Hello, friends. Jimmie Maverick is feeling fine after securing my first Championship in my PPR league! After the Monday night game I hope to have a second! Even though the fantasy season is over, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year! This is my estimate of where the players will be ranked come next summer. Of course, a lot still has to be set. There’s going to be players moving to different teams, coaching changes, rookies coming in, the 2017 schedule still needs to be set (along with bye weeks). Likewise, one of these guys could suffer a devastating injury between now and the end of the season. However, this is where I think the second round players will be placed.
The best place to see the entire list (as there will be changes) is through my app. It's still under construction, but that is where all this data will get fleshed out over the next few months. You can access it here. Please note you need to have a membership in order to access this part of my website!
And we have a lot more players going on a contract year. This list includes 3 more: Davonta Freeman, Brandin Cooks and Carlos Hyde. I expect big things out of all three as they will be chasing those dollar bills all season!
#13. Melvin Gordon (RB-SD). To all the haters and the doubters, you missed out when you bypassed Melvin Gordon in the 6th round of the 2016 draft. Even though he had an abysmal rookie campaign (with zero touchdowns on over 200 touches), people like me knew he was destined for a strong bounceback. San Diego management telegraphed this when they brought in 3 new offensive linemen and a fullback (and former teammate of Gordon's) with the draft and - more importantly - didn't take another running back. That shows confidence in him as the player and boy did he deliver, garnering over 1400 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns! Of course, the injuries to Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen helped with his usage and workload, but even so he has been outstanding this season. That late season injury which caused him to miss the fantasy playoffs hurt but it's not a season ending injury so I expect him to be at full health in 2017. Biggest risks for the upcoming season is a potential coaching change, but I doubt it will impact his usage much. I will look for him to continue this success into next season and he is a fine choice for your second pick! Four stars.
#14 Devonta Freeman (RB-ATL). If you're going to pick a runner that is part of a committee, Freeman is as good as it gets. Despite the fact that he's been splitting time with Tevin Coleman all season, he has still managed to almost match his 2015 season with 1,350 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns through 15 weeks! That is impressive when you consider the fact that Tevin Coleman is taking about 30% of the load this season (last year he was minimally used because of injuries). He still remains a strong PPR player as well due to his 49 catches which places him in the top 10 amongst running backs. I have to admit, I was very much down on the entire Atlanta Falcons offense, mostly due to my concerns about Matt Ryan, but this team is an offensive powerhouse and I trust that the OC, Kyle Shanahan, will continue to bring fantasy gold to Freeman next season. It is also a contract year in 2017, so Freeman will be working for a big payday! Five stars.
#15 TY Hilton (WR-IND). Hilton had an outstanding 2016 campaign. Through 15 games he's amassed 85 catches for 1353 yards and 6 TDs. That's a career best for catches and yards and he still has one game to go! Even though it was a disappointing season for the Colts, their offense was very effective for fantasy purposes with Andrew Luck finally healthy. My biggest concern with Hilton is his inconsistency. He had 6 games with over 100 receiving yards and 6 games under 60 receiving yards. Maybe he's a better Daily Fantasy play, but if you select him just know that you're not going to be benching him because he has such a high ceiling. Three stars.
#16 Jordan Howard (RB-CHI). It's important to remember that Howard was not the starter at the beginning on 2015, it was Jeremy Langford. But Langford was injured in week 3 and Howard took over the reigns and was an excellent play in a very poor offense. Starting in week 3 he has since amassed almost 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 7 touchdowns with one more game to go. Just imagine what he can do if he gets some talent around him. I'm guessing that both Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery will be gone next season, so there are a lot of unknowns with this pick. I'm not sure if replacement QB, Matt Barkley, will be the starter next year. 2017 will be his sophomore season in the league, so beware of the sophomore slump. Still, if you need a player to build an offense around, Howard appears to be that guy. Three stars.
#17 Dez Bryant (WR-DAL). Dez had some issues getting back on track in 2016. There were some growing pains with new QB Dak Prescott, and he is having more issues staying healthy which is a concern. Dez did put up some good games this season, but more often than not he was not the top target on the Dallas offense. I'm sure that a lot of this is just building a relationship with your new QB and that should be better next year, but there has been a drop off in targets under Prescott as compared to when Romo was the starter. I feel he's going to be picked this high because of his name, but he's more a 3rd or 4th round pick in my opinion. It will be interesting to see where he lands in the draft order once we get closer to next season. Two stars.
#18 Rob Gronkowski (TE-NE). I have said it before and I'll say it again, when he's healthy there is no better tight end in the league hands down. The problem is that he's not staying healthy. Gronk wasn't even on the injury reports during the preseason yet he missed the first 3 games which really stung if you took him in the first round (something I warned against - BTW). Then in week 10 he was injured again, placed on injured reserve, and he hasn't played since. There is still hope he'll be ready for the playoffs but it is really hard to justify using such an early pick on such a risky bet. I'm placing him here, in the middle of the 2nd round, as a placeholder but next season I could see him fall to the #3 or #4 TE selected, which would put him into 4th round at a minimum. Also, if Martellus Bennett is back that will cut into his workload but I really see Bennett as the better bet if he remains in New England another season. Two stars.
#19 Jay Ajayi (RB-MIA). Do you realize that management hated Jay Ajayi at the beginning of the season? The coaches were contantly disparaging him during training camp. Then they went out and signed Arian Foster to displace him. He didn't even travel with the team in Miami's week 1 game against Seattle! But then, not surprisingly, Arian Foster got hurt and Jay exploded into the national consciousness with two 200-yard rushing performances in week 6 and 7. Since that time he has been the unquestioned #1 in Miami and even reeled off another 200 yard performance during the week 16 fantasy football championships! It seems like now the coaches are willing to use Ajayi in a way that they never felt comfortable using Lamar Miller during his tenure in Miami and that spells good things for 2017. Four stars.
#20 Lamar Miller (RB-HOU). There was a lot of hype during the pre-season about Lamar Miller. He was finally going to be used in a way that Miami never felt comfortable using him. I was always skeptical because of the fact that they were bringing in a new QB (Osweiller) as well into this offense. I knew there would be growing pains and boy did we see that in the passing game. The good news is that his usage is solid as he has almost 300 carries and targets through 15 games. He has managed almost 1,250 scrimmage yards but his 4 yards per carry is borderline bad. You have to hope that Osweiller and the passing game will be better next season and that will open things up for Miller, but I remain unconvinced. Three stars.
#21 Brandin Cooks (WR-NO). There's something to be said about being the #1 receiver on a high powered passing offense and Brandon Cooks is the main beneficiary. Even though his targets and catches decreased from 2015, his efficiency improved and his receiving yards and TDs are very close to what he did in the prior season. He had some monster games, but he was very inconsistent during the season with 5 games under 50 yards receiving including a goose egg in week 12 (zero targets). Drew Brees has been great once again but when does he hit that wall? Will Sean Payton still be the coach next season? There are some risks with this pick. On the positive side it is a contract year, so he'll be working for big money! Four stars.
#22 Amari Cooper (WR-OAK). As I expected, Amari Cooper struggled in 2016. After his successful rookie campaign, he got that sophomore slump and was actually the second best receivier on the Raiders behind Crabtree. The biggest issue is that his targets have been all over the map, 12 targets one week 5 targets the next. This has led to a wildly inconsistent performance each week which makes him tough to trust. Still, this offense is solid and Derek Carr has established himself as a top 12 QB. Next year will be better and I expect Cooper to reestablish himself as the #1 WR on this team. Four stars.
#23 Carlos Hyde (RB-SF). Carlos Hyde is the best player on a bad team. 2016 has been a decent season as he's amassed 1,150 yards and 9 TDs even though he's missed 2 games. He continues to have durability questions but the good news is that this is a contract year next season. I've seen countless RBs with durability issues suddenly become superhuman once they are in a contract year (Le'Veon Bell, Doug Martin, Ryan Mathews, etc. etc). I'm willing to bet that Hyde is a top 5 RB in 2017 and a great pick here. Four stars.
#24 Mark Ingram (RB-NO). Mark Ingram was a PPR dream in 2015 so it was disappointing to see him take a step back this past season. Still his usage is good and he garnered over 1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns through 15 games this season. He has been splitting reps with Hightower again this season but he's clearly the lead back in New Orleans. He's averaged over 5 yards per carry this season, which is better than the 4.63 YPC he had in 2015. His usage has been inconsistent, and Hightower's poaching of goal line carries is annoying, but he's a solid choice for RB production at this point in the draft. Three stars.
I'll be posting additional rankings as we move along and I'll be making adjustments as things happen during the rest of this season and into next year. My Perfect Fantasy Draft is my app to help you win your draft next season. The app is under construction right now, but it's getting updated every day and as things change, it will be reflected here first. You can check it out for free right now, just sign up here.