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2015-2016 Fantasy Football Draft Primer: Sleepers, Busts, Positional Charts, & First Round Advice

Before you sit down for your annual fantasy football draft with your buddies, heed the advice in this article. The NFL is an everchanging landscape of nobodies becoming somebodies, and somebodies becoming nobodies. Nothing is more trivial than fantasy football, as its nearly a toss up every single Sunday of who performs and who busts. In this article, I will attempt to break down the process for you so you avoid the fantasy screw-ups, and take the guys who will have you cheering in your friends’ faces by seasons end.

Scroll to the bottom for top positional lists! Hope this sets you up for all your draft needs.

Sleepers:

Andre Williams:

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Williams is going to win over the starting job in New York at some point, and it could be very early in the season. He got in the endzone seven times last season, and neither Rashad Jennings nor Shane Vereen appear as threats to get in more than that this season. He isn’t an RB1, maybe not even RB2, but he is a valuable 6th or 7th round draft pick.

Ameer Abdullah:

There are rumblings of Abdullah taking over the starting job in Detroit. Joique Bell has always been an iffy fantasy producer, and Abdullah has the chance to be the feature back with the Lions. If so, the Nebraska product could be a legit RB2. Look out for him.

Jeremy Maclin:

Via www.chiefsdigest.com
Via http://www.chiefsdigest.com

Maclin comes into a really good situation in Kansas City. Well, a good fantasy situation. That situation? Well, Alex Smith has noone else to throw to. But regardless, Maclin is coming off a huge season with the Eagles and is no doubt a WR2 in this league. Expect 10 touchdowns for Maclin this season. Scoop him up in the 3rd or 4th round.

Alfred Morris:

Morris is coming off of an absolutely horrendous season, where he surpassed the 100 yard mark just once. But his team is better this season, and with that should come a better year, something more like his rookie year. He is a good risk to take around the 5th or 6th round. Don’t shy away from him because of one bad year.

Latavius Murray:

Photo via raiderbeat.com
Photo via raiderbeat.com

The number one back in Oakland doesn’t really mean much, but Murray flashed potential last season as a possible option in fantasy. Trent Richardson and Roy Helu don’t sound like fantasy thiefs (not now, not ever), and Murray could end up the best Murray in fantasy football. Take him with confidence after round 3.

Golden Tate:

Golden Tate had a monster year for the first 8 weeks of last season, but died off as the Lions struggled. His success should be replicated this year, as Calvin Johnson has taken a step back. That could change, but for now I am a fan of Tate in the 4th round.

Delanie Walker:

Walker impressed as the tight end in Tennessee last season, and there is no reason he shouldn’t again this year. Whether it be Marcus Mariota or Zach Mettenburger calling the shots for the Titans, Walker should be a end of the line TE1.

Tom Brady:

Photo via Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Photo via Damian Strohmeyer/SI

Swallowing his suspension will be difficult, but if he produces like he did last season, then Brady is worth it. Finding a starting quarterback for the first four weeks is doable, and Brady is a top knotch QB1 once he is back. He is especially important in two QB leagues. Take him in the 6th round.

Kenny Stills:

The prime option for Ryan Tannehill in Miami is Stills, who comes in via trade with New Orleans. He won’t be a WR1 or WR2, but he may be a viable flex option. Take him in the 5th round.

Joe Flacco:

Flacco is only a few years removed from a championship, and he claims he’s in his  “physical peak“. I wouldn’t bet money on that, but he is going to be throwing the ball a lot this season as the Ravens play catchup. I wouldn’t go with him as a starter, but if your league is one that uses two QBs, he should be one of the first QB2s off the board.

Coby Fleener:

Fleener has been Andrew Lucks favorite target since their days at Stanford, and he has flashed top TE talent at some points in his career. This year could be a breakout for him, as the Colts are the favorites in the AFC. Take him as TE1 if you put off the position until too late, but TE2 is safe here.

Kansas City Chiefs Defense:

The defense is stacked, with guys like Dontari Poe, Justin Houston, Tomba Hali, and Derrick Johnson imposing their will on opposing offenses. The Chiefs are a solid starting defense.

Alfred Blue:

The Texans starting running back wasn’t great filling in for Arian Foster last season, but he will have another go at it this season, as Foster will miss the first few weeks of the season. He has potential to break out onto the Fantasy scene.

Carolina Panthers Defense:

The addition of Charles Tillman gives a veteran presence to this defense that could do wonders for them. The Panthers are a good defense here, maybe top 5.

Busts:

C.J. Anderson:

No Denver Bronco running back can be trusted in Fantasy. Anderson is a bust waiting to happen.

Minimum draft position: round 5.

DeAndre Hopkins:

Photo via www.rantsports.com
Photo via http://www.rantsports.com

Hopkins is the clear number one in Houston, but with Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball, I wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds.

Minimum draft position: round 4.

Frank Gore:

The old Gore wasn’t very effective in San Francisco last year, and on a team that hasn’t had success running the last few seasons, don’t expect him to be a big Fantasy option.

Minimum draft position: round 9.

C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram:

The Saints never run the ball well, and having two guys who are arguably better catching out of the backfield as the two halfbacks isn’t set to go well.

Minimum draft position – Spiller : round 6.

Minimum draft position – Ingram: round 8.

Andre Ellington:

Ellington disappointed last season, and he may so again. The Cardinals will not be the team they were last year, and the offense will struggle with Michael Floyd injured. Ellington is a RB4.

Minimum draft position: round 10.

Brandin Cooks:

Cooks is well liked in many circles, but I don’t see his versatility panning out in Fantasy. He will be an effective weapon for Drew Brees, yes, but he won’t turn it in to fantasy points.

Minimum draft position: round 12

Andre Johnson:

Photo via www.cbssports.com
Photo via CBS Sports

Johnson, like his veteran friend Gore, comes to Indy looking for playoff success, not fantasy relevance. Don’t expect him to see many double digit fantasy point games.

Minimum draft position: round 13.

Jimmy Graham:

Graham won’t be a bust in terms of efficiency, but he will be in fantasy. That is mostly because the Seahawks won’t need him very much. The team has its own way of power offense, and the tight end has never been a big part of the Seahawks system. The sad truth is Graham may not even be a TE1 anymore.

Minimum draft position: round 10.

Safe First Round Picks

In my opinion, this year more than most contains the most high risk players projected to go in the first round. While I don’t support many of this year’s projections, like Dez Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, I will let you in on who I think is worth being taken in the first round with your first round pick. 

Aaron Rodgers:

People underrate QBs as first round fantasy picks. Rodgers is the best fantasy quarterback out there, and is a much surer bet than some of the running backs projected to go first round.

Adrian Peterson:

Its hard to see AP not coming back with avengeance this season. He is still risky, but less risky than some others, and he is by far the highest reward RB available.

Jamaal Charles:

Charles is always an injury risk, but he was great last season, and he can safely call himself the only guy to be a perennial top 5 fantasy guy the last five years. That stands for something.

DeMaryius Thomas:

Thomas has been Peyton Mannings favorite target since he got to Denver, and that should continue. Take him with confidence.

Odell Beckham Jr.:

The sensation that has taken the NFL by storm, Beckham Jr. is an athlete like we have never seen before. He could break records this season.

Marshawn Lynch:

Lynch has been consistently good the past few seasons, and that shouldn’t slow down this year.

Matt Forte:

Forte has been used as the main weapon in Chicago’s offense for a while now, and he is still the best on the team. Forte always impresses.

Antonio Brown: 

The best receiver in the league right now, Brown’s unmatchable speed makes him a unique weapon for any team, fantasy or not.

Jeremy Hill:

Perhaps a surprise, but Hill is on track to be a fantasy beast this season. Even with Gio Bernard behind him, Hill is the best weapon in his division.

Andrew Luck:

Luck is gaining traction on the position as best QB in the league, and he will continue working on that title this season with another amazing year.

Not So Safe First Round Picks

Le’Veon Bell:

Perhaps the consensus number one pick deserves a first round merit, but his three game suspension is too much to swallow for your first round pick. You don’t want to set yourself back two or three games before your first rounder can help.

Dez Bryant:

Bryant is on a horrible Cowboys offense. Don’t expect the same season as last year’s.

Julio Jones:

Jones is the clear number one option in Atlanta, but the Falcons are too unstable to spend a first round pick on. If you can snag him in the second round, do it.

Eddy Lacy:

The Packers won’t rely on the run game as frequently as other high powered offenses, and for that Lacy is better for a second round pick.

C.J. Anderson:

As explained previously, Anderson and any other first round pick is too big of a risk.

DeMarco Murray:

You can’t trust Murray when there are two other qualified running backs, Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles, getting snaps in the Philly backfield.

 

Top Quarterbacks

Photo via tensportsclub.com
Photo via tensportsclub.com
  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Andrew Luck
  3. Cam Newton
  4. Peyton Manning
  5. Drew Brees
  6. Russell Wilson
  7. Ben Roethlisberger
  8. Matthew Stafford
  9. Matt Ryan
  10. Phillip Rivers
  11. Colin Kaepernick
  12. Eli Manning
  13. Tony Romo
  14. Tom Brady
  15. Ryan Tannehill
  16. Sam Bradford
  17. Joe Flacco
  18. Robert Griffin III
  19. Jameis Winston
  20. Nick Foles
  21. Alex Smith
  22. Teddy Bridgewater
  23. Marcus Mariota
  24. Brian Hoyer
  25. Johnny Manziel

 

Top Running Backs

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Jamaal Charles
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Matt Forte
  4. Le’Veon Bell
  5. Marshawn Lynch
  6. Jeremy Hill
  7. LeSean McCoy
  8. Justin Forsett
  9. Eddie Lacy
  10. Jonathan Stewart
  11. Lamar Miller
  12. Latavius Murray
  13. DeMarco Murray
  14. Alfred Morris
  15. Ameer Abdullah
  16. Giovani Bernard
  17. Carlos Hyde
  18. Andre Williams
  19. C. J. Anderson
  20. Tre Mason
  21. Doug Martin
  22. Stevan Ridley
  23. T. J. Yeldon
  24. Joseph Randle
  25. Bishop Sankey
  26. Mark Ingram
  27. C.J. Spiller
  28. Melvin Gordon
  29. Knile Davis
  30. Alfred Blue
  31. Andre Ellington
  32. Devonta Freeman
  33. Frank Gore
  34. Darren McFadden
  35. LeGarrette Blount
  36. Rashad Jennings
  37. Denard Robinson
  38. Isaiah Crowell
  39. Todd Gurley
  40. Reggie Bush
  41. Duke Johnson
  42. Montee Ball
  43. Tevin Coleman
  44. Lorenzo Taliaferro
  45. Jonathan Grimes
  46. Ryan Matthews
  47. Fozzy Whittaker
  48. Terrance West
  49. Jerick McKinnon
  50. Zac Stacy

 

Top Wide Receivers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Odell Beckham Jr
  3. DeMaryius Thomas
  4. Calvin Johnson Jr
  5. A.J. Green
  6. Dez Bryant
  7. Julio Jones
  8. Jordy Nelson
  9. Mike Evans
  10. Randall Cobb
  11. T.Y. Hilton
  12. Emmanuel Sanders
  13. Jeremy Maclin
  14. DeAndre Hopkins
  15. Kelvin Benjamin
  16. Golden Tate
  17. Brandon Marshall
  18. DeSean Jackson
  19. Keenan Allen
  20. Sammy Watkins
  21. Kenny Stills
  22. Jordan Matthews
  23. Roddy White
  24. Mike Wallace
  25. Julian Edelman
  26. Eric Decker
  27. Amari Cooper
  28. Victor Cruz
  29. Martavis Bryant
  30. Vincent Jackson
  31. Steve Smith
  32. Allen Robinson
  33. Allen Hurns
  34. Kevin White
  35. Pierre Garcon
  36. Jarvis Landry
  37. Larry Fitzgerald
  38. Kendall Wright
  39. DeVante Parker
  40. Breshan Perriman
  41. Torrey Smith
  42. Steve Johnson
  43. Tavon Austin
  44. Kenny Britt
  45. Davante Adams
  46. Charles Johnson
  47. Brandon LaFell
  48. Nelson Agholor
  49. Rueben Randle
  50. Brian Quick

 

Top Tight Ends

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Greg Olsen
  3. Martellius Bennett
  4. Travis Kelce
  5. Jordan Cameron
  6. Zach Ertz
  7. Tyler Eifert
  8. Julius Thomas
  9. Jason Witten
  10. Jimmy Graham
  11. Delanie Walker
  12. Dwayne Allen
  13. Eric Ebron
  14. Coby Fleener
  15. Kyle Rudolph
  16. Owen Daniels
  17. Larry Donnell
  18. Charles Clay
  19. Vernon Davis
  20. Heath Miller

 

Top Defenses

Photo via http://blog.seattlepi.com
Photo via http://blog.seattlepi.com
  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. St. Louis Rams
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Carolina Panthers
  6. Denver Broncos
  7. New York Jets
  8. Arizona Cardinals
  9. Baltimore Ravens
  10. Miami Dolphins

 

Top Kickers

  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Steven Hauschka
  3. Cody Parkey
  4. Justin Tucker
  5. Adam Vinatieri
  6. Mason Crosby
  7. Connor Barth
  8. Matt Prater
  9. Dan Bailey
  10. Nick Novak

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