 yards. If Ryan Tannehill can improve like Jay Cutler did under Gase, you can expect those touchdown numbers to do the same.

 

8. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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Demaryius Thomas didn’t put up the double-digit touchdown totals that we were used to for the 3 seasons before. Part of that was thanks to a weird quarterback situation with deteriorating Peyton Manning and newbie Brock Osweiler. The other part was adjusting the scheme to run more to makeup for the quarterback issues. Thomas still caught 105 balls and racked up 1,304 yards. Whether it’s Mark Sanchez or 1st round pick Paxton Lynch throwing to him, I would anticipate Thomas’s touchdown numbers will normalize to 10+ coming off a Super Bowl winning season.

 

9. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

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Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson did some special things in the second half of last season. During that crazy Week 10-15 stretch where Wilson threw 21 touchdowns, 11 of them went to Baldwin. My optimism for Wilson in 2016 is the same for Baldwin as I hope the Seahawks coaching staff realizes they have something good chucking downfield. Baldwin only recorded 3 games for 100+ yards in 2015. I expect him to have plenty more this season.

 

10. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

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The best wide receiver that could’ve hit free agency this offseason is staying with the Bears thanks to the franchise tag. He’s being a little suspicious by not joining the team for voluntary practices but it’s a serious “prove it” year if he wants to make #1 WR money with the Bears or another team. We saw both Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas do big things in similar circumstances in 2014. It’s not hard to imagine Jeffery to do the same when he averaged 105.6 yards and 8 catches for the 6 games he was healthy last season. Kevin White should also help draw coverage away from Jeffery this year too.

 

11. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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There’s going to be a chain reaction of positives for the Cowboys offense after selecting Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall in the draft. When the Cowboys get their running game going, like they did in 2014 with DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo gets set up to make big plays passing and Dez Bryant is go-to target when he does. As long as he stays healthy, I would feel more confident in seeing the 2014 version of Bryant, who caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns, than the one that averaged just 44 yards per game in 2015.

 

12. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills

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If there’s a team I don’t feel great about in 2015, it’s the Buffalo Bills. Their head coach is in full “Sideshow Rex” mode and I’m worried he’s going to crash and burn the whole thing if they don’t come out hot to start the season. However, Sammy Watkins will do his best to make things interesting as one of the most athletic offensive weapons in the league. He turned just 60 catches into 1,047 yards and 9 touchdowns last season. If Tyrod Taylor can stay in one piece with his dual-threat style (same goes for RB duo LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams), those numbers should greatly improve as Watkins is far and away Buffalo’s best receiving option.

 

13. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets

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The Jets drafted a quarterback in the second round and Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a free agent. Start the clock on the Brandon Marshall time bomb. Marshall has bristled at any thoughts of bringing in other quarterback instead of Fitzpatrick and fans of his past 3 teams should know when negativity starts, a bad atmosphere in the locker room will follow. Marshall’s feelings aside, he did have arguably his best statistical season as a pro in 2015 – 109 catches, 1,502 yards and a league/career high 14 touchdowns. Do you trust a rookie who was very inconsistent at Penn State, Geno Smith or someone other than Fitzpatrick to help him repeat?

 

14. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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Before having to miss all of 2015, Jordy Nelson was coming off the best season of his career. In 2 of the 4 seasons before his injury, Nelson recorded 13+ touchdowns. 3 of those 4 seasons, he racked up 1,250+ yards. His absence effected everyone in the receiving core. Randall Cobb didn’t benefit from Nelson drawing coverage away. James Jones was fine for a few touchdowns but wasn’t setting the world on fire. The younger receivers had moments too but kept getting hurt. If Nelson is right, it should feel like 2014 again (98/1,519/13) and that boosts Rodgers’s value.

 

15. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

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The Raiders upgraded their offensive line in Free Agency, in turn upgrading everything. They’ve been compared to the vaunted Cowboys line so if we go by that model, we project a stronger season for Latavius Murray. If Murray is running well, that sets up Derek Carr better. And if Carr is making big plays, that’s great news for 2nd-year WR Amari Cooper. It’s fair to assume the QB/WR combo is going to grow and expand on Cooper’s already lethal 14.9 yards per catch.

 

16. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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Larry reached Legend status last year when he won the divisional championship game with 8 catches, 176 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. He was a monster in that game and back to himself during the season, as the Cardinals had him positioned all over the field to make plays. It helps that every skilled position player on the field can score from anywhere too.

 

17. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Allen Hurns and Robinson makeup one of the deadliest WR duos in football. While Robinson was putting up All-Pro type numbers, Hurns was taking advantage of the attention he drew – scoring a touchdown in 7 straight games, 9 total and recording 1,031 yards. Much like Robinson’s case, Hurns’s numbers should only improve as long as Bortles can be protected better.

 

18. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs

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Jeremy Maclin brought the surge in production from his final year in Philadelphia to his first season in Kansas City. Maclin ended the streak of WRs unable to catch a touchdown in Week 3 and added 7 more throughout the season. If Jamaal Charles can stay healthy, Maclin should be able to continue the arial success as defenses load the box to stop the run game.

 

19. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Mike Evans saw his reception and yardage numbers rise in his sophomore season for Tampa Bay, but his touchdown total dropped by 75%. I’m going to go ahead and say that trading up to draft a kicker won’t fix that for Evans, but Year 2 of Jameis Winston may as long as his

 

20. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

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Before going on IR after 8 games last season, Keenan Allen was on pace for 178 targets and 134 catches. He and Danny Woodhead are Philip Rivers’s safety blankets in the passing game, and that’s a good thing for Fantasy Football. Coverage should soften on him after the Chargers added Travis Benjamin and the best pass catching TE in the draft, Hunter Henry. Also worth considering is the fact that Allen had his most productive season (2013) when the last time Ken Whisenhunt was Chargers offensive coordinator.

21. T.Y Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

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T.Y. Hilton’s numbers over the first 3 seasons of his career had him on track for “Top 10 receiver” status. However his growth was stunted due to Andrew Luck’s struggles and eventual season ending injury. He caught just 5 touchdowns (4 in just 2 games) and topped 100 only twice. If Luck is right, Hilton may be a great value pick as your draft progresses. Theoretically, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett should stretch secondaries out for Hilton to take advantage downfield and over the middle.

 

22. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints

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In his sophomore season, Brandin Cooks proved to be the explosive player that we expected after he was drafted. He stayed healthy all season and racked up 84 catches, 1,138 yards and 9 touchdowns. His potential was most evident down the stretch, as he topped 100 yards and scored in 3 of his final four games. Drafting WR Michael Thomas from Ohio State will only help Cooks shake coverage, as will the growth of Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead.

 

23. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

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We saw the best and the meh-est of Randall Cobb the past 2 seasons. Paired with a healthy Nelson in 2014, Cobb caught 91 passes for 1,287 years and 12 touchdowns. When thrusted into the #1 role after Nelson was ruled out in the preseason, Cobb caught just 79 passes (with the same number of targets) for 829 yards and 6 touchdowns.

 

24. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders

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As mentioned regarding Cooper, the Raiders offensive line makes everyone else better and that includes Michael Crabtree. 2015 was Crabtrees best season since 2012, with 85 catches for 922 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers should only improve as Derek Carr does.

