Yeah, I know, the 2015 fantasy football season isn’t even over yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what the next season might bring. There’s been a lot of injuries and underperforming players that have greatly impacted the landscape of future fantasy football drafts. Here, in no particular order, are our top question marks for your next fantasy football season.
1. Can we trust any first round running backs?
If you weren’t already a champion of the zero-RB strategy, the way this season has played out, you’re probably well on your way to becoming one.
Currently, in a .5 PPR fantasy league, Adrian Peterson is the only running back that was drafted inside the top 10 that has at least returned their value. LeSean McCoy also ranks inside the top 10, but he wasn’t being universally drafted as a top 10 pick.
No matter how safe the pick seems, running backs are an injury or a fumble away from losing their job. Sure, Eddie Lacy may has reclaimed his starting job, but what about the first nine weeks of the season when it was absolutely unbearable to own him.
It’s going to be real interesting to see how the first round of drafts play out in 2016.
2. What is going to happen to Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch?
I just made a point to say how hard it is going to be drafting a running back in the first round in 2016, but what if Thomas Rawls or Jeremy Langford are handed starting jobs in 2016? Unfortunately, I could probably be swayed.
Forte is currently an unrestricted free agent and Jeremy Langford has given the Bears every reason not to lock him up this offseason. Forte will turn 30 years-old on December 10, and coming off a slight knee injury, it looks like he could be breaking down.
Forte has had a great career, but Langford is a younger, more explosive version a Forte. Considering how well Langford played in his three-game stint as the starter, he is going to be high on a lot of fantasy radars.
I’m not a salary cap genius, but if the Seahawks could save any money by cutting Marshawn Lynch they should probably do it. Like Forte, Lynch will be 30 years-old in 2016, and he has a budding superstar behind him.
Somehow, despite only have five games with over six touches, Thomas Rawls is 10th in the NFL in rushing with 685 yards. He’s good.
I have no idea if the Seahawks could legitimately consider cutting Lynch, but Rawls have given them every reason to.
In 2016, if both Rawls and Langford lock up a starting job, they could easily find themselves as top 15 picks.
3. A Peyton Manning-less NFL?
Unfortunately in 2015, if you drafted Peyton Manning, he’s likely done more harm than good to your fantasy team. At 39 years-old, he’s thrown 17 interceptions and only nine touchdowns while completing just 59 percent of his passes. Not good.
There have been some reports about him retiring and also some reports about him returning in 2016, who knows. But what we do know is, if he returns, don’t even think about drafting him.
If he does call it quits, it opens the door for Brock Osweiler, who has at least looked like a competent quarterback in his two starts.
If Manning somehow returns to the Broncos in 2016, and the Broncos name him the starter by default, it will look pretty bad on the coaches part. With Osweiler, the running game has been improved by miles and he has the arm to throw the ball more than 15 yards down the field.
It will be interesting partaking in a fantasy draft without Peyton Manning being available, but it’s something that needs to happen.
4. Rookie Quarterbacks?
Both have flashed elite talent and playmaking skills and anyone that waited on quarterbacks in their draft was very much rewarded. So, what about the quarterbacks in the upcoming class?
As it stands, like the 2015 class, there are two names atop the draft class. Those quarterbacks being Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch.
Goff was the runaway number one quarterback in this class, but he’s struggled quite a bit compared to his 2014 campaign. I’m no scout, but his interceptions are up, and the consensus from what I’ve read is that he hasn’t exactly progressed as much as some had hoped. Still, he’s likely going to be the number one quarterback selected, I think?
Then there’s the very big, 6’7″, Paxton Lynch. While Goff has thrown 13 interceptions, Lynch has only thrown three and has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes.
The key with whether or not these two can be as good as Mariota or Winston is entirely dependant upon where they wind up and who is coaching them. It’s likely they could end up on the Browns or 49ers, and that isn’t necessarily good for their fantasy prospects.
It’s too early to tell, but right now, it’s hard to imagine either have the fantasy success of this year’s studs.
5. Familiar faces in different places?
As always, free agency and roster cuts play a big role in fantasy. There are quite a few interesting impending free agents and players that could be cut in 2016.
Here a few potential free agents:
- Sam Bradford
- Matt Forte
- Chris Ivory
- Lamar Miller
- Ronnie Hillman
- Doug Martin
- Alshon Jeffery
- Marvin Jones
- Michael Crabtree
Each of these players on the list, including potential cuts like Colin Kaepernick, could find themselves on new rosters. Depending on where they say, some might gain fantasy value but most likely plenty will also lose value.
*BONUS* 6. A Blaine Gabbert resurgence?
It’s likely the 49ers end up with a top five pick, but wow, how great would it be if Blaine Gabbert continues his improvement and forces the team to reconsider drafting a quarterback in the first round.
Maybe Gabbert performs so well that the team spends the offseason surrounding their new starting quarterback with some fancy new weapons. We can hope.