SCO Fantasy Football Preview

Aug. 31, 2016, 1:04 p.m. | By Charles Lott, Benjamin Yokoyama | 7 years, 10 months ago

The NFL season is on its way, and along with it comes the fantasy football season. Silver Chips Online's Ben Yokoyama and Charlie Lott are back this year with their picks of the week to help you set your lineup. Below is a preview of the upcoming season, along with sleepers and busts to avoid in your fantasy football draft.

The top 10 projected fantasy football passers.

Aaron Rodgers is primed for yet another big year. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Hard to make an incorrect top QB choice, but Rodgers is so consistent year in and year out despite his lack of receiving help. A healthy Jordy Nelson out of the slot will certainly help him out on third down.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Trash my pick all you want, but he's still an elite quarterback. Take away some games with a suspension, it won't matter. Brady has helped win fantasy matchups for years and years, this one won't be different.
3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
The dude is a giant, and while his passing ability made great strides last year, his ability to put the ball in the end zone by himself is what makes him so valuable. The balance in the Panthers offense is amazing, and the excitement surrounding a healthy Kelvin Benjamin will only make Newton's job easier at the helm.
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck had a pretty awful year all around, with injuries and poor play. This year he should be encouraged by the play of Donte Moncrief who will help open up the field for T.Y. Hilton's big-play ability.
5. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals run an excellent offense that is easy to commandeer. Palmer happens to be one of few QBs who can be considered elite pocket passers. His experience improves his entire offense, and his weapons are so nicely balanced. Speed in Chris Johnson and John Brown, great hands from David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald and a giant deep target in Michael Floyd make Palmer even better.
6. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
I love this guy. He is a star in the making who made his receivers into stars last year. He's a smart passer but is also athletic and can elude some tacklers if needed. Having Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper at his sides doesn't hurt either.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I'll admit I dislike Russell Wilson, but that's not why he's lower on this list than expected. Seattle is going to try to rely on the play action pass with Thomas Rawls replacing Marshawn Lynch. Wilson will revert to his old self, where he's winning games but not putting up big fantasy numbers.
8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers is so consistent every year, quietly performing for fantasy, but never making a big splash in the win column. It'll be more of the same as he won't have much help again, and while the Chargers lose, Rivers owners will have a top scorer on their hands.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones. If not for the big wideout Ryan would fall into the 20's on this list.
10. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles is turning the Jags around from the butt of every NFL joke to a legitimate offense. With the pickup of Chris Ivory to pair with T.J. Yeldon, the backfield will require a lot of focus from opposing defenses. Bortles will have free reign to unleash the Allens: Robinson and Hurns to put up TD numbers like last year.

Andrew Luck is poised for a bounce-back year. Photo courtesy of Sports Rants.

