NFL Fantasy Preview

Football season is creeping up on us with the preseason being halfway over, which means fantasy football is here. Football is truly the best fantasy sport. With injuries plaguing even the best drafted fantasy teams, any one can win a league. The person who plays the waiver wire and trade market effectively usually comes out on top. Yet, there’s always one kid who never checks their team week to week and still ends up in the playoffs. So with football season approaching, lets breakdown who are the best options (and sleepers) by position in each division.

 

AFC East

QB:

Tom Brady is the easy decision right here. Coming off his best season since 2011, with tb12sb364,770 passing yards, 36/7 TD/INT, and 102.2 passer rating, he’s defying conventional wisdom of declining performance as athletes get older. Also, with the additions of Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan, possible rookie standouts Malcolm Mitchell and AJ Derby, I don’t see any regression in the near future. We still have to keep his four game suspension in mind, so I wouldn’t draft Brady too early but could be worth the risk.

RB:

Matt Forte has the potential for a big year with the Jets. The Jets surprised everyone (including myself) in how effective the trio of Fitzpatrick, Marshall, and Decker was in their passing game. Yet, I feel they were often hampered by their one dimensional run game with Chris Ivory. Forte only played in 13 games last year, which is a cause for concern of a 30 year old running back, but he should be helped by Jets veteran Bilal Powell. With Forte’s ability in the passing game, he should be drafted in the middle rounds in a PPR league draft. In a standard league, I’d try to snag him late.

WR:

Sammy Watkins is going to get the nod from me. If he’s able to stay healthy for the whole season and get some help from Lesean McCoy this year, we could see his 100 reception season. He’ll also have Tyrod Taylor who is coming off a very respectable season himself. I anticipate Watkins receiving a huge workload this season.

TE:

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game no discussion. What makes him even more dangerous is the addition of Bennett, which could be similar to the 1-2 tight end punch that the Pats haven’t had since Aaron Hernandez.

Honorable Mentions

Brandon Marshall had some fantastic numbers last year in a statement against his critics while in Chicago. He should be able to produce similar numbers to last year, but a lot depends on how much magic Fitzpatrick has left from last season.

Jarvis Landry could very well surpass Watkins in numbers if he’s able to find the endzone more often. Landry surejarvis-landry-miami-dolphins-650-362-the-mmqb.jpg can catch the ball though with 110 receptions last season, despite only having 4 TDs. If he remains the #1 target and gets in the endzone, Landry is still a safe pick.

 

 

Dion Lewis was amazing in the few games he played with the Pats last season. Unfortunately a torn ACL took him out for the season last year, and his knee continues to hold him out of practice. If you can get Lewis late in a draft and are able to stash him, Lewis could be a steal.

Sleeper: 

Jay Ajayi does have to compete with Arian Foster for the starting job. He may not have to beat him out for the starting job though considering Foster’s injury history. If Ajayi gets the starting job consider him to get plenty of touches.

 

AFC West

QB:

Phillip Rivers is the safe bet to come out as the top QB from the AFC West. While I do love the potential out of Derek Carr and the Raiders offense, Rivers is the safest bet to fill up the stat sheet. With offensive weapons like Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, and the addition of home run threat Travis Benjamin from Cleveland,the passing attack will be dangerous especially if Rivers is his normal gun-slinging self.

RB:

CJ Anderson is the premier back in what seems to be a run-focused offense for the Broncos. With a new QB at the helm, the Broncos Peyton Manning-less offense is going to ease into the new era with a a lot of Anderson. Look for Devontae Booker to get some touches as well, and possibly take over the position if Anderson gets hurt or under-performs.

Jamaal Charles is the best option because of past experience. Unfortunately, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are solid backs who I’m sure will cut into Charles’ touches. Jamaal Charles is the better option over CJ Anderson if your league is PPR, so if you’re in a standard league I might look at Ajamaal.jpgnderson over Charles. Charles is a dual-threat who can rack up the points in the receptions department.

