Fantasy Football 2017 Rankings

Via Last Word On Pro Football, by Mike Randle

The best word to describe the feeling at the end of the fantasy football season mind is “exhausting.” There isn’t a pace to fantasy football. To be successful, an owner needs complete focus and dedication throughout the season. From the draft prep, to negotiating trades, to the waiver wire, owning a fantasy football team takes five long months of laser-like precision and strategy. Hopefully, the mental exhaustion has produced a fantasy title as the hard earned reward. If it didn’t, there is no better time than the present to take a look at the rankings for the 2017 season.

Fantasy Football 2017 Rankings

Here are the top 40 fantasy football players for the 2017 season in standard scoring leagues. (All statistics from PlayerProfiler.com).

  1. David JohnsonRB1 (Arizona):  The last running back to top 300 points in a standard league was Arian Foster (309 points) in 2010. Johnson had 326 points and missed most of the final game of the season with an injury. Over 1,200 yards, 80 receptions, and 20 total touchdowns make him the absolute number one pick next season.
  2.  Le’Veon BellRB2 (Pittsburgh): This assumes Bell is still in Pittsburgh. While Bell has produced almost the same rushing and receiving stats as David Johnson (1,268 yards/75 receptions) but in three fewer games, his value is greatly enhanced by the Steelers’ superb offense. Even when he is suspended or injured, fellow running back DeAngelo Williams consistently produces an RB1 stat line. As long as he stays in Pittsburgh, Bell is an absolute top three running back.
  3. Antonio BrownWR1 (Pittsburgh): Watch Antonio Brown fall out of the top five next year, as owners target Ezekiel Elliott and younger receivers such as Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. This will be a big mistake. Brown had 1,284 receiving yards, 106 catches, and 12 touchdowns in relatively “quiet” fashion. He is still only 29 years old at the start of the 2017 season, and has an incredible connection with one of the best quarterbacks in football, Ben Roethlisberger.
  4. Ezekiel ElliottRB3 (Dallas): The only concerns with Elliott are a potential sophomore slump and a lack of involvement in the passing game (32 receptions). Elliott produced one of the greatest rookie running back seasons of all time: 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. The NFL’s leading rusher will always be fantastic behind the real MVP of this football season: the Cowboys’ offensive line.
  5. Mike EvansWR2 (Tampa Bay): Another amazing potential value here, that could possibly drop to the end of Round One. Evans was the top wide receiver in fantasy until a three-week cold spell produced just 15 combined fantasy points in weeks 13, 14, and 15. Regardless, he is a 24-year-old receiver that has a strong connection with a great young quarterback in Jameis Winston. Evans led the NFL in targets with 175 and was the top fantasy wide receiver with 208 points.
  6. Odell Beckham Jr.-WR3 (New York Giants): It was a slow start to the year for Beckham, with three single digit fantasy weeks in the first four games. He ends the season, however, in the top four wide receivers in total fantasy points. He finished second in targets, just six behind Evans, and third in receiving yards with 1,367. Beckham will only be 24 years old at the start of the 2017 season.
  7. T.Y. HiltonWR4 (Indianapolis): Another player that can be a steal on draft day next season. Hilton led the league in receiving yards (1,448), plays with a great quarterback (Andrew Luck), plays his home games in a dome, and is in a friendly defensive division. Hilton battled through nagging injuries all year, yet still ended the season as the fifth ranked fantasy wide receiver despite only having six touchdowns. With positive regression, Hilton could easily be the top fantasy receiver in 2017.
  8. Julio JonesWR5 (Atlanta): He is a great fantasy receiver in all areas, except touchdowns. Jones’ last three years have produced six touchdowns, eight touchdowns, and five touchdowns respectively. Atlanta prefers to give red zone touches to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Throw in the constant injury concerns, and he can’t be higher than eighth overall. Jones may drop out of my top ten by the start of summer. Jones is a great real life wide receiver, but the earliest he should be drafted in fantasy is late in Round One.
  9. LeSean McCoyRB4 (Buffalo): McCoy remains the absolute focal point of the Buffalo Bills offense. He is younger than you may think (turns 29 next summer), and finished the season as the third best fantasy running back. McCoy ended 2016 as one of only four running backs with over 1,200 rushing yards and 50 receptions. Regardless of the Bills new head coach, McCoy will produce as an RB1.
