Draft season is right around the corner and finding out what spot your picking from is one of the most anticipated moments of the offseason. It’s that moment that you really feel the season has begun and maybe that’s when you start talking down some players to your draft mates that you want to fall to you. We all do it, don’t lie. Most leagues are 10-12 team leagues and if you’re in a deeper league, let’s hope you get a pick in the top 12 anyway. Here are my top 12 PPR Draft picks for the 2017 season.
1. Le’Veon Bell – RB Pittsburgh Steelers
This is an ongoing debate with most fantasy analysts, David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell? I’m going with Bell, but I have no issue interchanging the two. Some people forget that Bell played 12 games in 2016 and he still finished the season with almost 1,900 total yards, 9 total touchdowns and 75 receptions. Thats more receptions than Allen Robinson and the same number as Davante Adams who both played 16 games. He’s a top 3 rusher and a top 20 reception guy all-in-one player. The variable that gives him the slight edge over DJ is the offense he plays in; Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell. Give me a piece of that.
2. David Johnson – RB Arizona Cardinals
If I could rank David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell 1A and 1B, trust me I would. Johnson single handedly won people championships last year. He would have won me a championship had I not drafted Adrian Peterson over him. That’s fantasy football in a nutshell. Props to you if you were telling people David Johnson would have over 2,100 total yards and 18 total touchdowns, but I would be willing to bet you weren’t even telling yourself that. Johnson can do it all, he had 80 receptions and over 800 yards receiving and he has already announced that his goal is 1,000 yards receiving. We saw DJ do it between the tackles as well as being split wide as a receiver, he poses big play ability and the knack for getting tough yards. Give me some David Johnson all day long.
3. Ezekiel Elliot – RB Dallas Cowboys
1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie is pretty good I would say. Dallas’ offense hasn’t changed. It is going to be a lot of Zeke running behind that mammoth offensive line. I believe we will see more from the passing game with Dez Bryant this year and that will ultimately help Zeke. If you are worried about his ongoing off the field issue, then slide him down to 4. But that’s as far as he can go, the league just needs to create some buzz regarding a star in the NFL and why not let it be a Dallas Cowboy. He was cleared by the law several months ago and if there was a policy in which he did not follow, we should know by now. Run behind that offensive line all year and grab Ezekiel Elliot at 3 overall.
4. Antonio Brown – WR Pittsburgh Steelers
This is the most locked and loaded decision of your fantasy football season. Look at everyone else left in the draft. Who is more consistent, explosive and durable than Antonio Brown? The number one pick overall in most fantasy drafts last year; Brown posted a 106 catch, 1,284 Yard, and 12 touchdown season. After that season, he slid down to four in most rankings. I have no problem with him going first overall if your looking for the safest player in the first round. Do some touchdown twerking with Antonio Brown all season long, I know I will be.
5. Julio Jones – WR Atlanta Falcons
This is also another interchangeable draft spot. I see a lot of rankings with Odell Beckham at 5 and it is something I went back and forth with for a while. Don’t worry, Odell won’t be too far behind Julio. The most fierce combination of size, speed and route running at the receiver position, Jones seems to make an insane play every time he steps on the field. Just one year removed from catching 136 passes in 2015, Julio still managed over 1,400 yards in 14 games in 2016. Oh yeah and he had 300 yards in one game. We have all been waiting for the year that Julio is actually featured in the red zone, I believe this is the year that comes true. If you got the 5th pick, enjoy Julio’s first double digit touchdown season since 2012 with him as your stud first rounder.
6. Odell Beckham Jr. – WR New York Giants
One of the most entertaining players to watch on and off the field, Odell Beckham Jr. seems like a steal here at 6. I know there are some concerns with the addition of Brandon Marshall to take away some targets from Odell, but thats actually helpful in my opinion. We see double and triple coverage rolling at the star receiver game in and game out, I see him being in more single coverage matchups and winning these matchups easily. The one concern I do have for Beckham, is the play of Eli Manning. Odell’s success depends on the consistency of Eli Manning. I am scared for the decline of Eli. But I wasn’t scared of 1,300+ yards and 10 touchdowns, and I see similar numbers this season for OBJ. He’s locked in as a top 6 guy regardless of format.
7. LeSean McCoy – RB Buffalo Bills
Shady McCoy did everything he needed to warrant the jump into becoming a first round pick. The top 3 players in yards per carry for 2016 include; 1. Mike Gillislee 2. Bilal Powell 3. LeSean McCoy. Yeah, the Bill’s know how to run the ball and McCoy is the only man there now with Gillislee in New England. Oh yeah and he’s really good. With breakaway speed and probably the best set of cuts in the NFL, hence his Twitter handle @CutonDime25, he is one of the few workhorse running backs left in the league. McCoy also gives you a nice floor in any PPR format with an average of nearly 50 receptions per year. If you are looking for one of the few true stud fantasy RB’s left at a very scarce position, Shady is your guy.
8. A.J. Green – WR Cincinnati Bengals
If it wasn’t for a lengthy late season injury, Adrial Jeremiah Green would have exceeded 1,000 yards for the sixth straight season. He almost did it in 10 games, finishing with 964 yards. Back and fully healthy, A.J. Green is a big play waiting to happen and one of the safest picks towards the back of the first round. So a safe floor with almost a guaranteed 1,000 yards and first pick overall upside? Yeah, I’ll take some of that. The Bengal’s drafted the speedster John Ross out of Washington to add another burner to their receiving corps, leaving the opposing safety in a pretty bad position and leaving A.J. with that split second he needs to break away deep. Join the Red Rifle and celebrate 50+ yard TD’s with A.J. Green on your fantasy squad.
9. Melvin Gordon – RB Los Angeles Chargers
Surprise! The rookie who managed zero touchdowns his first season in the NFL, is now your first round pick. It’s crazy how much can change in one year. Melvin Gordon had 10 rushing touchdowns last season and he was tied for third in the NFL in rushes inside the 10 yard line, all in just 13 games. The Chargers may have the best offense that no one talks about. Their new head coach Anthony Lynn, a former running back, has already come out and said they know they can get more out of Gordon and plan on pounding the rock. Remember that Bills rushing attack that lead the NFL in rushing? Anthony Lynn was the offensive coordinator that got them there, so we believe him when it comes to Gordon. Another true workhorse running back, with a solid PPR Floor, in an offense that will have plenty of scoring opportunities. Melvin Gordon is a high floor and even higher ceiling pick at the back end of the first round. Pencil him in your lineup with confidence.
10. Mike Evans – WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans came into the league in 2014 and has eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. He has also had 12 touchdowns in two of his first three seasons in the league. So why is he not higher on this list after a huge 96 catch, 1,321 yard and 12 touchdown season? Well, he could be. The Buccaneers have added multiple weapons to the offense to purposely limit Evans’ workload. So this could go one of two ways; It could take the pressure off Jameis Winston to not force the ball to Evans like we saw a lot last season. Meaning it could open up the field for the 6’5 receiver to be more effective with less volume, or this could mean inconsistency in his fantasy production as other players get involved and targets fluctuate. Evans will have to prove he isn’t just a product of volume. Either way he will still be a top 10 fantasy option and if he falls this far in your draft, you may have just gotten a steal in the first round.
11. Jordy Nelson – WR Green Bay Packers
This is the year we stop disrespecting Jordy Nelson. Unless you don’t like touchdowns, then there is no reason Jordy isn’t a top receiver this season. The closest thing to a touchdown per game last season, Nelson posted a 97-1,257-14 line after coming off a torn ACL that costed him the entire 2015 season. Safe to say that injury is behind him, along with his defender. With one of the best set of hands in the league, underrated size and an insane ability to break open outside of the initial route, Jordy Nelson is hands down Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. The number one target for Aaron Rodgers? Seem’s like a no brainer.
12. Jordan Howard – RB Chicago Bears
The stats say it all for Jordan Howard. After receiving 12 combined carries weeks 1-3, head coach John Fox gave the rookie his shot. Howard led the Bears to their first win of the season with 23 carries for 111 yards and never looked back. He finished second in the NFL in rushing yards only trailing Ezekiel Elliot and this year he will be the focus of the offense from day one. If J-How was actually on a decent team, he would actually be higher than the last pick of the first round. Realistically, the Chicago Bears offense can’t get any worse. He overcame that obstacle last year and with a full NFL season under his belt, I fully expect he will do it again. I’m more than happy starting my draft with the talented sophomore as my first round pick.
Be on the lookout for my second round PPR rankings, coming soon.