32 Key Fantasy Football Players For 2016

By | September 6, 2016
Share Button


For those of you who haven’t yet drafted your fantasy football team for 2016, or for those of you who want to simply get a ‘leg up’ on the competition, here’s a team-by-team look at some of the top boomers, sleepers, and busts that fantasy football players NEED to know, heading into the 2016 NFL season.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back — Considering the Dallas Cowboys spent a top five draft pick on him — with the hopes that he’ll be the workhorse running back that provides some balance to their offense — and the offensive line that he’ll get to run behind, Ezekiel Elliott has to be the odds-on favorite to win the offensive rookie of the year award. Many people thought Elliott was the most complete running back prospect to enter the NFL Draft since Adrian Peterson in 2007. He ran for 3,699 yards and 41 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Ohio State. In 13 games last season, he had over 2,000 combined yards and 23 touchdowns. Even as a rookie, if Elliott doesn’t break a thousand yards rushing and approach double-digit touchdowns in Dallas, it’ll be a colossal disappointment.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver — If there’s a darkhorse player for offensive rookie of the year award, it’s Sterling Shepard. Shepard was a fast and silky-smooth slot receiver at the University of Oklahoma, who showed a fantastic ability to create separation and get in space for anticipatory throws, so, he’s going to fit in beautifully in Ben McAdoo’s quick passing attack in New York. The Giants featured three wide receivers on the field in 91% of their pass plays last season, so Shepard figures to get a lot of playing time — and likely a lot of targets — throughout his rookie season, especially with teams doing everything they can to cover Odell Beckham Jr.. Shepard has “Victor Cruz 2.0” written all over him (especially as the “original” Cruz continues his uphill rehab-from-injury-battle).

Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz, Tight End — Zach Ertz has flashed his potential over the last couple of years — especially late in the season — but hasn’t quite had that breakthrough season as of yet. Ertz had 702 yards and three touchdowns in his second season, and 853 yards and two touchdowns last year (in a season when many believed he would finally “break out”). He teased more flashes of his potential by catching 35 passes for 450 yards and a touchdown over the last four games of 2015; with new head coach Doug Pederson taking over for the Eagles, he might finally get Ertz to take that next step. Pederson was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City for the prior three seasons, where he coached Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce had over 850 yards and five touchdowns for the past two seasons, and with a player as talented as Ertz, along with the lack of other quality receiving options in Philadelphia, he could turn Ertz into the next Kelce. Expect Ertz to also emerge into that second tier of elite fantasy tight ends this season.

Washington Redskins: DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver — DeSean Jackson is going absurdly low in many fantasy football drafts — being taken outside the top 30 wide receivers in most leagues — mostly on account of misconceptions of his durability, production, and attitude (almost all of which are totally false). Yes, Jackson missed six games last season with a troublesome hamstring injury, but he was totally healthy from November onwards last year, playing in nine of the Redskins last 10 games of the season, including the postseason (he was held out of a meaningless game in Week 17 against Dallas). Prior to 2015, he played in 31 of 32 games over his last two seasons. In the eight regular season games that Jackson did play in last season, he recorded 30 catches for 528 yards and four touchdowns; project that over the course of a 16 game season, and that’s over 1,000 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. In 2014, Jackson had 1,169 yards and six receiving touchdowns with the Redskins revolving door at quarterback; so, the questions about his level of productivity are totally baseless. Finally, Jackson might’ve griped his way out of Philadelphia, but he’s been a great teammate in Washington. He’s looked the best he has in training camps, so far, as a member of the Redskins, and he spent the entire offseason working hard at the team facility. Jackson could be in line for a pretty big season in 2016, perhaps in line with the numbers we used to see him put up in Philadelphia during his prime.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Zach Miller, Tight End — At this point in time last year, we were debating whether Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was one of the best tight ends in football. But as the season went on, and Bennett was dinged up with injuries, Zach Miller really began to emerge within the Bears offense. Over the last eight games of 2015, Miller had 404 yards and five touchdowns receiving, and the Bears were pleased enough with his performance that they were comfortable with trading Bennett away.

