2015 Review and 2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft!
The long grind is over, and you’re either wondering, “what happened?” or “can anyone beat me in fantasy football?!?!” Losers are left to ponder what if. But even most of the losers know what went wrong. Either injuries, bad timing, bad matchups, or simply bad luck. Hey, you winners, and I am one myself, know that winning required a great deal of luck along the way. Having that other guys backup RB, or having spent just enough (or having just high enough) waiver claim in that week everyone wanted that guy. So let’s review 2015 and look ahead with my 2016 fantasy football preview.
Holy crap on a cracker what a bad year. Not only were the overall numbers down for the top guys, you probably suffered if you took one of them. Andrew Luck. More like bad luck. Romo hurt. Roethlisberger hurt. Dalton hurt. Flacco hurt. Kaepernick benched. Peyton Manning a turnover machine before getting hurt. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Philip Rivers crushing dreams, especially late in the season. Bradford letting people down again.
On the bright side, Cam Newton stayed healthy and shredded. Russell Wilson caught fire late. Palmer stayed upright and killed it. Upstarts like Bortles, Carr, Winston, and Mariota showed promise. Fitzpatrick and Cousins went from waiver-wire fodder to championship quarterbacks.
Crazy. Just went fantasy football started trending toward having an elite QB, we’re right back to the just wait model for next year.
Man, not a good year to select a back high in the draft. Le’Veon Bell, suspended and then hurt. Lynch hurt. Lacy fat and slow. Jeremy Hill and CJ Anderson kind of losing their jobs and then sharing. Charles hurt. Forsett hurt. Murray not wanted or used properly. McCoy hurt. Basically AD was the only guy outside of the Bell owners saved by DeAngelo Williams that emerged happy.
Everyone’s scoring is different, but based on my .5 PPR league consider these end of year rankings:
1. DeVonta Freeman
3. Doug Martin
4. Lamar Miller
5. DeAngelo Williams
6. Danny Woodhead
7. Todd Gurley
8. Matt Forte
9. David Johnson
10. Chris Ivory
Pretty insane right? That’s why I warn to never chuckle at someone’s rankings being different or someone drafting a guy “too high.” Keep an eye on #7 there who missed most of 4 games and still was 3rd in rushing. Up, up, up!
With passing games taking over, elite receivers have become the most reliable fantasy asset.
Example given. I looked back on my preseason rankings (predictions) for receivers. Of my top 36 (figure 12-team league, 3 WR sets) only 8 didn’t finish in the top 36! So I got 28/36 right. That doesn’t mean Randall Cobb wasn’t a disappointment ranking 27th when I had him 8th, but it also doesn’t mean he was a complete flop either.
The guys that missed were Dez Bryant, who got hurt, and then had no Romo. Keenan Allen, Julian Edleman, and Alshon Jeffery all ranked in the top ten in points per game, but suffered injuries. DeSean Jackson and Vincent Jackson missed too much time. Andre Johnson and Davante Adams were just flat-out busts.
Point is the first four there undoubtedly, and likely D-Jax, and maybe V-Jax could all be ranked in next year’s top 36 too.
Basically, if you can avoid injury, you should get something out of your high receiver picks, while granting it still hurts if you took Jordan Matthews, Mike Evans, TY Hilton, and Cobb too high and ahead of Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, or Nuk Hopkins.
Gronk is a stud, but didn’t quite justify a first round pick. He did justify a high pick though because tight ends were as messy as ever. Basically Jordan Reed finally broke out. Greg Olsen continues to be a top notch guy. Delanie Walker improved on a year ago and you could count on him. The Barn Yard Dog, Gary Barnidge was one of the season’s biggest surprises. Tyler Eifert stayed healthy and broke out, and Travis Kelce was good, but not great.
The rest? Ugh. Ben Watson had 5 solid weeks to finish 8th! Zach Ertz was a distant 9th with his hot finish to the year (only scored double digits once before week 14!). You basically either went up and down and mostly down every week or just streamed it every week and crossed your fingers. Or you were just angry you drafted Jimmy Graham.
I wouldn’t want to draft a tight end high, but it is nice to have a player in there you don’t have to worry about.
I don’t spend a lot of time ranking defenses, and it’s well justified because it’s not super hard. Of my top 14 preseason rankings, I got 11 right. I was wrong on Miami, Buffalo, and Baltimore. Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington replaced them. Turnovers tend to swing wildly and even out, but concentrate on sacks and schedules. And as much as I encourage you to be your own man (or woman) in ranking, the majority is most often right on defenses.
I spend almost no time on kickers. The top 5 or so tend to be pretty consistently good over the last few years, but consider this year the difference between kicker 5 and kicker 23 was 2 points per game. So don’t sweat it. Just pick accurate kickers on high scoring teams in good weather or some combination. Or, just pick anyone. If you guess wrong, trust me they’ll be plenty of better ones to add.
Okay, this is what you’ve been waiting for. Surely, we’ll learn more this offseason and revisit this list, but this will be mostly correct I believe. I predicted a year ago that 14 receivers should go in the first 3 rounds, and believe that’ll be a pretty good thought again this year. There is so much justifiable uneasiness with the running backs that some elite quarterbacks will still get picked in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Some old draft rules will apply (elite RB at the top, wait on QB, draft excess RB, wait on DEF and K) and some new ones will too (WR early, and often).
These aren’t final rankings and remember, you’re allowed to disagree. Chances are, I’ll disagree with some of this after free agency and the draft and training camp. There are some leaps of faith here, and there potentially could be more.
1. Le’Veon Bell_____________24. Jeremy Langford_______25. Aaron Rodgers
2. Todd Gurley_____________23. Lamar Miller_________26. Mike Evans
3. Julio Jones______________22. Marshawn Lynch______27. LeSean McCoy
4. Antonio Brown___________21. Calvin Johnson________28. Julian Edleman
5. Adrian Peterson___________20. Jordy Nelson_________29. Arian Foster
6. Odell Beckham Jr._________19. Cam Newton_________30. Sammy Watkins
7. Jamal Charles___________18. Brandon Marshall______31. Andrew Luck
8. Dez Bryant______________17. Mark Ingram_________32. Ben Roethlisberger
9. DeAndre Hopkins_________16. Allen Robinson________33. Alshon Jeffery
10. DeVonta Freeman________15. AJ Green____________34. Darren McFadden
11. Demaryius Thomas_______14. David Johnson________35. Randall Cobb
12. Rob Gronkowski_________13. Doug Martin_________36. Russell Wilson