- Michael Fabiano NFL Media Senior Fantasy Analyst
Running from backs?
Well, my 18-year love affair with running backs is all but over. That doesn't mean I won't draft one if I have a top-three overall pick (Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson), but I won't be passing on wideouts like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. or DeAndre Hopkins to take a chance on a runner like David Johnson or Thomas Rawls (no matter how much I might like them). I've always tried to minimize risk, and taking elite wide receivers over all but those three runners is doing just that.
We do a lot of research all offseason, and fall in love with certain players whose talent or situation pops off of our computer screens. Based on this research, we often expect coaches to do the right thing and let these players shine. But that's not the case. They have more information than us (practices, meetings, etc), and are also going to do what they want, not what the fantasy community wants. Take Ameer Abdullah. He rocketed up fantasy draft boards after blowing up the NFL Scouting Combine and making ankle-breaking highlights in the preseason. The reasoning for his ascension was that his talent and athleticism would trump the team's commitment to veteran Joique Bell, but as we all learned, that was far from the case. There will always be Ameer Abdullahs in fantasy, and I'm not advocating we stop taking risks on talented players. But the lesson I've learned is to not trust coaches to make what seems like a rational decision to us on the outside. Had I accepted that truth earlier and taken what the Lions did on the field early on as a sign of what was to come, I could have moved on from Abdullah earlier than I did in most leagues.
- Marcas Grant NFL Media Fantasy Editor
Not all slot WRs are created equal
This was the year that we all fell in love with wide receivers. Quarterbacks were fairly interchangeable and running backs all seemed destined to break down. Wideouts offered stability. Or so we believed. But Randall Cobb let us down. Jordan Matthews underwhelmed. Jarvis Landry left us wanting more. That was when we realized that running a passing offense through a slot receiver, while not impossible, was less than optimal. Matt Harmon did an excellent job recently of breaking down the phenomenon. Watching players like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman succeed from the slot might have led us to believe that there was gold to be found in that position. We were reminded this season that it's not so easy. Before you go reaching for a wideout playing in the slot next year, it might be worth taking a look at the rest of the offense.
- Matt Harmon NFL Media Associate Fantasy Editor
Boldly go into the fantasy unknown
I feel like the NFL tries to teach me this every year, but 2015 taught me to be open to all possibilities, especially wildly optimistic ones. In the preseason while watching Dion Lewis earn snaps with the first-string Patriots offense, I became open to the possibility of him as a major factor. I started him in Week 1 and that optimism netted me an RB1 until he got hurt. There were countless other examples this season where a waiver wire running back or unknown had a big game, and ended up providing a stretch of usable weeks or more. I would much rather always be on the aggressively optimistic side to push myself into adding him before the pack gets on board. Of course, that will not always work. After Week 2 I also thought Donte Moncrief would sustain and finish the year as a top-20 receiver without question. Whoops. Nevertheless, if you followed that and added Moncrief, what did you lose? I'd much rather take the chance on the discovery expedition with the player on my roster than my opponent's. If it doesn't work out, you drop him and move on. You lose nothing. Yet, if you're right on the upside, you might just grab a league-winning piece for dirt cheap.