Mike Tagliere’s Early Top-100 Fantasy Football Rankings
Things can change quite often throughout the off-season, but now that we’ve gotten the two biggest things (NFL Draft and free agency) out of the way, it’s time to get our rankings together. Keep in mind that while these will change throughout the off-season, this is a good time to figure out where the value is in comparison to early ADP (average draft position).
The rankings below are based on standard leagues, though I reference the players who stand out in PPR leagues throughout. As the season nears, we’ll likely extend this list to 150, or maybe even 200 players, but a lot of those players’ ranking depends on camp battles, which is why they’re left out for now. I even threw in a few extra players, as I wanted to include them, but they just didn’t fit in the 100 range. As usual, if you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter @MikeTagliereNFL. But now, take a look at the rankings and then go check out our Draft Wizard tool which allows you to draft in just five minutes.
- Le’Veon Bell (RB – PIT)
If you were to extrapolate his 2016 totals over a full season, Bell would’ve totaled 2,512 total yards and 12 touchdowns. The all-time record is 2,509 total yards. He doesn’t even need massive touchdown totals in order to live up to expectations. He’s scored fewer than 10.8 PPR points just three times in his career.
- David Johnson (RB – ARI)
When you see a 25-year-old running back getting 25.8 combined carries/targets, it’s a given to put him as a clear-cut top player, especially when it’s a player as talented as Johnson. His goal for this next season is set at 1,000 rushing and receiving yards, and it’s well within the realm of possibilities.
- Antonio Brown (WR – PIT)
It’s now four straight seasons where Brown has finished as a top-seven wide receiver, including two seasons as the No. 1 receiver. He’s averaged 1,579 yards and 10.8 touchdowns in that span, and keep in mind that he posted his two best seasons while Martavis Bryant was on the field with him.
- Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL)
Coming off a nearly-2,000-yard season, Elliott has come out and said that he wants to get better catching the ball out of the backfield. There are two new pieces on the offensive line, which bumps him out of the top-tier with Bell and Johnson, but he’s not far off. Given how difficult Dez Bryant’s schedule is, it’s likely that the Cowboys lean on Elliott more than ever.
- Julio Jones (WR – ATL)
Losing Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to help a lot of the skill-position players, but Jones is the exception here. Prior to the 2016 season, Jones averaged 11.8 targets per game from 2013-2015. That number went down to 9.2 targets last year and he missed two games, yet he still managed to finish as the No. 6 fantasy receiver. If he puts together a complete season, he could break records.
- Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – NYG)
You’re nit-picking when trying to decipher between Beckham, Jones, and Brown, but the area of concern for Beckham is his newfound competition for targets. Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram are going to see targets, potentially lowering Beckham’s 169 target ceiling from last year. He’s talented enough to make up for the decrease, but still a tick below Jones and Brown for me.
- Mike Evans (WR – TB)
It’s fair to say that Evans’ sophomore season with just three touchdowns was an outlier, as he’s scored 12 in each of his other two seasons. Had he scored his usual 12 touchdowns in 2015, he would have finished as the No. 7 wide receiver. Combine that with his No. 1 finish last year and No. 10 finish in 2014, and you have a safe first-round pick.
- Melvin Gordon (RB – LAC)
Despite averaging a mediocre 4.0 yards per carry heading into his Week 14 matchup where he hurt his knee, Gordon was sitting as the No. 3 fantasy running back. The Chargers have one of the most difficult passing schedules in the league, but also have receivers to pull defenders out of the box. Gordon should build on his 2016 season.
- A.J. Green (WR – CIN)
Similar to the player above him on this list, Green was dominating in 2016 before going down with a season-ending injury in Week 11. Throughout the first 10 weeks of the season, Green was the No. 4 fantasy receiver and on pace for over 1,700 yards and seven touchdowns. In the years he played all 16 games, his finishes are WR4, WR4, and WR7. Stay healthy, A.J.
- Michael Thomas (WR – NO)
It was quite the rookie campaign for Thomas, totaling 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games, and that’s despite not becoming a full-time player until Week 3. In his 13 games as a starter, Thomas went on a 16-game pace of 101/1,259/11. Brandin Cooks is gone and Ted Ginn is the only wide receiver they replaced him with. Thomas is going to be a WR1 as long as Brees is under center.
- LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF)
McCoy and the Bills running backs enjoyed a massive 2.56 yards before contact in 2016, which was 0.29 yards more than the next highest team. With Mike Gillislee now in New England, McCoy should keep his high workload, even with a new coaching staff in tow, as well as get a bit more goal-line work.
- Devonta Freeman (RB – ATL)
Freeman says he wants to be the highest-paid running back in the NFL, and he’s got the chance in a contract year. Despite ranking 13th in carries last year, Freeman totaled the sixth-most fantasy points among running backs. After struggling a bit out of the gate, Freeman went on to score eight touchdowns in the final six regular season games. With Kyle Shanahan gone, the Falcons may go back to more of a one-back system.
- Amari Cooper (WR – OAK)
The fact that he finished as the No. 12 wide receiver despite catching just five touchdowns and seeing 13 redzone targets says something about his potential. His efficiency spiked in his second year with Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree will be on the wrong side of 30 when the season starts.
- T.Y. Hilton (WR – IND)
Did you know that Hilton led the league in receiving yards last year? He finished with 81 more yards than Odell Beckham Jr., though he scored just six touchdowns, which is the reason he’s further down draft boards. It’s now four straight 1,000-yard seasons for Hilton and Andrew Luck should finally be healthy this season.
- Jordy Nelson (WR – GB)
It’s coming to the point in his career where he’ll take a turn in the wrong direction, but he didn’t show any signs of that in 2016, finishing with 14 touchdowns. His yardage did slip to the lowest it’s been since 2010 (sans injured 2012), and it’ll likely continue to do so, but you can bank on double-digit touchdowns.
- Dez Bryant (WR – DAL)
He’d be much higher on this list if he didn’t have to go up against the Giants twice (held him to two catches for 18 yards on 14 targets last year), Josh Norman twice, Broncos, Cardinals, Falcons, and Seahawks. The Cowboys don’t have a legit No. 2 receiver to take attention away from Bryant, but despite that, he still slides in as my No. 10 receiver.
- Jay Ajayi (RB – MIA)
We mustn’t forget that Ajayi wasn’t even starting ahead of Arian Foster to start 2016 and was so mad about it that he didn’t get to participate in Week 1. He played out of his mind for a few weeks, but against any defense that wasn’t in the bottom-eight, he struggled. Some offensive line issues attributed to that, but expectations should be tempered, as there are also injury concerns.
- Sammy Watkins (WR – BUF)
There’s most definitely some risk built into Watkins, but here’s the silver-lining. If you were to remove the two games that Watkins played at the start of the 2016 season (foot was still hurting), here are his last 15 games with Tyrod Taylor: 115 targets, 71 receptions, 1,284 yards, 10 touchdowns. Despite missing one game, those would have totaled to be the No. 5 wide receiver last year.
- Doug Baldwin (WR – SEA)
He’s now finished as a top-10 wide receiver in back-to-back seasons, and that was despite Russell Wilson taking a slight step back last year, though it was likely injury-related. His target numbers have gone up four straight seasons, as have the Seahawks pass attempts. They are attempting to get their run-game going again, but Baldwin is who moves the sticks.
- Leonard Fournette (RB – JAX)
You don’t draft a running back with the No. 4 overall pick and not play him. Fournette is a special player and even though he isn’t a great receiver, the work will be there for him. I recently did a study on coaching changes and the effect they have on pass/run games. Everything is going in Fournette’s favor.
- Carlos Hyde (RB – SF)
Don’t buy the Joe Williams hype, even if he was hand-picked by the new regime. So was Tevin Coleman, but Devonta Freeman was the better player who got the bulk of the work. Hyde has broken 75 tackles over the last two years on just 370 touches and is one of the most elusive backs in the game. His 3.1 yards after contact last year ranked fifth among running backs with at least 100 carries.
