Top 125 Way Too Early 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings
The 2015 Fantasy Football season just ended, but there is no point waiting. After all, it's the only thing you guys want to talk about now. 2016 Fantasy Football rankings!
Who cares that we haven't hit free agency, the draft is four months away or that preseason shakeups will changes things? We sure don't! We want our rankings!
Any time you have rankings this early… aptly named The Way Too Early 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings… you make assumptions. I'm not talking about typical football-related assumptions, such as Amari Cooper getting a hand transplant or wilder guesses like Johnny Manziel starting 16 games for the Browns… or my finally ending my single life drought. There are basic assumptions with roster changes, etc., and I'll touch on some, but assuming this list won't change several times by May, let alone the end of August is the craziest idea of them all.
For reference, this time last year saw Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason as low-end RB1s, Christine Michael, Isaiah Crowell and Andre Ellington as Top 20 RBs and Victor Cruz and Kenny Stills as WR3s (and Stills in New Orleans). So sit back, enjoy these ranks and don't overreact… too much… heck, I'll expect plenty of hate tweets anyway.
As a quick note, scoring is standard when referenced. Also, these are 2016 draft rankings. So, I do expect someone like Jeremy Hill to finish better than RB24, but I'm not spending the cost with his being a shared-touches question mark every.single.week.
2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
I strongly considered Luck at No. 1, but here's my thinking: Newton outscored 2014 Luck by 40 points, and that was while missing Kelvin Benjamin. Heck, that was with one of the worst collection of receivers in history. Take away four rushing and four passing touchdowns, and Newton is still ahead of 2014 Luck. I'll take the over with Kelvin Benjamin returning. It's clear Rodgers isn't the same quarterback and the Packers' offense doesn’t function as well without Jordy Nelson. I also expect the Packers to improve their offensive line this offseason (see, assumptions already).
Brady, Brees and Palmer deserve a high ranking despite each being 36 or older. They not only are three of the league's best gunslingers, they have three of the most powerful offenses. It will be uglier than any other Top 10 quarterback, but I expect Bortles to return Top 10 numbers again.
Even with potential regression – he's quite fortunate with the garbage time numbers and touchdown rate – it only takes about 4,200 yards and 30 TDs to have Top 10 status. With his receiving trio, and some youngsters in wait, Bortles has the needed weapons. Dalton would have finished in the Top 10 if not for a season-ending injury, and he's another quarterback in a dangerous offense.
As long as Ben McAdoo returns to New York, I don't see any reason to doubt Eli Manning. He's averaged over 19 FPPG with 289.3 YPG and a 62.4 completion percentage since Week 7 of 2014 (after his initial need to adjust to a new offense)… plus, Odell Beckham! I was impressed with Carr's growth, and he has a nice duo at receiver and Clive Walford heading into his second year. Look for the Raiders to have a Jaguars-2014-like jump next year. As long as Winston gets some help to compensate for Vincent Jackson fading out of the picture, he should take a nice step forward. After all, he did have 4,044 yards as a rookie. I know, no Redskins or Cousins fan "likes that" with him at 20. However, he still makes his fair share of poor throws, which were offset by the seventh-lowest drop rate (2.77%) in the league and second highest reception to target mark (69.6%).
