We're going to pretend that everyone that plays fantasy football is doing their draft on Saturday, based on what we've seen through the first 8 weeks of the 2017 NFL season. It was hard to decide how I wanted to deal with injuries. We could assume everyone is healthy, so guys like David Johnson are back in the picture, but if we do that, it takes away the Andrew Luck factor, guys that were hurt headed into the draft.
I'm going to keep it fun and say that everyone is healthy, EVERYONE, even Zeke can play whatever the SSPN is done. This is going to be based on this year's production, what we know about players on teams and their depth chart positions, surprises, let downs, everything.
1. Le'Veon Bell (RB) - Pittsburgh Steelers
- Was always and will continue to be.
- After a slow start, he's sitting at RB4. If you take out Week 1, he's RB1 on the year.
- If you take out Week 1, Bell is on pace for 2,130 total yards, 11.5 TDs and 73 receptions - and an absolutely absurd 494 touches.
- Pitt still rank in top-10 for run-blocking right now per Football Outsiders.
2. David Johnson (RB) - Arizona Cardinals
- If Palmer is back under center, Johnson is the easy #2 here, I'm sure people would still take him #1 if he's healthy.
- Johnson, like Bell is a triple threat and will see 25+ touches/game. He had 17 touches including 6 catches before leaving in the 3rd quarter, foreshadowing his usage.
3. Antonio Brown (WR) - Pittsburgh Steelers
- Another year in the boomin' business office for Brown.
- Sitting as WR1 in fantasy PPR - he would be WR1 in PPR for the 4th straight year, insanity, even though his 6-touchdown pace would be the lowest since 2012 when he caught 5.
- Has had 3 games already with 155+ receiving yards in 8 games.
- He leads the NFL in targets, receptions and receiving yards.
- He's on pace for 114 catches, 1,670 yards and 6 touchdowns. I'll take that all day everyday.
4. Ezekiel Elliott (RB) - Dallas Cowboys
- We'll pretend the suspension already happened or isn't for fun's sake.
- He's tied for RB2 in standard with Todd Gurley and with Melvin for RB4 in PPR.
- The Denver game was a low point for Zeke where he went 8 for 9, but that's the best run D in the league right now.
- He's had 25 touches in every game besides that one. He also has a TD and/or 100 scrimmage yards in every game besides that one.
- The o-line, which was a bit of a ? mark entering is meshing, he has 4 straight games with 130 total yards and 7 touchdowns in that span.
- What's bigger is his role in the passing game. Right now he's on pace for 43.5 receptions, 480 yards and receiving touchdowns. Last year he only caught 32 passes and had one touchdown.
- Last year he only had two games with 5 targets, this year he already has 3 of those games through just 7 games.
- Not much has changed with the first four picks.
Here is where things get interesting.
5. Leonard Fournette (RB) - Jacksonville Jaguars
- Fournette has been a complete animal, to a level I never imagined under this game-plan of elite defense and ground and pound.
- He's had at least 1 touchdown in every game he's played in and has 120+ total yards in 4-of-6 games.
- The breakaway speed is what puts him into the top-5 for me. There's a lot of guys that can play well, score, you know do what Fournette is doing, but Fournette already has two touchdown runs of 70+ yards, not easy to do in the NFL, someone usually runs you down.
- What's more surprising to me is his involvement in the passing game, he has 20 targets and 15 catches through 6 games - on pace for 40 receptions, which is really good for a guy I wasn't sure was going to play much on 3rd downs.
- Only Kareem Hunt, Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount have alluded more tackles than him and all 3 have played in a full 2 more games than Fournette.
- His 16-game pace (6 games, not totaling injuries into this) right now is 1,952 total yards, almost 19 touchdowns and 40 catches. That would've made him RB2 in both PPR and STD last szn behind David Johnson.
- The Jags are ranked 11th in RB per FO, a huge weak spot last year as well.
