2015 WR/TE Fantasy Surprises
With the third edition of my fantasy surprises from 2015 we take a look at the wide receiver and tight end positions. The league has continued its trend of turning into more of a passing league and with that it has benefitted pass catchers more than ever. We saw the difference once again with this year producing 26 pass catchers with 1,000 or more yards and another six being very close to reaching that mark as well. When we think of surprises from this past year both positions had their fair share and narrowing it down to a selected few was a difficult task. Lets look at the players who really impressed us and garnered some fantasy attention throughout the year.
Allen Robinson/ Allen Hurns (JAC)
I’m going to pack these two in as a duo for my first choices as nobody saw this combo doing what they accomplished this past year. With ADP’s of 26th (Robinson) and 59th (Hurns) respectively, they really showcased their abilities and gave us some good fantasy outputs from a Jacksonville squad that hasn’t produced a whole lot of excitement in past years.
Robinson finished the season as the 4th ranked wide receiver while putting up 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Allen Hurns wasn’t too shabby himself with his 64 catches for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns which gave him the 14th overall finish at his position.
The duo was a surprise by all means and we look forward to what they can do in 2016 as they have another offseason to gain more chemistry with a franchise quarterback in the making in, Blake Bortles.
Look for these two wide receivers to put up stellar numbers once again, Robinson should be another lock as a No. 1 and Hurns will look to turn his great year in 2015 into another big one and flirt with No. 2 numbers next season. I will target Robinson in the early second round and Hurns should be targeted no later than the fifth round.
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
This guy still has life left in him and he definitely showed us he isn’t ready to hang up his cleats yet. Going into 2015, we all thought Fitzgerald was on the backend of his career and would look to take a step back with emerging receivers in John Brown and Michael Floyd looking to carve out their own spots in the starting lineup.
What we didn’t expect was Fitzgerald to come out and produce the numbers he did while gaining back his No. 1 role in Arizona. His ADP going into the year was 32nd at his position and it was a consensus opinion that that’s about where he would end up once the season ended. However, Fitzgerald decided to once again show us why he’s one of the best receivers in the game taking 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns.
He finished the season as the 11th ranked wide receiver and should continue to shine in the Arizona offense heading into 2016. I would look to draft him in the fourth round next year because with Palmer throwing him the ball he should put up good numbers once again.
Eric Decker (NYJ)
“Mr. Consistent” is what I have been calling Decker all throughout the 2015 season. I don’t think there was any other receiver in the league who was viewed as a No. 2 while quietly putting up No. 1 numbers.
With an ADP of 33rd entering the season, he was strictly viewed as a low-end No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy option, especially with Geno Smith throwing him the ball. What changed everything was Smith’s injury and Ryan Fitzpatrick entering Week 1 as the starting quarterback.
Decker was so consistent that he scored a touchdown in all but three games he played in this past season (he missed Week 3 with an injury). In the three games he didn’t score a touchdown, he had 81+ yards in each. Those numbers are crazy to think about and yet he wasn’t considered or even thought about more than just a No. 2 receiver all year. This had a lot to do with him being the No. 2 receiver for the Jets’ and being overshadowed by Brandon Marshall.
He finished the season with 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns which gave him a top 10 finish in fantasy points for his position. Heading into the 2016 season, he could be a huge bargain and should be targeted in the third round.
Doug Baldwin (SEA)
Saving the best for last, as some might say, Baldwin was quite possibly the biggest fantasy surprise wide receiver of 2015. He hasn’t been listed as a No. 1 or even a No. 2 fantasy option in any year of his career before his breakout campaign this past season.
His ADP was 56th overall for his position was nothing to be impressed with and he didn’t even get drafted in some leagues to start the year. His first half to the year wasn’t any better as he only had 345 yards and two touchdowns through the first eight games.
He turned a corner and posted one of the best second half seasons we have seen in many years as he was able to light a spark in the Seattle offense and produce 724 yards and an insane 12 touchdowns in the final eight games. The second half outburst helped him finish as the 7th ranked wide receiver and should gain him No. 1 status heading into next season. I would look to draft him in the third round and hope he can put up similar numbers once again.
Gary Barnidge (CLE)
Who is Gary Barnidge? That was the question every single fantasy coach in 2015. He had an ADP of 52nd going into the year and wasn’t considered by no means a fantasy relevant asset to any team.
He surely surprised everyone with his play during the season as he finished as the No. 2 tight end. As the only bright spot coming out of Cleveland, it was nice to see some sort of production happening. Barnidge got the starting gig after Jordan Cameron shipped off to Miami and while no one expected much, it was a taste of fresh air for fantasy owners once the year began.
He finished the season with 79 catches for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns even with the up and down play from the quarterback position he had to deal with. With a new coaching staff and hopefully a better steady option at quarterback, 2016 could be a big year once again for Barnidge.
If all goes well in the offseason Barnidge could be a top tier tight end in 2016 and could push for No. 1 status by year’s end next year. I would look to snag him in the fourth or fifth round if given the chance.
Jordan Reed (WAS)
We finally got to see the talent that Reed has with him staying healthy for most of the year. The ADP of 19th overall tight end was only because he couldn’t complete an entire season without getting injured.
With all the cards falling into place this past season and Kirk Cousins being named the starting quarterback, it was pretty nice to get to see Reed put up big numbers down the stretch. In his third season this year, he put up 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which made him the 3rd ranked tight end to close the year.
If everything stays the way it is in Washington then there is no reason to see why Reed couldn’t produce those big numbers again. He is one of my favorite players to watch going into 2016 and should be targeted in the fourth round.
Tyler Eifert (CIN)
In his third season. he became a breakout star and a surprise for the tight end position in 2015. Going into the season, Eifert had a good ADP at 9th overall for his position because he was now the starter and should produce decent numbers in that offense. What we didn’t expect was 13 touchdowns and it was something to cherish.
Even with his injury towards the end of the season, he still produced as the 6th ranked tight end. Looking forward to 2016, it’s easy to see him as a No. 1 option, and it should stay true with Andy Dalton returning from injury and Cincinnati being a top notch offense once again. I would draft him as the No. 4 ranked tight end heading into next season.