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Early Top 10 Draft List (2016 Fantasy Football)

Jan 1, 2016

Antonio Brown’s production is as good of a guarantee as there is in fantasy football.

Antonio Brown's production is as good of a guarantee as there is in fantasy football.

Antonio Brown’s production is as good of a guarantee as there is in fantasy football.

With the new year upon us, the 2015 fantasy season is officially in the books. Although drafts are a mere 8 months way that doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead and start planning ahead for the 2016 season.

With that in mind, we figured there’s no better source of early advice than the most accurate experts from 2015. We asked the 5 highest rated experts to share their top 10 players for next season’s drafts. Their rankings were then combined into a consensus and the pundits gave us the analysis of their picks.

Featured Pros

Sean Koerner (STATS)
Sean Morris (Bruno Boys)
Jake Ciely (RotoExperts)
John Paulsen (4for4)
Jeff Ratcliffe (Pro Football Focus)

2016 Top 10 Players (Standard Scoring)

Consensus
Rank
 Player  Position  Team Best Rank Worst Rank
 1.  Antonio Brown  WR  PIT 1 6
 2.  Le’Veon Bell  RB  PIT 1 7
 3.  Odell Beckham  WR  NYG 2 5
 4.  Todd Gurley  RB  STL 2 6
 5.  Julio Jones  WR  ATL 2 9
 6.  David Johnson  RB  ARI 1 NR
 7.  Devonta Freeman  RB  ATL 5 NR
 8.  Adrian Peterson  RB  MIN 7 NR
 9.  DeAndre Hopkins  WR  HOU 6 NR
 10.  Dez Bryant  WR  DAL 5 NR

Also receiving top 10 votes: A. Robinson (#11), D. Martin (#12), J. Charles (#13), R. Gronkowski (#14), L. Miller (#15)

2016 Fantasy Football Draft Advice

Each expert also answered 2 questions about the players they like next season. Here are their suggestions for who you should target.

Q1. Tell us why the player you ranked at #1 is the best fantasy option in 2016.

Sean Koerner – STATS
Antonio Brown
is the model of consistency and without a doubt the #1 guy to draft next year in any format. His production took a bit of a hit whenever Big Ben was out due to his various injuries so it’s possible he has some room for improvement next year. I also feel like the trend of taking RBs very early is getting tougher as it’s not as ideal to put that much stock in a position that sees the most injuries.

Sean Morris – Bruno Boys
David Johnson
sits in prime position to build upon his dominant close to the 2015 season after showing rare dual-threat workhorse capabilities on one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL. He maintained excellent per touch efficiency down the stretch despite his massive workload and showed no obvious indications of breaking down from the heavy usage. As long as Carson Palmer stays healthy the Cardinals will remain one of the best teams in the NFL and the league’s best teams tend to maintain outstanding running back production. The primary reason Johnson sits above the other similar backs I ranked is because he’s younger, has next to no injury history and is more dangerous out of the backfield (12.8 yards per reception) than most wide receivers.

Jake Ciely – RotoExperts
I have a feeling Antonio Brown will be the consensus No. 1 option, even in standard. I understand the appeal of safety, as receivers have a much lower attrition, but they aren’t immune (Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas). I’m assuming Le’Veon Bell comes back 100 percent, and if so, the debate against him isn’t that strong. Bell averaged 18.0 FPPG last year and 16.3 in the five games before getting hurt. Bell is in one of the most powerful offenses, sees usage in the passing game consistently and had just one single-digit game in 2014. That’s safe! For comparison, Brown had six single-digit games this year, including three straight from Weeks 4-6. Give me Bell in 2016.

