Fantasy Flash Forward WR/TE: Passing paradigm elevates OBJ, others

Brad Evans

After plenty of blood, sweat and beers, another season is in the books. It's time to reflect on the year that was and look ahead to what's on the horizon for 2016. As any degenerate gamer knows, fantasy football thoughts are always at the forefront. Friday's topic: WR/TE.

Every year, new lessons are learned. Subsequently, what New Year's resolution, player specific or in general, will you adhere to at WR/TE in light of experiences gained this past fall? 

Brandon – Pay the premium for a premium WR in next year's draft. My best fantasy squad of '15 featured DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson. My running back corps (fronted initially by Marshawn Lynch) was a flaming brown paper bag full of dog waste. But the steady hands of those two elite wideouts bailed me out week after week. The best wide receivers can produce with the best of the RB crop (especially in PPR leagues), and the injury risk isn't nearly as high.

[2016 fantasy position previews: Quarterback | Running Back | Receiver/Tight End]         

Brad – Elite WRs are sure to cost a pretty penny next year. It's conceivable, possibly for the first time in the broadband Internet age, three wide receivers – Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown and Julio Jones – will go inside the top-five overall picks. They're relatively safe, secure and own extremely high floors. 

Andy – I feel as if we re-learn this lesson every year, but here it is again: elite fantasy wide receivers are going to materialize in-season. It's nearly as easy (and as profitable) to use a Zero WR strategy on draft day as it is Zero RB. You could have snagged Doug Baldwin, Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd, Allen Hurns, James Jones, Michael Crabtree, Kamar Aiken and various others off the wire this year, and you'd be coasting to a title. 

Liz – RAPPORT… it takes time to build. If a QB doesn’t trust his receivers – whether it’s because they struggle to separate or because they consistently run the wrong routes – they won’t be relied upon... no matter their athletic upside.

Scott – The SKINNY USAGE TREE is your best friend. I realize we can't always know these things before the season, but you want your pass-catchers from teams that utilize the fewest options possible. Look at the Jets, where Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker hogged most of the targets. No third receiver to feed, no impact tight end. Even if these things aren't knowable in the summer, we can definitely adjust to them and use them to our advantage in-season. Some teams get cute with personnel and tons of pass catchers, while some other teams simply feed the ball to their primary guys, (be it by choice or by need).  

Dalton – My top-five is usually populated entirely by running backs (in non-PPR) most years, but in 2016, I'm likely going to have Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham as the top-two players on my board. It's difficult to state some innovative strategy coming off this season, when there are strong arguments to wait on basically every position.

What receiving prospect, presumably set to enter the 2016 NFL Draft, are you most excited about? 

Brad – JOSH DOCTSON. God he would look good in a Saints uniform. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound TCU product is a polished target with plus speed, ball-adjustment skills and, most importantly, a wide route tree. Though he hasn't played since early August due to a wrist injury, he'll be a coveted weapon likely to go in the around the Round 1 turn in May's Draft. 

Andy – I'll take COREY COLEMAN and his 31 touchdowns over two seasons, thankyouverymuch. I can't believe the Baylor product won't be an early success at the next level. 

Liz – LAQUON TREADWELL. The Ole Miss product has it all: Size, Speed, and Strength. Physically gifted and mentally tough, Treadwell is a playmaker who can win contested catches and gain extra yards after the catch.

Scott – LAQUON TREADWELL. There's a Q in his name and he's been comped to Dez Bryant. I don't love this class overall, barring a ton of surprising draft declarations, but Treadwell will be someone we want next summer. 

Dalton – LAQUON TREADWELL. He's been terrific returning from his serious leg injury and should make an immediate impact during his first year in the league. It would be fun to see Treadwell go to Cleveland and play alongside a returning Josh Gordon.

Brandon – LAQUON TREADWELL. He draws comparisons to Dez Bryant for his size and ability to dominate physically. And he's made a name for himself against the best competition college football has to offer, including scoring a TD and posting 80 yards in handing Alabama its only loss of '15 (as of this writing).

The Bold and the Disputable. Describe one nutty, but completely plausible, prediction at WR/TE for the 2016 season. 

Andy – ODELL BECKHAM is going to reach 2,000 yards next season, assuming we don't see massive, sweeping changes in the Giants offense (which might be a bad assumption). Odell is simply uncoverable. All you can hope to do is lure him into a suspension. 

Liz – JAELEN STRONG emerges as a legitimate fantasy asset. Outside of DeAndre Hopkins the Texans have zero additional receiving weapons: Nate Washington is 32 years old and has struggled for the bulk of the season. Meanwhile, Cecil Shorts has missed numerous weeks nursing a variety of injuries. Strong may not project to be more than a possession receiver, but opposite Nuk he could do some damage.

Scott – ODELL BECHKAM scores 21 touchdowns and does a different touchdown dance for each one. JOSH GORDON plays 16 games, 16 NFL games. BRANDON LAFELL runs a crisp route and makes a defender miss (once). RUEBEN RANDLE learns how long and wide a football field is.

Dalton – MICHAEL FLOYD emerges as the clear No. 1 receiver in Arizona, resulting in him finishing as a top-12 fantasy wideout. Floyd's price tag will be well below that expectation. 

Brandon – TYLER LOCKETT surpasses Doug Baldwin next season as Seattle's top fantasy receiver and finishes in the top 20 at the position when the dust settles on 2016.

Brad – JORDAN REED surpasses Gronk as the No. 1 ranked tight end in fantasy. If Washington breaks the bank to retain Kirk Cousins and the TE somehow avoids getting his bell rung, it's entirely conceivable. Reed, who blossomed down the homestretch as Cousin's primary flavor, scored 10 TDs from Week 7 on. 

What WR/TE will you vigorously chase in drafts next year? What round do you expect to acquire his services in 12-team drafts? 

Liz – I’d prefer to draft JORDAN REED in the fifth than roster Gronk in the first.

Scott – This is always a tricky question for me because I am not a vigorous chaser, a target drafter. I'm agnositc, I'll take what the draft gives me. I expect the room will probably allow me a good deal on DELANIE WALKER and I'll look to scoop that up around Rounds 7-10, season to taste. But check with me in August, maybe next year's Ibanez All-Star, the boring but valuable play, will be someone else (this year, Walker and Eric Decker paid the bills). 

Dalton – I really want MARTAVIS BRYANT on my teams next year and would be thrilled if he somehow fell to the third round. 

Brandon – DEANDRE HOPKINS. I owned him everywhere this season and I honestly can't imagine life without him at this point.

Brad – KAMAR AIKEN. Whether it was Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen or Ryan Mallett, Aiken consistently produced. TDs were few and far between but his smooth routes and reliable hands make up a top-30 skill set. Even if Steve Smith comes back and Breshad Perriman enters the mix, Aiken could be the Ravens wideout to own in 2016. He'll likely hang around until Round 8 or 9 in 12-team drafts. 

Andy – I'll take the post-injury discount on KELVIN BENJAMIN, thanks. I fully expect him to surge past Ted Ginn as the most-targeted WR in Carolina, and I think his floor will look a lot like his rookie season. No idea how far he'll fall, but I expect him to be a top-16 receiver. 

List your WR top 16 for '16. 

Scott – 1) OBJ, 2) Antonio Brown, 3) Julio Jones, 4) DeAndre Hopkins, 5) Dez Bryant, 6) Brandon Marshall, 7) Alshon Jeffery, 8) Jordy Nelson, 9) Allen Robinson, 10) Demaryius Thomas, 11) A.J. Green, 12) Sammy Watkins, 13) Brandin Cooks, 14) Eric Decker, 15) Amari Cooper, 16) Mike Evans

Dalton – 1) Antonio Brown 2) Odell Beckham 3) Julio Jones 4) DeAndre Hopkins 5) Allen Robinson 6) Dez Bryant 7) Brandon Marshall 8) Brandin Cooks 9) Martavis Bryant 10) Jordy Nelson 11) A.J. Green 12) Sammy Watkins 13) Alshon Jeffery 14) Demaryius Thomas 15) Michael Floyd

Brandon – 1) Odell Beckham, 2) Antonio Brown, 3) Julio Jones, 3) DeAndre Hopkins, 5) Allen Robinson, 6) Dez Bryant, 7) Brandon Marshall, 8) Sammy Watkins, 9) Alshon Jeffery, 10) Demaryius Thomas, 11) A.J. Green 12) Jordy Nelson, 13) Amari Cooper, 14) Martavis Bryant, 15) Mike Evans, 16) Brandin Cooks

Brad – 1) Odell Beckham, 2) Antonio Brown, 3) DeAndre Hopkins, 4) Julio Jones, 5) Allen Robinson, 6) Dez Bryant, 7) Alshon Jeffery, 8) Brandon Marshall, 9) Martavis Bryant, 10) Julian Edelman, 11) Jordy Nelson, 12) Keenan Allen, 13) Sammy Watkins, 14) Demaryius Thomas, 15) Calvin Johnson, 16) Brandin Cooks

Andy – 1) Odell, 2) Julio, 3) Antonio, 4) Nuk, 5) A-Rob, 6) Watkins, 7) Amari, 8) A.J., 9) Jordy, 10) Evans, 11) Demaryius, 12) Baldwin, 13) Alshon, 14) 'Tron, 15) Martavis, 16) Jarvis. 

Liz – 1) Odell Beckham, 2) Antonio Brown, 3) Julio Jones, 4) DeAndre Hopkins, 5) Allen Robinson, 6) Dez Bryant, 7) Jordy Nelson, 8) Sammy Watkins, 9) Julian Edelman, 10), Mike Evans, 11) Amari Cooper, 12) Alshon Jeffery, 13) Martavis Bryant, 14) A.J. Green, 15) Demaryius Thomas, 16) Keenan Allen

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