2017 Fantasy Football Top 10 – Year of the Running Back

Greetings! I know the months of June through August can be rather tough for sports fan as truly the only sport we gamble on is baseball. Hopefully this article can not only brighten your day as we have only 2 months until football begins, but help you prepare for your fantasy drafts. I have big plans for this summer as I will have many more fantasy football articles, including an in depth strategy on how I plan to attack a snake style draft. Here are my top 10 fantasy options for standard scoring leagues, lets get started

  1. David Johnson (ESPN Rank: 2): David Johnson posted massive numbers last year accounting for 1,239 rushing yards with 16 TD’s and 879 reception yards for 4 TDs. He was the top overall fantasy producer with 407.8 fantasy points. David Johnson said in an interview his goal was to attain a 1,000 / 1,000 season and they he believes he was only a few mistakes from attaining that goal last season. What I see in David Johnson is a 25 year old who’s dying for a workload and he’s going to get it. If the Cardinals want to bounce back from their 7-8 season, it is important that they make their best offensive player the center piece of the offense. With Carson Palmer regressing from where he was just a few years ago, look for David Johnson to be the top overall fantasy producer once again. DJ should go number 1 in every draft regardless of the format and nothing less is adequate.

  2. Le’veon Bell (ESPN Rank: 1): Despite being suspended the first 4 games last season, Le’Veon Bell was still able to post 1,268 rushing yards with 7 TDs and 616 reception yards for 2 TD’s. He finished the year as the 3rd highest fantasy scorer for RBs at 317.4 fantasy points. Bell’s off field trouble is enough to concern me to move him to the number 2 spot, but not past that. Bell is EXPLOSIVE and even had a game where he rushed for 236 yards and 3 scores massing a total of 51.8 fantasy points. Bell’s floor per game is among the highest in the league and he is arguably the best fantasy option on the board.

  3. Ezekiel Elliott (ESPN Rank: 4): Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards last season with 15 TD’s. He also accounted for 363 reception yards with 1 TD. With 325.4 fantasy points, the rookie was 2nd among all running backs leading him to win rookie of the year. I expect Elliott’s third down usage to rise in this offense with no more Dunbar leading to an increase in overall usage. McFadden is the true backup and he is getting up there in age at 29. The leader in rushing yards AND rushing attempts for the 2016 season is in for a big one this year and could go 1st in any draft. The top 3 picks are all very close and interchangeable, but understand there seems to be a large drop off after these 3. If you’re in the top 3 in your snake draft, grab one of these top tier running backs.

  4. Antonio Brown (ESPN Rank: 3): If I have the 4th pick in my draft and the above choices are taken I will be looking to the top overall fantasy WR from 2016. Antonio Brown had 106 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 TDs last season accounting for 307.4 fantasy points. There is not much to say about Brown. If Big Ben stays healthy for the entire season, he will be the number 1 fantasy WR for yet another season. Draft Brown after the top 3 RB choices have gone.

  5. Julio Jones (ESPN Rank: 5): Some would’ve called Julio Jones campaign last year rather disappointing, but looking at the numbers, he still finished 6th at the WR position in terms of fantasy points. Jones racked in 83 receptions for 1,409 yards and 6 TDs amassing for 259.9 fantasy points in 2016. The top 4 guys at the WR position finished with 12, 14, 12 and 10 TDs. Jones missed 2 games in December due to a toe injury and showed up on the injury report one too many times last year. While that definitely does warrant some concern to fantasy owners, I feel confident that Julio Jones will be a top 5 WR in fantasy terms at the end of the year and he falls into the top 6 tier of fantasy draft picks for 2017.

  6. Odell Beckham Jr. (ESPN Rank: 6): Beckham finished his campaign last year 4th among all of WRs. He hauled in 101 receptions for 1,321 yards and 12 TDs amassing for 296.6 fantasy points. The Giants have added a huge piece to their receiving core with Brandon Marshall. While some may think this will hurt OBJ, I believe it helps him in many ways as well. Marshall is a guy that will HAVE to be covered by a viable CB and even double teamed at times. This will open up more chances for OBJ to get open down the field. I also think Marshall will help move the chains as he is a reliable target keeping the upside for TD potential high. OBJ is the last guy you should draft in this top tier before it moves to the next. Scoop him 6th in your fantasy drafts.

