Early Top 10 Draft List (2017 Fantasy Football)

Jan 2, 2017

David Johnson didn't disappoint in 2016 and should dominate again in 2017

David Johnson didn’t disappoint in 2016 and should dominate again in 2017

The 2016 fantasy season is officially in the books with the new year rolling in. Drafts may be 8 months away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead and start planning for the 2017 season.

That’s right, we’re already looking ahead to 2017 and we figured there’s no better way to do so than to source early advice from the most accurate experts from 2016. We asked 5 of the highest rated experts to share their top 10 players for next season’s drafts. Their rankings were then combined into a consensus and the pundits gave us the analysis of their picks.

Featured Pros:
Jeff Ratcliffe – Pro Football Focus
Bill EnrightFFChamps
Dave MajorXN Sports
John Paulsen4for4
Justin BoonetheScore

2017 Top 10 Players (Standard Scoring)

Consensus
Rank
 Player  Position  Team Best Rank Worst Rank
 1.  David Johnson RB ARI 1 3
 2.  Le’Veon Bell RB PIT 1 3
 3.  Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 2 3
 4.  Antonio Brown WR PIT 4 5
 5.  Odell Beckham WR NYG 4 8
 6.  Mike Evans WR TB 6 8
 7.  Julio Jones WR ATL 6 10
 8.  Jay Ajayi RB MIA 7 NR
 9.  LeSean McCoy RB BUF 6 NR
 10.  Jordy Nelson WR GB 7 NR

Also receiving top 10 votes: A. Rodgers (#11), M. Gordon (#12), A.J. Green (#13), M. Thomas (#14), T.Y. Hilton (#15)

2017 Fantasy Football Draft Advice

Each expert also answered 2 questions about the players they like next season. Here are their suggestions for who you should target.

Q1. Tell us why the player you ranked at #1 is the best fantasy option in 2017.

David Johnson (RB – ARI)
“Even if you take away his 80 catches in the non-PPR format, DJ is still king. He was the only player with 20 TDs and the only player with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Ezekiel Elliott may have the best O-Line, but unless he starts making more plays catching passes out of the backfield, he won’t be able to match Johnson’s stats. Le’Veon, of course, could make the jump over DJ without a suspension but now we’re splitting hairs and well… I’m already bald.”
Bill Enright (FFChamps)

“It’s a tough call between David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell (and Ezekiel Elliott, for that matter) as their per game averages and short-term outlooks are very close, but I lean Johnson since he seems less likely to get into trouble off the field so a potential suspension is less of a worry.”
John Paulsen (4for4.com)

David Johnson was the correct answer for who should have been taken with the first overall pick in last year’s fantasy drafts, and he’ll be the right choice in 2017 as well. Assuming the initial reports that he avoided a serious knee injury in Week 17 are true, Johnson will continue to be the focal point of the Cardinals offense, after posting a league-leading 2,118 total yards and 20 touchdowns this season. If you miss out on the top pick, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott are only a slight downgrade, with all three backs capable of transcendent campaigns.”
Justin Boone (theScore)

Le’Veon Bell (RB – PIT)
“It’s really splitting hairs between Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson at No. 1, but Bell gets the slight edge heading into 2017. He averaged nearly four more touches per game and a half-yard more per carry than Johnson this past season. Sure, Johnson scored 20 times, but touchdown production can be notoriously difficult to predict from season to season. Bell’s workload and slightly better efficiency as a runner tip the scales in his favor.”
Jeff Ratcliffe (Pro Football Focus)

“The Steelers gave 355 opportunities to Le’Veon Bell in 2016, including 261 carries and 94 targets. Over the entire season, Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball on 35.05% of his team’s plays, more than any player in football. Measuring opportunities, Arizona sent the ball David Johnson’s way on a league-best 38.03% of the time. Remove the four games that Bell sat (Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 17) to account for Pittsburgh’s real usage when their star back is on the field. At that point, Bell’s 44.33% touch rate and 46.83% opportunity share shine light years beyond the competition. His 8.8% lead in opportunities and 9.3% edge in touch rate should be enough to excite anyone sitting first overall for 2017.”
Dave Major (XN Sports)

Q2. Tell us who your top sleeper candidate is for drafts next for season.

Paul Perkins (RB – NYG)
“Watch out for Paul Perkins. He didn’t get much run for most of the season, but finished well with 170 yards over the last two weeks of the season. Perkins shows nice burst and has the ability to make defenders miss. With Rashad Jennings on the wrong side of 30, Perkins has a shot to be the Giants’ lead back next season. A strong performance in the playoffs could further help his case.”
Jeff Ratcliffe (Pro Football Focus)

Paul Perkins’ numbers during his rookie season certainly don’t jump off the page, since he didn’t see consistent touches until the second half of the year and even then the Giants kept him behind Rashad Jennings on the depth chart. However, Perkins is a far more dynamic player and showed that down the stretch, including his first 100-yard game in Week 17. If he can improve his pass protection, the Giants will have no reason to keep him off the field and a breakout will be on the horizon.”
Justin Boone (theScore)

Isaiah Crowell (RB – CLE) | C.J. Prosise (RB – SEA)
“I’ll let you know as soon as Davlin Cook is drafted. Until then I’ll go with second-year RB CJ Prosise (in PPR formats) who showed a lot of talent before his season-ending injury. Non-PPR: I’ll be keeping an eye on Isaiah Crowell’s offseason. Coming off his best season as a pro, he’s a restricted free agent and if he lands with a better offense in 2017 he’ll get bumped to a high-end RB2/low-end RB1.”
Bill Enright (FFChamps)

Rex Burkhead (RB – CIN)
“I love to target talented backups who get a fresh start elsewhere. It worked with LaMont Jordan (2005), Chester Taylor (2006), Michael Turner (2007), Darren Sproles (2011), Reggie Bush (2011) and Danny Woodhead (2013), who all found more success with a change of scenery. Rex Burkhead is a free agent, so it’s going to be very interesting to see if he lands in a good situation this offseason. He showed well this year once Giovani Bernard was injured, rushing 68 times for 305 yards (4.42 YPC) in the last six games, while adding 15 receptions on 17 targets in that span. That includes a Week 17 effort of 27 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns against a very good Baltimore rush defense. He’s not particularly fast, but his other athletic measurables are strong, so he could thrive in the right environment.”
John Paulsen (4for4.com)

Todd Gurley (RB – LA)
“A lot of eyes will be on the head coach and supporting cast in Los Angeles, as it applies to Todd Gurley’s third year in the pros. He could be an obvious candidate to buy-low in 2017, but think a little further. Jeff Fisher’s presence may have hurt Gurley’s chances for success; the Rams ranked 31st in passing and 32nd in scoring offense. However, Jeff Fisher’s departure could hamper Gurley’s ceiling moving ahead. Studying every game, coach, and running back since 1990, Jeff Fisher entered 2016 as the only active head coach with over two-years experience who had more 300-carry seasons than not. By the end of 2015, 11 of Fisher’s 21 seasons included a 300-carry back. Through 20 seasons of Bill Belichick, only one ended with a 300-carry back (2004 Corey Dillon). The new face of the Rams is likely to show signs of improvement (Fisher was 31-45-1 as Rams coach, 40.8 winning percentage), but it remains to be seen whether that mentality leans John Harbaugh workhorse or Sean Payton committee.”
Dave Major (XN Sports)

Thanks to 2016’s most accurate experts for sharing their advice! For more of the experts’ insight, be sure to follow each pundit on Twitter (click their names above) and visit their respective sites. Happy New Year to everyone!

What's your take? Leave a comment

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