by Hayden Gibson
6/5/2016
Fantasy Life Username: hgibson22

Email: hgibson_22@yahoo.com
Here I will give you a list of ten players outside of the top 10 at their position that I am really high on this year. These are in no specific order and are in no way rankings of these players.  Please note ESPN rankings will be used to determine where a player ranks.

Charles Sims (ESPN Rank: 44, My Rank 36)
Charles Sims is slowly becoming one of my favorite lower ranked running backs this year.  I loved him coming out of West Virginia.  He is entering his 3rd season and is coming off of a very solid season where he caught 50+ balls out of the backfield.  I think Sims will be a strong flex play in PPR leagues and has potential to provide that same value in standard leagues.  Dirk Koetter is the coach and Tampa Bay and he has a history of using a committee approach when it comes to running backs.  Most notably in Jacksonville with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.  If Sims continues producing like he was last year Koetter will keep him involved in the offense.  The popular opinion on Sims seems to be he is strictly a handcuff to Doug Martin.  I don’t see a guy that had 150 touches last year and should be in line to receive more work as a handcuff at all.  In fact if Doug Martin doesn’t fix his fumbling issue we won’t need a Doug Martin injury for this to be a Charles Sims led backfield.  I will be letting people spend a 2nd round pick on Martin while I wait until the mid to late rounds to take Sims who I think will provide more value based on the price you’re paying.

Duke Johnson (ESPN Rank: 29, My Rank: 26)
Duke Johnson will be a real sneaky draft pick this year.  He is a guy you should be able to get in the mid rounds and you’re not going to wow anyone when you draft him but he will provide solid running back depth and will possibly serve as a solid low-end RB2 in PPR leagues as 61 receptions is hard to ignore.  However, playing in all 16 games and having over 160 touches with only 2 touchdowns does not make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Plus the Cleveland offense isn’t very appealing from a fantasy stand point, but I am buying that we will likely not see Josh Gordon in a Brown’s uniform again and no Gordon will lead to Duke getting more opportunities in the passing game.  I think Johnson will be a very solid addition in PPR leagues.  He probably won’t be drafted as a top 20 RB but at the end of the season I would not be surprised to see him in the top 20. 

Allen Hurns (ESPN Rank: 35, My Rank: 28)
I will be the first to agree Allen Hurns was very touchdown dependent last year but I refuse to write him off.  He will likely not finish as a top 10 WR this year but I see him as a top 30 guy at the very least.  His production increased despite his opportunities remaining relatively the same compared to his rookie year.  His yards per catch increased nearly 3 yards resulting in his first 1,000 yard season.  The Jags are building a really nice offense and Bortles having a fantastic season last year is very encouraging.  The other Allen in Jacksonville is obviously a top 10 WR and will get his share but both WRs will have their peaks and valleys.  I think a similar year to 2015 is in order for Allen Hurns but maybe a slight regression in touchdowns.  This could lead to a top 20 finish.  So a young receiver coming off of an excellent season, that is being ranked in the 30-40 range, and has potential to crack the top 20?  That is the kind of receivers I love to target.

Isaiah Crowell (ESPN Rank: 48, My Rank 28)
Two Cleveland running backs on this list?  Crazy I know, but the hate on Crowell is just as crazy in my opinion.  In the staff rankings on ESPN Crowell is ranked 48th.  He is ranked around guys like Charcandrick West and Devonte Booker.  Guys that are not even starters that should be treated as handcuffs.  If the feeling is that Crowell is a handcuff then I 100% disagree.  Crowell was a talented running back on a terrible offense last year.  I think everything that has happened this offseason has been a plus for Crowell especially Hugh Jackson becoming the new coach.  Jackson will lean heavily on both Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell to make this team competitive.  I see Crowell getting early down and goal line work so if you are drafting him as the 48th running back then you my friend are getting a steal.    
 