1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck is coming off of a down year thanks to injury, but an upgraded Colts offensive line and two top-quality receivers in T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief could bring him back to the top of the league.
2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton was the league's MVP last year, thanks to his ability to score with both his arm and his legs. This year all of the key offensive pieces are returning, and the addition of wideout Kelvin Benjamin will provide him with another big target.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay lost star wide receiver Jordy Nelson last year before the start of the season, and his return along with the addition of tight end Jared Cook can turn 2016 into a comeback year for Rodgers' fantasy stock.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
The loss of Beast Mode could actually be good news for the Seahawks' passing game. Wilson will have the opportunity to thrive in an offense solely focused on him, and he has several promising young weapons in Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and pass-catching rookie running back C.J. Prosise.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben still has the best receiving core in pro football even without Martavis Bryant. With Ladarius Green at tight end, this offense will consistently put up over thirty points. Mike Tomlin's tendency to go for two also gives Steelers players considerable fantasy value.
6. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer looked like an old man in the NFC championship game, but he can still tear it up in the regular season. The plethora of deep threat receivers on the Cardinals will keep this quarterback in the top ten moving forward.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
I'm always skeptical of Romo during the offseason, but this Cowboys offense looks unstoppable. They boast the best offensive line in football, a promising rookie running back, and Dez Bryant.
8. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
The only reason Brady drops to eighth is because of his four game suspension at the start of the season. Numerous Patriots upgrades during the offseason, including new tight end Martellus Bennett, suggest that the New England quarterback is poised for another MVP season.
9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals lost a few supporting cast members in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but retained some receiving starpower. I like Dalton because of the consistency of Marvin Lewis' offense and the poor secondaries of the division rival Steelers and Ravens.
10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
I don't really want to put Brees in my top ten, but he's ended up here pretty much every season of his career. A young receiving crew and unproven tight end Coby Fleener make this a risky pick, but the Saints will have to play catchup in most games, keeping the ball in the air.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
Osweiler learned how to run an offense behind the greatest of all time for years. Now it's his turn to strut his stuff. DeAndre Hopkins also helps.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
People hate this dude, but he is almost always top ten in the league in fantasy points. I hope the consistent early exits from the playoffs don't get to him, because he'll be my first pick for backup QB.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill has a great receiving core of Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker, and rookie Leonte Carroo, along with a new blindside protector in Laremy Tunsil. The inexperienced running back group led by Jay Ajayi should also force Miami to win games by passing.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston looked really good in his first year as a pro, and with both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson returning, he should only get better in 2016.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
This guy is done for. He clung to Calvin Johnson for success but now that he's gone, Stafford is left with almost no help. His inability to throw the ball accurately is not helpful either.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
He's a huge risk to pick due to his fragile collarbone that's ailed him the past few seasons. If he can stay healthy he's a performer, but I'm not sure if he can sustain the wear and tear of a long NFL season.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Taylor is the object of a lot of preseason hype, but last season he only went 8-6 as a starter. A minor injury to Sammy Watkins and questions about Taylor's own durability make him a risky pick to start at quarterback.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
We've never seen Stafford play without Megatron at his disposal, and chances are it won't be pretty. Golden Tate and Theo Riddick are not an inspiring pair of pass-catchers.

Running backs:
The top 10 projected fantasy football rushers.

Todd Gurley could have monster sophomore season. Photo courtesy of LA Times.

1. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley proved himself in his rookie year, being the only bright spot in a dismal offense. With a revamped team after the move to LA, the Rams have an excited fan base and hopefully an excited locker room. Whether the team falls flat or finds themselves, Gurley will be among the top scorers every week.
2. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
A few of the guys on this list are here because of their ability to rack up yards as a receiver in addition to their ground game. I have Johnson ahead of established rusher Adrian Peterson because of his fit in the Cardinals offense. Johnson would often find himself with loads of space to run, and the former sixth round pick made the most of it.
3. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell is another multi-faceted impact player. But he's an off the field issue for the Steelers as well. There were rumors of a suspension for him and with the NFL you never know. If Bell can stay healthy and out of trouble, he could be the number one back in the game.
4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
AP is the runner that every back should want to be. And he's the back every fantasy owner prays they can have on their team. His age may be catching up to him, taking a step off his speed, but AP is still the hardest-hitting runner in the game.
5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
With the top four runners on the list, they are all guarantees for loads of points each week, and are well worth a first round pick. At number five, however, Charles is a wild card. He is undoubtedly one of the most agile players in all of football, but after a second ACL surgery, he'll have to prove himself. I believe he's well worth a shot, and he's come back from one surgery to perform at the top level again.
6. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
The name of the game is points, and at the end of the day, touchdowns are worth more points. If the Panthers can be as high-powered as last year, Stewart will be dancing almost once a game, if Cam Newton doesn't steal his touchdowns.
7. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Muscle Hamster out of Boise State has done nothing but produce almost every year. He's as close to consistent as you'll find in the revolving door that is NFL running backs. He is not a power back, but his agility and speed will work behind any offensive line.
8. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
Rawls is another guy who will be awesome if he can stay healthy. If he's healthy, expect Marshawn Lynch-like fantasy numbers. The Seahawks offense is at its best when it goes ground and pound, fighting for every yard, setting up the play-action pass. There will plenty of touches for Rawls as the essence of the offense.
9. Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears
Langford came on very strong as a replacement for Matt Forte midway through the season. Thanks to the Bears horrendous O-Line, Langford got so many opportunities through the air, saving QB Jay Cutler and racking up yards, and touchdowns, for himself. The Bears hope to be a more traditional offense next season, as opposed to throwing interceptions every possession, which should make Langford a more consistent option.
10. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The Saints have three running backs now, with Tim Hightower and CJ Spiller still behind Ingram, but Ingram will start every game. The best fantasy running backs are those involved in the passing game. Like Johnson, Bell, and Langford before him, the second dimension adds tremendous value, especially with a good QB like Drew Brees.

