Another fantasy football season is on the horizon, as there's now less than two weeks to draft before the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos kick things off with a Super Bowl rematch Sept. 8.
There is no shortage of keys to winning a fantasy championship, and one of the most important—luck—is completely out of an owner's control. That doesn't mean intense preparation doesn't provide a fantasy player with a distinct advantage going into the draft, though.
So let's check out how the opening round could play out in a 12-team league. That's followed by a look at some potential team names and a trio of sleepers worth targeting. All information concerning average draft position is courtesy of ESPN.com.
1st-Round Mock Draft
|2016 Fantasy Football: Round 1 Mock Draft|
|3||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||NYG|
Options for Team Names
|USA Today's Top-Ranked Fantasy Team Names for 2016|
|2||Gotta Catch Jamaal||Pokemon/Jamaal Charles|
|3||A Team Has No Name||Game of Thrones|
|4||Demaryius Targaryen||Game of Thrones/Demaryius Thomas|
|5||Almost Jameis||Almost Famous/Jameis Winston|
|6||Hartline Bling||Hotline Bling/Brian Hartline|
|7||Teamy McTeamface||Utah Team Name Vote/Boaty McBoatface|
|8||Professor No Fumbledore||Harry Potter|
|9||Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles||TMNT/Blake Bortles|
|10||Dak to the Future||Back to the Future/Dak Prescott|
Sleepers to Target
Reggie Bush (RB—Buffalo Bills)
The Buffalo Bills didn't sign Reggie Bush until early August, as they looked to fortify their backfield because of a series of question marks behind LeSean McCoy. Although Bush joined the squad late, don't be surprised if he ends up carving out an important role in Buffalo.
McCoy missed four games last season while dealing with a variety of nagging ailments and has already dealt with an ankle injury during offseason work. Beyond that, the team features uninspiring or unproven options like Mike Gillislee and Jonathan Williams.
Meanwhile, Bush showed up to Bills camp with an impressive amount of burst in his legs after his 2015 campaign came to an early end because of an MCL tear. John Wawrow of the Associated Press commented on Bush's strong showings throughout the practice schedule:
It makes Bush, who's currently being drafted just inside the top 70 at the position, a sneaky option as a late-round target. He could end up receiving several starts during the course of the season and should have a steady role even when operating as a reserve.
Jermaine Kearse (WR—Seattle Seahawks)
Jermaine Kearse's 2015 season mirrored that of quarterback Russell Wilson. They both got off to sluggish starts but finished strong. Now the question is whether the team's No. 2 wideout is capable of carrying over that success at the start of the new campaign.
The 26-year-old veteran tallied at least seven catches or one touchdown in five of his last six games last season. The solid stretch allowed him to crack the top 50 among receivers, which seemed like a long shot after he failed to record a double-digit scoring outing until Week 12.
The Seattle Seahawks' receiving group doesn't get much recognition because the team in recent years has been based on a powerful ground game and a dominant defense. Eric Mandel of MyNorthwest.com passed along comments Kearse made to 710 ESPN Seattle's John Clayton about that lack of attention:
For our group, it's just about going out there continuously and putting stuff on film and just make plays. We always get the talk of being average and pedestrian but we just continue to focus on the task at hand, making plays for our team and winning football games. If we continue to do that, things will continue to show for themselves.
Now the Seattle wideouts could be thrust into the spotlight as Wilson takes on a greater passing burden. The result for Kearse, who barely cracks the top 80 fantasy WRs selected, should be a season that easily outperforms his draft position.
Richard Rodgers (TE—Green Bay Packers)
Richard Rodgers isn't getting many looks in fantasy circles this season because the Green Bay Packers added Jared Cook during the offseason. But it's important to remember that the Cal product is coming off a solid year that included 58 catches and eight touchdowns.
Meanwhile, few players have received more fantasy hype than Cook since he was drafted out of South Carolina in 2009. He's never come close to reaching expectations—his best year is 51 grabs and five TDs—and he's now 29 years old.
So it's hard to imagine Cook stepping right into a prominent role with the Packers and leaving last year's starters to pick up the scraps. In addition, Rodgers has looked more agile during the preseason, as Zachary Jacobson of Cheesehead TV pointed out:
Rodgers won't emerge as a top-tier tight end because the Packers have several other weapons. He should be a more valuable fantasy player than Cook, though. And he'll also provide a lot of bang for the buck since he's outside the top 25 in ADP at the position.