Fantasy football drafts for 2016 are being scheduled, and this is the first of a four-part series to prepare you. Here we’ll cover veteran fantasy targets on new teams, and the other installments will look at high-impact rookies, players to avoid, and key sleepers.
Here are some familiar faces who will be in new places for 2016:
▪ The Houston Texans have made over their backfield, adding Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller. Consider Osweiler a low-end fantasy backup quarterback, but Miller is a legitimate first-round draft pick. Somehow Miller had just six attempts inside the 5 last season (scoring four touchdowns, the same conversion rate as Todd Gurley).
▪ Two other quarterbacks join new teams as likely week one starters: Robert Griffin III (Cleveland) and Mark Sanchez (Denver). Griffin won’t cost much and could surprise. I wouldn’t touch Sanchez in any round and doubt he will he will hold down that job for long.
▪ Matt Forte (N.Y. Jets) has been a consistent fantasy force for years, averaging 106 yards per game played over his eight NFL seasons. Forte goes to a much improved offense (a big plus) but the Jets also gave Bilal Powell nearly the exact same contract and Powell will likely get more work than you might expect (particularly in passing situations). Forte could be a little overpriced.
▪ Once a perennial No. 1 overall fantasy pick, Arian Foster (Miami) joins what should be a top offense under new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. If his draft price stays low Foster would be a nice mid-round sleeper but I would not overpay based on past glory. Foster is set to turn 30, has missed 23 games over the past three seasons and averaged just 2.6 yards per carry last year.
▪ Chris Ivory (Jacksonville) enters 2016 off his first 1,000-yard season, finishing as the 11th-best fantasy running back. Ivory will split time with T.J. Yeldon but Ivory is a safe pick for near-similar fantasy production.
▪ The excitement for DeMarco Murray signing in Tennessee was dampened some when they also drafted 2015 Heisman Award winner Derrick Henry. However, there should be enough work for both in their planned “exotic smashmouth” offense, and drafting both should guarantee top fantasy production.
▪ With the sudden retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions will look to replace his production with multiple receivers including additions Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones. Boldin, Jones and Lions players in general will likely be undervalued in drafts – Matthew Stafford was the fifth-best fantasy quarterback in the second half of last year after Jim Bob Cooter was promoted to offensive coordinator.
▪ After a disappointing season in Minnesota, Mike Wallace (Baltimore) returns to the AFC North. Joe Flacco’s big arm) could be exactly what he needs for a bounce-back season as a middle-round flyer. Wallace is one year moved from a 10-touchdown season.
▪ New England signed Chris Hogan for pretty major money – at $5.5 million this year, Hogan is actually the 27th-highest ranked receiver for 2016 in terms of a team’s cap hit. That’s not role-player money.
▪ Coby Fleener to the Saints looks like a perfect match for a big fantasy season. Fleener has been exceptionally efficient around the goal line throughout his career and Drew Brees has turned his tight ends into fantasy superstars. Fleener would be an ideal sixth-round target (his average draft price).
▪ Tight end Ben Watson (Baltimore) was a fantasy superstar last season because of Drew Brees. He won’t likely duplicate his seventh-overall tight end ranking, but Watson is getting no respect in drafts. Watson will be the Ravens’ starter and Joe Flacco was having a career season at 279.1 yards per game last year before a torn ACL ended his season.
▪ Ladarius Green (Pittsburgh) finally gets a shot being out from under Antonio Gates. On the one hand, Green is a very attractive prospect in the high-flying Pittsburgh offense but beware as Green had two plates surgically placed in his ankle in January and is not yet at full strength.
Alan Satterlee is a co-owner and senior writer for DynastyFootballWarehouse.com, a comprehensive fantasy football strategy site.