- Todd Gurley (RB – LAR)
Call this as me buying into new head coach Sean McVay’s offense, as he’s said numerous times that his goal is to make Gurley as good as he can be. They added one of the best left tackles in the game this off-season with Andrew Whitworth, which definitely doesn’t hurt. He’s not the player you thought he was, but he’s going to get 300-plus carries.
- Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE)
A game-changer at the toughest position to predict. The gap has gotten a tad smaller from what it used to be, but Gronkowski had given you back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons before getting injured in 2016. He gives you an advantage whenever he’s in the lineup and is worth the risk.
- Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
There is concern over his lack of usage in the passing game, as the Bears signed free agent Benny Cunningham and drafted Tarik Cohen, who are both pass-game specialists. He finished second in the NFL in rushing yards, so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt, but there is some risk.
- DeMarco Murray (RB – TEN)
It was clear that Murray wore down as the season went on, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry over the final six weeks, after averaging 4.87 over the first 10 weeks. There was just one game all season in which he didn’t touch the ball at least 16 times, so he should still be a low-end RB1 by default.
- Davante Adams (WR – GB)
Failed to post 1,000 yards last season, yet he still finished as the No. 7 wide receiver. The fact that he finished there and is still growing into his role as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receiver is more than enough to justify a third-round price tag, if not more. Don’t be shocked if you see Adams finish as the No. 1 wide receiver in this offense.
- Allen Robinson (WR – JAX)
Betting on Robinson’s talent to shine through, his targets are likely to decrease this year with the acquisition of Leonard Fournette, as well as a beefed-up defense. Despite having the exact same number of targets in each of the last two seasons, Robinson finished with a 517 yard and eight touchdown difference in 2016. There is built-in risk.
- Brandin Cooks (WR – NO)
Most players would see their efficiency go up when heading to the Patriots, but coming from the Saints and Drew Brees, it’s unlikely. In a recent study I did, the Saints wide receivers have totaled 24 WR1 performances over the last three years, compared to 17 for the Patriots. He’ll have WR1 weeks, but he’ll be frustrating to own.
- DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)
Who would’ve thought that we’d love to have Brian Hoyer back in order to throw to Hopkins? A year after his breakout 1,500-yard season, Hopkins totaled just 954 yards on 151 targets. Those who have high hopes for him are likely depending on rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson taking over in fast order.
- Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
He’s a machine, plain and simple. Year-over-year Rodgers builds his hall of fame resume, and it translates to fantasy, considering he’s finished as the No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback in seven of nine seasons (was also No. 1 before getting hurt in 2013) since taking over for Brett Favre. There’s so much uncertainty around this part of the rankings, he’s simply a safer pick.
- C.J. Anderson (RB – DEN)
Anderson has averaged a massive 4.56 yards per carry in his career, while those around him over the last couple of years have totaled a measly 3.90 yards per carry with the team. The Broncos beefed up their offensive line this off-season via free agency (Former Cowboys guard Ron Leary) as well as using their first-round pick on tackle Garrett Bolles. The Broncos paid a lot of money to keep Anderson around last off-season.
- Demaryius Thomas (WR – DEN)
Last season was the first one since 2011 where Thomas failed to record at least 1,300 yards, as he totaled just 1,083 with Trevor Siemian under center. The Broncos have added Carlos Henderson to the wide receiving corps, giving another playmaker who’ll garner targets. Thomas is a solid third-round pick, though he lacks the upside I’m looking for.
- Isaiah Crowell (RB – CLE)
What do you get when you mix an average running back with a great offensive line? An RB2, that’s Crowell in a nutshell. Most point to his yards per carry (4.8) being great last year, but he totaled 48 percent of his rushing yards on just 16 carries. Their offensive line may just be the best in the NFL at this point, making him an intriguing option.
- Lamar Miller (RB – HOU)
Despite getting all the work he possibly could last year, Miller disappointed finishing with the sixth-most carries, but just the 17th most fantasy points among running backs. He misses two games, but the workload was there. The Texans spent a third-round pick to acquire D’Onta Foreman, which adds concern to that workload hanging around.
- Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
I have my questions about McCaffrey, but when a team spends a top-10 pick on a running back, they’re going to use him. He’s worth more in PPR formats considering his receiving abilities, but you’re also relying on Cam Newton to start throwing to running backs. There’s risk here, but there’s also upside.