 

25. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos

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Emmanuel Sanders and Thomas have been one of the best WR duos in the league in the past but with a really big question mark at the quarterback position, it’s difficult to project what either wide receiver will do in 2016. With turmoil at the position in 2015, Sanders recorded 30 less catches, nearly 300 less yards, and 3 less touchdowns than in 2014. Most of the offense coming off a Super Bowl win is returning, except for the quarterbacks, and the Broncos added Russell Okung at left tackle. Sanders has the ability to be an excellent possession target, no matter who lines up under center.

 

26. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

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The Super Bowl runner-ups didn’t have a healthy #1 quality WR on the roster and Cam Newton still threw 35 touchdown passes. Now he gets his big bad red zone target, Kelvin Benjamin, back. Look for his rookie stat line of 73 catches, 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns to only grow in 2016.

 

27. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

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Golden Tate is the #1 WR in Detroit and picked up AJ Green’s #2, Marvin Jones. I hadn’t figured Tate to be a #1 but when thrust into the role in 2014 (with Calvin Johnson dealing with injuries), he had a Pro Bowl season catching 99 passes for 1,331 yards and 4 touchdowns. He continued being a quality PPR with 90 catches in 2016, and should be back in the spotlight this season in year 2 of the Jim Bob Cooter offense.

 

28. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

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I love Julian Edelman, but I start to worry if the wear and tear of being the grindy Patriots g0-to WR is catching up with him. He missed 7 games last season, missed 2 the season before and gutted through injuries for their Super Bowl run then. However, he’s the man you trust most in the receiving core and should benefit from the emphasis of double TEs with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett terrorizing defenses. You wonder if he’ll suffer though potentially without Tom Brady in the first quarter of the season.

 

29. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

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John Brown recorded two definitive boom or bust games of the season last year. In Week 6 against the Steelers, he caught 10 passes for 196 yards. Two weeks later, he gave fantasy owners a goose egg with 0 catches on 3 targets. We learned more about how Bruce Arians will use information in the media and his lineup as decoys and misdirection, as Brown was clearly hurt in the game. When Brown is healthy, he’s one of the best deep ball threats in football. He’ll be a savvy WR3 pick following up his 65 catches, 1,003 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.

 

30. Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns

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First rookie on the list is Corey Coleman because he’s immediately projected to be Cleveland’s #1 WR and he’s the most explosive player at his position from the draft. The All-American out of Baylor finished 2015 with the most touchdowns in college football (20) and also won the Biletnikoff Award. The Browns drafted 5 WRs and some will make the roster, but Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins will be the guys taking pressure off Coleman to let him do big things.

 

31. Eric Decker, New York Jets

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Eric Decker was excellent in 2015 and plays like an excellent #2 wide receiver, having recorded 10+ touchdowns 3 times. I’m just not sure about the Jets’ quarterback situation. I don’t have much confidence in Geno Smith and even less in Christian Hackenberg. If they sign Ryan Fitzpatrick though, he shoots up the list.

 

32. Travis Benjamin, San Diego Chargers

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Travis Benjamin may not be the #1 man in San Diego like he was in Cleveland, but at least he has a much better quarterback throwing to him (Rivers > McCown + Manziel) and one who throws at a much higher volume. Rivers threw more passes than anyone in 2015 and Benjamin makes a better receiving option than Danny Woodhead. If by chance Allen were to get hurt again, he would easily have Top 20 value. Being a returner with a knack for scoring helps too.

 

33. Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

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Besides scoring 10 touchdowns in 2013, Marvin Jones has never produced like a #1 wide receiver. He was still the highest valued unrestricted free agent WR and he landed in a Top 10 passing offense. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to be the #1 option in Detroit as Golden Tate has had enough experience in the role. As the #2 in the Detroit last season, Tate was targeted 128 times. Jones would love that kind of attention in his new uniform.

34. Tyler Lockette, Seattle Seahawks

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In his rookie season, Tyler Lockett was an All-Pro. Not necessarily for receiving, but because he was the best return specialist in football. He scored touchdowns on both kick and punt returns, then added 6 more through the air. Twice he scored multiple TDs and he’s capable of doing it many more times in 2016…especially if Wilson keeps chucking it like he did in the second half of 2015.

 

35. DeSean Jackson, Washington

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The 3-time Pro Bowler is coming off an injury plagued season, but his potential as a home run threat in 2016 improved immensely with the selection of TCU’s Josh Doctson in this year’s draft. With Pierre Garçon, Doctson and newly extended Jordan Reed commanding coverage, D-Jax should be freed up to burn opposing defenses down the field. It’s worth noting that Jackson has only played all 16 games twice in his 6-year career, but he’s very capable of monster games with Kirk Cousins vying for a long-term deal.

 

36. Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens

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Take 2 on Steve Smith Sr.’s farewell tour. Not too many people expected Smith to put up the 79 catches, 1,065 yards and 6 touchdowns that he did in 2015, moving to Baltimore. He’s a crazy person who runs on pride and physicality. There isn’t much logic to having him ranked here besides his penchant for defying odds and being the most proven WR weapon that Joe Flacco has on the roster this year. This season will be his swan song and you know he’ll try to make it count.

 

37. Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings

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Laquon Treadwell wasn’t the first to go but the Vikings may have selected the best all-around wide receiver in the 2016 draft. He won’t beat you with speed, but he’s the best pure route runner and will catch anything within his radius. Stefon Diggs will be cutting the top off defenses while Treadwell can be a PPR machine over the middle for Bridgewater.

 

38. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles

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As it stands, the Eagles roster is not built to run very much, despite new HC Doug Peterson coming from a running system in Kansas City. Jordan Matthews is the #1 WR in Philadelphia and has better company with the addition of Rueben Randle and will be the best option for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. His catch numbers and yardage are trending upward his young 2-year career, and has scored 16 touchdowns over that time.

 

39. Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

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Mohamed Sanu landed in a better situation than his former teammate, Marvin Jones. Coverages will lean Julio Jones’s way which should open things up on Sanu’s end. He’s also young and has all the measurables to do some big things, especially in the end zone.

 

40. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

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Victor Cruz makes this installment of the Top 40 after hearing he is 100% healthy. The Giants added Sterling Shepard for the slot receiver role and we know what OBJ can do, but that just gives Cruz the Rueben Randle targets. It’s doubtful he has the same wheels, but Cruz had a nose for the end zone in 2012 and could find it again without double coverage.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (2.0)

Quarterbacks (2.0)

Wide Receivers (1.0)

 

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings – Wide Receivers

My draft strategy changed significantly last year when it came to valuing consistent scorers and drafting them early for my teams. I also think there is a changing of the guard when it comes to big scorers in a league that relies heavily on passing. That was evident with contending Fantasy owners who had 2 of the top 7 wide receivers from this list.

Wide receivers 1) Have the best chance and big scoring plays that can change a game for you and 2) add a whole new dynamic in PPR setting leagues. Here are the 40 I will consider drafting at this point in the year.

