Predicting the Top 10 WRs of 2016 (Fantasy Football)

by Stan Son | @Stan_Son | Featured Writer
Aug 12, 2016

Donte Moncrief

Is Donte Moncrief ready to enter the WR1 ranks?

This is Part Deux of Predicting the Top 10 for 2016. For the running back series, click here.

Start preparing for your league now with our NFL Draft Simulator >>

My primary motivation for the running back piece was due to the proliferation of the “Zero RB” drafting strategy. The basic premise of this strategy is that running backs are too risky due to injury and usage (RBBC). Was there a way to mitigate the risk or identify trends from history that could assist with choosing the right running back?

The “Zero RB” strategy advocates drafting wide receivers. “The wide receiver gets more projected points when you adjust projections for risk.” If that’s the case, then ADP for wide receivers should be able to predict the final top 10 at a much higher rate than for running backs, right?

Going back 11 years, though, that just hasn’t been the case. Here’s a look of the percentage of top 10 ADP WRs that finished the season in the top 10, per season.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
30% 60% 60% 50% 50% 50% 50% 50% 50% 60% 50%

(Historical ADP data courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com. Historical fantasy points data courtesy of footballguys.com. Data is for standard scoring.)

In the below exercise, I will look at the past 11 years to see why predicting the top 10 wide receivers has been as much of a coin flip as was the case for the running back position. Let’s take another trip down memory lane.

PAST 11 YEARS

2005

The Studs

  • Marvin Harrison
  • Torry Holt
  • Chad Johnson

The Disappointments

  • Randy Moss – Traded to the Oakland Raiders. In 2004, Moss missed three games due to injury for the first time in his career, yet he still managed to score 13 touchdowns. From 1998-2003, the lowest yardage total was 1,313 and he tallied double-digit touchdowns in every season except 2002 (7). ADP was #1 WR. Finished as the #15 WR.
  • Terrell Owens – Helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in 2004, then TO went TO. Hired Drew Rosenhaus to get a new contract, threatened to hold out, made disparaging remarks about Donovan McNabb and Eagles management, and was finally suspended without pay for four games then deactivated for the season. Finished as the #32 WR.
  • Javon Walker – Tried to renegotiate contract with…Drew Rosenhaus. What a year for the agent. Threatened to hold out but relented. Injured ACL in the first game and was done for the year.
  • Reggie Wayne – Scored 12 touchdowns in 2004. Only scored five in 2005. Finished as the #21 WR.
  • Joe Horn – Missed three games due to hamstring injury.
  • Andre Johnson – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Nate Burleson – Missed four games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Steve Smith – ADP #13 WR. Finished as the #1 WR. Missed 15 games in 2004 after breaking his leg. Returned in 2015 and finished with the WR Triple Crown; first in receptions (103), yards (1,563), and touchdowns (12).
  • Larry Fitzgerald – ADP #19 WR. Had a successful rookie season in 2004. Kurt Warner’s first year in Arizona. Although Warner missed six games to injury, Josh McCown was more than capable that year. 103 receptions.
  • Santana Moss – ADP #34 WR. Traded from the Jets to the Redskins.
  • Joey Galloway – ADP #50 WR. Was traded from the Cowboys to the Buccaneers in 2004. Missed six games due to injury in 2004. Bounced back in 2005 for a career-year. The Buccaneers selected Carnell Williams, who won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and gave the team a legitimate rushing threat.
  • Chris Chambers – ADP #18 WR. Nick Saban’s first year in Miami. Potent rushing attack with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
  • Anquan Boldin – ADP #17 WR. see Larry Fitzgerald above. 102 receptions.
  • Hines Ward – ADP #11 WR. Coming off four consecutive seasons with 1,000+ yards. Held out two weeks of training camp for a contract extension. Signed before the start of the season. Ward did miss one game due to injury, snapping his consecutive games started streak at 83 and games played at 116.