 C.J. Anderson (ESPN Rank: 17, My Rank: 14)
I know owning him last year was an absolute headache but I am still buying the talent here.  The Broncos made a pretty big splash trading up to get Paxton Lynch in the draft.  I am still a believer that Gary Kubiak will lean heavily on the running game to protect his new QB.  I don’t think Bronco games will be very entertaining for those that want to see the scoreboard getting lit up.  I can see some old school smash mouth football played by the Broncos this year.  I will be very interested to see where he is going in drafts this August cause I think there can be some serious value to be found here.  When it comes to Booker possibly pushing C.J. for playing time I am not buying it.  I think the Bronco’s resigned Anderson to be their workhorse back.  Plus I just really like C.J. Anderson as a person after hearing some of his interviews. 

Steve Smith Sr. (ESPN Rank: 52, My Rank: 36)
Yes liking an old veteran coming off of a season ending injury isn’t the smartest move but Steve Smith is just a different animal.  The past 3 or 4 seasons I have wrote him off avoided him in drafts and he always seems to exceed expectations.  This year I’m sure he won’t crack the top 30 in pre-draft rankings but I bet he comes out and performs as a top 20 WR after the first four weeks of the season.  He should be available in the later rounds of your draft so if you look real thin at WR late in your draft pick him up and plug him in your lineup week one.  It will likely payoff.    

DeVante Parker (ESPN Rank: 28, My Rank: 25)
I wasn’t really sold on Parker last year but I think that had more to do with people saying he could be the “O’Dell Beckham” of the 2015 season.  Once the season started and all the hype died down is when I really started buying into him.  His rookie season was hampered by a bad foot but he did close out the season with a few impressive outings.  In fact from week 12 through week 17 he register the most snaps among receivers accumulating 354 with the next closest being Jarvis Landry with 316.  Landry still led the team in targets during that stretch but in order to be productive receivers have to be on the field so the snap count for Parker to end the season is very encouraging going forward.  I think Parker is the perfect WR for owners like me who draft RBs early and often mainly because I see consistent WR2 potential in Parker with WR1 upside.  I could see him moving up my ranks as we get closer to the season.

Jay Ajayi (ESPN Rank: 20, My Rank: 17)
Ajayi was another player I wasn’t very high on last year but it was never a knock on the player himself, but mainly the fact people were calling for him to win the starting job over Lamar Miller.  I still think Lamar Miller is a better player than Ajayi but with Miller gone to Houston this possibly opens up the door for Ajayi to take over.  I plan on doing an article focused on Jay Ajayi that will really dig into what I think of him so just to keep it short and sweet I really like Ajayi and he is a guy outside the top 10 RBs that I will be targeting in drafts assuming the value is right.  It will be important to keep an eye out on the Dolphins if they sign a capable veteran Ajayi’s value will take a hit. 

John Brown (ESPN Rank: 31, My Rank: 29)
I will be honest I might be a little partial to John Brown cause he has become one of my favorite players in the league.  I only owned him in one league last year but when I drafted him in the 9th or 10th round I was the proudest person in the room.  Anyway, Brown had somewhat a breakout season last year toping 1,000 yards and hauling in 7 touchdowns on 65 catches.  Keep in mind all of that production without playing in three games.  The Cards are going to have one of the best offenses in the league and you can see Palmer trust Brown enough to throw up 50/50 balls so I have a feeling Brown will show even more improvement in 2016.  Since he is one of my favorite players I will gladly pay the premium price to draft him this year.

Amari Cooper (ESPN Rank: 14, My Rank: 10)
I see the Raiders offense as a whole showing more improvement this year and Cooper will reap the benefits.  Currently ranked as the 14th WR on ESPN I think this might be a low especially with people like Alshon Jeffery and Sammy Watkins currently ranked ahead of him.  I could see Cooper having a breakout season similar to Allen Robinson’s 2015 season with more catches and maybe a few less touchdowns.  In most mock drafts I have done he is going in the early third round, but I would be comfortable taking him in the early second just to make sure I owned him.