Receivers more productive than running backs in fantasy?

In one sense, running backs are the best players to have in that the good ones are dual threats. They can get you 1,000 yards rushing and maybe around 500 receiving. Those are the good ones. But when you realize that this year 22 wide receivers had 1,000-yard seasons while only seven running backs rushed for 1,000 yards, it seems like you’d be better off taking a productive receiver early.

In fact, only three running backs had over 1,100 yards rushing while 11 receivers had 1,200-yard seasons. Of the seven 1,000-yard rushers only one had over 500 yards receiving. That was Devonta Freeman. So you could have picked from four wide receivers that totaled more than 1,500 yards before you selected Freeman. And nobody was selecting Freeman that early in the beginning of the year.

Devonta Freeman was the only running back in the league to rush for 1,000 yards and gain 500 yards receiving. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Devonta Freeman was the only running back in the league to rush for 1,000 yards and gain 500 yards receiving. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Brandon Marshall all had over 1,500 yards receiving this year in addition to all scoring at least eight touchdowns. The wide receiver is very close to replacing the do-it-all running back.

It stands to reason that wide receivers will go before a lot of running backs in 2016 drafts. There’s just so much depth and a clear passing philosophy in the league these days. It’ll be interesting to see how next season’s drafts go, especially when you’re given the choice between good running backs and receivers. It might make sense to take the receiver since your most productive players are now catching passes instead of carrying the ball.

Early 2016 fantasy rankings

With the playoffs upon us we thought it’d be fun to have an early look at who will be the top picks in next year’s fantasy drafts. One thing is for sure, next year’s first round will look way different from this year’s. (So many busts.) Of course, things will change between now and the start of next season, so keep that in mind. We’ll revisit this list after the NFL draft and look at what rookies could have the biggest impact based on where they are taken and by whom. Without further ado, here are our rankings by position.


1. Cam Newton, Panthers: Some think Andrew Luck bounces back from a bad year full of injuries and uneven play. We’ll have to see it before we think he’ll be back to the Andrew Luck of two years ago. For now, Newton has to be considered the most productive fantasy quarterback. And it’s not just because he runs well. He had three games with at least five touchdown passes without having a true WR1 on his team. With Kelvin Benjamin back, he should be even better.

2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks: If you look at what Wilson did in the second half of the season without Marshawn Lynch, although his backups performed well, and without Jimmy Graham, it was pretty astounding. If he continues to connect well with Doug Baldwin and develops a better rapport with Graham, then the sky is the limit for the quarterback.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
4. Andrew Luck, Colts
5. Tom Brady, Patriots
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
7. Carson Palmer, Cardinals
8. Drew Brees, Saints
9. Tony Romo, Cowboys
10. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
11. Kirk Cousins, Redskins: His second half was amazing and he’ll head into next season as the clear No. 1 quarterback in Washington. With weapons like DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, he could produce pretty good numbers all year next season.
12. Derek Carr, Raiders
13. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
14. Philip Rivers, Chargers
15. Andy Dalton, Bengals
16. Matthew Stafford, Lions
17. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
18. Eli Manning, Giants
19. Marcus Mariota, Titans
20. Matt Ryan, Falcons
21. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
22. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
23. Jay Cutler, Bears
24. Alex Smith, Chiefs

Running backs

1. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: He’s everything you want in a running back these days. He can do it all and so long as he’s healthy, he should produce like he did two years ago. He won’t have to sit out to games to start the year this time around.

2. Todd Gurley, Rams

Todd Gurley was sensational in his rookie year and could end up the leagues top rusher. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Todd Gurley was sensational in his rookie year and could end up the leagues top rusher. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

3. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
4. David Johnson, Cardinals
5. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
6. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
7. LeSean McCoy, Bills
8. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
9. Lamar Miller, Dolphins
10. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
11. Carlos Hyde, 49ers: He had a great start to the season, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings, but a stress fracture in his foot caused him to miss the last half of the season. Should he remain healthy and the 49ers end up improving their offense with Chip Kelly as their head coach, he could have a big impact.
12. Mark Ingram, Saints
13. Matt Forte, Bears
14. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
15. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
16. Eddie Lacy, Packers
17. DeMarco Murray, Eagles
18. Arian Foster, Texans
19. Dion Lewis, Patriots: The rookie looked great before going out for the season with a torn ACL. He was proving to be a great replacement for the departed Shane Vereen, catching 36 passes for 388 yards through seven weeks.
20. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
21. Latavius Murray, Raiders
22. C.J. Anderson, Broncos
23. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
24. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
25. Jeremy Langford, Bears
26. Chris Ivory, Jets
27. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
28. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
29. Justin Forsett, Ravens
30. Duke Johnson Jr., Browns: He’ll be in his second year, and should be given ample opportunity to make himself the top back in Cleveland. He wouldn’t make a bad option at the flex position.
31. Giovani Bernard, Bengals
32. Karlos Williams, Bills
33. Frank Gore, Colts
34. Matt Jones, Redskins
35. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
36. Charles Sims, Buccaneers
37. Javorius Allen, Ravens
38. Bilal Powell, Jets
39. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
40. Darren Sproles, Eagles: Depending on who ends up being the Eagles head coach, Sproles could possibly return to the role he’s used to, catching passes out of the backfield and serving as a change of pace back. For some reason, things didn’t work out for him in Chip Kelly’s system.
41. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
42. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
43. Tevin Coleman, Falcons
44. Charcandrick West, Chiefs
45. Darren McFadden, Cowboys
46. Theo Riddick, Lions
47. Lance Dunbar, Cowboys
48. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins
49. Ka’Deem Carey, Bears
50. Shane Vereen, Giants

