The fantasy football season is coming rapidly, and we have officially entered the prime drafting period of the preseason between Weeks 3 and 4. In order to prepare you, and to get myself ready for my own draft, this week’s Pick-Six takes a look at the top six players to watch in fantasy football this year, and hopefully add to your squad.
6. Ezekiel Elliott
This one may surprise some people, seeing as he has played just one preseason game and is entering his rookie season, but I expect big things out of Dallas’ newest draft pick. Ezekiel Elliott was a huge name through his college career, putting up big numbers at Ohio State before the Cowboys picked him up in the latest draft. He showed serious potential in his debut against the Seahawks, and looks as if he’s going to be a key piece to Dallas’ puzzle this season. Add in the factors that Elliott will get a large amount of carries per game with Tony Romo likely out for at least half the season, and the Cowboys boasting arguably the best offensive line in the league, and things are looking good for the rookie this season.
5. David Johnson
There has been a huge load of hype surrounding Arizona’s David Johnson going into this season, and I’m truly believing it. He had a breakout year last season, but did lose his luster late in the season. He was a fantasy stud in his rookie season, averaging about 22 fantasy points per game in his five starts after Chris Johnson’s injury, and finished the year with eight touchdowns, enough to put him at seventh in the league. The former wide receiver will bring in points both running and receiving this season, and could be a huge first round pick-up in any league.
4. Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley put up huge numbers in his rookie season last year, and I feel, with no doubt in my mind, that he will be the top running back in the league this year. Gurley finished 2015 with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games, and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his impressive stats. The Rams may have a decent squad this year with some potential talent surrounding Gurley to take some attention away from him, giving him the opportunity to break out for some huge games. He won’t have to compete for any touches like Johnson might, and should finish out the year as one of the top fantasy players in the league.
3. Julio Jones
Julio Jones could make a case to be the number one or two player on this list, but he loses out in some key categories, placing him at third on this Pick-Six. Jones had a solid year last season even with an underwhelming Falcons offense around him, finished with a league-high 1,871 yards and 136 receptions, tied with Antonio Brown for the league’s best. However, his biggest downfall as far as fantasy is concerned, is his touchdown total. He recorded just eight touchdowns last season, and has only had one double-digit touchdown season in his entire career. With a lackluster offense around him, his touchdown total will likely always be low, and he won’t be able to compete against guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, but he’s still a top three player in any fantasy draft.
2. Odell Beckham Jr.
I wanted to put Jones in the second spot at first glance, but it’s incredibly tough to top the performances Odell Beckham Jr. puts up for the Giants. With Tom Coughlin finally out of the picture in New York, and a head coach that Eli Manning can succeed with, OBJ should be able to put up even bigger numbers than his previous campaigns. He had 96 catches, 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, an improvement on his almost-identical 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie year. If he can even improve upon those numbers from last year, which he should in this improved system, then he has potential to become the top receiver, and the top fantasy player, in the league.
1. Antonio Brown
This one, even after all these years, is still a no-brainer. Antonio Brown is an absolute star when it comes to fantasy football, and has been improving to a near record-breaking level over the last few seasons. For the past three seasons, he has increased his total receptions in each campaign, and, even with Ben Roethlisberger out with injuries for a few games, Brown finished with 136 catches, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns on 193 targets. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy this season, and with LeVeon Bell out for the first three games of the season, Brown could see even more targets, even more receptions, and even more fantasy success in his future.