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, Quarterback — Once the Lions installed offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter midway through the 2015 season, Stafford threw for 2,179 yards (and 7.44 yards per attempt), completed 70% of his passes, and threw 19 touchdowns versus only two interceptions over his last eight games. He finished 7th in touchdown passes (32) — ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers — and 8th in passing yards (4,262; ahead of guys like Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Derek Carr). With the loss of Calvin Johnson, expect the Lions to have more of a Patriots or Giants-esque style of passing game, with Stafford will spreading the ball around to Golden Tate, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and newly acquired wide receivers Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, all of whom are very solid yards-after-catch (YAC) producers. Stafford could be a sneaky QB1 that you could platoon with other starters if you take him late, or at least be an upper-tier QB2 for those in two-quarterback leagues.

Green Bay Packers: Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver — I think Randall Cobb will still have a nice season, but he’s being a bit overdrafted in many leagues. Given the circumstances around him, I think Cobb is closer to a top end WR3, versus a WR2 that he’s often being picked as. With the return of Jordy Nelson — Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receiver — there’s just no way Cobb is going to lead the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards next season. On top of that, Davante Adams is going to be better (he had nagging injuries for all of 2015 which really hampered his performance), Jeff Janis has had a great camp (before breaking his hand), and so has Jared Abbrederis and tight end Richard Rodgers . All of those guys could siphon off production from Cobb, who was basically Rodgers’ only reliable target last season (Rodgers and James Jones did a lot of their damage based off improvisation, and James knowing exactly where to go in those circumstances). Even in PPR leagues, I would take a chance on a couple of younger receivers with high breakout potential, instead of putting a lot of eggs in the Randall Cobb basket.

Minnesota Vikings: Stefon Diggs, Wide Receiver — After being the talk of training camp in 2015, Stefon Diggs burst onto the scene in Week 4 of last season, recording 25 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns in his first four games. Now, the flipside of that fact is that Diggs only had 27 receptions for 291 yards and two touchdowns over the remaining nine games of the season. Still, he led the Vikings in receiving as a rookie and was second among rookie wideouts in receiving yards. This season, the Vikings are shifting Diggs over to flanker, meaning he’ll get more free releases against defensive backs who’d otherwise try to jam the undersized Diggs (he’s only 6’0 and 191lbs). Plus, the Vikings also drafted Laquon Treadwell with their first round pick, which will hopefully result in teams not being able to shift all their focus on stopping Diggs. Expect Diggs to be the Vikings leading receiver again in 2016.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, Quarterback  —  A few years ago, Matt Ryan seemed almost destined to break into the echelon of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. But over the last three years, he’s only gone 18–30 as a starter, and his TD-to-INT ratio has dropped from 2.1 to 1.6. In 2015, he only threw for 21 touchdown passes, which was the 2nd lowest total of his career. Conversely, he also threw 16 interceptions (the second highest interception total of his career), four of which came in the red zone (the 2nd highest number in the NFL of such stat, only behind Eli Manning). Oh, and should I also mention his career-high 12 fumbles? At points last season, there were whispers of a near-mutiny by the Falcons offensive player, against Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes. Shanahan’s offense very much predicated on play-action passes, which isn’t something that Matt Ryan has shown a great proficiency with. Another season with bumps and hiccups in this offensive scheme won’t be good for business. At the point in the draft where you’d think about taking Matt Ryan, i’d be much more comfortable with guys like Matt Stafford (who could have a really nice season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter), Ryan Tannehill (who could have a big bounce-back season working under Adam Gase), or even Jameis Winston (who’s come into training camp in fantastic shape, and looking to improve on a very promising rookie season).

Carolina Panthers: Devin Funchess, Wide Receiver — Devin Funchess was very much considered a clone of Kevin Benjamin when the former was coming out of the University of Michigan in 2015, so it’s a bit ironic that he ended up getting drafted by the Carolina Panthers. As a rookie, Funchess had a respectable stat line of 31 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns last season (he ranked third on the team in touchdown receptions), and he very much looks primed to build on those numbers. Wide receivers often make a leap Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Funchess is “light years” ahead of where he was as a rookie. Between the attention that defenses have to pay to tight end Greg Olsen, deep threat Ted Ginn Jr, and Benjamin (as he returns from his torn ACL), Funchess could draw a lot of favorable mismatches.