  10. Devonta FreemanRB5 (Atlanta): The key to making the fantasy football playoffs is avoiding an early round draft bust. At the 10th spot in next year’s draft, it is best to select a player with a high floor. Devonta Freeman is the safest selection among the remaining players. After finishing as the number one fantasy running back in 2015, many experts predicted a huge decrease in production due to Tevin Coleman. Nothing was further from the truth, as Freeman became more efficient (4.6 yards per carry) and still produced the sixth best fantasy running back season. He is still the Falcons’ clear red zone option, more than doubling Coleman’s rushing attempts (50 to 21) inside the 20 yard line.
  11. A.J. GreenWR6 (Cincinnati): Green lived up to his “boom or bust” reputation, with four weeks of eight fantasy points or less and five weeks of 12 fantasy points or more. Throw in another injury filled season, and there are valid concerns for Cincinnati’s leading wide receiver who turns 29 at the start of 2017. Regardless, the Bengals are primed for a huge bounce back season, which means Green will again be the focus. If he stays healthy (big if), this is incredible value.
  12. Dez BryantWR7 (Dallas): Another classic high floor player, Bryant missed three full games of the season and still finished as a top 15 fantasy wide receiver. Bryant remains one of the best red zone receiving threats in the league, grabbing eight touchdowns in his shortened 2016 season. Ezekiel Elliott’s emergence should open up more opportunities for Bryant, as should another year of experience for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.  Bryant will still only be 28 years old at the start of the season.
  13. Lamar MillerRB6 (Houston): Call him the 2016 version of the 2015 Melvin Gordon. Miller had fifth most carries in the NFL this season, but only five rushing touchdowns. He is the classic touchdown regression candidate. Miller’s 31 receptions should improve as well, and at the running back position, touches are golden. Even if he just gets average quarterback play, Miller should produce a top five fantasy running back season.
  14. Jordy NelsonWR8 (Green Bay): All Nelson does is produce great fantasy stats regardless of the opponent. Against the toughest competition, Nelson was at his best. In Week 14 against Seattle? Six catches, two touchdowns, 16 fantasy points. In Week 16 against Minnesota? Nine catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns. The only reason he is outside the top ten is his age (32 years old at the start of the season). After recovering from a knee injury, Nelson still found a way to rank number one among all fantasy wide receivers in standard scoring leagues. Truly amazing.
  15. DeMarco MurrayRB7 (Tennessee): One of my biggest misses this fantasy season was Murray. He was outstanding all year long, finishing tied as the fourth best fantasy running back. Murray has caught over 50 passes in three of the last four seasons, including 52 this season. While Derrick Henry is still lurking, Murray was simply too good to rank any lower than the seventh running back off the draft board.
  16. Amari CooperWR9 (Oakland): The third year wide receiver breakout is coming, and it’s for a player that has technically already “broken out.” Cooper finished as the 13th most productive fantasy wide receiver, yet was not the most productive wide receiver on his own team. Michael Crabtree finished with more fantasy points, touchdowns, and targets than Cooper. That will change in 2017, as Crabtree turns 30 in September. Cooper averaged 75 receptions and almost 1,100 yards in his first two seasons. His upside is scary.
  17. Melvin GordonRB8 (San Diego): Through 13 weeks, Melvin Gordon was the second best fantasy running back in standard scoring leagues. While many owners will be concerned about Danny Woodhead‘s return from injury, there is no reason to think the Chargers will shy away from Gordon in the red zone. Gordon produced ten rushing touchdowns through 13 weeks to go along with 41 receptions. The main concern is his 3.9 yards per carry, but the lead running back in a high powered offense is always fantasy gold.
  18. Jay AjayiRB9 (Miami): Despite Miami trying everything to avoid giving Ajayi the starting running back spot, he was spectacular when given the chance. He had three 200-yard rushing games, and despite not becoming a full time starter until Week Six, Ajayi finished as the 11th best fantasy running back. When Miami’s offensive line is completely healthy, Ajayi produces top five running back numbers.
  19. Brandin CooksWR10 (New Orleans): It was a disappointing 2016 campaign for Cooks, but he will enter the last year of a four year deal with all the motivation in the world. Cooks is still with Drew Brees, in a dome, in a high powered offense. The only question is, will head coach Sean Payton still be calling the plays? Cooks remains the top wide receiver in one of league’s best fantasy situations.
  20. Adrian PetersonRB10 (Minnesota): Peterson is the tenth running back off the board. Over the last three years the number ten fantasy running back has averaged exactly 150 fantasy points per season. That equates to about 1,000 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. If Peterson plays even 13 games, this is easily attainable even at his 2017 age of 32.