John Paulsen – 4for4
Even with all the drama at the Pittsburgh quarterback position this season, Antonio Brown still finished as the #1 receiver. Moreover, in the 25 games over the past two years that Ben Roethlisberger attempted at least 25 passes — which only excludes one game which Roethlisberger started, 2015 Week 3 versus the Rams — Brown has averaged 8.7 catches for 117.6 yards and 0.88 TD. That equates to 17.0 fantasy points in standard formats, and only Odell Beckham can really compare. Even before this year’s group of early round running backs were decimated by injury, receivers were already the safer bet in the first couple rounds, so recent events only serve to make me more likely to approach fantasy drafts with a WR-early mindset in 2016.

Jeff Ratcliffe – Pro Football Focus
While it may seem a bit unconventional to rank a receiver first overall in a standard format, no other player matches Antonio Brown’s fantasy floor and few have his ceiling. Through 15 games this season he has 123 receptions, which is just six shy of his 2014 total, and he put up this jaw dropping number despite four games with Michael Vick and Landry Jones throwing him the ball. It’s hard to argue against Brown as the No. 1 overall player in all formats next year.

Q2. Tell us who your top sleeper candidate is for drafts next for season.

Sean Koerner – STATS
Don’t sleep on Kevin White next year. He had to miss his rookie campaign this season due to a stress fracture but should be fully healthy next year. With the lengthy delay for his NFL debut I feel like the hype may be off him a bit and he can be drafted pretty cheap as a WR3 next year. The Bears desperately need another talented WR to take some of the attention off Alshon Jeffery so he should step right into a pretty big role next year.

Sean Morris – Bruno Boys
When I look for players that will be undervalued in early drafts I’m looking to options on normally good teams (for fantasy production) that were terrible in 2015 such as the Packers and Eagles. The sleeper to watch out for there is Zach Ertz who quietly shucked teammate Brent Celek’s snap thievery en route to a TE5 PPG finish over the last five weeks of the season. Celek turns 31 this offseason and is a likely cap casualty at a bloated non-guaranteed 2016 salary of $4,925,000. Ertz on the other hand is hitting his prime after notching 10 or more targets in three of his last six games after having done so just once in his previous 39 games.

Jake Ciely – RotoExperts
Lamar Miller won’t be back in Miami. Heck, he knows he can’t get out of there fast enough. The Dolphins have never used him properly, and they drafted his future replacement this past season. Honestly, if not for an injury to start the year, I think we would have seen a lot more of Jay Ajayi this season. He has a good blend of vision, balance and quickness and fits the Dolphins offense quite well. He’s a quality pass catcher, which gives him three-down upside. With Ajayi as the Dolphins lead back, we may actually get some running game consistently in Miami (ha, I know), and Ajayi will be a Top 20 running back in 2016.

John Paulsen – 4for4
Everyone’s definition of “sleeper” is a bit different, but to me it describes a middle or late-round pick that people are overlooking due to age, injury, role or some other factor. One player that springs to mind is Kevin White, who spent the entire year on the shelf with a severe case of shin splints and/or some sort of leg injury (The Bears are not to be believed when it comes to injuries.) Regardless, he was starting to practice before the end of the season but ended up on injured reserve since he wasn’t in game shape and there was really no point in rushing him back in what became a lost season for the Bears. He was the #7 overall pick in the 2015 Draft and the bottom line is that the Bears need him. Either he’ll serve as the WR2 alongside Alshon Jeffery or he’ll replace Jeffery as the team’s WR1 if Jeffery walks in free agency.

Jeff Ratcliffe – Pro Football Focus
Sleepers are always tricky, especially before free agency and the draft, but a player who really stands out to me is DeVante Parker. He’s a kid with the size-speed profile of a No. 1 receiver, and he’s really come on down the stretch with at least 80 yards or a touchdown in four of five games since Week 12. He still has a ways to go as a player, but Parker’s high ceiling is ideal for fantasy purposes.

Thanks to 2015’s most accurate experts for sharing their advice! For more of the experts’ insight, be sure to follow each pundit on Twitter (click their names above) and visit their respective sites. Happy New Year to everyone!

Featured, Featured Pros, NFL