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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On an team full of playmakers, it’s amazing how Antonio Brown racks up the numbers he does. Brown’s numbers were very close with Julio Jones’s as they tied for first in receptions (136). He ranked second in receiving yards (1,836), just 37 behind Jones. Brown did get the edge scoring more touchdowns than Jones, 10-8. He also averaged 10.5 catches per game in the second half of the year.

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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While I think Antonio Brown is the best athlete in the NFL right now, I do believe Julio Jones is the best wide receiver. You know the numbers and his measurables, but the only thing that may be holding back from breaking single season records may be Matt Ryan. Maybe Ryan needs more time in the pocket, but Julio did beat the best corner in the league, Josh Norman, for 9 catches, 178 yards and a touchdown. Throw it up and the man will get it.

3. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

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If you took Odell Beckham Jr. with your late-1st/early-2nd round pick, you were treated to a 6 game stretch (Week 8-14, a Week 11 bye) averaging 132 yards and scoring 8 touchdowns. Similar to Julio Jones, a better quarterback would help him get to astronomical numbers but at least Eli is getting the ball into the open field. His speed and unreal catching ability lead me to think the production will be there again in Week 3.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

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When you watch Hard Knocks each year, it’s easy to fall in love with the one offensive player that you’ll eventually target in your upcoming Fantasy draft. DeAndre Hopkins was clear and away THAT GUY in 2015 and lived up to the hype, ranking 3rd in receiving yards (1,521), 3rd in receptions (111), and adding 11 touchdowns.

5. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Allen Robinson was a touchdown machine in 2015. Led the league with 14 TD catches and was only held scoreless 4 times during the regular season. He also racked up a nice 1,400 yards to go with that scoring, and it’s hard not to imagine his connection with Blake Bortles will improve in 2016…which is scary.

6. AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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AJ Green has never been a 100 catch guy, but he’s still one of the best athletes at the position. Andy Dalton’s improvement in the last year only bodes well for a guy who finishes Top 10 in yards and touchdowns year in, year out. Green also always seems to be the benefactor of big heads up plays on tipped balls that result in touchdowns scored by him.

7. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets

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Yes, Marshall is the first player to record over 100 catches in a season for 4 different different teams…but that’s not necessarily a good thing. There’s a reason he’s been moved to 3 different teams via trade, and I’m not certain you can bank on Ryan Fitzpatrick repeating his performance from last season. When things go awry, so does Marshall. His production from last season is tough to argue against though.

8. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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The only reason people still talk about Tim Tebow as an NFL player is because of Demaryius Thomas practically beating the Steelers in OT by himself. The Broncos #1 WR saw a dip in his TD numbers go from double digits to 6 last season, but that may have more to do with the issues at quarterback than him. 1,304 yards and 105 catches make him still valuable in the mid-2nd/early-3rd round.

9. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

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Amidst the mess in Miami, Jarvis Landry was the standout on the team catching 110 passes and accumulating 1,947 total yards (receiving, rushing, returning). New head coach Adam Gase is going to love using Landry and it will be fun to see him continue to compete for the national limelight with former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr.

10. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

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It’s hard for me to doubt a guy who caught the most touchdown passes (14) in the league and had a run down the stretch of your fantasy season like Doug Baldwin. When the Seahawks finally let Russell Wilson sling it, Baldwin caught 11 touchdowns in 5 games (Week 12-16). If the Seahawks want to build on the success that made them look like the best 6th seed ever, keep throwing it downfield to guys like Baldwin.

11. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills

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In his sophomore season, Sammy Watkins dealt with injuries but still busted out some serious speed and big play ability on opposing defenses. 17.4 yards per reception was enough proof of that, as were the 6 catches,158 yards, 2 TDs against KC and the 11 and 136 on the Jets. If the Bills are going to make any noise in the AFC East, it’s going to be from putting the ball in Sammy’s hands.

12. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

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In the 6 games Alshon Jeffery was mostly healthy (2 less than the games he played), he averaged 105.6 yards and 8 catches per. Unfortunately, that’s all Bears could get from him and that’s why he slides on my list for now. There were a lot of questions around how hurt he was and whether the missed time had to do with his contract status, but when he’s on the field he’s too good to just pass up.

13. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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Health and effort issues last season were pretty eye-opening for Dez Bryant. He got his big pay day, got hurt, and then was a complete non-factor without Romo playing. The 41 total touchdowns from the 3 seasons before make it hard to let Dez slide too much further though.

14. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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Larry Fitzgerald had a great bounce back year with 109 catches (5th in the league) for 1,215 yards. A big reason for it was his use in the slot position, as John Brown and Michael Floyd occupied the outside, and making the most of his size, hands and speed. Another season like that is not out of the realm of possibility.

15. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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I don’t think people realized how much Jordy Nelson would be missed when the season started. We all assumed that Aaron Rodgers just made everybody better. Randall Cobb couldn’t fill Nelson’s shoes or match his route running ability. Not sure what Nelson will be like coming off a knee injury, but the 1,500+ yards and 13 touchdowns from the year before are an upside worth hoping for.

16. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Jaguars wide receivers are REALLY good. Robinson got his, but Allen Hurns scored touchdowns in 9 of his 16 games, 7 of them in a row. Add 1,031 yards and you’ve got a solid WR2/WR3.

17. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints

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Brandin Cooks is the definition of a home run threat. When Brees needs to dial up the deep ball, there’s Cooks underneath a floater downfield. He averaged 13.3 yards per catch, and caught 84 passes and 9 touchdowns in 13 starts last season.

18. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Martavis Bryant’s numbers were hampered by his early season suspension and injury, but he was still capable of looking like Antonio Brown WITH Antonio Brown on the field with him. I rate him higher based more on potential, but the guy has as much ability as anyone on very talented offensive squad.

19. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs

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Remember when the Chiefs went a whole year without throwing a touchdown to a wide receiver? Enter Jeremy Maclin, who caught 8 of them along with 87 receptions and 1,102 yards from scrimmage. While I don’t particularly trust the arm of Alex Smith, I do trust Maclin’s talent and knack for getting open.

20. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

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Amari could and should move up this list, as he looked like about as natural a pro receiver as there is. We’ll see how he builds on his rookie effort of 72 catches, 1,067 yards and 6 touchdowns. He and Michael Crabtree did a heck of a job working the sidelines for Derek Carr.

21. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Count Mike Evans as another player who has the talent to move up this list. He improved on both his reception and yardage numbers, but his touchdown total between his rookie and sophomore years dropped from 12 to 3. If he fixes his drop rate, he could be devastating paired with Jameis Winston’s deep ball game.

22. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

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Paired with Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen was the most targeted player in football before going down for the season with a kidney laceration. Through 8 games, Allen was on pace to almost match Antonio and Julio for the league lead in receptions too. If he comes back healthy, as expected, Allen’s 90 yards and 11 targets per game will be a nice pickup in the middle rounds.

23. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos

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Similar to Thomas, I think Sanders had his numbers effected by the weird goings on under center for the Broncos. When used in underneath and possession routes, Sanders is a killer, and that could be huge in the Super Bowl this week…as well as next season with either Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning’s heir.

