Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

The tight end position is known for big targets that can create space and are touchdown machines in the red zone. Tight ends can sometimes be nerve racking because there aren’t many that are elite. When its draft time it’s all about patience especially for tight ends as you don’t want to reach too high or wait to long for your starting TE.

Here are the top-5 fantasy tight ends you should consider for your fantasy team in 2017.

No.5 Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

To start, my number five tight end is Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2016 he was the most heavily targeted tight end in the league. This was due in part to Pat Shurmur replacing Norv Turner as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in early November. Tight ends have accounted for a 24 percent target share during Shurmur’s 122 games as a head coach or coordinator since 2009 according to ESPN.

In 2016, Rudolph  paced all tight ends with 128 targets and ranked in the top four in receptions, yards, touchdowns and end zone targets (11). In the past, Rudolph would average around three receptions and 27.8 yards per game, basically becoming a touchdown-or-bust tight end. Rudolph flipped the switch in 2016 and put up 5.2 grabs and 52.5 yards per game. This helped him finish second at the position in fantasy points, his best ranking since he landed 11th in 2012.

In 2017, Rudolph should continue to be a featured option in the Viking offense as Shurmur is still around. He’s not a top-tier option but he’s much better than the tight ends you’ll find at the end of your draft.

No.4 Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Jordan Reed has proven to be a valuable target in Washington. In 2016 he ranked in the top 10 tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns despite only playing 12 games.

Reed has posted a pair of top-10 fantasy seasons in the past two seasons. In 2015, he had his best season to date with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which allowed him to finish as the No. 3 fantasy tight end in standard leagues. In 2016 he still produced at a high level with 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns but finished as just the No. 8 tight end in standard formats. An impressive stat is that Reed has caught at least three-quarters of his targets during each of his four NFL seasons. That’s scary good.

The one issue with Reed is injuries. He has yet to play a full 16 games in his career. Last year he missed two games with a shoulder injury and one with a concussion. But these injuries haven’t prevented Reed’s numbers to drastically decline. However in 2017 he should become the number one option in Washington with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both moving on.

No.3 Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

My number three tight end is Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers. He may not be the flashiest player, but without a doubt he’s the most consistent tight end in the NFL.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Greg Olsen (Photo by: nj.com)

Olsen finished third in fantasy points and in the top-seven at the position in targets, completions and receiving yards each of the past five years. In 2016 he had seven games with eight-plus fantasy points. He did, however, only have three touchdowns, his fewest since 2007. Olsen is still the main piece in the Panthers passing game especially in the red zone . He had another 1,000 yard season for the third year in a row and maintains consistency in targets and receptions.

The thing that Olsen excels in is durability. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He is always a reliable TE1 and expect him to bounce back in touchdowns and being consistent.

No.2 Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by: washingtontimes.com)

I know I will have some hate mail, but if it weren’t for injuries Gronkowski would be my number one tight end. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years and a total of 24 during that span. However, outside of fantasy he is the best tight end in the NFL and always a top two in fantasy.

In 2016 he appeared in eight games and finished with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 38 targets. He still finished as the No. 20 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues which goes to show how good he is. From weeks 6-10 he was the top fantasy tight end in fantasy points. He’s finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he’s appeared in at least 11 games. In fact he has double digit touchdowns in all but two seasons of his seven year career and they were due to injuries.

Again, people will not agree with this ranking but I fear Gronkowski will again have injury issues. He hasn’t seen a full 16 games since his first two seasons. In 2014 and 2015 he only missed a total of two games and had top fantasy seasons. We hope he plays at least 13 games because when he’s healthy he’s easily the best fantasy tight end in any format. If he can do that he will be the Gronkowski that we can rely on. I do expect him to be ready and also to be the first tight end off the board in Rounds 2 or 3.

No.1 Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Everyone might question this but I’m going with Travis Kelce as my number one tight end for fantasy in 2017. The first thing is why is he in front of Gronkowski? . Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011. Kelce has played in 16 games three of his four seasons and has started 42 of his 49 career games.

But other then durability Kelce had a breakout 2016 season. He led almost every category at the tight end position including yards, yards per game, catches for 20 and 40 plus yards, and had the longest catch among tight ends. The Chiefs tight end was also second in receptions. Kelce finished as the No. 1 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues with 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns on 117 targets. Another interesting stat about Kelce is that he was second among receivers with 100 plus yard games behind only Julio Jones with six. He had a span where he had four 100 plus yards game towards the time of the fantasy playoffs.

Kelce if anything he should see an increase in usage this year with the release of Jeremy Maclin.  Even though he will be picked as the second tight end behind Gronk, Kelce is a good option and is valuable in both standard and PPR leagues. Look for him around the 4th to 5th round to be off the board as he has become a top tier tight end in fantasy.

 

Featured image from arrowheadaddict.com.

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“From our Haus to Yours”

The Game Haus’ 2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings

In the past two weeks, I’ve examined every crucial fantasy football position. I’ve given Surefire Stamps of Approval to 18 different players, and I’ve also ranked the top players at each position. Today, I release my 2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings.

Now, before you roast my rankings and/or me, please take a moment to read up on all these players. Through the links below, you can understand why I’ve ranked players where I have. After you have done that, I then give you permission to torch me.

Please keep in mind this is not how I project the top scorers to place. This is how I rank players based on value, and how they’d be viewed in a live draft.

Top 20 Quarterbacks

Top 20 Running Backs

Top 30 Wide Receivers

Top 15 Tight Ends

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Julio Jones
  3. 2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings

    AB is the best wide receiver in the NFL. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Adrian Peterson

  4. Devonta Freeman
  5. Todd Gurley
  6. Ezekiel Elliott
  7. Kennan Allen
  8. Rob Gronkowski
  9. Odell Beckham Jr.
  10. David Johnson
  11. Allen Robinson
  12. Le’Veon Bell
  13. Jamaal Charles
  14. Brandon Marshall
  15. Mark Ingram
  16. Aaron Rodgers
  17. A.J. Green
  18. Jordy Nelson
  19. DeAndre Hopkins
  20. Dez Bryant
  21. Alshon Jeffery
  22. Cam Newton
  23. Demaryius Thomas
  24. Eric Decker
  25. Matt Forte
  26. Lamar Miller
    2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings

    Fantasy owners hope David Johnson’s second season is just as good as his first. (Photo: Getty Images)

  27. Doug Martin
  28. Eddie Lacy
  29. LeSean McCoy
  30. Julian Edelman
  31. Brandin Cooks
  32. Jarvis Landry
  33. Greg Olsen
  34. Mike Evans
  35. Amari Cooper
  36. Doug Baldwin
  37. Delanie Walker
  38. Dion Lewis
  39. Sammy Watkins
  40. Drew Brees
  41. Latavius Murray
  42. C.J. Anderson
    2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings

    Emmanuel Sanders is a great backup option for your team. (Photo: denverbroncos.com

  43. Jordan Reed
  44. Kelvin Benjamin
  45. Thomas Rawls
  46. Carson Palmer
  47. T.Y. Hilton
  48. Jeremy Maclin
  49. Ben Roethlisberger
  50. Michael Crabtree
  51. Philip Rivers
  52. Ryan Mathews
  53. John Brown
  54. Andrew Luck
  55. Emmanuel Sanders
  56. Jonathan Stewart

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ them on Twitter. They also have their own subreddit.

Be sure to check out TGH’s newly revamped forums if you want to discuss with Tim or any of the other writers!

2016 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Top 20 Quarterbacks: Brady falls due to suspension, but how far?

Top 20 Running Backs: Lack of bellcows causes top RBs to be pivatol

Top 30 Wide Receivers: Brown, Jones lead the way

Top 15 Tight Ends: Who’s after Gronk?

All rankings are PPR rankings. Although some of my colleagues here at The Game Haus disagree, PPR is the way to go. I believe it, and you, the fans, believe it too (according to a Twitter poll). Here’s your 2016 fantasy football tight end rankings.

1. Rob Gronkowski

From Surefire Tight Ends: “Rob Gronkowski is head and shoulders above the rest of the tight end crop. In the four seasons in which Gronk’s played 15 or more games or more, he’s finished first in points among tight ends three times; the only time he didn’t finish first was his rookie campaign.

