Well, another fantasy season has come and go, and many of us have packed it in for the offseason and will not think about next season until the Summer. Well if you're anything like I am, you just can't wait that long. And with 2017 fantasy football articles aren't very prevalent at the moment, I figure I might as well get the ball rolling. I put out my fantasy football rankings every year, and I always start with my way too early top 10 players list. In the near future I will come out with the first edition of my top 100 players of 2017; but for now, here are my top 10.
1. David Johnson
2016 Stats: 1,239 rush yards 16 TDs. 879 receiving yards 4 TDs
In a lot of circles, there is a bit of a 3 headed monster as far as the number one overall player of 2017. However, for me, Johnson is just too easy of a pick. 2,118 total yards and 20 total touchdowns, and over 100 scrimmage yards in 15 out of 16 games. There really isn't much more to say about this freak. He is clearly the workhorse in the backfield, and he has even emerged as a go-to receiving threat for an aging Carson Palmer. Even coming off of a late season injury, 1,000 rush yards and 1,000 receiving yards is a very legitimate possibility. He's #1 all the way.
2. Ezekiel Elliott
2016 Stats: 1,631 rush yards 15 TDs. 363 receiving yards 1 TD
There's no two ways about it, Zeke was an absolute beast in his rookie season. Nearly 2,000 scrimmage yards and 16 total touchdowns are numbers a lot of running backs will never achieve, and he did it in his rookie year. He has everything working for him; crazy talent, a balanced passing game taking pressure out of the box, and most importantly, the best offensive line in the NFL. He also led the league in rushing attempts with a whopping 322, and held an incredible 5.1 yards per carry clip. Even though he sits at number 2 on my list, it wouldn't be a misguided pick to take him first.
3. Le'Veon Bell
2016 Stats: 1,268 rush yards 7 TDs. 616 receiving yards 2 TDs
Bell, for all intents and purposes, is the exact same back as David Johnson. Some would argue that Bell is the best player in the NFL, regardless of position. Those people aren't very far off. He, like Johnson, is the workhorse back as well as a big time receiving threat. If you need any other indication as to how good this animal is, just watch his film from the Buffalo game, where he exploded for 298 total yards and 3 touchdowns. The only thing keeping Bell from being in the top 2, or even at the top of the list, is his history of serious injuries and off the field issues.
4. Antonio Brown
2016 Stats: 106 receptions 1,284 yards 12 TDs
Although Brown had a pretty hefty statistical drop-off in 2016, he still finished as fantasy's third highest scoring receiver, and scored the second most touchdowns of his career. Brown is still as consistent as they come, and will likely be the first receiver off the board due to his sheer volume. Even with 2016 being a down year for Brown, he still had ten games where he saw double digit targets, and eight games where he caught at least seven passes. If you are in the market for a receiver in the first round of your draft, Brown should be your first choice.
5. Jordan Howard
2016 Stats: 1,313 rush yards 6 rushing TDs. 298 receiving yards 1 TD
This is a little more controversial, but hear me out. Howard was one of the most consistent backs in football once he inherited the starting position. He totaled over 90 yards from scrimmage in 12 out of 13 games where he received double digit touches. Additionally, he ran for over 100 yards seven times, and finished with the second most rushing yards in the NFL, while carrying the second highest yards per carry clip among backs with at least 150 rushes. The only problem that Howard ran into was that he only found the end zone seven times. Now, seven touchdowns is a good number, but if Howard can find pay dirt 10-12 times, he will join the ranks of the elite. And it goes without saying that the Bears will feature Howard as heavy, if not heavier than they did in 2016 when they gave him the ball 281 times.
6. LeSean McCoy
2016 Stats: 1,267 rush yards 13 TDs. 356 receiving yards 1 TD
McCoy was an absolute revelation in 2016. His 5.4 yards per carry was the highest clip in the NFL, and his 13 rushing scores were the second highest total of his career, most since 2011. In short, he just looked unstoppable week in and week out for most of the season, finishing with over 100 rush yards seven times, 5 of which he topped 125, and two 150 yard performances. The only thing keeping McCoy out of the top 5 is his injury struggles. Although he only missed one full game, he was forced out of 3 more prematurely due to various hamstring injuries. Should McCoy play a full 16 games in 2017, he could be fantasy's top scoring back.
7. Odell Beckham Jr.
2016 Stats: 101 receptions 1,367 yards 10 TDs
After a sluggish start to 2016, Beckham finished as strong as any receiver in the league. He only topped 100 yards four times, but he finished with at least 90 yards or a touchdown in ten games. He remained one of the league's most heavily targeted receivers with 169 targets on the year, and is still one of the league's most electrifying young talents. He is one of the rare receivers that can turn any catch into a long touchdown, and there is a legitimate argument to make for him being the first receiver drafted in fantasy leagues.
8. Julio Jones
2016 Stats: 83 receptions 1,409 yards 6 TDs
Another guy who could justifiably be the first receiver drafted, Jones had another fantastic season in 2016. He only appeared in 14 games, but still managed seven 100 yard games, including a madden-like 300 yard game against the Panthers. But he only managed six scores, which was the one blemish on an otherwise spectacular year. Now, just based on his freakish talent, you can bet Jones will push for double digit touchdowns in 2017. The big thing for him will be managing his practice reps and staying at 100% health throughout.
9. Melvin Gordon
2016 Stats: 997 rush yards 10 TDs. 419 receiving yards 2 TDs
What a difference a year made for Gordon. From no scores in 2015 to 12 in 2016 in just 13 games, one of which he got knocked out after touching the ball only 3 times. He was in full workhorse mode after the season ending injury to Danny Woodhead, and was one of the league's most productive backs in the red zone. The workhorse role is all but a given for Gordon in 2017, and if history is any indicator, the third year of a rookie contract tends to be the most productive. Barring another injury, Gordon is virtually a lock for 1,000 rush yards in 2017.
10. Jay Ajayi
2016 Stats: 1,272 rush yards 8 TDs. 151 receiving yards
One of the biggest surprises of 2016, Ajayi was an absolute beast on the ground. He topped the 200 yard mark on 3 separate occasions, and carried with him an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. With the injury and ultimate retirement of Arian Foster, Ajayi took full control of the lead role and ran with it, literally and figuratively. Consistency proved to be a bit of an issue down the stretch, but, just like Gordon, he is entering the third year of his rookie contract, historically being the most productive. And with a lock on the workhorse role, it would be a shock if he didn't hit double digit touchdowns in 2017.