SportsYour 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings of the Most (and Least) Fun Players To Own
It's not about winning or losing, it's about not drafting Eli Manning.
I have played (and lost) fantasy football for long enough now to view it as kind of obligatory side project that gets tacked onto every NFL season. This desultory approach to fantasy is mostly my fault, mind you. I don’t have the time or the effort or the ROWDY FRIENDS to have some live auction draft in Vegas featuring copious amounts of booze and perfectly crafted trash talk for every bad pick (“Nice pick, Gary… LOSER!”). And I’m not putting real money into these leagues because I’m not a moron. No, I’m usually sitting at a computer on some random Wednesday night before the season, eyebanging the autodraft rankings and randomly choosing guys who are a little bit further down just so it looks like I have a scouting eye of my own (I don’t). And then I spend the season losing and cursing.
But I still play, because there are always spare moments of joy to be had in fantasy football, and that’s because of the players, who sometimes take a week off from being injured and/or splitting carries with Chris Ivory to NOT suck. And in those rare moments, fantasy is a joy. You may think it’s sad that I find such rapture in seeing Todd Gurley rip off three touchdowns and then waving my dick at an opponent via Gchat. But, in my defense, it’s REALLY awesome.
So, with that in mind, I thought I would preview this coming fantasy season not by ranking players outright, but by subjecting them to a completely made-up Fun-To-Own Index, in which I pick out a handful of players it would be most enjoyable to roster. What makes one fantasy player more fun than another? Well, I’ll tell you:
- The ability to score a shitload of points in one week. Consistency is nice, but I think we all prefer a player who has the
potential to drop 40 points on some poor bastard’s head.
- Youth. I’d rather draft a rookie too high than ever draft some veteran asshole like Frank Gore. I know Frank Gore’s ceiling. It is not a high ceiling. I remember drafting Adrian Peterson his rookie year and oh, people. Ohhhhh, the orgasmic feeling that came from watching him tear the league apart. I remember it as vividly as my wedding day.
- Plays in a kickass offense. There is nothing worse than drafting some talented player and then watching him slog through an entire season with, say, Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. That’s a study in misery.
Is one of five players NOT suspended to begin this season. Have you seen the list of players out for the first few weeks? Holy shit. You shouldn’t even watch the NFL until October.
Is not Questionable every week. They actually got rid of the “Probable” listing on the injury report this year. And, because the NFL is insane, they actually said they would investigate teams that did not play players who were listed as such on the report last season. WHY DID THIS INJURED PLAYER NOT PLAY?! Anyway, this is why I avoid Jamaal Charles.
Is a generally likable player. You know that nice stuff I said about rookie-year Adrian Peterson up above? Go ahead and strike that for present-day Adrian Peterson.
Got all that? Okay, now…
The Top 12 Most Fun Players to Own in Fantasy Football
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Duh. I loathe the Patriots, but even I know that Gronk is a blast to own. Even when he’s hurt, I’m not mad at him because I know that he’ll do his best to rub tequila on his staph infection and get back out there as quickly as possible. When Gronk does play, he’s basically worth a guaranteed 20 deferred points. You might be behind by the end of Sunday afternoon, but then your opponent sees you have Gronk on Sunday Night, and they shit themselves accordingly. It’s a great feeling.
2. Antonio Brown, Steelers
I’m sorry but Antonio won’t be playing on your fantasy team this season. Even if you have the #1 pick, someone will find a way to trade up to the #0 pick and snatch him up before you get the chance. I tried buying him in daily fantasy last year and he was the price of a Van Gogh. That’s what happens when you get targeted 587 times a season. He’s fabulous.
3. Cam Newton, Panthers
There is something about owning a capable mobile quarterback that makes fantasy twice as fun. I remember owning Michael Vick in his heyday, and I remember owning RG3 his rookie season. Any time one of those guys threw for two touchdowns AND rushed for a hundred yards, I wanted to run nude around the block. Aaron Rodgers can get the same point total with his arm alone, and yet… I crave a variety of fantasy point revenue streams.
4. Zeke Elliott*, Cowboys
Zeke may already be stuck in timeshare with Alf Morris, but I am unconcerned because I have seen Alf Morris play. Zeke will leave him in a smoke cloud by the second quarter of Week 1. He’s the flashiest rookie of an otherwise underwhelming crop. I don’t trust Corey Coleman for shit.
(*Elliott is still facing potential assault charges that could be handed down as soon as this week, in which case you can go right ahead and transfer him to the Not-So-Fun pile.)
5. Odell Beckham, Giants
Provided he isn’t going out of his way to earhole opposing corners, Odell is the most exciting player in football. That’s what happens when you have to catch passes that Eli overthrows by ten yards.
6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
Bortles was the fourth highest-scoring QB in all of fantasy last year because the Jags spent the second half of every game attempting to furiously dig out of a 28-point hole. There’s nothing better than drafting a QB relatively low and then having him match, or even surpass, the production of a QB like Aaron Rodgers who usually goes higher in your draft. You feel like an ace commodities trader. I HAVE A HUNCH SOMETHING EXCITING IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE PORK BELLY MARKET THIS MORNING.
7. John Brown, Cardinals
You’re not gonna see a lot of running backs on this list because running back is an obligatory fantasy position that is stacked with players destined to let you down. Unless you luck out and nab Todd Gurley, you’re fucked. Lamar Miller is going to RUIN you. It’s ten times more enjoyable to draft someone like John Brown in the middle rounds and watch him catch a 50-yard TD every other game or so. I adore this man. He is very fast.
8. Jordan Reed, Washington
I feel miserable cheering on a Skins player but Reed gets all the end zone targets because Pierre Garcon is about as fast as a Cozy Coupe toy car, and DeSean Jackson is too busy running in figure eight-patterns to get open in the end zone. When Reed is healthy, he’s Lil Gronk. The Skins don’t deserve him.
9. Gary Barnidge, Browns
Scored nine touchdowns last season with Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel throwing him the ball. Like DeAndre Hopkins, he is magically QB-proof.
10. Mo Bohringer, Vikings
Rookie! German! Scrappy little white dude! The second little Momo here catches more passes in a game than Laquon Treadwell, I’m running to the waiver wire like I gotta throw water on a burning baby.
11. Amari Cooper, Raiders
I can't believe the Raiders have a wideout who can actually catch passes now and isn't just a failed sprinter.
12. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
You saw Romo go down in that preseason game, right? He’s not lasting a month. The whole world is waiting for the Coming Of Dak. I can feel it. By October, Dak Prescott will surpass Dak cured ham as my #1 Dak.
And now, your three LEAST fun fantasy players…
1. Eddie Lacy, Packers
When he isn't fat, he's injured. When he isn't injured, Mike McCarthy is giving him six carries a game anyway. The worst.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Scored nine touchdowns last season and yet you'll still be miserable when Brown and Michael Floyd score instead of him.
3. LeSean McCoy, Bills
I've owned Curtis Martin. Owning Curtis Martin was sheer misery. LeSean McCoy is slowly turning into fantasy Curtis Martin.
Drew Magary is a GQ correspondent and author, most recently of "The Hike."