In what has become a yearly tradition for me here at Fantasy Sharks, I release what I like to call “Crazy Early Rankings.” I post this look at my top 20 players for fantasy purposes (offensive skill positions) in January while the actual NFL playoffs are still in progress.
Is that “Crazy Early” enough for you?
Yes. I am that guy who immediately turns his attention to the next season as soon as the fantasy championship has been played. Obviously these rankings are a preliminary jumping off point with many factors yet to be determined. Just little things mind you. Things like the NFL Draft as well as free agency.
Now that OTAs are underway and we obviously know where the rookies will be showcasing their skills and free agency has slowed considerably, we can take a look at updated rankings of my top 20 fantasy options heading into 2016.
1) Antonio Brown, WR, PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Brown could actually see an increase in targets with the suspension of Martavis Bryant and retirement of Heath Miller. There is no reason to doubt he can match last season’s totals and be the top overall fantasy option.
2) Julio Jones, WR, ATLANTA FALCONS: Jones set career highs in targets, receptions and receiving yards last season. Atlanta’s passing game will once again go through Jones as they still lack a reliable TE and viable WR to eat into Jones’ production (sorry Mohamed Sanu).
3) Odell Beckham Jr., WR, NEW YORK GIANTS: OBJ has produced 25 touchdowns in 27 games played. Beckham has averaged 10 targets per game in his first two seasons and posted a pair of top-7 fantasy finishes in both PPR and standard scoring formats. Yes, please.
4) Le’Veon Bell, RB, PITTSBURGH STEELERS: It’s all about staying healthy and on the field for Bell. He’s coming off a MCL and PCL injury but is expected to be ready for training camp. Bell remains an elite dual-threat option out of the backfield that should benefit from Bryant and Miller being out of the passing game.
5) Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: Gurley put up top-10 fantasy numbers in both PPR and standard scoring formats last season despite missing three games. Improved QB play with Jared Goff under center will help Gurley to produce top tier fantasy numbers.
6) David Johnson, RB, ARIZONA CARDINALS: The kid flat out tore it up down the stretch last season and will enter 2016 as the bell cow back for the Cardinals. Johnson is an above average receiving threat that possesses the burst and speed to take any touch to the house. He should average 20-plus touches and post great fantasy totals.
7) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DALLAS COWBOYS: It’s not going to take Elliott long to win the lead back duties in Dallas and he’ll be a three-down back. If Darren McFadden was able to average 4.6 yards per carry with a struggling Dallas offense last season how big of a season could Elliott have? A very big season folks.
8) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOUSTON TEXANS: Hopkins proved QB-proof last season posting top six numbers in both PPR and standard scoring formats with Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden T.J. Yates and Ryan Mallett under center. The jury is still out on how good Brock Osweiler will be, but Hopkins has shown that he will be just fine.
9) Rob Gronkowski, TE, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Even if Tom Brady misses the first four games, ‘Gronk’ will still produce at a high level. He has produced double-digit touchdowns in five of the last six seasons failing to do so only in an injury-shortened 2013 campaign. Pencil ‘Gronk’ in as the top- scoring TE once again in 2016.
10) Adrian Peterson, RB, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Even at 31, Peterson remains an elite fantasy option heading into his 10th NFL season. He led the league in carries last season racking up 1,485 rushing yards and will be the focal point of the offense again in 2016. Fantasy owners should expect another top-five RB finish for the freakish Peterson this season.