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Written by Sam Gubner
QB – Brock Osweiler – Houston Texans
Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans this offseason, landing a four-year 72 million dollar deal with 37 million guaranteed. In my honest opinion, I think Osweiler will produce but not to the degree where he gets a contract such as this. I think this because the up and coming Texans offense is a major upgrade from his former team the Denver Broncos. First of all, the Texans have a much better offensive line than Denver giving Osweiler more time in the pocket. Also, the Texans will actually have a running game featuring star running back Lamar Miller. And lastly, Osweiler has a rare talent in DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal and speedy rookie Will Fuller. This situation is great, but Osweiler himself is really the issue here as his bad judgement late in games has led to many turnovers and loss of fantasy points.
Verdict: QB 2
RB – Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
Miller was a star running back on the Miami Dolphins and deservedly so. His ridiculous speed has allowed him to burst straight off the line of scrimmage. He is a safe bet get positive yardage on every carry and even every once and while go on a big run. He was also great at the goal line scoring 8 touchdowns in consecutive seasons. The most impressive part about this is that Miller did this with the worst offensive line in all of football in the Miami Dolphins. And now signing a fresh new contract with the Texans, Miller is in for a big year. Even though they aren’t the best, the Texans offensive line is still a major upgrade from the Dolphins. In addition, Miller will be inserted into an offensive scheme in the Texans that is prone to giving running backs loads of carries.
Verdict: RB 1
RB – DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
After being the best running back in fantasy football, Murray had an awful 2015 season with the Eagles. It was a little bit of Murray’s fault but it was also him not being in the right offensive scheme, not getting enough carries to succeed, and also him trying to acclimate to offensive line that isn’t the best in the NFL. Now with the Tennessee Titans, Murray can use his rare blend of speed and power to rejoin the fantasy elites. The only two questions that come to mind are his competition that includes Heisman winner Derrick Henry, and the injury issues that have followed him throughout his career. Even though the Titans have said Murray is the number one back, it would be hard to believe that their second round pick won’t get carries. Also, even though he has been healthy for three seasons Murray will always have that injury issue surrounding him as he suffered major injuries his first two seasons in the league. Even with his incredible talent, the competition and injuries make it hard to draft him. Not to mention, the Titans offensive line is 28th in run blocking.
Verdict: RB 3
RB – Mat Forte – New York Jets
Forte is one of the best running backs in the league, and is the best pass catching back in football. On the Bears, Forte was always a first or second round pick without question and now on the Jets he has slipped down the draft boards. I understand the criticism as Forte is moving to a much worse offensive line, and a team that has a strong passing game involving Ryan Fitzpatrick (hopefully), Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker. But honestly, the Jets running attack must not be that bad as they had 1,868 team rushing yards (10th in NFL) which was more than the Bears 1,851 (11th in NFL). In addition Chris Ivory who is way less talented than Forte, did great on the Jets rushing for 1,070 yards and 7 touchdowns. Lastly, even though Forte is reaching the ominous age of 30, there is no reason to worry as he has never missed more than four games in a season and is very durable.
Verdict: RB 2
RB – Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars
Chris Ivory was as I said earlier, very productive on the Jets rushing for 1,070 yards and 7 touchdowns. But now after being traded to the Jaguars, Ivory’s stock has plummeted going from a good RB2 to a possible bench player. The reason his stock has plummeted is for good reason as the Jaguars are a terrible running team ranking 27th in rushing yards as a team last season. In addition, the passing game in Jacksonville is one of the best in the league sporting the young core of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns. Also, the Jaguars offensive line is 22nd in run blocking, which doesn’t bode well for Ivory. And even if Ivory overcomes all of these struggles he still has to compete with fellow standout T.J. Yeldon for carries, and even if he wins this battle Yeldon will still take all of the passing downs.
Verdict: RB 4
WR – Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions
There has been a lot of hype about Marvin Jones moving to the Detroit Lions after the retirement of Calvin Johnson, but I’m not sold. Even though he is great off the line of scrimmage and has the hands to make insane catches, Jones just doesn’t have the ability to be great. First of all, his route running is sub-par which is a major no-no in football and in addition he does not have enough speed to create major separation between him and a defensive back. So Jones relies solely on his hands and ability to jump over defenders to make a grab. While this doesn’t make him terrible it means he will be very inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. He does have some things to work on, but Jones’ ability to catch like that over the defender makes him a great option for Matthew Stafford to pass to in the end zone. This gives him considerable fantasy value. Jones has done good before, but it was with all the defenses attention being keyed on superstar wideout A.J. Green. I think Jones will be good but not the superstar everyone expects him to be.
Verdict: WR 3
WR – Travis Benjamin – San Diego Chargers
Benjamin had been lurking on the Cleveland Browns for many years, but finally broke out in 2015 going for 966 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. He did this by using his explosiveness and precise route-running to get open and get yards after the catch. And in Cleveland I think he would’ve continued his success, but since he signed with San Diego this offseason a decline is in the works. San Diego does have established quarterback Phillip Rivers but everything after that goes downhill. First of all the Chargers have the worst offense in football ranking 32nd in the league. Also, the Chargers already have their receivers with Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, and Stevie Johnson set to most of the targets. In this incompatible offense Benjamin is set for a down year in 2016.
Verdict: WR 4
WR – Mike Wallace – Baltimore Ravens
Mike Wallace was awful last year receiving for an abysmal 473 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did this bad mostly because of the Vikings’ focus on the running game and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Even though Wallace did terrible last season, he has the rare blend of speed and size that allows him to run by defenders and make big catches. He was also very productive, getting at least 700 yards and 5 touchdowns every season between 2009 and 2014. And now on a Raven’s squad led by the gun-slinging Joe Flacco, big things are in store for Wallace.
Verdict: WR 3
TE – Ladarius Green – Pittsburgh Steelers
Ladarius Green always had the talent to produce, but he sadly played behind future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. And over the offseason, Green couldn’t have signed with a better team than the juggernaut Steelers. This Steelers attack incorporates superstars such as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown which makes defenses much less attentive to Ladarius. In addition, Ladarius’ ability to make grabs over defenders using his size and strong hands makes him a red zone target for the Steelers. Ladarius Green is a major red zone target of arguably the best offense in the NFL so look out.
Verdict: TE 1
TE – Coby Fleener – New Orleans
Fleener is one of the most athletic tight ends in football, using his speed and route-running to separate from defenders and make catches at the top of his routes. But, Fleener only had one good year during his four-year stint in Indianapolis. Also, his injury history is also daunting as Fleener has always missed at least four games every season. And even if this isn’t enough to convince you, his quarterback for eight years Andrew Luck is no longer on the same team as him. Even with all these things against him Fleener is still in a great situation in New Orleans, arguably the best place for a tight end to place in the NFL. He has elite quarterback Drew Brees at the helm who leads a balanced offensive attack with Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, rookie Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram. And with Fleener,the red zone is where his value truly lies. None of the players on the Saints offense were efficient in the end zone but Fleener was, so if Fleener can take advantage of this and score touchdowns than he is a valuable tight end. Fleener could be good but advance with extreme caution.
Verdict: TE 2
TE – Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots
Bennett surely didn’t sign with the Patriots for fantasy purposes as they already have weapons such as Julian Edelman, LaGarrette Blount, and Rob Gronkowski who is the best tight end in football. So how in the world will Bennett get playing time? Well, I know this is a bad example but the Patriots are prone to running two tight end sets like they have done with Aaron Hernandez and Scott Chandler. While, his value isn’t great in this situation he is still draftable. But the reason Bennett should be taken in fantasy drafts is because of Rob Gronkowski’s injury history. If Gronk gets injured then Bennett immediately becomes a top ten fantasy tight end. So I would draft Bennett, especially if you are a Gronkowski owner.
Verdict: TE 2