24. Eric Decker, New York Jets

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Eric Decker’s production in 2015 (80 catches, 1,027 yards, 12 touchdowns) suggests he should be higher on this list, but I’m sticking to my bad feeling that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s “Fitzmagic” isn’t going to be all that next season. Still a very solid W3/Flex option though.

25. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

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T.Y. Hilton’s stock is only as good as whoever is throwing to him. If Andrew Luck is back and in “40 touchdown” form, then you could Hilton as a steal. He’s as good a deep threat as there is in the league. Just needs someone to get the ball down there.

26. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders

Crabtree

Michael Crabtree was a nice story, statistically, in 2015. He had bounced back after injuries and being associated with the San Francisco sinking ship that led to Jim Harbaugh’s departure. He caught 85 passes for 922 yards and 9 touchdowns. He won’t ever be the Heisman candidate type that he was in college, but he’ll get plenty of looks while Amari Cooper draws double-coverage.

27. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

Cobb

The other player besides Rodgers who could benefit the most from Jordy Nelson’s return is Randall Cobb. When put into Nelson’s role, Cobb saw his touchdown total cut in half, as well as his catches and yardage drop dramatically as well because of tougher coverage. James Jones might have had a comeback, but nobody else was freeing up Cobb like Jordy used to.

28. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

JohnBrown

John Brown made big strides in 2015, improving in every category from his rookie season. His 65 catches, 1,025 yards and 7 touchdowns would have increased too if it weren’t for a couple goose eggs in his box score, which were attributed to injuries. Excited to see him play better in his 3rd season with a sick WR group.

29. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Edelman

Getting knocked out for 7 games with a foot injury hurts Edelman’s stock a little, but you remember how much of a grinder the guy is. You also can’t forget the Welker-esque amount of targets he gets either.

30. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

Golden

With Calvin Johnson retiring, Golden Tate is currently the #1 receiver in Detroit. You may remember that Tate’s numbers spiked in 2014 when Megatron was out for much of the time, with 99 catches for 1,361 yards and 4 touchdowns. I don’t expect the Lions to be satisfied with Tate as their top guy, so we’ll see what roster moves are made in the offseason.

31. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

Diggs

Stefon Diggs showed flashes of being a #1 caliber receiver in Minnesota last year, but was weirdly inconsistent down the stretch. The Vikings offense still lives and dies by Adrian Peterson, but Diggs is capable of taking the top off opposing defenses…as long as Teddy Bridgewater can throw it that far.

32. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

Kelvin

The Panthers are heading to the Super Bowl. Cam Newton is coming off an MVP caliber season. A band of no-name wide receivers and Greg Olsen proved they can hang with anyone. And then…

*glass shatters* 

“It’s Kelvin Benjamin’s music!”

Yes, Kelvin is Stone Cold Steve Austin in this analogy. But seriously, the Panthers are getting back one of the best red zone targets and rookie WRs from 2014.

33. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles

Matthews

Jordan Matthews improved on his rookie season but not as dramatically as he was expected to. Blame Chip for that. He has size, speed and a new offensive minded head coach coming in.

34. Tyler Lockette, Seattle Seahawks

Lockett

Tyler Lockett is a burner, and definitely faster than Baldwin. He’ll make a strong late round pick that should improve on a Pro Bowl rookie season where he scored 6 touchdowns receiving and 2 returning.

35. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

Floyd

When healthy, Michael Floyd is as effective as Fitzgerald. However, it’s his health that is usually a question. The Cardinals go about 5 deep in quality receivers, so having their #3 (with #1 talent) isn’t too shabby.

36. Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns

Travis

The Browns and Travis Benjamin need a quarterback. Not Josh McCown. Not Johnny Manziel. An actual starting quarterback. Benjamin clearly has talent having recorded 1,302 all-purpose yards last season. His next season will depend greatly on who is throwing him the ball.

37. Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens

Steve Sr.

Steve Sr. decided that he wasn’t going to let his career end on injury and will come back for one more go in 2016. I’m not certain how good he’ll be or if his body will hold up, but he does have a knack for proving people wrong.

38. Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints

Snead

Other than Cooks, Brees has another deep threat option in Willie Snead. After being cut by the Browns and the Panthers, Snead made the Saints practice squad…then he played 15 games and caught 69 passes for 984 yards and 3 touchdowns. An offseason training with Brees in San Diego should build a rapport to be confident in.

39. Rueben Randle, New York Giants

Randle

While ODB got most of the attention from defenses, which he’ll get more of, Rueben Randle scored 8 touchdowns and made 57 catches for 797 yards. His numbers dipped a little after 2014, and that’s to be expected when a majority of the targets go to Beckham. He might be better for a spot start, but he still has back end of the draft talent.

40. Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens

Aiken If Steve Sr. is healthy, Kamar Aiken becomes another option for Flacco if he’s double covered. If Steve Sr. gets hurt, Aiken is his #1 option (unless they suddenly feel good about Breshad Perriman)…until Baltimore adds more viable options.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

For more position rankings:

Quarterbacks / Running Backs / Wide Receivers

 

 

Fantasy Football Awards 2015

Has your Fantasy Football withdrawal kicked in already? Are you already thinking about next year’s draft? Yeah, me too…That’s why I’ll be frequently updating my draft boards on MichaelPiff.com starting next week.

But first…

We have some awards to hand out from the 2015 season!

 

This season was wild. Injuries, suspensions, surprises, Gary Barnidges, backup quarterbacks, drama and more drama…We’ll look at all the impact players, and some of the worst, that dictated your fantasy season this past season.

 

MVP

CamVP

Cam Newton, Panthers

Every year you do your Fantasy draft, who usually goes off the board first?…Running backs. Then someone drafts Aaron Rodgers (probably Andrew Luck this year too) ridiculously high and some wide receivers will round out your first round. Quarterbacks don’t typically start to go in bulk until the 4th round and Cam Newton wasn’t even being considered until the 8th. His average draft position was 77.1 overall, average round was 8.4.

Those who rolled with Newton, and weren’t afraid of the lack of hype around his wide receivers, reaped ALL the benefits of #1 scoring quarterback in football. He finished the season leading the league in total touchdowns with 45 (35 passing, 10 rushing) and added 4,473 yards from scrimmage (3,837 passing, 635 rushing). Newton’s stretch from Week 11-15 (19 total touchdowns) likely helped carry you to your league’s championship too.

Next Best: Carson Palmer

Hard not to consider Carson Palmer as an MVP as well since he regularly gave you at least 290+ yards and 2-3 touchdowns through the air.

Biggest Bust of the Year

Lacy Bust

Eddie Lacy, Packers

I can’t fault players who miss time or underperform due to injury. The top tier of the running backs almost all suffered this, besides Adrian Peterson. Eddie Lacy wasn’t hurt though. Lacy was a Top 5 pick in most leagues, and he gave you just 3 rushing touchdowns and 758 yards on the ground in 15 games. He was out of shape, missing curfews, and just simply…bad. If any of his 3 games of 100+ yards helped you, I imagine it was because you were desperate at running back. It took Lacy until Week 11 to do so.