WR:

Amari Cooper is a beast in an emerging offense and overall team in Oakland. He finished off his rookie season with 72 receptions, 1,070 yards, and 6 TDs, which can only go up considering he’ll have better connection with Carr and be healthy for his sophomore season. As long as he is able to keep the drops down (2nd most in the league last year with 10) Cooper will have a great year.

TE:

Antonio Gates is the safest option at TE. Even though he is 36, Gates has remained consistent and able to stay on the field. Despite missing 5 games last year, he missed being in top-10 of TEs last season by one point. He has always been able to find the end zone and I’m sure he’ll remain a goal line option for Rivers.

Honorable Mentions

Travis Kelce is younger and has better upside to Gates in terms of receptions and yards. The TDs just aren’t there, largely due to Smith’s and the Chiefs tendency to give their goal line targets to their RBs.

Jeremy Maclin has had two remarkable seasons with the Chiefs as the main option in their offense. I like Cooper because of his upside, but Maclin should have a similar year to last year. Maclin should remain the number one option for the Chiefs

Sleeper:

Melvin Gordon with no Ryan Mathews to split touches between and coming off his rookie season, Gordon is bound to have a break out season. He can only go up too considering he scored 0 TDs in his rookie season, but also look for Woodhead to get more work in this offense.

 

AFC North

QB:

Ben Roethlisberger won’t have two of his best options in Le’Veon Bell for a few games and Martavis Bryant for the whole season, but that won’t stop Big Ben. Roethlisberger had a record year in his last full healthy season with a passer rating of 103.3 and just barely missing 5,000 yards. He still has his best receiver, Antonio Brown, and a multitude of viable replacements in Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, and DeAngelo Williams. The debate of whether Joe Flacco is elite will continue till the day he retires. While that happens, Big Ben will continue to cement his elite status this season.

RB:

Le’Veon Bell/Deangelo Williams I choose both of these players because it really just depends on who you trust to play the most games. I took the risk in my own draft by taking Le’Veon Bell, even though the most games he can play is 12. We all know Bell’s capability when on the field, yet what could stop the Steelers from making Williams the premier back after his performance last season. Williams could be worth the risk if snagged very late in a draft. I’m still choosing Bell because of his capability in both the run and pass game, if you do the same you’ll just have to get a solid RB to cover those four games he is gone.

WR:

Antonio Brown is being dubbed as the safest bet in all of fantasy football.brown.gif There is no doubt that he is first round talent due to his ability to stay on the field (played all regular season games the past 3 seasons), exceeding 100 receptions, and getting in the end zone consistently. ESPN fantasy football experts even have him surpassing 200 targets this season as well. Brown is one of the most exciting players to watch and I will be keeping my eyes on him throughout the season for some outstanding performances.

TE:

Ben Watson was a complete surprise out of New Orleans last year and showed that he still has something left in the tank. Baltimore has a deep TE core in Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore, but both recently have had a tough time staying on the field. Tyler Eifert is banged up in Cincinnati and I don’t trust Gary Barnidge to produce like he did last season in Cleveland. The Ravens payed up for an aging Watson so I expect him to get action in the Ravens offense. (Tore his Achilles and is now out for the season 8/27)

Honorable Mentions

AJ Green/Tyler Eifert/Jeremy Hill are all solid options, especially Green. Eifert may have issues getting onto the field, but he racks up the redzone targets so could be worth the risk late in a draft. Hill is the same way when it comes to not being able to stay on the field or being consistent. Hill will get the touches unless Gio Bernard has anything to say about it. Also, AJ Green is not far behind Brown as one of my favorite receivers.

Sleeper:

Duke Johnson Jr. could end up being a jack of all trades for the Cleveland Browns. Johnson Jr. had 61 receptions as a rookie despite barely getting 100 touches out of the backfield. If he’s able to take some touches away from Isaiah Crowell he could end up being a huge steal. If not, still a solid option late in a PPR league draft.