2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
|1||Le'Veon Bell||PIT||21||Jonathan Stewart||CAR|
|2||Todd Gurley||STL||22||Dion Lewis||NE|
|3||David Johnson||ARI||23||Eddie Lacy||GB|
|4||Adrian Peterson||MIN||24||Jeremy Hill||CIN|
|5||Lamar Miller||MIA||25||Ameer Abdullah||DET|
|6||Doug Martin||TB||26||Duke Johnson||CLE|
|7||Jamaal Charles||KC||27||Thomas Rawls||SEA|
|8||Devonta Freeman||ATL||28||Rashad Jennings||NYG|
|9||Mark Ingram||NO||29||Frank Gore||IND|
|10||Matt Forte||CHI||30||Justin Forsett||BAL|
|11||LeSean McCoy||BUF||31||Matt Jones||WSH|
|12||Latavius Murray||OAK||32||Danny Woodhead||SD|
|13||Jeremy Langford||CHI||33||Bilal Powell||NYJ|
|14||Arian Foster||HOU||34||Melvin Gordon||SD|
|15||DeMarco Murray||PHI||35||Giovani Bernard||CIN|
|16||Jay Ajayi||MIA||36||Karlos Williams||BUF|
|17||Marshawn Lynch||SEA||37||Charles Sims||TB|
|18||T.J. Yeldon||JAX||38||Isaiah Crowell||CLE|
|19||Carlos Hyde||SF||39||Chris Ivory||NYJ|
|20||C.J. Anderson||DEN||40||Tevin Coleman||ATL|
Obviously, we have another assumption here, as there is no way Bell is my top running back if he's not 100 percent well before Week 1. If he is though, there is little argument here, as he averaged 18.0 FPPG last year, 16.3 in the five games before his injury this year and had just one single-digit game in 2014. You've heard me say it many times before and I will again, Gurley is a generational talent. Those wanting the "next Adrian Peterson" need to look no further. If you've followed me at all this year, you also know how much I love David Johnson. Go ahead and make the "but you said C.J. Anderson last year" joke… you won't be the first, or even the 100th.
Back to AP, the man is a machine, and it's telling just how well he takes care of himself in a year with so many running back injuries.
More assumptions! Miller is done in Miami. I wouldn't be surprised if he had his bags packed and waiting in the locker room after Sunday's game. You put him on any team with a half-decent line and a coach that actually gives him 20 touches and look out. I would move Miller even higher if he lands in Dallas. Some might believe Freeman should be higher, but honestly, I thought about ranking him lower, as the team is fond of Coleman and could divvy up the touches more in 2016. Forte is another running back that will have a new home, and he too would be higher if in Dallas. Forte actually finished as RB9 in a down year and in just 13 games.
Speaking of things people might not have realized, Latavius Murray was RB10 and he's still learning how to be a more effective NFL running back. He'll be one of the best values in 2016. With Forte gone, Langford gets a huge boost, and then the questions mount. Can Foster stay healthy? Will the Eagles utilize Murray more (properly)? Will Lynch be back in Seattle? Per my ranking, you can see that I don't think Lynch is gone. His contract is a bit of an issue, and I think he still has plenty left, although he'll share more with Thomas Rawls next year. The one name I passed over was Ajayi. If not for his knee injury, he would have gone higher in the draft, and if not for his preseason injury, we would have seen more of him sooner. He's a great talent, and if he gets near 20 touches per game, he'll be one of 2016's breakouts. In addition, Ajayi was third (Spencer Ware, Bell top two) in yards after contact – injuries are obviously a concern though.
I don't feel great about Lacy's ranking, but James Starks isn't the answer, even though he looked good at times. I'm a fan of Abdullah's and Duke Johnson's talent, but there is a bit too much sharing on those teams. If the Giants treat Jennings as they did for the last few games, he'll be a RB2, if they draft someone or screw around with 15 running backs again, he'll finish lower. Gore did finish as RB11, but don't count on the Colts not bringing in running back help or Gore not dropping off even more next year. There are plenty of backfield headaches here with the Bengals, Ravens, Jets and Chargers, but hopefully you're not stressing the 30-40 ranks too much… yet.
