There are a number of viable strategies that will help lead fantasy owners to a championship. While I may start a fantasy football draft with a particular strategy in mind, it's important to maintain the flexibility to adjust based on the flow of the draft.
Regardless of strategy, the one thing that I try to do in every draft is consistently select players that are relative values compared to their draft slots.
Below you will find a list of 12 players that I expect to exceed their fantasy football average draft position (ADP).
[Note: Consensus ADP from FantasyPros was used as a comparison.]
QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (ADP: 101, QB12 — My rank: QB8)
Like many fantasy owners, I will wait to draft my fantasy quarterback(s) — unless one of the elite quarterbacks falls further than expected. One of my more frequent approaches to the position has been to pair Tom Brady with a replacement-level quarterback considering the depth of the position. So, I suppose Brady could have been listed here as well.
With that said, the only quarterback that averaged more fantasy points per game than Rivers through Week 8 last year was Brady. Why am I using Week 8? That's when Keenan Allen last played in 2015 due to his lacerated kidney.
Rivers averaged 21.05 fantasy points per game with Allen; only 14.52/G without him. Setting career highs in pass attempts (661) and passing yards (4,792) last season, Rivers has thrown at least 29 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. Along with Drew Brees, he's one of only two QBs to throw 29-plus passing scores in three consecutive seasons.
Not only did Allen miss eight games last season, but Antonio Gates and Stevie Johnson missed five and six games, respectively. With the addition of Travis Benjamin and better health (and no suspensions) from the team's other pass-catchers, Rivers could outperform my QB8 ranking -- and certainly his current QB12 ADP.
QB - Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 160, QB21 — My rank: QB13)
A better fantasy quarterback than real quarterback (at least, so far in his career), Tannehill has finished as the QB16, QB9 and QB17, respectively, over the past three seasons. Throwing for 24-plus touchdowns in each of those seasons, Tannehill has also exceeded 4,000 passing yards in back-to-back campaigns.
With the coaching change (Adam Gase), some tutoring from Peyton Manning and a potential breakout receiver (listed below), I expect improved year-over-year production from Tannehill. Not only does he offer plenty of upside to QB streamers, but Tannehill is my favorite QB2 value in 2-QB leagues with sneaky top-12 upside.
- DFS: Sign up at FanDuel and get a 100% deposit bonus (up to $200)
RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (ADP: 41, RB17 — My rank: RB14)
Scoring the 11th-most fantasy points among running backs, Murray finished fourth in the NFL in touches (307) and sixth in rushing (1,066 yards). Not only did he have a large workload overall, Murray was consistently given a large workload as he led the NFL in games (15) with 15-plus touches.
Comments by the coaching staff about Murray this offseason were a bit of a concern, but they waited until the fifth round to draft a running back (DeAndre Washington). If you draft Murray, however, handcuffing him with Washington makes sense.
A huge positive for Murray (or Washington or any Raiders running back) is their offensive line. In fact, PFF asked the following question earlier this offseason: Better offensive line in 2016: Cowboys or Raiders?
RB - Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 74, RB27 — My rank: RB20)
Gore fell just shy of the 1,000-yard milestone with 967 yards on 260 carries and a career-low 3.7 YPC in his first season with the Colts. That said, Gore's efficiency was much better with Andrew Luck (4.11 YPC) than with Matt Hasselbeck (3.44 YPC) under center. Provided Luck stays healthy and with their improved offensive line, Gore, who was fantasy's RB12 last season, should be more consistent week to week even though he recently turned 33 years old.
- Related: Frank Gore 2016 Fantasy Football Profile
RB - Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 80, RB31 — My rank: RB23)
Part of a platoon with Jeremy Hill, Bernard still finished as a top-21 fantasy running back in standard-scoring formats (RB16 in PPR) last season despite scoring just two touchdowns. In fact, RB21 was the worst finish of his young three-year career.
In his three seasons, Bernard has averaged 213.33 touches (including 49.33 receptions) and 1,146.67 YFS per season. Another season with 200 touches, 50 receptions and 1,000-plus YFS is likely for Bernard, who should easily reach or exceed value at his current ADP (RB31) even if his ceiling is somewhat limited by Hill's presence.
RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: 115, RB41 — My rank: RB34)
Doug Martin played 16 games for the first time in three years and finished second behind only Adrian Peterson in rushing. Despite that, Sims still finished as fantasy's RB22 (RB17 in PPR) in 2015.
Even more so than Gio (with Hill), Sims' upside is capped by the presence of Martin. But even if Martin stays healthy for a full season once again, it wouldn't surprise me if Sims comes close to duplicating last year's production -- 1,090 YFS, 51 receptions and four TDs.
In addition, Tampa's running backs have the most favorable fantasy strength of schedule for the full season and the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16). The Bucs face the Saints, Cowboys and Saints again in the fantasy playoffs.
WR - T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 33, WR17 — My rank: WR10)
A top-10 fantasy receiver in 2014, Hilton disappointed fantasy owners with only 1,124 yards and five touchdowns, but Andrew Luck missed nine games. Through the first seven games, Hilton had 606 receiving yards -- only five wideouts had more. Provided Luck stays healthy, Hilton is poised for a bounce-back season and has top-10 upside.
“T.Y.’s had as good an offseason as anybody,” Pagano gushed a few weeks back (via the Indianapolis Star). “I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he is right now and compete at the level he is.”
WR - DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 69, WR31 — My rank: WR18)
The 2015 first-round pick out of Louisville, Parker closed the season strong with 80-plus yards in four of the final six games of the season. During that six-game span, Parker amassed a total of 22 catches for 445 yards and three touchdowns, which was good for the 18th-most fantasy points among wide receivers during that stretch. Not only is Parker poised for a breakout season, but I have him ranked ahead of Jarvis Landry (ADP: 47, WR23) in my standard-scoring receiver rankings.
- Related: DeVante Parker 2016 Fantasy Football Profile
WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 78, WR33 — My rank: WR20)
The third Colt on this list, Moncrief doubled his reception total from 32 to 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. With an ideal combination of size (6-2, 222) and athleticism (4.40 forty, 39.5-inch vertical), the 22-year-old (turns 23 in August) receiver would have posted even better numbers if it weren't for the injuries to Luck.
In the first seven games last season, Moncrief had a touchdown in five games and four-plus catches in six games. The true breakout that would have happened with a healthy Luck should happen this season for Moncrief.
WR - Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 116, WR45 — My rank: WR36)
Starting opposite Brandin Cooks, Snead nearly reached the 1,000-yard mark with a 69/984/3 stat line. Had he not missed one game, Snead would have covered the 16-yard shortfall.
Snead didn't have many big games, but he had at least four receptions in 11 of 16 games. Based on my projections, Snead will give the Saints a pair of 1,000-yard wideouts in 2016. An underrated but consistent performer, there aren't many (likely) 1,000-yard receivers being drafted as a low-end WR4 like Snead. Compared to other experts tracked by FantasyPros, I'm as high on Snead as nearly anyone (see above).
WR - Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 122, WR47 — My rank: WR33)
Smith is coming off a career-worst season -- 33 catches, 663 yards and four touchdowns all set or tied career lows -- even though he led the NFL in yards per reception (20.1). With Anquan Boldin no longer in San Francisco and Chip Kelly taking over as coach, Smith becomes the No. 1 receiver in an offense that should rank in the top 10 in the league in number of plays. Potentially playing the vast majority of their season in catch-up mode, the 49ers are underdogs in every game from Weeks 1 to 16 (based on lines from sportsbook.ag) so there could be plenty of garbage-time production for Smith.
TE - Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 102, TE11 — My rank: TE8)
Missing much of training camp and the first four games last season, Thomas has now missed multiple games in each of his three seasons as a starter. Before joining the Jaguars, however, Thomas scored 12 touchdowns in each of his previous two seasons as part of Denver's high-flying offense. Provided he can stay healthy, Thomas should post much better numbers in 2016 even if it's not the double-digit touchdowns that Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times Union projects for him.
More of our content:
- 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings (Standard scoring)
- PPR Fantasy Football Rankings
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- 2016 Fantasy Football Projections
- 2016 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts
- 2017 NFL Mock Draft
- NFL Mock Draft Database
- 2016 NFL Power Rankings