- Tom Brady (QB – NE)
While everyone else tries to figure out who he’ll will throw to and which running back will get the majority of the carries, just take Brady and enjoy your points.
- Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
It’s possible that the Chiefs finally figured out how to use Kelce, as he totaled 8.2 targets per game over the final 10 games of the season, after averaging just 5.9 targets per game over the first 38 games of his career. He finished as the No. 1 tight end while scoring just four touchdowns. There’s still room to grow.
- Andrew Luck (QB – IND)
The last of the quarterbacks you should consider in the top-40 players, Luck is a player who can throw for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. Prior to hurting his shoulder, Luck threw for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns, so we weren’t far off. His weapons are arguably as good as they’ve ever been.
- Michael Crabtree (WR – OAK)
There’s a good possibility that Crabtree regresses this season, as he scored 55.7 of his 150 fantasy points on just 23 redzone targets in 2016. That was a far cry from his 13.8 points on 13 targets in 2015.
- Alshon Jeffery (WR – PHI)
Battling injuries over the last two seasons where he’s played just 22 games, Jeffery hasn’t been the same without Marc Trestman. If he’s going to live up to his mid-third-round ADP, he’s going to have to score double-digit touchdowns.
- Donte Moncrief (WR – IND)
He’s scored a touchdown in 11 of the last 15 games that he’s played with Andrew Luck. He’s now in a contract-year and will be playing with a healthy Luck. His entire situation reminds me of Davante Adams last year, which is a good thing.
- Spencer Ware (RB – KC)
There are plenty of rumors coming out of camp that Kareem Hunt could lead the Chiefs backfield, though I’m not buying it just yet. Ware’s struggles as the season went on coincided with their top run-blocking guard Parker Ehinger. Ware over the last two years: 286 carries for 1,325 yards (4.63 YPC) and 11 total touchdowns. We’ll re-visit this as the season nears.
- Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN)
It was an injury-plagued year for Diggs in 2016, as he was either OUT or on the injury report 10 times. When he played through injuries, he totaled just 4.0 receptions and 37.3 yards per game. When he was off the injury report, he averaged 9.3 receptions and 107.0 yards per game.
- Jarvis Landry (WR – MIA)
Surely lower than most, I’m expecting Devante Parker to take a step forward in 2017. After averaging nine targets per game over the first 36 games of his career, Landry averaged just 7.1 targets over the final 12 games under Adam Gase. He’s somewhat safe in PPR leagues, but there’s not a whole lot of upside here.
- Marshawn Lynch (RB – OAK)
I understand the want to love Lynch in Oakland – great running back behind a great offensive line, and the plodding Latavius Murray scored 12 touchdowns last year, so why can’t the bruising Lynch. He’s been out of football for a year and a half, not rehabbing an injury, but building homes in Haiti. He’s 31-years-old, so keep expectations realistic.
- Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
If we get clarity on Mixon being the starter and workhorse out of the gate, he’s going to move up on this list. His talent wasn’t ever the question, and if Gio Bernard isn’t completely healthy by the start of the season, Mixon could provide RB1 value.
- Greg Olsen (TE – CAR)
Call him boring, but he’s been a top-four tight end for each of the last three years and hasn’t finished outside of the top-eight since 2011. The concern is that he was just the No. 14 tight end from Week 8 through Week 17.
- Jordan Reed (TE – WAS)
The only remaining players Kirk Cousins will have in the offense from last year are Reed and Jamison Crowder. One of them is 6’2”, 243 pounds, and a monster in the endzone. His health is always the concern, which is why he’s a fifth-round pick instead of a third or fourth.
- Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)
In 27 career games with 10 or less targets, Allen has averaged just 3.96 receptions and 49.2 yards per game, compared to the 11 games where he’s seen 11 or more targets and averaged 10.36 receptions and 117.8 yards per game. With all the mouths to feed, it’s hard to see him getting more than 10 in many games.