 

AFC South

QB:

Andrew Luck is bound to bounce back from a tough season. He has an arsenal of weapons at receiver with Hilton, Moncrief, and Dorsett. A tough running back in Frank Gore, who nearly eclipsed 1,00 yards last season, to back him up. Also, a tight end in Dwayne Allen who can do it all for him. There are some up and coming QBs in this division with Bortles and Mariota, but Luck has the best chance to succeed in fantasy.

RB:

Lamar Miller could possibly be the replacement the Texans have been looking for since Foster fell off with injuries. With a brand new QB at the helm in Brock Osweiler, Miller is expected to receive a lot of the workload. Knowing that he can get RB1 type touches will give him the opportunity to rack up yards, whether this offense can score will determine his TD production.

WR:

Deandre Hopkins may not see an increase in fantasy production this season, with the addition of Will Fuller and the presence of Jaelen Strong. Yet, how could such a strong receiver like Hopkins do any worse? I think Hopkins can ecplipse 100 receptions again at least, he did so much considering he had revolving door at QB. Hopefully Osweiler will be there to stay.

TE:

Delanie Walker with Dorial Green-Beckham leaving the team makes him the number one receiving target on a young and talented Titans team. Now with him gone and the Titans likely running the ball a ton, Walker is the main redzone threat. The receptions and overall targets may not be huge, but expect the redzone numbers to be there.

Honorable Mentions

T.Y. Hilton is my choice between the Colts receivers. This is completely based off of past history. Hilton is Luck’s favorite target and as long as Luck is on the field I’m going with Hilton. But, Moncrief seems to be getting a lot of love as well so I wouldn’t blame you if you went for him over Hilton later in a draft.

Blake Bortles is one of favorite QBs especially with all of his weapons back and the inclusion of a tough RB in Chris Ivory. I’ve seen some criticism that the addition of Ivory could be bad for their strong pass offense of Robinson, Hurns, Julius Thomas, and possibly Yeldon as well. What do they have to say in regards to the season Fitzpatrick had with Ivory as the premier back in New York? Bortles is not a bad option late in a draft.

Sleeper:

Marcus Mariota may be one mariota.jpgof the more intriguing options at QB with the run-option type offense we are going to see with the RBs they have at their disposal. If Mariota gets the running plays that Titans coach Mularkey has promised, expect Oregon type run production out of Mariota.

 

NFC East

QB:

Kirk Cousins has weapons all around to him with Jackson, Garcon, Reed, and a possible breakout RB in Matt Jones. kirk cousins.jpgWhen given the reigns of the Skins offense last season, Cousins ran away with starting job and in a pass first offense I trust him to produce again this season. While you could choose Eli Manning, returning weapons include OBJ, Vereen, Cruz maybe, and rookie Sterling Shepard, I chose to leave him off due to extremely personal reasons. Manning is projected to exceed Cousins TD and yards total, but we all know Manning has the ability to rack up the INT’s during the regular season.

RB:

Ryan Mathews is the choice for me because of the uncertainty surrounding Elliott. Mathews only played in 13 games last season for the Eagles, but in a run first offense Sproles and Mathews are going to get a lot of work. If he plays a full season for the Eagles I love the option of Mathews late in a draft. Also, look for Sproles if Mathews goes down.

WR:

odell relax.gifOdell Beckham Jr may have his biggest season yet with Victor Cruz possibly coming back and the addition of rookie Sterling Shepard. OBJ has yet to hit the 100 receptions mark and I see that happening this year. In his third year on the Giants and with QB Eli Manning, the connection is there and should be better than ever this year.

TE:

Jordan Reed is a top option at the tight end position. He finished last season second in receptions and yards behind only behind Delanie Walker, and tied with Gronkowski for the most TDs with 11. The Redskins have showed they mean to have Reed as an integral part of the offense, so production could be similar to what it was last season.

