Bold 2016 Fantasy Football Predictions

I have been playing fantasy football long enough to know that there is no such thing as “expects.” However, there are those who have experience and logic. I claim to have both experience and logic…well, at least experience.

Over time, my experience has taught me to be cynical of hyped, non-proven players, yet also to expect the unexpected. This is a fine-line that can never be mastered.

That’s where podcasts and blogs can be a great resource that can easily give you an upper hand in your leagues by learning from other people’s experiences and insights.

The dynasty and fantasy football community doesn’t derive its knowledge from a crystal ball. Instead, it’s a space with lots of experience and valuable opinions. So, don’t shy away from your own thoughts and opinions on players because you may disagree with what you’ve heard or read.

Let your fantasy team, be your players.

So, be warned: There are no graphs to suggest that my predictions are “on-point.” Instead, it’s strictly an article of opinions, observations, and pictures of the players I’m highlighting.

Besides this one graph…

Now, I’d like to present to you my bold predictions for the 2016 season…

Best Fantasy Rookie (outside of Ezekiel Elliot): Michael Thomas, WR, NO

He has all the physical tools and the right situation to be successful. Last year during this time, another Saints WR’s hype was full-blown, Brandon Coleman, which did not live up to the end of the off-season hype. That should make me a little hesitant of Thomas this year, but it doesn’t.

Thomas feels different; less forced.

I’m all in and I expect him to be the best rookie in fantasy this year (outside of Ezekiel Elliot, of course).

Busts: Kevin White, Devin Funchess, Sammie Coates, and Melvin Gordon.

Go ahead, call me a hater.

But I just can’t help it, every time I see these names I immediately throw a mental tantrum, “No! I don’t want! NOOOOOOOOO!”

Kevin White, WR, Bears

I have been skeptical of White the entire off-season, but now I’m calling it…

he’ll be a bust!

My problem with White isn’t that he has an incredibly inconsistent QB throwing him the ball, or the expectation that he’ll continue Alshon Jeffery’s role if he leaves the Windy City next year.

No, my issue is that after two years, the best anyone can say about him is that he is a “raw talent.”

When this is said, all I hear is that he has potential, but hasn’t done the little things to make himself a better player. That’s a red flag for me because he has been in the league with professional trainers. There should be some noted improvement, even with the injury last season. His price this offseason was waaaaay too high for me, considering he’s nothing but a raw talent.

The learning curve will be too much for White, especially because Chicago isn’t necessarily the best atmosphere to learn; just ask Rex Grossman.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers

I’ll keep this short — He mostly played TE in college and had so-so hands. I’m a Michigan fan, trust me, he has so-so hands.

It takes an exceptional talent to transition to a new position, only to be somewhat successful.

I never viewed Funchess as that exceptional athlete.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Here’s my longer, but still short reasoning behind why I think Gordon will remain a bust this year…

This is sad to me because I liked him a lot at Wisconsin. However, for whatever reason, he seems to be inefficient. It could be the offensive line, but it might be him. Either way, I’m not using a roster spot to find out.

Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers

This seems like a no-brainer. It feels like Coates has “sleeper” written all over him. Yet, I’ve been burnt by these guys before (i.e. — Terrance Williams).

Coates will be a bust because he is a one-trick pony, a deep-threat.

He struggles with route running and timing.

I suppose you could argue that deep-threats can have a place in fantasy relevancy, but I’m not buying it. I think Coates will eventually lose any true fantasy relevance as Ben Roethlisberger finds better, well-rounded receivers to target and trust.

Breakouts: Markus Wheaton, Dak Prescott

Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers

I know, I know…

We have all been waiting for Wheaton to breakout, but this will be the year!

As we all know, Martavis Bryant is suspended all season and Ladarius Green suddenly retired.

Plus, now you know that Coates will be a bust.

So, if Wheaton remains WR2 for Roethlisberger, what isn’t there to like?

He has improved in receiving yards and TDs every year. He has 3-years under his belt and will be entering with some true NFL experience at age 25.

I know he’s not a sexy pick, but he is set-up for a breakout season at a very low price.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Originally I was going to play this safe and put Prescott on the “sleepers” list, but then week 3 of preseason happened…

A little background may give you insight why I’m big on Prescott:

First, I play mostly 2QB leagues, so naturally, QBs hold much more value. I had Tony Romo shares in 2014. In years past, I’ve always been a Romo advocate.

Yet, I had a bad feeling about Romo going into the 2015 season. Eventually, I traded him in a package and received Big Ben. As you know the rest of the story, Romo went down for most of the 2015 season.

I’m not sharing to brag because my gut-feeling has left me in dumps many times.

But my “gut-feeling” about Romo still lingers.

So, when I saw Prescott tearing up the preseason, it reminds me of other preseasons where I was left impressed. Guys like Aaron Rodgers when he sat behind Brett Favre, or Kurt Warner when was a no-name, old, washed-up arena football QB. Yet, when they played preseason QB, they looked like they belong on the field.

I know, I know, it’s only preseason…

I’m not saying Prescott is a future HOF, but I do think he is going to be the Cowboys’ starting QB very soon. This might be due to injury or poor-play from Romo, either way, Prescott will play well and be the Cowboys’ starter next season.

When I critique QBs, the most important factor is observing his confidence-level. If a QB can be confident during his learning curve, he’ll remain mentally strong. This is obviously important requirement when playing the most difficult position in all of sports.

Side note: Mark Sanchez comes to mind of a young QB that never passed my eye-test for having the needed confidence to play in the NFL. Granted he’s still in the league, but I think his ceiling was damaged because of insecurity as a QB.

The reason that Prescott can throw confidently is because he has a very good line that can protect him. He’s situation is perfect and he’s cashing in!

Fake it ’til you make it, buddy!

When he plays, I’m already penciling him in as top 15 QB with a very high ceiling. How high? Next year Prescott will be a top 8 QB.

Rebound Players: Kelvin Benjamin, TY Hilton.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers

There seemed to have been a collective hesitation of KB after Carolina’s remarkable 2015 season. Granted, the Panthers did everything without him, but that doesn’t mean the Panthers will eliminate him from the playbook.

If fact, what became apparent was their need for good WRs.

KB has already proven he can be Cam’s go-to guy in 2014. There will be small recession from those stats because Cam and his offensive has matured, but I do think there is room for a true WR1 on the roster — which is again KB.

His ADP has already bounced back, so I might be preaching to the choir. However, he still gets no love from the Twitter-verse and dynasty community, which is strange to me.

It’s gotta be because he’s so old, right?

TY Hilton, WR, Colts

This is simple…

…with Andrew Luck back to full-health, it’ll be Hilton that returns to 2014 form, not a Donte Moncrief breakout.

Sleeper: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Colts

If you haven’t already, read “Rebound Players” — TY Hilton before continuing…thanks!

What I like about Dorsett is what a lot of people don’t like, their styles are similar. Both small, quick receivers with great hands. Naturally, people assume that either Hilton or Dorsett will be “pushed out” because Moncrief has emerged as a reliable “bigger” WR.

It’s true that Moncrief’s style is complimentary to a Hilton or Dorsett, but it doesn’t mean either of them is going to be pushed out of fantasy relevance.

Luck is more than capable of spreading the ball around to all of his receivers, especially someone who can stretch the field and run routes like Dorsett.

Look for Dorsett to mature from his poor rookie season and be the player the Colts thought they originally drafted.

Deep Sleeper: Darius Jackson, RB, Cowboys

I don’t know…

I don’t know how it’s going to work with Zeke, Alf, Run DMC, and Lance Dunbar.

I do know this, Jackson is considered a talent and has the same o-line that people were freaking out about when Zeke was drafted.

Plus, if either Romo or Prescott is playing under center, there will be a passing game to keep the field open.

Maybe it’s due to injuries, coaching, <cough, cough> ownership decision, or a suspension (or two) for substance abuse, either way, keep on eye on this guy — Eventually, he’ll get his chance to prove himself.

That being said, any Dallas backup RB is a potential sleeper this year. The trick will be figuring who it’ll be and having him on your team when he utilizes his carries or targets.

But for dynasty, I’m buying Darius Jackson.