It seems to me that fantasy players are overly-concerned with Rob Gronkowski’s health. He’s only had two seasons in which he hasn’t played 15 games. The root of the concern seems to stem from the fact that the two seasons Gronk missed more than one game came back-to-back (11 games in 2012, 7 games in 2013). Sure, he’s had some minor issues in each season, but none of them have been severe enough to hurt his numbers.

Gronk has proved pretty durable since the start of 2014. He’s also enjoyed three huge years with his New England Patriots while he’s been a starter and stayed healthy. Looking at the table below shows just how explosive the Arizona product has been.

2011 90 REC, 1,327 yards, 17 TD (1 rushing)
2014 82 REC, 1,124 yards, 12 TD
2015 72 REC, 1,176 yards, 11 TD

There’s not really much that needs to be said about Rob Gronkowski. Barring injury, he’ll finish as the best tight end in football yet again this season. I still refuse to take him before the twelfth(ish) pick. However, grabbing a player with the Surefire Stamp of Approval (patent pending), and then picking Gronkowski will be huge for your team this season.”

2. Greg Olsen

2016 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s favorite player to throw to. (Photo: buccaneers.com)

From Surefire Tight Ends: “Greg Olsen has blossomed since joining Carolina five seasons ago. He’s stepped into the role of being Cam Newton’s primary pass catcher, which isn’t something tight ends normally do. Olsen will be a great tight end this season.

There are no question marks surrounding Greg Olsen’s durability. Olsen has been a pro for eight years, and in each of the last seven, Olsen has played in all 16 games. To add to his toughness, Olsen has started all 16 games in each of his last four seasons.

Greg Olsen is also Cam Newton’s favorite face to throw to. Last season, Olsen reached his career mark in targets with 129. Two seasons ago, he had 126, even with Kelvin Benjamin playing in all 16 games. The Miami (FL) product has led the Panthers in receptions in each of the last three seasons, proving he’ll get a high volume of targets this season.

The most exciting and safe argument for Greg Olsen has been his consistency. Consistency is the name of the game when I select players to receive the Surefire Stamp of Approval, and Olsen fits the bill. Olsen’s best seasons have been in each of his last four. In those seasons, he’s finished as the eighth-highest scoring tight end or better, including being the fourth-best tight end for two seasons in a row.

2013 69 REC, 843 yards, 5 TD
2014 73 REC, 816 yards, 6 TD
2015 77 REC, 1,104 yards, 7 TD

I would suggest drafting Olsen over Rob Gronkowski as your starting tight end. He’s got a lot better value in terms of ADP, being selected at the 41st pick on nfl.com and espn.com. You’ll be able to stock up on other positions before selecting Olsen with your fourth(ish) pick.”

3. Delanie Walker

From Surefire Tight Ends: “The last player to earn the Surefire Stamp of Approval in our Surefire series is Delanie Walker. Walker’s career has taken off since joining the Tennessee Titans three seasons ago. He’s played in 15 games in each of his three seasons as a Titan, and his playing time has amassed strong numbers for the Central Missouri State product (go fighting Mules?).

With Walker consistently staying off the injury report, he’s been able to accrue at least 14 games in every season except for his rookie season. That said, he’s been able to finished as the 12th, 8th, and 5th tight end in 2013,2014, and 2015, respectively.

Walker also dominates red zone targets on his team. He saw 17 red zone targets last season, seven more than the second-highest target receiver. Walker also caught 14 passes in the red zone, an astounding 10 more than the second-highest receiver.

2013 60 REC, 571 yards, 6 TD
2014 63 REC, 890 yards, 4 TD
2015 94 REC, 1,088 yards, 6 TD

A starter for the last three seasons, Walker has also seen his best three career seasons each year since 2013. Last year, he caught 94 balls. That was first among tight ends, and more than Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Allen Robinson. Walker’s 1,088 yards were more than Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, or Eric Decker. Walker simply needs to maintain the numbers he’s put up in recent years, and just add a few touchdowns to his statline.

Walker is a less talked about and less drafted tight end. He’ll still be taken in every draft, but he won’t be taken as high as the aforementioned tight ends. He’s being taken as a low TE1 right now, which is great value. If you want to wait on a tight end until Walker, it could be a great plan. You’ll be able to really pad your other position groups before going tight end.”

4. Jordan Reed

From Surefire Tight Ends: “Jordan Reed celebrated this offseason by signing a 5-year, $47M extension. Washington hasn’t thrown around money like it grows on trees either, as they’ve been stingy with paying Kirk Cousins top dollar. This shows that the front office in Washington is confident in Reed leading the tight end position for years to come for the Redskins.

The money Reed received is likely due to his breakout season in 2015. He finished with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed looks to use 2016 as a springboard to elite status. After finishing with the third-most points among tight ends last season, Reed can cement himself as a top tight end with another big year.

The fun part about Reed is his touchdown scoring potential. He had the third-most red zone targets last season, totaling 23. Brandon Marshall (25), Antonio Brown (24), and Gary Barnidge (24), were the only players who had more targets, and Marshall was the only one with more touchdowns (14). Reed reached paydirt 11 times, which was tied for first among tight ends.

There is some concern with his ankle issues, but other than that, Reed will be a high-quality and safe draft pick. The University of Florida product will always be Kirk Cousins’ favorite red zone target, which gives him ample opportunities to have consistent and quality fantasy performances.”

5. Coby Fleener

Now a member of the New Orleans Saints, Coby Fleener could have a huge 2016 season. We know Drew Brees knows how to utilize tight ends. He helped Jimmy Graham become a star and even allowed Benjamin Watson to have a good season last year. Fleener is a pure receiving tight end. He’s a great fit to the Saints’ system, and is in line for a 65/900/6 statline by the time this season is over. Yes, Fleener hasn’t produced TE5 numbers in his career, but this season could very well be his first season doing so.

6. Ladarius Green

At this point, the common reader will blow me off, call me an idiot, and not read my reasoning on why Ladarius Green should be number six. Per Green’s first six games of the season, he was on pace to finish with 64 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns. In my book, that’s a solid season. Now getting all the starting reps in Pittsburgh, Green is poised to breakout. We saw how much Ben Roethlisberger loved Heath Miller, and it’s now Green’s turn to take over that role. In a pass heavy offense, look for Ladarius Green to break out this season.

2016 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Tyler Eifert’s inconsistency and high ADP scares me away. Regardless, he’s still a good tight end if it’s late enough in the draft. (Photo: AP/Gary Landers)

7. Tyler Eifert

Tyler Eifert is the most risky player that you can draft at any position right now. Being taken as the number four tight end right now, his asking price is way too high. The first red flag with Eifert is that he was incredibly touchdown dependent last season. He scored 13 touchdowns last season, which is great. However, if someone told you that Eifert had less catches and yards than Jacob Tamme and Benjamin Watson, I don’t think you’d believe it. Well, that stat is true. If you take out Tyler Eifert’s best two games (a combined 17/194/4), Eifert’s stats aren’t appealing at all. The most catches he had in a game was five, and the most yards he had was 69.

I cannot stress enough that you should buy into a player if a high volume of his stats came in two games or less. I’m passing on Eifert right now, as his asking price is too high.

8. Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce was the most consistent tight end last season. In an astounding 75 percent of the games Kelce played, he had 4-6 catches. However, the yards totals were’t as high as you’d like to see. Kelce also found the end zone just five times, and only three times if you take out the first game of the season. The University of Cincinnati product is the best tight end after the catch, as he averaged 12.15 yards per reception last season. Kelce will be a consistent but low level TE1 this season.

9. Julius Thomas

In his first season in Jacksonville, Julius Thomas battled injuries while trying to learn a brand new offense. That doesn’t add up to a great season. Thomas had 46 catches for 455 yards and five score last season. Jacksonville’s offense is turning into a fantasy relevant team at every position, including tight end. Thomas will be better this season, but he still probably won’t get much better than a middling TE1 this season.

10. Zach Ertz

Go ahead and light me up for this ranking too. Zach Ertz had 75 receptions last season- 75 in six games started. Ertz also had 853 receiving yards. Ertz would’ve been a solid TE1 last season, had he caught more than a mere two touchdowns. I’m all for guys who aren’t touchdown dependent. Ertz was far from it, and because of that, he has tremendous upside for this season.

