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When fantasy football drafts open up, the first names to fly off the board are going to be star players like Antonio Brown, Adrian Peterson, and Aaron Rodgers. After these blue-chip players are taken, it’s time to take fliers on some up and coming players that have yet to really break out and find major success in the NFL. These are some players that could potentially provide big returns in the 2016 NFL season.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings QB
Teddy’s numbers last year weren’t eye-popping by any accounts (3231 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT), but don’t let that scare you away in the middle rounds. The Vikings have added LaQuon Treadwell to an up-and-coming receiver group that includes 2015 breakout Stefon Diggs, as well as underrated players like Charles Johnson and Adam Thielen. Despite Adrian Peterson’s continued dominance, I wouldn’t expect him to get as many carries this year, leaving more work for Bridgewater.
Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans QB
I would be intrigued with anyone who spent four years learning from Peyton Manning. Osweiler’s limited game action last year with the Broncos was uneven, but he proved that the moment was never too big for him. In Houston, he will be in command of an improved running game and a talented receiving group that includes All-Pro Deandre Hopkins and new additions Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. At the very least, Osweiler should be a substantial improvement over anyone in the Texans’ QB room last year, and is a candidate to throw for 4,000 yards.
Lamar Miller, Houston Texans RB
Another newly-acquired Texans player makes the list. The former 4th-round pick by the Miami Dolphins has toiled away in relative obscurity for a few years, but will now be the featured option in Houston. Miller has put up 1,972 rushing yards in the past two seasons and gets to run behind the likes of Duane Brown and Xavier Su’a-Filo. Look for him to get 250-300 carries and blow past his previous career high of 1,099 rushing yards.
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins RB
The Redskins’ second-year back managed to wrestle a lot of carries away from incumbent Alfred Morris last year, and figures to be the featured back in 2016. He showed great potential in limited snaps as a one-cut back, and has a hard-nosed running style that works well in the league.
Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears RB
The Bears just said goodbye to their second-best running back in franchise history, Matt Forte. Last year, they drafted a back that has a very similar skill set in Jeremy Langford. The runner from Michigan State can run, catch, block, and return, and is one of the faster backs in the entire NFL. He utilized his skills to rack up 816 all-purpose yards in 2015 and is expected to get the most touches out of any back in Chicago this fall.
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers WR
Funchess came on strong in the second half of last season and looks to be one of Cam Newton’s best options this coming year. The big, tall product out of Michigan plays more like a tight end lined up wide than a traditional receiver and is a weapon in jump ball situation and in the red zone. Look for him to soak up more snaps as Ted Ginn and Greg Olsen climb up there in age.
Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins WR
The second-year receiver out of Duke caught 59 passes in his rookie season for the Redskins, and yet most people still haven’t heard his name before. Crowder proved to be a safety-valve option for Kirk Cousins, repeatedly converting in third-and-medium situations and posting very few drops. Even with the addition of Josh Doctson, I would still expect Crowder to continue to find success in the Redskins’ wide receiver corps. He looks like another Wes Welker out there on the field..
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