  7. Lesean McCoy (ESPN Rank: 9): McCoy finished 4th in terms of fantasy RBs last year. He carried the ball 234 times for 1,267 yards and 13 TDs. He also hauled in 356 yards worth of receptions for 1 TD. This accounted for 298.3 fantasy points. After the top 3 WRs are off the board, my next concern in the first round is getting the next best available RB. That guy is right here in Shady. Sean McDermott is a defensive-minded coach which will work wonders for McCoy’s volume in the run game. My biggest concern with McCoy is that he turns 29 next month. By strictly volume, I still think LeSean will finish, at worst, a low end RB1. If McCoy can stay healthy, look for him to be the focal point in this Bills offense and finish in the top 5 for RBs.

  8. Melvin Gordon (ESPN Rank: 14): Melvin Gordon finished 7th among fantasy RBs last year. He carried the ball 254 times for 997 yards and 10 TDs. He also added 419 yards in receptions and 2 TDs. This accounted for 250.6 fantasy points. With Woodhead taking his talents to Baltimore and Anthony Lynn who has a background as a former running backs coach, Melvin Gordon’s volume cannot go down. The Chargers simply do not have anybody that can take Gordon off of the field and the 24 year old should see all that he can handle. I expect Gordon to put up massive numbers and find his ESPN Rank of 14 to be a major steal. Draft Melvin Gordon comfortably in the late first round of your fantasy drafts.

  9. Devonta Freeman (ESPN Rank: 12): Devonta Freeman finished 6th among fantasy RB’s last season. He carried the ball 227 times for 1,079 yards and 11 TDs. He added 462 in receptions for 2 TDs accounting for 284.1 fantasy points. It’s clear that I am a huge fan of drafting RBs in the first round. If you can get one of those top tier WRs, that’s fine I am okay with that, but aside from that, draft a RB. Freeman is 25 years old which is at the prime of his career and he should continue to dominate for the Falcons explosive offense. His ability to break tackles and fight into the endzone isn’t something to take for granted. Look for Freeman to score 10+ TD’s again this season and crack the top-7 RBs for a great RB1 pick.

  10. Demarco Murray (ESPN Rank: 17): Demarco Murray finished 5th among fantasy RB’s last season. He carried the ball 293 times for 1,287 yards and 9 TD’s. He also caught for 377 yards and 3 TD’s accounting for 293.8 fantasy points. The Titans offense has taken a massive upgrade this off season as they’ve added countless weapons to their passing game. This will open up the field more and give Murray a chance for more red zone targets and carries. Demarco is 29 years of age which does warrant a bit of concern, but coaches love him and assure fans that he will get his volume. In 2015 he saw 193 attempts with the Eagles while in 2016, as a 28 year old, he saw 293 attempts and raised his average run by 0.8. Murray is consistent as they come and has ranked no worse than 7th in fantasy points among runners in 3 of the last 4 years. I think getting Murray at the beginning of the 2nd round or even at the end of the first round is complete robbery. Draft Murray if he is still on the board come your pick late first round. If you think you can scoop Melvin and get Murray early second round, even better.

Other than the top 3 WRs I am all in on getting a RB for my first pick. If I have an early pick, I will shoot to get a guy like Bell or David Johsnon and in round 2 I will look at guys like DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi or Todd Gurley. If I have a mid-round first pick, I will look to get one of those top 6 tier players, and in the 2nd round look for guys like Melvin Gordon or DeMarco Murray. If I have a late first round pick, which I actually prefer, I will load up on the best RB available and in early round 2 load up on another top 10 RB.

I hope this article helps and you’re as excited for football as I am!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter via @DFSClutchBoy

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