Who’s Trending? A Micro Look At Who’s Up/Down In 2016

Photo courtesy of hngn.com

By Shawn Hakimi

In this article we examine some of the most common names at each position group, how they faired with respect to their points per game (PPG) in 2015 and whether that number is likely to increase or decrease in 2016. The statistics used to calculate these averages are under a microscope however, based on games after which a player came to fantasy relevance (i.e. Thomas Rawls), before a player got hurt (i.e. Julian Edelman) or after coming back from an injury and subsequently losing them again (i.e. Arian Foster). Thus, these numbers exclude injuries and suspensions and are based purely on output when they are on the field. Barring injury or suspension, this will indicate who the highest scoring players, on average, will be heading into 2016.

Quarterback

Player PPG Trending

Cam Newton 23.3 Up
Tom Brady 20.9 Up
Russell Wilson 20.1 Neutral
Blake Bortles 18.9 Down
Carson Palmer 18.7 Neutral
Drew Breese 18.7 Up
Aaron Rodgers 17.8 Up
Kirk Cousins 17.7 Neutral
Matthew Stafford 17.5 Down
Eli Manning 17.3 Up

All 10 quarterbacks played every game for their teams, with their numbers holding true through and through. The likes of Brady, Rodgers, and Manning are likely have an increase in their PPG in 2016. Brady will be on mission come week 5 and in my experience watching him over the last 15 years, no leads is big enough in brads mind. He’ll be darting. For Manning, the presence of a competent wideout such as Sterling Shepard will free up Beckham Jr. and the passing offense as a whole. Jordy Nelson’s return is going to do wonders for Rodgers, who has also taken a page out of the book of Tom Brady: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/16002518/aaron-rodgers-green-bay-packers-cuts-dairy-diet

As for Stafford, it is only natural for your statistics to plummet after your team loses a player coined “Megatron”. It’s okay, Matthew. Everybody hurts, sometimes. The other quarterback who I see scoring less than their average is Blake Bortles. Bortles scored a lot of his points in garbage time last year but with an improved defense and overall improving team, those fantasy opportunities will diminish slightly in 2016.

Running Back

Player PPG Trending

Jamaal Charles 17 Down
Thomas Rawls 17 Neutral
Arian Foster 16.7 Down
Devonta Freeman 16.1 Down
Le’Veon Bell 15.6 Up
Todd Gurley 14.6 Up
David Johnson 14 Up
Adrian Peterson 13.5 Up
Dion Lewis 12.3 Neutral
Lamar Miller 10.8 Up

Half of this list missed an extended period of time last season but with the exception of Foster, every running back on this list is projected as the majority ball carrier for their team. Players trending up, either as a result of increased playing time or improved system include the likes of David Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Lamar Miller and Le’Veon Bell. Johnson solidified himself as a workhorse back to close the season. Bruce Arians thinks highly of the 2nd year back and will lean on him plenty. Peterson now has a new best friend in Laquon Treadwell to take the top off the defense and give him some space to run. Gurley is perhaps the most talented and ready to break loose of the bunch; sky being the limit with this one. Lamar Miller has a chance at career year with the Texans offense, you’ve been notified: don’t pass on him in the 2nd round.

Trending down are obviously Foster and Charles. When healthy these two guys are studs but Charles is coming off a major injury and potentially looking at a committee in KC, while Foster is an unknown in his new system. Both have good potential but hard to see them keeping pace with 17 PPG. Freeman on the other hand will have a tough time repeating the monster numbers he put up early in the season. The workload was too much and their passing attack will syphon some of those points away.

Wide Receiver

Player PPG Trending

Antonio Brown 15.1 Up
Julio Jones 14.4 Up
Odell Beckham Jr. 14.4 Up
Brandon Marshall 13.9 Down
Allen Robinson 13.6 Neutral
DeAndre Hopkins 13.1 Up
Doug Baldwin 11.5 Up
Julian Edelman 11.3 Up
AJ Green 11.1 Up
Brandin Cooks 10.1 Up

The only player to miss any time at all last year was Julian Edelman and I believe he will bounce back strong with a potent offense. The absence of Tom Brady will likely benefit Edelman the most, serving as Garoppolo’s check safety blanket in when if he feels pressure. The Receivers I see most trending up are Antonio Brown (hard to believe), DeAndre Hopkins and AJ green. Antonio missed his field partner -Roethlisberger- for 4 games last year and it really affected his numbers. Perhaps with a healthy #7 all year long, Brown will outdo himself. Nuk on the other hand finally has a decent QB throwing him the ball, and with a little repetition these two will catch fire.

Trending in the opposite direction is really only one guy on this list and that is because he cannot seem have his quarterback in camp. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s lengthy contract dispute with the jets seems to be at a legitimate stalemate where nothing may get accomplished. No Fitzpatrick will not be good Marshall.

Tight End

Player PPG Trending

Rob Gronkowski 11.7 Neutral
Jordan Reed 10.7 Up
Gary Barnidge 10.3 Up
Greg Olsen 9 Down
Delanie Walker 9.5 Up
Tyler Eifert 9.6 Down
Travis Kelce 6.8 Neutral
Benjamin Watson 6.8 Down
Zach Ertz 5.9 Up
Richard Rodgers 5.8 Down

No one on this list missed a significant amount of time in 2015. There were still some games missed yet the numbers hold true to the players’ general output. The players who are notably trending in the right direction are Barnidge, Walker and Ertz. Barnidge is the main man in the Browns passing offense as well as their biggest redzone threat. Walker on the other hand will enjoy more snaps with the departure of Coby Fleener. Zach Ertz is also on my radar of breakout out players. He accumulated over 300 receiving yards to end the year and really came into his own.

The guys trending down are Olsen and Rodgers as a result of the return of their stud receivers, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson. Gronkowski does not get a mention here because its uncertain whether he will have more or less opportunity with Martellus Bennett in the mix now. To be determined…