10. Alshon Jeffery
WR, Chicago Bears
Jeffery really should be in fantastic position this season. Brandon Marshall is gone for the second season and now Matt Forte (who had over 100 catches in his last fully healthy season with CHI) is joining him in New York. Jeffery should be a monster when it comes to targets, but the Bears just can’t seem to get it together. The combination of holes in the offensive line, poor QB play and consistent injuries to Jeffery means he’s likely going to be a letdown, in my opinion.
9. Matt Forte
RB, New York Jets
Speaking of Forte, it doesn’t sound like his move to NYC is going to be good for his fantasy value. At 31 years old, it’d be hard to expect Forte to keep improving even in a feature role. However, the Jets’ coaching staff is maintaining that Forte will be in a timeshare with Bilal Powell. This could very realistically turn into Forte being the passing down back for the Jets, which is obviously not what we’re looking for from a once elite RB.
8. Mark Ingram
RB, New Orleans Saints
Ingram is being mentioned as a second-tier/top-10 RB this season, and there isn’t much reason for it. New Orleans will always be a pass-first offense for as long as Drew Brees is in town, not to mention Ingram has only played in all 16 games once through his first five seasons. For Ingram’s price, we need to see 1,000+ yards with double-digit TDs, and that seems like a stretch. What was impressive from Ingram last season were his 50 catches. However, with Tim Hightower and receiving back C.J. Spiller behind him, it’ll be tough to achieve that number again. I like Mark Ingram, so I don’t want to call him a “bust” as much as he’s simply being overvalued.
7. Keenan Allen
WR, San Diego Chargers
In just eight games last season Allen was really good — hauling in 67 balls for 725 yards and four scores. Over a 16 game season that translates to 134 catches/1,450 yards/8 TDs, which is elite production. The two things that are worrisome with Allen is his health (he’s suffered some tough injuries in his short career) and his consistency. He’s an extremely trick-or-treat fantasy option, best illustrated by his first two games last season (15 catches/166 yards then 2 catches/16 yards).
6. Demaryius Thomas
WR, Denver Broncos
Thomas is one of the most skilled receivers in football, but that doesn’t always translate to fantasy production. Thomas stayed healthy and produced solid numbers for an elite WR last season — 105/1,304/6 TD. It would’ve been nice to see more touchdowns, but solid nonetheless. The huge concern with Thomas is Denver’s poor 2015 QB play may be even worse this season regardless who is at the helm. Also, Thomas is extremely matchup sensitive, which will only be enhanced by the QB situation.
5. Latavius Murray
RB, Oakland Raiders
We all raved about seeing Murray shine in a limited role in 2014 when he averaged 5.2 YPC and displayed crazy athleticism. 2015 was supposed to be the year he stepped into the spotlight, and although Murray produced, it wasn’t close to the same level when he had to handle the full workload. His YPC fell to 4.0 when given 266 attempts, and only managed six trips to the end zone (this from a player who’s breakaway speed was described as one of his biggest attributes). Murray may still look like the athletic freak he is at times on the field, but it will be because his workload is far more limited from last season.
4. Ameer Abdullah
RB, Detroit Lions
After being considered a bust in his rookie season, the Detroit backfield has cleared out, and Abdullah is going to get another crack at being the lead back. It’s up to him to seize that opportunity, but given his wildly inconsistent play last season, we have to consider the fact that he could fail again. Theo Riddick has been a good pass-catching RB in the past for the Lions, Zach Zenner has made noise in preseason, and even Stevan Ridley could steal the goal line carries if Abdullah isn’t careful. This has the feeling of a multi-RB committee.
3. Arian Foster
RB, Miami Dolphins
Foster was a late add to the Dolphins who are now feeling really good about the move. Foster is obviously on the back end of his career and coming off a torn achilles tendon last season. All indications are that he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery and looks poised to steal the starting job in Miami. That’s great, but use Foster early in the season if you like him, because I don’t think it’s going to last. I’m not doubting Foster’s skills. If he can play 12+ games he could actually be a sleeper, but his history/age suggests there’s a very low probability of that happening. Since playing in 45 of 48 possible games from 2010-2012, Foster has played in just 25 of 48 from 2013-2015. It’s tough to see that trend changing given the injuries he’s suffered during that time.
2. Kirk Cousins
QB, Washington Redskins
Cousins had a really solid year in his first go around as an NFL starting QB. He threw for almost 4,200 yards, he had 29 touchdowns to just 11 picks and even ran in five scores for Washington. Now Cousins is getting paid like the man and everyone knows what to expect from him. A TON of that production came in the last few games of the season against run down teams with little to play for. This may be a case of a player getting hot a the right time and we buy in too quickly. I need to see more from Cousins before I can trust him to be one of the top quarterbacks.
1. Matthew Stafford
QB, Detroit Lions
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s never good when your WR known as Megatron decides to call it a career and retire early. With Calvin Johnson gone, Stafford is going to have to be a totally new player. His production will likely take some type of a hit as he’s forced to spread the ball around to Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin. Stafford has never been able to repeat his monster 2011 performance, but did manage his best season since than in 2015. I think he will regress back to what he was in that 2012-2014 window in 2016. Somebody’s got to catch some balls in Detroit, though, so keep an eye out for one of those three WRs to break out.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.