• Here’s a look at some of Fantasy Football’s Studs, Duds (to avoid like the plague) and Sleepers.
If you’ve been playing fantasy for a while, don’t over think it, go with the best proven player available who’s on the board.
After missing nine games last season, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck appears geared up for a monster 2016.
Luck has got the ever-dynamic T Y Hilton as his top pass-catcher. On Thursday, the quarterback called Hilton the “best player” at training camp.
Luck also has the rapidly improving Donte Moncrief as well as second-year speedster Phillip Dorsett (Renaldo’s cousin).
In the backfield is Frank Gore, who is not the star he once was but is still serviceable.
As a fantasy owner, don’t be scared off by concerns that Luck has had an “uneven” camp, which was reported by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.
Luck takes his chances. He throws picks. He makes what appear to be boneheaded plays more than his coaches would like. However to his credit, many of those chances result in explosive plays and, in turn, fantasy points.
Expect a healthy Luck to finish in the same conversation as top fantasy QBs like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
Don’t let some analysts try and sell you on the idea that Johnson is a one year wonder a la C J Anderson in Denver.
The Cardinals seem genuinely all-in on the Northern Iowa product.
With just five starts, Johnson racked up 581 yards on the ground (eight touchdowns) and 457 through the air (36 catches, four scores).
Head coach Bruce Arians often used the burly running back as a receiver in the red zone, which created all types of mismatches that quarterback Carson Palmer easily exploited.
Believe the hype ... after the top three receivers (Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr and Julio Jones) are off the board, David Johnson should be in play as the first back selected.
Odell Beckham Jr
If I’m thinking ‘bathhouse’ antics on viral videos all over social media, then OBJ is a stud.
The ‘Freddie Mercury’ of the NFL (Mercury sang and danced better) Beckham is also on the Stud radar in Fantasy Football.
Beckham finished his sophomore season with no jinx. Finishing third in receiving yards (1,450), eighth in receptions (96) and tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (13).
OBJ did all this even while missing Week 16 due to suspension - a painful memory for many who were fighting for a fantasy championship.
Believe the hype ... Beckham is elite; that’s not changing.
His connection with Eli Manning is unshakeable, and now the Giants figure to actually have some help opposite Beckham this season. Rookie Sterling Shepard has drawn rave reviews - No.13 is among his vocal supporters - and flashed that potential in NYG’s first pre-season game before leaving with a minor groin injury.
Throw in the fact that Victor Cruz returns, and could also play for the first time since 2014.
Factor in what should be an improved running game reliant on Rashad Jennings instead of a dysfunctional four-headed attack, and you’ve got the makings of an offensive boost in New York.
Benefiting from all of this the most, you guessed it, OBJ. Grab him in the top third of your draft with confidence.
While I think he will end up having a decent career, I don’t see Mariota avoiding the ‘sophomore jinx’.
Mariota possesses game-breaking speed as a runner, but that wasn’t always a factor in the Tennessee Titans’ game plan. Worsening his fantasy production was painful inconsistency.
There were four different outings in which Super Mario tossed three-plus touchdowns, but there were five with zero (buyer beware).
The 22-year-old is hit-or-miss. And given his limited weapons aside from DeMarco Murray and DelanieWalker, it’s tough to give Mariota a roster spot for more than single weeks at a time.
Mariota is usable in some matchups, but he’s not someone you’ll want to draft and rely on.
Don’t believe the hype ... Murray and Henry, two behemoths in the backfield, indicate the Titans are going to run the ball ad nauseam, clearly establishing a ground and pound smash mouth identity.
Not too much passing necessary in this equation.
Though billed a first- and second-down back, Crowell is in danger of losing carries to second-year teammate Duke Johnson (huge sleeper, don’t forget I told you so).
Crowell will still be involved, of course. With Head Coach Hue Jackson now manning the Cleveland Browns sidelines, it would be shocking to see either Crowell or Johnson become a three-down, clear-cut workhorse. Keep in mind that this is the same coach who wielded the league’s best backfield combination in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Look for Crowell to fill Hill’s bruising role while Johnson acts as the passing-down back, like Gio Bernard. After all, Johnson led all rookie running backs with 61 receptions. He was second among first-year players, trailing only Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, both Crowell and Johnson could be used on the field at the same time. This bodes well for Johnson, not so much for Crowell.
In PPR leagues, Johnson is the obvious choice. But even in standard, Duke’s ceiling is immensely higher. He’s a second-year breakout candidate ... like I told you all last week!
Kelvin Benjamin was a fantasy stud during his rookie season, totalling 73 grabs, 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
Benjamin lost his second year in the league to an ACL injury, landing him on IR (Injured Reserve).
Cam Newton put forth an MVP effort without his top target from the year prior. Now, it’s been assumed that upon his return, Benjamin will immediately reclaim his role as the undisputed No.1.
Wait a second, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. You know what happens when one assumes?
Yes, Benjamin is going to be a featured part of the passing attack. He’s a mammoth target at 6ft 5in, 240 pounds. In the red zone, he’s undeniable. However the Panthers learnt how to survive without their big target last season.
Cam Newton spread the wealth last season and didn’t consistently lock in on any one target aside from tight end Greg Olsen, making choosing a Panthers receiver a nightmare for fantasy owners.
But it earned the Panthers a dream trip to the Super Bowl.
Expect a strong season from Benjamin, but think of him more of an explosive WR2 than a week-to-week WR1.
Because he missed all of what would have been his rookie season, it’s easy to forget Kevin White was the No.7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
At 6ft 3in, 205 pounds with blazing speed and excellent leaping ability, White has the talent of a No.1 receiver.
Bears QB Jay Cutler isn’t the most accurate passer, but he loves throwing to big, talented receivers.
If the injury bug bites running mate Alshon Jeffery again, White is poised to step in and break out.
Duke Johnson Jr
Duke Johnson had 61 receptions in 2015, and despite limited carries (104) he showed flashes of a player with game-breaking ability.
The Cleveland Browns can - and probably will - use him in the slot, split out wide and traditionally out of the backfield.
He is very similar to former Bears and current NY Jets RB Matt Forte.
Remember running backs who are threats as receivers and on the ground are usually Fantasy beasts. Throw new head coach Hue Jackson into the mix, and Johnson is set to star.
Robert Griffin III
Two Cleveland Browns back-to-back ... yes new Head Coach Hue Jackson is a QB guru. He resurrects RG3’s career.
Look for RG3 to return to his old Pro Bowl form. A great late round steal.
Finally healthy, the extremely athletic Parker gives budding quarterback Ryan Tannehill a receiver who is legitimately capable of being a star playmaker.
A stronger offensive line and head coach Adam Gase’s system that should open up a stuffy passing attack from 2015 only enhance Parker’s overflowing potential.
He is a popular sleeper this year and may go way earlier than expected, depending on your league’s structure and interest level. Target him as a third receiver in the first half of the draft.
Dynamic. That one word aptly describes Washington’s ability.
Among running backs with at least 150 touches in 2015, Raiders starter Latavius Murray ranked as the seventh least efficient. Washington can chew up chunks of yards with limited touches and offers a short-area spark in the passing game.
I strongly suggest drafting any of these players in the later rounds of your drafts. If they don’t pay off early, they will late.