2006

The Studs

  • Steve Smith
  • Chad Johnson
  • Marvin Harrison
  • Torry Holt
  • Terrell Owens
  • Reggie Wayne

The Disappoinments

  • Larry Fitzgerald – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Randy Moss – Missed three games due to injury. All you need to know about the 2006 Oakland Raiders; Andrew Walters and Aaron Brooks both threw three touchdowns each for the whole season.
  • Anquan Boldin – Finished as the #17 WR. Only caught four touchdowns. RookieMatt Leinart started 11 games.
  • Chris Chambers – Joey Harrington started 11 games for the Dolphins.

The Replacements

  • Donald Driver – ADP #16 WR. Mike McCarthy’s first year as head coach. Driver became Favre’s de facto number one receiver in 2005.
  • Lee Evans – ADP #25 WR. Dick Jauron’s first year as head coach. Became number one receiver in 2006 after Eric Moulds left.
  • Javon Walker – ADP #18 WR. Traded to the Broncos after spending four seasons in Green Bay.
  • Roy Williams – Third year in the league. First healthy season after missing two games in 2004 and three games in 2005. Joey Harrington was replaced at quarterback with Jon Kitna.

2007

The Studs

  • Chad Johnson
  • Terrell Owens
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • T. J. Houshmandzadeh
  • Marques Colston

The Disappointments

  • Steve Smith – Finished as the #16 WR. Not bad considering the Panthers started four different quarterbacks that year; Jake Delhomme, Vinny Testaverde, David Carr, and Matt Moore.
  • Marvin Harrison – Missed 11 games due to injury.
  • Torry Holt – Finished #13 WR. Had a great year but only scored seven touchdowns. Also, Marc Bulger started 12 games, with Gus Frerotte and Brock Berlin starting the other four.
  • Roy Williams – Missed four games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Randy Moss – ADP #12 WR. Just the greatest season from a wide receiver in the history of the NFL and fantasy. As a Raiders fan, this one hurt…a lot. Traded to the Patriots no less. Grrrrr.
  • Braylon Edwards – ADP #25 WR. Third year in the league. The acquisition of Jamaal Lewis at running back was huge for the whole offense.
  • Brandon Marshall – ADP #52 WR. Injuries forced him to miss training camp.
  • Plaxico Burress – ADP #17 WR. Struggled with groin injury in 2006. Suffered an ankle injury during training camp that caused him to miss most of the preseason.

2008

The Studs

  • Randy Moss
  • Terrell Owens
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Andre Johnson
  • Steve Smith

The Disappointments

  • Reggie Wayne – Finished as the #14 WR. Only scored six touchdowns.
  • Braylon Edwards – Led the league with 23 drops. Only scored three touchdowns. Four different quarterbacks started a game for the Browns; Derek Anderson (9), Ken Dorsey (3), Brady Quinn (3), and Bruce Gradkowski (1).
  • Marques Colston – Missed five games due to injury.
  • T. J. Houshmandzadeh – Coming off a 112 reception, 1,143 yards, and 12 touchdown season in 2007. Caught 92 balls in 2008, but only scored four touchdowns. Carson Palmer missed 14 games due to injury and Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him.
  • Plaxico Burress – Contract drama. Burress did not practice much and was suspended by the team. Played in 10 games, but was a non-factor all season.

The Replacements

  • Calvin Johnson – ADP #17 WR. After the 2007 season, Megatron stated that his lower-back bothered him all season, causing him to be on meds the whole year. That, and perhaps the terrible state of the Lions franchise, depressed his value. Three quarterbacks started for the Lions in 2008; Dan Orlovsky (7), Jon Kitna (4), and Daunte Culpepper (5).
  • Greg Jennings – ADP #19 WR. Third year in the league. Missed two games in 2006 and three games in 2007. Aaron Rodgers’s first year starting.
  • Roddy White – ADP #27 WR. The year after Michael Vick’s dog fighting scandal and Bobby Petrino’s resignation. Mike Smith’s first year as head coach and Matt Ryan’s rookie season. White broke out in his third year (2007) with 83 receptions, 1,202 yards, and six touchdowns. The Falcons also acquired Michael Turner to give them a legitimate ground game.
  • Anquan Boldin – ADP #15 WR. Had an insane season. Missed four games due to injury, yet caught 89 balls for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns. Kurt Warner was the quarterback and the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl. Boldin missed four games in 2007.
  • Antonio Bryant – ADP #69 WR. A true Milli Vanilli. Did not play in 2007 and signed for the minimum with the Buccaneers. Came to a team that had a 36-year-old Joey Galloway as it’s number one receiver.

2009

The Studs

  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Randy Moss
  • Andre Johnson
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Roddy White

The Disappointments

  • Calvin Johnson – Missed two games due to injury. Jim Schwartz’s first year as head coach and Matthew Stafford’s rookie year. Three quarterbacks started for the Lions; Stafford (10), Daunte Culpepper (5), and Drew Stanton (1).
  • Greg Jennings – Only caught 68 passes and scored four touchdowns. Ryan Grant was a beast running the ball in 2009, as he scored 11 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around. Donald Driver led the team with 70 receptions.
  • Steve Smith – Missed one game due to injury. 2009 was when Jake Delhomme turned into Chuck Knoblauch and forgot how to throw. He threw eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He also missed five games, so Matt Moore played.
  • Anquan Boldin – Missed one game due to injury. Only scored four touchdowns.Larry Fitzgerald went nuts and caught 13 touchdowns.
  • Marques Colston – Finished as #13 WR. Drew Brees spread the wealth, as seven receivers had 35+ receptions.

The Replacements

  • Miles Austin – ADP #59 WR. Third year in league. Missed four games due to injury in 2008. Terrell Owens was released in the offseason. Roy Williams injury gave Austin his first start.
  • DeSean Jackson – ADP #19 WR. Had a successful rookie year in 2008.
  • Sidney Rice – ADP #65 WR. Third year in league. Missed three games in each of his first two seasons. Some guy named Brett Favre joined the team.
  • Brandon Marshall – ADP #20 WR. Coming off consecutive 100+ catch seasons, but had offseason hip surgery. He did not play in any of the preseason games due to being suspended by the Broncos.
  • Vincent Jackson – ADP #17 WR. Since entering the league in 2005, Jackson increased his receptions, targets, and yards in each season.

2010

The Studs

  • Andre Johnson
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Roddy White
  • Greg Jennings

The Disappointments

  • Randy Moss – Wanted a contract extension from the Patriots, who ended up trading him to the Vikings. Criticized head coach Brad Childress then was waived. The Titans claimed Moss off waivers.
  • Larry Fitzgerald – Finished as the #16 WR. Had a good year but only scored six touchdowns. The three quarterbacks for the Cardinals in 2010; Derek Anderson (9), John Skelton (4), and Max Hall (3).
  • Miles Austin – Finished #12 WR.
  • Brandon Marshall – Traded to the Dolphins. Missed two games due to injury. Caught balls from Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen. Only scored three touchdowns.
  • DeSean Jackson – Contract extension drama in the offseason. Missed two games due to injury. Jeremy Maclin became a prominent weapon. Michael Vick missed time and Kevin Kolb started five games.

The Replacements

  • Brandon Lloyd – Wasn’t drafted in fantasy leagues. Finished as the #1 WR. Missed eight games in 2007 while playing for the Redskins. Missed five games while playing for the Bears in 2008. Missed 14 games in 2009 after arriving in Denver. Perhaps the Josh McDaniels offense suited Lloyd perfectly.
  • Dwayne Bowe – ADP #21 WR. Was immediately successful upon entering the league. Increased his receptions, targets, yards, and touchdowns from year one to year two. Missed five games in 2009.
  • Mike Wallace – ADP #26 WR. Santonio Holmes was traded to the Jets, elevating Wallace to #2 on the depth chart.
  • Hakeem Nicks – ADP #20 WR. Second year in the league. Had success as a rookie. Missed two games in 2009. Nicks ended his rookie season as #2 on the Giants depth chart.
  • Stevie Johnson – Wasn’t drafted in fantasy leagues. Missed five games his rookie year (2008). Missed 11 games in 2009. Had a good offseason and won the starting receiver position.