Wide receivers

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers: He’s done nothing to deserve to fall out of the top spot, but Odell Beckham Jr. could very well end up as the best receiver next season. Brown has been terrific for the last three seasons and if Ben Roethlisberger can remain healthy, there’s no reason he can’t produce again. The thing about Beckham Jr. is, his offensive coordinator was just named the Giants’ new head coach. That could put him over the top by the time all’s said and done.

2. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants

Odell Beckham Jr. might benefit from his offensive coordinator being named new Giants head coach. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Odell Beckham Jr. might benefit from his offensive coordinator being named new Giants head coach. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

3. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
4. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
5. Julio Jones, Falcons
6. A.J. Green, Bengals
7. Alshon Jeffery, Bears
8. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
9. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
10. Brandon Marshall, Jets: What he did with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback was pretty remarkable. You have to consider him a top end receiver no matter who’s throwing the ball to him, and since Fitzpatrick is a free agent, it might be someone else.
11. Jordy Nelson, Packers
12. Amari Cooper, Raiders
13. Keenan Allen, Chargers
14. Brandin Cooks, Saints
15. Martavis Bryant, Steelers
16. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
17. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
18. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
19. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
20. Sammy Watkins, Bills: Things could get very interesting in Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor is starting to look like a top ten quarterback and if he continues to develop with Watkins, they could be a force to reckon with. Watkins had a pretty quiet 1,000 yard season and scored nine touchdowns.
21. Eric Decker, Jets
22. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
23. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
24. Randall Cobb, Packers
25. Josh Gordon, Browns
26. John Brown, Cardinals
27. DeVante Parker, Dolphins
28. Julian Edelman, Patriots
29. Michael Floyd, Cardinals
30. Stefon Diggs, Vikings: He had a great four-week stretch early on, but he fell pretty hard after that. If he could regain some of that early spark, he could end up being a nice WR2 by season’s end. As of now he’s probably a high end flex player.
31. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
32. Steve Smith Sr., Ravens
33. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
34. DeSean Jackson, Redskins
35. Michael Crabtree, Raiders
36. Kevin White, Bears
37. Jordan Matthews, Eagles
38. Donte Moncrief, Colts
39. Breshad Perriman, Ravens: He didn’t play a down this season as a rookie because of a bad knee, which he says shouldn’t be a problem next year. We’ll have to see, but if he’s healthy he could break onto the scene with his athletic ability.
40. Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans
41. Tavon Austin, Rams
42. Golden Tate, Lions
43. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
44. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
45. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
46. Travis Benjamin, Browns
47. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
48. Kendall Wright, Titans
49. Rishard Matthews, Dolphins
50. Kamar Aiken, Ravens

Tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Not much need for a discussion here. When he’s healthy, and he’s been healthy for a nice stretch, he’s just unstoppable. Watch out for Jordan Reed, though. If this is the year that Tom Brady’s skills finally begin to diminish, Reed could very well end up giving Gronk a run for his money.

2. Jordan Reed, Redskins

A lot of Jordan Reed's success went hand in hand with Kirk Cousins' in Washington. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
A lot of Jordan Reed’s success went hand in hand with Kirk Cousins’ in Washington. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

3. Greg Olsen, Panthers
4. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
5. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
6. Delanie Walker, Titans
7. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
8. Ladarius Green, Chargers
9. Zach Ertz, Eagles
10. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers: He has to stay healthy because what he can do is remarkable. He has all the attributes you want in a tight end, but he only played seven games this season. He started the season with 110-yard, two touchdown game and then missed all of October and November with a shoulder injury.
11. Gary Barnidge, Browns
12. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
13. Martellus Bennett, Bears
14. Charles Clay, Bills
15. Maxx Williams, Ravens
16. Jason Witten, Cowboys
17. Antonio Gates, Chargers
18. Eric Ebron, Lions
19. Heath Miller, Steelers
20. Jace Amaro, Jets: This is an interesting case here, where he’ll be entering his third year not having contributed much. You know the pass catching ability is there, but he has to remain healthy in order to make an impact. After he went down for the year during a preseason game neither of the other options at tight end stepped up. So he has a chance to bounce back if he can stay healthy and if there are enough passes to go around for Marshall, Eric Decker and himself.
21. Richard Rodgers, Packers
22. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
23. Jordan Cameron, Dolphins
24. Zach Miller, Bears