11. Gary Barnridge

Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell- those are the players Gary Barnridge has to battle with this season for touches. With his breakout season coming at age 30, I don’t trust Barnridge has much left in the tank. He also won’t be the one of two respectable targets on the team like last season. His numbers will go down, so don’t overestimate Gary Barnridge this season.

12. Jimmy Graham

Healthy again, Jimmy Graham could be ready to get back to his old ways. A superstar in New Orleans, Graham started slow last season. Graham missed nearly half the season thanks to a torn patellar tendon, which ended an already disappointing 2015 season. The Seahawks will be passing more this season, which means Graham will have more opportunities. Still,  I’m not trusting Graham to be anything more than my backup.

2016 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Zach Miller’s upside is enticing for 2016. (Photo: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

13. Zach Miller

Zach Miller is one of the few non-TE1s with upside. He’s taking over for Martellus Bennett this season, and Bennett did well in his time with the Bears. I think Miller can pick up where Bennett left off, as he hauled in 29 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns in his final seven games last season. I like Miller’s situation and end to 2015, which paves way for him to have some upside for this season.

14. Jason Witten

Jason Witten has never finished worse than the TE13 since 2004. Witten will always have fantasy relevance as long as he plays, but he is trending downwards. He’s finished 11th and 12th in the past two seasons, and it’s hard to believe he’ll get much better this season. Witten is a great backup option, but I’m not trusting him to start for my team.

15. Antonio Gates

Somehow the Chargers let Ladarius Green walk, who I thought was the future of their franchise at tight end. San Diego must trust that Antonio Gates will be around for at least a few more seasons. Like Witten, as long as he’s around, Gates will be a fantasy producer. However, finishing no better than eighth in three of the last four seasons proves Gates is trending down.

2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

2016 Quarterback Rankings: Where does Tom Brady fall?

All rankings are PPR rankings. Although some of my colleagues here at The Game Haus disagree, PPR is the way to go. I believe it, and you, the fans, believe it too (according to a Twitter poll). Here’s your 2016 fantasy football running back rankings.

1. Adrian Peterson

From Surefire Running Backs: “Adrian Peterson is about as steady as running backs come. Peterson’s worst finish among running backs is eighth, which occurred in 2011. Obviously this doesn’t include 2014, when he played just one game. Other than two eighth place finishes, Peterson has never finished worse than third in fantasy points in his career. A complete breakdown can be seen below:

2007 3rd
2008 3rd
2008 2nd
2009 3rd
2010 8th
2012 1st
2013 8th
2015 2nd
2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

AP will consistently put up great numbers. (Photo: Sporting News)

We all wondered how Peterson would respond to a year off at the start of last season. He finished with 231 points, and was the second-best rusher last season. All Day isn’t a PPR stud, but in standard scoring, he’s been incredibly dependable.

There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the Oklahoma product losing touches. The Vikings did spend their first pick of the draft on wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, but the Vikings are still a run-first offense.

Teddy Bridgewater threw just 14 touchdowns last season, and 9 of which came in the redzone. There’s no running back that will vulcher away redzone touches from Peterson. With just a 41 percent completion percentage in the redzone, Bridgewater wasn’t a valuable asset when it counted most.

This all paves way for Peterson to dominate redzone touches this season.

Entering his age 31 season, Peterson isn’t a guy to take early in a dynasty league. However, if you’re in a re-draft league, drafting him will be an all-too-easy pick for your RB1 this season.”

2. Devonta Freeman

After winning the starting running back job in Atlanta by a hair, Devonta Freeman took the fantasy football world by storm by scoring 146.5 points in weeks 3-6 last season. Freeman had just three games last season in which he scored less than 15 points. He also enjoyed 30+ point games four times last season.

Freeman is a PPR stud with the fourth-best offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus. He is the perfect fit to the zone-run scheme, and there’s no signs of slowing for the 24 year-old. Freeman will be an elite running back once again in 2016.

3. Todd Gurley

From Surefire Running Backs: “In his rookie season, Todd Gurley scored 189 fantasy points, good for fifth among running backs. Gurley also did this after missing the first two games of the season. Questions arose about whether Gurley would be as explosive as he was prior to his ACL injury, but Gurley swiftly hushed the nay-sayers.

2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Todd Gurley could be the best second-year back in the NFL this season. (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Gurley could be the next superstar in the NFL, but the only concern is his durability. Gurley missed the final game of the 2015 season due to a foot injury. He played in 13 games, which isn’t bad, and his injury history isn’t exactly extensive. However, an ACL injury is the most scary of them all. Even so, Gurley averaged 18 carries per game, and topped out at 30 last season.

If you’re looking for big time games, this is your guy. Five times last season Gurley rushed for 100 yards or more. He scored ten rushing touchdowns last season, which is about 0.8 scores per game. Gurley also had double-digit point totals ten times last season.

Gurley, like Peterson, is not a huge PPR get. He caught just 21 balls last season, good for 29th among running backs. He also had zero touchdown catches.

Nevertheless, Gurley could be the best running back in the league this season. His injury risk should be in the back of all fantasy owners’ minds. Other than that, drafting Gurley with your first pick should keep you giddy all season.”

4. Ezekiel Elliott

Running behind the best offensive line in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott is poised to become an elite rusher in this year’s NFL. Owners passed on Todd Gurley last season, simply because he was a rookie. Don’t make that mistake this season. People who don’t believe in Elliott as a pass-catcher are flat wrong.  Of all rookie running backs this season, Elliott averaged the most targets per route in college, earning a target in 65% of routes ran in college (per rotoworld.com). Elliott is a great pass protector, which means he won’t lose snaps on passing situations. He allowed just one pressure on 17 chances at Ohio State.

All this adds up to a great all-around running back, playing with the best offensive line in football. Elliott will be a star in Dallas, there’s no question. My boldest prediction I’ve ever documented comes in this paragraph: Ezekiel Elliott is the next Emmitt Smith.

So draft Elliott as your RB1, take him at his ADP, or let him fall to your lap in the second round if possible.

5. David Johnson

2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Fantasy owners hope David Johnson’s second season is just as good as his first. (Photo: Getty Images)

From Surefire Running Backs: “I’m all in on David Johnson for 2016. In just five games started last season, Johnson accounted for 658 yards. He’s also managed to find paydirt five times during that stretch. Catching 17 passes in that time also proved Johnson has potential to become a great pass catcher.

What’s more is that Johnson will run behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Pro Football Focus ranks Arizona as having the ninth-best o-line in 2015. That ranking will improve with the addition of All-Pro guard Evan Mathis. Mathis had the best run blocking grade last season according to PFF. With Mike Iupati anchoring the line, Johnson should have plenty of room in the trenches this season.

The UNI product looks reliable as a middling RB1 this season. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will battle for backup carries, but don’t be afraid of them luring away touches from Johnson. Head coach Bruce Arians gave just about the highest praise you can give a second-year running back, saying he’s on track to be “one of the all-time best” at running back. That should be plenty reason to take Johnson as your first running back this season.”

6. Le’Veon Bell

From Surefire Running Backs: “Believe it or not, 2016 will be Le’Veon Bell’s fourth season in the league. He’s seems older than that to me, and that’s probably because of how quickly he became a prominent player in fantasy football.

Bell played in just six games last season thanks to another injury against the bitter rival Cincinnati Bengals. In those six games, however, Bell ran for 4.9 yards per carry (career best) and 3 rushing scores. He also caught 24 passes for 136 yards.

Barring injuries, Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in football. He’s a spectacular runner and possesses great hands and route running abilities for a running back. Bell was the second-highest scoring running back in fantasy in 2014. Had DeMarco Murray not blown up behind the strong Dallas o-line, Bell would’ve finished in first place by 23 points in standard leagues.

We say this far too often with running backs, but as long as Bell can stay healthy, he’ll be a fantastic player in fantasy. The Michigan State product can put up 20 points in any given week. In 2014 PPR leagues, he scored at least 20 points seven times. He also eclipsed 20 points in three of his six games last season.