Honorable  Mentions

Jordan Matthews finished top-15 among receivers last season, narrowly missing the 1,000 yard mark. He’s the only safe option at receiver for the Eagles in a rather weak receiving core. Also, he is consistently on the field having played every game in his two seasons with the Eagles. If the Eagles find some consistency on offense, Matthews could be a huge part of that.

Dez Bryant only played in 9 games last year due to injuries. I’ve also read that Bryant will miss some time due to concussion. If he does play week 1 then Bryant is clearly a top option at WR. Yet, I’d rather go with someone else with a top pick due to the concerns Bryant has health wise. At his best, Bryant is among the best of the best.

Ezekiel Elliott is being extremely overrated in my opinion. I just don’t see the guarantee that he is going to get all these touches to produce like a top-10 pick. The Cowboys have a loaded backfield with McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Lance Dunbar. With how good their O-Line is in Dallas I can see why Elliott gets all this love, I’m just not taking the risk with how high he is getting picked in many drafts.

Sleeper:

Matt Jones is not going to get a lot of love in the draft. With the job all to himself and the opportunity for a lot of redzone touches, he could be an absolute steal very late in a draft. ESPN Fantasy Football projects him getting close to 50 touches in the redzone, which only five RBs received last year.

 

NFC West

QB:

Russel Wilson is hitting the prime of his career. He returns his top four receivers in Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse, and Graham. Beast mode retired in the off-season, which makes Rawls the option at RB, who took over the position last season quite well. Wilson doesn’t show any signs of slowing and remains a big threat in the run game as well. Graham’s health for the season could be an X factor in how well Wilson performs in the pass game. Regardless, Lockett might pick up some of that slack in the pass game. Look for Carson Palmer as well in Arizona, but at his age I don’t know how reliable he can be to start all 16 games this season.

RB:

David Johnson tore it up once Chris Johnson went down with a broken leg last season.
He only started in 5 games last year yet had 8 rushing TDs and 4 receiving TDs along with 36 receptions. david johnson.jpgImagine his production as the starter for the whole season. Chris Johnson still has some football left in him and if he’s healthy could cut into David’s touches out of the backfield. The force he could be in the receiving game is enough to convince me he’s an elite option in a PPR league.

WR:

Doug Baldwin is the best option because of his connection with QB Wilson. Late in last season Baldwin was the number one redzone target for Wilson, finishing the season with 14 TDs. He’s clearly the number one target overall as well, unless Lockett truly breaks out, which is the only way Baldwin doesn’t get the type of numbers he did last season. This is why I didn’t put a Cardinals receiver in this number one spot. There are so many options it’s tough to truly pinpoint which one will produce the most.

TE:

Jimmy Graham is my pick mostly because the uncertainty at the position that many teams in this division have. Graham only played 11 games last season and because of current injury issues, he may even miss the season opener. I wouldn’t draft him as a top TE because of this, but that doesn’t mean completely stay away from him. If he somehow falls late in your draft (although it’s unlikely because of his name) I’d snag him as a  back up.

Honorable Mentionsgurleyyywoiw.jpeg

Todd Gurley was amazing in his rookie campaign. Top four out of RBs in rushing yards and finished the season with 10 TDs.
Gurley is going to be the focal point of the offense with how he performed in his rookie season. Will the Rams try to work in more of a pass game with Goff at QB? Could this hurt Gurley’s production? It probably won’t but I’m going to keep that in mind.

Carlos Hyde had a small sample size last season, playing only seven games. This season he will be the starter though and ESPN’s projections have him exceeding a 1,000 yards and at least 7 TDs. Considering he’s healthy and going to get a strong worload, Hyde may be the most important piece of the Niners offense which is great for fantasy.

Larry Fitzgerald was crazy good in a reclamation year after seeming to fall off a little bit as an elite receiver. With help in the form of Michael Floyd and John Brown, Fitzgerald unleashed himself with 109 receptions, 1,215 yards, and 9 TDs. With that being said, he’s 32. Trying to predict who is going to produce the most out of this group scares me, so I would probably get whoever the latest I possibly can in a draft.

Sleeper:

Torrey Smith is my dark horse in the Chip Kelly offense in San Francisco. With no one else to throw the ball to, and with Smith’s elite ability on the deep ball, the yards and TDs could absolutely be present. Smith is falling pretty deep into drafts and could end up being a huge season-saver for your team.

 

NFC North

QB:

Aaron Rodgers should by all accounts have a much better year than last season. He finished last season with 3,821 yards and 31 TDs, which is sub par for Aaron’s standards. He was without his number one receiver, Jordy Nelson, who will be back and ready to go. Along with Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers, and the addition of Jared Cook the Packers passing attack looks primed for a great season. Also, a healthy and in shape Eddie Lacy should help Rodgers even more bringing into play a useful play-action factor.

RB:

Adrian Peterson is and for the foreseeable future the top RB in the league. ESPN has him projected for 1,424 yards and 10 TDs, and I can’t imagine Peterson dips below those projections. With a budding offensive leader in Teddy Bridgewater and some interesting players in the receiving corp, expect a big season out of Peterson again.

WR:

Jordy Nelson may not be totally healthy to start off the season which makes it dangerous to take him at a high pick. Alshon Jeffery is having the same issues though, so I’m going with Nelson on this one. Rodgers is also just a better option at QB and I trust him way more than Cutler. In the season before Nelson tore his ACL, he had 98 receptions, 1,519 yards, and 13 TDs. I don’t see this type of production this year, but with the help of Cobb and Adams, Nelson should have no problem putting up strong numbers.

TE:

Eric Ebron is looking to have a huge year with a gaping hole in the pass game. Calvin Johnson retired which leaves a lot of targets for the likes of Ebron. In his first two seasons, he hasn’t played 10 games or more once. In only eight games last season he caught 47 passes, had 537 yards, and had 5 TDs which shows a lot of promise if he is able to stay healthy.

Honorable Mentions

Eddie Lacy supposedly arrived at camp in the best shape of his career.lacy.jpg It’s the final year of his rookie contract so Lacy will want to put up his best numbers possible. Lacy had a rough season last year starting in only 12 games, but in his first two seasons he passed the 1,000 yard mark twice and had 20 TDs. Lacy has a lot to prove this season and that should show in fantasy production.

Matthew Stafford is my true dark horse at QB. Calvin Johnson leaving has drove many to believe Stafford will have an off year, maybe him leaving just means a more developed and balanced pass game. They have a few receivers who have spent some time in their careers living under the shadow of an elite receiver. For instance, Marvin Jones with AJ Green and Golden Tate with Calvin Johnson, so I think they are ready to take big roles. Theo Riddick as an option out of the backfield in the receiving game, and the addition of veteran Anquan Boldin could be huge X-factors.

Golden Tate will be extremely important to a Lions offense that lacks a strong run game. The Lions were dead last in rushing last season and won’t be getting too much better. Tate had a solid season last year with 90 receptions, 813 yards, and 6 TDs, so expect more targets with Johnson gone and a weak run game.If you don’t like Tate, take a look at Marvin Jones as well.

Sleeper:

Jared Cook is my favorite sleeper at the TE position. Richard Rodgers caught 58 passes and scored 8 TDs as the Packers number one option at the position. With Cook’s big play ability he should be seeing a lot action even if he’s sharing time with Rodgers. The Packers payed him the money to play there so I don’t see him not being the number one. As long as his foot is good and ready to go by the time the season starts, Cook is a good option TE late in a draft.

