Fantasy Football: Per-Snap Efficiency Leaders From 2016
A lot of people have guilty pleasure foods that they slip into their grocery carts when picking up the staples at the store. For some it’s chocolate, others love ice cream, and I know a few pastry aficionados, as well. As for me, I love gummy bears. The sugary sweetness of the tiny ursids dances in my head every time I’m hungry and strolling past Aisle 5.
Here’s the thing, though: treats like this are best in small doses. Overdo it in one sitting, or have them every day, and they stop being special.
One treat that never makes you sick is seeing fantasy football players score a ton of points on small snap counts. Sure, that sweet efficiency diminishes as they see more playing time, but they can be underappreciated delights long enough for you to toss them into your fantasy shopping carts for 2017. Whether you’re looking for cheap offseason dynasty stashes or players to grab at the end of your single-season drafts, these players deserve to be looked at as potential values -- ones who could see their playing time fill out next season.
So, which potential fantasy football sleepers were the most efficient on a per-snap basis in 2016?
|Robert Griffin III||CLE||302||0.220|
This is a really weird group of quarterbacks, headed by Miami Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore. Moore came on really well in his four games of relief of the injured Ryan Tannehill, ranking as the eighth-best fantasy quarterback on a per-snap basis. Had he played a full 16 games’ worth of snaps, Moore was on pace for 3,605 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Not a bad year.
Jimmy Garoppolo saw some starts for the New England Patriots in 2016, due to Tom Brady's suspension, but in 2017 he might be starting for a different NFL team. If he gets traded and earns a starting gig, Garoppolo could be a fantasy streaming option, as he ranked 23rd among quarterbacks in points per snap. A big thing to note: Garoppolo tossed no interceptions on his 67 drop backs, which is very comforting for teams worried about his experience.
The other compelling case here is the duel between Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler and Robert Griffin III, who were neck-and-neck in fantasy production on a per-snap basis. Griffin almost certainly won’t return as the starter in 2017, but Kessler may not either, given that the Browns are in position to draft a big-time rookie passer this year. If Kessler is given the starting gig -- and his play in 2016 may have warranted it -- it’s no guarantee he’s a fantasy factor; he ranked 28th among quarterbacks in per-snap production this year.
Injury and ineffectiveness are the names of the game for these running backs. In terms of points per snap, the Seattle Seahawks’ C.J. Prosise is the most interesting option by far, as he ranked 16th -- just behind Le'Veon Bell -- in this metric this year. Prosise was banged up a number of times in his rookie year, but he could be a versatile option in 2017 for the Seahawks’ potent offense. Prosise had a yards-per-carry average of 5.73 and yards-per-reception clip of 12.24.
Matt Jones is the perfect example of fantasy explosiveness but poor real-life play. He was benched for Rob Kelley, and Jones was a healthy scratch for much of the second half of the season. His 4.65 yards-per-carry mark was great, but his lack of ball security doomed him to the Washington bench. If he goes somewhere else this offseason, though, he could be a fantasy upside option again.
Rex Burkhead and Doug Martin could both be on the move this offseason, as Burkhead is an impending free agent and Martin could be cut despite signing a massive extension last offseason. Either would be interesting in a different setting; they were 45th and 47th in per-snap fantasy production among running backs this year, just a hair behind Lamar Miller. Increase their snap totals and you have solid fantasy starters.
Taylor Gabriel was a revelation in a good offense with a real quarterback. After coming over from the Browns this offseason, Gabriel lit up as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. He particularly shone in the weeks where both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu were injured, but he never saw a high target load. The deep threat was a ridiculous second-best among wide receivers in fantasy points per snap.
J.J. Nelson could see himself in a full-season starting role next year with Michael Floyd gone from the Arizona Cardinals, John Brown's health still unclear, and Larry Fitzgerald contemplating retirement. Nelson’s per-snap fantasy efficiency was eighth-best, just behind Antonio Brown's. If he sees even half the workload Brown gets, Nelson will be a steal in 2017 drafts.
Kendall Wright makes for an interesting free agency case. He has been a healthy scratch for the Tennessee Titans for much of this past year, but he proved he still has chops when active and not injured over the last two seasons. If he’d played even 50 percent of the Titans’ offensive snaps this year, he would’ve had 740 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s not a ton, but it would've made him a top-50 fantasy option.
Green Bay Packers wide receivers are always a good fantasy investment, but no one thought undrafted free agent Geronimo Allison would be this good. Allison came on in relief of the injured Randall Cobb this year, and he dazzled down the stretch. He may have earned more playing time for next season. Just a thought: if Allison had had as many snaps as Cobb this year, he was on-pace for 744 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' Ladarius Green headlines the tight ends, and who’s surprised? Green has always been a low-volume, high-impact fantasy contributor, and he continues to tease us with his upside. On just 34 targets, he had 304 receiving yards and a touchdown, but his fantasy points per snap were highest among tight ends -- and a full 28 percent better than Rob Gronkowski's production.
We all knew Jared Cook could do good things in a good offense, and sure enough, his first year as a Packer landed him 18th in per-snap fantasy scoring at the position. If he hadn’t spent most of the year injured with ankle and foot troubles, he likely could’ve made a bigger fantasy impact.
While he’s definitely only a deeper-league option, it’s worth noting that Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton was in the same league as 2016 breakouts Eric Ebron and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Burton filled in when starter Zach Ertz was banged up, but head coach Doug Pederson found ways for his backup tight ends to produce back in Kansas City, too. Burton, who is just 25, is a sneaky stash for dynasty leagues.