Sunday, January 8, 2017

Way Too Early 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings

Image result for eli manningIf you read my blog last week, you may recall I said that Week 17 can be tricky to pick versus the spread with certain teams resting starters, some playing for nothing, etc.  Well, it turns out that for me, Week 17 was the easiest to pick yet!  I went 11-5 and 3-0 with my LOCKS!  Sadly, one of my locks was the Giants.  I knew they weren't resting any of their starters and would love to play spoiler to my Redskins.  They did exactly that and won outright to keep Washington out of the playoffs. :(

Anyway, here are the rest of my picks from last week, and below that are my results since I started picking games against the spread in Week 12.

Week 17 picks: 11-5
BAL @ CIN (BAL +1)
HOU @ TEN (TEN -3)
CAR @ TB (CAR +6.5)
JAC @ IND (IND -4.5)
NE @ MIA (MIA +10.5)
CHI @ MIN (MIN -5)
BUF @ NYJ (NYJ +5.5)
DAL @ PHI (PHI -3.5)
CLE @ PIT (CLE +6.5)
NO @ ATL (NO +7)
ARI @ LA (ARI -6)
OAK @ DEN (OAK +1.5)
KC @ SD (KC -4.5) LOCK
SEA @ SF (SEA -9.5)
GB @ DET (GB -3.5) LOCK

Overall Record: 54-41 (LOCKS: 8-1)
Week 12: 9-7
Week 13: 8-7
Week 14: 9-7
Week 15: 8-8   (LOCKS: 2-1)
Week 16: 9-7   (LOCKS: 3-0)
Week 17: 11-5 (LOCKS: 3-0)

If I keep up with my rankings in 2017, I'll definitely add picking versus the spread to the end of the blog.  I mean, I should at least do the 3 locks each week, right?

Speaking of 2017, it's never too early to start thinking about next year, so I thought I'd get a head start with my "WAY TOO EARLY" rankings below.  Rather than short blurbs next to each player, I broke out each chunk of rankings like a round in a mock draft and have a few comments to help explain my rankings of certain players after each group of 12.

Image result for leonard fournetteYou'll also notice that several of those players I highlighted in bold are rookies.  None of the experts who put together early rankings have rookies on their big boards.  What's up with that?  You know Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook are going to be in the top-100 next year.  You know this!  So why not rank them?!?  I don't get it.  Well, I have rookies in my early rankings, dammit!

Of course a lot will change in the months to come, but this will be a good jumping off point for when I update my rankings later in the year.

Feel free to let me know what you think I got right/wrong in the comments section!


1. Le'Veon Bell 
2. David Johnson
3. Ezekiel Elliott 
4. Antonio Brown
5. Odell Beckham, Jr. 
6. Mike Evans 
7. Julio Jones
8. LeSean McCoy
9. Jay Ajayi
10. Jordan Howard
11. DeMarco Murray   
12. Devonta Freeman

I feel like my top-3 could easily be shuffled in any order, and I'm sure all of the fantasy experts will enjoy debating who the #1 pick should be next year.  Here's the thing.  It's hard to go wrong picking one of these running backs, aside from injury or Le'Veon getting caught smoking weed again.  So don't overthink it if you have a top-3 pick in 2017.  Just go with your gut and grab one of these guys.

Image result for jordan howardAfter the big 3, there's an elite group of WRs that are just as difficult to put in any kind of order.  Again, tough to go wrong picking someone like Antonio Brown or Julio Jones in the first round. 

On a personal note, I hope I'm right in ranking Jordan Howard this highly. He's my #1 keeper option for next year, so I'm looking for the good times to keep on rolling with him in 2017.

13. AJ Green 
14. Jordy Nelson   
15. TY Hilton 
16. Dez Bryant
17. Michael Thomas 
18. Melvin Gordon
19. Lamar Miller 
20. Todd Gurley
21. Carlos Hyde  
22. Mark Ingram  
23. Aaron Rodgers
24. Rob Gronkowski

Image result for michael thomas saintsIn case you didn't notice, Michael Thomas put up top-10 fantasy numbers as a rookie.  That also included a goose egg against Denver (not surprising) and another zero when he missed Week 14.  A top-5 sophomore year doesn't seem unrealistic, especially if the Brandin Cooks trade rumors come to fruition.  As for the running backs, I could possibly see Melvin Gordon jump into the 1st round, but a healthy Danny Woodhead will eat into some of his every down back duties he had this year.  Keep in mind that Woodhead was a top-12 fantasy RB himself in 2015 (Gordon's rookie year).

After nearly 2 full rounds of RBs and WRs, it finally felt OK to rank Aaron Rodgers and Gronk.  As weird as it is seeing Gronk at the end of this round, his injury concerns make it tough to continue ranking him as a first rounder.  As for Rodgers, the quarterback position has become so deep in fantasy that it's hard to justify taking him with a top pick.  I got burned keeping Russell Wilson this season, and the perennial top-5 fantasy QB finished outside of the top-15 fantasy QBs with other guys like Cam and Big Ben.  I'll have Brees and Brady a couple of rounds later, but more and more I think I'm waiting on QB in 2017.

25. Amari Cooper 
26. Brandin Cooks 
27. Davante Adams
28. DeAndre Hopkins 
29. Alshon Jeffery
30. Allen Robinson  
31. Leonard Fournette (R)
32. Rob Kelley 
33. Eddie Lacy
34. Latavius Murray
35. Jeremy Hill 
36. Dalvin Cook (R)

Another top-10 fantasy WR in 2016 who may have been a little under the radar this season was Davante Adams.  Even though many of his big games were dependent on scoring TDs, he seems to belong up here with guys like Cooper and Cooks for me.  Let's just hope he's not the 2017 version of Allen Hurns.  Of course Aaron Rodgers isn't exactly Blake Bortles...

Image result for alshon jeffery
As for DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson, they were both fantasy studs in 2015 but didn't do much this season.  However, both were still top-10 in targets and could be solid rebound candidates for 2017.  Alshon Jeffery is someone to keep an eye on because I think he'll end up in a different city in 2017.  I'll probably need to adjust his ranking depending on his landing spot.

You'll also notice a couple of rookie RBs in this round.  I'm in a keeper league, and you can't keep anyone drafted in the first 2 rounds.  This being Round 3 (ish, depending on which keepers come off the list), I think Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook are both likely to get drafted.  Of course, both will need to land in decent spots to actually have some fantasy relevance in 2017, but I think it could happen for both of them.  With Isaiah Crowell being a free agent, I think the Browns let him go and draft Fournette with the #12 overall pick they got from Philly.  Everyone expects them to take another QB there, but I think they'll copy Dallas and go RB.  And I like Dalvin Cook to land somewhere like Carolina or Indy, where he can complement a Frank Gore or Jonathan Stewart (and ultimately become the lead back in either location). 

37. Michael Crabtree  
38. Demaryius Thomas 
40. Doug Baldwin   
41. Drew Brees
42. Tom Brady
43. Spencer Ware
44. LeGarrette Blount 
45. CJ Anderson     
46. Tevin Coleman
47. Travis Kelce
48. Jordan Reed  

If you're surprised to see Spencer Ware this high, just know that I'm ranking him like either Jamaal Charles won't be a Chief next season or Ware is the starter anyway.  You also may be thinking that LeGarrette Blount doesn't belong in the 4th Round, but this is assuming he's back in a Patriot uniform.  If he lands elsewhere, I'll likely drop him several rounds.  But if he's in New England, I don't see why he wouldn't have 10+ rushing TDs again in that offense (probably not 18 though).

Image result for travis kelce jordan reedIt also felt about the right time to rank a couple more TEs.  Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce were both on my fantasy team this season, so I'm very familiar with their production.  Kelce is more of a lock to play 16 games, but his usage some weeks can be downright frustrating.  I think Reed has more upside for big games every time he suits up, but that's the catch because he seems to be banged up more often than not.

49. Adrian Peterson
50. Doug Martin 
51. Thomas Rawls  
52. Jonathan Stewart 
53. Frank Gore   
54. Matt Forte  
55. Sammy Watkins
56. Keenan Allen
57. Emmanuel Sanders
58. Jarvis Landry    
59. Kelvin Benjamin
60. Golden Tate

Image result for adrian petersonAdrian Peterson feels like a BIG question mark for next season.  Will he be healthy?  Will he be a Viking?  His ranking could fluctuate a lot between now and August.  The same goes for Doug Martin, who will have to sit out the first 3 games of 2017 due to suspension.  That lowered him quite a bit for me, and I think it's very possible the Bucs draft a RB who could start 2017 splitting carries with Charles Sims.  If that's the case, Martin will likely free fall down my rankings.

Sammy Watkins feels a bit low outside of my top-50, but he can't seem to stay on the field lately with that foot issue.  Depending on his health leading into the 2017 season, he may move up or down from Round 5.  The same goes for Keenan Allen, who has a lot of potential but hasn't been healthy since 2014.  He also has yet to reproduce a season anywhere near his rookie year.  I ranked him above Tyrell Williams for now, but that may change as we get closer to training camps and preseason games.  Tyrell was impressive in the second half of 2016, and it'll be interesting to see how both look in the preseason.

61. Andrew Luck
62. Matt Ryan 
63. Ameer Abdullah
64. Kenneth Dixon 
65. Paul Perkins  
66. C.J. Prosise  
67. Julian Edelman 
68. Terrelle Pryor, Sr. 
69. Larry Fitzgerald 
70. Tyreek Hill   
71. Mike Williams (R)
72. Corey Davis (R) 

This round has a handful of young running backs primed to take over lead back duties next season.  First among them is Abdullah, who started 2016 off with a bang before landing on the IR.  The former 2nd round draft pick could be a nice post-hype sleeper.  Kenneth Dixon got more involved with Baltimore's offense as the season went on, and I could definitely see him getting the majority of the work in 2017. 

Image result for corey davis western michiganYou may be thinking this is WAY too low for Tyreek Hill, who was a second half stud and won people some fantasy championships.  But teams are going to stop punting to him, and unless Kansas City gets him more involved in the offense, he just doesn't get the touches to have that consistency you want in a WR1 or even WR2.  I just don't see him as a top-12 fantasy WR again next season.  Not even close.  But if you're able to draft him around pick #70, he'll probably look really nice in your FLEX spot.

Speaking of young wideouts, two rookie WRs end up in this round for me.  Of course a lot will depend on which team drafts each of them as to whether they move up or down from here, but this seemed like a decent spot to rank them for now.

73. Russell Wilson   
74. Derek Carr 
75. Dak Prescott
76. Cam Newton 
77. Kirk Cousins
78. Derrick Henry 
79. Isaiah Crowell 
80. Dion Lewis 
81. Ryan Mathews
82. Bilal Powell      
83. Theo Riddick
84. Jerick McKinnon

It may be even sooner, but this feels like where there will be a big run on QBs in fantasy drafts next year.  I think once Andrew Luck comes off the board, you'll start seeing everyone else grabbing a starting QB for their squad.  And the good news is, there's plenty of depth at the position.  All 5 of the QBs I have ranked in this round could easily be top-5 fantasy QBs in 2017.  And the same could be said for the few I have ranked a couple rounds later!
Image result for dion lewis
If the Patriots let LeGarrette Blount walk, keep an eye on Dion Lewis.  He would climb my rankings if such a scenario played out because it could mean a return to his 2015 form.  It's also possible I have Bilal Powell way too low here, but I don't see him overtaking a healthy Matt Forte.  I just don't.
85. Jamaal Charles
86. Giovani Bernard 
87. Danny Woodhead     
88. Donte Moncrief 
89. Jamison Crowder
90. Rishard Matthews    
91. Tyrell Williams  
92. DeVante Parker  
93. Eric Decker 
94. Kenny Britt
95. Brandon Marshall 
96. J.J. Nelson  

This round includes a few running backs who have had recent injuries that will make them difficult to rank/draft in 2017.  They're followed by a tier of WRs that includes my man Jamison Crowder, who could end up being Kirk's top receiver in 2017.  DeSean and Garcon are both free agents, and I expect Washington to let both of them go (especially if Josh Doctson gets himself healthy).  Of course there are rumors right now that the Redskins have interest in free agent Kenny Britt, which could shake this round up even more.  Britt had the best year of his career, and if he could land somewhere like Washington, he could go from irrelevancy to a WR2 like THAT (*snaps fingers*).

Image result for j.j. nelson cardinalsAnother name that could have serious value as we get into these later rounds is J.J. Nelson.  If the Cardinals don't try to improve their receiving corps in the draft, J.J. could be the clear #2 WR for Arizona next year.  John Brown is dealing with a health issue (sickle cell), and the Cardinals cut Michael Floyd after his DUI arrest.  Nelson had a touchdown in 4 of his last 5 games of the season, and he averaged 10 targets/game in his last 3.  A year 3 breakout doesn't just seems possible but likely for this guy.

97. Marcus Mariota  
98. Matthew Stafford  
99. Jameis Winston 
100. Ben Roethlisberger
101. Greg Olsen
102. Tyler Eifert  
103. Jimmy Graham  
104. Delanie Walker
105. Christian McCaffery (R)
106. Charles Sims  
107. Duke Johnson     
108. T.J. Yeldon

Image result for christian mccaffreyLet's throw in a few more tight ends, shall we?  After Gronk, Reed, and Kelce, this group is full of guys who could all be top-5 fantasy TEs in 2017.  I think Eifert has the biggest potential to be the #1 fantasy TE if he can stay healthy, so he's a nice value pick if you can get him this late in a draft.  But that's a big "IF" for a guy who has only played about half of his games through 4 seasons in the NFL. 

I highlighted Christian McCaffery here because he seems like such a wild card in the draft.  But couldn't you just see the Patriots drafting him and using him as a wide receiver...?
109. Cameron Meredith
110. Stefon Diggs 
111. Mike Wallace 
112. Sterling Shepard  
113. Martavis Bryant
114. John Ross (R) 
115. Breshad Perriman
116. Corey Coleman  
117. Kevin White  
118. Josh Doctson
119. Marqise Lee
120. Tyler Lockett 

This round is full of WRs with breakout potential, and I feel like I could have highlighted the entire round!

I've already mentioned how I think Alshon is likely to not be a Bear in 2017, and Kevin White can't stay healthy for more than 5 minutes.  That could leave Cameron Meredith as the top WR left in Chicago.  Of course, he'll need someone to get the ball to him, and that's kind of a question mark at the moment...

Image result for martavis bryantOne name you didn't see this season was Martavis Bryant, who served a suspension for smoking weed.  If he's reinstated and can lay off the ganja, we could be looking at a top-10 fantasy WR buried here in the later rounds.  Of course those are big "IFs".

John Ross is skipping his senior season to enter the draft, but where will the Huskie land?  This is obviously the theme of all of the rookies I'm ranking, and their fantasy potential won't be fully understood until after the NFL draft concludes at the end of April. 

121. Chris Ivory 
122. Terrance West 
123. Rashad Jennings  
124. Darren Sproles 
125. Kyle Rudolph   
126. Cameron Brate
127. Jeremy Maclin
128. DeSean Jackson   
129. Marvin Jones
130. Chiefs DEFENSE
131. Seahawks DEFENSE  
132. Broncos DEFENSE

Image result for chiefs defenseI'm not super excited about anyone in this round, but you'll notice I actually ranked 3 defenses slightly ahead of the rest here.  I have no problem streaming defenses, as I find it pretty easy every week to play the matchups and get good production from a defense on the waiver wire.  But if I were to draft a defense before the second to last round, I might reach for one of these three.
133. Philip Rivers  
134. Tyrod Taylor 
135. Andy Dalton 
136. Zach Ertz
137. Eric Ebron    
138. Hunter Henry  
139. Randall Cobb 
140. Malcolm Mitchell     
141. Kenny Stills  
142. Cole Beasley 
143. Taylor Gabriel  
144. Adam Thielen

Image result for philip rivers chargersHere we are in the 12th round of a 12-team fantasy draft, and you could potentially get Philip Rivers as your starting QB?  We're talking about a top-12 fantasy QB each of the last three seasons (maybe more, but that's as far back as my research goes!).  That's how deep the QB position has become.  It's time to WAIT ON QB!

Keep an eye out for where Kenny Stills lands in free agency.  This is a guy who quietly had 9 receiving TDs this year, which included a score in each of his last 4 games.  If he gets a better QB throwing to him in 2017, he may need to move up my rankings.
145. Mike Gillislee  
146. Jalen Richard 
147. Devontae Booker
148. Joe Mixon (R)
149. Jacquizz Rodgers
150. Ty Montgomery   
151. Tim Hightower
152. Chris Thompson
153. Michael Floyd  
154. Jordan Matthews
155. Will Fuller 
156. Tyler Boyd  

This round is full of random RBs and WRs that I just had a hard time ranking any higher than this right now.  Jacquizz Rodgers could potentially start 2017 as Tampa Bay's starting running back.  And who knows?  Maybe Ty Montgomery will too if Eddie Lacy's not healthy enough to return to action.  You just never know...

Image result for michael floyd patriotsJoe Mixon declared early for the NFL draft, but will a team draft him after his Ray Rice-like video?  My guess is "yes" based on his performance in the Sugar Bowl, but time will tell.  He has a lot of talent and could certainly be worth a late round flier in fantasy drafts, as long as he's on a team fighting for a #2 or 3 RB spot somewhere.