Bell is an explosion on your fantasy waiting to happen. Week in and week out, expect him to be a top-five running back. Draft Bell on your team, and handcuff him with DeAngelo Williams. If Bell doesn’t start one week, roll with Williams, who will produce just as much as Bell.”

Even with Bell being suspended four games, I still trust him to be one of the best running backs in football after week four. Drafting DeAngelo Williams is a must for all fantasy owners, and especially if you draft Bell. Williams was spectacular replacing Bell last season, and there’s nothing indicating that will change this season.

7. Jamaal Charles

Coming off his second ACL surgery since entering the NFL, Jamaal Charles isn’t a favorite running back for fantasy owners. In the four full games he played last season, Charles’ lowest finish was 18.7 points. He also scored 31.2 points against Green Bay in week 3.

I understand the fear of another Jamaal Charles injury, as he hasn’t been the most durable running back since entering the NFL. However, he’s been a great fantasy asset since becoming a starter in 2008. He’s finished in the top-12 among running backs in every season in which he’s played in 15 games, other than his rookie year. He’s also got two first-place finishes under his belt. Take Charles as an RB1, and pending good health, he’ll be a top running back.

8. Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram has had a lot of hype for all of his seasons in the NFL, but he finally lived up to it in 2014. Ingram has finished as the RB15 in each of the past two seasons. To add to that, Ingram caught 50 passes last season, nearly doubling his totals from 2014.

When it comes to red zone opportunities, Ingram’s numbers are deceiving. He rushed the ball inside the red zone on 33% of all Saints opportunities, which doesn’t look good. However, take just the games Ingram played in, and his red zone carries skyrocket to 71% of carries. When the Alabama product is healthy, he’ll hog all the carries when they matter.

Ingram doesn’t have superstar upside, but he also doesn’t carry a lot of risk. He just missed out on getting the Surefire Stamp of Approval, so draft Ingram as an RB1, and that’s what he’ll be.

9. Matt Forte

From Surefire Running Backs: “Matt Forte is the only player to join a new team for 2016 on this list. Although I’m usually leery of jumping on players who are on new teams, I’m excited for Forte this season.

Forte has never finished worse than an RB2 in his career. He’s also finished as an RB1 five times in his eight year career. Now with the Jets, Forte will be relied on heavily due to the quarterback situation in the Big Apple. Although the quarterback may be a walking question mark, Forte will hold down the fort as a consistent running back and pass catcher. Each of Forte’s finishes among running backs is listed below:

2008 4th
2009 18th
2010 9th
2011 15th
2012 12th
2013 3rd
2014 4th
2015 8th

Now with the New York Jets, Forte will play under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gailey has coached Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis, Lamar Smith (in his best career season), Larry Johnson, and C.J. Spiller (also in his best season). Although Smith and Spiller are nothing close to big names in the NFL, they even had their best seasons while under Gailey.

Chan Gailey seems to be a running back whisperer, and Forte will be the number one source of offence for the Jets. Entering his age 31 season, Forte, like Peterson, is not a huge dynasty pick, but he will produce for at least a couple more seasons. Draft Forte as an RB1, especially in PPR leagues.”

10. Lamar Miller

Finishing ninth and sixth among running backs in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Lamar Miller’s career is on the upswing. He’s rushed for eight touchdowns and accounted for 1,000 yards or more in each of the past two seasons. Now a Texan, Miller hopes to pick up where Arian Foster left off. Once Foster went down for the year, the vulnerability of Houston’s o-line was showcased. Miller has enough talent to produce even behind a subpar line. Expect Lamar Miller to be a great addition in Houston, and a borderline RB1.

11. Doug Martin

Doug Martin is a muscle hamster, and that’s the best combination of two words in the history of speech. Since bursting onto the scene in his rookie season in 2012, Martin has only been able to replicate his success once. He totaled 1,454 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012, helping him to be the second best running back in fantasy football.

After two seasons filled with injuries and no production, Martin came back into his 2012 form last season. His 1,402 rushing yards was second most in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson, and nearly 300 more yards than the next best rusher. Martin was the third highest scoring running back last season, and he’ll be just as good this season. Expect him to be a high RB2, but closer to a middling RB1 this season, pending he plays 14 games or more.

2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Turns out P90X actually works. (Photo: Tony Horton Twitter)

12. Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy used to be chunky. Eddie Lacy is now not chunky. When the Alabama product is in NFL running back condition, he is good. In his each of his first two seasons in the NFL, Lacy finished as the RB6 in fantasy football. Last season, Lacy finished with the 25th most points in fantasy football. Lacy is in great shape, and that’s what held him back last season. Expect another 1,100 yard, 9 touchdown campaign from the Alabama product.Displaying IMG_1645.jpg

13. LeSean McCoy

LeSean McCoy has been all over the place in terms of fantasy football production. He’s finished in the top seven of running backs three times (two second place finishes), while finishing 12th and 17th in the past two seasons. Running behind Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked offensive line while be solid, and Karlos Williams being suspended helps McCoy’s case even more. Yes, the Bills did sign Reggie Bush, but he’s no threat to take McCoy’s production. The Pitt product will be a RB2 throughout the season, with bursts of RB1 showcases.

14. Carlos Hyde

Contrary to popular belief, Chip Kelly operates on a run-first basis. Although he did call plays at a record-breaking pace last season, he prefers to establish the run first. With Kelly controlling the Eagles last season, he saw his team attempt 442 rushes, 11th in the NFL. Kelly brings that scheme to San Francisco, and it will benefit Carlos Hyde. The Ohio State product was on pace to rush for 1,072 yards last season, so as long as he stays healthy, Hyde is in good position to have a solid season for fantasy owners.

15. Dion Lewis

The grim reaper of running backs afflicted many stars last season, and Dion Lewis was one of them. Through seven games, Lewis ran for just 234 yards, but added 388 receiving yards on 36 catches. Lewis will be a PPR magnet for both Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady, and should enjoy the featured back role in New England. However, Bill Belichick and his shenanigans are always in full swing. I refuse to trust any running back in New England as long as the Belitricks affect rushers, so be cautious but optimistic with Lewis this season.

16. Latavius Murray

After rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns last season, Latavius Murray is on the fantasy radar for all owners. With 41 catches for 232 yards, Murray also proved to be more than a one-dimensional back. Murray plays in one of the most talented offenses for its age, and will at worst make up for an average rushing game with a few catches. Murray will most likely finish as a hard RB2, and I’m more than okay with him as my second running back this season.

17. C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson is yet to put together a full season of consistent production. Anderson had just two games of 100 yards rushing or more last season. He also totaled nine games in which he didn’t even record 70 all-purpose yards. Add that to just five total touchdowns and only 25 receptions, and you have a consistently average running back. On the upside, Anderson ran for 4.7 yards per carry, and could be leaned on heavily due to the passing game in Denver being in question. I still don’t understand all the hype for Anderson, and see him as nothing more than a RB2 who only produces good games on occasion.

18. Thomas Rawls

After barely making the roster after training camp, Thomas Rawls was just happy to be on the team when the season started. After Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch went down with injuries, Rawls quickly had to step up to the starting gig. Rawls hit the ground running, rushing for 100 yards four times, including a 209 yard performance. The risk with Rawls is his running behind a terrible offensive line, and the questions about whether or not he’ll be able to replicate his high clip in 2016. I’m more comfortable with Rawls as my flex player, but a low RB2 to start isn’t too bad of expectations for him.

19. Ryan Mathews

It seems like there was more running backs getting playing time in Philly last season than there was Browns starting quarterbacks since they moved to Cleveland. Mathews was the only consistent runner last season for the Eagles, and with DeMarco Murray gone, it’s going to be all Ryan Mathews this season. As the featured back, I like Mathews as a low RB2 with upside to be a high RB2.

20. Jonathan Stewart

The Carolina Panthers have the second-best offensive line in football (PFF). That said, Jonathan Stewart has never been, and will never be, an elite running back. He is a good running back, but reigning MVP Cam Newton will get his touches, and so will Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Stewart was 11 yards away from his second 1,000 yard rushing season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get there this season. Stewart will be good enough to be an RB2, but his lack of touches hurts his ceiling.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

The Surefire series is behind us, so now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. For the next week, I’ll be ranking the top players at each position in fantasy football. To start, we’ll look at the 2016 fantasy football quarterback rankings.

