2016 Fantasy Football: The Best of the NFC
I hope everybody enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. In light of the holiday I’ll be writing an article on some players that will be memorialized this season (kind of). Yes, I’m aware this concept is a bit of stretch, no need to tell me about it. Anyway, these are the players in the NFC that will win some fantasy hardware in 2016.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton was the MVP last season as he threw for 3,837 yards, rushed for another 636 and accounted for 45 TDs with just 10 INTs. And he did it without his top wideout, Kelvin Benjamin. It’s going to be tough to top last season and Aaron Rodgers will have his top receiver Jordy Nelson back, but I’m rolling with the freakishly gifted Newton. He just brings so much to the table and is so tough to stop. His upside is greater than anyone’s we’ve ever seen in this league. Still, it’s on him to meet his full potential.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
The running back position is much deeper in the NFC than AFC. You have young backs like David Johnson, Thomas Rawls and Ezekiel Elliott as well as vets like Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Doug Martin. Still, I believe this will be Gurley’s breakout year. There are some questions surrounding Gurley due to his inconsistent play last season. With that said, I believe fantasy owners were just spoiled by Gurley in his first five games (excluding his limited debut). Despite only playing 12 full games, he still topped 1,100 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. I’ve seen him compared to both A.P. and Trent Richardson this week. I believe he’ll be much closer to the former.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
This was a matter of deciding between Jones and Odell Beckham. I prefer Jones. I just think he’s a little bit better and you know Matt Ryan is just going to feed him. There are all of a sudden more options and a potentially improved rushing attack in New York. It will be better for the team but not Beckham. Jones has hit the 100 catch and 1,600 yards from scrimmage mark the past two seasons. Last year he posted an incredible 136 receptions, 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. Look for that type of production to continue.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Many are very high on Jordan Reed. However, I just don’t trust his health. After multiple soft tissue injuries and five documented concussions, it’s very difficult to rely on him. Olsen hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2007 and has consistently put up big numbers. That includes back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. He’s also caught at least five TDs every year since 2008. You can count on Olsen to produce and be available to play.
I expect the Seahawks to have the top defense in the league this season. They were the number two ranked defense in the NFL last season and just barely behind the Broncos. They added pieces in the secondary and really bolstered their defensive line adding Chris Clemons and talented rookie Jarran Reed. They’re talented and deep on every level of the defense, and of course the Legion of Boom is lurking. Year in and year out they have been consistently great. Prior to being the No. 2 defense last season, they were the No. 1 defense since 2013 and haven’t been outside of the top five since 2011. More impressively they haven’t been outside of the top 10 since 2007.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
This is probably the easiest pick in either conference. He is a fourth-overall pick now running behind the best line in the league. No need to further explain. With that said, watch out for Sterling Shepard as well as Michael Thomas as potential sleeper picks if not going with the obvious choice.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
As a rookie KB went for 73-1,008-9. Last year after he tore his ACL while his QB took a gigantic step forward in his development. Benjamin immediately steps back in as Newton’s No. 1 option. There’s no reason all his production shouldn’t go up. I’m projecting him to catch about 90 passes for 1,300 yards and double-digit TDs.
Winston looked like a different player down the stretch last season than he did opening up the year. I love his talent and was very high on him coming out of Florida State. As a rookie he threw for 4,042 yards, 22 TDs and 15 INTs. He also punched in six TDs and added 213 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Mike Evans continues to develop and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to be back at full strength. Those two had great chemistry with limited opportunity. In seven games ASJ caught 21 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns. That was while playing through injury in all but one game. Look for Winston to breakout in 2016.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
It was a tough pick, nevertheless, I’m riding with Newton here. As I mentioned before, he has more upside than any player in the NFL. He may have the most upside we’ve seen in a player ever. His physical abilities are rare and unmatched. Cam is like Gronk with a cannon on his shoulder. Hopefully he doesn’t take a step back this year and keeps getting better.