We looked at the fantasy football ADP (average draft position) values after last season and identified who were the biggest bargains. We also looked at the worst ADP picks in 2015 to find players to avoid in 2016. One of the most important jobs of a fantasy football analyst is to try to find those players to avoid in this year’s draft. It requires a lot of research and a ton of gut instinct. As we start to look at fantasy football ADP more closely, let’s match up the poor selections from last year and identify their corresponding player in 2016. Then we will answer the question: If this season mirrors the 2015 fantasy season, could these players get fellow managers in trouble in 2016?
Fantasy Football ADP Crystal Ball: Big Sells
1) Charcandrick West (Kansas City Chiefs)
2015 Perfect Match: Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)
ADP: RB 42
Total: 242 points, RB 1
Why it will happen: West is entering his third season, as is Devonta Freeman. Freeman served as a backup in 2014, and then got his chance in 2015 when Tevin Coleman got hurt. West was a backup in 2014, and got his chance when Jamaal Charles got hurt. The Chiefs will always run the ball, and all it takes is another injury to Charles, and West will have as big a role as Freeman did in Atlanta last year. When he played, West proved (848 yards, 4.0 ypc, 5 touchdowns) that he was very effective.
Why it won’t happen: West is stuck behind one of the best all around running backs in football, who is also coming back from an injury. The Chiefs will be very cautious with Charles as a result, but he still is definitely the goal line running back. In addition, Kansas City has as crowded a backfield as any team in the NFL. Not only Charles and West, but Spencer Ware and Knile Davis will also get touches. There are just too many mouths to feed to see West become anywhere near an RB1.
Prediction: At first glance, this seems possible because of the parallels between a potential Charles injury and Coleman injury last year. However, Charles is clearly the number one and goal line option, and Coleman was a rookie. West gives you great value at RB42, but I cannot see a repeat of an almost once in a lifetime performance of a round nine selection becoming the best fantasy running back.
2) Javorius Allen (Baltimore Ravens)
2015 Perfect Match: David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals)
ADP: RB 44
Total: 173 points, RB 7
Why it will happen: David Johnson was a rookie, and was thought to be behind Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson last season. Both Ellington and Chris Johnson got hurt, and then David Johnson took over for the Cardinals. He finished as the number seven running back in standard scoring leagues with just 125 rushing attempts and an incredible 57 catches in just ten games. Baltimore’s run game is a true running back by committee, but just as Johnson emerged, so could Javorius Allen. He already showed flashes last season with three touchdowns over the last six games. The Ravens should be a much improved football team from 2015, and Allen could definitely emerge as their lead running back.
Why it won’t happen: The Ravens crowded backfield isn’t getting thinner any time soon. Allen is still listed behind Justin Forsett on the depth chart, with Terrence West, the newly-acquired Trent Richardson, and goal line thief Lorenzo Taliaferro all battling for touches. The Ravens thought so highly of Allen that they spent a fourth-round draft pick on Louisiana Tech product Kenneth Dixon. David Johnson was always thought to be the eventual heir apparent in Arizona, it just happened sooner than expected. Allen doesn’t appear to be heir to anything but a time share situation.
Prediction: It is too complex of a situation to predict in Baltimore. While Allen was solid last year, he wasn’t overly impressive and his metrics are not as good as his competition. Johnson was always considered the goal line back. Right now, Allen isn’t even the top choice in that role. His overall role seems very unclear, which means I cannot support a “buy” here.
3) Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins)
2015 Perfect Match: Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
ADP: QB 15
Total: 458 points, QB 1
Why it will happen: Cousins was superb last year: 70% completion percentage, 34 total touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. His offense should be even better this year, and Cousins is in his contract year. In the final four games of the year he scored 24, 43, 40, and 25 points. Newton took a big leap in 2015 with mediocre team expectations, while the Redskins are the defending NFC East champions. At this time last year, Cousins was not even the starter. He enters 2016 as the definitive number one quarterback. Will that bring a career performance year from Cousins? It absolutely could.
Why it won’t happen: Cousins has never shown the ability to produce at a high level for a long period of time. He produced five rushing touchdowns last season on only 48 rushing yards. That is not sustainable. Newton had been at a high level in previous seasons (#5 fantasy QB in 2011 and 2013), but Cousins never has. Assuming the Redskins improve, Cousins’ pass attempts should actually go down. In short, he simply doesn’t have the pedigree that Newton had to pull off this type of performance.
Prediction: Kirk Cousins is in line for a very good season. He has talent and depth at wide receivers, good pass catching running backs, and one of the best tight ends in football. He could absolutely improve on last year’s tenth fantasy quarterback ranking and get into the top 8 or higher. But it is difficult to rationalize that the inconsistent career of Cousins will allow him to be a top three QB in 2016.
4) Demaryious Thomas (Denver Broncos)
2015 Perfect Match: DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans)
ADP: WR 14
Total: 220 points, WR 6
Why it will happen: The top wide receivers are now being drafted very early in mock drafts, so finding a receiver like Hopkins in round three that could be a top six fantasy player is a huge advantage. Hopkins finished third at the position with 192 targets. That was despite dealing with mediocre quarterback play all season. He produced at the highest level, often beating double teams for touchdowns. Demaryious Thomas simply cannot have worse quarterback play than he had last year with Peyton Manning and the first season of Brock Osweiler. Thomas finished right behind Hopkins with 177 targets, and his 2015 finish as WR 13 is his absolute floor. With a better running game and just average quarterback play, Thomas could easily end up as the WR 6 for this season.
Why it won’t happen: Osweiler played well in his time as quarterback, and Thomas may not have that level of play the entire season with Sanchez or Lynch. He is a top receiver in football, but is always among the league leaders in dropped passes. In 2015, Thomas finished tied for fourth with nine drops on the season. His touchdown numbers fell drastically to just six last season. In a Gary Kubiak run-first offense, it’s hard to anticipate an increase of red zone opportunities when Denver has a healthy backfield.
Prediction: It is difficult to see this one happening. Hopkins is younger and a better athlete. Thomas is still great, but will long for the days of Peyton Manning and his 55 touchdown passes in 2013. Thomas will be a solid second wide receiver for your fantasy team, but not in the top six overall.
5) Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals)
2015 Perfect Match: Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
ADP: WR 27
Total: 224 points, WR 4
Why it will happen: Nothing motivates players more than a potential new contract. That is exactly what Michael Floyd will be doing in 2016. As I mentioned, he finished 2015 in fine fashion. Floyd was the best receiver throughout the end of year and playoff season for arguably the top offense in the NFL. In 2016, he certainly could have the opportunities Robinson had, and will catch passes from a much better quarterback (Carson Palmer). Robinson provided top four fantasy production from a fourth round draft pick. Floyd has the ability and opportunity to definitely reproduce that fine season.
Why it won’t happen: Floyd should have a big season, but he won’t be a top five wide receiver. There is too much competition for the football, and both John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald draw a ton of targets. The offense is explosive, but in order to have that type of season he needs to be the clear number one wide receiver. Robinson is just that in Jacksonville, while Floyd is not. Sprinkle in a much improved J.J. Nelson and it’s just impossible to see it happening for Floyd in 2016.
Prediction: We will end where we started, with Michael Floyd now examined from the 2016 vantage point. He is a great mid round wide receiver selection, especially in his contract year. As a 6’3″ 220 pound target, Floyd should put up quality numbers, assuming he plays a full season. Still, with only a career high of 65 catches, it’s difficult to see Allen Robinson-like production in 2016.
Main Photo: ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 03: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on before the Redskins take on the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)