  21. LeGarrette BlountRB11 (New England): The goal line running back in the New England Patriots offense will always be a top twelve running back. In a year where Tom Brady missed the first four games, Blount racked up over 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns. Even with a third of a reduction in touchdowns, 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns will definitely be RB1 production in 2017.
  22. Jordan HowardRB12 (Chicago): Remember when Jeremy Langford was a thing? The 22-year-old Howard finished up 2016 with at least ten fantasy points in seven of his last eight games. Despite limited carries until Week Four, Howard ranks in the top ten in fantasy points and rushing yards. Look for him to be a reliable bell cow for the Bears next season.
  23. Doug BaldwinWR11 (Seattle): “Angry Doug” has found his way back into the top ten fantasy wide receivers after four consecutive weeks of six fantasy points or less (Weeks four to eight). All of this despite ranking only 17th in targets and an off year by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Success in the early fantasy rounds is about selecting players with a high floor, and Baldwin represents that perfectly as Seattle’s top wide receiving option.
  24. Michael ThomasWR12 (New Orleans): Thomas stepped right into the Marques Colston slot receiver role in New Orleans and produced a phenomenal rookie season. Thomas ranks as the ninth overall fantasy wide receiver with 92 catches for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns. All of this for a quarterback (Brees) that led the league with 673 pass attempts. Not many fantasy offenses can support two wide receivers in the top 25, but New Orleans did exactly that this season.
  25. Julian EdelmanWR13 (New England): One of the best fantasy strategies is, “chase the targets.” Edelman ranked fifth among all wide receivers with 145 targets, and was without quarterback Tom Brady for four games. He finished with 98 receptions but only three touchdowns. Edelman’s consistency in an explosive New England offense is fantasy nirvana, even as he starts 2017 at the age of 31.
  26. Todd Gurley-RB13 (Los Angeles): Gurley’s disappointing 2016 season can be summed up in one stat: 3.2 yards per carry. Here’s hoping that whoever is the new coach improves the “middle school offense” the Rams used this season. Gurley is just one year removed from a 4.83 yards per carry average and ten touchdowns in just 12 games as a starter. It is hard to see a repeat of the 19th best fantasy running back. Gurley is simply too talented.
  27. Tevin Coleman-RB14 (Atlanta): Coleman was an easy breakout candidate selection in 2016. The Atlanta offense is so potent, that is actually produced the sixth (Devonta Freeman) and 16th (Coleman) best running back fantasy seasons in the same backfield. Fantasy football is all about matchups and game script, and the Falcons lack a strong second receiver besides Julio Jones. Therefore, Coleman and Freeman work in tandem to fill that role. Despite missing three games due to injury, he finished with 11 total touchdowns and a 4.4 yards per carry average. If you follow the team backfield drafting strategy, Atlanta should be target number one.
  28. Aaron RodgersQB1 (Green Bay): The first fantasy quarterback appears at the midway point of round three, and no surprise it is Aaron Rodgers.  Do not be scared off by Rodgers advanced age (33 years old), as both Tom Brady and Drew Brees have proved that age is simply a number. Rodgers finished as the best fantasy quarterback with 459 fantasy points. The consistency, the weapons, the system, and a very friendly pass defense division, all add up to a repeat performance in 2017. Rodgers has the highest floor of any quarterback and should be taken by round four in all formats.
  29. Sammy Watkins-WR14 (Buffalo): The massively underutilized Watkins will be fully healthy to start the 2017 season. The Bills need to hire a coach who will get Watkins the ball more often. His 4.43 speed and 88th percentile Height-Adjusted Speed Score (PlayerProfiler.com) can only be used when he is targeted. With a full 16 game season, Watkins should be a top ten fantasy wide receiver, provided they hire an offensive-minded head coach.
  30. Golden Tate-WR15 (Detroit): Tate scored 14 total fantasy points in standard leagues through the first five weeks. That’s less than three points per week. Despite that horrific start, he still finished as the 24th overall fantasy wide receiver, and clearly established himself as the top target in Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. From Week 12 to 15, Tate was the 13th best fantasy wide receiver, accumulating the same amount of fantasy points as Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans. He has averaged over 90 receptions each of the last three seasons, a clear WR1 bellwether.
