If you haven’t already, check out my First Round Rankings
We are on to the second round of the draft. This is where you determine if you want to implement a specific draft strategy. You might choose to start with two stud receivers, you might want to be balanced and have one running back and one receiver, or you might be the guy looking for a positional advantage by targeting Rob Gronkowski. Either way your second round pick is just as important as your first. One of these guys has to carry you from week to week. So make sure you lock in an elite guy.
13. T.Y. Hilton – WR Indianapolis Colts
Hilton is coming off a career high season in every receiving category except touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 2016 and is always a top guy in yards per reception. A career high in receptions last year with 91, paired with nearly 16 yards per catch, means a lot of yards and huge big play ability. I don’t see much changing in the Colts offense, so I expect very similar production this season for Hilton. The thing I love most about T.Y. is that it doesn’t take a ton of catches for him to have a big game. There were multiple games last season where Hilton seemed to be getting shut down the entire game, and after two 20 yard catches he is back to bringing you WR1 value for the week. Although I would love to see more YMCA dance touchdown celebrations from T.Y. He’s locked in as a top 8 receiver.
14. Devonta Freeman – RB Atlanta Falcons
Devonta Freeman is a perfect mix of talent and opportunity. It helps that he was the lead back for the best offense in the NFL last season. Freeman rushed for more yards than he had in his breakout 2015 season, while receiving 38 less carries than the year before. When you have weapons all over the field like the Falcons do, you can run the ball a lot more, and with a lot more efficiency. On an offense which retained all of its talent from last season, the scoring opportunities will be there once again for Devonta after scoring 11 rushing touchdowns each of the last two seasons. A stud RB who was a huge part of getting his NFL team to the Super Bowl, is going to be a huge part of your fantasy teams championship run in 2017.
15. Michael Thomas – WR New Orleans Saints
I am very excited about the young sophomore receiver from Ohio State. A solidly tall wideout with strong hands and the above average ability to break tackles, Michael Thomas is going to be a good player in this league for a long time. As a rookie and technically the number two WR for his team, Thomas posted a 92-1,137-9 line for the pass happy Saints. With Brandin Cooks gone, Drew Brees is looking for Thomas to be his number one target. The Saints defense once again is not going to be stopping anyone, so look for the offense to be in passing situations for majority of games. The number one receiver for a Drew Brees led passing attack sounds pretty good as it is, now add the premier talent of Michael Thomas, your looking at the cornerstone of an NFL and a fantasy roster.
16. Jay Ajayi – RB Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins were 9-1 in games Jay Ajayi received more than 15 carries. After starting the season 1-4, Miami gave the reins to Ajayi and finished with a 10-6 record. They are committed to continuing their success running the ball and having that carry them to victories. He is one of the few running backs almost guaranteed to see 300 carries. Ajayi ran for over 200 yards in 3 games last season. Two of those coming in back to back weeks. With a clear ability to break long runs and a thick body built for goal line work, I have very little concern for his fantasy outlook. One thing to keep an eye on is the health of Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey who only played 5 games last season. Three of those games were Ajayi’s back to back 200 yard games and another 100 yard performance. Pair the bell cow RB with an elite WR in the first round and your off to a stud filled first half of your draft.
17. DeMarco Murray – RB Tennessee Titans
I am still confused why I hear Derrick Henry’s name more than I hear DeMarco Murray’s when it comes to fantasy football. One is the clear starter who received nearly 300 attempts and rushed for nearly 1,300 yards. The other is a backup running back. This is nothing against Derrick Henry, soon enough we will be discussing him as a first round pick. This has everything to do with DeMarco Murray and this Titans offense. Tennessee is committed to the run game and having a very mobile quarterback like Marcus Mariota really gives them a lot of flexibility in run packages. Murray’s above average receiving ability makes him a lock for an every down role. After 10 games with at least 70 yards rushing last season, guaranteed around 50 receptions, and plenty of scoring opportunities, your getting a very high floor in standard and PPR. Derrick Henry will spell the veteran back for a couple series a game, but this very underrated Titans offense and your fantasy squad will be led by DeMarco Murray.
18. Dez Bryant – WR Dallas Cowboys
The last two seasons have not been pleasant for Dez Bryant or for his fantasy owners. So I can understand first hand why drafting him so early leaves a sour taste in your mouth. As much as you want to make him pay for burning you the last two years, its actually quite ridiculous that he is going this late considering how talented of a player he really is. I won’t even bring up his stats from the last two seasons but if you have a second take a look at his stat line from 2014. Yeah, that’s the player we are drafting here. This is the first full offseason with Dak Prescott running the first team offense, and having a full year under his belt will help build significant chemistry with Dez. With a suspension looming for Dallas’ star running back Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys will have to lean on their star receiver. I have a feeling they won’t want to go away from Dez even when Elliot returns. Watch him be a touchdown machine for an improving passing game, and for your fantasy team.
19. Rob Gronkowski – TE New England Patriots
If you’re reading this then you surely know how dominant of a player Rob Gronkowski is. So I’m not going to tell you something you already know. What a lot of people don’t realize is the advantage Gronk brings to a fantasy roster other than statistics. Their are plenty of good wide receivers and running backs to go around, and most of the top 24 guys at those positions by the end of the year are actually drafted in the middle and sometimes late rounds. Gronk gives you a positional advantage that is very rare to come across. Each week you can go into your matchup and compare your roster to your opponent’s and most of your positions are at least comparable . Gronk gives you the leg up at the tight end position no matter who your opponent has slotted in. When your tight end has the week to week ability to outscore your opponents best receiver or best running back, not only do you have that positional advantage but you have a complete lineup difference maker plugged in each week.
20. Amari Cooper – WR Oakland Raiders
After getting off to a hot start in 2016, we all thought we were finally going to get the huge year we expected out of Amari Cooper. Unfortunately, it was a tale of two halves for the sophomore receiver. The thing that excites me about last season for Amari Cooper is that we all feel like he didn’t have a good year because of his struggles in the second half of the season, but he still finished with solid stats across the board posting a 83 catch, 1,153 yard and 5 touchdown season. Sure this is a what have you done for me lately type of game, but the arrow is pointing straight up for Cooper. The Raiders know Carr and Cooper are the future of the teams offense. So look for them to continue to grow together. Amari Cooper is a home run play and a top 5 fantasy wide receiver waiting to happen. Could 2017 be the year? Certainly could be. Don’t let it be against you.
21. Demaryius Thomas – WR Denver Broncos
Believe it or not, I’m not worried about who the starting quarterback is for the Denver Broncos. After a nagging hip injury for the majority of 2016, Demaryius Thomas is fully healthy and ready to return to his not so old form when he had 4 straight 1,300 yard seasons from 2012-2015. A 6’3 big physical receiver is not easy to come by, let alone one as smooth and talented of a route runner as Thomas. He gets a boost in PPR as he has had 5 straight seasons with at least 90 catches. The Broncos also brought back Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy, who was a huge part in Demaryius’ first breakout season in 2012. Expect Denver to make it easier on whoever the starting quarterback is by getting back to short passes and the WR screens that Thomas has excelled in prior to the hip injury. Easily a top 10 receiver talent wise, don’t miss the opportunity to own Demaryius Thomas when he reminds the league just how dominant he can be.
22. Doug Baldwin – WR Seattle Seahawks
Something that always makes me feel good about picking a certain player is if they have had improved stats as their career has continued. Doug Baldwin has done just that. He is coming off two straight 1,000 yard seasons and an increase in receptions in each of the last 4 seasons. An increase in volume means an increase in production when you have an efficient QB like Russell Wilson throwing you the ball. I am expecting a big bounce back year as far as running the ball for Russell Wilson. This will open up big plays in the passing game and Baldwin is the go to guy for the Seahawks. With some uncertainty at the running back position, Seattle will be asked to get Baldwin as involved as possible all over the field. I am more than happy grabbing him right around the round 2-3 turn.
23. Leonard Fournette – RB Jacksonville Jaguars
Have you ever heard that sometimes in fantasy opportunity is more important than talent? Leonard
Fournette is a perfect example of both. Sure, you might feel hesitant drafting a rookie with one of your first two picks. Understandable, but if there is one guy to feel confident in for their rookie year, itsLeonard Fournette. A tall bigger framed running back is a good way to describe a power back. Except Fournette is a big back who ran a 4.51 second 40 yard dash. With a running style and ability that will translate into the NFL, the Jaguars are ready to run their offense through the rookie RB. When head coach Doug Marrone was asked how many pass attempts he wants Blake Bortles to throw per game, he gave a very serious answer of “Zero.” He later went on to explain that he wants to go back to the days where an offense ran the ball every play. Let’s choose to believe the Jags head coach. Don’t draft scared. Take Leonard Fournette.
24. Lamar Miller – RB Houston Texans
Oddly enough the Houston Texans offense is projected to receive a boost for 2017 after they fired Offensive Coordinator George Godsey. That is more in part to Bill O’Brien taking over the offensive play calling. A previous quarterback coach, O’Brien knows they don’t have a true starting QB to start the year. While they try to develop rookie Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller is going to be their focal point. I am expecting the new play calling to get Miller more involved in space as well as more looks near the red zone. The perfect way to hide a low end quarterback is to use your running backs. I’m expecting screens and short passes to be apart of the game plan for Miller and rookie running back D’Onta Foreman. I have faith in Bill O’Brien to make the most of his talent, and that means a big year for Lamar Miller.
Check out my top 100 PPR rankings coming soon!