2011

The Studs

  • Calvin Johnson
  • Roddy White
  • Vincent Jackson
  • Mike Wallace
  • Larry Fitzgerald

The Disappointments

  • Andre Johnson – Missed nine games due to injury. Missed three games in 2010.
  • Greg Jennings – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Hakeem Nicks – Finished as the #12 WR.
  • DeSean Jackson – Contract extension drama. Was deactivated a game for missing a special teams meeting. Was benched in the fourth quarter of a game. Ended the year with 58 receptions, 961 yards, and four touchdowns.
  • Miles Austin – Missed six games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Jordy Nelson – ADP #46 WR. Performed well in Super Bowl XLV; nine receptions, 140 yards, and one touchdown. Was third on the depth chart behind Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.
  • Wes Welker – ADP #15 WR. Missed one game in 2010 and two games in 2009. Prior to 2010, Welker posted three straight seasons with 111+ catches. Patriots drafted Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in 2010. With those two fully integrated, the Patriots increased the tempo of the offense. Tom Brady attempted 492 passes in 2010. That number ballooned to 612 in 2011.
  • Victor Cruz – Wasn’t drafted in fantasy. Showed himself to the world in the 2010 preseason. Caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Shut down after five games due to a hamstring injury. In 2011, Cruz started the season #4 on the depth chart, but injuries to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon opened the door.
  • Steve Smith – ADP #34 WR. Missed two games in 2010 and that was Jimmy Clausen’s rookie year. The Panthers drafted Cam Newton in 2011.
  • Percy Harvin – ADP #23 WR. Third year in the league. Increased receptions, targets, and yards in his first two years. Missed two games in 2010 and one game in 2009. Bill Musgrave replaced Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator.

2012

The Studs

  • Calvin Johnson
  • Andre Johnson
  • Julio Jones
  • A. J. Green
  • Roddy White

The Disappointments

  • Larry Fitzgerald – Four quarterbacks started for the Cardinals in 2012; John Skelton (6), Kevin Kolb (5), Ryan Lindley (4), and Brian Hoyer (1).
  • Wes Welker – Finished as the #12 WR.
  • Greg Jennings – Missed eight games due to injury.
  • Victor Cruz – Finished as the #13 WR.
  • Jordy Nelson – Missed four games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Brandon Marshall – ADP #11 WR. Reunited and it feels so good. Traded to Da Bears to be with his BFF Jay Cutler.
  • Dez Bryant – ADP #14 WR. Third year in the league. Increased all stats from year one to year two. Missed four games in 2010 and one game in 2011.
  • Demaryius Thomas – ADP #18 WR. Third year in the league. Missed six games in 2010 and five games in 2011. Some guy named Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos. He was pretty good that year.
  • Vincent Jackson – ADP #22 WR. Signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason.
  • Eric Decker – ADP #23 WR. Two words, Peyton Manning. Third year in the league.

2013

The Studs

  • Calvin Johnson
  • A.J. Green
  • Dez Bryant
  • Brandon Marshall
  • Demaryius Thomas

The Disappointments

  • Julio Jones – Missed 11 games due to injury.
  • Larry Fitzgerald – Finished #17 WR. Bruce Arians’ first year as head coach.
  • Andre Johnson – Finished #13 WR.
  • Randall Cobb – Missed 10 games due to injury.
  • Roddy White – Missed three games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Josh Gordon – ADP #36 WR. First year with Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. Rod Chudzinski’s first year as head coach. Performed well his rookie year.
  • Antonio Brown – ADP #24 WR. Mike Wallace was released after the 2012 season, putting Brown #1 on the depth chart. Missed three games due to injury in 2012.
  • Eric Decker – ADP #21 WR. Peyton Manning. In the offseason, the Broncos said that they were going to be more uptempo and try and run more plays. Time for pat on the back. I traded up in the draft to select Peyton Manning for that reason (2-QB league).
  • Alshon Jeffery – ADP #51 WR. Marc Trestman’s first year as head coach. Missed six games due to injury his rookie year. Played opposite Brandon Marshall.
  • DeSean Jackson – ADP #25 WR. Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach. Missed five games due to injury in 2012. Signed contract extension in 2012.

2014

The Studs

  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Dez Bryant
  • Jordy Nelson
  • Antonio Brown
  • Randall Cobb
  • Julio Jones

The Disappointments

  • Calvin Johnson – Missed three games due to injury. Missed two games due to injury in 2013.
  • A.J. Green – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Brandon Marshall – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Alshon Jeffery – Finished as #12 WR.

The Replacements

  • Odell Beckham Jr. – ADP #65 WR. Missed training camp, preseason, and the first four games due to a hamstring injury. Was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Victor Cruz got injured in 2014, opening a spot on the depth chart.
  • Emmanuel Sanders – ADP #27 WR. Eric Decker went to the Jets and Sanders was brought in from Pittsburgh. Peyton Manning.
  • Jeremy Maclin – ADP #28 WR. Missed all of 2013 due to injury. DeSean Jackson was removed from the team. Maclin was the #1 receiver on the depth chart.
  • T. Y. Hilton – ADP #23 WR. Third year in the league. Yards, targets, and receptions all increased from rookie year to year two. Became Luck’s #1 receiver in 2013 when Reggie Wayne went down with injury.

2015

The Studs

  • Antonio Brown
  • Julio Jones
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Calvin Johnson
  • A.J. Green

The Disappointments

  • Demaryius Thomas – Finished as the #13 WR. Below-average quarterback play. Yards-per-reception was the lowest of career (12.4). As a result, yards-per-game was lowest since becoming a full-time starter. With that said, he still caught 105 balls for 1.304 yards on 177 targets. He scored 6 touchdowns after posting three consecutive seasons with at least 10.
  • Randall Cobb – Finished as the #31 WR. The Jordy Nelson injury really hampered the Packers passing game. Davante Adams and the rest of the receiving crew weren’t able to step up. As a result, defenses were able to neutralize Cobb.
  • Jordy Nelson – Did not play in 2015 due to injury.
  • Mike Evans – Finished as the #26 WR. Only scored 3 touchdowns after hauling in 12 the prior year. Quarterback Jameis Winston was a rookie.
  • Dez Bryant – Missed seven games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Brandon Marshall – ADP of #21 WR. 109 receptions for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. Fitzmagic baby!!!
  • Allen Robinson – ADP of #25 WR. Game script for the Jaguars was beneficial for the passing game, as the team was constantly chasing points and was forced to throw the ball a ton. Plus, he’s damn good.
  • DeAndre Hopkins – ADP of #11 WR. Right on the cusp, but there were concerns about the Texans quarterback situation. Nuk proved to be quarterback-proof.
  • Doug Baldwin – ADP of #54 WR. 14 touchdowns!!! Since 2012, receptions, targets, and yards all increased each season. 2012 was Russell Wilson’s rookie year. Since that time, the Seahawks now run 4 times less a game and, correspondingly, throw the ball 4 times more a game.
  • Larry Fitzgerald – ADP of #29 WR. Moved to the slot and excelled.

Deciphering the data

 REASONS FOR THE DISAPPOINTMENTS  # OF OCCURRENCES
 New team  6
 Contract drama  6
 Injury  25
 Lower TD total  10
 Poor QB play  12
 Rookie QB  3
 Potent run game  1
 Another good receiver  2
 New coach  1
 QB spreading it around  2

The injuries obviously stand out. For comparisons sake, 33 running backs disappointed due to injury. Football is a physical and violent game. Injuries, unfortunately, are part of it. The notion that wide receivers are safer because they don’t get injured as much is up for debate.

 REASONS FOR THE REPLACEMENTS  # OF OCCURRENCES
 Returing from injury  8
 2nd year in league  9
 New team  7
 Potent run game  5
 New coach  7
 Became #1 receiver the prior year  2
 Became #1 receiver same year  6
 3rd year in league  12
 New QB  10
 Injury concerns  13
 Opportunity due to injury of another player  3
 Increase in stats every year  6
 Move up depth chart  4
 Wasn’t drafted in fantasy leagues  2
 Performed well in Super Bowl prior year  1
 Scheme change  7

Whenever there are question marks, especially related to injury, value is often procured. Scheme change, new quarterback situations, and depth chart movements are tangible things that we can all sink our teeth into. The interesting ones for me are the 2nd- and 3rd-year receivers. There was the whole notion of the “Third-Year Receiver” phenomenon. I didn’t realize how many second year receivers broke out. Now, rookies are coming in and making an immediate impact.

