For the next eight months, we can’t be wrong. It’s a beautiful feeling.
Real fantasy football decisions won’t come until September, meaning we’ll argue about all sorts of things related to the future. The best place to argue is at the top.
Obviously, quarterbacks are out of the discussion as they have been for years. Note that eight of fantasy’s top-12 point-per-game QBs went after the ninth round this season. As for running backs, there’s going to be a lot of “never again” people converting to the zero-RB religion. The bust rate at the position was an outlier this year and running backs are still very viable at the top, but we do need to be careful with two-down power backs — even studs like Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley.
On to the outrageously early 2016 top-10:
1. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT
Ben Roethlisberger played in 12 games this season. In those, Brown had a 16-game pace of 158 catches for 2,132 yards and 13 touchdowns. The NFL records are 143 catches and 1,964 yards. He’ll be just 28 years old next season.
2. Julio Jones, WR, ATL
Matt Ryan was not good, ranking 13th in YPA and 20th in passer rating as he struggled through the first year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Julio still had a historic season with nine 100-yard games and 136 catches (tied with Brown for second-most ever). The 26-year-old Jones has missed one game in the last two years.
3. Odell Beckham, WR, NYG
Through two NFL seasons, Beckham is averaging 6.9 catches for 102.0 yards and 0.92 touchdowns. There’s little reason to think he can’t sustain that, especially with the Giants’ inept defense showing no signs of immediate improvement.
RELATED LINK: NFL year-end power rankings
4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
Even with Brian Hoyer likely back as the Texans’ starter, Hopkins is a safe pick due to volume. Bill O’Brien’s team ranked third in seconds between plays and first in plays per game. Hopkins averaged an immense 12.0 targets per game.
5. Le’Veon Bell, RB, PIT
Two knee surgeries in the last two years is a concern, but at least the ACL is intact. Bell is the rare elite talent in top-tier offense that dominates in both the pass game and at the goal-line.
6. Allen Robinson, WR, JAX
Blake Bortles’ sophomore season numbers were Favre-esque. Another leap into his third year means there’s room for A-Rob to build on his 80-1,400-14 breakout.
7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
It didn’t feel like Gronk had a very good year, but he still went over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns for the second straight season. A better play in touchdown-heavy formats.
8. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL
Dez broke his foot in Week 1 and Tony Romo played in four games all year. Throw it out. In the previous three seasons, the 27-year-old Bryant never had less than 88 catches, 1,233 yards or 12 touchdowns.
9. David Johnson, RB, ARZ
Similar to Le’Veon, Johnson is uniquely gifted in the pass game and has been the Cardinals’ preferred option at the goal-line. They’ve also made him an every-down player in the most critical of situations.
10. A.J. Green, WR, CIN
Five seasons in the NFL, five 1,000-yard seasons. Also only missed four games during that span and averaged 0.59 TDs per game. Safe as they come.
NBA pickups of the week
- Jeff Withey, C, Jazz – Derrick Favors (back) can’t seem to get right and Rudy Gobert (knee) remains sidelined.
- Kelly Olynyk, C, Celtics – Brad Stevens is tinkering with his starting five. Olynyk brings the rare combo of 3s and blocks.
- Larry Nance Jr., PF, Lakers – The lack of blocks caps the ceiling, but the No. 27 overall pick is already rebounding at an elite level.
Victor Oladipo did fine in a bench role, averaging similar numbers to what he did as a starter despite getting six less minutes per game. Now things are trending back up. Coach Scott Skiles is talking about keeping Oladipo in the starting five even when Elfrid Payton (ankle) returns. If that’s in a point guard role or includes some point guard duties, Oladipo will flourish.