  1. Aaron Rodgers

From the Surefire Quarterbacks: “Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scored the seventh-most points among quarterbacks last season, which is already great. Rodgers didn’t even get to enjoy the services of Jordy Nelson last season, who missed the entire year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Nelson finished with 230 points in 2014, good for second among wide receivers.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Aaron Rodgers is your number one quarterback for 2016. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

The Packers didn’t even have a great wideout last season. Their leading point scorer was James Jones (141 points), who isn’t even on an NFL roster right now. Randall Cobb was right behind Jones, scoring 130 points last season. Rodgers didn’t get to throw to an elite receiver, or even a great one at that.

I say all that to say this: Aaron Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he did it without an elite receiver. Of the six passers to score more than Rodgers last season, all of them had at least one player who scored in the top 12 of receivers last season.

Here’s the complete breakdown:

Cam Newton Greg Olsen (#5 TE)
Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE), Jullian Edelman (on pace to be#7 WR)
Russell Wilson Doug Baldwin (#7 WR)
Blake Bortles Allen Robinson (#4), Allen Hurns (#14)
Carson Palmer Larry Fitzgerald (#11), John Brown (#21)
Drew Brees Bradin Cooks (#12)

Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since he became a starter in 2008. Rodgers hasn’t finished worse than third in points among quarterbacks since 2008, other than last season. He’s chalked up two first place finishes, coupled with two second place finishes.

Draft Rodgers this season, and don’t worry about drafting another quarterback until the double digit rounds. The UC-Berkeley alum stays healthy, and will get Jordy Nelson back this season, so don’t be surprised to see him finish in first among quarterbacks this season.”

Aaron Rodgers is the number one quarterback in fantasy football. He has an elite receiver in Jordy Nelson, a solid running game, and the fifth-best pass-blocking offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus.

  1. Cam Newton

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Cam Newton scored the most fantasy points of all players in fantasy football last season. Just like Rodgers, Newton gets one of his favorite targets back after missing all of 2015. Kelvin Benjamin returns this season, and like the aforementioned Nelson, missed 2015 due to a torn ACL.

In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He was 11 catches away from Greg Olsen’s team leading 84 catches, and tied Olsen’s mark for most receiving yards. Benjamin also led the team in receiving touchdowns, snagging 9. With Benjamin back, Newton has a chance to have two top-15 pass catchers at their positions. Benjamin is just 25 years of age, and is about to enter the prime of his career. It will also be just his second full season in the league.

Alongside Benjamin and Olsen are Tedd Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess. Ginn’s rather ho-hum career was recharged last season. The Ohio State product was the ringleader of the wide receivers, pulling in 44 throws for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ginn is 31, so he may still have a few more productive seasons in him. Regardless, the speedster still should produce enough to help Newton be more than serviceable this season.

Another Ohio State alum who’ll continue to improve his young career is Corey “Philly” Brown. Brown caught 31 balls for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown is just hitting his stride in his NFL career, and will be a deep-threat slot receiver for Newton this season.

Wedged in between two OSU alums is Michigan standout Devin Funchess. Many fantasy experts are waiting for Funchess to quit spinning his wheels and gain traction in the NFL, but it hasn’t happened yet. With 473 yards on 31 catches and 5 touchdowns last season, Funchess was widely known as a fantasy sleeper last season. Instead, Ginn took his projected role. Funchess is still a pretty good option for Newton, who is really becoming accustomed to not-so-new faces in Carolina.”

Newton’s rushing abilities make him a much more valuable quarterback in fantasy football. He had 10 rushing touchdowns, more than any other quarterback in 2015. He also had 636 rushing yards, which was also first among passers. Couple that with Newton’s 35 passing touchdowns a season ago and you’ve got an elite fantasy football quarterback.

  1. Russell Wilson

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “In 2012, the first season after Tony Romo got married, Romo had the best season of his career. On July 6 of this year, Russell Wilson tied the knot. People say history repeats itself, so I project big things for Russell Wilson. All humor aside, let’s get to the undeniable stats.

Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has been in the top-ten in scoring each season. He’s improved each season in points, shooting all the way up to second last season. Wilson’s exact finishes are shown below.

2015 Second
2014 Third
2013 Eighth
2012 Ninth

To make a better case for Wilson, he gets one of the best tight ends in the league back this season. Jimmy Graham started slow last season prior to his gruesome knee injury that ended his season. However, three of his best four games took place in the second half of his season.

In addition, Wilson may be passing the ball more frequently with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch this offseason. Thomas Rawls was great in Lynch’s absence in 2015, but it’s not certain whether or not the running game will be as steady as last season. Pro Football Focus gives Seattle the worst offensive line grade in the entire league after the 2015 season. Wilson is a great passer when on the run, and it’s easier to throw with a mobile quarterback than run with a terrible line.”

Another quarterback with uncanny running abilities, Russell Wilson is a fantasy asset thanks to his legs. Wilson only managed one rushing touchdown in 2015, but he still had 553 yards rushing. Wilson will be a high-end QB1 this season.

  1. Drew Brees

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “If you’re looking for a player with consistency like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees is your guy. Since 2004, Brees’ worst season was finishing as the ninth-best quarterback(!). He did that twice, in his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Since then, Brees has finished in the top-five in every season except two, when he finished sixth in 2010 and 2015.

To add to Brees’ allure, he’ll get to throw to one of the most respected rookies from other players’ standpoint in the league. Michael Thomas was the Saints’ second-round pick, and the first of two Buckeyes to be drafted onto the roster (Vonn Bell). Thomas will be a huge red zone target for Brees, and has great hands. Thomas has gotten knocked due to his inability to showcase a large catching radius, but every rookie has some kind of kink to work out.

Rave reviews aren’t few and far between for Thomas. The highest of praise came from Saints in-house reporter Sean Kelley, who said Thomas is “going to be a star”. He went on to say that Thomas will easily take the number three spot on the depth chart, and that he could even push Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks.”

Drew Brees has managed to be one of the most elite quarterbacks of the past 10 years. He gets a rookie in Michael Thomas who has already impressed many during training camp. As long as Drew Brees is a quarterback, he’ll most likely be a QB1.

  1. Carson Palmer

It seems like a lot of quarterbacks threw for 35 touchdowns last season, and Carson Palmer is part of that group. Palmer is a lot like Ben Roethlisberger, in that they both have a lot of weapons in their offense. David Johnson is set to be a PPR stud, Larry Fitzgerald at worst will be the best blocking wideout in the league, and John Brown is poised to set Arizona on fire as a breakout receiver. Palmer does have knee issues, as he’s torn his ACL two times. Barring an injury, Palmer will be the beneficiary of one of the best offenses in the NFL this season.

  1. Ben Roethlisberger

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Ben Roethlisberger would’ve finished as the fifth-best quarterback last season had he played all 16 games last season according to projections.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Big Ben will be a QB1 this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Let’s marvel at all the toys Ben gets to play with. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Ladarius Green, will all catch passes from Big Ben this season. Roethlisberger has the best weapons in the league, paving way for a monster season for the bruising quarterback.

Roethlisberger threw for less than 250 yards just twice in the entire season in 2015. Six times he threw for 350 yards or more, and also had a game with 349 yards. The Miami (OH) product is just keeps on keepin’ on, and so long as he stays healthy, enjoy his services.”

Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first four games, and Martavis Bryant is suspended for all 16. It could be tough going for Big Ben until Bell returns, but when he does, he’ll be an easy QB1.

  1. Philip Rivers

Now everyone pull up a seat and let me drop some truth on you. Philip Rivers isn’t that bad. Listen here, Rivers was the number two quarterback in fantasy football through eight games last season. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen’s season was cut in half, just like his kidney (not confirmed), causing Rivers’ numbers to plummet. I’m no fortune teller, but I can tell you Keenan Allen is back, Travis Benjamin has signed with the Chargers (for whatever that’s worth), and I’m high on Rivers this season.

