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Things I Learned in Fantasy Football: The 2016 season

Takeaways from the 2016 fantasy football season as told by the tweets of the Fantasy Stronghold.

There are plenty of ways in which fantasy football and real football differ. But there are also plenty of similarities. Much like with building an actual NFL team, it takes a combination of solid drafting, savvy waiver-wire picks and shrewd trades to create a contender. Just like an NFL squad, it takes contributions from multiple players to be successful. Conversely, one clown doesn't stop a circus and one NFL player's bad day wasn't the difference between you winning or losing a championship. While Alex is correct that fantasy football is a game, it's important to realize that all of your scheming and game planning is ultimately futile and we will all be returned to the dust from whence humanity originally emerged. See you in 2017!

One of the biggest arguments of the offseason will be about who should go No. 1 overall next season. Right now the argument is between David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. While all three should be excellent first-round options next year, I feel like the race for the top spot is really between Johnson and Bell for the reasons Franchise outlined. Both of those backs are legitimate threats to line up and make plays from the receiver position. That's not a claim Elliott can't make yet. It was telling that when the Cowboys were in obvious passing situations or needing to move the ball downfield quickly late in games, Lance Dunbar saw extra snaps. That could certainly change but until there's proof of the Cowboys integrating Elliott further into their passing game, Elliott will be a step behind those other elite backs.

Another topic that's likely to be discussed to death this summer will be the validity of the Zero RB Theory (again). Matt Harmon had some interesting thoughts on wide receiver usage to go along with the tweet you see above. It's worth reading but the tl;dr version is that teams aren't throwing the ball any less, they're just throwing it to their running backs more. David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are the prime examples of that, but 11 different running backs overall caught 50 or more passes. (For context, Marvin Jones had 55 receptions this season.) Because few things remain static in the NFL, there's no guarantee that this will continue into the 2017 season but it will put a continued emphasis on backs who can play a hybrid role in their respective offenses.

Running backs might be catching more passes, but there's still something to be said for No. 1 receivers in concentrated offenses. With a few exceptions, the top 10 fantasy receivers line up pretty evenly with the most targeted wideouts in the league. The caveat here is that not all passing games are the same. I know that goes without saying, but the deeper explanation is that just because a player like Evans or T.Y. Hilton absorbs an obscene amount of targets one year doesn't mean that it will always be that way. Teams ideally would prefer to have a number of quality pass-catchers to whom they can spread the ball, making them harder to defend. It's the reason Julio Jones averaged about three fewer targets per game this year compared to last. Everyone would like to be the Saints. This part of fantasy is about identifying the teams who aren't.

This one's a little personal for me as I've been driving the Hunter Henry bandwagon since early in the season. It's rare that rookie tight ends find any level of fantasy success, but Henry was an impact player for the Chargers and finished as the TE11, just one point behind Antonio Gates. The veteran still has another season on his deal and while he's expressed an interest in playing another season (presumably to break Tony Gonzalez's record for touchdowns by a tight end), there's no guarantee it will be with the Chargers. That would open up a spot for Henry to grab a larger role in an offense that is rife with playmakers. With such a drastic fantasy need for more tight ends, I'd kindly like to request we give the kid a shot in 2017.


  • Between Weeks 11 and 17, Aaron Rodgers tallied 30.9 more standard scoring fantasy points than the next closest quarterback (Tom Brady).
  • Davante Adams had nine double-digit fantasy games in 2016. He had one in all of 2015.
  • Your top scoring fantasy playoff tight end? Charles Clay with 44.9 points while notching 39 percent of his season yardage total and scoring all of his touchdowns.
  • Over the final four weeks of the season, J.J. Nelson led the Cardinals in targets, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
  • Christine Michael finished the season as the Seahawks rushing leader with 469 yards. He was released by the team after Week 10.
  • Colin Kaepernick rushed for 113 yards in the Week 12 game against the Dolphins. He rushed for 95 yards the rest of the season.
  • The Chiefs D/ST scored 35 fantasy points in Week 3. The Browns D/ST scored 49 fantasy points all season.

And one for the road...

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for His snapchat (marcasg9) is a mixture of fantasy football and shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter, too.

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