- Golden Tate (WR – DET)
After starting the year as a droppable fantasy asset, Tate totaled 943 yards and four touchdowns over the final 11 games in 2016, which was good enough to be the No. 10 wide receiver in that span. The Lions lost Anquan Boldin and replaced him with a late third-round rookie.
- Mark Ingram (RB – NO)
Despite playing in a clear timeshare last year where he failed to see more than 18 carries in all but one game, Ingram finished as the No. 10 running back. Sure, Peterson is going to steal some work, probably slightly more than Tim Hightower did. But getting him here as the 20th running back off the board is a steal.
- Drew Brees (QB – NO)
Just a bit outside of the top-tier of quarterbacks, Brees is still a set-it-and-forget-it quarterback. Much have been made of his road splits, but he is simply ‘less great’ on the road. Over the last two years on the road he averages 297 passing yards, 1.73 touchdowns, and 0.93 interceptions, or 17.9 fantasy points per game. That average over 16 games would have been the No. 7 quarterback last year. Not so bad, eh?
- Martavis Bryant (WR – PIT)
Don’t sleep on how good Bryant was when on the field, as eight of his 21 career games have netted 14 or more standard fantasy points, including four of them with 20 or more. The Steelers just cut Ladarius Green, freeing up even more targets than initially thought.
- Mike Gillislee (RB – NE)
If there’s been one thing Gillislee has been very good at, it’s running the football, and particularly well at the goal-line. Over the last two seasons he’s totaled 151.2 fantasy points on 148 carries. Yeah, and now he’s going to an offense where the guy he’s replacing led the league with 72 redzone carries. Nobody else had more than 59. There is risk, but it’s well worth it.
- Terrelle Pryor (WR – WAS)
He impressed stat-wise in his first full year at wide receiver, but he also saw 140 targets, which ranked 12th among wide receivers. During his time as the starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins has not targeted any wide receiver more than 6.9 times per game, which would equivalate to 110 over a full season. It’s hard to see him finishing better than a low-end WR2.
- Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI)
Entering what is likely his last NFL season, Fitzgerald has now put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with Carson Palmer behind center. They added Chad Williams via the draft, but he needs time to develop. The only competition he has for targets over the middle of the field is David Johnson. Fitzgerald was also sixth in redzone targets last year with 23 of them.
- Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
Despite playing on one leg for a majority of the season, Wilson still managed to finish as a QB1 in 2016. If you were to get into his game log, you’d see that he was a different quarterback over the second-half of the season, finishing as the No. 4 quarterback from Week 9 through Week 17.
- Eddie Lacy (RB – SEA)
All weight jokes aside, Lacy has always been a bigger guy, but that didn’t stop him from finishing as the No. 6 running back in back-to-back seasons to start his career. The offensive line is a problem, but it was also a problem in Green Bay, as the Packers running backs averaged a league-low 1.0 yards before contact in 2016. We’re just looking for RB2 production at this point of drafts.
- Tyler Eifert (TE – CIN)
Now has 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons despite playing in just 21 games and being targeted 121 times. No player has a higher touchdown rate over the last two seasons, including Rob Gronkowski. If it appears he’ll start the season healthy, he’ll move up this list.
- Paul Perkins (RB – NYG)
After the Giants passed on all free agent running backs, it appears to be the Perkins show in New York. He was better than perceived at the end of 2016, and will now be on the field with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. He’s going to see some light defensive fronts in a high-scoring offense.
- Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
When the Vikings signed Latavius Murray, most thought they were likely done addressing the position. But once they signed him, he had foot surgery, leading the Vikings to trade up and draft Cook. Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football will be tough for anyone, but look for them to give Cook every opportunity to win the starting job, and I suspect he will.
- John Brown (WR – ARI)
There are a lot of people sleeping on the No. 21 wide receiver from just two years ago, and that was with a younger Larry Fitzgerald and redzone threat Michael Floyd. All-in-all, he played less than 40 snaps per game in 2016 due to his sickle cell trait, but it’s now under control. Steal of drafts right now.
- Tevin Coleman (RB – ATL)
Still feels too high for a backup running back who just lost one of the best offensive coordinators in football, but he does offer splash potential. Had just two games with more than 58 rushing yards in 2016, and touchdowns regression is all but certain.