  1. Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck makes me nervous. His line allowed anything with as much horsepower as motorized Heelys get to the quarterback last season. There’s a bunch of hype in the receiving corps, but my momma told me that potential shouldn’t be taken as results- it hasn’t done anything yet. Luck is a gifted quarterback, but he must stay healthy in order to be a top-flight passer. Temper your expectations with Luck this season, and maybe he’ll be a number one quarterback like he was in 2014.

  1. Tom Brady

Way to go Tom Brady. You let air out of a football and got re-suspended after getting un-suspended from your original suspension. Because of that, I have to rank you as my number nine quarterback. You know what you get from Tom Brady. He’s going to throw for 300 yards a game, 3 touchdowns, and stay uninjured. Survive with another quarterback for the first four games, then ride with Brady as a top-five quarterback for the rest of the year.

  1. Andy Dalton

Some writers call Andy Dalton a sleeper for the MVP. I’m a Bengals fan and a writer, so I know that’s just something called #clickbait. Andy Dalton has the potential to be a QB1, that’s for sure. He has a WR1 in A.J. Green, and TE1 in Tyler Eifert, and two running backs who have dual uses in Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Cincinnati is a balanced attack, so Dalton simply won’t get enough passing attempts in to be a reliable QB1 each game.

  1. Blake Bortles

The two best wide receivers with the first name of Allen play for the Jags. Allen Robinson, a top-ten wide receiver, and Allen Hurns (64 receptions, 1,031 yards in 2015) will both help a scary Jacksonville pass offense. Don’t forget about former Denver Bronco Julius Thomas, who enters his second season in Florida. Bortles passed for 35 touchdowns last season, and will be a solid QB1 this season.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Underrated in 2015, let Carr fall into your lap as a high QB2 late in drafts. (Photo: AP/Joe Mahoney)

  1. Derek Carr

Amari Cooper is a budding star, and it turns out Michael Crabtree doesn’t suck in the NFL. Derek Carr has great deep threat and possession wide receivers, and a solid running game behind Latavius Murray. Carr threw for 32 touchdowns last season, and could venture his way into QB1 territory.

  1. Eli Manning 

Eli Manning was straight peeved when Peyton Manning clinched the Super Bowl. That said, he’ll have some extra fire girded within his loins this season. Odell Beckham is overrated but good (how about that for a hot #take for your Monday). Sterling Shepard could be one of the next great receivers in the NFL, and there are enough average running backs in New York (technically New Jersey) to have a mundane running game. Manning plays in a pass heavy offense, which means he could go off in any week.

  1.  Matt Ryan

Julio Jones just so happens to be good at gracing footballs into his hands. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but he has no other friends to throw to. I guess Devonta Freeman will have to suffice, because there’s no way the Falcons knew what they were getting in signing Mohamed Sanu to an absurd $32 million deal.

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick was the number 12 quarterback in fantasy last season. After finally agreeing to a new contract with the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick is in position to be a solid streaming option for your team this season. Throwing to the likes of Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall is as good as it gets, and Matt Forte can run and catch out of the backfield. Fitzpatrick is a solid QB2 with potential to be a low QB1.

  1. Tony Romo

Tony Romo can’t stay healthy, even with the best offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. That’s very concerning. What’s more is that Ezekiel Elliott will be seeing upwards of 300 touches according to Dallas coaches.

  1. Kirk Cousins

The Washington front office doesn’t believe Kirk Cousins is the long-term quarterback, but I believe he’s your long-term backup fantasy quarterback for this season. Jordan Reed is an animal inside the 20, and DeSean Jackson is an animal outside the 20. What more could he need? A running game? Psh.

  1. Matthew Stafford

Eric Ebron is slowly becoming a good tight end in the NFL. Golden Tate catches two-yard touchdowns like it’s his job (I guess it kind of is). Marvin Jones is no longer a sleeper because everyone is calling him a sleeper. Oh, and the Lions signed Anquan Boldin (meh). Calvin Johnson retiring will make Matthew Stafford have to actually throw the ball with some precision.

  1. Jameis Winston

When he’s not stealing crab legs, Jameis Winston is a viable QB2. He ran for 6 touchdowns last season, better than all passers not named Cam Newton. He gets to throw to the likes of Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so he does have the potential to sneak into high QB2 range this season.

  1. Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota had 19 touchdown passes and 2 rushing touchdowns. There’s also more young receivers with potential in Tennessee than there are “Go green” bumper stickers on a Toyota Prius. Lots of upside for Mariota.

  1. Brock Osweiler

Throwing to DeAndre Hopkins is a privilege. The only problem is that Hopkins is the only great receiver to throw to in Houston. Minor details.

Way-Too-Early 2016 NFL Fantasy Rankings

(Find out where all the stars are ranked, Photo Courtesy Fox Sports)

If there’s one thing I hate about writing, it’s going with the flow. I can’t stand the cheesy way-too-early rankings and how every single fantasy writer does it. It drives me bonkers when writers take overused topics and use cheesy titles and concepts that everyone has seen.

That being said, it’s time to reveal my rankings.

There’s no point in delaying, so I’ll start with quarterbacks, and we can all get on with our overly bland lives.

  1. Cam Newton- Take a journey with me, will you? Let’s travel back in time to August 19th. That was the date of Kelvin Benjamin’s (remember him?) injury, in which he tore his ACL running a route. His season-ender sparked in unison a groan from all Carolina Panther fans.

Coming into the season, there weren’t many Panther players who were on fantasy radars, due to the lack of talent within the offense. The only trusty weapons were Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen. I didn’t even trust Cam Newton.

Now, Newton is in a three-headed race for MVP, and is probably the frontrunner. He’s helped Ten Ginn finally establish his career, and he’s managed to make his other newbie/somewhat washed up receivers look like ball players.

Newton is only entering his prime, and with a healthy Kelvin Benjamin, a steady Greg Olsen, and an established running game, have no fear of drafting the Auburn product next season.

  1. Ben Roethlisberger- Big Ben has the most dangerous weapons in the league with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant. With Bell back and healthy, and a more than formidable receiving group, Roethlisberger will have no shortage of talent to use next season.

The Miami (OH) product was one of the best in the business this season when healthy this season. The problem with Roethlisberger, however, is that he has trouble staying healthy. I trust that as long as he’s on the field, he’ll put up reliable numbers next season with revamped stars to play with.

  1.  Tom Brady- Brady will be 39 by the time the 2016 season begins, but that shouldn’t stop him from performing well enough to be an elite quarterback. The veteran always does a great job of utilizing his weapons, whether they be stars like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, or lesser known players like Brandon LaFell and the likes.

This season put Brady near the top of the quarterback pecking order thanks to his 343.70 points. It’s arguably been the best season for New England’s quarterback since 2012. Brady is aging indeed, but he’s still a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and will be able to put up numbers that will suffice for any fantasy team.

  1. Russell Wilson- Ah, finally some youth. Wilson is by no means aged or even old enough to be in the middle of his prime. That, along with his mobility, gives Wilson some of the most consistent fantasy stock of many quarterbacks.

For some reason, Wilson’s numbers rose when Jimmy Graham suffered a season-ending injury. Graham will be back in full force to start 2016, but I suspect a new year will help Wilson and Graham mesh. Nevertheless, Wilson’s ability to gain yards on the ground and find paydirt with his legs provide ample reason to use him as your starter for next season.

  1. Carson Palmer- With so many injuries to star players this season, somehow Carson Palmer was able to piece his mangled body together to provide his best season since 2005.

(Palmer should be a great pick for owners next season, Courtesy www.adamjw84.sportsblog.com/)

The quarterback position is the most important on the field, and having capable players to throw to can only help a passer’s potential skyrocket. Palmer threw to Larry Fitzgerald primarily, and found David Johnson to be a running back who could catch sufficiently out of the backfield towards the end of the season. Look for Arizona to add another receiver either via the draft of free agency to further boost Palmer’s potential
.

The USC product’s age keeps me from ranking him any higher, but Palmer should be good enough to be a QB1 next season.

  1. Aaron Rodgers- Green Bay’s reincarnation of Brett Favre had a down season statistically, and that can largely be blamed on losing Jordy Nelson before the season began. Teams were able to play man defense in the secondary and stack the box against Rodgers, due to there being no respectable receiving threat for the entire year.

