Fantasy Football's Top 2016 Keeper Options to Grab Before the Season Ends

Jim McCormick@@_JimmyMcCormickFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2015

Fantasy Football's Top 2016 Keeper Options to Grab Before the Season Ends

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    It's always fun to look ahead in fantasy football, so let's explore some of the top keeper and sleeper options for 2016 still widely available in leagues at this late stage of the season. 

    Looking ahead can help fantasy managers in leagues with keeper considerations and those of us in redraft formats interested in the already developing 2016 fantasy football marketplace. 

    While the New Orleans Saints' Mark Ingram is unfortunately lost for the season with a serious shoulder injury, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, we actually still find great in interest in the team's backfield.

    We're not entirely enthused by Ingram's current replacements Tim Hightower—and his three-year absence from the NFL— or C.J. Spiller and his three-year absence from being awesome, but we are completely intrigued by impending NFL free agency Khiry Robinson and the upside he presents in a number of possible destinations. 

    Robinson is just one of five widely available fantasy prospects we profile thanks to having prolific production upside ahead. If Robinson lands in the right scenario, could he be the next Michael Turner and churn out a three-year run of fantasy excellence? Time will tell, but only proactive managers will have shares in keeper formats. 

    As always, please share any emerging talents or rising keeper assets you find appealing for 2016 and beyond in the comments section below.

Future Free Agent Khiry Robinson Could Become a Fantasy Football Star in 2016

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The aforementioned Khiry Robinson of the New Orleans Saints is a bruising downhill back who turns 26 at the end of the month and is facing free agency this March. As one of the more impressively physical and proven short-yardage and goal-line backs on the impending tailback market, it will be entirely intriguing to see where Robinson lands this offseason. 

    The Saints are already pot-committed for 2016 to tailbacks Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller given that both received significant multi-year deals this past offseason, suggesting Robinson is sure to wear a new jersey.

    With a rushing touchdown per every 23.3 carries, per an ESPN database, well ahead of the league average of 36.5 carries per score among backs since 2013, Robinson is a proven goal-line asset and entirely proficient YAC (yards after contact) specialist. Game tape confirms this rare downhill force resembles former Saints back Chris Ivory, suggesting similar success is possible in the right destination. 

    Teams like the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys or Baltimore Ravens could thrive in signing a young feature back who is already proven in pass pro in an exotic NFL offense and has success in meaningful short-yardage scenarios. 

    While the 2016 free agent tea leaves have yet to emerge, it's valuable to consider Robinson as a key factor for fantasy purposes.

Can Josh Gordon Return to Fantasy Stardom with the Cleveland Browns in 2016?

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Since 2013, only Odell Beckham of the New York Giants and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers have averaged more fantasy points per game among NFL wideouts in ESPN leagues than the Cleveland Browns' Josh Gordon. 

    As we all know, Gordon is currently serving a long suspension due to a series of infractions with the league's drug policy. As we all know, Gordon is an absolute dynamic talent, as he's also second only to the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones since 2013 in yards per game (102.6) among wideouts. 

    Speculating whether Gordon will be back in uniform in 2016 remains just that, purely conjecture, but finding prospects in fantasy football and even real football requires such forecasting and risk assessment.

    Fears over the presence of Johnny Manziel for Gordon's statistical stock are a bit premature and likely unfounded, as Gordon produced 18.5 yards per catch and nine touchdowns in working with Brandon Weeden in Cleveland. 

    Many keeper and even dynasty formats have already lowered Gordon's stock significantly. This certainly appears reasonable given a long track record of breaking the league's conduct policies, but for a song investors can possibly acquire an absolutely elite fantasy asset who will be just 25 in training camp next summer. 

    The high-priced running back market again proved entirely avoidable, with a massive bust rate in the first two rounds this season. Even shares of Mark Ingram somehow backfired, suggesting such inherent risks with Gordon are more palatable in a fantasy climate that demands dynamic depth and production from the receiver position.

    It will be a receiver-driven marketplace in the years ahead. This could be one of the top assets in the midst of a league-wide trend.

Rookie Dorial Green-Beckham Can Help Fantasy Teams Now and in the Future

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    With an imposing frame that draws physical comparisons to Marques Colston of the New Orleans Saints and to the Arizona Cardinals' Michael Floyd, Tennessee Titans' rookie Dorial Green-Beckham is already seventh in the league in yards per reception (17.24) among wideouts. 

