NFL free agency and fantasy impact

In our last edition we talked about how Osweiler would possibly fare as the new first-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos. We didn’t expect another team out there to give him $72 million over four years for just seven pro starts and 11 career touchdown passes. He’s gotten himself into a pretty good position with the Houston Texans. Here’s a look at how we think he and other high profile free agents will fare with their new teams this upcoming season. Who do you think will have the biggest impact with a new team? Let us know in the poll at the bottom.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03: Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the first half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – JANUARY 03: Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the first half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Brock Osweiler, QB and Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—Osweiler should be very happy right about now. Though he had already benefited from working with two good wide receivers in Denver, DeAndre Hopkins is about to leap into the top tier of receivers in the league, if he hasn’t already. Hopkins is the kind of player that will catch anything in his vicinity. He’s a great red zone target and already has over 3,500 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns in his three-year career. His and Osweiler’s play will be helped by the presence of Miller in the backfield. Where the Dolphins refused to give Miller the touches he deserved, the Texans will be more than willing to give their newly acquired running back the rock. He’s only carried the ball 200 times in a season once in his career. We’d bet he does that twice in his career before this season is done.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns—With Johnny Football out of town it looks like the Browns are betting on yet another quarterback from the state of Texas. Even before Johnny Manziel, out of Kerrville, scrambled his way onto the scene, Colt McCoy of Tuscola had a good amount of starts with Cleveland. Now, the Browns are taking their chances with the mobile, although somewhat frail, quarterback out of Copperas Cove. Health is the number one concern if you plan on taking a shot with Griffin, but he could end up paying dividends if you get him for cheap and he finds his way back to his rookie form. How the Browns offensive line will be a big factor in how well he performs.

CHICAGO, IL- JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL- JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Matt Forte, RB, Jets—Possibly the most underrated prize in free agency, much like he’s the most underrated player at his position, Forte may end up being the beneficiary of a strong passing game with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall playing on the outside in New York. If Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs with the Jets, we’re looking at a pretty potent offense with all facets very likely performing well. If a new quarterback is added to the mix then it may take a while for all cylinders to get clicking. Make no mistake, though, Forte will be a getting a lot of touches. In the same Chan Gailey offense, Chris Ivory rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 30 receptions.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars—Speaking of Ivory, he’s now with the Jaguars and will most likely share some time with second-year running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon’s 740 yards in his rookie season means he’ll stay in the mix, but it’s not a good situation for either running back. If forced to pick one to likely have more success, we’d go with Yeldon in terms of best overall on the season. If we’re talking Week 1 starter, we might have to go with Ivory.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys—At first glance this looks like he could be a nice power back to run behind a good Cowboys offensive line. He only had two 100-yard rushing games last season, one to start the year and one to end it. We do think he’ll end up being the better of the two backs in Dallas, but if Darren McFadden stays healthy like he did this past season, then neither back will be a top-20 running back. One factor in his potential success is if the Cowboys can afford to go with a run-first game plan like they did two seasons ago when DeMarco Murray racked up a ton of yards. If Morris can somehow take over as the go-to back and the Cowboys protect Tony Romo by running more, then Morris could find some real value. That’s a lot of ifs, however.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03: Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 03: Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions—With Alshon Jeffery remaining in Chicago, the wide receiver free agent market ended up being pretty dull this season. Marvin Jones does look to have some upside as he joins Detroit, however. Calvin Johnson has called it a career so the Lions needed to add someone to help out Golden Tate on the other side of the field. Jones just finished his fourth year in the league after missing all of 2014. He had a career-high in yardage with 816 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He had 10 TD receptions in his second season. Look to him as a dark horse late-round possibility to help in the flex spot.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans—He had 662 yards receiving to go with four touchdowns last year with the Dolphins and he could very well end up a top target for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright are healthy competition for the fifth-year receiver. Don’t be surprised if he ends up taking the Lion’s share of targets. With DeMarco Murray in the backfield, things should open up downfield as defenses key on the run.

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 11: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews #18 of the Miami Dolphins runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 - 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 11: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews #18 of the Miami Dolphins runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 – 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers—Benjamin’s fourth season was far and away his best in the league. He had 68 receptions for 966 yards and five scores with bad Browns quarterback play. With Philip Rivers at the helm in San Diego, Benjamin could prove to be a nice flex player if he can make it onto the field. There are a good amount of wideouts in San Diego.

Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers—He played behind Antonio Gates and posted career highs last season with San Diego. With Heath Miller out of the picture due to retirement, Green could turn into a solid breakout tight end with the Steelers potent offense. He’ll have Ben Roethlisberger throwing passes while Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown take up a lot of defensive attention. He couldn’t have ended up in a better spot.

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 18: Ladarius Green #89 of the San Diego Chargers catches a 19 yard pass against Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers, resulting in a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI – OCTOBER 18: Ladarius Green #89 of the San Diego Chargers catches a 19 yard pass against Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers, resulting in a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Coby Fleener, TE, Saints—No longer stuck in an offense that utilizes a lot of two tight end sets, Fleener can really shine with an offense led by Drew Brees. With Ben Watson out of town, Fleener can very likely reproduce Watson’s numbers from last season. Watson had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Fleener will no longer have to fight for targets with Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis.

Ben Watson, TE, Ravens—Watson’s outlook isn’t as nice as Fleener’s. He’s a Raven now and with Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore in town, there won’t be enough targets to go around.

Jared Cook, TE, Packers—Cook will need fight with Richard Rodgers for touches, but we think he has more talent than Rodgers. And with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback Cook could be late steal at the position.

Notables still up for grabs

Running backs: Reggie Bush, LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Arian Foster, Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, Stevan Ridley; Wide receivers: Kamar Aiken, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, Anquan Boldin, Andre Caldwell, Andre Johnson, James Jones

Brock Osweiler: New Sheriff in Town?

With Peyton Manning making it official on Monday that he’s finished playing football, it’s time to talk about Brock Osweiler and his possible fantasy value as the Broncos’ new starting quarterback.

Osweiler just finished his fourth year in the NFL, but he hadn’t had much playing time until Manning got benched for the last half of the season. Before the 2015 season, Osweiler had thrown just 30 passes, completing 17 of them for 159 yards. When Manning was playing ineffectively the Broncos gave Osweiler a shot and he completed 170 passes for 1,967 yards and ten touchdowns. He completed 61.8% of his passes and threw six interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Osweiler performed pretty well for seven games before Manning took his starting job back in the season finale on a comeback win over the Chargers. Manning continued to start during the playoffs and the rest is history.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 3: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

We think Osweiler’s prospects are pretty good, given that he played pretty well in relief and has had four seasons playing behind a Hall of Fame quarterback. Also, Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos’ top receiver, was having an uncharacteristic second half of the season with drops and lower than expected production.

We’re not going to attempt to defend Osweiler’s new contract of $45 million over three years, but the last time we saw a naturally talented quarterback sit behind a Hall of Famer for a few years we ended up with Aaron Rodgers. Not comparing the two, obviously, just pointing out a similar situation where the outcome was a positive one.

Osweiler will have a good receiving corps to work with, if Thomas gets back to feeling like himself and Emmanuel Sanders keeps trending in the right direction. After the top two wideouts, the Broncos have some maneuvering to do. Andre Caldwell and Jordan Norwood are both free agents but if they are lost there are plenty of options to go after.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos runs clear of the San Diego Chargers defense for a 72-yard first quarter touchdown reception during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 3: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos runs clear of the San Diego Chargers defense for a 72-yard first quarter touchdown reception during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

An interesting addition to the Broncos’ receiving corps could be Travis Benjamin, who could play well in the slot if he comes over from Cleveland. Other options on the free agent market are Marvin Jones, Rueben Randle and Anquan Boldin. Suffice to say, the Broncos will likely have three, possibly more, solid options in the passing game to help with Osweiler’s production.

Don’t go crazy with drafting him in early rounds, but if you want to go strong with running backs and wide receivers early, Osweiler could end up being a solid quarterback in mid to late rounds.

Road to the Draft: NFL Combine Forces

With the NFL Combine over we thought it’d be a good time to have a look at some of the top performers at the annual showcase of talent. Some of these players will make immediate impact on your fantasy team while others still have a ways to go. Monday we looked at running backs and quarterbacks. Today we’ll look at the wide receivers and tight ends who impressed at the combine.

Wide receivers

Will Fuller could turn into the kind of player that is a tough call week to week. He’s got speed, he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, and could end up being a big-play type player if he can consistently make catches.

Kolby Listenbee ran a 4.39, second-fastest among wide receivers, and could serve well if he fills out and keeps showing he has a good set of hands. The product out of TCU isn’t the prospect his teammate Josh Doctson is, but his performance at the combine could get him some attention.

Texas Christian receiver Kolby Listenbee runs the 40 yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Texas Christian receiver Kolby Listenbee runs the 40 yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Someone who doesn’t seem like he’ll be ready to contribute early is Trevor Davis out of Cal. His 4.42 40 and good performances in the vertical, 3-cone drill and the 60-yard shuttle drill could help him land a spot as a returner, though.

Ricardo Louis out of Auburn ran a 4.43 and was a top performer in the bench press, vertical jump and broad jump. The results help, but he’s lacking a lot of the things you look for in a consistently good receiver. If he finds a way to catch the ball consistently and run better routes, he could make something of himself in terms of fantasy. Don’t take a risk on him at this point.

Tight ends

Ben Braunecker, the tight end out of Harvard, scored in the top-5 among tight ends in every drill at the combine. He’s a real interesting prospect in that he has size to be a matchup problem but is a little rough around the edges. He needed to do well in the 40, but his 4.73 probably won’t turn many heads. The jury will be out on him until he makes a camp.

 

Road to the Draft: NFL Combine Forces

With the NFL Combine winding down we thought it’d be a good time to have a look at some of the top performers at the annual showcase of talent eligible for the NFL draft. Some of these players will make immediate impact on your fantasy team while others still have a ways to go. Today we’ll look at the running backs and quarterbacks who impressed at the combine and you can check back here tomorrow when we look at wide receivers and tight ends.

Running backs

Keith Marshall was a highly touted recruit when he showed up at Georgia. He impressed early as a freshman, rushing for 759 yards and eight touchdowns. A torn ACL the next season led him to play in just eight games over two years. He only rushed for 350 yards in relief as a senior, but his showing at the combine could boast him up some draft boards. He posted the top 40-yard dash time among running backs and had the most bench press reps among non-fullback running backs with 25. He isn’t the known commodity that Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry are, but his performance at the combine has turned some heads.

Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Tyler Ervin was the second-fastest running back at the combine, clocking a 4.41 40-yard dash time. He also had the second-best broad jump and vertical jump. He lacks size and doesn’t look like an every down back, but he’s not afraid to run between the tackles. He has potential as a kick returner and could contribute as a versatile player on a team that uses multiple backs.

Kenyan Drake, the second fiddle to Derrick Henry at Alabama, ran a 4.45 40 and performed well in both the broad jump and the 20-yard shuttle drill. He broke a couple of bones during his college career but out of the shadow of his Heisman trophy winning teammate he has the opportunity to be a versatile back in the NFL. He had 29 receptions as a senior and rushed for 408 yards. His 95-yard return for a touchdown in the national championship proved he puts the “all” in “all-purpose.” If he finds a role in a good offense, he could turn into quite the sleeper pick.

Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Daniel Lasco is a name we may, or may not, become familiar with in terms of fantasy football. The product out of Cal ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and then had the best vertical and broad jumps. He was second in the 60-yard shuttle drill. His best season was two years ago when he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 33 receptions for 356 yards. He injured his hip and ankle as a senior and failed to reproduce the numbers he had in 2014. He doesn’t seem to be an instinctual runner and that could keep him from having a fantasy impact.

Quarterback

Dak Prescott ran a 4.79 and also performed well in the vertical and broad jumps. He really helped himself in passing drills and could possibly emerge as the top quarterback option after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, both of whom performed as well as expected.

Fantasy outlook for top NFL free agents

We’re just a couple of weeks away before the NFL’s top free agent players are available to hit the open market. There’s a lot of value here, but you may have to make sure some of these guys end up in the right situation. Of course, for a few of these players it doesn’t really matter where they end up since they’ll produce no matter what.

Kirk Cousins, QB—It looks like he’s headed towards a franchise tag which would be fine for his fantasy outlook. He’ll still be playing for a contract which should keep him driven and focused. He broke out in the 2015 season and Washington would be foolish not to see how far he can take them. He threw for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He even scored five rushing touchdowns.

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins scores a third-quarter touchdown against strong safety Morgan Burnett #42 of the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – JANUARY 10: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins scores a third-quarter touchdown against strong safety Morgan Burnett #42 of the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Alshon Jeffery, WR—He’s the top free agent wide receiver, but he’s coming off a lot of nagging injuries. If he were completely healthy, the Bears would very likely sign him to a long-term contract or designate him as the franchise player. But it looks like it’s possible they’ll let him test the market. There are few places he could go that would lower his fantasy value very much.

Matt Forte, RB—His numbers were way down from recent years as he rushed for 898 yards and scored a total of seven touchdowns in 13 games. His total of 389 receiving yards was his least amount in three years. There’s talk of him joining the Colts, but that would hurt his value, sharing time and touches with Frank Gore. If he finds another spot where he’ll be featured, we think he still has good value when healthy.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on December 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 13: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on December 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Doug Martin, RB—If he isn’t signed to a long-term deal, he’ll be a free agent. He had a great year, reminding everyone of his rookie season. If things don’t work out in Tampa Bay, he could get an increase in value if he ends up on a team like Dallas, with a solid offensive line.

Lamar Miller, RB—The Dolphins didn’t use him as much as they could have. He wants to be featured and if he lands in the right situation he could produce like many expected him to in the 2016 season. If he stays in Miami, the new coaching staff will have to let him loose.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets in action against the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 27: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets in action against the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB—The Jets have hinted that they could draft a quarterback, but Fitzpatrick could be back. You’ll have to keep an eye on where he ends up if he does leave as a free agent. If he returns he should do well if not better than his 2016 season. With great targets like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, his numbers should stay consistent. He finished the year with 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns. If he does leave New York, you’ll have to make sure he has good talent around him.

Brock Osweiler, QB—He and the Broncos are waiting on Peyton Manning to decide on whether or not he retires. Osweiler had some good moments, but you have to believe he would have had a longer leash if Manning wasn’t sitting behind him. We’ll take a wait and see approach on this situation, but if he becomes the starter, he’s worth a look.

Sam Bradford, QB—It’s a toss up whether or not he’ll return to the Eagles. They don’t want to use the franchise tag on him and will probably let him test the market. He’s thrown for at least 3,000 yards in just three out of his first six seasons, mostly because of injury. His career high for touchdown passes in a season is just 21. You can’t trust a guy who only plays at just a decent level every other year for fantasy football.

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 29: Marvin Jones #82 of the Cincinnati Bengals heads up the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – NOVEMBER 29: Marvin Jones #82 of the Cincinnati Bengals heads up the field during the game against the St. Louis Rams at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Marvin Jones, WR—Something tells us he won’t be back in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Possible destinations include New England and Detroit. He’s got over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in his last two full seasons combined. If Calvin Johnson makes it official that he’s done playing, Jones could benefit if Detroit ends up signing him. If he lands with the Patriots, he’ll have an excellent chance to play a bigger role in the offense.

Antonio Gates, TE—He’ll re-sign with the Chargers and should remain a big red zone target. Ladarius Green will probably continue to expand his role, but Gates will have value until he no longer plays.

Travis Benjamin, WR—He had a nice breakout season with inconsistent play at the quarterback position. He’s likely to return to the Browns and could remain a solid flex player if he can find enough passes coming his way with the return of Josh Gordon imminent.

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.

Quarterbacks

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