At this point in the season it's likely that at least 75 percent of you have been eliminated from your Fantasy football league.
This leaves you with two choices. You can cry about it or start thinking about next year. I've already cried all of my tears for DeMarco Murray, so let's move on to 2016 and beyond.
Cam Newton should be the first quarterback selected in 2016.
You don't need me to tell you how good Newton has been this year, but I'm going to anyway. In 14 games he's thrown for 3,402 yards and run for 580 more. He has 40 total touchdowns already. Here's a full list of quarterbacks to match those stats over a full season:
- Randall Cunningham, 1988
- Daunte Culpepper, 2002
Cunningham had Chris Carter and Keith Jackson. Culpepper had Randy Moss. Newton has Greg Olsen and the formidable trio of Ginn, Funchess and Cotchery. Newton still has an outside shot of reaching 4,000 passing yards and 700 rushing yards. That's been done exactly once ever, by Newton himself.
Verdict: Believe it. who are you going to take over him? Tom Brady, who will be 39 before next season starts? Carson Palmer, at age 37? I could listen to an argument for Aaron Rodgers with a healthy Jordy Nelson, but that's about it. Even so, remember that Newton will get Kelvin Benjamin back next year.
Newton has always been a safe pick because of his rushing volume. In five years in the league he's never had less than 539 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. What has changed this year is that he's added an element of precision passing that makes the Panthers offense nearly unstoppable.
Don't get caught up in the 58 percent completion ratio. I can show you a highlight reel of Ted Ginn drops to make that seem more acceptable. Newton has been the best Fantasy quarterback in 2015 and there's no reason to bet against him moving forward.
Todd Gurley should be a top-five pick in 2016.
Gurley was a shoe-in for rookie of the year through Week 8 but he's seen his production nosedive in the second half. It could be that he's hit the mythical rookie wall but it's more likely that other teams have devoted even more resources to stopping the only threat on this Rams offense.
Much like Newton, Gurley has thrived despite a lack of offensive weapons around him. Only two 21-year-old running backs have ever run for 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns with a higher yards-per-carry average. They are Barry Sanders and Clinton Portis.
Verdict: Believe it. That last stat becomes even more impressive when you realize Gurley had all of 9 yards on six carries through the first three games of the season. He's had an historic season in just 11 full weeks of action. Extrapolate those 11 games over a full season and you get 1,475 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Also, like Newton, you have to believe Gurley's supporting cast gets better if only because it's difficult to imagine it getting any worse. A majority of the running backs in the NFL are situation-dependent, as we've seen with DeMarco Murray this year. Gurley has proven himself one of the few that isn't. That alone makes him worth a top-five pick.
Doug Baldwin has arrived as a top-10 dynasty wide receiver.
Since Week 10, Baldwin has 34 catches for 560 yards and 11 touchdowns. The next best touchdown total over that period is Allen Robinson. The Seahawks have finally let loose of the reins on Russell Wilson and he has soared, bringing Baldwin along with him.
For the season Baldwin now ranks eighth amongst wide receivers in Fantasy points despite a slow start. While you'd expect veterans like Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald to fall off moving forward, Baldwin is in the prime of his career. There's no reason to expect anything but WR1 production from the Seahawks wideout in 2016 and beyond.
Verdict: Don't believe it. If you're in a dynasty league I'm not sure there has ever been a better sell-high candidate than Baldwin. This is closer to a Justin Forsett breakout from 2015 than Odell Beckham Jr.
Baldwin is in his fifth year in the league and his best season from a Fantasy perspective came in 2011 when he caught 51 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns. Coming into this season Baldwin had scored 15 touchdowns on 196 career receptions. That's one every 13 catches. This year he's turned one of every five receptions into a score.
If you don't play dynasty, bookmark this article for next July and save yourself the pain of over-drafting Baldwin.
The late round quarterback strategy is the way to go.
I thought this going into the season, but some of you needed more convincing. Quarterbacks that were not drafted amongst the top six currently occupy five of the top six spots in the quarterback rankings. Russell Wilson is the only quarterback that was drafted early and has performed -- and he wasn't exactly a consensus early round pick.
Verdict: Believe it. I wouldn't count on this trend continuing next year, but every single year there are late-round quarterbacks that perform as well as those drafted much higher. The more repeatable trend is that there is rarely much of a difference between quarterbacks selected in the middle rounds and those selected later in drafts.
As you head into 2016 and beyond, take those running backs and wide receivers early. Let someone else draft Cam Newton in the second round while you stockpile assets.