Our Top Sleepers for your 2016 Fantasy Draft
The 2016 fantasy football season is only 5 weeks away, and it’s time to start preparing. It doesn’t matter if you are in a dynasty, keeper, standard, or auction league, identifying sleepers plays a major role in building a winning team. Let’s take a look at our top sleepers for the 2016 fantasy season.
ADP – 153
Few players have the bounce-back-potential of Wallace. A big play receiver that is going from playing with arguably the two worst deep ball throwers in the league to one of the best. Think back to what Torrey Smith did with Flacco just two seasons ago, averaging 17 YPC and scoring 11 touchdowns. Wallace will fill a similar role, and has impressed in early offseason workouts. This isn’t a guy that belongs in the 15th round of drafts. Wallace is only one year removed from a 70/900/10 season, has only missed one game in his entire career, and is in a much, much better situation in Baltimore.
ADP – 31
C.J. Anderson were no doubt frustrated by his 2015 campaign. He lost carries to Ronnie Hillman, nearly losing his job altogether, but finished the year extremely strong averaging 17 fantasy PPG over his last 5. He enters this year as the every down back on what will perhaps be the league’s most run-heavy offense. In a league where it hardly exists anymore you are getting a 3 down back, with a guaranteed workload, guaranteed role in the passing game, 100% of goal line carries, and little competition behind him. We expect Anderson to finish as a top 6 RB, but he’s currently the 16th off the board making him a solid second round sleeper pick.
ADP – 106
In our NFL draft recap, we listed Shepard as one of the rookies that will have an instant fantasy impact. We expect the Giants offense to be a top 5 offense this season, and love the role Shepard will play. With a healthy (at least for now) Cruz in the middle, and OBJ commanding constant double teams, Shepard will have all plenty of one-on-one’s to exploit. He’s an above-average athlete, but is a polished route runner and heady player. Already locked into the Giants #2 role, and given their willingness to throw rookie receivers right into the gameplan, we expect Shepard and OBJ to be one of the top fantasy duo’s in the league.
ADP – 80
Abdullah will enter the 2016 campaign as the Lions’ starting running back, and has the potential to be a big time breakout player. It has taken four consecutive drafts, but the Lions have quietly put together one of the better offensive lines in the league. Taylor Decker has impressed at left tackle, moving Reiff over to the right side, and the Lions’ guards have a chance to become the best pair in the league. The scheme is much better than it was under Lombardi, the offense will be less predictable without 81, and Abdullah is a big-play guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield and looked solid as a between the tackles runner as well.
ADP – 117
You have to take note anytime a HC comes out and says they are reworking the scheme around increasing one player’s targets, then suggests he will double the number of catches he had the year before. If opposing defenses having to key on Gurley wasn’t enough to create space for Austin, the addition of Goff really helps. Goff is already one of the top 5 or 6 deep ball throwers in this league. Defenses will have to respect that or Britt and Quick will beat them over the top. We are buying Austin’s sleeper stock… especially as the 47th receiver off the board.
ADP – 145
Chances are, Foster has signed somewhere before you draft and will jump way up in ADP. However, if you draft before he’s signed (likely by the Patriots in my opinion) you have to jump on him somewhere in the middle of your draft. We are talking about a 3 down back that still has the ability to lead the league in yards this season. If he does sign with a contender like the Patriots, there is a chance you get a top 20 player in the back half of the draft.
ADP – 123
NFL experts tend to be late to the boat when it comes to realizing just how great a player is… Matthew Stafford hasn’t had a right tackle since he was drafted. He consistently leads the NFL in just about every time-to-throw stat, but it’s always been credited to volume or the fact that he has Megatron. Despite his ability to get the ball out extremely fast, he was sacked 9 times in under 2.6 seconds last season…. 2.6. The Lions have rebuilt their offensive line, and are entering their first full season under OC Jim Bob Cooter. Let’s take a quick look at Stafford’s numbers once Cooter took over last season, 276 ypg 3 td/g with a 17/1 TD/INT ratio.
Despite a slow start, terrible line play, an oft-injured Johnson, and no running game, he finished the season as the 9th highest scoring QB. One other note on those numbers, the Lions played one of the toughest schedules in the NFL (8 games against NFL’s top 12 defenses). Everything will be more consistent this season, the line, the run game, the game plan, and even without 81, the receiving corps. Look for nice numbers out of Jones and Tate, but a big step up in production for Riddick, Ebron, and Kerley.
Digging Deep – Late, Late Sleepers
Corey Coleman – The common theme with Coleman (ADP – 92) is that Cleveland can’t produce a top 20 receiver, but Travis Benjamin nearly was a year ago with McCown/Manziel and Mike Pettine. Coleman is going to be targeted a ton as the centerpiece of a Hue Jackson offense.
Justin Hardy – Falcons offense can be explosive and Hardy looked great in offseason workouts. Mo Sanu will be overdrafted, but Hardy arguably has more upside in the final rounds of your draft.
Kendall Wright – Another upside receiver you can get in the final few rounds of your draft, Wright has a few things going for him: this is a contract season, he has actual competition, he is being coached by Terry Robiskie, and his QB Mariota has a year under his belt. This could go one of two ways for Wright, but given the fact that he added 14 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is playing for one of the best WR coaches ever are both positive signs that he may return to the 94/1100 guy we saw in 2012.
Tevin Coleman – Don’t get me started here… Coleman is the best RB in Atlanta. This will at worst be a timeshare at the end of the season, but we expect Coleman to be the early down RB and Freeman the passing duties. With an ADP of 124, the possibility of getting a starting RB in a Kyle Shanahan offense is more than worth the risk.
Dennis Pitta – I was ready to finally write Dennis Pitta off, but the Ravens are sucking me back in… Pitta was a top 10 tight end in 2012-2013, but has been injured ever since. He’s certainly one of the most talented tight ends in the league, and the Baltimore Sun reported he was one of the major winners this offseason and will be a major contributor to the Ravens offense. Worth a late round flier if you want to carry an extra tight end with legit upside.
Zach Zenner – Another Lion, I know. If Abdullah is injured or really struggles with fumbles, Zenner, not Riddick, will get the 1st and 2nd down work. Zenner looked solid when he played last season, and the staff loves him. Riddick is not a runner, watch the film, he struggles with some of the basic principles of running the football, he’s the best pass catching running back in the league but isn’t Abdullah’s handcuff.