6. Kareem Hunt (RB) - Kansas City Chiefs
- It was really hard to decide between Hunt and Fournette, would be ecstatic with either of them. Hunt has excelled for a lot of the reasons people overlooked him, his agility, one-cut ability, vision and fighting for yards. You can't measure a lot of the intangibles that make him great.
- Hunt, however, hasn't looked great as of late. He hasn't found the endzone in five straight games after scoring 6 times in the first 3 games. He averaged a retarded 8.5 ypc in F3 games, but that number has dipped to 3.6 over their L5, he hasn't found the breakaway runs that he did in the beginning part of the szn.
- My concern is down by the goal-line, he only has 3 carries inside-the-5 which is t-21st in the league. You can't exactly rely on long TD runs always to put up the production, with Alex Smith really on fire they're letting him throw more in the RZ and he's connecting on a lot of deep TD passes. Not a huge concern, because I'm sure they'll give it to Hunt, they're just not inside the 5 very often.
- What you have to love is the 3-down skill set. He's on pace for 56 catches and 614 yards, and he's 5th in receiving yards for RBs through Week 8.
7. DeAndre Hopkins (WR) - Houston Texans
- Welp, there was never a question of Hopkins' talent, but there was a ? at QB in Houston. That's not longer a problem with Deshaun Watson taking the league by storm. After their last game Richard Sherman said Watson will be a top-5 QB next year and that includes Rodgers and Brady - Sherman isn't one to mince words.
- With these two meshing like sex and cigarettes, Hopkins is a no-brainer elite WR1. He's leading the NFL with a 35.3% target market share, 7th in the NFL with a 32% RZ target share and 4th with 44% of EZ targets.
- He has a league-leading 7 receiving touchdowns, and is on pace for a ridiculous 103-1386-16 pace.
- If you for some reason were worried about Will Fuller eating into his workload... don't be. Since returning in Week 4, Hopkins has scored in every game, 6 touchdowns in 4 games and is averaging over 100 receiving yards per. Fuller gives Hopkins a much needed distraction for the opposing defense.
8. Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) - New York Giants
- Prior to his devastating injury, Odell was fully back to form and the focal piece of this NYG offense. His first game back in Week 2 versus Detroit shouldn't be counted against him seeing as he played was less snaps than his normal workload but he was back to an every down player the following week.
- In the 3 weeks following, he caught 21 balls on a ridiculous 36 targets and scored 3 times. The game breaking, play-making ability that he's always had was evident and there will be plenty of times throughout the szn OBJ single handedly wins you fantasy games.
9. Todd Gurley (RB) - Los Angeles Rams
- Easily the surprise of the szn for ME. Sean McVay has taken coaching ability to entirely different level, bringing this poor excuse for a team they called the Rams in 2016 to a legit playoff contender, sitting tied top their division with Seattle at 5-2.
- Everything from Jared Goff, to Todd Gurley to the offensive line have taken a complete 180.
- There have been a few MAJOR factors in aiding Gurley's comebyke szn:
- The offensive line - after grading out in the bottom-5 of both PB and RB in 2016 per FO, adding McVay and Andrew Whitworth worked some sorta witchcraft. They're now firmly ranked 3rd overall in both pass-blocking and run-blocking.
- The next factor was the offense overall and the scoring opportunities that opened up for Gurley. After averaging a putrid 14 PPG (32nd in the NFL) in 2016, they're scoring 30.3 PPG, 2nd in the NFL. Gurley is 2nd in the NFL with 8 carries inside the 5-yard line this year, he had 10 all of last year. He had 5 touchdowns in 2016, he already has 8 this year.
- Lastly is his involvement in the receiving game, it's been ridiculous. Not that he wasn't involved last year catching 43 passes, but he's only 34 receiving yards behind his entire total last season. His ypr reception number is up from 7.6 to 10.9 this season and he's already caught 3 touchdowns while not having a single one in 2016. He's on pace for 62 catches this year, which would've been 3rd overall behind DJ and Bell in 2016.
- He's absolutely dominating all work in this backfield and he will continue to going forward.
- The reason I have the other backs ahead of Gurley is because I still don't think he's that amazing of a player, but the system is there in place for him to be an elite fantasy RB. Out of 38 running backs that have at least 50 carries in 2017, Gurley ranks 28th in YAC (2.4), 29th in tackles alluded/attempt (0.1). I just feel like of the 3 backs in this range, Gurley is the most replaceable.
10. LeSean McCoy (RB) - Buffalo Bills
- Workload is not something you'll ever worry about with Shady. He has 18+ touches in every game this season and 25 or more in 4-of-7. He was having trouble finding pay-dirt but that was just a matter of time given the amount of opportunity up until this point. He now has 3 rushing touchdowns in the last 2 games.
- He's 3rd among RBs in receptions and the team is again 2nd in the NFL in rushing attempts per game with 32.6 trailing only Jacksonville and actually up nearly 2 rushes per game from last year. A lot of people were nervous that the new OC and scheme would mean less running in Buffalo, but that hasn't happened.
- If you were okay with taking him in the top-10 this summer, you should be perfectly fine doing it now.
11. Jordy Nelson (WR) - Green Bay Packers
- Through the first 5 weeks of the szn, aka, without Aaron Rodgers, Jordy was WR1 on PPG basis in STD (he missed Week 2), and WR4 in PPR. That is what you're going to get with Jordy when him and Rodgers are on the field together. You're not worrying about him hitting his ceiling or him having a low floor, he's going to produce and he's going to score a shit load of TDs. Just because it's not flashy, doesn't mean it's not good. Let's move along here.
12. A.J. Green (WR) - Cincinnati Bengals
- I really want to get behind Green as a top-6 or 8 pick, but I feel like the consistency just isn't there. He's gone over 75 receiving yards in just 2 of their 7 games on the year and same with catching 5 passes or more. Only 3 targets inside-the-10, which puts him outside the top-30.
- The big play ability of course is always there but I don't think they game-plan around Green as much as they should.
13. Mike Evans (WR) - Tampa Bay Bucs
- Sitting at WR5 right now Evans is yet to have his breakout game yet. He hasn't gone over 100 yards in any of his 7 games, but he also hasn't seen less then 8 targets in a game, has been between 50 and 100 yards in every game (49 in one) and has scored in more games than he hasn't.
- He's on pace for 155 targets on the year, which is less than his NFL-leading 170 in 2016, but you had to see that coming with DJax and OJ Howard joining the team. His size and athleticism still pin him as one of the elite endzone threats and he'll likely break double digit TDs each of the next bunch of szns.
- It's good to see even with the slight dip in looks, he's getting them in the right places. After seeing just 7 throws his way inside-the-10 in 2016, Evans is already up to 5 this year. He has a 38.5% EZ target share and 29% RZ target share.
- According to PlayerProfiler.com, Evans ranks 5th in the NFL in target distance, distance traveled by all intended targets, meaning they're still looking for him downfield plenty.
14. Melvin Gordon (RB) - Los Angeles Chargers
- It's clear the Chargers have no plans to stop feeding Gordon. His efficiency numbers don't have to be good as long as the volume and touchdowns are there and they definitely are.
- He's on pace for his first 300-touch campaign and already has 8 touchdowns through 8 games.
- His production in the passing game has been super hit and miss. While last year he had only 3 games with 5+ receptions, he's done that in half his games 4/8. However, in the other half, he's been held to either 1 or 0 catches.
- They also had a bunch of injuries leading up to the szn, so if the line is at full strength I'm sure it'll be much better than their 27th ranked RB line per FO.
- Julio Jones
- Mark Ingram
- Jordan Howard
- Devonta Freeman
- Dez Bryant
- Michael Thomas
- Rob Gronkowski