2016 #FantasyFootball All-Surprise Team

    The 2016 Season had a lot of surprises. There were a lot of the same names at the top of the positional , but several players far surpassed where they were drafted last summer.

    Who were the top surprises at each position for the ? Let's have a look at my All-Surprise Team.

    Quarterback – Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    There are few players at the quarterback position who have been as up and down as has been over the last several years. That up and down play led to many seeing Matt Ryan as a QB2 in even the deepest of leagues.

    According to, Ryan was being ranked as the 19th best quarterback in standard scoring leagues. By the end of the 2016 season, the ' passer was the second highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football.

    Honorable Mentions: (), (), Tyrod Taylor ().

    Running Back – Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears

    Jordan Howard, BearsNo other player rose in value like rookie Jordan Howard throughout the 2016 season.

    Slotted behind second-year player and incumbent starter, Jeremy Langford, Howard didn't get a lot of run in the first quarter of the 2016 season. Following a Langford , Howard saw the full-time workload and never relinquished it.

    Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing behind fellow rookie , and nearly had double-digit touchdowns.

    Finishing ninth in scoring at the position (in both per game and total points) is a tremendous feat considering the Chicago Bears' offense had little else going for them. With a consensus ranking as the 59th running back selected, Jordan Howard is the player who had the biggest impact based on preseason impressions.

    LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

    The aren't known for giving one running back a full workload. In fact, unless you have Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have traditionally been one of the least friendly teams for fantasy squads throughout the era. LeGarrette Blount broke the mold this year, finishing as the seventh best fantasy running back by scoring 18 rushing touchdowns. Ranked as the 35th back in the preseason, Blount had a huge impact at very little cost.

    Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins

    was an interesting player this season. He went from getting very little work, to being a healthy scratch, to then carrying the ' rushing attack for a majority of the season. He was the 39th ranked running back, according to Fantasy Pros' preseason consensus rankings, and finished as the 11th highest scoring back in fantasy football this season. He had some huge games and some duds too, but when it mattered most, he likely won your Fantasy League Championship with over 200 yards in .

    Honorable mentions: (), Isaiah Crowell (), Ty Montgomery ().

    Wide Receiver – Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

    Michael Thomas, SaintsMichael Thomas was a near-dominant force for the in his rookie season. Just like his Ohio State teammate Ezekiel Elliott, Thomas made waves in his rookie year finishing inside the top-ten at the position.

    Wide receivers don't typically experience a breakout until their sophomore season (see Allen Robinson's 2015), but after leading the Saints in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns, it's safe to say that Michael Thomas was the biggest steal at the wide receiver position.

    Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders

    This first statement about Michael Crabtree may surprise you, so put down your coffee before reading; Michael Crabtree outscored in both total fantasy points and on a per game basis. Crabtree was ranked as the 35th best wide receiver in the preseason, while Cooper was likely ranked in the top 10-15 at the position. Crabtree, in the middle to late part of your draft, provided really strong dividends by seasons end.

    Honorable Mentions: Tyrell Williams (San Diego Chargers), Rishard Matthews ().

    Tight End – Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

    Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
    AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

    There's a good chance Jimmy Graham went undrafted in your 2016 fantasy drafts. And for good reason.

    Since coming to Seattle, Graham had been a pretty average fantasy . 2016 was something of a resurgence for the former New Orleans Saint as he finished third at the position in total points and inside the top-ten in points per game. This, after being ranked 17th in the preseason consensus rankings.

    Honorable Mentions: Cameron Brate (), Kyle Rudolph ().

    Who were the biggest surprises for your Fantasy Team this season? Who do you think will surprise in 2017?

    John Williams
    John Williams
    Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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    Have to vote a thumb down on the site format change.

    It loses a lot not having the full-screen background images. And having to find a button to comment – which is easy to scroll past – is a downgrade also IMO.

    Bryson T

    The full-screen background images were my favorite feature before. Definitely adds some depth to the view. Also loads half as fast, unfortunately.

    Bryson T

    The comments now show without needing to click the button. Will at the very least give this a good test-run and see how it affects page speed. Engagement is also important, but that has been steady whether there was a button to click or not. Enjoy!


    Thanks for fixing that. I built and ran the board “Cowboy Saloon” 2006-2007. So will offer a few observations you didn’t ask for… ;^)

    – Many sites have gone to the full image backgrounds, as I did back then. They give great effect for the vibe of your site. The trick there is to diminish their file size if possible by downgrading from max image quality or by changing file format, etc.

    Point being that many sites have absorbed that & I think in the age of broadband it’s not nearly the problem it was in the dial-up era of the internet.

    I will say also that with just 7 mbps connection speed here, the prior site format loaded fine for me.

    Bryson T

    It’s all about mobile now, which wasn’t much of a consideration in 2007. Even in 2009 when I put ITS together, mobile was just beginning to enter the conversation. Even a top of the line iPhone 7 on the fastest connection today would load that old design in about 5 seconds, which is over the industry standard for how long is too long.

    We use an excellent compression software for images, made good use of Apache compression and browser caching, Nginx, reverse proxying, and even DNS caching. Used low JPG settings (30) for lossless quality. Things have changed a ton since I started doing this nearly full time in 2004. Mobile phones account for over half of our traffic here. And whether on a mobile network or Wi-Fi, the phone itself can only handle so much at once.

    Not to mention most browsers still have bad support for HTTP/2, which allows better resource loading (HTTP 1.1 still limits to 5 simultaneous threads), and the old theme required many, many resources to be loaded.

    Basically, desktop users probably didn’t have any issues, as you mentioned, but mobile users were. I have already seen a positive change in bounce rate and pages per session since the change.

    But one thing, while many sites have gone to full image backgrounds, very, very few traditional blogs/magazine sites have. That’s mostly business sites where the BG helps frame some sort of hero section or CTA. Very rarely can I find another site using full screen BGs with more than 200 words on the page. The reason for that is mobile loading speed, and the amount of content that must be loaded in a CMS like WordPress. Add in widgets, related articles, author boxes, mega-menus, and comments, and the site just gets a little big.

    Of course, part of this redesign meant a new machine and freshly cleaned out database. The DB here is huge, but smaller now that I’ve combed through 8 years of use and cleaned it up. That’s some of the speed change. That, and being able to finally add better PHP caching (old theme didn’t work so well with most), an image CDN (old theme didn’t work at all with it), and Redis object caching (old theme didn’t work well with it).

    And my quick little answer I had planned just went massive haha I welcome the observations, Russ.


    Good point about the mobile traffic / it does change the equation.

    Why anyone wants to surf sites on a 3″ screen – other than something you need to see while out – I have no idea…

    Bryson T

    I totally agree, but some people just prefer it. My wife is that way. Has a perfectly good laptop but she’s on her phone instead. But you and I are in the clear minority. Oh well. We adapt and learn. 🙂