Le'Veon Bell may be suspended to start the season, but he'll be back with a vengeance week five. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

1. Le'veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell is the best running back in football, when he's healthy. I advise against picking a running back in the first round, because of the frequency of injuries at the position, but Bell is the cream of the crop.
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
All Day is still the focal point of this Minnesota offense, and upgrades on the offensive line should give Peterson more of a chance against the stacked boxes he's sure to face.
3. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are new to LA, and also sport a new quarterback who is going to need significant help from the ground game. Gurley is the only proven offensive threat here, and he's sure to get plenty of opportunities.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
The hype train surrounding Zeke Elliott is enormous, and I am definitely a part of it. The Cowboys offensive line is scary good, and Elliott can duplicate much of his college success running behind it.
5. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
I would probably put Johnson higher on this list if not for the experienced Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington nipping at his heels on the depth chart. In the late going last year, the Cardinals offense was among the best in football, and Johnson should get plenty of looks at the end zone.
6. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Much like Bell, Charles will only stay on this list as long as he's healthy. Alex Smith remains the quarterback of the Chiefs, meaning that the burden of scoring will fall on the running back room. Charcandrick West is a necessary handcuff.
7. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Shady is so consistently good. His pass-catching ability will be what really shines during scramble drills in this Tyrod Taylor-led offense. But McCoy should continue to get his weekly allowance of fifteen-plus touches per game.
8. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Lacy was a huge bust last year, but he has since lost weight, gained a few rookie blockers and the entire Packers offense will be aided by the return of Jordy Nelson. Get ready to see a new and improved Lacy this season.
9. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram is a great running back hidden in a less-than-great offense. He should carry the brunt of the load, whatever that looks like, with only C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, and Tim Hightower on the depth chart behind him.
10. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
Miller was always a dynamic rusher, but he wasn't used to his full potential in Miami. If he falls into the same role that was held by Arian Foster, he should make the top ten in his first year in Houston.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
There are a big handful of running backs that will be considered solid late round draft picks, but Gore is the epitome of a sleeper. By the end of last season, Gore was still putting up consistent fantasy numbers. He's still the number one in Indy, and despite his age he can pound the ball in short yardage situations.
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
McFadden will have to wait for his coaches to realize that it takes experience to run in the NFL, even if the Cowboys have a strong O-Line. Once Elliott falls off in the early weeks of the season, McFadden's touches will increase, much as they did last season behind Joseph Randle.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Gordon was very similar to Todd Gurley coming out of college, but didn't do anything last season. With the Chargers' new and improved offensive line, and no threat to his touches coming from Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver, Gordon could have a breakout year.
Duke Johnson, Jr., Cleveland Browns
Hue Jackson is going to work his magic on Cleveland, starting with the most promising young rusher on the roster. It still baffles me why Isaiah Crowell started over Johnson last year.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
I normally love rookies, but Elliott was not the best rusher in this year's draft class, nor is he the best rusher currently on the Cowboys roster. I would go so far as to say he's the third best rusher. Expect Alfred Morris and a healthy Darren McFadden to be slowly stealing the carries as the coaching staff realizes they don't have a Todd Gurley on their hands in Elliott.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Hill is still stuck sharing touches with Gio Bernard. Last season Hill would score the touchdowns, but nothing else really went his way. Hill is just a third down/goal line back. There will be backs that will be put to much better use by their respective teams.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman was amazing for a stretch last year, but I don't see him returning for more. A lacking Atlanta attack along with second-year running back Tevin Coleman should limit Freeman's touches.
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins
Jones was never much of a between-the-tackles running back, and with passing downs specialist Chris Thompson in Washington, the second year back won't factor heavily into this offense.

Wide receivers:
The top 10 projected fantasy football pass-catchers.