Rejoice, Packer fans. Jordy Nelson will be back in 2016. Nelson will vastly improve the entire offense, but this season clearly exposed Green Bay’s lack of depth. Although the Packers get Nelson back next season, I still can’t quite put Rodgers into an elite ranking for the time being.

  1. Andrew Luck- It was an interesting year for Andrew Luck. After coming in ranked no worse than second in quarterback pre-draft rankings, Luck played in just seven games this season. To make matters worse, Luck was less than impressive in his time in the game.

The Colts failed to protect whichever quarterback was under center this season, leading to a one dimensional attack on offense for the entire season. Luck will continue to get battered next season.

Although it seemed as if the Indy wideouts would be more than helpful this season, they did fail for chunks of the season. T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, and Donte Moncrief, when healthy, can take some of the load off of Luck, and provided a chance to recharge for next season.

  1. Philip Rivers- Philip Rivers seems to put up good numbers each year, but his team is yet to take the leap into being playoff contenders each season. Rivers had a great first half of the season, drawing faint MVP support early in the season.

That all changed with the injury of Keenan Allen. Allen was have a breakout year, and was on his way to a Pro Bowl. Immediately after Allen’s injury, Rivers’ play began to decimate.

There’s plenty of talent in San Diego’s offense. Youth and established veterans are sprinkled into the Charger passing attack, so Rivers should be a low end QB1 next season.

  1. Blake Bortles- Bortles just finished his second season in the NFL, yet he’s already fourth in passing touchdowns and passing yards in Jacksonville team history. Bortles’ 2015 was worlds better than his rookie campaign.

Suddenly, the Jags seem to have a bright future. Bortles, T.J. Yeldon, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas are all respectable fantasy options and are all on the same youthful offense.

The future is bright in Jacksonville, and Blake Bortles may be part of the next generation of great quarterbacks. Bortles is a great pick in dynasty leagues, especially with the changing of the guards in generations of quarterbacks. The Central Florida product will only get better in years to come.

  1. Drew Brees- There’s so much uncertainty in New Orleans right now around Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton. This causes me to be leery on Brees for 2016. The Saints announced Payton will stick around for next season, but I’m still not confident in what New Orleans can do next season.

There’s really no high-value passing threats, and Brees seems to be aging quickly. I could see Brees returning to mid QB1 status, but the upside isn’t as loud as the concerns elsewhere. Temper your expectations on Brees in 2016.

Just missed the cut: Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr

After the entire running back position was slaughtered in 2015, 2016 is a shot in the dark.

  1. Le’Veon Bell- Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in the NFL as long as he isn’t being injured by the Cincinnati Bengals. Bell is just 23 years old, and he’s a monster in PPR formats.

I’ve owned Bell for three seasons, and I know first hand how good and reliable he really is. Barring a setback from his latest knee injury, expect Bell to be the best of the best at any position.

  1. Todd Gurley- If Todd Gurley can score double-digit points in all but three of his games this season with a murky quarterback situation, imagine what he could do with an actual NFL quarterback. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that Gurley is part of the future of the NFL. He’s been a great find for St. Louis, and as long as the Rams can find a quarterback, his numbers will rise.

(Todd Gurley looks to build off an extraordinary rookie season, Courtesy AP)

If you miss out on Bell, draft Gurley. He’ll be one of the best options in 2016, period.

  1. Devonta Freeman- After being the number one rusher in 2015, Freeman should stay at the top of your draft board for next season. He’s taken the Atlanta starting job and ran with it (literally), and he’s a young runner who can excel in the offense.

Matt Ryan must find a way to be a threat so the Falcon offense isn’t one dimensional. Throwing to Julio Jones and using Freeman as a runner and pass-catcher provides no excuse for Ryan.

Freeman will be great, no doubt. He still won’t be quite good enough to be a surefire number one pick in any draft.

  1. Adrian Peterson- Entering his tenth season in the NFL next season worries me a little with Peterson. He’s maintained a pretty healthy career, as he’s played in no less than 12 games excluding last season.

Peterson will be the workhorse yet again for the Vikings. He’s also a part of a growing passing offense, which may take some attention away from him.

Peterson will do what he’s always done. Expect a 1,200 yard, 12 touchdown season from the Oklahoma product.

  1. Doug Martin- Doug Martin was healthy this season. When Doug Martin is healthy, Doug Martin is good (see 2012 season.)

Martin rushed for the most yards per carry in his career this season, proving his efficiency. If only he could’ve found the end zone more than just six times.

Martin finished third in scoring this season, and Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson beat him out in large part thanks to his lack of touchdown scoring. If Martin can score around nine times next season and stay healthy, he could carry you to a championship.

  1. David Johnson- Johnson is the final running back that I will trust as my RB1. He’s taken Arizona’s lead role down the stretch of this season, scoring 107.4 points in the final six games in

which he’s been an integral part of the offense.

I’m concerned however that Johnson could be next season’s Jeremy Hill. Johnson and Hill both broke out during the latter halves of their rookie years, causing me to be very cautionate with Johnson.

  1. Matt Forte- Here’s a fun fact: In each of Matt Forte’s eight NFL seasons, he’s finished as a RB1. However, the Bears have hinted that they’re open to giving increased looks to Jeremy Langford next season, limiting Forte’s potential.

That of course is unfortunate unless Forte signs elsewhere this offseason. The Tulane product is a free agent this offseason, so his landing spot can drastically change his stock. Make sure to stay tuned to Forte’s off season before you make a choice on him.

  1. Mark Ingram- Saints’ running back Mark Ingram is dealing with the same problems as aforementioned Drew Brees. There’s little stability in the offense, and until we see what happens during the offseason, Ingram is a risk as your RB1.

Even so, Ingram was able to be a top running back in fantasy before his season-ending shoulder injury. I think Ingram has the potential to be a RB1, but I am not confident in having him as my top rusher next season.

  1. Jamaal Charles- Charles is going to be 30 during the 2016 season, and he’s coming off his second ACL tear in five years. The Texas product has been injury prone, but elite when healthy.

This provides a serious conundrum for fantasy owners. Do you take the upside of the healthy Charles, or back away due to his injury history? This season, I won’t be jumping after Charles. However, if you can grab him as your RB2, you’ll be in great shape.

  1. LeSean McCoy- Fantasy owners have been frustrated with McCoy in his last two seasons. His production has left owners upset, and he’s been very inconsistent.

McCoy still could be a steal in the draft if picked at the right time. There’s a lot of upside with him, but he’s got two capable running backs on his own team to watch out for.

McCoy could lose some goal line work, and he could have another disappointing year. Despite that, I still like McCoy has a high-end RB2.

Just missed the cut: DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller

Wide receivers were rather steady this season, and probably provided the least amount of headaches in 2015.

  1. Antonio Brown- If there’s a more dominant player in the NFL, I’m yet to see him. In his ten games with Ben Roethlisberger this season, Brown racked up 98 catches, 1,351 yards, and nine touchdowns.

If Brown would’ve had Big Ben for all 16 games, he would’ve tallied an unreal 157 catches for 2,162 yards and 14 scores.

That’s all you need to know. There is no better player to have in fantasy football, and you could justify taking him as your number one pick in 2016.

  1. Julio Jones- Julio Jones was on a record-breaking tear for most of the season, and especially in the early part. As Matt Ryan began to implode, so did the Falcons’ chances of making the playoffs.

Even with inconsistent play from Matt Ryan, Jones still had an uncanny 136 catches for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. Jones was able to stay healthy for the entire year, which clearly proved his elite WR1 status.

Drafting the Alabama product will give you an easy start at WR1, especially in PPR formats.

  1. Odell Beckham- I warned owners of drafting Beckham last season (although I was right about Lacy, Anderson, and Hill being busts), yet he had an amazing sophomore campaign. He was a great find for those who bought him, scoring 223.30 points.

If you are in a PPR league, Jones and Brown are certainly better options, but in standard scoring, rolling with either of the top three will do.

If it wasn’t for Beckham’s 13 touchdowns, his production would’ve been a little less, but grabbing him early won’t hurt your fantasy chances.