- Ty Montgomery (RB – GB)
Despite them drafting two running backs, Montgomery likely isn’t going anywhere. He offers something in the passing game both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones don’t, wide receiver skills. His 5.1 yards after contact was the best in the NFL last year, though the sample size was small.
- Emmanuel Sanders (WR – DEN)
Did you know he’s now 30-years-old? He’s also the No. 2 receiver on a team that wants to run the ball more in 2017. His year was very up-and-down in 2016 and you should expect more of the same in 2017.
- Bilal Powell (RB – NYJ)
We really want to get confirmation that he’s going to be the starter, but all signs point to that being the case. He totaled 411 yards on 82 carries (5.01 YPC) over the last four games of 2016 and was the No. 2 running back over that time, behind only Le’Veon Bell.
- Doug Martin (RB – TB)
Coming back to a team with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin will be a welcoming sight for Martin, who only has three games left on his suspension. We’ve seen a hit-or-miss Martin over his career, but he has finished as a top-three running back twice. He could be a steal at this point.
- Corey Davis (WR – TEN)
He’s an amazing talent and one that should be a force in the league for years to come, but it’s a rare scenario in which a rookie comes in at wide receiver to dominate right away. Settling him in the WR3 range is the most likely of scenarios.
- Kenneth Dixon (RB – BAL)
Similar to the aforementioned Doug Martin, Dixon will be suspended to start the season, though he has four games to serve. He looked really good towards the end of 2016, breaking 35 tackles on 118 touches, outplaying Terrance West seemingly every week. John Harbaugh went out of his way to say that Dixon is their guy and they proved it when they didn’t draft a running back.
- Ameer Abdullah (RB – DET)
It’s been a disappointing career thus far, but the Lions didn’t add a goal-line back via free agency or the draft, which tells me that Abdullah will get the first crack at the starting job. Theo Riddick also had surgery on both of his wrists, which could potentially lead to more work in the passing game.
- Kelvin Benjamin (WR – CAR)
He’s finished inside the top-20 wide receivers in both seasons he’s played, but it’s hard to feel confident in him, knowing that he’s had weight issues for the second-straight off-season. The additions of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel will likely eat up some of the shorter targets that used to go to him.
- Martellus Bennett (TE – GB)
While the Packers offense doesn’t necessarily target the tight end position that much, Bennett was someone who they went out and paid good money to acquire. The projections aren’t this high on him, but there’s massive upside if they do change things up a bit.
- Kyle Rudolph (TE – MIN)
People left the bandwagon too early on him, myself included. But when you see the chemistry between him and Sam Bradford, you should be buying in. He saw a position-high 132 targets last year, including 8.7 per game once offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer took over. Keep in mind that he finished as the No. 3 tight end, while both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs got theirs.
- Jimmy Graham (TE – SEA)
I’m likely lower than most, but Graham really struggled down the stretch, even with Russell Wilson coming on. After totaling 89 or more yards in four of the first eight games, Graham failed to top 67 yards the remainder of the season. He’s still a solid pick, just not the top-three pick that he always was.
- Frank Gore (RB – IND)
We don’t know how long he’ll hold onto the job, seeing as he has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry since coming to the Colts. He’s also scored just 10 touchdowns on the ground, leading them to use Robert Turbin in goal-line situations last year. They also drafted Marlon Mack, who could supplant Gore at any time.
- Eric Decker (WR – NYJ)
It’s unclear as to what is going on with Decker right now, but as of now, we have to assume he’s on the team. He’s played with some horrid quarterbacks during his career, yet he’s totaled at least 962 yards or eight touchdowns in every season he’s been a starter, as well as finishing as a top-36 receiver.
- Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
Some may say this is too low, but Ryan isn’t going to repeat his 7.1 percent touchdown rate, as his previous career-high was 5.2 percent. His yards per attempt was also 1.8 yards more than his previous career-high. Regression is coming for Matty Ice.