Predicting the top 10 WRs for 2016

Now for the fun part. I will try and predict which wide receivers will not provide ADP value and those that will replace them.

2016 ADP

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Odell Beckham Jr.
  3. Julio Jones
  4. DeAndre Hopkins
  5. A.J. Green
  6. Allen Robinson
  7. Dez Bryant
  8. Keenan Allen
  9. Mike Evans
  10. Amari Cooper

Since ADP usually only predicts 50% of the final list, I’ve put in bold those five that I feel will finish in the top 10. The five that I think will fall out of the top 10 are:

  • DeAndre Hopkins
    POTENT RUN GAME: The Texans actually had the fifth most rushing attempts as a team last season. They acquired Lamar Miller in the offseason, who should significantly upgrade the rushing attack. LOWER TD TOTAL: This coincides with the upgraded rushing attack. Hopkins hauled in 11 touchdowns last year. He scored a total of eight combined in the prior two seasons. We know that touchdowns are fickle. The Texans were the only team to rank in the top-1o for rushing attempts, passing attempts, and points allowed per game on defense. As long as J.J. Watt is healthy and the defense performs, I’m thinking less pass attempts. POOR QB PLAY: I am not a Brock Osweiler believer. Nuk proved to be quarterback-proof last year, but Brian Hoyer was a veteran. This will be Osweiler’s first full season as a starter.
  • Allen Robinson
    LOWER TD TOTAL: 14 touchdowns is a lofty number. To put that into perspective, there have been 56 times in NFL history that a receiver has caught 14 or more touchdowns in a season. The game script was super favorable for the Jaguars last year, as there was a ton of garbage time production. The run game and defense should be improved and Gus Bradley is a defensive-minded coach, so he won’t press the action unless he needs to.
  • A.J. Green
    NEW COACH: Hue Jackson is now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Ken Zampese takes over play-calling duties for the Bengals. He has been the quarterbacks coach since 2003, so there is continuity there, but Jackson was a great offensive mind. Everyone is thinking things will remain the same, but calling plays is an artform. POOR QB PLAY: Dalton is a good quarterback. Not a great one. He is successful when the team around him is talented. Tyler Eifert is injured and Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu are playing for different teams. There’s a talent void now. Many think this elevates Green, but I am of a different opinion. Dalton is really not good forcing throws. He’s best when he takes what the defense gives him. With the loss of weapons outside of Green, opposing defenses will take away Green and see if Dalton can beat them going to other receivers.
  • Amari Cooper
    POTENT RUN GAME: The Raiders now boast one of the best offensive lines in the game. They are going to pound the rock. The team has also significantly upgraded the defense, so the game script will probably lean toward a more conservative approach. QB SPREADS IT AROUND: Derek Carr is a very good quarterback and utilizes all the weapons at his disposal. Case in point. Seven receivers had more than 25 receptions and Michael Crabtree actually led the team with 85 catches.
  • Keenan Allen
    INJURY: He fell in the draft due to a knee injury he suffered in college. He’s missed at least one game in every season. LOWER TD TOTAL: To finish in the top-1o for wide receivers, a player has to be in the 10 touchdowns or higher realm. Allen is a PPR monster when healthy and does score his share of touchdowns, but I have doubts of a double-digit season from him.

Now, the replacements:

  • Jordy Nelson
    RETURNING FROM INJURY: This is pretty clear-cut. If healthy, Nelson will be a top-1o wide receiver. The rapport he has with Aaron Rogers is second to none.
  • Sammy Watkins
    RETURNING FROM INJURY: Missed three games due to injury in 2015. Still managed to haul in nine touchdowns and 60 receptions for 1,047 yards. THIRD YEAR IN LEAGUE: This is pretty straight forward. POTENT RUN GAME: The Bills were second in rushing attempts last season. They are a ground and pound team, which opens up seams in the passing game.
  • Donte Moncrief
    THIRD YEAR IN LEAGUE. INCREASE IN STATS EVERY YEAR. BECAME No. 1 RECEIVER: This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe Moncrief becomes the No. 1 receiver in Indy this year. T.Y. Hilton will still be very productive, but the versatility that Moncrief possesses will vault him to the top of the heap.
  • Tyler Lockett
    SECOND YEAR IN LEAGUE. POTENT RUN GAME: Even with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ identity is to play great defense and pound the rock. Although I mentioned earlier that this is Russell Wilson’s team now and the pass attempts have increased every year, the Seahawks are still running the ball almost 50% of the time. As mentioned before, this opens up seams in the secondary. MOVE UP DEPTH CHART: Lockett is now the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart, behind Doug Baldwin. I do believe all the hype, and think he will be the No. 1 receiver at season’s end.
  • Sammie Coates
    SECOND YEAR IN LEAGUE. MOVE UP DEPTH CHART/OPPORTUNITY DUE TO LOSS OF ANOTHER PLAYER: The Martavis Bryant suspension opens the door for Coates to make an impact. The Steelers basically drafted Coates as insurance for Bryant. In 11 games, Bryant hauled in 50 receptions on 92 targets for 765 yards and six touchdowns. While Bryant is a physical freak, Coates is not too far behind. The Steelers still have a poor defense with an explosive offense, a good recipe for fantasy success. Coates will never see double coverage because Antonio Brown is lined up on the opposite side of the field. It’s not inconceivable for two wide receivers from the same team to end up as top-1o wide receivers. The most recent example is the 2014 Packers with Nelson and Cobb finishing No. 2 and No. 6 respectively.

Conclusion

Following the herd is the safe and easy way to live life. It provides a sense of community and allows an emotional safety net. I personally let ADP affect me way too much at times. But in order to elevate from the masses, one must take that lonely step that goes against conventional wisdom. Think of John Paulson, who made $4 billion betting against the U.S. subprime mortgage lending market when everyone thought the housing market would go up forever. Shawn Siegele is credited with coining and executing the Zero RB strategy to profit into the hundreds of thousands in 2013 when the conventional wisdom was to always build a fantasy roster around stud running backs. What do Paulson and Siegele have in common? They were both able to identify something that the majority of society could not. Then they took the most difficult task of actually putting their money where their mouth was and executing upon that information.

As the exercise of trying to predict the top 10 have shown, there could be value to be exploited. How? I don’t know, but it seems to be out there. It’s going to require thought and the ability to identify some minute detail that everyone is overlooking. Or it can be that elusive butterfly that we were searching for in the running back edition. Could it all be random and coincidental? Sure, but I obviously don’t believe that or I’d be just throwing darts at the board.

Once an edge is identified, everyone will start to utilize it until the edge is no longer an edge. The fate of the Zero RB will be no different. The fantasy puzzle will continue to morph and evolve until a new strategy is required and eventually conceptualized.

Continue to observe. Continue to think. That next exploitable edge is out there. One of us will eventually spot it.


Subscribe: iTunes | StitcherSoundCloud | RSS

Stan Son is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Stan, check out his archive and follow him @Stan_Son.

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
2Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
3Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
4Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
5Chris Carson (SEA)RB
6Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
7David Johnson (ARI)RB
8Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
9Julio Jones (ATL)WR
10Aaron Jones (GB)RB
 View all Flex Rankings 
11Cooper Kupp (LAR)WR
12DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
13Phillip Lindsay (DEN)RB
14Josh Jacobs (OAK)RB
15Mark Ingram (BAL)RB
16Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
17Marlon Mack (IND)RB
18Michael Thomas (NO)WR
19Sony Michel (NE)RB
20T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
21Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
22Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
23Tyler Lockett (SEA)WR
24Kerryon Johnson (DET)RB
25Tevin Coleman (SF)RB
26Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
27Julian Edelman (NE)WR
28Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
29Michael Gallup (DAL)WR
30Robert Woods (LAR)WR
1Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
2Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
5Trevor Story (COL)SS
6Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
7Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
8Trea Turner (WSH)SS
9Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
10Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
 View All Rankings 
11Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
12Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
13Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
14Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
15Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
16Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
17Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
18Juan Soto (WSH)LF
19Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
20Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
21Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
22Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
23Starling Marte (PIT)CF
24Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
25Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
26Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
27Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
28Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
29George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
30Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
 View All Rankings 
11Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
12Paul George (LAC)SF,PF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
19Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
26Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
27Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests