17 for ’17: Fantasy Football Predictions for 2017

Fantasy football success can come through many avenues. It can come through dogged research and statistical analysis. It can come through eye tests and understanding likely game scripts. Sometimes success comes from going with your gut. Ideally, your preparation is a well-rounded mix, but there’s a lot to be said for that gut feeling. With the NFL season a week away from kicking off, here are 17 gut predictions for the upcoming fantasy football season. Make sure to stay updated up until your draft with our standard and PPR rankings.

1. David Johnson will rush for 1,000 yards and gain 1,000 yards receiving. Last season he was 121 yards shy of accomplishing the feat when he got hurt in the final game of the season. This time he’ll make it happen. The receiving corps isn’t outstanding, so he’ll have ample opportunity to be used in the passing game. He caught 80 passes last year, more than Brandin Cooks, Terrelle Pryor, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Pierre Garcon.

2. Todd Gurley won’t be as disappointing as last season, but he won’t finish the season as an RB1. While it’s great that Jeff Fisher is finally gone and Sammy Watkins is now on the team, Gurley still has a bad line in front of him. In addition to that, he just doesn’t look good when he has to make one guy miss. He rushed for 3.2 yards per carry last season and had a long run of just 24 yards.

3. Martavis Bryant will finish the season as a WR2 or better. Before he was suspended last season, he was targeted 92 times in 2015. He caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant has looked solid in preseason and his talent is undeniable. He’ll definitely be able to hold off Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

4. Marshawn Lynch won’t break 850 yards rushing. His coach said he doesn’t want to give him more than 200 rushing attempts. It’ll be tough for him to be an RB1 with that volume. Also, people forget that before he was injured in 2015, he wasn’t playing very well. He had 417 yards on 111 carries for a 3.8 yard per carry average. He scored just three times.

5. Jay Cutler will make DeVante Parker a WR2 and Julius Thomas a TE1. Smoking Jay Cutler has never lacked ability. He just needs a good situation in which to thrive. If he can get the ball out quickly and rely on Jay Ajayi’s running ability, the passing game will open up and provide nice numbers Parker and Thomas wouldn’t have gotten with Ryan Tannehill.

6. LeGarrette Blount will have major regression, rushing for less than 8 touchdowns this season. He had 18 rushing touchdowns last season and won’t come close to that production this year. The running style of the Eagles isn’t conducive to Blount’s style. The Eagles’ best back last year rushed for just 661 yards. Blount was in a perfect situation last year. He won’t repeat.

7. Dak Prescott will be a top-6 fantasy quarterback. The lack of Ezekiel Elliott for (likely) six games will force the Cowboys to rely on the second-year quarterback that has looked great in preseason. Prescott was third in quarterback rating last season, but threw for just 229 yards per game. That was 26th best last season. If he can keep the efficiency up in an increased passing role, his fantasy scoring could propel him to the top tier.

8. Jamison Crowder will score more fantasy points than Terrelle Pryor. He already has chemistry with Kirk Cousins, playing in all 32 games in his first two seasons. Crowder was targeted 97 times last season with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both ahead of him last year. Pryor will be the focus of defenses, leaving Crowder with softer coverage.

9. Mark Ingram will be the best running back in New Orleans this season. He finally rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, but the Saints brought in Adrian Peterson. Ingram had a very efficient season, rushing 205 times with a 5.1 yard per carry average. He’s rushed for at least six touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. What’s even more encouraging is his reception numbers over the last two seasons. He’s caught 96 passes in the last two years. Ingram had four receiving touchdowns last year.

10. Jeremy Hill will win out in the battle of the Bengals running backs. Joe Mixon looks like he can do anything, and he probably can if his head coach lets him loose. But Marvin Lewis doesn’t like to do that. Gio Bernard will remain the third-down back and provide a change of pace. Hill is a veteran and is nursing an ankle injury now, but if he stays healthy then Lewis will trust him.

11. Nobody will have 100 receptions this season. Just three receivers had more than 100 receptions last season. Larry Fitzgerald (107), Antonio Brown (106) and Odell Beckham Jr. (101) were the only players to accomplish that feat last year. Fitzgerald is getting old, Brown will share targets with Bryant and Beckham Jr. has Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to contend with. The player that was next closest was Julian Edelman with 98 catches.

12. Matthew Stafford will respond to his mega contract with a top-8 fantasy performance this season. When the Lions didn’t draft one of the many available running backs, it became clear that they are happy with Stafford throwing the ball. Last season he threw 594 passes and the Lions rushed just 350 times, tied for the league low. With two agile, pass-catching running backs and a lot of receiving options, Stafford will put up big numbers.

13. Zach Ertz will be a top-5 tight end. Ertz was the number one receiving option in Philly last season, but when Alshon Jeffery joined the team it seemed he’d take a back seat. He may not be the top option for the Eagles anymore, but Jordan Matthews shipping off to Buffalo opens things back up. Ertz might be the No. 2 option but put up bigger raw numbers since he won’t be the focus of the defense.

14. Keenan Allen will play 16 games for the first time in his career. He’s looked great in the preseason and after playing just nine games in two years I’ve got a feeling he finally puts an entire season together. If he can pull that off, he’ll likely post career highs in catches and yards.

15. Andrew Luck won’t start the season, but he’ll end up as a QB1. He hasn’t practiced all preseason after undergoing shoulder surgery seven months ago. Chuck Pagano is being tight-lipped on the quarterback’s availability. It’s definitely a situation to be concerned about. But I just have a gut feeling that he’ll be back before too long. The good news is he’s falling in most drafts. You may be able to take him a lot later than his ADP (8th round). He’s going as low as the 11th in some drafts.

16. At least five rookie running backs will be RB1 or RB2 status. Leonard Fournette will benefit from volume while Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey can showcase versatility. D’Onta Foreman has looked great in preseason and it doesn’t take him a lot of touches to be productive. He’ll play second fiddle to Lamar Miller early, but he could break out when given the opportunity.

17. Kareem Hunt will be the top-performing rookie, outpacing the running backs mentioned in prediction No. 16. Spencer Ware had a great season last year, except he didn’t get into the end zone often. If Hunt continues to look like he does in preseason, with little competition in KC, he could end up as a high-end RB2 or even a low-end RB1. The Chiefs offensive scheme benefits the rookie greatly.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Our fantasy running back rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. For the next few days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I will share our rankings for each position side-by-side. We started with quarterbacks. Running backs are up next, followed by wide receivers, tight ends and defenses. At the end of this list are a few questions regarding where we ranked the running backs. Ranks in bold are discussed at the bottom.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Tijerina—David Johnson; Vasquez—David Johnson

2. Tijerina—Le’Veon Bell; Vasquez—Le’Veon Bell

3. Tijerina—Devonta Freeman; Vasquez—LeSean McCoy

4. Tijerina—LeSean McCoy; Vasquez—Devonta Freeman

5. Tijerina—Ezekiel Elliott; Vasquez—Melvin Gordon

6. Tijerina—Melvin Gordon; Vasquez—DeMarco Murray

7. Tijerina—Jordan Howard; Vasquez—Jordan Howard

8. Tijerina—Todd Gurley; Vasquez—Jay Ajayi

9. Tijerina—Isaiah Crowell; Vasquez—Leonard Fournette

10. Tijerina—Dalvin Cook; Vasquez—Isaiah Crowell

11. Tijerina—DeMarco Murray; Vasquez—Todd Gurley

12. Tijerina—Jay Ajayi; Vasquez—Marshawn Lynch

13. Tijerina—C.J. Anderson; Vasquez—Ezekiel Elliott

14. Tijerina—Leonard Fournette; Vasquez—Frank Gore

15. Tijerina—Christian McCaffrey; Vasquez—Lamar Miller

16. Tijerina—LeGarrette Blount; Vasquez—Christian McCaffrey

17. Tijerina—Joe Mixon; Vasquez—Mark Ingram

18. Tijerina—Spencer Ware; Vasquez—Spencer Ware

19. Tijerina—Carlos Hyde; Vasquez—Carlos Hyde

20. Tijerina—Lamar Miller; Vasquez—Joe Mixon

21. Tijerina—Tevin Coleman; Vasquez—Ty Montgomery

22. Tijerina—Marshawn Lynch; Vasquez—Dalvin Cook

23. Tijerina—Ty Montgomery; Vasquez—Danny Woodhead

24. Tijerina—Mark Ingram; Vasquez—Tevin Coleman

25. Tijerina—Paul Perkins; Vasquez—Mike Gillislee

26. Tijerina—Derrick Henry; Vasquez—C.J. Anderson

27. Tijerina—Doug Martin; Vasquez—Ameer Abdullah

28. Tijerina—Adrian Peterson; Vasquez—Adrian Peterson

29. Tijerina—Mike Gillislee; Vasquez—Matt Forte

30. Tijerina—Matt Forte; Vasquez—Bilal Powell

31. Tijerina—Rob Kelley; Vasquez—Doug Martin

32. Tijerina—Ameer Abdullah; Vasquez—Kareem Hunt

33. Tijerina—Jonathan Stewart; Vasquez—Theo Riddick

34. Tijerina—Thomas Rawls; Vasquez—Paul Perkins

35. Tijerina—Darren McFadden; Vasquez—Terrance West

Three questions about these rankings:

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) beats Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Robert Golden (21) and Cortez Allen (28) to the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

What do you do with Ezekiel Elliott, assuming the suspension holds at six games?

Tijerina: Worst case, he misses six games. You draft accordingly and have yourself covered till he returns for the last half of your regular season and the playoffs. He’ll be angry, fresh and who knows what situation the Cowboys’ season will be in? And that offensive line still makes him an elite fantasy back. Draft Darren McFadden if you can, as protection. This feels like when Tom Brady slipped in drafts and ended up having the monster year despite his suspension. And Elliott’s appeal hearing isn’t until Aug. 29; who knows how this will play out? The suspension could be reduced, or it could be thrown out, or it could be put off till later, like Brady’s did.

Vasquez: I can’t see myself drafting him any higher than the mid-to-late third round. Missing six games is just about half your fantasy season. The only way he holds value is if he can be taken later in drafts. Of course, if you can weather the storm for those first six games he’ll be an automatic RB1 upon his return and you’re looking good. The other issue is that this appeal process could possibly loom. It’s not set in stone that a ruling will come down before the season, or even in the middle. You’d hate to have him play during the appeal and have a decision interrupt your season. I almost want to stay away altogether.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) rushes as Seattle Seahawks linebacker Terence Garvin (52) closes in during the first half of an NFL football preseason game, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Why is Dalvin Cook an RB1 or RB2?

Tijerina: Cook’s not only an RB1, he’s my favorite rookie running back. He’s in such a better position in Minnesota than the other first-rounders who were taken ahead of him. All of them (Fournette, McCaffrey and Mixon) are contending with experienced backs who’ll take carries away from them. But Latavius Murray’s bad ankle has kept him out of the first two preseason games and Jerick McKinnon isn’t getting touches. Cook is averaging more than 4 yards a carry and also is getting passes out of the backfield.

Vasquez: He’s going to be great some day, just not quite yet. With Latavius Murray in the picture I can see the rookie not being used to his full extent. Rookies like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are in better situations at this point. Cook will be good on passing downs, but I have a feeling Murray could end up taking care of goal line work. I haven’t been the biggest believer in Murray, but he’s what’s keeping me from making Cook an RB1.

What is Frank Gore’s outlook for this season and does he hold any fantasy value?

Tijerina: No thanks. I’ll pass on Gore. For me, he’s a bench player, someone to plug in on a bye week. I’d rather have Marlon Mack if I’m drafting a Colts running back. But I actually stopped drafting him about two years ago.

Vasquez: The more we keep writing him off, the longer Gore keeps staying relevant to fantasy football. In his first six seasons he played every game just once. Over the next six seasons he hasn’t missed a game. That’s durability. It has to run out at some point, but I’ll wait until we see signs of that happening. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and accounted for eight touchdowns. That’s not what you want out of a RB1, but he can definitely contribute as a high-end flex player and a mid-level RB2.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Updated Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard and PPR

Here are the updated standard and point-per-reception rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season. Click on the different positions to get rankings by position. Toggle between STD and PPR to get standard and PPR rankings.

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 200

The earliest date NFL rookies report to training camp is July 19. That’s less than two weeks away, so with that in mind we’ll take a look at our updated Top 200 fantasy football rankings.

It’s important to note that these rankings reflect a player’s true value in my opinion, not necessarily their average draft position. These rankings are for half-point PPR leagues, since more leagues are placing value on receptions.

1. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
4. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
6. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
8. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
10. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers fights off cornerback Chris Harris #25 of the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 30, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

11. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
12. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
13. Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
14. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
15. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
16. Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
17. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
18. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
19. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns
20. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans

Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans rushes past Rashaan Melvin #30 of the Indianapolis Colts and Darryl Morris #35 in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

21. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
22. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
23. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
24. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
25. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
26. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
27. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles
28. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
29. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
30. Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots

Brandin Cooks is the top receiver in New Orleans, but he'll have a tough time getting free from Patrick Peterson in Week One. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Brandin Cooks before being traded to the New England Patriots. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

31. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
32. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders
33. Frank Gore, RB, Colts
34. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
35. Davante Adams, WR, Packers
36. Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots
37. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
38. Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins
39. Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders
40. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
41. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
42. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
43. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
44. Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
45. Golden Tate, WR, Lions
46. Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs
47. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
48. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
49. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
50. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Lavonte David #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

51. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins
52. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
53. Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers
54. Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
55. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions
56. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
57. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
58. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts
59. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers
60. Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
61. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks
62. Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens
63. Adrian Peterson, RB, Saints
64. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
65. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens
66. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers
67. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos
68. Matt Forte, RB, Jets
69. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
70. Bilal Powell, RB, Jets

Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets rushes for a 19-yard touchdown to beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in overtime of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

71. Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings
72. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
73. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
74. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins
75. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
76. Theo Riddick, RB, Lions
77. Paul Perkins, RB, Giants
78. Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants
79. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
80. Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins
81. Terrance West, RB, Ravens
82. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
83. C.J. Prosise, RB, Seahawks
84. Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
85. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
86. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
87. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
88. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
89. Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings
90. Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
91. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles
92. Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks
93. Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers
94. Willie Snead, WR, Saints
95. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
96. Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
97. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
98. DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
99. Eric Decker, WR, Titans
100. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

101. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
102. John Brown, WR, Cardinals
103. Devante Parker, WR, Dolphins
104. Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
105. Denver Broncos, DST
106. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
107. Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets
108. Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
109. Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
110. Seattle Seahawks, DST
111. Houston Texans, DST
112. Corey Coleman, WR, Browns
113. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
114. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
115. Arizona Cardinals, DST
116. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
117. Jack Doyle, TE, Colts
118. Cameron Meredith, WR, Bears
119. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
120. Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings
121. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
122. Jamaal Charles, RB, Broncos
123. Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers
124. New England Patriots, DST
125. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
126. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

Alvin Kamara #6 carries the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Vanderbilt Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 45-34. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

127. Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens
128. Ted Ginn, WR, Saints
129. Robert Kelley, RB, Redskins
130. Kansas City Chiefs, DST
131. Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins
132. Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins
133. Carolina Panthers, DST
134. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles
135. Minnesota Vikings, DST
136. Marvin Jones, WR, Lions
137. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills
138. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars
139. Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins
140. Joe Williams, RB, 49ers
141. Martellus Bennett, TE, Packers
142. Kenny Britt, WR, Browns
143. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
144. Kevin White, WR, Bears
145. Corey Davis, WR, Titans
146. New York Giants, DST
147. James White, RB, Patriots
148. Robert Woods, WR, Rams
149. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Ravens
150. Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers
151. Coby Fleener, TE, Saints
152. Will Fuller, WR, Texans

Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

153. Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
154. Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
155. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
156. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
157. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins
158. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
159. Charles Clay, TE, Bills
160. Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons
161. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
162. Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots
163. Los Angeles Rams, DST
164. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
165. Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
166. Benjamin Watson, TE, Ravens
167. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers
168. Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders
169. Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos
170. David Njoku, TE, Browns
171. Pittsburgh Steelers, DST
172. Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys
173. Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans
174. Jesse James, TE, Steelers
175. Baltimore Ravens, DST
176. Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons
177. Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins
178. Justin Tucker, K, Ravens

Kicker Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after a first quarter field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles at M&T Bank Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

179. DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders
180. Breshad Perriman, WR, Ravens
181. D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texans
182. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
183. Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots
184. Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
185. Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars
186. Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
187. Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys
188. John Ross, WR, Bengals
189. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons
190. Matt Bryant, K, Falcons
191. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts
192. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers
193. Chris Conley, WR, Chiefs
194. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Texans
195. Robert Turbin, RB, Colts
196. Cincinnati Bengals, DST
197. Jonathan Williams, RB, Bills
198. Tim Hightower, RB, 49ers
199. Sam Bradford, QB, Vikings
200. Mike Glennon, QB, Bears

2017 fantasy football rankings: Kickers

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at the top 12 kickers before we update our higher-valued positions next week. We’ve ranked the quarterbacks 1-32running backs from 1-36, wide receivers 1-36, tight ends 1-24 and defenses 1-12. Kickers will be ranked 1-12.

If there were a position I would eliminate from fantasy football, it would be kickers. As it stands, however, most leagues force you to draft at least one. Here are our rankings for the 2017 season.

1. Justin Tucker, Ravens—You can’t go wrong with a guy who can hit from 60+ with historic accuracy. He went 38-of-39 last season and was 10-for-10 from beyond 50 yards.

2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots—He’s consistent and so is the Patriots offense. Gostkowski attempted 49 extra points last season, third most in the league.

3. Dan Bailey, Cowboys—If the Cowboys continue to control the ground game and Dak Prescott stays efficient, he’ll be kicking a lot of extra points. He was perfect from 39 yards and under.

4. Matt Bryant, Falcons—He was 34-for-37 last season and was 15-of-17 from beyond 40 yards. The Falcons high-octane offense should still be effective. Bryant connected on 56-of-57 extra points last season, best in the league.

5. Adam Vinatieri, Colts—I expect the Colts offense to improve a bit, allowing Vinatieri to benefit from good field position. He was 17-of-21 from beyond 40 yards last season and made 44 extra points.

6. Mason Crosby, Packers—He hit 87 percent of his field goals last season and was 25-of-28 from 49 yards and under.

7. Matt Prater, Lions

8. Cairo Santos, Chiefs

9. Steven Hauschka, Bills

10. Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders

11. Will Lutz, Saints

12. Chris Boswell, Steelers

2017 fantasy football rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at the top 12 defenses before ranking kickers next week. We’ve ranked the quarterbacks 1-32running backs from 1-36, wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Kickers will be ranked 1-12.

Defense wins championships. You’ve heard it time and again. But is it true in fantasy football? While it may be less of a factor than in real football, the starting position is one that can’t be ignored. Make sure you don’t take a top-tier defense until at least late in the ninth round. You can definitely find something serviceable in the 14th.

1. Seattle Seahawks—The performance of the Seahawks defense this season is very contingent on the health of Earl Thomas and if Seattle can play well at the cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman. You have to like them playing the 49ers and Rams twice.

2. Denver Broncos—They tried to address their run stopping issues last season by adding some beef in the trenches. They added two 300-plus pound veterans and signed another undrafted rookie free agent. Von Miller is at his peak right now and that pass rush is huge for defensive scoring potential in fantasy.

3. Houston Texans—If J.J. Watt comes back from his back surgery at even 85 percent of his usual production, the Texans’ defense should be really good. Jadeveon Clowney is finally looking like the player they drafted and the defensive front is looking as stout as ever. Throw in two games against the Jaguars and things look good for them.

4. Arizona Cardinals—There are some question marks, but the talent in the secondary and a stout rush defense make for a nice defensive scoring floor.

5. New England Patriots—They get to play the Jets, Bills and Dolphins twice apiece and Bill Belichick is a rare defensive guru who finds ways to disrupt what teams want to do offensively. Not to take credit from current defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, who shut down the Falcons in the second half of the most recent Super Bowl.

6. Carolina Panthers—The Panthers took a step back in 2016 after losing Josh Norman to the Redskins. They should see some improvement as their second-year cornerback James Bradberry was rated as the top rookie at his position last year, according to Pro Football Focus. They’ve added Julius Peppers, Mike Adams and Captain Munnerlyn to shore things up.

7. Kansas City Chiefs

8. Minnesota Vikings

9. Los Angeles Rams

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

11. Baltimore Ravens

12. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 fantasy football position rankings: Tight Ends

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at the top 24 tight ends before turning to defenses next week. We’ve ranked the QBs 1-32running backs from 1 to 36 and wide receivers 1 to 36. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

Any of the top four tight ends listed here could end up being the best in the league this season. There’s even a chance any of the top seven could end up being TE1. In addition, a mix of rookies and second-year players are in good situations to contribute.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots—He might as well change his first name to “if he’s healthy” because it seems like every year we say, “if he’s healthy, he should be the best tight end in the game.” His new contract is full of incentives, so he should do everything he can to stay on the field to dominate.

2. Jordan Reed, Redskins—Another tight end that needs to find a way to stay on the field is Reed. He was on the injury report more than a handful of times last season. He’s going in the middle of the fourth round in mock drafts so you might as well wait on the position unless he falls to the fifth.

3. Travis Kelce, Chiefs—He’s getting drafted in the fourth round as well, and he may end up being a safer pick than Reed. He had a late-season streak of games in which he had at least 100 yards receiving. His biggest week came against a tough Broncos defense in fantasy championship week.

4. Greg Olsen, Panthers—His success is somewhat dependent on Cam Newton being able to complete more than just 53 percent of his passes. Olsen had a terrible second half of the season and didn’t score a touchdown after Week 9. The addition of Christian McCaffrey could end up taking pressure of Newton, allowing him to connect better with his receivers.

5. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks—He struggled in the first week of the season last year, but picked it up after that. And that was with a hobbled Russell Wilson slinging the ball around while under a lot of pressure. With Wilson back healthy enough to scramble things should improve for the veteran.

6. Tyler Eifert, Bengals—He’s bound to play a full season, right? Eifert hasn’t played all 16 games in his four years. Here’s hoping he can get it done in his fifth. There’s no doubt that when he’s on the field he’s incredibly tough to cover. Eifert scored five touchdowns in just half a season last year.

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) catches the ball during an NFL Football game between Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

7. Delanie Walker, Titans—Marcus Mariota is entering his third year and looking like the real deal. That’s good news for Walker, who had 800 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. He didn’t have fantasy-relevant numbers until his 8th year in the league but has been solid ever since.

8. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings—He’s currently going in the ninth round of fantasy mock drafts and that’s outstanding for the type of production he’ll be capable of this year. Rudolph had the second-most targets last season—not for tight ends—overall. Short-passing Sam Bradford targeted the tight end 132 times, allowing Rudolph to catch 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns.

9. Hunter Henry, Chargers—The 22-year-old may end up making it ok for Antonio Gates to ride off into the sunset. Henry caught eight touchdowns in his rookie season to go with 478 yards. The Chargers improved their offensive line and that should allow Philip Rivers to find his receivers.

10. Martellus Bennett, Packers—He’s coming off a season in which he filled in for a hurt Gronkowski, amassing 701 yards and seven touchdowns in New England. Only one tight end in Green Bay has had over 500 yards receiving in the last four years, but Bennett is possibly the most talented one they’ve had since Jermichael Finley.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

11. Zach Ertz, Eagles—He caught four touchdowns last season with a rookie quarterback at the helm. That matched a career high. Ertz had 816 yards receiving and was targeted over 100 yards for the second year in a row, signaling that he’s a clear weapon in their offensive scheme.

12. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers—The rookie enters a situation in which he can become one of many weapons for Jameis Winston. The Bucs added DeSean Jackson to help stretch the field and take pressure off of Mike Evans. Defenses should be worried about covering those two outside options, leaving Howard to do some damage in the middle of the field.

13. Austin Hooper, Falcons

14. Julius Thomas, Dolphins

15. Jack Doyle, Colts

16. Eric Ebron, Lions

17. Evan Engram, Giants

18. Vance McDonald, 49ers

19. Coby Fleener, Saints

20. Jesse James, Steelers

21. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans

22. Jason Witten, Cowboys

23. Tyler Higbee, Rams

24. David Njoku, Browns

2017 fantasy football position rankings: Wide Receivers

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at wide receivers before turning to tight ends next week. We’ve ranked the QBs 1-32 and running backs from 1 to 36. We’ll rank the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

While there are tiers at every position, knowing them at the wide receiver spot is especially important. What’s nice about this season is that there appears to be a tier of five receivers at the top. A case could be made that any one of the first five in this list could be the No. 1 wideout by season’s end.

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers—His consistency has been rewarded this offseason with a new five-year contract. The last four years have been money in the bank for fantasy owners. Though Ben Roethlisberger toyed with the idea of retirement, he’ll be back, ensuring Brown should shine again this season.

Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Julio Jones, Falcons—Though he lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, Jones should continue to put up numbers we’re used to seeing. A balanced offense opens things up for receivers and the duo in his backfield takes off some pressure. He’s averaged 108 catches, 1,624 yards and 7 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants—The addition of Brandon Marshall could make the Giants’ offense very potent in the air. The Giants’ running backs are suited for the passing game and I’d expect Eli to continue to air it out. No need to fear a drop in targets for Beckham.

4. Mike Evans, Buccaneers—His 96 catches last season were a career high, and though DeSean Jackson has been added to the mix, it’s clear that Evans is the top dog. Playing alongside Jackson, rather than being the only target in town, could end up yielding bigger numbers in the end.

5. A.J. Green, Bengals—I consider Green to be in the top tier of receivers. Andy Dalton doesn’t get a lot of respect in terms of fantasy, but he’s not bad at all. Green is also coming off a season in which he tore his hamstring, but don’t get scared off. He’s missed just 10 games in six season.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

6. Jordy Nelson, Packers—Is he relatively healthy? Yes. Is Aaron Rodgers still his quarterback? Yes. Does that mean he’ll still be very productive? Yes. Nelson has 27 touchdowns in the last three years. He didn’t play in 2015. Let that sink in.

7. Michael Thomas, Saints—Through eight games last season Thomas already had five touchdowns and it was clear that he was quickly becoming the No. 2 receiver behind Brandin Cooks. Well, Cooks is now in New England so that makes Thomas a popular pick to take a step up.

8. Dez Bryant, Cowboys—Dak Prescott didn’t know he’d be starting for the Cowboys until Tony Romo went down in the preseason last year. Prescott will have an entire offseason to work with his receivers this time around. Improving his rapport with Bryant will help both players rise in value.

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys dives for the end zone to score a touchdown after catching a pass from Dak Prescott during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

9. Brandin Cooks, Patriots—Having Cooks in my top-10 of wide receivers is a statement about Tom Brady as a quarterback more than anything. If Cooks keeps his head on straight and learns the Patriots’ offense, Brady will make sure to utilize the talented burner.

10. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—I overvalued him last season, but Brock Osweiler has left town and the Texans have a new quarterback that may be ready to start before too long. Even if Tom Savage holds off rookie DeShaun Watson, Hopkins has the talent and opportunity to put up big numbers.

11. Amari Cooper, Raiders—He’s been targeted over 130 times, topped 1,000 yards and scored at least five touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. If Derek Carr can learn to treat Cooper like the play-maker he is near the red zone, Cooper could be special.

Amari Cooper had a great game the last time he faced the Chargers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper has been a top wideout in his first three years in the league. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

12. T.Y. Hilton, Colts—With the Colts drafting offensive line help, Hilton becomes more likely to get more work. Andrew Luck just needs time in the pocket to make defenses pay and Hilton should remain a WR1 as a result.

13. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks

14. Davante Adams, Packers

15. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles

16. Allen Robinson, Jaguars

17. Sammy Watkins, Bills

18. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

19. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

20. Keenan Allen, Chargers

21. Michael Crabtree, Raiders

22. Terrelle Pryor Sr., Redskins

23. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins

24. Brandon Marshall, Giants

25. Martavis Bryant, Steelers

26. Julian Edelman, Patriots

27. Donte Moncrief, Colts

28. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers

29. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

30. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

31. Jamison Crowder, Redskins

32. Golden Tate, Lions

33. Rishard Matthews, Titans

34. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers

35. Stefon Diggs, Vikings

36. Willie Snead, Saints

 

2017 fantasy football position rankings: Running Backs

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at running backs before turning to wide receivers next week. We’ve ranked the QBs from 1 to 32. We’ll rank the running backs from 1-36, the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

The top three running backs are so close, but I give the edge to David Johnson since he had 80 receptions last year and caught passes for more yards than Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Jordan Reed.

1. David Johnson, Cardinals—He nearly carried the ball 300 times last season and caught 80 passes. There’s no reason to think he won’t be used to that degree yet again.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers—No worries about an early-season suspension this time around. I had him No. 1 early in my rankings, but Johnson’s touches gave him the edge at this point.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—Elliott couldn’t have had a better rookie season. Given that, you have to assume he has just a tiny bit of regression. The Cowboys will also want to save him from too much work by using Darren McFadden to relieve some pressure.

4. LeSean McCoy, Bills—Mike Gillislee is in New England now, so if McCoy can stay healthy he might get even more work than he already does.

5. Jordan Howard, Bears—Howard gained the most yardage between the tackles in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. He should see an increase in touches given that he’ll likely be playing with a rookie quarterback at some point.

Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is hit by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers as he scores a touchdown in the 4th quarter at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 30-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

6. Melvin Gordon, Chargers—Gordon’s value has been improved by this offseason. Danny Woodhead is a Raven and the Chargers didn’t draft a running back, they drafted two offensive linemen. Gordon will continue to dominate touches in the backfield.

7. Devonta Freeman, Falcons—Have no fear of Tevin Coleman, Freeman actually is more productive when Coleman gets touches. If the Falcons can continue to run a potent offense without Kyle Shanahan, Freeman will do well.

Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons fails to reach the pylon against Vinnie Sunseri #40 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at the Georgia Dome on December 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

8. DeMarco Murray, Titans—He surprised some people last season, given his average draft position was in mid-to-later rounds. Murray suffered from Chip Kelly’s sideways run scheme the year before so he was undervalued in drafts in 2016. He seems to be back to his Cowboys-era self.

9. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins—Three games rushing for at least 200 yards can’t be ignored. Plus, it looks as if he’s making strides in the passing game. He showed his ability as a pass catcher in college so if he improves in that portion of his game he could be remarkable.

10. Lamar Miller, Texans—The addition of D’Onta Foreman may end up helping Miller stay fresh all season. Quality touches will be the key to his success in addition to decent volume.

11. Todd Gurley, Rams—He remains an RB1 despite his rough season last year. That’s because the volume is still there. His bad season probably means he can be had in the second round. But he’ll end up being undervalued if he goes after the first.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes for a first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

12. Spencer Ware, Chiefs—He got great news when the Chiefs didn’t re-sign Jamaal Charles, but they did end up drafting Kareem Hunt. Keep an eye on training camp to make sure Ware holds firm to the starting spot.