- Tyrod Taylor (QB – BUF)
Finished as the QB7 on a point per game basis in 2016, and was after finishing as the QB8 in 2015. He continues to be one of the most under-appreciated players in all of fantasy. The Bills went out and spent a high-2nd-round pick in order to snag wide receiver Zay Jones, giving him a legitimate threat opposite Sammy Watkins, who is now in a contract year.
- Mike Wallace (WR – BAL)
The Ravens likely held onto his contract because they didn’t have another receiver to step up and command 100-plus targets this season, and they didn’t draft one either. Wallace has finished as a top-28 wide receiver in seven of his eight seasons and is in a good position to do the same in 2017.
- LeGarrette Blount (RB – PHI)
I’m not buying another double-digit touchdown season from Blount, as he’s almost 31-years-old and was very mediocre outside of his time in New England. You thought Ryan Mathews was frustrating under Doug Pederson? Good luck with Blount.
- Duke Johnson (RB – CLE)
You don’t have to draft Johnson in this spot to get him, as his ADP is currently 13.11 as the 174th player off the board. Not only will Johnson have borderline flex-value while playing second-fiddle to Isaiah Crowell, but he’d be an RB1 if Crowell were to miss time. Johnson’s talent is the reason he was drafted in the seventh-round last year, not because of his situation.
- Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT)
When I initially did my rankings, Roethlisberger was ranked as my No. 12 quarterback, but something big has happened since that time. Martavis Bryant was reinstated. He’s played 19 career games with Bryant, averaging 337 yards and 2.11 touchdowns in those games. You have to deal with his road struggles, but his home games will win you weeks.
- Delanie Walker (TE – TEN)
Going from seeing 133 targets in 2015, to just 102 last season is quite the difference for a tight end. The additions of Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe proved to be enough to decrease his workload, but now they’ve added two even better players in Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. He’ll also be 33-years-old before the season starts.
- Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
Was the No. 6 quarterback last year on a points per game basis if you were to remove Week 17 when he was pulled after one series. There were only four quarterbacks who were QB1’s in 68.8 percent of their games last year: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Prescott (that includes his Week 17 game). My biggest concern is his schedule.
- Corey Coleman (WR – CLE)
Drafted to be a game-changer, Coleman will look to get back on track after an injury-filled rookie season where we saw glimpses of the player he could be. Kenny Britt will command targets, sure, but nowhere close to the 140 that Terrelle Pryor saw last year. It shouldn’t shock you if Coleman finishes as a top-24 wide receiver in 2017.
- Rishard Matthews (WR – TEN)
He’s not going to just disappear now that Corey Davis is in town, but he was due for touchdown regression regardless. There were just two wide receivers with more than 100 targets who caught more touchdowns on a per target basis, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. They both have Aaron Rodgers throwing to them.
- Pierre Garcon (WR – SF)
One of my favorite targets in season-long leagues, Garcon is going to give you what you pay for. The last season he played under Kyle Shanahan was 2013 when he led the NFL in targets with 182 of them. The 49ers paid him a lot of money to come there, and he’s legitimately their only starting-caliber receiver.
- Derrick Henry (RB – TEN)
It shouldn’t shock you if Henry takes over as the lead-dog in the Titans backfield, as he’s in his prime, while Murray is on the wrong side of 29. Henry averaged 4.96 yards per carry with four touchdowns over the final five weeks, while Murray averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and scored one touchdown over his final six games.
- DeSean Jackson (WR – TB)
He’ll be drafted much higher than this, but Jackson is going to find it tough to crack the top-30 with Mike Evans on the other side of the field. This was a better real-life football signing than it was for fantasy purposes. He’ll turn 31-years-old at the end of the season.
- Devante Parker (WR – MIA)
This could be a steal if the hype surrounding him this off-season turns out to be true. The coaches questioned him publicly last year, but have gone out of their way to praise him this off-season, going all-in on the third-year receiver. There were glimpses last year, when he had five games with 79 or more yards, despite seeing more than seven targets just three times.
- Willie Snead (WR – NO)
He’s been under-the-radar this off-season, despite the trade that sent Brandin Cooks away. While they play different roles, the absence of Cooks clears up 120-plus targets. He may have had the quietest top-35 season ever in 2016. Did you know he finished with more fantasy points than DeAndre Hopkins?
- Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
I can understand moving Hill up your list if you draft on upside alone, though I’m expecting massive regression with Hill. Not only did he score three special teams touchdowns, but he also scored nine rushing/receiving touchdowns on just 85 offensive touches (one every 9.4 touches). No receiver with more than 45 receptions scored a touchdown more than one every 10.1 targets in 2016, and that was Davante Adams who catches passes from Aaron Rodgers. Outside of Packers receivers, the next highest was Anquan Boldin at one every 11.9 targets. Hill is still catching passes from Alex Smith the last I checked, so I’m not betting on his crazy touchdown per touch ratio happening again.
- Jack Doyle (TE – IND)
Despite playing alongside Dwayne Allen and with a less-than-100-percent Andrew Luck, Doyle was able to finish as the No. 13 tight end last year, yet his ADP is currently in the 13th round as the 16th tight end off the board. If Doyle isn’t in your top-12 tight ends, you should be expecting big things from Erik Swoope.
- Jameis Winston (QB – TB)
Everything that has happened this off-season for the Bucs, has happened because they want Winston to have all the tools to succeed. It would have been nice to see them build up the offensive line a bit, but really good wide receivers can help make up for that. He’s finished inside the top 16 quarterbacks each of his first two seasons, and this is the season he takes the leap into the top 12.
- Cam Newton (QB – CAR)
He’s now finished as the QB17 in two of the last three seasons and the Panthers want to take away the thing that creates his fantasy points, running the ball. Not only did they extend Jonathan Stewart, but they drafted Christian McCaffrey with a top-eight pick, and took hybrid running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the second-round. In the 11 games after his concussion last year, Newton ran the ball just 61 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns, a far cry from his 100-plus carry, 600-yard rushing seasons in the past.
- Brandon Marshall (WR – NYG)
If you want to take away targets from Odell Beckham Jr. in order to get Marshall into WR2 territory, you can take that venture, but I won’t be on it. He’s entering his age-34 season and he just came off a season where he saw 128 targets, yet finished as the No. 52 receiver. The last time someone saw more than 120 targets and finished outside the top 36 was 2014, where both Vincent Jackson and Andre Johnson accomplished that feat. They are both out of football at this point.
- Hunter Henry (TE – LAC)
I get it, he finished as the No. 11 tight end in his rookie season. He also saw just 53 targets despite Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates, and Melvin Gordon being hurt at times during the year. That was also before Mike Williams was drafted at No. 7 overall. Unless Henry scores a touchdown every 6.6 targets like he did last year, it’s unlikely he comes close to his current TE8 ADP.
- Adrian Peterson (RB – NO)
Most have dubbed him as dead at this point in his career, though I’m not sure that’s the case. The problem, however, is that Mark Ingram is likely better than him at this moment. He should see something similar to the role Tim Hightower had the last few years, making him a touchdown-dependent flex play.
- Danny Woodhead (RB – BAL)
It’s tough to figure out where Woodhead fits in at this point of his career, but he’s going to be fantasy-relevant out of necessity. The Ravens threw the ball more than any other team in the NFL last year, with the running backs seeing 142 of them, which was tied for the second-most in the league. He’s an excellent pick in PPR leagues.
- Jamison Crowder (WR – WAS)
I wanted to put Crowder higher in my rankings, but without knocking Terrelle Pryor into low-end WR3 territory, it wasn’t happening. Crowder scored as many touchdowns as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combined last year (7), but still saw fewer targets than the both of them. Love the player, not necessarily the situation.
- Samaje Perine (RB – WAS)
This is based on pure assumption that Perine gets the starting job by Week 4. If he gets named the starter in the preseason, Perine would be moved into the 50-60 overall pick range. Perine can do everything Rob Kelley can do on first and second-down even better, and he can actually catch the ball. Stay tuned.
- Breshad Perriman (WR – BAL)
As discussed earlier in this article, the Ravens threw the ball more than any other team in 2016 and they lost 151 of their targets to wide receivers this off-season (Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken). Perriman may never live up to the expectations some set for him, but he may be a WR3 on volume alone in 2017.