  1. Demaryius Thomas- Thomas turned in a lesser season than many expected, and that could be attributed to the lack of a concrete quarterback in Denver. Nevertheless, Thomas still finished as a high-end WR2.

It’s hard to tell what may happen with Denver’s quarterbacks, but I still trust Thomas can bounce back from a down season. Thomas was on the lower end of touchdown grabs, with six in 2015. That alone shows Thomas could very easily jump a few spots next season with more timely red zone grabs.

I prefer to take an elite running back and wide receiver with my first two picks. But if you are unable to do that, taking Thomas as your WR1 should suffice.

  1. Allen Robinson- It’s weird to rank any Jaguar in a top-ten list, but the Jags have a lot of potential to grab a playoff spot in the next few years. That chance hinges on what the young offensive skilled players can  do. Allen Robinson is front and center in Jacksonville, and I see him being a huge part of the success for the Jags.

A-Rob finished fourth in scoring this season, and either scored a touchdown or notched 80 receiving yards in all but two games this season.

Robinson could become one of the next elite wideouts in an age in which the position is loaded with talent.

  1. DeAndre Hopkins- I wasn’t too sure about drafting DeAndre Hopkins this year, as were many fantasy pundits. Hopkins silenced the critics with a season that eclipsed 1,500 receiving yards and ten touchdowns.

DeAndre also did this with four different quarterbacks. Think about Hopkins with a quarterback who can at least start 16 games. Case in point.

7. A.J. Green- After injuries were sprinkled in his lackluster 2014 season, Green was able to shake off ailments for most of 2015 and turned in a low WR1 finish.

(A.J. Green improved after an injury-filled 2014, Courtesy talk-sports.net)

In 2016, Green may continue to lose looks to Tyler Eifert towards the red zone. However, Eifert has proved to be injury prone, which could mean Green may snag a few touchdowns that could’ve been Eifert’s.

Although a new star as emerged in Cincinnati, using A.J. Green as a low WR1 or very high WR2 will be a breeze.

  1. Jordy Nelson- A torn ACL kept Jordy Nelson out for the entire season, and his impact off the field was heard loud and clear in Green Bay. The offense as a whole struggled for the entire regular season, due to the Cheeseheads’ top deep-threat being absent.

Nelson and aforementioned Aaron Rodgers have clear chemistry, and they will pick up where they left off from 2014.

The injury bug concerns me with Nelson, but I suspect the Packers will utilize Nelson to the fullest next season.

  1. Keenan Allen- A season-ending kidney injury is not something you see very often, but Keenan Allen drew the short stick in 2015.

Allen was on pace to score 189 fantasy points, which would’ve been good for seventh in scoring among wideouts this season.

  1. Calvin Johnson- Entering his age 31 season, Calvin Johnson seems to be in the last days of his prime. Johnson is still good enough to make an impact for your team, as he quietly finished as a low WR1 this season.

The pass offense in Detroit was at times tumultuous this season, but as the year got older, Matthew Stafford and Co. were able to be effective. Johnson finished with 88 catches for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns.

I didn’t like Johnson to be anything more than a high WR2 to enter 2015, and that’s about where he was. With Golden Tate in his second season in 2015, Johnson could’ve lost additional targets. In the end, Tate saw less targets than expected, paving way for what should be another dominant year for the Georgia Tech product in 2016.

Just missed the cut: Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman, Sammy Watkins,

There were several breakout tight ends this season. When the season began the tight end position looked as thin as ever. Now, there may be a plethora of top-level tight ends in 2016.

  1. Rob Gronkowski- 2015 was yet another season in which Rob Gronkowski turned in a stellar campaign. He scored 25 more points than the second-highest scorer among tight ends. His numbers could’ve been even higher had he not have missed the week 13 game against Philadelphia due to a violent knee sprain.

If there’s a better tight end to own in fantasy football, no one has seen him. If you see a ranking in which Gronk is not ranked first, that writer is simply trying to be too cute. Draft Gronk, and worry about your tight end position later.

  1. Tyler Eifert- I listed Tyler Eifert as a breakout candidate when the season began, and he didn’t disappoint. Eifert missed three games this season, and was limited in others, yet he still scored 13 touchdowns.

Eifert’s inability to stay healthy has plagued him many times in his young career. The only real concern with the Notre Dame product is whether or not he’ll be able to stay on the field, and off the injury report.

  1. Jordan Reed- Jordan Reed is a very similar tight end to Tyler Eifert. Reed is a young, talented tight end, but finds himself injured far more often than he’d like. He only missed two games this season, but was commonly listed on the Redskins’ injury report throughout the weeks.

As far as we know, the Redskins have a quarterback of the future.

(Jordan Reed’s ability to stretch defenses makes him an attractive pick in 2016, Courtesy Washington Post)

Kirk Cousins was successful this season, and Reed should be able to feed off that. Having the Florida product in your starting lineup should pay dividends in 2016.

  1. Greg Olsen- Greg Olsen is as reliable as any tight end in the NFL. As he gets older, he’s still able to stay on the field, all the while turning in solid fantasy games.

Olsen may lose targets next season to Kelvin Benjamin, but that doesn’t concern me too much. Drafting the Miami (FL) product will simply give you consistent and quality point totals each week.

  1. Julius Thomas- Although the beginning of the season was nonexistent for Thomas, once he got on the field, he showed spurts of being the Denver tight end we’ve come accustomed to enjoy.

Thomas enjoyed four straight games with a touchdown, but he turned in just one game over 80 yards receiving. It seemed there was still something missing in 2015 from Thomas, but he should string together a few games in which he topples 12 fantasy points in 2016.

  1. Gary Barnidge- The Barnyard Dog became a staple in Cleveland’s stale offense, as he recorded 1,043 yards and nine scores. He was able to do that with three different players under center, which in any realm is impressive.

Barnidge will be 31 in the 2016 season, which worries me somewhat. However, he should still be able to produce TE1 numbers throughout the 2016 season.

  1. Travis Kelce- Travis Kelce was labeled a breakout candidate coming into 2015, but he may not have put up the numbers many expected. His monster 22.60 point game in week one led many to predict he’d overtake Rob Gronkowski in 2015 as the number one tight end.

Kelce came crashing back down to earth as the season went on. His ability to gain yards after the catch made him a valuable asset in Kansas City, but his next best game was a 12-point performance in week 12.

Kelce’s upside is still there, but his lack of targets in an already stingy pass game in Kansas City keeps me from ranking Kelce any higher.

  1. Jimmy Graham- Torn patellar tendons suck, just ask Jimmy Graham. After suffering this injury against Pittsburgh in week 12, his season came to a crashing halt. Graham was just beginning to fit into the Seahawk offense when his injury came.

I labeled Graham as a bust coming into 2015, and I guess I was kind of sort of right. Next season, I’m a little more confident in him, but I still think if you can grab another player on this list with him you’ll be in great shape. Don’t reach for Graham next season.

  1. Zach Ertz- Although his first 13 games left more to be desired, Zach Ertz turned it on to close his third season in the league. In Ertz’s final three games, he tallied 35 receptions for 450 yards and one touchdown.

The final chunk of Ertz’s 2015 provided optimism for his 2016 season. He still has competition within his own team with fellow tight end Brent Celek. I’m not all that worried about Celek, and I think Ertz could turn in a very solid 2016.

If you do anything next season in fantasy football, make sure you play Ertz in week 16. In his past two week 16’s, Ertz has 28 catches for 237 yards. Bizarre as it is, it’s true.

  1. Delanie Walker- Delanie Walker turned back the clock to turn in his best season of his career in 2015. He caught 94 passes this season, and added 1,088 yards with six scores. Walker has consistently been a useable fantasy tight end, but hasn’t produced enough to warrant elite status.

If Walker ends up as your backup, you’ll be in great shape. Even if you draft him as your starting tight end, he should be consistent enough to be at least adequate. I don’t advise using him as your starting tight end unless you have a very solid starting lineup at other positions.

Just missed the cut: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kyle Rudolph, Ladarius Green, Eric Ebron

So there you have it. There’s no need to do anymore research until your draft. Just pull up this article, and you’ll be good to go.
Make sure you let me know what you think about these rankings in the “Miller Time” and “Fantasy Football” forums.