At long last – probably more so for me, than for you if we’re being honest – our 2016 preseason rankings are available.
While 2015 draft accuracy numbers aren’t available, the folks at Fantasy Pros would tell you that I can rank a running back and wide receiver pretty darn well… and… better than I can a Quarterback. With that dispensed of, you’ll find the ranks below and a discussion of where some of my ranks have a significant gap from ECR below that. Any questions, as always, fire away.
- I have Jarvis Landry 19 spots ahead of overall ECR and 10 spots ahead of WR ECR at WR13. I know there are many concerns around the receiver depth in Miami, and about individual players’ integration into a new offense. That said, Landry finished just outside the top-12 receivers last year on what was then a crowded receiver depth chart. Moreover, he did so while scoring just 4 receiving TDs (adding one as a rusher) so it isn’t as if his TD ratio is way out of whack for a player of his size and skill set. He’ll be playing on the outside more often in Adam Gase’s offense, but I’d still expect a lot of quick, underneath routes making him a preferred option for the noodle-armed Ryan Tannehill. His catches may come down a bit, but his YPR should go up leading to another strong output in an offense that is expected to improve overall.
- I rank Isaiah Crowell 33 spots ahead of overall ECR and 10 spots ahead of his RB40 ECR. I’m as excited about Duke Johnson in Hue Jackson’s offense as anyone, but if we’ve learned anything from his last two seasons in Cincinnati it’s that Jackson can find a way to make two backs successful. Is Crowell on Jeremy Hill‘s level? Probably not, but Jackson’s Bengals offense averaged 480 rush attempts over the last two seasons. Cleveland’s overall offensive production is expected to be lower than Cincy’s, so they’ll run fewer plays… but, still project to be among the lead leaders in carries. 200+ totes seem like a lock for the 3rd year back. There isn’t really anyone around him with that as a guarantee (save maybe the aging Frank Gore) so I’ll take the projected volume and goal line work quite happily as my RB3 or 4.
- I have Ladarius Green at TE7 and would like to go higher. Sure, I’m buying into the hype that never seemed to materialize in San Diego… and the fact that he couldn’t leapfrog an aging, lead-footed Antonio Gates is somewhat concerning… but, the athleticism has always been there and the opportunity is now in front of him. With Martavis Bryant suspended and just Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates competing for after-Brown targets, there is a lot of room for Green to make an impact with the Steelers. Heath Miller averaged 88 targets over the last four seasons, and with a career 14.1 YPR and 4.56-40 speed, Green can do a lot of damage with that volume. The rank needs an obvious adjustment if his recovery from ankle surgery affects his availability for camp and the start of the season, but right now the Steelers don’t seem worried and neither am I.
- On the flip side at TE, I’m down 6 spots for Gary Barnidge relative to the crowd, and it’s because I’m simply not buying the 30-year-old breakout season as something sustainable. He’s done it once, and as noted above has a new Head Coach that should trend run heavy. Concerns at QB linger, Corey Coleman will demand his share of the targets, and Barnidge simply isn’t a guy you’re going to build your team around. Last year, he had roughly 25% of the team’s receiving yards and caught 9 of 20 passing TDs… with the volume expected to come down overall and more talent around him his 2015 numbers simply aren’t sustainable. If you want to hear that rant in audio form, I went on record with Fantasy Pros to discuss Barnidge (and Eric Decker).