The Playoffs have not birthed any new stars just yet, but this weekend represents another opportunity for players to increase (or decrease) their 2016 Fantasy Football value with the eyes of America glued to the Divisional Round. Much like we did last week, The Playlist takes a look at an interesting player from each of the remaining teams and discusses their future worth. As an added bonus, you will get a corresponding song for each player. Enjoy!
There Goes My Hero by Foo Fighters
Tom Brady (QB, Patriots) – “There goes my hero. Watch him as he goes. There goes my hero. He’s ordinary.” Brady has showed no signs of slowing down as he stares down the barrel of his age-39 season in 2016. With the exception of an embarrassing showing in Week 17, Brady had another terrific Fantasy season. He registered multiple TDs in 13 of 16 games, totaling 39 scores and only seven interceptions. With an elite pass-catching option in Rob Gronkowski and a well-oiled machine of role players, Brady should once again be a Top 10 option next season. How long can he keep it up? He is under contract through 2017, so I’d say at least two more strong seasons could be expected. Brady is a great acquisition for a dynasty squad that is a QB away from competing for a championship.
Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
Alex Smith (QB, Chiefs) – “My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone. And I never like to admit that I was wrong.” Smith has been one of the most boring Fantasy options in the game, albeit a consistent one. In the past three years, he has had between 303-308 completions for at least 3,265 yards, 18-23 TDs and 6-7 INTs. He is known for not taking any chances downfield and playing very conservatively, limiting the Fantasy upside of Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Unless you are in a two-QB league, Smith is best left as a streaming option and acceptable backup QB. In long-term formats, he offers very little in the way of upside. If you can find an interested trade partner, take what you can get for him.
Party Up (Up In Here) by DMX
David Johnson (RB, Cardinals) – “Y’all gon’ make me go all out. Up in here, up in here. Y’all gon’ make me act a FOOL. Up in HERE, up in here.” Despite limited touches, Johnson flashed strong playmaking ability and scored five TDs in his first five games. He gave way to Chris Johnson for much of the season, but got his opportunity to shine in December as the lead back. He rattled off four straight 100-yard efforts. In Week 15, he dropped a monster performance with three TDs and over 200 total yards, launching numerous owners into their Fantasy championship. He is poised to shine in the playoffs as one of the highest upside players remaining. He is already in first round consideration and a big January could launch him even further. Johnson has made Andre Ellington irrelevant and should force Chris Johnson to sign with another team. Johnson a locked in as a Top 5 Dynasty RB and should be one of the most difficult players to acquire this offseason.
Living In Pain by Notorious B.I.G. featuring Tupac, Nas and Mary J. Blige
Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, Panthers) – “Is anybody listening and tell me can you see this darkness surrounding me. Now it’s gettin colder heavy on my shoulder and it’s gettin hard to breathe. And it’s gettin blurry, I’m gettin worried cause it’s gettin hard to see. When you’re living in the house of pain.” It was on a much smaller scale, but Artis-Payne also flashed potential of a bright future in the final month of the season. With Jonathan Stewart banged up, he saw his first extensive action and responded with over 200 total yards and a score in three games. Stewart has not played a full season since 2011, meaning Artis-Payne should at the very least be one of the top handcuffs in Fantasy next year. He can be more than that, however, with the requisite size and enough juice to develop into a workhorse type. Patience will be required here, but Artis-Payne is a back to target for your dynasty team regardless of whether you own Stewart or not. Squirrel his name away in seasonal formats as well, as a late-round selection with plenty of upside.
Made You Look by Nas
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seahawks) “They shootin’, Aw made you look. You a slave to a page in my rhyme book. Gettin’ Big money, playboy your time’s up. Where them gangstas? Where them dimes at?” Lockett is a playmaker, plain and simple. He was a returner and deep threat for Seattle as a rookie and should see an expanded role in 2016 and beyond. Lockett may never be an elite receiver, but he will be an ideal WR3 that could peak as a Top 25 option. He found the end zone eight times in his debut season in addition to a very solid 51 receptions for 664 yards. Despite that, he has still managed to fly under the radar in many leagues. He is an excellent trade target in dynasty formats for teams looking to get younger. He will assuredly be a popular sleeper option in seasonal leagues this summer. The playoffs are a chance for him to further escalate the hype, we will see if he can take advantage. Keep expectations realistic and you will be plenty happy with what Lockett offers in the coming years.
Confident by Demi Lovato
Emmanuel Sanders (WR, Broncos) – “So you say I’m complicated. That I must be outta my mind. But you’ve had me underrated.” Sanders has been impressive in his two seasons with the Broncos, racking up over 2,500 yards and 15 TDs on 177 grabs. He was much more hit or miss this year, largely due to the decline in quarterback play. Sanders will be 29 years old this offseason and he is likely to have someone other than Peyton Manning throwing him the ball in 2016. What does that mean for his value? It is almost guaranteed to decline, as Demaryius Thomas is clearly the number one option in that offense. Still, this is a good time to buy Sanders because he is a great real-life second receiver and an underrated Fantasy one as well. Depending on whom they land at QB, Sanders could very well turn in a year similar to his breakout 2014 campaign.
A Matter Of Trust by Billy Joel
Richard Rodgers (TE, Packers) – “The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned But that won’t happen to us, because it’s always been a matter of trust.” Rodgers managed an impressive sophomore leap in 2015. He showed to be perhaps the most consistent pass-catcher for Aaron Rodgers, especially in the red zone. Targets and yards were hard to come by, but his value was buoyed by eight TDs. It is unclear how Jordy Nelson’s return will impact the targets, but Rodgers will be a large part of the offense moving forward. He has earned Rodgers’ trust and that should go a long way in establishing value as a solid TE2. While not especially explosive, Rodgers uses his size well and is a reliable chain-mover. During a time when the tight end position is extremely top heavy, Rodgers deserves consideration among the “best of the rest.”
Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles
Heath Miller (TE, Steelers) – “Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.) (Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more…)” Miller is still going “strong” at age-33. While he caught 50 balls this past season, he averaged an ugly 8.9 yards per catch and has found the end zone just six times in the past three years. Miller is signed with Pittsburgh through 2016, but his play might lead to him being a cap casualty this offseason. Jesse James, a fifth round pick out of Penn State last spring, has serious raw potential. While he may be another year away, Miller’s time as a Fantasy relevant tight end is over. There is no need to hang on and hope that you can squeeze one more season out of him. In daily and seasonal play, he’s a streamer at best.