New Orleans Saints: Coby Fleener, Tight End — The perennially cash-strapped Saints raised eyebrows in the offseason when they signed Coby Fleener to a five-year, $36.5 million contract this past offseason. As an early second round pick from Stanford University by the Indianapolis Colts (in the same draft where teammate Andrew Luck was taken first overall), Fleener has flashed potential during his NFL career, but never really “broke through” in the way other star tight ends have. Still, Fleener caught 51 passes for 774 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014, and had 54 catches for 491 yards and three touchdowns in 2015 (even with Luck missing about half the season due to injury). But, in New Orleans, he’ll be joining an offense that just helped journeyman tight end Ben Watson reach career highs in catches (74), receiving yards (825), and tie his career high in touchdown receptions (six). Fleener has far more upside than Watson, and could see a lot of open receiving lanes with Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks stretching defenses vertically. Look for Fleener to be in the mix among the top seven tight ends this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Charles Sims, Running Back — Yes, Doug Martin ran for 1,402 yards in 16 games last season, the second highest total in the NFL in 2015. The problem is, Martin missed 16 games over the two seasons prior to 2015. So, which Martin can we expect to see in 2016? That’s why Charles Sims is not only an invaluable handcuff to Martin, but could be a worthwhile selection outright. Even with Martin’s production last season, Sims put up 1,090 total yards on 158 touches last year (carries and receptions), and four receiving touchdowns himself. He was among the top 11 running backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and yards per catch, so he’s especially valuable for people playing in point per reception (PPR) or half-PPR leagues. But, if Martin falters for any reason in 2016, Sims could become one of the premier dual threat options in the league.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver — The fifth year breakout wide receiver has kind of become a thing recently; check out guys like Jeremy Maclin, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Emmanuel Sanders, among others. I have a hunch that Michael Floyd might be the next guy in this group. People were high on Floyd early last season, as he was entering his fourth year, but he suffered a quietly nasty dislocated finger(s) injury just before the regular season, which did hamper his performance early in the year. But, once the hand healed and got stronger, so did his game; over the Cardinals last eight regular season games last year, Floyd had 36 receptions, 636 yards, and four touchdowns. He’s immensely talented, has prototype size (6’2 and 220lbs), and is entering a contract year. All the signs point to him emerging as the Cardinals most productive receiver.

Los Angeles Rams: Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver — It might seem like Tavon Austin has been in the league for decades already, but he’s actually entering just his fourth year in the NFL, meaning he could still be on the cusp of that breakout season everyone has been waiting for. Still, he quietly had a productive season for a Rams offense that ranked 29th in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) last year (and 31st in passing DVOA). Austin had 907 yards and nine touchdowns on 104 touches (carries + catches) last year, and also added a punt return for a touchdown as well (he’s returned a punt for a touchdown every season he’s been in the NFL). Outside of Todd Gurley, who they simply can’t had the ball off to on every play, the Rams don’t have any other playmaker on this offense besides Austin. He can be an effective WR3-type player for your fantasy team.

San Francisco 49ers: Torrey Smith, Wide ReceiverCredit to ESPN’s Matthew Berry for this find: in Chip Kelly’s three years as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the top receiver in his offense never had less than 82 receptions or eight receiving touchdowns, and averaged about 1,215 yards per season receiving (and over 14.4 yards per catch). And it’s not exactly like Kelly had all star quarterbacks throwing to these guys; Blaine Gabbert isn’t really any worse than the likes of Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Bradford. If Kelly can bring some of his wide receiver voodoo to San Francisco, then Torrey Smith stands to be the primary beneficiary, especially considering the 49ers really don’t have any other wide receiver of consequence on their roster.

Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, Wide Receiver — Tyler Lockett might be one of the fastest guys in the NFL, but he’s not just a straight-line speed guy; he understands how to run routes and use his speed to sell different moves to defensive backs trying to keep up with him. He finished second on the Seahawks in receptions (51) and touchdown passes (six) as a rookie last season. Over the last eight games of 2015, Lockett caught 31 passes for 411 yards, and five of thos six touchdowns. After spending a portion of the offseason training with Russell Wilson, he could be in for a really big sophomore year. Pete Carroll has said that he’s “in the middle” of all of the Seahawks’ offensive plans, and he remains the primary deep threat for Seattle.

AFC East

Buffalo: LeSean McCoy, Running Back — Sure, this is a pretty obvious name, but I think he might be getting the respect he deserves (especially in PPR or half-PPR leagues). He basically played in 11-and-a-half games last season (he left early in the Bills’ Week 15 matchup against Washington, after injuring his knee), and still had almost 1200 combined yards (including 895 yards rushing) and five total touchdowns. In the four years prior to 2015, as the lead running back in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s offense (Roman oversaw San Francisco’s offense from 2011-2014), Frank Gore had 299, 286, 292, and 266 total touches in that four year span. Last year, McCoy had 235, in less than 12 games. Look for that number to jump by about 20% or so this year. McCoy professed to going ‘old school’ in his training regimen this offseason, and coming into this year’s camp in peak physical condition. He stated that he’s presently at 211lbs, which he stated was his lowest playing weight since 2010. In standard scoring leagues, I would absolutely take McCoy over guys like Doug Martin or Mark Ingram, who are presently being drafted before him on average. I’m guessing he has one last truly elite year before age starts to catch up with him (he’s 28 years old).

Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver — After a foot surgery forced him to miss the vast majority of his rookie season, from Thanksgiving weekend of 2015 through the end of the regular season (six games), DeVante Parker had 22 catches for 445 yards (a gaudy 20.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. Now that he’s fully healthy entering training camps, Adam Gase could do for Parker what he did for Alshon Jeffrey (at least for half a season last year) and Demaryius Thomas in 2013-2014 (when Gase was offensive coordinator for the Broncos). By season’s end, Parker could very well emerge as a solid WR2. He has the size, athleticism and hands to become a dynamic playmaker.

New England Patriots: James White, Running Back — Given the news that running back Dion Lewis just had another procedure on the same knee which he tore the ACL in last year, it looks like the Patriots will be without his services through the team’s bye week in early November. Over the years, New England’s offense has thrived by utilizing pass-catching-specialist running backs like Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, and most recently Lewis. So, James White looks to be a strong option at least for the first half of this season, if not beyond. In 10 games last year (including the playoffs), White recorded 40 receptions, 442 yards, and four touchdowns. He could very well be a safe check-down option when Jimmy Garoppolo’s plays the first four games of the season, and then see his utilization increase once Tom Brady is back.

New York Jets: Eric Decker, Wide Receiver — Interesting fact for you: Over the last four years, Eric Decker has caught 41 touchdown passes, meaning he basically averages double-digit touchdowns each year (he’s had double-digit touchdown catches in three of his past four seasons). Since 2012, he’s tied for third, in terms of most touchdown passes caught in that span, ahead of Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Rob Gronkowski. Defenses are still going to have to key in on stopping Brandon Marshall, meaning Eric Decker could feast on #2 cornerbacks again this season. I would absolutely take a chance on him over guys like Kelvin Benjamin or Randall Cobb, who are currently being drafted ahead of Decker in the majority of standard scoring leagues.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: Kamar Aiken, Wide Receiver — After catching a grand total of 24 passes in his NFL career prior to 2015, Kamar Aiken finished among the top 35 receivers in receiving yards last season (940) and among the top 25 receivers in targets (127). He could end up being the Ravens top receiver, by default, at the start of the 2016 season. Steve Smith is coming off a torn achilles, and he’s 37 years old. It’s just not realistic to expect him to continue to play at the same level. Second year receiver Breshad Perriman is essentially a rookie, having missed his true rookie season due to injury. It’s very possible that Aiken flirts with a thousand yard season this year.

Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd, Wide Receiver — Tyler Boyd is going to get as much of an opportunity to contribute right away as a rookie as any wide receiver taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bengals depth chart behind A.J. Green and Boyd is perilously thin; past those two, there’s journeyman Brandon LaFell, sixth round Cody Core, and James Wright (a 7th round pick in 2014). In other words: there’s Green and Boyd, and a bunch of totally forgettable and replaceable guys. He’s already shown flashes in the preseason, and will be leaned upon even more as the regular season begins.

Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Crowell, Running Back — The last three seasons where Hue Jackson ran the team’s offense, his lead “power” running back finished the season with 256, 222, and 223 carries. So, it’s natural to expect that the lead back for Cleveland would also average around 225 to 230 carries. It’s also foreseeable that Jackson uses Browns’ running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. in a similar manner to how he used Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard when Jackson was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Given that, expect Crowell to be the one to get the “hard yardage” carries, just like Hill did over the past two seasons in Cincinnati, and Johnson to be more of the change-of-pace and third down running back.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver — With wide receiver Martavis Bryant lost for the 2016 due to suspension, the Steelers will be counting on fourth-year receiver Markus Wheaton to step into Bryant’s role as the team’s #2 receiver opposite of Antonio Brown. Over the final seven games of last season, Wheaton had 28 receptions for 476 yards, including a 201-yard performance at Seattle in Week 12. If Pittsburgh ends up playing Wheaton as an outside receiver, where he’s more comfortable, he could flourish in their high-powered passing attack.

AFC South

Houston Texans: Brock Osweiler, Quarterback — Brock Osweiler is currently ranked anywhere between the #20 and #25 quarterback in fantasy next season, so it’s not like people are drafting him super early. But, for anyone who might think that Osweiler could be “Matt Schaub 2.0” for the Texans, I wouldn’t hold your breath. In 2015, he threw for 1,967 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, and six interceptions as the starting quarterback for the Broncos; extrapolate that over a full season, and you’re looking at less than 4,000 yards passing and about 20 touchdowns. Neither of those are titillating numbers. Again, I realize that he’s only in the backup/QB2 discussion for nearly everyone, but even as a backup, I think you’re better off letting someone like Jay Cutler or even Ryan Fitzpatrick fall into your lap.

Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore, Running Back — Sure, Frank Gore ran for a career low 3.7 yards per carry last season, but a lot of that stemmed from the fact that the Colts passing attack took a nosedive once Andrew Luck went down (Indianapolis went from the #1 passing attack in 2014 to the #22 passing attack in 2015). But, I think he’s being overlooked in a lot of leagues coming into 2016. With a healthy Luck under center, and receivers T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett (both of whom are having a great camp), and Donte Moncrief (a big time breakout candidate this year) stretching the defense vertically, Gore’s number should very well improve, given that teams will be forced forced to spread out to stop the Colts’ passing attack. I really think Gore — who still had 967 rushing yards last year — will become the first Colts running back to break 1,000 yards rushing since Joseph Addai in 2007.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Allen Hurns, Wide Receiver — The “glass is half full” way of looking at Allen Hurns would likely be based on the fact that he broke 1,000 yards receiving in just his second season, and caught 10 touchdown passes (more than guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson). The “glass is half empty” approach would be based on the fact that he was tied for 31st in the NFL in targets last season, and that his seven game streak of touchdown receptions is probably closer to a statistical outlier, versus something we can expect him to realistically replicate (especially considering he scored only three touchdowns over the last eight games of the Jaguars season). With a healthy Julius Thomas and an improved Marqise Lee being integrated into this offense, those guys’ targets could very well come at the expense of Hurns’ targets; wide receiver Allen Robinson is a superstar force that will continue to get looks, so everyone else will be figthing for targets behind him. I think Hurns will be a passable WR next year than that, but I wouldn’t quite expect the same fantasy numbers that he put up last season.

Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray, Running Back — He’s nowhere near as high up on draft boards this year as he’s been in years past, but in a standard scoring (non-PPR) league, I still have DeMarco Murray outside of my top 25 running backs. Consider the fact that the Eagles signed Murray to a highly lucrative $42 million contract for five years just one season ago, and were compelled enough to trade away Murray just one season later. Frankly, you can’t blame the Eagles, either. After handing Murray all that money, he responded with the lowest yards per carry of his career (3.6). He played in 15 games last season, but only had one game with over 100 yards rushing; outside of that one game, he ran for less than 85 yards in every other game. Over the last eight games of the Eagles season, Murray ran for less than 70 yards in each of them. It’s no wonder that he spent time in Chip Kelly’s proverbial doghouse, just weeks after supposedly being the centerpiece of a vaunted rushing attack that Kelly was supposed to unleash. So, again, why is it going to get any better under Mike Mularkey? The last time Mularkey was a head coach (in 2012 with the Jacksonville Jaguars), his top three running backs combined couldn’t crack 1,000 yards. In his entire NFL career Murray has only played in all 16 games for one of them (in 2014), and if (or when?) he goes down, he’s got Derrick Henry — the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the Titans second round pick in 2016, who was an absolute stud at the University of Alabama, and has already looked fantastic in preseason action — waiting to take his job. Stay away from Murray.

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Devontae Booker, Running Back — Over the last five years that head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have been in charge of an offense, the backup running back has had over 120 carries in three of those five years. Rookie running back Devontae Booker — the team’s fourth round pick in this year’s draft — has emerged as the team’s primary running back, having basically eliminated Ronnie Hillman from the depth chart. The coaching staff loves Booker; there were rumors that the Broncos had a first round grade on him, coming into the draft. If nothing else, he could be a valuable handcuff to anyone who owns Anderson, or a potential waiver-wire steal should Anderson get hurt.

Kansas City Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Running Back — Yes, the concerns that Jamaal Charles turns 30 years old in December, and that he’s coming off his second torn ACL injury of his career are valid. But, the last time Charles suffered a torn ACL (2011), he came back to run for over 1,500 yards the following season. In five games last year (including the game where he suffered the torn ACL), Charles ran for 364 yards and four rushing touchdowns, and also had 177 yards and one touchdown receiving to date. Project that out over a full season, and you’re looking at over 1160 yards rushing and more than 560 yards receiving. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West may have played well when Charles went down last season, but they simply don’t present the dynamic run-and-catch ability that Charles does. Charles could very well have one highly productive season left in him this year.

Oakland Raiders: Latavius Murray, Running Back — It shouldn’t give you a lot of confidence when a running back is basically the starter by default — because his team really doesn’t have any other options — rather than being the guy the staff really believes in. But that’s basically what Latavius Murray is (as of right now, at least); the Raiders proved that by handing the ball 266 times to Murray last season, giving him the third most carries of any NFL running back last season. Murray “repaid” that confidence with only two games of 100+ rushing yards last season; by comparison, Todd Gurley had five games with 100+ rushing yards, despite receiving 37 less carries than Murray. Over the Raiders last eight games of 2015, Murray ran for a total of 431 yards and three rushing touchdowns, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. Pro Football Focus ranked Murray 53rd of 90 running backs in points per opportunity. With quarterback Derek Carr throwing to weapons like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and tight end Clive Walford, Oakland is likely to be more of a pass-first team moving forward. Plus, the Raiders are very high on rookie running back DeAndre Washington, their fifth round pick out of Texas Tech; it wouldn’t be any surprise to see Washington cut into Murray’s workload this season. Murray looks to be a marginal RB2 this season as a best-case scenario.

San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, Running Back — I think the backlash against Melvin Gordon has swung a bit too far, albeit after a totally forgettable rookie season. Sure, Gordon didn’t score a single touchdown in 2015, but he’s already had two touchdowns in the 2016 preseason, and has looked dramatically improved in training camp to date. Gordon spent much of the offseason training with Adrian Peterson; I can’t really think of any running back in the NFL you’d rather train with. Plus, I actually think the loss of backup running back Branden Oliver might be a good thing for Gordon, as he’ll get even more opportunities to carry the football, instead of potentially having to split carries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *