With Week One rapidly approaching, the CCSN fantasy staff got together to discuss the fantasy landscape heading into the 2016 season, Injuries, suspensions, sleepers, busts, and much more was on the docket. This week the gang discusses their favorite 2016 fantasy sleepers!
Phil Gentile: CCSN co-founder/ Purple Reign Show host
Dan Trader: CCSN fantasy sports editor-in-chef
Stephen Logsdon: CCSN fantasy football writer
Andrew Fossett: CCSN fantasy football writer
For me, it's Matthew Stafford. In the final eight games of last season after Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator, Stafford finished with 19 touchdowns, two interceptions, while completing 70% of his passes. I know Calvin Johnson is gone but the Lions offense were already transitioning to a more spread-it-around offense in those final games. In weeks 13-15, Johnson combined for five catches, 79 yards and one touchdown.
The Lions added free agents, Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, to go along with Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, giving Stafford plethora of options any given play. Stafford is averaging 644 pass attempts the last five seasons and I expect another 600+ attempts in this up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
This year I like Teddy Bridgewater. He's looking to improve his deep ball this season and the very early results indicate good things in store. Specifically, he connected with Charles Johnson for a 49-yard touchdown in the Vikings first preseason game. Yes, it's only the preseason, but Bridgewater's improvement implies that the Minnesota intends to have a more dynamic passing game this year. With Johnson, Stefon Diggs, and Laquan Treadwell, the weapons needed to do so are present. The Vikings might have one of the best receiving cores in the game... eventually. Also, it doesn't hurt to have Adrian Peterson keeping defenses on their toes.
This year, more so than any other, is the perfect time to wait on quarterback in your draft. I'm talking 10th round or later. While I love Tyrod Taylor's duel threat capability, I'm gonna go Eli Manning here. High powered offense featuring one of he best receivers in the game. In 27 games with Odell Beckham in the lineup Eli was only held without a touchdown pass in two of those games. Conversely, he threw three or more touchdowns in nine of those games. Not to mention a historically bad defense last season that I doubt will be much better in 2016. He has the potential to be a top five fantasy QB this season.
In this day and age–with the copious amounts of sports coverage flooding our news feeds–a true “sleeper” is hard to come by, so I’m going to take a different approach here. If you’re the type of player who likes to wait on drafting a QB or stream the position based on the matchups, I’ll throw out an ultimate boom-or-bust sleeper candidate that hardly anyone seems to be talking about: whoever ends up starting for the 49ers. Look, I have a better grasp on what you’re about to say than B-Rabbit did in the final battle vs. Papa Doc in 8 Mile, so allow me a moment to explain myself. I understand this is a bold prediction, but keep in mind that Napoleon Dynamite’s doppelganger aka Nick Foles tossed 203 completions that went for 2,891 yards and 27 TDs (8.5 TD%) in Chip Kelly’s first season with Philadelphia, equating to a 64% completion rate. Foles also had the 5th highest defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR , 1,011) and 2nd highest defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA, 35.6%) in 2013 according to Football Outsiders.
Additionally, he had the 5th highest QBR in the league (69.0) and was selected to the Pro Bowl (WHAT?!). This is all in spite of not being a good quarterback in real life with a suspect supporting cast to say the least. Granted, the supporting cast in San Francisco might be even worse, but this is the same offensive system that made both Foles and the butt-fumbler fantasy relevant. I expect SF to be playing from behind predominantly, so volume will not be an issue, as Philadelphia had the 13th most offensive plays in 2013, 1st in 2014, and 2nd in 2015 under Kelly. The best part is there’s literally no investment or risk obtained at the price you’ll be paying for either quarterback.