Every year we see players fall short of our expectations and perform poorly due to injuries or other circumstances. When this happens, it's easy for many fantasy owners to write those players off and shy away from them on draft day. Not so fast. These are players that you may be able to buy low(ish) on and get a great return. Here are five players who should have bounce back years in the 2016 NFL season.
When Tony Horton of P90x fame gets called in to try and help bring you back into shape, you know things are serious. "My guess is that he lost between 15 and 20 pounds," Horton told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I knew that he had a belly when he started and he didn't have one when he left. And he had much bigger arms, he had much better endurance, his agility had improved tenfold."
Rumors have speculated about how much weight Lacy has lost after a disastrous season last year in which he produced a career low in attempts, yards, scores, and receptions. Coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't provide much more in the way of positive details when he suggested that "Eddie's like a lot of our team right now. We've got a lot of work to do."
Early looks at Lacy show him 10-20 pounds lighter than last year. He's got talent and he's got Jordy Nelson back - a fact that we shouldn't overlook. Nelson keeps defenses honest by stretching the field. He opens up the field for both guys like Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy. Add that to the fact that the Packers have improved their line and they have an elite QB under center. The factors are all there for Lacy to have a nice bounce back from last season.
Lacy is currently ranked 10th among all running backs on Fantasy Football Nerd in standard scoring and 12th in PPR formats.
After an amazing 2014 season where he threw for 40 scores, plenty of fantasy owners drafted Andrew Luck last year only to be disappointed with their pick. The ones who reached for him in their drafts felt the sting even worse. His 1,881 yards, 15 TDs, and 74.9 passer rating were the worst of his career. Even with an impressive receiving corp, his stats suffered alongside his injuries.
There are plenty of reasons to expect a bounce back from Luck this year. First, the Colts upgraded their offensive line with their first round pick Ryan Kelly at center and offensive linemen Joe Haeg and Le'Raven Clark. T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief are back, and veteran Frank Gore will return in the backfield.
Luck is currently ranked 3rd in the FFN rankings - just behind Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers.
Golden Tate played firmly in the shadow of Calvin Johnson, but when Megatron missed three games in 2014, Tate more than stepped up hauling in 24 catches for 349 yards in those games. With Johnson officially retiring, Tate becomes the #1 option in Detroit's pass-happy offense.
Where we really like Golden Tate is in PPR formats. Matthew Stafford has a great rapport with Tate and we anticipate his targets to increase.
Tate isn't so much a bounce back candidate like the other players listed here, but we like his outlook this season in relation to where he's being drafted. He's ranked 27th in standard formats and 19th in PPR. This means that you're likely to get a #1 WR as your WR3 - that's great upside.
Rivers was a 300-yard machine in the first half of last year. With WR stud Keenan Allen, Rivers reached the 300 yard mark 6 of the 8 games they played together including 503 passing yards against Green Bay in Week 6. Then Allen suffered a season-ending kidney injury and Rivers wasn't the same QB. He surpassed the magical 300-yard mark just once after that.
Allen is back and healthy. Rivers also has veteran and safety blanket Antonio Gates at his disposal. The Chargers went out and grabbed speedster Travis Benjamin from Cleveland and improved their offensive line with Matt Slauson and Max Tuerk. On top of all that, San Diego showed their confidence in Rivers last year by extending his contract. This is the Philip Rivers show and we expect a nice bounce back in his stats bringing him back to fantasy relevance this season.
If your draft plans call on waiting for a QB, Rivers can be targeted in the 7th or 8th rounds of most drafts. He's ranked 12th among all QB's on FFN meaning that he's likely to be someone's QB1 or a lucky fantasy owner's QB2. He could easily finish the year as a Top 10 QB.
After getting a big contract last year with the 49ers (5 years, $40 million), we expected Torrey Smith to make a big fantasy impact. His stats were severely disappointing - a career low in receptions, targets, yards, and endzone appearances. Much of the blame belongs on the shoulders of the coaching staff and the terrible play from QB Colin Kaepernick.
Things should bounce back nicely for Smith in a Chip Kelly offense. When Kelly ran the Philly offense, the Eagles led the league in most plays from scrimmage in 2014 and 2nd-most last season. As the unquestioned #1 wide receiver on the San Fran receiving corp, you'll find Smith ranked 48th among all WR's on FFN (43rd in PPR formats). That means he's being drafted as a WR4. There is some serious value at that spot, particularly if he bounces back the way we think he will.
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