For many, the countless late nights filled with who to draft have been going on for months. Trying to decide who deserves the honor of being on your fantasy team for the next 5 months takes a lot of hard work and and strategy. Even with all the projections, analysis, and rankings available for you it is still easy to feel lost when it comes to who to draft. Here I will break down who I believe will be the best player or “fantasy stud” for each NFL team in order to make your draft day a little less stressful.

AFC EAST

BUFFALO BILLS

Key Player: Tyrod Taylor. Fresh off a new contract extension the Bills QB looks to make 2016 a career year. He is a polished passer who has the ability to throw the deep ball well and can also stretch the field as he ran for almost 600 yards last year. With the talent he has around him on offense, this dual-threat QB could easily end the season in the Top 5.
Other Notable Players: LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Key Player: Jarvis Landry. Many forget just how good this former teammate of OBJ is. Landry received 165 targets in 2015 and will likely get a similar number of passes thrown his way this year. Even with a change in the offensive system, Landry’s ability to line up all over the field makes him a solid fantasy receiver. His opportunities to return kickoffs and punts is an added bonus for owners as well.
Other Notable Players: Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi, DeVante Parker

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Key Player: Rob Gronkowski. Yes the Pats are loaded on offense, but I should not have to explain myself here. Gronk is a beast and is clearly the number one Tight End in all of football. He will be targeted heavily the first four weeks without Brady, and targeted even more after. This man is just perfect. He even has a 99 overall rating in Madden 17, if that does not make you want to draft him I’m not sure what will.
Other Notable Players: Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, James White, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan

NEW YORK JETS

Key Player: Brandon Marshall. Although it was not wise of him to make a bet Antonio Brown he would finish the season with more yards, Marshall can still have a great season. He got his friend “Fitzmagic” back after a long offseason of negotiating which made Jets fans everywhere rejoice. He may be 32 years old now, but Marshall and his big mouth can still put up big numbers in 2016 making him a safe pick from the receiver position. Coming off a season in which he could 109 passes for 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns look for the veteran player to put up similar numbers this year as a WR1 for you fantasy team.
Other Notable Players: Matt Forte, Eric Decker, Bilal Powell

AFC NORTH

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Key Player: A.J. Green. Consistently one of the most underrated players in fantasy football. Green finished off 2015 with another 1,000 yard, 10 touchdown season. In his 5 years in the NFL Green has never had a season in which he finished with less than 1,000 yards. His only achilles heal would be that the touchdowns aren’t always there. Nevertheless, Green is a Top 5 receiver who has a great connection with his QB. He may not be as flashy as Odell or Brown, but Green is definitely in the same tier as them.
Other Notable Players: Andy Dalton, Giovanni Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Tyler Eifert

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Key Player: Corey Coleman. The rookie receiver from Baylor has not played a regular season snap for the Browns and yet I still believe he is the most important fantasy player in Cleveland for 2016. One of the most dominant players in college football last year, Coleman will be a rejuvenated RGIII’s main target until Josh Gordon returns from suspension. Even after the return of Gordon, Coleman can still be a solid option as a WR2 or FLEX for the entire season.
Other Notable Players: Robert Griffin III, Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pryor

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Key Player: Joe Flacco. Even if don’t believe that he is an elite QB last year showed us that he is the heart of the Raven offense. He gets back a Steve Smith that has happened to find the fountain of youth and has a few younger players who can hopefully step up. I’m not saying you should make it your goal to have Flacco be your starter, but he is a player you can find in the later rounds with some value.
Other Notable Players: Justin Forsett, Kamar Aiken

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Key Player: Antonio Brown. No debate here. LeVeon could have possibly given Brown a run for his money but with the suspension looming it is an obvious choice. Brown should be the number one overall pick in almost every draft and you don’t need stats to know that.
Other Notable Players: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, De’Angelo Williams, Markus Wheaton, Ladarius Green

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS

Key Player: DeAndre Hopkins. Without a true starter at QB last year, Hopkins still put up All-Pro numbers. If he put up 111 receptions, 1,500 yards, and 11 touchdowns with Brandon Weeden and TJ Yates at QB, imagine what he can do with Brock Osweiler. I’m not saying Brock is a Hall of Fame passer, but he is someone more consistent and if he is throwing Hopkins the ball 10-15 times a game, good things will happen.
Other Notable Players: Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Key Player: Andrew Luck. Just as fast as everyone jumped on the Luck bandwagon, many are quick to hop back off it. Yes, Luck’s 2015 campaign was very underwhelming and left many fantasy owners cruising out his name. However, I don’t think you can not draft him based solely on his efforts last season. The years prior Luck was an outstanding QB both in fantasy and in real life and if it were not for injuries in 2015, no one would even have to defend the idea that he is still the best fantasy player on the Colts. If Luck is truly healthy this year and can get back to his old ways, he has a strong group of receivers that can help make his 2016 season strong.
Other notable players: Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Key Player: Allen Robinson. Robinson took the fantasy world by storm in 2015 and became one of the first Jaguars you actually wanted on your team since Maurice Jones-Drew. Now reports have come in that Robinson has come to camp in better shape than last year. If he can improve on 80-1,400-14 season, you definitely want him on your team.
Other Notable Players: Allen Hurns, TJ Yeldon, Julius Thomas, Chris Ivory

TENNESSEE TITANS

Key Player: Derrick Henry. Yes I know the Titans also have former rushing champ Demarco Murray in the back field as well, but I think at the end of the season Henry is who you are going to want on your team. Although as of now we know Murray will most likely be the starter, we also know that does not mean he will end the season as the starter. Murray showed he could produce with the best O-Line in Dallas, but he didn’t fare so well in Philadelphia. If we have a repeat of last year, Henry and his smash- mouth running style could head the Titans backfield in no time.
Other Notable Players: Demarco Murray, Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews, Kendall Wright

AFC WEST

DENVER BRONCOS

Key Player: C.J Anderson. So bare with me here. I know most of you who drafted Anderson in the first round are
ready to exit this article, but really who else do the Broncos have? Their QB situation being a disaster is an understatement which means you can’t rely on any receivers to be locks. When a team can’t trust a QB to get the job done they hand the ball to the backfield. Thus, Anderson is the safest Bronco to draft based solely on touches.
Other Notable Players: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Devontae Booker

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Key Player: Jamal Charles. Charles is a tough decision for fantasy owners. If, and it is a big if, he is available for week one it is not set in stone that he will get the majority of touches. While he was out last year the Chiefs showed they have other backs who can get the job done (Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware). However if you are feeling risky, Charles is a player worth drafting because his speed, versatility, and catching make him a high risk high reward player for fantasy owners.
Other Key Players: Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Key Player: Derek Carr. This choice is a little personal. I actually picked Carr up off the waiver wire in one of my leagues last year and rode him all the way to the playoffs. I like what the Raiders are doing as both them and Carr are steadily improving every year. He threw 11 more touchdowns in his second year while keeping the interceptions low. Oakland has also surrounded Carr with a heap of talented offensive weapons. I expect Carr to finish this season as a Top 10 QB.
Other Notable Players: Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Clive Walford

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Key Player: Keenan Allen. Even with a season cut short by injuries Allen showed just how productive of a receiver he could be. Through 8 games Allen averaged about 9 receptions a game and had two games in which he racked up 10+ receptions and over 150 yards. He has a good connection with veteran Phillip Rivers and as long as he is healthy he could have a monster year in 2016. Allen is a Top 10 receiver easily and can be ranked even higher in PPR leagues.
Other Notable Players: Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead

By Ryan Homler
rfhomler@optonline.net

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