    At 6-foot-5 and weighing over 230 pounds, good for the 95th and 99th percentiles in height in weight among receiver prospects, per Mockdraftable, this is a power forward going down the field against point guards.

    The raw rookie still doesn't claim a complete route tree or full complement of moves off the line, but impressive point-of-catch instincts suggest a bright future is building. Just last weekend we witnessed "DGB" haul in five receptions for a career-high 119 yards and his third NFL touchdown. 

    Meanwhile his signal-caller Marcus Mariota claims the league's second-best QBR rating since Week 9 and is flashing increased vertical prowess down field, confirming a special passing battery could form in the coming seasons. 

    The Titans are among the league's most intriguing coaching vacancies given Mariota's prodigious talent and such rare weapons like Green-Beckham in place. Keeper managers can put their claims in for Green-Beckham now, while redraft investors can already start the hype machine for a sophomore breakout from the tall and talented target.

Kevin White's Big-Play Talent Can Shine for the Chicago Bears Next Season

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Along with Alshon Jeffery, wideout Kevin White is the future of the Chicago Bears' offense. The front office envisioned White's awesome vertical prowess when selecting him with the seventh overall pick in the draft this past spring.

    White combined volume and efficiency at West Virginia in just a two-year career there, while flashing a ridiculously rich and diverse athletic spider chart that suggests he's one of the special athletic assets to enter the league in some time, per Mockdraftable

    Let's pore over his Bleacher Report scouting breakdown from this past spring and let the anticipation for his 2016 outcome spectrum begin: 

    White is the total package: upside and production on an NFL-ready frame. White’s hands were dramatically improved in 2014 once healed from a shoulder injury that slowed him in ‘13. He attacks the ball in the air and has big, strong hands. Cornerbacks can’t beat him at the line with a jam because of his quick-twitch speed and strength. He’s big enough and long enough to compete on 50/50 passes and has the confidence to believe the ball is his.

    A lost injury-plagued season will almost surely keep White from suiting up at all this season, per Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, leaving fantasy investors to speculate over his 2016 prospects. Regarded as a top dynasty pick entering the season, White's stock has surely faded with several other rookies rising this season.

    Take advantage of this gap in market perception and White's nearly peerless upside in an offense built to feature him down field for future falls of fantasy football.

Shares of Titans' Tailback David Cobb Could Prove Profitable Next Fall

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Tennessee Titans' running game is alarmingly anemic in 2015, ranking 25th in yards from the backfield and with just 3.8 yards pr carry from the team's middling options. 

    Bishop Sankey was the first tailback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, but has been largely phased out of the Titans' offense in a sluggish second season. Enter David Cobb, a back who rates in the 86th percentile in weight among running back prospects since 1999 according to Mockdraftable and 89th in the coveted explosion metrics that often translate well to running back success.

    Unimpressive speed metrics saw Cobb slip to the fourth round of the 2015 draft, with Bleacher Report's scouting report still finding merit in his stock going forward: 

    A Senior Bowl standout, David Cobb was the best running back in attendance and one of the most impressive players overall. Cobb won’t impress with raw speed, and an injured quad while running at the combine is why he turned in a 4.81-second run there. His pro day time of 4.58 (per sources) is much better. He is a power runner coming out of a power running scheme who picks up big yardage after contact. He’ll bang through tacklers and has the leg drive to pick up hard yards in the A and B gaps. Cobb is a downhill runner with patience and vision, and his balance and body lean are ideal for the NFL. He is a smooth, gliding runner with starter potential.

    One little known fact is that most fantasy football writers are smooth, gliding runners as well, but often lack the requisite starter potential, something Cobb claims according to this deft scouting breakdown. The key with Cobb will be opportunity, but as we've already covered in this series, the Titans' offense already has several key building blocks in place at quarterback and outside receiver. 

    The Titans' scheme with Marcus Mariota could ideally prove inside-out going forward in that the team should investigate employing a run-heavy scheme with some creative ways to move the pocket and manipulate defenses via the combination of Mariota's speed and ball skills. Cobb could a key beneficiary of such a run-friendly future, and will surely prove worthy as a keeper asset and as a mid-round selection in redraft formats next summer.


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