Congratulations, you own a fantasy football team. Now it is time to draft. We understand that you don’t have time to create your own cheat sheet so here are a few players that we think will be sleepers, busts and breakout stars in 2016.
Here is how we define each:
Sleeper: A player not being drafted as a starter but should be.
Bust: A player drafted as a starter but will disappoint.
Breakout Star: A player with top five upside that is not currently being drafted like a superstar.
To create these rankings we used a combination of FantasyPros experts and then compared those rankings to the average draft position (ADP), which is a composite of rankings from ESPN and Yahoo, of each player. The draft rankings are based on a standard league.
Now the breakout stars.
2016 ADP: 10th quarterback, 86th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 6th quarterback
It feels like Manning has been around forever. You’ve probably had him on your fantasy team at one time or another. So you know over the course of his career that he has been wildly inconsistent. That was until Ben McAdoo joined the Giants. In the last few season Manning has been in the top seven among quarterbacks in attempts, completions and yards (per ESPN). Eli has been a top ten fantasy quarterback in each of the last two years. There is a lot of upside drafting Manning in the eighth or ninth round.
2016 ADP: 8th running back, 17th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 6th running back
Ingram developed into an every-down back last year for New Orleans. He averaged over 16 touches per game including nearly five targets in the Saints pass-happy offense. The only thing keeping Ingram from becoming truly elite is his health. The running back has missed at least three games in four of five seasons. If he plays all 16 games, Ingram could become the Saints first 1,000 yard rusher since 2006 and crack the top 5 among fantasy backs.
2016 ADP: 12th running back, 27th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 7th running back
Did the sight of C.J. Anderson’s name make you recoil? It’s understandable, especially if you drafted him in the first round last year. Anderson was a huge disappointment early but turned it on down the stretch. In the last 11 games of the season he averaged 6.4 yards/carry (tops in the NFL). The Broncos matched a four-year, $18 million offer to keep Anderson in Denver. As the clear No. 1 option, Anderson could turn out to be one of the better fantasy bargains in 2016.
2016 ADP: 6th receiver, 12th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 4th receiver
Name the best receivers in the NFL. How long did it take before you got to A.J. Green? The Bengals pass catcher was inconsistent in 2015 but it wasn’t his fault. The volume of targets just wasn’t there with Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu all demanding looks. With Jones and Sanu gone, and Eifert dealing with an injury, Green has a chance to see his workload increase (potentially 2 or 3 extra targets/game). Green is a steal in the second round.
2016 ADP: 9th receiver, 18th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 6th receiver
Robinson became a star last year catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and an NFL-best 14 touchdowns. Regression is expected with his touchdown total but not as much as you might expect. Blake Bortles looked for Robinson often near the goal line; the young receiver caught 11 end zone targets (tops in the league). Bortles and Robinson are each projected to take another step forward in 2016.
2016 ADP: 9th tight end, 109th overall
2016 Projected Rankings: 6th tight end
From a value perspective, you are better off drafting Martellus Bennett than the Patriots other tight end Rob Gronkowski. Bennett might not get the targets he has in years past but he joins one of the best offenses in the league that likes to run two-tight end sets. Bennett will get work near the goal line and given Gronks’ injury history has a chance to see all the tight end targets in a few games this season.