Julio Jones was a beast last year, and is only going to get better. Photo courtesy of Grantland.

1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jones is coming off a record-breaking year in 2015, and he's always ready no matter his matchup on the defensive side. Matt Ryan is a legitimate quarterback, but anyone can look good throwing to Julio. A slightly more balanced offense with the emergence of Devonta Freeman also means defenses may lose track of Jones.
2. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though Brown went through three quarterbacks last year, he still managed to be the best fantasy wideout in the league. The only reason I would put him behind Julio is that Julio racks up so many yards that the touchdowns are bound to come.
3. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
These top three receivers are all incredible options that will be gone in the first eight picks unless someone goes heavy on the quarterbacks. But Odell has dealt with consistent minor injuries in the past, the only thing dragging down his stock. Otherwise you know he's good for double digits, especially with a veteran in Eli Manning.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
The Texans settled in at quarterback with Brian Hoyer by the end of the year, but now he's gone. Hopkins can produce with any quarterback, but a strong connection with newcomer Brock Osweiler can only improve his stock. They still have no running game, so Hopkins will see double coverage consistently.
5. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
Eric Decker and Marshall combine for, in my opinion, the second-best receiving teammates in the game. While Decker still steals touchdowns all the time, the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick is really good for the Jets. Fitz' connection with his receivers is great, and they will be looking to pass after losing Chris Ivory and picking up a receiving back in Matt Forte.
6. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Now here's the best receiving duo in the NFL with Allen Hurns. Robinson is the clear number one, and QB Blake Bortles can only get better. With a now established quarterback and a good running game with Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon, the balanced attack of the Jaguars is not to be messed with.
7. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Best QB in the game throwing to him, coming back from a season-long injury, and protected in the slot by deep threat Randall Cobb, Nelson has it real good. He'll be a primary red zone target which Cobb, disappointingly, was not last year.
8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans and Jameis Winston have grown together and turned themselves into a real force for Tampa. Evans could be the next Julio Jones and has the hands to prove it. He'll be a great option in the second or third round.
9. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin is a bit of a wild card, but he could become a much, much better version of Ted Ginn Jr. for Cam Newton. Coming off a major injury and having never played an NFL game, Benjamin could be a real bust, but he's in a great spot with great coaching, a great QB, and a great running game.
10. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
As you could probably tell I like balanced offenses, and the Oakland Raiders' offense is now a really good unit. They have incredible skill at wideout with Cooper and Michael Crabtree and two decent tight ends. Latavius Murray proved his consistency as well. Cooper was Derek Carr's favorite option, and their connection can only get stronger as the Raiders learn to score more and more.

Odell Beckham Jr.'s connection with Eli Manning is unparalleled. Photo courtesy of Odell Beckham Jr. 13.

1. Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants
Odell Beckham is the best receiver in football, and Eli Manning has eyes only for him. The return of Victor Cruz and addition of rookie Sterling Shepard should keep coverages from solely watching Odell, and playing Josh Norman twice a year certainly won't hurt.
2. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Brown is crazy consistent, and with the loss of Martavis Bryant even more targets will go his way. One way that Brown loses some value, however, is if star running back Le'Veon Bell gets hurt, allowing defenses to triple cover the wideout.
3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
This pick goes along with my theme of a Cowboys resurgence. Bryant is uncoverable, and there's nobody else on the roster to steal his targets. He's also unparalleled as a red zone threat.
4. Deandre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Hopkins will have a steady quarterback in Brock Osweiler this year, along with two rookie wideouts to keep defenses guessing. I expect him to only get better in his fourth year in the league.
5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
I never cared much for Julio, even though he was among the top fantasy wideouts last year. I think he will remain in the top five, but barely, thanks to the inadequacy of Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense.
6. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green thrives in the spotlight, and with Andy Dalton looking better, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu leaving, and Tyler Eifert nursing an injury, this should be one of Green's better years.
7. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Robinson is a much better player than Allen Hurns, and with the Jaguars offense turning into a force to be reckoned with, he should improve on last year in terms of yardage and touchdowns.
8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans has dropped the ball a lot in the last few years, but with Jameis Winston slinging the ball and Doug Martin forcing opposing teams to stack the box, Evans is primed for a career year.
9. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers just inked an enormous deal with Allen, and he's the only serious receiving threat on the roster. Last year he led the league in receptions prior to his injury, and in 2016 he'll just continue where he left off.
10. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
I really like the Colts this year, and if Andrew Luck can stay healthy for a full season, his primary target will be a mainstay in your fantasy lineup.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Kevin White, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler is a really bad quarterback. But even bad quarterbacks have to throw to someone. White was injured last season, so this season will be his real rookie season. He's a big guy with loads of speed who can be really good.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
This second rounder out of Oklahoma will bring out the best in Eli Manning. Anyone with Shepard's route-running ability working opposite OBJ will be open VERY often.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett was great as a home run threat last year. But my dislike for Doug Baldwin and the increasing level of Russell Wilson's play should allow the second-year player to develop into a consistent slot threat.
Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff's passes need to go somewhere, and Jeff Fisher is finally figuring out how to use Austin in this offense. He will be the focal point in the passing game.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
Jarvis Landry is stuck in a very crowded Dolphins wideout corps. DeVante Parker and Leonte Carroo will have excellent first true NFL seasons, and veterans Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings always look ready. He has incredible speed and agility, but his route running is questionable. He'll be used in trick plays and for returns, but with so many other weapons, he won't be Ryan Tannehill's primary target.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Matthews is a strange case. He has very good games and more very bad games. His inconsistency is so frustrating for fantasy owners, especially with Sam Bradford (who is awful) or Carson Wentz (who needs much more time to adjust) throwing to him. Don't be fooled if he has one big week early in the season, because there will be many more bad weeks to follow.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitz is starting to get too old to be a consistent wideout. I would suggest snagging either John Brown or Michael Floyd later on if you want a piece of the explosive Cardinals offense.
Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
With the Jets' quarterback situation still up in the air and Eric Decker pushing for more targets, Marshall, one of my favorite players, won't get the same opportunity to shine as he did last year.

Tight ends:
The top 10 projected fantasy football tight ends.

Rob Gronkowski is a lock to finish first among the tight ends. Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Do I need to explain this one? Not at all.
2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
After Gronk, the tight ends are hard to judge. Few of them display much consistency over the course of multiple seasons, but Greg Olsen is the closest to doing so, being Cam Newton's main target. Kelvin Benjamin may steal some targets, but Olsen will still get a lot of red zone and third down targets.
3. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce was unbelievably inconsistent last year, but he managed to put up five double digit games, which is not bad for a tight end. The Chiefs offense has been all about moving the chains, and this year should be no different. Now that Jeremy Maclin helped to establish a deep passing game, the defense will respect that and lay off Kelce's shorter routes.
4. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
I don't have Jordan Reed higher because of consistency. Reed has been injury-prone the last two seasons, and his production at the end of the season was unmatched. Plus the Redskins will probably be relying on their blocking tight ends more than usual thanks to their lack of a running game.
5. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Jimmy Graham is a great blocker, but that doesn't help in fantasy football. In his first season with the Hawks, Graham was underused and injured. Russell Wilson found a rhythm passing at the end of the season, and I think the Seahawks will use Graham off more play action since Thomas Rawls solidified the run game.
6. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert was a touchdown machine last year, leading all tight ends. The linebackers in the AFC North will be looking for Eifert coming up the middle. Andy Dalton will have to reconnect with AJ Green this season, so while Eifert will still have a good season, don't expect consistent two-TD games.
7. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
This guy is so old, but still manages to put up numbers game in and game out. The connection between Gates and QB Philip Rivers is so strong, and he has to throw to someone. The Chargers put up a lot of points (they still don't win) and many of those touchdowns go to Antonio Gates.
8. Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
Barnidge burst onto the scene last year, but with RGIII at quarterback he'll be lucky if the ball gets to him. But then again the throws have to go to someone, and Barnidge proved he can catch a ball in traffic.
9. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
This guy has really emerged as a primary receiver for Marcus Mariota. After seasons of being hyped without a quarterback, this can be his year in a Titans offense that final has a run game to play off of.
10. Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
The Pats have made a two tight end formation work before, until Aaron Hernandez killed a guy. Bennett can line up as a receiver and Gronk always finds a way to hurt himself.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker should be in line for a lot of targets this year. Photo courtesy of Fantasy Football Savant.