13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos

14. Isaiah Crowell, Browns

15. Carlos Hyde, 49ers

16. Mark Ingram, Saints

17. Tevin Coleman, Falcons

18. Adrian Peterson, Saints

19. Latavius Murray, Vikings

20. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks

21. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

22. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders

23. Doug Martin, Buccaneers

24. Mike Gillislee, Patriots

25. Robert Kelley, Redskins

26. Ty Montgomery, Packers

27. Jeremy Hill, Bengals

28. Derrick Henry, Titans

29. Frank Gore, Colts

30. Bilal Powell, Jets

31. Ameer Abdullah, Lions

32. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

33. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

34. Paul Perkins, Giants

35. Matt Forte, Jets

36. Joe Mixon, Bengals

2017 fantasy football position rankings: Quarterbacks

Over the next few weeks we’ll take an early look at our 2017 fantasy football position rankings. This week we’ll talk about the signal callers before turning our attention to running backs next week. We’ll rank the QBs from 1 to 32, the running backs from 1-36, the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

First up we’ve got the quarterbacks. You’ll notice Matt Ryan is still in the top-5, but he’s not the No. 1 quarterback like he was at the end of the 2016 season.

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers—He still has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Davante Adams is a rising star and the addition of Martellus Bennett should help Rodgers have the best season among QBs.

2. Tom Brady, Patriots—He’ll be 40 by the time the season starts but he seems to have a lot of tread left on the tires. The addition of Brandin Cooks and Mike Gillislee adds more weapons for the Super Bowl MVP.

3. Drew Brees, Saints—Probably one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, Brees just seems to put up numbers with whatever talent he has on the roster. His home-away split is a factor, but he should still end up top-3.

 

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints drives for a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 27, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

4. Andrew Luck, Colts—All the guy needs is time in the pocket and he’ll feast. The Colts got some protection help in the draft so his production should improve over last year.

5. Matt Ryan, Falcons—Last year was a career year for Ryan, his tenth in the league. He lost his offensive guru in Kyle Shanahan, so I’m expecting a bit of a regression in numbers.

6. Russell Wilson, Seahawks—Wilson’s best seasons have been when he’s been able to run around and make plays with his legs. Last season he was hurt early in the year. If he’s healthy to start the season he’ll start strong and possibly play well wire to wire.

 

Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 2, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

7. Derek Carr, Raiders—Carr was very solid last season and he seems on the verge of breaking into the top-5. He’s got Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and now Marshawn Lynch to help him out.

8. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers—A big winner after free agency and the draft was Winston. He got DeSean Jackson, a big-play threat, and O.J. Howard, a versatile rookie tight end, as new weapons.

9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys—You worry about a sophomore jinx, but with how poised he played last season he might be immune. He’ll have a full offseason to work with his receivers and you can’t forget about Zeke Elliott who can take a seemingly harmless screen pass 80 yards to the house.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes in the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

10. Philip Rivers, Chargers—If Keenan Allen can stay healthy, Rivers can be even better than last year. He finished in the top six in standard scoring last season with a bunch of nobodies catching passes. Now he has Mike Williams, the top receiver in the draft, as another option.

11. Kirk Cousins, Redskins—He was actually one of the best fantasy quarterbacks last season and nearly threw for 5,000 yards. Losing DeSean Jackson hurts, but Jamison Crowder is coming on and the Redskins added Terrelle Pryor.

12. Cam Newton, Panthers—He’s still in my top-12, but barely. The addition of Christian McCaffrey should help him. He’s just not an accurate quarterback and his value drops when he isn’t running, which is something he cut back on when he was getting punished weekly.

Cam Newton will have to utilize his running ability to keep his fantasy value high. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Cam Newton will have to utilize his running ability to keep his fantasy value high. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

13. Marcus Mariota, Titans

14. Eli Manning, Giants

15. Andy Dalton, Bengals

16. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

17. Matthew Stafford, Lions

18. Carson Palmer, Cardinals

19. Alex Smith, Chiefs

20. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

21. Tyrod Taylor, Bills

22. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

23. Carson Wentz, Eagles

24. Joe Flacco, Ravens

25. Sam Bradford, Vikings

26. Trevor Siemian, Broncos

27. Josh McCown, Jets

28. Brian Hoyer, 49ers

29. Tom Savage or DeShaun Watson, Texans (will update as starter becomes clear)

30. Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky, Bears (will update as starter becomes clear)

31. Jared Goff, Rams

32. Cody Kessler, Browns