5 Fantasy Football Sleepers No One is Talking About

As we are halfway through the preseason, most fantasy owners are checking boxes and making lists of players that standout to them. Players begin to emerge out of nowhere and the preseason hype train gathers all aboard for a ride down misdiagnosis lane. Every now and then, these preseason standouts will perform just as consistently in the regular season. Unfortunately, most of the time, the big performances against 2nd and 3rd string players get exposed, and they become nothing more than a smoke screen.

There are however, players that are primed for success and no one is talking about them. In this article, we will look at five players that you can target at the end of your draft, that have all the credentials to flourish in 2016.

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16 Fantasy Football Rules for 2016

Every year of playing Fantasy Football is a different experience for me and normally I stay glued to all the latest news in the off-season in order to keep my competitive advantage in this game. This year is a little different, though, because I took the summer off from football and only now am I becoming reacquainted with the NFL and all of the off-season moves and other developments.

Since the start of the NFL season is just around the corner and I don’t have enough to catch up on all the news at once, I’ve decided instead to make a set of guidelines for my drafts and how I’ll manage my team in the year ahead. If you’re a seasoned vet who took the summer off like me or someone who is new to playing fantasy football altogether, then this should be an especially helpful chance to brush up on some of the core strategies to use and mistakes to avoid when choosing and managing your fantasy team for 2016.

Following these 16 basic rules to the letter is all but guaranteed to lead you through the draft and on to the playoffs in the 2016 fantasy season.

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Undervalued Players for 2016

With less than three weeks until NFL opening night, fantasy players readily prepare for draft night. Each owner is trying to gain an advantage over the other through research and mock drafts. Those who can get true value out of their draft selections have the upper hand headed into the fantasy season. Players like Allen Robinson, Eric Decker, Devonta Freeman and Allen Hurns were players drafted in the later rounds of 2015 who ended up finishing the season in the top 15 of their respective positions. I am going to look at several players in the earlier and later rounds that can return excellent value at their current standard leagues ADPs, which will be according to FantasyPros.com.

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Why Drew Brees may not be a top 12 quarterback

Drew Brees is entering his 11th season as the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, once the top fantasy quarterback for two seasons in a row, Brees has since dropped in the past 3 seasons, finishing as the 6th highest scoring quarterback in 2015. What causes this? In my opinion two things, a changing of the guard at wide receiver and wear and tear on the body of an NFL player. The reality is I see where Brees could finish outside the top 12 of fantasy quarterbacks. The quarterback position is more competitive than it was years ago, and it’s not unheard of for a player with a regressing stat line year over year from 2011-2015 to fall out of the top 12. I’ll explain below.

Continue reading Why Drew Brees may not be a top 12 quarterback

Late Round Running Back Sleepers

Sleepers: They’re the most exciting part of fantasy football. You take a shot on a high upside player in the late rounds, and they help carry your team to glory. It’s the fantasy equivalent of winning the lottery. Just ask fantasy players how they felt about getting Devonta Freeman, David Johnson, or Cam Newton in the late rounds of their drafts last year. There’s nothing like getting lucky on one of these guys, and having them carry you to the championship.

Unfortunately, luck plays a huge role in whether your sleepers hit or not. Research will help you identify candidates for your sleeper picks, but luck is what decides if they pan out. That’s a big part of a what makes them so exciting. When you draft that player, you have no idea what you’re going to get out of them. They could take the world by storm, like Freeman, or they could be off your team by week 4. That’s the chance you take when you gamble with sleepers.

This is a great year for sleeper running backs. The late round of your draft are littered with high upside picks, just waiting to win your championship for you. Here are three late round targets that I believe could make the difference for your team in 2016:

Note: for the sake of this article, I will consider a sleeper as someone whose ADP is outside of the top 20 at their position. All ADP’s will be based on FantasyPros standard scoring Consensus ADP.

Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – RB38, 100 Overall
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

I listed Demarco Murray in my article “Running Backs to Avoid in 2016.” So how can I say that his cohort is a sleeper candidate? The answer is simple; Murray is expensive. He is being taken 50 picks ahead of Henry. That means while Murray is being drafted between Jeremy Maclin and Andrew Luck, Henry is going off the board between Zach Ertz and fellow rookie Corey Coleman (who could be a sleeper in his own right). That’s a huge difference in price tag, especially if he takes the starting job.

Derrick Henry was drafted by the Titans in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. At 6’ 3” and 247 lbs, the former Heisman winner projects to be a nightmare for the smaller, faster secondaries that have become commonplace in the NFL. He possesses a speed which is uncommon in backs his size, turning in a 40 time of 4.54, faster than LeVeon Bell’s 4.60. He was known for his ability to fatigue and wear down defenses, while his conditioning and long legs kept him fresh well into the 4th quarter.

In addition to all of the physical tools, he has the resume to back it up. He led the nation with 2,219 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns in 2015, and averaged a healthy 6.0 yards-per-carry in his time with Alabama. He set a national record for career rushing yards in his high school career. Henry also beat Shaun Alexander’s career college rushing total to become Alabama’s all time leading rusher.