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Even with Martellus Bennett joining the Patriots, I don't think there's any question that a healthy Gronk will lead all tight ends in catches, yards, and touchdowns.
2. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Delanie Walker is the favorite target of budding passer Marcus Mariota, and while many are predicting a breakout year from wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Walker is the more likely candidate.
3. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Even with all of the good wide receivers on the Redskins roster, Reed is Kirk Cousins' favorite target when he's healthy. Reed has always had the ability to be a top-flight tight end.
4. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce was projected to have an enormous year in 2015, but didn't live up to the hype. This year, with an all-around more balanced Chiefs offense, I think Kelce will push Jeremy Maclin as the most important aerial threat on the team.
5. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert lived and died with touchdowns last year, but if he can stay healthy he won't have to struggle for targets with Brandon LaFell as the number two wideout on the Bengals.
6. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen will be bumped by Kelvin Benjamin as Cam Newton's go-to guy, but he will still get a lot of looks in this dynamic Panthers offense.
7. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers
Green was hidden on the Chargers depth chart behind Antonio Gates, but in Pittsburgh he should quickly overtake Heath Miller as the top pass-catching tight end and become a big factor in the Steelers' attack.
8. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees always chooses one tight end to become great on his offense, and the new acquisition of Coby Fleener and the loss of Benjamin Watson to the Ravens should push Josh Hill back into the shadows.
9. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz has always been one of the best receiving threats on the Eagles, but he wasn't used properly in Chip Kelly's offense. With no new wideouts added aside from the inconsistent Rueben Randle, he should be one of Sam Bradford's go-to targets.
10. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
In keeping with my Colts resurgence theme, Dwayne Allen will thrive on a tight end depth chart no longer locked down by Coby Fleener.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders
I like his name, and there's talent behind it. Although I doubt he'll see many touchdowns because of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Derek Carr and the Raiders could put up a lot of points this season...
Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers
I like his name too, and after being shadowed by Antonio Gates for a few seasons, Green is ready to produce. Pittsburgh tight ends don't normally have numbers to show, but Big Ben should really get Green into this potent offense.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
The same reason I had him as my number ten tight end in the league. Most people didn't get to see how good he was in last year's loaded Colts offense, but as the only proven tight end on the roster and with a quarterback like Andrew Luck, Allen is in for a breakout year.
Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Miller was great last year after Martellus Bennett went down to injury, and I see him being just as good moving forward. He'll also get a lot of red zone chances in a quickly improving Bears offense.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Ebron has some of the worst hands on a tight end in the NFL. The combination of bad hands and inaccurate throws by Matt Stafford is not good for the Lions.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
He'll either be getting his throws from Sam Bradford or Carson Wentz. One is not good, the other will be alright. Neither are good. Eagles touchdowns will be few and far between this season.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Graham might be decent this year, but he's not worth his pedigree as the perennial second-best tight end in the league. I don't think he factors into the Seattle playbook as much as people would like him to.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten is just getting too old. There's also a very promising younger tight end behind him on the depth chart in Gavin Escobar.

The top 10 projected fantasy football defenses.

The Broncos defense will continue to be dominant in 2016. Photo courtesy of The Sports Daily.

