As I have already mentioned before, I’ve manage to participate in quite a number of fantasy drafts this pre-season and by this time that number has doubled. And through my draft software and web-surfing travels I’m still making plenty of mental notes (and of course several now on the back of napkins). With the 2017 NFL season less than 24 hours from kick-off, I am sharing even more of my thoughts and two cents (and yes I can make change of a nickel).
Fantasy Running Backs
It seems a lot of the discussion at the top of fantasy drafts centers around running backs David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell; with Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension looming he’s falling in drafts. Even LeSean McCoy and Melvin Gordon get some ink, but the Falcons Devonta Freeman gets little press. Freeman has only finished 6th and 1st in fantasy (PPR) scoring for running backs the past two seasons. The Falcons return 21 of 22 starters this season; I think Freeman easily duplicates what he’s already done. Fantasy owners won’t go wrong taking him as a Top-5 fantasy back this season.
This kid is just too good to be held back, no matter how bad his offense plays. Last season the Rams offense was bad, but despite running back Todd Gurley finished as the No.15 fantasy RB in PPR. I don’t expect great improvements from the Rams, but under new first year head coach Sean McVay, I’m sure he can find more ways to utilize Gurley and get more productivity. I like Gurley to bounce back from last season and crack the Top-10 in 2017.
I am actually excited to see a healthy Abdullah back this season; missed 14 games last season to injury. The Lions didn’t spend a 2nd round pick in 2015 on running back Ameer Abdullah for nothing. He’s not going to be a bell-cow this season, but at 5’9” and 203 pounds Abdullah is a quick, strong, and versatile back that will see plenty of action in the passing game as well as the ground game. I don’t think it’s out of reach to see him finish around 220 touches (carries + catches) this season giving him a good chance at finishing well inside the Top-20 fantasy Running Backs. He’s being drafted well outside the Top-20 now making him a nice value at his current 5.06 ADP (according to FFC).
Who is my favorite Martin or my favorite running back in Tampa Bay? Either way I’ll take running back Doug Martin when I can get him. Suspended for the first three games this season, I am finding little trouble taking him as my 3rd or 4th running back off the boards in the 5th to 7th rounds in some drafts. He’s worked hard in the offseason and has looked good in the preseason. I’m expecting a big year for Martin in 2017; it will just get started a little later. His current ADP of 5.01 (according to FFC) is in line, but I’m saying if you have to ability to take him any later he’ll be well worth the pick.
The Redskins starting running back Robert Kelley seems to be the quiet man in Washington with all of the Samaje Perine talk. I’m sure the rookie is good and he’ll be good, but have we forgotten all about Kelley? The 2nd year former undrafted free agent rookie out of Tulane won the starting gig just a year ago and finished as the No.26 fantasy running back (in standard leagues) last season. He also didn’t start until mid-season and from weeks 8 on thru 17 he was the No. 14 fantasy running back in PPR (according to Fantasy Pros). You’re probably not going to break the bank with Kelley, but he has value. He’s looked fine in preseason and should give fantasy owners decent production, especially as the No.27 running back going off the boards (an RB3 in 12-Team PPR leagues) according to FFC.
Now I am probably going to take a lot of heat for this one, which is okay. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong, and sometimes you whiff. The Broncos running back Jamaal Charles enters the 2017 campaign expected to backup running back CJ Anderson. I maintain here, that Charles is hands down the more talented back and has enough in his tank to win the job outright. Now’s he’s no young stud and can no longer carry the 20-25 touch workload, but if he can see 15-18 touches consistently this season and hold up, I believe he’s got a real shot at RB2 production. He ran well in his one cameo and even better looked great in pass protection. I am all-in this season with Charles in charge.
That’s My Take. ~David Ortega
Next up the Wide Receivers