As of right now, he and Murray look to split carries in 2016. Both backs have impressed so far in preseason. However, if Murray puts up a performance similar to his 2015 showing, expect Henry to take the job and run with it. Even if he doesn’t take control of the lions share of carries, it’s possible that Henry’s could still be the fantasy favorite in Tennessee. Especially since he should be the go-to back in goal line situations.

 

Devonte Booker – Denver Broncos – RB55, 149 Overall
Photo Credit: Chris Prosinski
Photo Credit: Chris Prosinski

Booker is one of those players that isn’t elite at any one thing, but is a very complete back as a package. He has average height, is slightly skinnier than you’d want for a 5’ 11” running back, and won’t blow anyone away with his speed. However, like Arian Foster before him, he makes up for his physical shortcomings with great patience and vision. Another thing Booker and Foster have in common? Gary Kubiak as his head coach.

Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme is ideal for backs like Booker or Foster. His zone blocking scheme relies on the back being able to have the vision to know where the hole is going to be, and possessing the patience to know when to hit it. It also helps to have a bit of burst to get through the hole and into the secondary. Booker can do everything a Kubiak offense asks of him, and more. He also has the moves to make guys miss once he’s through the hole.

Yet another common link between Foster and Booker? Both are capable pass blockers and receivers. Sanchez, Siemian, or Lynch at Denver’s quarterback position, having a running back that can block or catch the ball effectively is a huge asset. Unfortunately, Booker and Foster share an affinity for injuries. However, Booker looks to be starting the season as the backup to C.J. Anderson, which should give him plenty of time to become fully healthy.

Booker looks to be the owner of C.J. Anderson’s primary backup position. If Anderson has another slow start to the season, or gets hurt along the way, don’t be surprised to see Booker step in and tear it up. He averaged about 1700 total yards over his two seasons with Utah, and is in a prime position to succeed if given the chance in the NFL.

Paul Perkins – New York Giants – RB64, 175 Overall
Photo Credit: Ken Goldfield (New York Daily News)
Photo Credit: Ken Goldfield (New York Daily News)

The longest shot on this short list for sure, but that’s not to say I don’t like his odds. He is currently behind Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams on the depth chart. Jennings is 31 this season, and hasn’t really been healthy or effective for the Giants. Last season was his high water mark, finishing the season with 863 rushing yards, averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry. As a result, Jennings is currently occupying the RB1 spot in New York. Likewise, Vereen profiles more as a change of pace back, and Williams has proven to be nothing special so far.

So, that leaves the depth chart wide open for Perkins. Standing between him and playing time are an aging, inefficient back, a third-down back, and a disappointing short yardage back. Perkins,  profiles as a complete back for the G-Men, having served that role for UCLA over the past two seasons. He is also likely already the most talented back on the roster, and although you can’t bank on him making an immediate impact, his role should grow as the season goes on.

Pick him up late in your draft, or from the waiver wire, and stash him on your bench. This guy has high upside, despite running behind a bad offensive line. For dynasty leaguers, Perkins will likely go in the first round of your rookie draft.

 

 Questions? Comments? Concerns? Find me on Twitter @MikeTFR

Running Backs to Avoid In 2016

Historically, running backs have dominated the early rounds of fantasy drafts. In 2015, there were 9 running backs taken in the first round. In 2014, there were 6 or 7 (depending where you find your ADP). Elite running backs are clearly considered very valuable in fantasy. However, only 2 backs finished inside the top ten of their position in 2015 (Peterson & Forte). That’s a 70% chance that the running back you took in the first round last year was a bust.

With such a high bust rate, fantasy players took note. Now, more players than ever are adopting draft strategies such as zero-RB.
There are plenty of factors that will cause a running back to bust. The most common reason is injury. Offensive line struggles, game flow and simply under-performing have also been known to put running backs into the bust category.

How do we predict which players will bust? It’s impossible to tell where injuries will strike, but there can be clues as to why a player might bust for other reasons. For example: Had owners known Eddie Lacy was out of shape coming into 2015, he likely would not have been taken in the top 3. With that said, here are the three top 20 RB’s that I believe may let you down this season. Continue reading Running Backs to Avoid In 2016

Should I Avoid Drafting Young Wide Receivers?

It is very easy to get caught up in the hype of young wide receivers once training camp opens each year. There seems to be a few rookie or second year wide receivers that skyrocket up ADP charts in Mid-August. During draft season, you may hear “don’t draft a rookie wide receiver, they’ll never learn the playbook in time” or “second year players suffer from the sophomore slump.” As draft season approaches, I started to wonder how wide receivers actually perform in the first few years of their careers. I took a look at the performances of young wide receivers from 2004-2015 and broke them down by where they were taken in the NFL draft to see if any conclusions could be drawn.

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The All-Value Draft

Draft season is closing in fast, and one thing that all fantasy owners should do prior to their draft is look through their site-specific ADP to try to find where the values lie. The ADP of each individual site tends to drive where each player is taken, so it is therefore important to have a comprehensive understanding of how that ADP differs from your own rankings and values. Below is an “All Value Team” where players with the highest potential to outperform their ADP are highlighted through the first 10 rounds. Continue reading The All-Value Draft

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