1. Denver Broncos
They were the heart and soul of the Super Bowl winning team, and led by Von Miller this defense will still be finding turnovers left and right.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have the biggest names in defense in the sport other than Miller and JJ Watt. Those big names do translate to success on defense.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Tyrann Mathieu can only get better, and they traded for Chandler Jones from New England. Patrick Peterson is an elite corner and the Cardinals can stop anyone's offense.
4. Oakland Raiders
Here's my sleeper pick. The Raiders picked up Bruce Irvin from Seattle, standout corner Sean Smith and tough-hitting safety Reggie Nelson. That adds onto a defense that already has Khalil Mack.
5. Carolina Panthers
Defenses led by a great middle linebacker are always better. Luke Kuechly is one of the best, if not the best leader in the NFL. They lost playmaker Josh Norman and corner Charles Tillman, but a strong front seven can still make this defense a top five fantasy player.
6. Houston Texans
The best front seven in the league belongs to the Texans. JJ Watt is the best defender in the league. He and Vince Wilfork are complemented by Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Brian Cushing. Don't need too much in the secondary behind them.
7. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs lost a lot in their secondary, and middle linebacker Justin Houston is out with an ACL tear. However, sophomore standout Marcus Peters and safety Eric Berry make a very solid secondary.
8. New England Patriots
They lost their best linebacker in Chandler Jones, but they really boosted their line by picking up Chris Long and Terrance Knighton. Malcolm Butler has blossomed into a good number one corner.
9. Green Bay Packers
Lots of analysts are saying that Sam Shields is a top five cornerback, and I believe it. They drafted a big run stopper first round, but their linebackers still have to prove their worth behind Clay Matthews.
10. Los Angeles Rams
Any defense with Aaron Donald as their run plug should get serious consideration. Their top corner - Trumaine Johnson - can stop almost any receiver in the league and he has help over the top in hard-hitting safety Mark Barron.

Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu will lead the Cardinals defense to greatness. Photo courtesy of AZ Central.

1. Arizona Cardinals
Yes, I believe that the Cardinals will unseat the Seahawks as the number one scoring defense. This pick does ride heavily on Tyrann Mathieu's health.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are always going to have a strong defense as long as the Legion of Boom is in town, but the loss of Bruce Irvin will hurt this team more than expected.
3. Houston Texans
With Jadeveon Clowney finally looking ready to start his NFL career, the Texans have a trio of all-pro pass rushers in Clowney, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were the highest scoring fantasy defense down the stretch last season, and all of the important pieces have returned save for Sean Smith.
5. Denver Broncos
The Broncos lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan to free agency, but they still boast a great defense. Playing in the Mile High City also has a greater effect on visiting teams than you might think.
6. Carolina Panthers
Josh Norman's move to the Redskins will hurt this team, which was already in a bind for starting cornerbacks. But with Luke Kuechly on the field, I have faith.
7. Minnesota Vikings
One of the best young defenses in the league, Minnesota just signed Harrison Smith to a blockbuster deal. This team will once again push Green Bay for the NFC North.
8. New England Patriots
When it comes to defenses, it's usually safe to bet on the historically good teams to come through. Bill Belichick will find a way to keep the Patriots on top.
9. Green Bay Packers
With Clay Matthews returning to his natural outside linebacker position alongside Mike Daniels, the Green Bay pass rush will be a ferocious compliment to its strong corners.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals lost a key safety in Reggie Nelson, and Adam "Pacman” Jones is getting up there in age, and Vontaze Burfict is still riding out his suspension, but Marvin Lewis will find a way to make things work in Cincinnati.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs went VERY heavy on defense in the offseason, picking up three free agents and spending two draft pick, including the matchup corner Vernon Hargreaves.
Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons always seem to be involved in the games where both teams score 40+ points, but their young defender such as Vic Beasley will improve as a unit, and their secondary is a top ten unit.
Chicago Bears
The Bears boast possibly the best front seven in football. I would have them in my top ten if they didn't have to play the Vikings and the Packers twice.
Baltimore Ravens
This is totally not a homer pick. C.J. Mosley looks better than ever, Eric Weddle was added to the secondary in free agency, and any team led by Terrell Suggs shouldn't be overlooked.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
New York Jets
The Jets have a huge D-Line, but behind that they have no linebackers and Darelle Revis. Without help over the top the Jets will be susceptible to the big play.
Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens acquired safety Eric Weddle in the offseason, and linebackers CJ Mosley and Terrell Suggs are great players. Otherwise, a bad defense from last year barely made any upgrades.
New York Jets
The Jets are projected to be a top ten defense pretty much every year, but I don't see it happening for a team that is largely unchanged from last year. If anything, the aging of Darrelle Revis and the loss of Damon Harrison will only make this team worse.
Oakland Raiders
Great defenses are not built in free agency, and that's what the Raiders tried to do. They caught people's attention with big money signings that probably won't pan out.

The top 10 projected fantasy football kickers.

Justin Tucker has been a highly consistent kicker for years. Photo courtesy of Christian Post.

1. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Why are we doing kickers? Anyways, Tucker has the biggest leg, and the Ravens offense is unlikely to score many touchdowns.
2. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
He scores every single week, because the Pats do. Even with Tom Brady out the week four games, Gostkowski's production will ramp back up for the remainder of the season.
3. Josh Brown, New York Giants
Brown has been a very consistent leg over the last two seasons, and the Giants will have some trouble in the red zone without a power back.
4. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks always put this guy to use in the red zone. While he's slightly less accurate from long range, he's still going to score a ton of points.
5. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts had trouble scoring last year, hopefully this year will be a little easier for them, but Vinatieri is very accurate and has been for nearly twenty years.
6. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
Bailey missed just two attempts last year, and the Cowboys offense gave him those opportunities. But if their offense lives up to expectations, they'll be scoring a lot more touchdowns than settling for kicks.
7. Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
Walsh will be kicking indoors from now on, which makes his life easier. He has a booming leg but misses some. When AP can't move the chains Walsh will come along to clean up.
8. Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
Catanzaro was incredibly consistent last season, scoring over six points in every contest except the final week.
9. Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will be putting the ball in the end zone a lot, taking away some of Gano's kicks, but he'll still get his own chances.
10. Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos
McManus is kicking with the thin air of Denver behind him, which makes any kicker that much better.

Stephen Gostkowski has been the highest scoring NFL player in the NFL for three straight years. Photo courtesy of NE Patriots Life.

1. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Drafting Gostkowski in the twelfth or thirteenth rounds doesn't sound like a dumb idea now that he's led all kickers in points for three years straight.
2. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
Bailey was incredibly accurate last year, and the Cowboys will give him a bigger opportunity to shine this coming season.
3. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Tucker is always capable of bombing it from sixty yards deep, and he'll have to with some frequency on this somewhat lackluster Ravens offense.
4. Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers
Gano isn't a great kicker, but he's on the Panthers, and Cam Newton should lead him to greatness behind a plethora of extra points and chip shots.
5. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
Vinatieri wasn't great last year, but he's consistent and he's a part of the improving Indianapolis offense, which should give him plenty of opportunities.
6. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Crosby is just like Vinatieri. Not great, but on a great team. I was disappointed by several Crosby misses when he was on my team last season, but it evened out by the end of the year.
7. Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs
He's Brazilian, which is just really cool! The Chiefs offense is also better than people think, especially with Jamaal Charles returning.
8. Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This rookie kicker was drafted in the second round, and hand-picked by Jameis Winston, which means he must be good. The Tampa Bay offense might not be, though.
9. Jason Myers, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars offense should put up plenty of points, turning the less-than-stellar Myers into a viable option for fantasy owners drafting near the bottom of the kicker round.
10. Matt Prater, Detroit Lions
Prater was amazingly accurate last season, but the Lions offense rarely gives him enough chances to put up points. At least you won't get mad at him for missing.

These late-round players are on the verge of greatness.
Dustin Hopkins, Washington Redskins
Hopkins was pretty good last year taking over after the first few weeks of the season. He doesn't miss the chances he's supposed to make, and the Redskins will have no running game and trouble getting into the end zone
Josh Lambo, San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers quietly score a lot of points with Philip Rivers at the helm, and Lambo can feed off of that for points of his own.
Nick Novak, Houston Texans
The Texans offense is going to be much improved this year, and will provide the veteran Novak with a chance to be great.
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
Nugent was good in flashes last year, and he'll probably repeat given that he's on the same team with a very similar offense and a good coach.

Avoid drafting these players at all costs.
Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs
Santos scored 20-something points in a game and became the hot commodity of the fantasy world last season. He'll never come close to that again.
Matt Prater, Detroit Lions
He's on the Lions. Their offense may never get into field goal range.
Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are going to go for two points more often than not this season, which is death for a kicker, even one as good as Suisham.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons offense is on a downhill trajectory, and it's being pulled that way by Matt Ryan and once-great kicker Matt Bryant.

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Charles Lott. My name is Charlie, and I'm the features editor for Silver Chips Online. I enjoy reading, using Oxford commas, and playing frisbee for Blair. More »

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