2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers
|1||Odell Beckham||NYG||26||DeVante Parker||MIA|
|2||Antonio Brown||PIT||27||Steve Smith||BAL|
|3||Julio Jones||ATL||28||Doug Baldwin||SEA|
|4||Allen Robinson||JAX||29||Josh Gordon||CLE|
|5||DeAndre Hopkins||HOU||30||Jarvis Landry||MIA|
|6||Dez Bryant||DAL||31||Larry Fitzgerald||ARI|
|7||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||32||Kevin White||CHI|
|8||Brandon Marshall||NYJ||33||Emmanuel Sanders||DEN|
|9||A.J. Green||CIN||34||Allen Hurns||JAX|
|10||Alshon Jeffery||CHI||35||Jordan Matthews||PHI|
|11||Keenan Allen||SD||36||Dorial Green-Beckham||TEN|
|12||Sammy Watkins||BUF||37||John Brown||ARI|
|13||Jordy Nelson||GB||38||DeSean Jackson||WSH|
|14||Calvin Johnson||DET||39||Michael Crabtree||OAK|
|15||Mike Evans||TB||40||Tyler Lockett||SEA|
|16||Brandin Cooks||NO||41||Stefon Diggs||MIN|
|17||Amari Cooper||OAK||42||Donte Moncrief||IND|
|18||T.Y. Hilton||IND||43||Tavon Austin||STL|
|19||Martavis Bryant||PIT||44||Golden Tate||DET|
|20||Jeremy Maclin||KC||45||Devin Funchess||CAR|
|21||Eric Decker||NYJ||46||Travis Benjamin||CLE|
|22||Kelvin Benjamin||CAR||47||Anquan Boldin||SF|
|23||Michael Floyd||ARI||48||Nelson Agholor||PHI|
|24||Julian Edelman||NE||49||Kendall Wright||TEN|
|25||Randall Cobb||GB||50||Kamar Aiken||BAL|
You could make a case for OBJ, Antonio Brown or Julio Jones at No. 1, but it comes down to the quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is too dangerous with his injuries, and we saw what happens when he's not at quarterback. Matt Ryan had a poor showing this year and has always been inconsistent. Manning continues to look good, and you already saw my notes about him above, plus Beckham has just seven single-digit games since his debut.
Robinson is the epitome of when my love goes right.
He finished as WR4 and could have done much better if not for Bortles' inconsistencies. Robinson had an 80/1,400/14 line on 151 targets. A little better efficiency (53 to 60 percent catch rate) gets him to 90/1,575/16. I'm not saying ARob gets there or doesn't even see a touchdown regression with Bortles, but repeating his 224 Fantasy points is doable. I'm hoping Dez gets better help than Terrance Williams and Romo can make it through 16 games… or just most of the season. Even if Brock Osweiler is the Broncos' quarterback next year, I see the good regression for Thomas in the touchdown department. Thomas had 10, 14 and 11 the three years prior. It may feel like he's much older, but Marshall will "only" be 32, and if Ryan Fitzpatrick is back, he should keep producing at an elite level.
Nelson will be 31 (again, not that big of a deal), but in his last three 16-game seasons, he averaged 1,365 yards and 12 touchdowns. As seen with my joke at the onset, Cooper's hands concern me as much as when he left Alabama. Hilton is a huge dynasty value right now and could be the same in drafts next season. Cobb will rebound, as Nelson will push him back into his best-suited role. Parker is a terrific talent and should surpass Landry in standard leagues. I'm not keeping Smitty outside my Top 30. He makes Adrian Peterson look soft, and I'm thrilled he's returning for one more year. Keeper leagues can't forget about Gordon and especially White. I had White at the top of my rookie receiver chart, and he has the ability to top Cooper's rookie numbers even if Jeffery is back in Chicago.
DGB could take an even bigger step forward, as talent has never been the question with him. I was thoroughly impressed with Lockett, but Lynch being back, Jimmy Graham's return from injury and Baldwin's breakout season don't leave a ton of room for Lockett to be a consistent option. Phillip Dorsett's presence is why I don't have Moncrief higher – he'll demand attention. Aiken is the last receiver to make the cut, and you'll notice it's not his teammate Breshad Perriman. Aiken deserves respect for what he did with no Steve Smith and a trash heap of quarterbacks. Perriman has talent, but he's a deep threat with terrible route running skills. With a missed rookie campaign, I don't see his being ready to be the No. 2 option yet.
2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends
Are you shocked? Gronkowski first?! Okay, okay, but Reed and Eifert next might surprise some. I'm obviously not playing the "always getting hurt" game with Reed, as it's too early for that and outside of Gronk, he's the most dominant tight end. Eifert was very touchdown-reliant, but I can see more yards to offset fewer touchdowns. I prefer his arrow pointing up versus Olsen's holding steady, or even dipping slightly with Benjamin back. Walker gets no respect, I'm a believer in Barnidge and Graham should have better red zone luck next season. As talented as he is, that offense continues to kill Kelce, and you still have to like Gates a decent amount if he truly is back… again.
Photo Credit: Kevin Piatt
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