Speaking of character issues, Michael Floyd is an interesting guy to watch in the offseason.  He still has the potential to be a good receiver in this league, but he has a lot of question marks surrounding him right now.

It may be strange seeing Jordan Matthews ranked this low, but I have a hard time with him any higher than this.  I think the Eagles will address the WR position in the draft and/or free agency to give Wentz someone who can actually catch the football.  As a result, I'm not so sure Matthews is the default #1 WR for the Eagles next season. 

157. Blake Bortles 
158. Eli Manning   
159. Joe Flacco 
160. Zach Miller 
161. Ladarius Green 
162. Martellus Bennett
163. Wendell Smallwood
164. DeAndre Washington
165. Kenyan Drake
166. Devin Funchess
167. Tajae Sharpe
168. Laquon Treadwell 

Image result for devin funchess panthersIt wasn't always pretty, but after his top-5 fantasy performance in 2015, Blake Bortles actually ended up as a top-12 fantasy QB in 2016.  The Jags will continue to play from behind in games, and Bortles will probably continue to get you those garbage time fantasy points as a result.  Just don't watch the games and you'll be fine.

Assuming Ted Ginn leaves Carolina via free agency, Devin Funchess becomes an interesting name for a potential 3rd year WR breakout candidate.  This might be way too low for him if he's the clear #2 for the Panthers entering the 2017 season.

169. Andre Ellington
170. Rex Burkhead
171. Justin Forsett
172. Cardinals DEFENSE
173. Patriots DEFENSE
174. Giants DEFENSE  
175. Vikings DEFENSE     
176. Panthers DEFENSE 
177. Ravens DEFENSE
178. Texans DEFENSE
179. Bengals DEFENSE
180. Packers DEFENSE

Image result for andre ellingtonIf you're still reading this, you're probably scratching your head with these 3 RBs I've chosen to rank before the rest of my defenses.  Well, all three of these guys are likely to be with different teams in 2017.  Forsett probably has the least chance at even being a #2 RB somewhere seeing as how he's on the wrong side of 30, but we'll see if any of these guys are worth ranking when training camps start.

181. Justin Tucker 
182. Stephen Gostkowski
183. Steven Hauschka 
184. Dan Bailey
185. Matt Bryant
186. Cairo Santos
187. Matt Prater
188. Sebastian Janikowski
189. Brandon McManus
190. Adam Vinatieri
191. Mason Crosby
192. Graham Gano 
Image result for justin tucker ravensPlease wait until the last round to draft a kicker. 
Or better yet, eliminate them from your league entirely...

But if you have kickers in your league, and you're forced to draft one, draft Justin Tucker.  The Ravens have a hard time scoring touchdowns.  Their defense is solid.  Oh, and Tucker can split the uprights from anywhere on the field.

Here are a few more players I'll likely consider ranking at each position later this year:

Deshaun Watson (R)
Mitch Trubisky (R)
DeShone Kizer (R)
Carson Palmer
Tony Romo
Jay Cutler
Colin Kaepernick
Jimmy Garoppolo

Alex Collins
James White
Zach Zenner
Dwayne Washington
Charcandrick West
Alfred Morris
Darren McFadden
DeAngelo Williams
Matt Asiata
Cameron Artis-Payne
Matt Jones
James Starks
Christine Michael
Jeremy Langford
Tyler Ervin
Robert Turbin
Royce Freeman (R)
Jeremy McNichols (R)
Samaje Perine (R)
D'Onta Foreman (R)
Wayne Gallman (R)
Corey Clement (R)

Pierre Garcon
Robert Woods
Brian Quick
Cordarrelle Patterson
Ted Ginn
Willie Snead
John Brown
Tavon Austin
Allen Hurns
Dontrelle Inman
Chris Hogan
Anquan Boldin
Mohamed Sanu
Phillip Dorsett
Dorial Green-Beckham
Travis Benjamin
Robby Anderson
Quincy Enunwa
Josh Gordon
Vincent Jackson
Torrey Smith
JuJu Smith-Schuster (R)
Dede Westbrook (R)
Amara Darboh (R)
Curtis Samuel (R)
Isaiah Ford (R)
Travis Rudolph (R)
Zay Jones (R)
Cooper Kupp (R)

Gary Barnidge
Julius Thomas
Coby Fleener
Vance McDonald
Austin Hooper
Dwayne Allen
Charles Clay
O.J. Howard (R)
Jake Butt (R)


Daniel Carlson (R)
Zane Gonzalez (R)