Next Worst: Dez Bryant 

I’m probably breaking my injury rule here, but you likely picked Bryant late 1st or early 2nd round, held on to him while he was injured, and got just 3 touchdowns and 401 yards in 9 games for your patience. Tony Romo or not, Bryant is supposed to be a game changer…not THAT.

 

Draft Steal

Devonta Steal

Devonta Freeman, Falcons

If you paid close attention to the Falcons in the offseason, you were weighing your options of taking rookie Tevin Coleman or 2nd year RB Devonta Freeman as one of your flier picks. If you picked Freeman, you CHOSE WISELY. Freeman went 119th overall on average, 2 rounds or so after Coleman, and he gave you 1,639 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns (most in the league). He also helped you stack up some wins from Weeks 2-6 with 10 touchdowns (9 rushing, 1 receiving).

Next Best: Tom Brady

If you picked Tom Brady before his suspension was lifted, you got him at backup value in later rounds. If you took him after, you still enjoyed his #RevengeTour with 36 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers

While Le’Veon Bell served his 2 game suspension to start the year, DeAngelo Williams filled in with 204 yards and 3 touchdowns (all in one game). After Bell went on IR following Week 8, Williams gave you high-end RB1 production, averaging 125 yards from scrimmage and finishing tied with Freeman for the league’s lead in rushing TDs.

Next Best: Gary Barnidge

Might gut went with Gary Barnidge initially, but Williams’s value after Bell went down was just too strong…Barnidge was certainly the breakout player of the year, posting 1,043 yards and 9 touchdowns on 79 catches at the age of 30. Before this year, Barnidge’s career totals were 604 yards, 44 catches and 3 touchdowns over 7 years.

Comeback Player of the Year

DMartin Comeback

Doug Martin, Buccaneers

I’ll admit it. I wrote off the Muscle Hamster. After recording nearly 2,000 yards yards from scrimmage his rookie season, the guy barely hit half of that total over the next 2 years because of injuries, bad offensive lines and worse offensive coordinators. Bucs OC Dirk Koetter figured it all out though and made Doug Martin into the league’s 2nd leading rusher, picking up 1,402 yards on the ground. For someone who went in the 9th round on average in most fantasy drafts, I think you’d take that.

Next Best: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the definition of a journeyman quarterback. 6 teams in 10 years, never making the playoffs and a career high of 24 touchdown passes in both the seasons he started all 16 games…until this year. Surround his beard with 2 excellent possession receivers, a quality offensive line, and 2 viable running backs and Fitzpatrick turns into FitzMagic throwing 31 touchdowns. He threw multiple touchdowns in 12 of his 16 starts…Who figured Geno Smith getting punched in the face would benefit them so well?

 

Rookie of the Year

Gurley Rookie

Todd Gurley, Rams

It’s hard not to picture Todd Gurley being drafted in your first round next season. In 12 starts, the rookie out of Georgia 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground (2nd highest in the league). Gurley was the Rams’ only source of offense, which explained some of the slow down in production down the stretch as opposing defenses keyed in on him. Expect Gurley to just get stronger and scarier now that he’ll have a full offseason without rehabbing an injury.

Next Best: Jameis Winston

It’s easy to compare Jameis Winston with Marcus Mariota, both rookie QBs with Heisman trophies in their mantles. Winston separated himself from Mariota with big play ability, ranked 2nd in yards per completion (13), and was more consistent for scoring in the 2nd half of the season.

 

Best Lineup

QB: Cam Newton, Panthers – 3,837 yards, 35 TD passing / 636 yards, 10 TD rushing

WR:  Antonio Brown, Steelers – 1,834 yards, 136 catches, 10 TD

WR: Julio Jones, Falcons – 1,871 yards, 136 catches, 8 TD

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – 1,521 yards, 111 catches, 11 TD

RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings – 1,485 yards, 11 TD rush / 30 catches, 222 yards receiving

RB: Devonta Freeman, Falcons – 1,061 yards, 11 TD rush / 73 catches, 578 yards 3 TD receiving

FLEX: Odell Beckham Jr, Giants – 1,450 yards, 96 catches, 13 TD (15 games)

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – 72 catches, 1,176 yards, 11 TD 

K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots – 33/36 FG, 52/52 PAT

DEF – Denver Broncos – 52 sacks, 14 INT, 16 fumble recoveries, 5 TD

 

Rising Lineup

QB: Kirk Cousins, Washington 

WR: Allen Robinson, Jaguars 

WR: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks 

WR: Brandin Cooks, Saints 

RB: Todd Gurley, Rams 

RB: David Johnson, Cardinals 

FLEX: Lamar Miller, Dolphins 

K: Brandon McManus, Broncos 

DEF: Minnesota Vikings 

 

Who are your picks for our Year-End Fantasy Awards? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter! Stay tuned for year-round Fantasy Football info for next year’s draft!

 

 

 

 

NFL Week 15 Fantasy Mailbag

If Fantasy Football and the NFL (or as some people call “Real Football”) have anything in common, it’s definitely the MVP race. After the Fantasy playoffs are over, we’ll award the best (and worst) from the season. Check out the results from last season here, where readers and I selected Comeback Player of the Year, Breakout Player of the Year, Steal of the Draft, Biggest Bust, and Most Valuable Player.

It’s funny how much we value running backs in the first round of the draft year to year, but the 5 most valuable players right now are definitely quarterbacks. By multiple fantasy websites, the common Top 5 looks like

  1. Tom Brady (The Revenge Tour Continues)
  2. Cam Newton
  3. Carson Palmer
  4. Russell Wilson
  5. Aaron Rodgers

The first skilled position player to pop up in Actual Fantasy Rankings is Odell Beckham Jr typically around 7th overall, and then finally RBs Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson to round out the Top 10. Your average league’s first 5 draft picks looked very similar to Jamaal Charles (IR), Marshawn Lynch (multiple injury stints), Le’Veon Bell (IR), Peterson (fine) and Eddie Lacy (benched at different points). If you’re still in the playoffs, you likely have any of the 5 quarterbacks listed above and/or navigated successfully around the unfortunate circumstances of the Top 5 running backs.

Quick Hits

  • Julio Jones owners have probably been scratching their heads for a while now. Jones hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since November 1st, 7 weeks ago. Fortunately his reception and yardage numbers have been solid enough to suffice as a decent #2 or #3 for you, but that’s not why you drafted him. Jones is on pace to shatter the Falcons’ single season receiving record with potentially 1,755 yards, despite just awful play from Matt Ryan. Your patience for a Julio touchdown may finally pay off now as he faces a Jaguars secondary that has allowed 10 touchdowns to WRs in their last 8 games.

Julio Week 15

  • The story of the Miami Dolphins 2015 season could easily be explained by how they use Lamar Miller. In games that Miller has 13+ carries, the Dolphins are 5-0. When he doesn’t they are 0-8. Many jobs could have been saved if they just gave Lamar the rock but here we are, Dolphins…On Monday night against the Giants, Miller had 7 carries for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns just by the 10:10 mark in the 2nd quarter. He only got 5 carries and zero targets the rest of the game and they lost…of course.

Lamar Week 15

  • A big part of Tom Brady’s case for MVP is his ability to continue winning and put up big numbers as everyone else around him goes down like characters on Game of Thrones. What’s encouraging though, especially for Fantasy owners, are that his playmakers are all making their way back (like perhaps SOME Game of Thrones characters, dun dun dun!). Gronk came back in a big way last Sunday. This week, Julian Edelman is back practicing in pads…like Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entrance music interrupting the entire league.

 

Mail Time!

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I think you’re certainly on the right track playing Denard Robinson this week. The matchup is juicier than a Juicy Lucy, which my Minnesota friends tell me is delicious. The Falcons have given up the most rushing touchdowns on the season with 15 and they are allowing more receptions to RBs than any other team. I know Todd Gurley seems sexy after his 2 touchdown performance and resurgence last week, but he’s going against one of the best run defenses in football. I would actually consider Matt Forte instead against a Vikings defense that could be missing Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith for a second week in a row. Forte also got 9 red zone carries to Jeremy Langford’s 2 last week.

If you feel strongly about Gurley, go for it and play him in your flex. Otherwise, I like Golden Tate in that spot against the New Orleans pass D. Excuse me while I puke think about them.

 

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QB: You likely took Aaron Rodgers late in the 1st or somewhere in the 2nd round. This week is why you picked him there. He’s coming off the worst 10-game stretch of his career, there’s no doubt of that, but he’s taking on a an Oakland defense that allowed more than 2 TD games TWICE to Philip Rivers. Mike McCarthy took the play-calling duties back too, and he wears his play card on his sleeve…his play card being his heart in this metaphor, so expect a lot of stab tries down the field. I’m also not as confident in the Fitzmagic against the Dallas secondary as I would be against the rest of the NFC East.

RB: As I recommended earlier, go with Shoelace aka D-Rob. Then I lean toward Latavius Murray…partially because I don’t know what you’re going to get from Bryce Brown or Brandon Bolden, but also because the Packers have allowed touchdowns to running backs in 3 out of the last 4 weeks and 162 yards rushing to the Cowboys. He’s also a red zone carry machine for Oakland, getting 8 of the last 10 tries since Week 12.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.08.24 AM

Welcome to the Comeback Club, DB. I came back from an 0-6 start last season, only to get beat by my dad in the championship…

Third question in a row where I feel the need to drive home Denard Robinson. The Falcons have allowed more rushing touchdowns in the last 3 weeks (5), than 6 teams in the league have given up all year.

The 2nd choice I’m going to see what you feel better about. Out of your remaining options, I’m very intrigued by what Bryce Brown can do against the horrendous Browns run defense. It’s weird and scary because we have not seen him once all year, but he’s in line for a heavy workload. In the 4 games Brown had double-digit carries, he averaged 97 yards and a touchdown in each….Then there’s Bilal Powell, who has become a PPR beast in the last 2 weeks and is going against a Dallas team that allows the 4th most receiving yards and 8th most receptions to running backs. Potential upside’s higher with Brown, Powell is safer.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 10.26.07 AM

QB: I’m going with the QB that throws to Odell Beckham Jr. Also, the Carolina Panthers secondary just took a hit with Peanut Tillman dealing with a partially torn ACL having to put Bene Benwikere on IR. They could be starting a player they signed off the street on Tuesday, Robert McClain, and Eli Manning should be able to expose that with either ODB or Rueben Randle.

WR: Weird week for him last week, but Allen Robinson is a must start now, with 5 touchdowns in his last 3 games. He’s a big reason why #BortlesKombat is giving everyone he faces a FATALITY, and you can look at the work DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham did on the Falcons to feel better, combining for 16-303-1.

Now you have one of those GOOD problems. I am going with Doug Baldwin against he Browns though, especially if the Bryce Brown experiment doesn’t workout. If you believe in hot hands, there aren’t any hotter than Baldwin right now.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 10.26.21 AM

Lamar Miller, Randal. Lamar Miller.

(Read his “Quick Hit” above and you’ll understand why I’m not going into further depth on him.)

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 13 Fantasy Mailbag

Each Week 13 I like to remind Fantasy Football participants to thank their league commissioners for organizing everything…as long as they scheduled the playoffs to start next week and the championship to take place Week 16.

JJ Watt yell

By the end of the season, you’ve come too far to worry about players on teams who have their division clinched and will potentially be rested Week 17 to make a run in the playoffs. Right now, I would worry about the Patriots, Cardinals and even the Panthers (who could be undefeated still) doing exactly that.

Now for immediate concerns, you are…

A) all good and have clinched a playoff spot. Just playing for the best seeding possible.

B) fighting for a playoff spot. It’s already win or go home.

C) hoping to spoil things for anyone that (B) applies to. It’s about pride at this point.

There is a “D” but you don’t want to be that person. You know, the person who drafted a team and didn’t give enough of a shit to do any maintenance on their roster at all, even after paying dues for a cash league. I played against Jordy Nelson last week. That’s all you need to know.

Quick Hits

  • Perhaps the most exciting individual matchup this weekend will be Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Darrelle Revis. In the past, Revis Island had scared away fantasy owners from even considering starting a #1 WR against him, even quarterbacks at times. In recent weeks though, Revis has allowed big games to DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs) and Allen Robinson (6-121). Meanwhile, Beckham has cracked 100+ yards in 4 straight weeks, and has done so 13 times in his last 20 games.

[Update] Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles was asked about Revis’s status this week and responded with “I don’t think so.”

ODB dive

 

  • Another team that could potentially clinch their division by Week 17 are the Minnesota Vikings. Big reason why, and the player they’d likely be resting, is Adrian Peterson. AP has 634 yards and 5 touchdowns in his last 5 games, is 72 yards off his 2012 pace when he recorded 2,097 yards, and faces a Seattle defense this week that allowed 117 total yards to DeAngelo Williams. He’ll be the Viking’s best chance against the Seahawks in a black and blue matchup.

AP TD

  • The funniest thing in football may in fact be the biggest difference for tonight’s matchup between the Lions and Packers…Jim Bob Cooter. The Lions have won 3 straight and now have a chance to sweep Green Bay. During that win streak, Matthew Stafford has thrown for 861 yards, no interceptions and 7 touchdowns (5 last week against Philly). Amazing how good Cooter, the OC (try not laughing), looks when his quarterback actually throws the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Stafford to Megatron

 

Mail Time!

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.08.45 AM

I don’t like Antonio Andrews, or any Titans RBs, at all but seeing Charcandrick West practicing with the Chiefs again leads me to believe Spencer Ware is going to lose a lot of touches. If West plays this week, go with the starters in Andrews and Shaun Draughn. I wouldn’t expect touchdowns out of either, unfortunately. If West doesn’t go, plug Ware in for Andrews.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.09.07 AM

I understand the concern with Tom Brady, but haven’t we seen this story before? Without Gronk, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, Brady threw 3 touchdowns against the best defense in the league. This week he plays the Eagles and could likely have Amendola back. Philly has given up 10 touchdowns in the last 2 week, and Brady has built a reputation for making something out of nothing (no-name receivers).

If you’re having strong enough doubts, this could be a great week for Ryan Fitzpatrick if he’s miraculously available on your waivers. Bryan Hoyer and Ryan Tannehill could be okay plays if you’re desperate.

 

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The James Starks thing has come and gone, as Eddie Lacy has woken up finally. Now it becomes a question of whether or not you believe in CJ Anderson or not…

If Anderson is going to keep coming back into our good graces, it would be against the Chargers. They have allowed double-digit rushing TDs and 1,800+ rush yards. My gut tells me the Broncos will ride the hot back, just like they should ride the hot quarterback. So start CJ.

For matchup reasons, I have to lean toward LaGarrette Blount over Latavius Murray. The Chiefs have only allowed one back to run for more than 71 yards and have given up 1 rushing touchdown since Week 5. Meanwhile, the Eagles look like they’ve quit on their coach.

 

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Similar to my reasoning to start Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount, that’s why I like Scott Chandler this week. I picked him up in both my leagues (starting him in the one without Gary Barnidge), because Brady loves targeting his tight end. Last time Gronk missed significant time, Brady made Mike Hoomanawanui relevant.

If that doesn’t convince you, Eric Ebron would be a sneaky pickup tonight as the Packers have allowed a touchdown to TEs in 4 straight matchups. The even sneakier move would be Cameron Brate against the Falcons with Austin Seferian-Jenkins still down.

 

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RB: If the Rams offense wasn’t a complete dumpster fire right now, I would say Todd Gurley is a no-brainer. But they are and that means he isn’t. Tony Romo going down means Darren McFadden is going to get all the checkdown passes he could dream of from Matt Cassel. I feel better about McFadden’s floor than Gurley’s ceiling this week.

QB: If Jay Cutler is available, go get him. The 49ers defense is a very different squad on the road than they are at home, allowing 35 points per game away from Levi’s Stadium.

 

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WR: TY Hilton and Eric Decker are easy picks for me. The Steelers are giving up the most catches and  2nd most yards to receivers, and Decker is a touchdown machine scoring in 8 of 10 games. I like what D-Jax has done since returning, but the Cowboys pass defense is brutal.

 

QB: I am going to go with my common theme for this post, trust the Cooter. I am going to use the Lions OC’s name for as long as I can, so deal with it. Stafford’s got a hot hand and Rivers has a bad matchup.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.11.00 AM

I feel weird saying this, but I like Ryan Fitzpatrick a lot more this week. The Giants secondary is allowing 250+ yards and at least one touchdown to every QB they’ve faced. Meanwhile, I think the Packers are going to get Rodgers killed tonight…but he could always be “RODJAS!” again.

 

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We do have a “Thor” in our league. Otherwise, I recommend GREG, SON OF OLSEN!

Greg son of Olsen

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag

My favorite ongoing social media sports joke may in fact be the Andrew Luck “Civil War Era” Letters when things go wrong…

Andrew Luck Civil War

“My Dearest Abigail,

It is with much regret I must report our efforts to protect the homefront against the Jet brigade of New York were for nought. General Pagano was displeased with my inability to conquer the Isle of Revis. We lost our position upon the field on at least three occasions and despite the valiance of Private Moncrief, our company was forced into retreat. We will regroup and look to return to prominence as we move toward Nashville, led by the youthful Colonel Mariota.

Your beloved,

Andrew”

Be better, Andrew. 

Quick Hits

  • In better quarterback news, the Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls after he completely destroyed what would probably be his toughest matchup all year. Brady dropped 3 touchdowns and 466 yards against Rex Ryan’s Bills defense in Buffalo. For the 15th time, an NFL record, the Patriots won after Brady throws 50+ passes. In perspective, Peyton Manning has 17 games throwing 50 or more passes and has a 4-13 record doing so. Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Warren Moon are tied for second in wins throwing that many passes…just 5 each. 

Brady vs Bills

  • If you drafted Le’Veon Bell and had him stashed until this week, it’s time to unleash the beast. In 15 of the 16 games he played in 2014, Bell recorded 100+ total yards and/or scored a touchdown. He also was the league’s 40th leading receiver in terms of yards, and had the most among all running backs. Ben Roethlisberger owners should really like that as well. Bell will lace’em up against a Rams defense that allowed 6.5 yards per carry to Washington rookie running back Matt Jones a week ago. Welcome back, Le’Veon. 

Bell Week 3

  • If you were on the “Odell Beckham Jr’s overrated” bandwagon, get the hell off it. ODB (as I refer to him) came back in a hurry last week against the Falcons, catching 7 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown that looked like he ran threw a Super Mario star. This weekend, Beckham lines up opposite from a Washington defense that gave up the most touchdowns to wide receivers a year ago (23). In his only game against them, ODB caught 12 passes for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

Mail Time!

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The universe is testing you Jason, and I know…It’s not fair. This coming from someone who started Peyton Manning in Week 1 and Tony Romo in Week 2. The WR1 epidemic is awful and hamstrings are a bitch, but I’m hoping you either drafted well or went hard on your waiver wire. There are a few adds I would recommend if you haven’t yet though:

Travis Benjamin helped Johnny Football out a lot last weekend, recording 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 3 catches. Won’t light it up PPR wise, but he has that “go-up-and-get-it” ability that got Josh McCown paid after his stint in Chicago. If you get return points in your league, Benjamin becomes all the more attractive against the Raiders.

Michael Crabtree is averaging 12 targets per game after his first two starts in Raider black and silver. Not a great matchup going against Cleveland, but you would think Amari Cooper will draw the Joe Haden coverage more. Cooper getting the majority of opposing secondary attention helps Crabtree’s production, as does a healthy Derek Carr that will be playing more catchup in ballgames than not.

Leonard Hankerson is doing what many Roddy White and Julio Jones owners in the past have become familiar with from Harry Douglas. When either of the Top 2 Falcons WRs were injured (or going ghost like White has a tendency to do), Douglas was a PPR machine. Hankerson had 6 catches and a touchdown on 11 targets last week. The Dallas defense may sober his admirers this weekend, but he has two great matchups afterwards against Houston and Washington.

Nate Washington is a notorious spot-start guy in Fantasy and that may be the case here whether DeAndre Hopkins goes against Tampa or doesn’t. Ryan Mallett threw 58 passes a week ago and Washington is averaging over 18 yards per reception. Probably a sleeper play, but it makes a lot of sense if you’re desperate.

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There’s an interesting conundrum with Alfred Morris and Matt Jones in the backfield for Washington. The running attack appears to be their offense’s bread and butter and Jones became the flavor of the week out-carrying Morris last week 19-18. What’s worse for Morris is that Jones actually catches passes and was trusted more late in the game last week against the Rams…I would go with with Pierre Garcon based on the targets he gets on short yardage downs, Morris’s role being diminished, the Giants being competent against the run, and Duke Johnson still being the #2 man in Cleveland.

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Glad you were able to walk threw #1…I know you’re probably frustrated with the guys who are likely your Top 2 drafted RBs, but this may be the week to reap the benefits of taking them. Latavius Murray has a plumb rushing matchup against a Browns defense that let Dexter F’ing McCluster run for nearly 100 against them and has allowed 300+ rush yards in 2 weeks. The Raiders should be feeding Murray until he pukes…Because the Lions have no clue how to use obviously their best back in Ameer Abdullah, I lean toward Justin Forsett in your flex. He’s the second most targeted receiver for the Ravens and 2nd on the team in catches too going up against a Bengals defense that has allowed the most running back touchdown receptions so far in this young season.

