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Analyzing No. 20-11 in NFL Fantasy LIVE's top 50


NFL Fantasy LIVE is running a five-part series this week called "NFL Fantasy LIVE: Top 50 Players of 2016," airing each night on NFL Network at 8:00 p.m. ET. So far the show has revealed numbers 50 through 11, with the latest 10 players being discussed on Thursday night. The list was compiled using the aggregate ranking from our esteemed panel of analysts. So it's not just one person's rankings -- it's the best picture as to how our collective group of football diehards views the fantasy landscape in 2016. Good stuff, right?

Each night I'll provide a reaction and analysis piece on the latest 10 players to be unveiled. Below, you'll find the list of players, followed by my analysis of each position. Let's get to it!

20. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
18. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
17. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
15. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
14. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
12. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
11. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Sammy Watkins lands in the top 20 largely because of his torrid finish to the 2015 campaign. Over the final nine games, he averaged nearly nine targets and 100 yards per game while scoring seven times. If he's fully healthy and receives similar volume, Watkins could easily finish as WR1 in 2016. However, drafting him will be a bit of a guessing game until we know more about his injury. He posted a video of himself recently running in a straight line (a good sign), but he is nowhere close to cutting or running routes. His status will need to be monitored closely once training camp opens up and draft boards will need to be adjusted accordingly.

When healthy last year, Alshon Jeffery was a fantasy force. He averaged 12 targets per game when he played at least 75 percent of the snaps. Unfortunately, there were far too many games that Jeffery missed, leaving his owners wanting on Sundays. Fully healed and playing for a new contract, Jeffery looks poised for a return to the WR1 tier. A healthy Kevin White could take some attention away from Jeffery, too, but don't expect the second-year wideout to steal too many targets. Jeffery is Jay Cutler's favorite and most trusted target, and that doesn't figure to change in 2016.

Since 2011, Jordy Nelson averages five receptions, 81.6 yards, and .75 touchdowns per game when both he and Aaron Rodgers are on the field. He and Rodgers are one of the most prolific touchdown scoring combos in the NFL, and there's no reason that should change in 2016. Yes, Nelson is in his early 30s now and coming off major surgery, but he's an elite player in an elite offense. He's a no-brainer second-round pick in both standard and PPR formats this fall.

Doug Martin was one of the best values in fantasy football last year, as he finished as the RB3 in standard formats but was drafted in the middle rounds of most leagues. He averaged 18 carries per game as the feature back in Tampa Bay and registered a career-best 4.9 yards per rush on his way to over 1,600 all-purpose yards, scoring 13.1 fantasy points per game. Now, it's not all sunshine and roses for Martin. He hasn't been a paragon of health so far in his career, and word on the street in Tampa is Charles Sims could be in line for more carries this season. These aren't reason enough to pass on Martin in Round 2, but they're worth keeping in mind before selecting him.

A.J. Green is way too low on this list. Perhaps some of our analysts didn't appropriately weigh the recent changes to the Bengals offense when deciding where to slot Green. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones left behind 152 targets when they departed Cincy during free agency, and the combo of Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd won't inherit all of them. It's much more likely that a sizeable chunk of that returns to Green and pushes him back into the 160-180 target range he hit during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Tyler Eifert will also be out for at least a few weeks to start the season, leaving Green and Giovani Bernard as the primary receiving threats. The former Bulldog should feast in fantasy this fall.

Devonta Freeman won plenty of people fantasy championships last year (or at least took them to the postseason). Once Tevin Coleman went down with an injury, Freeman became the man and set the world on fire, scoring 10 touchdowns in a five-game span and averaging 22.5 touches per game. That heavy of a workload seemed to slow him down late in the year, though, as he averaged just 2.98 yards per carry over the final five weeks. Word out of Atlanta before training camp is that the staff hopes to lessen Freeman's workload this year so he can remain more effective late. This isn't a death blow to his fantasy value, but it certainly knocks him down a few pegs. Had this information been available when we initially compiled our rankings, Freeman would likely be at least one whole tier lower in this show.

Kudos to all who foresaw the Allen Robinson breakout campaign (especially our colleague Matt Harmon), as he rewarded fantasy fans with a remarkable 1,400-yard, 14 touchdown season. Regression is sure to hit the Jacksonville offense, but Robinson is still a safe bet to push for WR1 numbers for the second straight year. The Penn State product saw 21 targets in the red zone last year, but 18 of them came from within 10 yards, per Rich Hribar of Rotoworld. With Jacksonville signing Chris Ivory, it seems they're hoping to improve their rushing ability near the goal line. Last year the combination of Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, and T.J. Yeldon turned 44 red zone rushes into just 107 yards (2.4 YPC) and two touchdowns. Now, even if Robinson loses a few red zone looks, he is the No. 1 receiver in an ascending offense. As long as you don't anticipate another 1,400 and 14 from A-Rob, you'll be more than happy with what he does in 2016.

Stream the Amazon Original Series "All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals" on Prime Video.

Personally, I feel Lamar Miller needs to be higher on this list. Last year Miller averaged just shy of 16 fantasy points per game when he received 15-plus touches, but just 7.14 FPPG when receiving fewer than 15 touches. His new head coach, Bill O'Brien (who just paid $26 million for his new running back's services), has given his lead back 15-plus touches in 26 of his 32 games as the Texans coach -- a number that would almost certainly be higher had Arian Foster not been injured so often. Miller looks set to inherit a massive workload in a young offense on the rise that should perfectly suit his talents. The sky is the limit for Miller in 2016.

Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending ACL tear in Week 5 last year, but nearly 35 percent of the offense (rushes and passing targets) went to Charles before his injury. Yes, the team re-signed both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware this offseason, who filled in admirably for Charles last year, but neither contract was very large and neither player is close to Charles' caliber. Looking back to 2012, the last time Charles was returning from an early-season ACL tear, the team still ran over 34 percent of the offense through him. Even if his workload decreases a bit, he averages 16.03 touches per game over his career and has never finished worse than the RB12 in his full (or close to full) seasons.

Dez Bryant suffered a broken foot in Week 1 of the 2015 season and was never himself the rest of the year. And let's not even mention that he was attempting to catch passes from players like Kellen Moore late in the year. But the good news for 2016 is Dez is back to full strength and gets a healthy Tony Romo as well. From 2012 to 2014, Bryant averaged 91 catches, 1,311 yards and 13.7 touchdowns per year (209.1 fantasy points in standard leagues). There's really nothing else to say about Dez -- he's a WR1. If you're too scared to draft him because Romo "might get hurt," well, then enjoy drafting in fear and missing out on an elite player.

So there you have it. I've given my two cents on the latest entrants on the "NFL Fantasy LIVE: Top 50 Players of 2016" countdown. Check back tomorrow for my reaction to the final 10 players ... after you watch the show on NFL Network at 8:00 p.m. ET. You can find each night's piece at

Until next time ...

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar