NFL Players That Will Save Your Fantasy Team
The 2016 fantasy football season is finally here, folks. After months of studying player rankings, checking depth charts and laboring over draft boards, it's time to put your offseason of preparation to the test. While filling out your opening-day roster is only part of the fantasy equation, it can be the most rewarding piece next to holding up that fantasy championship.
Unfortunately, the fantasy-draft season can also be the most frustrating. Sometimes, the fantasy world and the real world simply refuse to cooperate with even your most carefully laid plans.
What happens when that one rival keeps swiping your draft targets just before you decide to pull the trigger? Even worse, what happens when your key players begin suffering significant injuries before the regular season has even begun?
You have to have a backup plan, of course, and we're here to help you with that. Today, we're going to examine eight NFL players who can potentially save your fantasy team. We'll be looking specifically at players who aren't expected to be popular draft-day targets, yet still have enough potential to come to the rescue.
These are guys who should be available in the later rounds of fantasy drafts. For those of you who have already drafted, some of them may still be sitting in the free-agent pile. We'll be basing our choices on factors like player potential, preseason performance and projected role.
Reggie Bush, RB, Buffalo Bills
If you're willing to dig deep for running back value and are playing in a points-per-reception (PPR) league, you might just want to consider Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush.
Buffalo recently parted ways with running back Karlos Williams, which means Bush probably slides into that No. 2 role behind starter LeSean McCoy. Though Bush has never been a truly dominant running back, he has been valuable, especially as a receiver out of the backfield.
"First off, with Reggie Bush, he's such a talent," Bills head coach Rex Ryan told NFL Media's LaDainian Tomlinson early in training camp. "But we want him to be almost like that Ferrari that we unleash and let people be like, 'Oh man, he's out there.'"
Bush is coming off a season ended prematurely by a torn meniscus, and he hasn't seen a ton of work this preseason (four carries for 16 yards). However, he has shown recently that he still has value as a pass-catcher. Two seasons ago, Bush racked up 40 catches in just 11 games for the Detroit Lions.
Bush's average draft position (ADP) currently sits at just 74th overall among running backs. He will likely be available as a free agent and he is a player to keep in mind if you begin having issues at running back.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
If you selected Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in your fantasy draft, you might be scrambling for an alternative option.
Romo suffered a broken vertebra against the Seattle Seahawks last week and is expected to miss a significant portion of the season. According to former NFL physician and SiriusXM Sports analyst David J. Chao, Romo will likely be out a minimum of six weeks.
The Cowboys now turn to rookie signal-caller Dak Prescott, who holds an ADP of 21.8th among quarterbacks. If you plan on holding onto Romo until he is healthy, Prescott might be the guy you want to go with early in the season.
The rookie has actually been rather impressive in the preseason. He has gone 39-of-50 for 454 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also has two rushing touchdowns.
Pro Football Focus rates Prescott fourth overall among quarterbacks who played in the preseason.
In addition to being a starter out of the gate, Prescott might be a guy who can save your season should Romo suffer another injury after he returns.
Tajae Sharpe, WR, Tennessee Titans
Rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe was a mere fifth-round draft pick earlier this offseason. Now, there's a legitimate chance that he becomes the top wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans in 2016.
Sharpe has been impressive all offseason long, and his quick transition to the pro game was worth noticing. His quick rise to the first-team offense may have had a lot to do with the team's decision to part ways with 2015 second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham. He is a talented pass-catcher who has been able to stand out even more because of his work ethic.
"I’ve always thrived on being self-motivated, pushing myself to my limits and working harder than everyone else," Sharpe said, per the team's official website.
Sharpe's performances in the preseason have been even more notable. He tied for the Titans' team lead in preseason receptions with nine, and he produced an impressive 163 yards on those receptions.
Pro Football Focus rates Sharpe as Tennessee's top wideout and rates him fourth overall among all receivers who played in the preseason.
There's a legitimate chance that Sharpe could be the top rookie receiver in the league this season. Yet, his ADP is currently just 55.8th among wide receivers. If you're looking for a late-round or free-agent flier with some big upside, pull the trigger on Sharpe.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots do not typically employ an every-down running back. This probably explains why running back LeGarrette Blount currently has an ADP of just 41.3rd overall among running backs.
Blount was a bruiser for the Patriots in 2015, racking up 703 rushing yards and six touchdowns. However, he was never the only guy working out of the backfield. He'll probably be splitting time with guys like James White and Tyler Gaffney this season. When it comes to leading the rushing attack, however, Blount will probably be the guy.
His value should rise because fellow running back Dion Lewis is expected to miss a significant portion of the regular season after undergoing another knee surgery.
Though he probably has more value in standard scoring leagues, Blount is still an interesting option in all formats. He is likely to be the Patriots' goal-line back throughout the season and could be the team's workhorse during quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension.
Expect the Patriots to lean heavily on the ground game for the first month of the season in order to protect backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. This might mean that Blount will see his value peak before Week 5, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
If you drafted Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who is suspended for the first three weeks of the season, Blount might just be your fill-in until Bell returns.
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
The Patriots made a move this offseason to steal receiver Chris Hogan away from the Bills. The team inked the restricted free agent to a three-year, $12 million offer sheet that Buffalo refused to match.
If the preseason is an accurate indication, the Patriots are going to utilize Hogan quite a bit in the coming season.
Hogan didn't play in the Patriots' preseason opener, yet he was still second on the team for the preseason with nine receptions. He has produced 137 yards and a touchdown in his three preseason appearances as well. Pro Football Focus rates Hogan 23rd overall among all wideouts in receiving for the preseason.
It's looking like Hogan will be one of New England's top three wide receivers alongside Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. However, Amendola is still recovering from offseason surgery and will likely be the team's slot receiver once he returns. This could leave Hogan as one of New England's starting outside receivers and give him plenty of opportunities to make plays for your fantasy team.
Expect him to produce substantially more than the 450 yards and two touchdowns he had with the Bills last season.
Hogan's current ADP is a modest 62nd among wide receivers. He's worth a late-round selection or a free-agent pickup based on potential upside alone.
Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos lost both of their starting quarterbacks from last season. Peyton Manning, of course, retired, while Brock Osweiler got scooped up by the Houston Texans. Perhaps this is why projected starting tight end, Virgil Green, holds a current ADP of just 29.3 among tight ends.
It's true that the Broncos don't yet know who their quarterback will be—though based on his start in the third week of the preseason, it could be Trevor Siemian—which likely hurts the stock of all Denver pass-catchers.
It's also true that Green wasn't a major part of the Broncos passing attack last season. Playing largely behind Owen Daniels, he caught just 12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. However, Daniels is now gone, and Green has shown during the preseason that he can be explosive.
Green was second for the Broncos in preseason receptions with 10 and has 97 yards and a score to show for it. Pro Football Focus rates him third among all NFL tight ends in receiving for the preseason.
Right now, it would seem that Green is a player who could be available in free agency. Though you might want to consider him as a late sleeper selection if you have not yet drafted.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns
There are two reasons why 6'4", 223-pound receiver Terrelle Pryor isn't viewed as a popular draft-day target. The first is that he is a former quarterback who only decided to transition to receiver last offseason. The second is that Pryor is a member of the talent-strapped Cleveland Browns.
However, there is plenty of reason to believe that Pryor can not only succeed as a receiver this season, he can be a star.
Pryor possesses a rare size-speed combination that makes him a threat both in the deep-passing game and in the red zone. He's a player you might want to take a flier on if your league awards bonus points for long receptions. Two of Pryor's five preseason receptions have gone for at least 45 yards.
Pryor had five receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown this preseason. Pro Football Focus rates him 80th in receiving among all wide receivers for the preseason, which is an indication of the progress he has made as a receiver this offseason.
The Browns currently list Pryor as a starting wideout opposite rookie Corey Coleman on the team's preseason depth chart. Assuming he stays there, Pryor should have plenty of opportunities to put up points, at least until Josh Gordon returns from suspension.
Pryor's current ADP is just 68.3rd among wide receivers. If you drafted Gordon and need a four-week fill-in, Pryor might be your guy. If you just want a sleeper receiver with a lot of potential upside, Pryor might be your guy too.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills wasn't a huge part of the team's offense in 2015. The former New Orleans Saints standout produced just 440 yards and three touchdowns. Now that Rishard Matthews is no longer with the team, though, Stills could be on track for bigger and better things.
He will likely be the team's third receiver, alongside Jarvis Landry and second-year man DeVante Parker. However, both Stills and Parker will likely be the outside receivers when Landry lines up in the slot. Assuming there are enough passes in the Miami offense to go around, Stills could be a real fantasy value.
The receiver seems to believe Miami's offense will provide.
“We’re dangerous, pretty much at all times,” Stills said, per Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “As long as we can protect [quarterback] Ryan [Tannehill], it’s going to be fun.”
Stills was quite productive this preseason, racking up 124 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions. Just two seasons ago, Stills produced 931 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 63 receptions. These should be realistic numbers for him this season.
Stills' ADP currently sits at an underwhelming 71.5 among wide receivers. He's sitting behind the likes of Marqise Lee and Davante Adams. In most leagues, he'll probably be available as a free agent.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins/article96835747.html#storylink=cpy
All ADP rankings are for PPR formats and are via FantasyPros.com.