Brandin Cooks – The hype for Cooks started in his rookie season where he didn’t quite live up to expectations and in his second year he had a slow start before taking off. Cooks is poised for a breakout year in 2016, with the additions of Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener defenses can’t double down on Cooks like they could last year. For those who didn’t have Brandin Cooks in 2015 his great production probably went under the radar, from weeks 8-16 last season he was electric posting 8 touchdowns and 5 games of 88+ yards receiving. If Cooks can have that kind of production the whole year, he is a top 10 wide receiver easily. Another reason I love Cooks this year is his value, he is currently going in the 3rd round of most drafts and that is a bargain of a price and is the perfect complement to any draft strategy. Whether he is your flex receiver, number 2 receiver or your #1 he will perform for your team. Now undoubtedly Drew Brees’ favorite target watch Cooks launch to fantasy stardom this season. Draft Cooks with confidence this season and don’t be afraid to reach on him.
Ezekiel Elliot – This goes against everything I know about fantasy football, a rookie who has never played a snap in an NFL game with a 1st round price tag in most drafts and I actually like him. Elliot could not have landed in a better position than Dallas, the best offensive line in football where the likes of Demarco Murray could lead the NFL in rushing just two years ago and last year Darren McFadden rushed for over 1000 yards. Elliot is a perfect 3 down back as he is an excellent pass catcher as well what could you not love about him. As a rookie he will be electric and energized ready to make his mark on the league. Those who took a 3rd or 4th round risk on Todd Gurley last year could have easily found themselves with a trophy in hand after the season, the same risk surrounds Zeke and in the end could prove to be fantasy gold. There is not a better situation for a running back in the league than Dallas. Look for Elliot to be a staple in their offence and draft him as a top 3 running back.
Randall Cobb – Poised for a big year in 2015 slated as the #1 guy there when Jordy Nelson went down he disappointed big time. So why do I like him? Because he’s the #2 guy again. Sounds odd to say that but it’s true, Cobb is much better when Jordy Nelson is in the lineup. As a duo in 2014 Jordy’s line was 98/1,519/13 and Cobb 91/1,287/12. Those are some monster numbers even for Cobb 91 catches and 12 touchdowns! And in 2016 with Jordy back in the picture I expect Cobb to regain his form and get back to fantasy stardom. Cobb will cost you probably a late 3rd, early 4th round pick in this year’s draft going in the range of Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker I love that price for someone who would easily get 85+ catches and double digit touchdowns. Cobb is a perfect flex play with wide receiver two upside. As long as Jordy is on the field Cobb will be a stud this season.
Keenan Allen – 67/725/4 in just 8 weeks in 2015 67 catches! Through a whole season that is very close to Antonio Brown, Julio Jones numbers. I love Keenan and for good reason he put up crazy numbers last season before his devastating injury. If he played out the whole year, he very well could have been in the first round conversation this year but to your advantage you can get him in the late 2nd early 3rd round in most drafts. Back and healthy with Rivers throwing him the ball I can see Allen getting 100 catches with ease making him a PPR monster this season. Another thing I love about the Chargers is their offensive line will be better this year after being dismantled with injuries last year. With a healthy o-line that means more time for Rivers to throw and a better run game, just a better offense in general which will help all phases of their offense especially Allen.
Lamar Miller – Free Lamar! You won’t find a bigger Lamar Miller fan than me and this season could very well be his best. In a diminished role in Miami last season he still finished with 800 plus yards on the ground, 47 catches through the air and 10 total touchdowns. That was good for 5th in standard scoring and 4th in PPR formats from a diminished role! The past two seasons he is the only running back to finish top 5 in points both years and looks poised for a three peat. Lamar has landed in a very good spot for him in Houston where I expect he will be a 3 down back with a solid quarterback in place and Hopkins on the outside; he is a very good rusher and option out of the backfield as well. Lamar’s price tag varies from what I’ve seen, he bounces around the end of the 1st and into the 2nd but he is worth that price and then some. When it comes to proven backs Lamar is it, the past two seasons he has been the most consistent and is in a better offense for his game. Draft him as your RB1 and enjoy the show.
Devonta Freeman – The fantasy darling of 2015 came out of the gate with some monster weeks and ended up the #1 running back in fantasy. But before jumping the gun on taking Freeman look at where his production came last season. In weeks 3 through 6 last season he had over 100 all-purpose yards in each and at least 1 touchdown. Scoring 10 touchdowns in 4 weeks… 10, the only other player to have 10 touchdowns in that span was Aaron Rodgers, Freeman was actually putting up elite quarterback numbers as a running back. However outside those 4 weeks Freeman was very pedestrian scoring just three more touchdowns and only rushing for 100 yards once after those games. We will not soon forget Devonta’s explosion, but it is going to be very hard to even come close to those numbers in 2016. Reports from the Falcons reporting they want to split carries between Tevin Coleman and Freeman which will make being a top 10 back very difficult. With Devonta’s early 2nd round price tag I would stay away at all costs, there are running backs that are in far better situations to choose from there.
Adrian Peterson – It’s hard to go against arguably one of the top 5 running backs of all time, but father time is coming. Peterson lead all of the NFL in rushing last season with 1485 yards on the ground, Peterson has always been the cornerstone of the Vikings offense and is still a big part of it no doubt, but the Vikings are heading in a new direction. With good young wide receivers on the outside in Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell they are going to want to pass more and take the handcuffs off Terry Bridgewater. It’s evident that they want to become more of a balanced offense instead of run heavy. And the passing game will take more fatigue off of Peterson so he can last a few more years. The Vikings also have a very quick pass catching back that they like very much in Jerick McKinnon so Peterson won’t be catching many passes this year. With better receivers and a pass catching back on third downs that means less carries and time on the field for Peterson. Currently, a 1st round pick in most drafts I much rather take a chance on a younger guy this season like Todd Gurley, David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliot if you choose to take a running back in round 1.
Doug Baldwin – The playoff hero could describe Doug in 2015 when he scored 12 touchdowns from weeks 10-16 leading many teams to fantasy gold. But that should be looked at as a flash in the pan and the outcome of a very good situation for Baldwin. With the absence of Marshawn Lynch in the running game and Jimmy Graham getting hurt in the passing game it forced Russel Wilson to find other options and Baldwin was the beneficiary. Every time the Seahawks would get down to the goal the ball found Baldwin on most of those occasions late in the season. 2015 was the first relevant fantasy season that Baldwin has had and in 2016 the story should be different, the Seahawks will have a run first approach once again and the 14 touchdowns that Baldwin caught last season will almost certainly be passed around to other players. His current price is late 4th round which doesn’t seem bad, but it is just way too high for one season of production. I need to see more from Baldwin to pay anywhere close to that for him.
Blake Bortles – With two very talented young receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson Bortles had a career year in 2015 racking up 35 touchdowns, the same total as Carson Palmer. He put up numbers in 2015 no doubt, but being down for most of the game it forced the Jaguars to throw the ball a ton to try to come back in garbage time. The 2016 Jags will be new look, the team finally spent money on key defensive players and added a big bruiser back in Chris Ivory. That being said they won’t be down as many points because their defense can hold up better and they finally have a big back to pound it in on the goal line. In 2016 Bortles will be more of a game manager then a gunslinger, he will still find his favorite wide outs and will throw for a solid number of touchdowns, but nothing that should make you jump the gun on draft day. As weird as it sounds the Jaguars becoming a better team actually hurts Bortles in the fantasy world. Bortles goes in the 8th or 9th round in most drafts and in that range I like Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor if you choose to wait on a quarterback.
Alshon Jeffery – Seems that every week in 2015 Jeffery was on the injury report never really settling into that #1 receiver role that was left for him after Brandon Marshall left. Jeffery in my book goes down as injury prone, as good as he can be when he’s healthy he is always a big risk of injury. In 2016 the Bears finally get their top draft pick Kevin White on the field and they are expecting big things out of him. If he shows signs of being a star there is a very good chance, he steals some catches and touchdowns away from Jeffery. This is the last year on Jeffery’s contract and if he gets hurt again or can’t perform they will let him go in free agency. Alshon is currently going in the 2nd round of most drafts and that is just too much to pay for such an injury risk. I like receivers Brandin Cooks or Amari Cooper a lot more in that spot, a lot more upside with less risk.