 

NFC South

QB:

Cam Newton has all of his weapons from his MVP season and then some.camnewton.gif Kelvin Benjamin is back after completely losing his sophomore campaign to injury. He has Devin Funchess, the TD machine Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen, and his old reliable RB Jonathan Stewart to help carry this Panther offense. Can Newton produce even more after an MVP season? With Benjamin back in the picture it’s definitely possible.

RB:

Doug Martin had his first full healthy season since his rookie year, and like that year he tore it up . He was top three in rushing with 1,402 yards and 6 TDs, with 33 receptions added in as well. Martin seems to be who gets that offense going for the Bucs and his production is important for the development of Jameis Winston. If Martin unfortunately catches the injury bug again, look for Charles Sims to have a big year in his place.

WR:

julio jonesJulio Jones
has projections of possibly reaching the 2,000 yard mark, which would break Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,976 yards. Just the mere projection of him getting close to that mark makes him an ELITE option at receiver. Matt Ryan is going to rely on him more than ever, hopefully Freeman can produce again to take some weight off of Jones’ shoulder.

TE:

Greg Olsen still has the opportunity  for major action in the Panthers offense, despite having Benjamin back in the offense. Yet, the last time Benjamin was in the offense Olsen still had 73 catches. The interesting possibility with Benjamin being around is Olsen could be in for more redzone targets. Defenses may have to devote more attention to the receivers on the Panthers, look for Olsen to rack up some TDs.

Honorable Mentions

Devonta Freeman is looking like he’ll be splitting touches with Tevin Coleman. Freeman was a fantasy goldmine last year, scoring 11 rushing TDs and three passing TDs in only 13 games after taking the starting job. He did start to slow down towards the end of the season but I’m not worried about that. He’s expected to be big redzone weapon again, making up for less touches overall.

Drew Brees seems to get no love as top QB in fantasy. Brees has finished as the top QB in passing yards the past two seasons and has finished with at least 32 TDs in each of his past eight. Brandin Cooks broke out last year late, Willie Snead proved to be viable option, and the addition of Coby Fleener could be what Brees has missed since Jimmy Graham departed. Brees appears to be falling in many drafts which could be a huge steal if that is the case in your draft.

Mike Evans does not rack up the receptions, only 74 last year and 68 his rookie year. Despite the lack of receptions his first two seasons, he’s hit over 1,000 receiving yards in both. In his second season with Jameis Winston there should be some rapport being built between the two as well. Also, he can only go up from a rather low three TD receptions last season. Vincent Jackson can still produce but he’s only getting older, which is why I’m hoping for big numbers from Evans.

Sleeper:

Coby Fleener could have a huge year in a pass heavy offense for the Saints. The Saints have sorely missed Graham at TE, so much that they turned Benjamin Watson into a serious fantasy producer at the age of 35. Now Fleener on the other hand is in his prime, coming off a solid but not great season with the Colts, and he got PAID by the Saints to come play for them. Keeping all this in mind I fully expect Fleener to receive a lot of targets, especially in the redzone, but he may need time to adjust to the Saints offense. Then again, maybe he won’t and could be the Graham replacement they’ve been looking for.

 

That is it for my fantasy preview for the 2016-2017 NFL season. If there are some players that you are interested in and want more information, ESPN Fantasy Football has a lot of insightful and detailed stats that could be useful to you. Come regular season I plan on doing a weekly write up on the top fantasy players week to week. When I turn 21 in October I’ll also be playing DraftKings again so I’ll turn those write ups into DFS players of the week. Make sure to keep an eye on injury updates with a week still left in the preseason. Good luck to everyone in their fantasy football seasons! If you have any ideas about my fantasy thoughts comment below or let me know by tweeting @N2KSports

Cover Photo via Wallpaper Cave

Various Pictures via Sports Illustrated, NFL.com, Bleacher Report, AZ Cardinals, Washington Post

Various GIFs via Reddit, Deadspin, Steelers Depot, SB Nation

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s