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I would start Forsett exactly for reasons I listed above…and then I look to Dion Lewis. The Imitation Game that is Bill Belichick’s running back strategy may have been cracked. Even after a fumble (GASP), Lewis was still getting love in the Patriot’s offense. He has over 100 combo yards in each of his first two games, and at least 5 touches of 10 or more yards in both as well. Lamar Miller just isn’t getting enough usage for me to feel comfortable playing him yet, which is super unfortunate.

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Among the two WRs, I lean toward Terrance Williams. After Romo went down last week, Williams looked like the Cowboys’ best offensive weapon. Brandon Weedon is pretty gross, but he will at least be held upright behind the Dallas OL. The Falcons secondary is also allowing the third highest passing percentage to quarterbacks so far this season…Now you can comfortably wait and see if Eddie Lacy can go Monday night against the Chiefs. If he does, you definitely start James Jones. If not, then there’s an argument to be had. The KC front 7 is better at rushing the quarterback than they are stopping the run, and James Starks would get plenty of work against them. Jones doesn’t get enough targets (just 7 in 2 games) for me to feel comfortable playing him over someone who is guaranteed touches. Go with Starks if he’s the #1 running back on Monday.

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I am assuming you meant John Brown and if so, you should start him. I know Larry Fitzgerald had a resurrection game, but consider who it was against. The 49ers are ripe for the taking when it comes to #1 WRs and John Brown has taken most of his reps in the X spot. Expect Carson Palmer to keep tossing bombs and for Brown to be at the end of quite a few…Now for your flex. The reasons above are why I don’t trust James Jones as much as many. Todd Gurley is finally ready to go and appears nowhere on the injury report. Gurley is part of a committee but I believe he has the highest ceiling among any of your options. If return points count in your league, go with Benjamin. He has the same number of targets as Jones, but more big play ability. If not, take a chance on Gurley. It’s early enough in the season where taking chances is fun and not terrifying.

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It’s #TyrodTime, my friend. We saw Drew Brees’s decline begin a year ago, and he overcompensated by throwing more than any quarterback in the league. Until he can do more than 1 TD and 1 INT in a game, can you trust him?…Let Taylor do his thing until the league figures him out.

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I won’t argue against Crowell in this situation. In a standard league, which I assume doesn’t count return yard points, James Jones does have a leg up on Travis Benjamin given the quarterbacks throwing to them. However if Vontae Davis is out this weekend for Indy, start Kendall Wright. As we saw last Monday, that Colts secondary is horrendous and it doesn’t get any better with Davis out. Marcus Mariota could potentially be having a field day this weekend.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Mailbag

FOOOOOOTBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

I know that’s exactly how you woke up this morning.

Your drafts are in. You’ve either comfortably sat on your lineup or you’ve been toying with who is best for your flex position every minute of the day….The latter is much more likely.

Quick Hits

  • While the NFL season kicks off tonight, so does the #BradyRevengeTour. That hashtag is meant to be tongue in cheek, but Tom Brady has an excellent matchup this week against a Steelers defense in transition to a new system and the same bad personnel as last season. 9 of the 10 quarterbacks they faced last season threw for multiple touchdowns and they were lit up by the BILLS QBs in Week 3 (gross). 

Brady vs Steelers

  • Opposite Brady will be Ben Roethlisberger, who would benefit greatly from a shootout. No Le’Veon Bell means an iffy backfield, and more throws downfield to arguably the best offensive weapon in football…Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger averaged 2.6 touchdown passes last year and faces a Patriots defense that’s now without Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. 

Big Ben vs Patriots

  • Another game I’m incredibly interested in is the Broncos vs. Ravens, and not for Peyton Manning vs. Joe Flacco…Two of the league’s breakout running backs last season were CJ Anderson and Justin Forsett, and neither were starters in their opener a year ago. Forsett led all starting running backs with 5.4 yards per carry. Since taking over #1 duties week 9, Anderson averaged 132.1 yards from scrimmage per game. Now that Forsett’s OC a year ago is guiding Anderson, it will be fun to see how the two follow up their pro bowl seasons. 

CJ Anderson TD vs Forsett

  • Giants vs. Cowboys could be quite the show as well. Tony Romo OWNED the Giants last year throwing 7 touchdowns in both games against them. In their first meeting, Dez Bryant caught 9 passes for 151 yards and then 2 touchdowns in the second. It was against the Cowboys though where Odell Beckham Jr. really came onto the scene. Beckham scored 2 touchdowns in the first game, then 10 catches, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns the second time around. Similar to tonight’s NE vs PIT game, this matchup has barn burner potential. 

Odell vs the Cowboys

Mail Time

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I think the highest ceiling from this group will eventually be Ameer Abdullah, but Lions have a mirky RB situation with Joique Bell still listed as the starter and Theo Riddick #2 on the depth chart. My rule with Week 1 is to go with your proven players while watching how your bench guys develop. DeVante Parker has a great matchup against Washington, but there are only so many balls to go around with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings. Wait and see on his usage…I lean toward Danny Woodhead over Charles Johnson. Woodhead is Philip Rivers’s guy on passing downs and will be relieving rookie Melvin Gordon plenty against the tough Lions run defense. I trust Woodhead getting more touches than Johnson, as the Vikings will be focused on riding Adrian Peterson against the Walking Dead 49ers.

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Start with Jeremy Maclin. I really liked how he and Alex Smith looked working together in the preseason, and he’s the undisputed #1 guy for an offense that needs to use it’s receivers more in the red zone…Both Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson have tough secondary matchups this week. Johnson is in a crowded WR group going against the Bills and Marshall will draw Joe Haden. I like Marshall as a red zone option more than Johnson though. Obviously Johnson has the better QB throwing to him, but how much will he be thrown to?

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Appreciate ya, Matt…Despite my worry of Melvin Gordon going against Detroit, Alfred Blue may have an even tougher one against Kansas City. I also don’t get the impression that the Texans are all that in love with Blue, considering they were willing to try 3rd string cornerbacks at running back in the preseason. Let Gordon loose out there.

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Although he is getting the call with Martavis Bryant out, I don’t trust Markus Wheaton yet like I do two starting running backs. Washington is a dumpster fire, but you can feel better about their running game with Alfred Morris way more than their quarterbacks and wide receivers. And take advantage of having Jonathan Stewart while he’s healthy. The key in Week 1 is starting guys that you know will be getting touches, and plenty of them. Only 5 times did Wheaton catch 5 or more passes last season.

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Amari Cooper is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the league and he’ll show it sooner than later. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be this weekend as his quarterback may be eaten alive by the Bengals front 7. Jordan Matthews should be strong play though as the new #1 WR in Philly and going against a Falcons pass defense that was putrid a year ago.

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I don’t love Brandon Marshall at all and I don’t think his quarterbacks will be helping him much or vice versa. However…the Washington offensive line could easily get Kirk Cousins killed this weekend against Ndamukong Suh, and D-Jax simply won’t get great opportunities to make plays for you. Your chances are better with Marshall. 

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend!