The 2016 NFL Season has officially begun! Teams are off to training camp and the Hall of Fame game is a few days away! It also means that the Fantasy Football season is in full force, and owners really need to pay attention to what is happening!
Each team has a key storyline that you should be paying attention to heading into your drafts and the season.
Arizona Cardinals – Who is the best Wide Receiver to Own?
Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd are all healthy heading into the 2016 season. The question for everyone is who is going to produce most for owners? While I personally believe that Fitzgerald is still the wide receiver to own, both Brown and Floyd are emerging stars and Floyd is in a contract year.
Atlanta Falcons – Will Devonta Freeman be Dominant in 2016?
Devonta Freeman was the number one running back in 2015, but had no competition due to Tevin Coleman being injured most of the year. There is now talk that Coleman will have an increased role. It’s likely that Freeman has a good year, and we’ll see how the timeshare will look during the pre-season.
Baltimore Ravens – Who Can You Trust on Offense for the Ravens?
Joe Flacco may be the only Ravens player I would draft this year. Their roster currently has 12 wide receivers and 4 tight ends on the team. Throughout camp they will begin to cut players from each position, which will bring clarity during your draft.
Buffalo Bills – Can Tyrod Taylor become Elite?
Tyrod Taylor is never going to be Cam Newton, but he’s Cam Lite. With 568 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, he was a start worthy every week. Taylor also had a 3:1 TD/Interception ratio. If he can maintain that ratio and the Bills pass just a little more, he could be the starting quarterback for any Fantasy Football Championship team.
Carolina Panthers – Can Cam Newton Repeat his Dominant 2015 Season?
Cam Newton had very similar stats in 2015 as in previous seasons. His passing touchdown total was the only outlier, and it significantly increased. Cam gets his top wide receiver back in Kelvin Benjamin, and I believe he can maintain the production.
Chicago Bears – Is the Kevin White Hype for Real?
Kevin White was the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft. Unfortunately, he suffered a significant leg injury that prevented him from playing last season. In his last season in college he had 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jay Cutler has also proven he can make two receivers relevant in Fantasy Football, so White has a great opportunity to be at least a flex option this season.
Cincinnati Bengals – Can A.J. Green finish as the Number One Fantasy Wide Receiver in 2016?
A.J. Green has no competition for wide receiver targets in 2016. Without another wide receiver that Andy Dalton trusts, Green should see a significant increase in targets. Green has the opportunity to have a career year and possibly the highest scoring wide receiver in Fantasy Football this season.
Cleveland Browns – Does Josh Gordon actually Play in 2016?
Josh Gordon has been conditionally re-instated to the NFL. He will still miss the first four games of the season. The ball is in Gordon’s court to remain sober, and his drug tests throughout the offseason need to be monitored.
Dallas Cowboys – Does Ezekiel Elliott Belong in the 1st Round of Drafts?
Ezekiel Elliot was taken as the fourth overall pick in the draft this year and will be playing behind the best offensive line in the NFL. The Cowboys averaged 2,122 rushing yards a season the last two years, and that was with non-elite talent in 2015. Elliott needs to stay healthy and he will be worth a first round pick.
Denver Broncos – Will Demaryius Thomas Bounce Back?
Demaryius Thomas had an off year with touchdown production. He finished with similar receptions and receiving yards in 2015, but scored half as many touchdowns. With a consistent quarterback he should be able to bounce back and become the elite option of years past.
Detroit Lions – Can Matthew Stafford have Great Numbers without Megatron?
Matthew Stafford’s favorite target has retired. In five straight seasons Stafford has had no less than 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones have never been number one receivers, but combined they should be able to keep Stafford’s numbers the same.
Green Bay Packers – Will Jordy Nelson be Ready Week One?
Jordy Nelson suffered a season ending ACL injury during the 2015 pre-season. Nelson said he was ready to go, but is now suffering from a minor knee injury to the other knee. Monitoring his status during the pre-season will be important to determine where he should be drafted in 2016.
Houston Texans – Is Brock Osweiler a Legit Starting Quarterback?
In eight games last season, Osweiler had 2,000 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. It took some time to get him acclimated to the offense and he showed signs that he could be a decent starter. How well he clicks in the Houston offense will need to be monitored throughout training camp. Luckily DeAndre Hopkins is back at practice!
Indianapolis Colts – How Big is the Chip on Andrew Luck’s Shoulder?
Andrew Luck was terrible last year, and not just when he was injured. That didn’t stop the Colts from giving him the richest contract in NFL history. Luck is out to prove he is worth the contract and that last season is not a reflection of what his career will look like.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Will the Jaguars Focus more on Running?
Chris Ivory was brought in during the offseason, which leads me to believe they want to run the ball more. Allen Robinson will still be elite in 2016, but the rest of the offense will be affected by the likely increase in rushing.
Kansas City Chiefs – Should We Worry about Jamaal Charles?
Jamaal Charles suffered a season ending ACL injury in 2015. The last time he suffered an ACL injury (on the other knee) he returned as the best running back in Fantasy Football. Seeing how Charles progresses during the pre-season will be a focus for many.
Los Angeles Rams – How Good is Todd Gurley Going to be in Year Two?
Todd Gurley missed three games in 2015, and still had 1,100 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. The Rams offense is going to be focused on Gurley, so there is no reason to believe he won’t eclipse those numbers.
Miami Dolphins – Is THIS the Year Ryan Tannehill Breaks Out?
Adam Gase has been a “quarterback whisperer” in his coaching career. He was the offensive coordinator when Peyton Manning broke the single season touchdown record, and made Jay Cutler fantasy relevant last season. Ryan Tannehill has the weapons around him and a coach that should help him succeed.
Minnesota Vikings – What Does Adrian Peterson have left?
With the exception of 2011 ( and 2014 where he played one game, Adrian Peterson has had 1,000 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. Until Adrian Peterson decides to hang up his cleats I will not doubt that he gets at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
New England Patriots – Can Jimmy Garoppolo Successfully Replace Tom Brady?
Jimmy Garoppolo’s reps in pre-season games will be very important to see how he gels with the starters. Hopefully the Patriots let him start games in the pre-season to get a feel for working with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. If Garoppolo can develop even a hint of chemistry with those two he will be fine for the first four games.
New Orleans Saints – How Good will Coby Fleener be in 2016?
No Saints tight end has had less than 74 receptions, 825 yards and 6 touchdowns since 2011. Those are journeyman Benjamin Watson’s numbers last season. The Saints like to use the tight end position as a focal point of the offense and Coby Fleener will ensure that the baseline for tight end production is what Watson did last year.
New York Jets – Can Ryan Fitzpatrick Re-capture the “Fitz-Magic?”
Ryan Fitzpatrick made both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker must starts last season. Not much changed with the team from last year, so there is no reason why Fitzpatrick, Marshall and Decker don’t repeat production in 2016.
New York Giants – Who Will be the Slot Receiver?
The Giants drafted Sterling Shepard this year, but Victor Cruz is back in the conversation. In offseason workouts, Shepard was being praised for his talent while Cruz was recovering from injury. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Giants do with both talented slot receivers and who ends up being the starter week one.
Oakland Raiders – Is Amari Cooper due for a Bigger Season this Year?
In his rookie year, Amari Cooper finished with 72 receptions, 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. The Raiders focused on improving their offensive line, which will give Derek Carr more time to get the ball to Cooper this season.
Philadelphia Eagles – Can Zach Ertz become an Elite Tight End?
Zach Ertz finished the season scoring at least 13 fantasy points in the last three games. He began to gel with Sam Bradford, whom is currently the starting quarterback for the Eagles. If Bradford keeps the job, Ertz is a player to keep an eye on throughout the pre-season.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Will Le’Veon Bell Miss Games?
Le’Veon Bell is currently appealing a four game suspension for missing a drug test during the offseason. There is a lot of talk that he will win his appeal because the testing company didn’t make enough effort to get in touch with him. If Bell isn’t suspended, he should be drafted very, VERY high in Fantasy Football.
San Diego Chargers – Can Keenan Allen Break the Reception Record?
At the pace he was going last season, Keenan Allen would have finished with 134 receptions. That is two less than what Antonio Brown and Julio Jones had last season. Seeing how much Rivers targets Allen during the pre-season will be a great indicator on how he will be used during the season.
San Francisco 49ers – Can Chip Kelly turn the 49ers’ Offense Around?
Chip Kelly always had a high-powered offense with the Eagles, but he also had a lot of talent on the team. Carlos Hyde may be the most talented player on the 49ers offense, which isn’t saying much. Kelly could make the offense great, but he needs better players to make it happen.
Seattle Seahawks – Is Thomas Rawls the new Marshawn Lynch?
Thomas Rawls is the new starting running back for the Seahawks. In five of six games where he had at least 16 touches, he had at least 100 yards and/or a touchdown. Assuming a clean bill of health, Rawls will likely be a focus for the Seahawks on offense like Lynch was.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Will Mike Evans’ Touchdown Number Improve in 2016?
Mike Evans improved his receptions and receiving yard totals in 2015, but his touchdown production was a quarter of what it was in 2014. Evans is 6’5” and weighs 230 pounds, so he will use his size to get back to double-digit touchdown numbers.
Tennessee Titans – Is there a Wide Receiver to Own on the Titans?
Marcus Mariota has said that he will hand the ball off 40 times a game if it means the Titans win the game. This is very telling that the Titans want to run the ball a lot. I’ll be focusing on the wide receivers in pre-season to see if any are worth a spot on my team.
Washington Redskins – Does Jordan Reed become Rob Gronkowski?
Jordan Reed had 87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. Rob Gronkowski had 72 receptions for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed played one less game than Gronk. I’ll be paying attention to his health during the pre-season.
Each team has a lot of storylines heading into the season, but these 32 storylines are important to pay attention to because it could be the difference in your team winning your championship or crashing and burning.
Pay attention and good luck this season!