2016 Fantasy Football Keeper Rankings

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Fantasy football keeper rankings are extremely polarizing. The leagues that employ keepers take fantasy to a whole different level. Most people either love them or hate them, with few falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. When evaluating keepers, you’ve really gotta think long-term. My preference is to think about each option on a five-year spectrum. Players on the downward slope of their careers, such as Marshawn Lynch or Matt Forte, while still able to guide your team to success over the next one or two seasons, shouldn’t really be thought of in the same regard as younger players that have the potential to set a yearly cornerstone for your team over the next several fantasy cycles. With that said, below are the top 20 players I strongly recommend getting on your squad, and reaping the benefits for years.

 

  1. Odell Beckham Jr. – Beckham still hasn’t gotten close to his potential and is still a few years away from him prime. With McAdoo staying in town as the new head coach and Eli always on the lookout for his top playmaker, the sky is the limit for OBJ.
  1. Antonio Brown – Brown has been the best receiver in fantasy for the last three seasons and there is no reason to believe he’ll fall off anytime soon. When all the Steelers are healthy, there is simply no slowing down this offense, and this guy is the main catalyst.
  1. Rob Gronkowski – Gronk catch, Gronk run, and Gronk smash! Building your team around a tight end every year can be seen as a risky proposition. Unless that tight end is Gronk. Undeniably the most dominant force on the field each and every week for the Pats, he’s going to keep churning out yards and touchdowns on a weekly basis on his way to all-time records at the position.
  1. Todd Gurley – Gurley was everything advertised and more as a rookie, and will continue to evolve into quite possibly the best RB in the league over the next several years. The freak injury the sidelined him his last season at Georgia seemed like a distant memory as soon as he hit the field for the Rams. As the new face of Los Angeles, look for great things to continue with this bull of a runner.
  1. Le’Veon Bell – Speed, strength, vision: These are the traits GMs look for in running backs. Bell has them all in spades, including the patience necessary to allow blocks to develop and exploit any and every opportunity. The only thing keeping him out of my top RB spot is the possibility that injuries will continue to hamper him due to usage. When he’s good though, he’s great and a no-brainer start every week.
  1. David Johnson – Everyone that watched Johnson in the first few games this year could see the potential. The aging Chris Johnson just didn’t give Bruce Arians a reason to give the rookie a bigger piece of the pie. That is, until he went down and David exploded onto the scene. With 13 total touchdowns in his rookie year via rushing, receiving, and even a kick return, he’s got the potential to be a very special player on a team built to go deep into the playoffs for the rest of Carson Palmer’s career.
  1. DeAndre Hopkins – Nuk exceeded everyone’s expectations this year, even diehard Hard Knocks fans, as he set Texans’ single season records for most receptions in a players’ first three years in the league and touchdowns in a season. He also became the first receiver in league history to record a 100-yard day with four different quarterbacks. It truly doesn’t matter who he has behind center. This guy is going to continue to put it all on the line and will more often than not be the main reason you come up with a weekly win.
  1. Julio Jones – The only issue I’ve ever had with placing Julio at the very top of the list for receivers is the fact that he’s never played a full season. This year, he did, and he ended up with one of the most productive seasons in NFL history. If Matt Ryan can cut down on the turnovers and just keep forcing the ball to his beastly receiver, expect another half decade of the same.
  1. Cam Newton – I’m typically not a fan of using a keeper selection on a QB, just because there is so much depth at the position. After the season he had though, you’d be crazy to throw Cam back into the draft pool and watch another owner reap the rewards of his talent. With the return of Kelvin Benjamin next year, it is entirely conceivable to watch the Super Bowl MVP hopeful improve on the 3,800 yards and 45 total touchdowns he was responsible for in 2015.
  1. Dez Bryant – 2015 was a lost season for Dez, and as a dynasty owner of his, I felt his pain. The great news is, he’ll be going into 2016 completely healthy, with his aging, but still incredibly efficient quarterback with him. I’m a firm believer that Dez will return better than ever, and that he will re-establish himself as one of the top 2 red zone targets in the league, trailing only Rob Gronkowski for that honor.
  1. Mike Evans – Evans accounted for a ton of drops and only 3 touchdowns on 147 targets this season, but has already established a strong rapport with budding star quarterback Jameis Winston. I can’t help but believe he will rebound in a big way and will entrench himself as a top 7 fantasy wideout for the next several seasons. Vincent Jackson can’t hold up much longer, and Evans will benefit even more with his departure.
  1. Thomas Rawls – Marshawn Lynch became expendable on November 22, 2015. That was the date Rawls exploded for 209 rushing yards, 46 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 33 touches. He didn’t slow down over the next several weeks until an injury against Baltimore ended his season prematurely. Set up to be the workhorse back on a Seahawks team that loves to pound the rock, Rawls is in for a monster 2016 and beyond.
  1. Amari Cooper – The rookie wall was real for Cooper, as his performance trailed off pretty severely in the second half of the 2015 season. He was still named to the Pro Bowl though, and is in an offense with a young, fearless quarterback that believes he can make every throw in the book. Carr’s trust in his number one receiver was clear immediately, and these two are going to put up some gawdy numbers before all is said and done with their time on the Raiders.
  1. TJ Yeldon – Confident QB. Check. Stud receivers on the outside. Check. Improving offensive line. Check. All of the necessary components are in place for the Alabama product to improve on a steady rookie season that was minimal on touchdowns, but flashed tons of potential. Placed into an every down role from day one, Yeldon’s spot on this offense is secure, and with opposing defenses being unable to stack the box on him, he’ll find paydirt much more consistently going forward.
  1. Tyler Eifert – I said earlier that Gronk was the exception when considering building your team around a tight end. 13 touchdowns in 12 games played begs to differ that point. Establishing himself as the premier goal line and red zone option for the high powered Bengals offense will keep Eifert owners happy as long as he can avoid any lengthy injury absences.
  1. Demaryius Thomas – No one can say that DT isn’t one of the top pass-catchers in the game, and he is certainly paid like one. The problem is that he has been limited recently by the regression of Peyton Manning. Thomas is a physical freak that attacks the ball at it’s highest point, and without an arm to get him the ball in that position, his stats declined this season. With an anticipated move to Brock Osweiler sooner rather than later, Demaryius will get back to winning weeks for owners and I anticipate several more trips to the endzone over the coming years.
  1. Andrew Luck – I know, I know. He didn’t look great in the few games he played this year. He threw a lot of interceptions and had you worried that he’d end up with negative points on more than once occasion. But he never did. In fact, he would have ended up as a top 5 QB had he played the entire season based on his early stats. Luck is still very young, and is going to keep getting better as his surrounding weapons continue to improve. I’m very high on Luck as a long-term option, and firmly believe he will bounce back and remain an elite fantasy option for the remainder of his career, akin to Tom Brady.
  1. Lamar Miller – It took a coaching change for Miller to live up to his potential this year, and see the amount of touches a player of his caliber deserves, but with that change came amazing results from him. He may find a new home this offseason, but rest assured, he’s the real deal, and will continue to put up big numbers wherever he goes.
  1. Jeremy Langford – Matt Forte may still technically be the starter in Chicago, but the front office loves Langford, and believes he can fill Forte’s shoes more than capably. They have no reason to think otherwise after the way he filled in during Forte’s absence. It is my opinion that Forte will be released in the coming months, making way for Langford to shine in this high tempo offense and be a beast on the goal line.
  1. Karlos Williams – This one was a bit tricky, as LeSean McCoy commands a huge timeshare in Buffalo due to his contract alone. Anyone watching in 2015 though, could see that Williams belongs on the field just as much, if not more. He was a touchdown machine in year one, and his role will continue to grow.

 

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