Joe Flacco- Flacco isn’t a great fantasy QB but last year he was proving to be quite the sleeper before he tore his ACL against the Rams. Flacco had put together six 300+ yard games among the 10 games he played last year and five 19+ fantasy point performances last year. If you take out his week 1 stinker of what turned out to be a historically great Broncos defense, Flacco averaged 297 passing yards a game, only Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady averaged more passing yards per game than that figure(they were 1,2 and 3 in passing yards last year.). Even when adding in the Broncos game Flacco averaged 279 passing yards per game, good for 6th in the NFL. For fantasy football, a QB’s passing yardage is a good indication of what their floor is going to be, TD’s will come and go but if a QB is throwing for a good amount of yardage it’s likely he won’t have too many stinker games. Flacco also gets Steve Smith back from injury this year, along with the signing of Mike Wallace, who looks to fill the Torrey Smith sized hole in the offense. Flacco isn’t a prestigious fantasy football QB by any means but I expect him to bounce back and have a better than expected fantasy year in 2016.
Aaron Rodgers- It’s weird to put Aaron Rodgers as a bounce back player, but considering his performance last year compared to where many drafted him he should be put here. Rodgers finished as the #7 QB in fantasy last year when many drafted him early thinking he would be a top 3 QB. Rodgers had 7 games last year with 15 or less fantasy points, only Kirk Cousins finished among the top 10 QB’s and had more games like that(Eli Manning, who was the #10 QB also had 7). The addition of Jordy Nelson should be HUGE in restoring Rodgers to top 3 glory.
Eddy Lacy- A massive disappointment last year, Lacy was a 1st round pick who finished as RB #27 and finished a point behind his handcuff, James Starks. Lacy put up a few big weeks though, he had three 100+ yard rushing games and another game with 100 all purpose yards. One of Lacy’s main problems last year was his consistency, and his inability to get into the end zone. Lacy had a career low 5 total TD’s last year. To put that in perspective, Lacy had 5 total TD’s by his 9th game in 2014(it was 5 in six games after his retched three game start to the year) and had those 5 TD’s in his 10th game of his rookie year. Only Alfred Morris had more carries last year with less rushing TD’s than Lacy(who was only “beat” by Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden has the only players to play all 16 games and have less than 5 TD’s). Lacy has proven over the years he is capable of some great games and some stinkers but hopefully that P90X is working.
C.J Anderson- Another massive disappointment last year, Anderson was a fringe 1st round draft pick based off how he finished 2014 when he was given the starting job and flopped hard. Going back to when he was given the starting job during his last 6 games of last year gives a better sample size of Anderson as a fantasy player. Since that time Anderson has had 7 games with either 100 all purpose yards or multiple TD’s(5 in 2014 and 2 in 2015, including a 90 yard all purpose game with a TD to finish 2015), but he also has 7 games with less than 50 all purpose yards(all in 2015). So which Anderson will show up this year? More of the guy we saw in 2014? The guy we saw in 2015? Or the guy we saw in the playoffs, who averaged 90 all purpose yards and scored two TD’s?
Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb- I put them together here because their fantasy value is tied together. We all know that Jordy Nelson tore his ACL in pre-season last year but the concensus was that after that happened Cobb would see a boost in usage. In fact, the opposite happened, Cobb suffered significantly during Nelson’s absence. Cobb had the worst season in his career besides his rookie year last year, posting lows in yards, catches and TD’s all the while having the most targets he had ever had in a season. Cobb clearly couldn’t cut it as the #1 receiver in the Packers offense. The last time we saw Nelson and Cobb together the pair each had 90+ catches, 1200+ yards and 12+ TD’s. Here’s hoping that 2016 sees more of that than whatever last year was for the Packers offense.
Keenan Allen- A fan favorite going into this year, Allen had a great first half of 2015 before sustaining a season ending injury against the Ravens. Allen had 67 catches on 89 targets for 725 yards and 4 TD’s through eight games. If you stretch that out to a full 16 game season than Allen would have had 178 targets(would have been 4th in the NFL), 134 catches(would have been 3rd in the NFL) 1,450 yards (would have been tied for 5th in the NFL) and 8 TD’s. Allen is a PPR monster and if he can stay healthy he will easily be a top 10 PPR receiver and may crack that in standard too.
Alshon Jeffrey- Like Allen, Jeffery was very productive when he played, but he battled injuries all year long. In the nine games he played, Jeffery had 4 games of 100+ yards and 6 games with 10+ targets. If you stretch out Jeffery’s stats from last year into a 16 game season he would have had been 7th in the NFL in targets with 165, tied for 8th in the NFL with 96 catches, 6th in the NFL in receiving yards and would have had 7 TD’s. Going into 2016, if Jeffery can stay healthy, he should have a monster year. He will have more help across the field from him with Kevin White suiting up after missing all of last year. If anyone can bounce back it will be Jeffery.
Victor Cruz- The Sterling Shepard hype is massive right now, but Victor Cruz might have something to say about that. Cruz hasn’t played for nearly two full years now due to injury. The last time he played a game was October 12th, 2014. With the departure of Reuben Randle there is a void for the #2(and probably #3) receiver Giants. Many think that rookie Sterling Shepard will be the beneficiary of those openings and take that job for himself, and while that very well be the case I wouldn’t rule Cruz out. While he may not see the dominant player we saw his first two seasons I could very well see a healthy, rested Cruz taking advantage of all the single coverage he is going to see with OBJ getting most of the defense’s attention.
Julius Thomas- Remember in 2014 when Thomas had 12 TD’s at the end of week 9? Last year sure made a lot of people forget about that guy. After missing the first 4 games of the year with a hand injury, Thomas came back and had a a very up and down year. In half the games he played he had less than 30 yards receiving, which is absolutely unusable in fantasy. However, in the other half of the games he played he had either 75+ yards or a TD, which is pretty good for a tight end. If Thomas can stay healthy, and get more consistency, he may see himself vaulting into the top 10 at TE again.
Jimmy Graham- From being in the same class of tight end as Rob Gronkowski to be ranked among the glob of non-inspiring outside the 10 TE’s. Among that glut of players Graham easily has the most upside. This is a guy who was a 1,000+ yard, 10+ TD player during his time in New Orleans. I know his usage in Seattle was widely criticized but he seemed to find a good role as the season went along. From week 6 till he got hurt last year Graham was averaging a little over 7.5 targets per game, 4.5 catches per game and 66 yards per game. If you take that and stretch it out over a 16 game season it’s 120 targets, 72 catches and 1,069 yards, which is roughly the season Gary Barnidge, the #3 TE in fantasy last year had. If Russell Wilson keeps up his high quality second half play from last year then I’m sure some of the TD’s that Doug Baldwin saw will go Graham’s way this year, along with a back to normal season for Graham.