  31. Davante Adams-WR16 (Green Bay): Adams has replaced Randall Cobb as Green Bay’s clear second receiving option to Jordy Nelson. The breakout third season was accurate for Adams, as he finished as the seventh best fantasy wide receiver with almost 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Adams was fourth among all wide receivers in red zone receptions (13), which proves he has the trust of Aaron Rodgers. Best stat about Davante Adams? He led all wide receivers in Contested Catch Rate (90%).  (PlayerProfiler.com)
  32. Rishard Matthews-WR17 (Tennessee): A bit of a surprise here, but look deeper and the rankings is perfect. Matthews talled nine total fantasy points during the first few weeks. He was behind both rookie Tajae Sharpe and veteran Andre Johnson to start the season. Eventually, his bond with quarterback Marcus Mariota became strong and Matthews took off. Minus a game against Denver, Matthews produced five consecutive double digit fantasy weeks in standard scoring leagues. He ended the season as the 14th best fantasy receiver, and will enter camp as the clear top receiving option in a friendly pass defense division.
  33. Jeremy Hill-RB15 (Cincinnati): Since there will be a Cincinnati revival, Hill’s stock should improve as well. Despite an awful offensive year, Mr. Consistency still produced double digit touchdowns (ten) and a respectable 3.8 yards per carry. With a healthy Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green, the Bengals offensive attack should return. Hill is one of the remaining goal line RB1s in the NFL.
  34. Tom Brady-QB2 (New England): The demise of Tom Brady has been stated over and over again. One year it will actually happen, but until it does, he must be ranked as a top three fantasy quarterback. Brady missed the first four games this season yet finished with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He ranked second in yards per attempt and second in QBR. While he will be 40 years old at the beginning of next season, his production hasn’t dropped off at all. Until it does, he will remain a top fantasy quarterback.
  35. Michael Crabtree-WR18 (Oakland): A 29-year-old wide receiver tethered to a top NFL quarterback makes Crabtree a top 20 wide receiver in 2017. While fellow wideout Amari Cooper will continue to see an increase in targets, Crabtree still remains quarterback Derek Carr‘s preferred red zone option. He ranked fourth among all wide receivers in red zone receptions (12), and that helped produce eight receiving touchdowns. Crabtree will turn 30 during the season, but with a strong offensive line protecting Carr, he represents safety at the fantasy wide receiver position.
  36. Tyreek Hill-WR19 (Kansas City): “The Freak” was the breakout wide receiver of 2016. he finished with nine total touchdowns, 65 receptions, and as the 15th best fantasy wide receiver despite having three total receptions in the first two games. Hill ranked third overall in fantasy points per target (2.49) and used his 4.34 speed to blow by opponents as a receiver or rusher. Hill is a threat to score in every way possible, and will probably move up the rankings by the time September arrives.
  37. Donte Moncrief-WR20 (Indianapolis): There are only a few quarterbacks that can support two top 20 wide receivers. Drew Brees is one and Andrew Luck is the other. Moncrief was hurt in Week two against Denver, and missed the next five games. When he returned in Week Eight, he caught a touchdown in the next five consecutive games. That is the type of fantasy consistency that owners dream about. He will have an entire off season to heal, and will comeback as a strong top 20 fantasy wide receiver.
  38. Rob Gronkowski-TE1 (New England): The reasons that a tight end should never be drafted in Round One were outlined at the beginning of the season, but after another injury-plagued season Gronkowski will fall off of fantasy owners’ radar. Late round three or early round four is the perfect spot for Gronkowski, as he remains as the top fantasy tight end with 2.55 fantasy points per touch. His Production Premium, which measures his productivity across league average situations, is first among all tight ends. His off the field behavior may contribute to his injury prone reputation, but in a weak NFL tight end position, Gronkowski is still extremely valuable fantasy commodity.
  39. Allen Robinson-WR21 (Jacksonville): Will the real Allen Robinson please stand up? Is he the All Pro of 2015, or the massive fantasy disappointment of 2016? Robinson had 151 targets this year, which is 30 more than either Brandin Cooks or Michael Thomas had with All Pro Drew Brees. Robinson suffered through the bad quarterback play of Blake Bortles, but with a new head coach there is hope he will regain the 1,400 yards and 14 touchdown form of 2015.
  40. Carlos Hyde-RB16 (San Francisco):  Tough to project when there is no head coach or general manager, but the fact remains that when healthy, Hyde produced this season. Hyde finished 14th in fantasy points, and had nine total touchdowns. He averaged a robust 4.5 yards per carry, and was seventh among all running backs in Evaded Tackles (5.5 per game). Hyde is still only 25 at the start of the season next year, and proved he can be a true three down back for San Francisco.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.