When to Ignore Your 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings
If you haven’t created your MVP Board yet, please go ahead and do so. I’ll wait …
Now you’ll find our 2017 fantasy football rankings tailored to your league’s scoring and lineup settings. We’ve already spent tons of time on those numbers, and we’ll keep fiddling and updating right up until the final hours of draft season.
When you’re selecting your team on draft day, that board will give you value-driven recommendations at every turn to help build a league-winning roster.
And at some point, you need to just ignore them.
Is that a cop out? Nah. Are we trying to cover our butts for a few players bound to disappoint? Nope.
Consider this our annual reminder that you make your team your own. Projections are helpful, essential — but they’re not the whole story. That’s why we include “replacement points,” which account for what you can expect to get when your starter misses time. That’s why you’ll find “ceiling” and “floor” projections next to the regular numbers on your MVP Board.
Frankly, that’s why we write all of these articles instead of just providing rankings and wishing you luck.
There’s art to building your fantasy football roster. It’s easier to take a shot on that boom/bust wideout if you fortify the corps with bedrock. And come Round 15, do you just want the next RB on the list or the guy who could happen upon big opportunity with 1 well-placed injury?
Let’s take a walk through the positions now and see where things get truly interesting …
QB: Basically after Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady
What? Doesn’t that mean the QB rankings are pretty much worthless?
Not at all.
The issue here is that the MVP Board doesn’t really understand that you’re most likely not just picking 1 QB to guide you through the season. Rodgers and Brady might arguably be the only 2 passers capable of doing so (outside of their bye weeks, obviously). Even our #3 guy, Drew Brees, threw for 40 fewer yards per game and 3 fewer TDs on the road than at home last year. That could make him iffy as soon as Week 3 (at Carolina).
Most likely, someone in your league will draft at least the top 2 QBs – and probably several more – before your MVP Board recommends a passer. But you don’t need to feel compelled to take one even if the suggested-pick tiles seem to be screaming as you sit there with 3 RBs, 3 WRs, a TE and no QB rostered.
Stay calm and realize that players such as Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton are going much later than they should. And keep in mind that you won’t just be relying on 1 QB to get you through the year.
RB: After Frank Gore (non-PPR), Paul Perkins (PPR)
This position gets fairly wacky pretty quickly. If you can find a back who makes you totally comfy beyond, say, the top 7, then you’re either built of strong stuff or fooling yourself.
The upside of this position’s fluidity is that you can approach it from a number of directions and be flexible as your draft progresses. Are your league mates gobbling up RBs early? Well, then thank them for the top-shelf value at WR and TE and then see who reaches you in Round 4 and beyond.
Able to fortify your RB group early? Then you can play around with upside targets through the middle and later rounds.
As for our RB rankings, Gore and Perkins seem to stand just before the gates of bigger questions at the position. Behind them, you’ll find guys in crowded backfields with questions to answer in training camp and the preseason that could well shake things up before you’re even ready to make a pick.
WR: After you get 2 quality starters
Jared and I talked recently on the podcast about how small changes in ADP at the top of the draft board might push some attractive wideout value your way. If you’re able to capitalize by, say, taking an elite pass-catcher early and then landing Demaryius Thomas or Golden Tate with your 4th pick, then you can afford to play a bit more with that 3rd WR slot (and beyond).
Steelers WR Martavis Bryant becomes easier to take a chance on if you’ve supplied your squad with a pair of more dependable starters. Ditto DeSean Jackson.
And beyond that scenario, the WR board gets fun right around the end of WR3 range in ADP. You get nebulous situations such as Baltimore’s, Tennessee’s and San Diego’s with upside candidates — along with bounce-back targets such as Arizona’s John Brown and Detroit’s Marvin Jones.
Make sure you check the “ceiling” projections on your MVP Board before you settle on your 5th, 6th and/or 7th wideouts. Unless you’re pursuing a handcuff-type pick, you’ll generally get more out of taking a few home-run cuts in that range rather than slapping for singles.
TE: After Jimmy Graham
Fantasy drafters don’t appear to be overrating Kyle Rudolph after last year’s outlier season. They are drafting Hunter Henry as though he can repeat his rookie-year TD rate. And they basically don’t want anything to do with Coby Fleener.
Overall, this position looks wide open beyond the top 6 players in our rankings. The 6th guy – in PPR or non – is Delanie Walker. He’s fine. But Graham looks like the last TE truly capable of finishing the year in the #1 slot. If you don’t wind up with any of the top 5, then feel free to target the position wherever it feels comfy.
Even upside youngster Austin Hooper and boringly steady vet Jason Witten give you starter-level options well into the double-digit rounds.
DL: After JPP
Khalil Mack’s return to LB on MyFantasyLeague.com – among other commish sites – shrinks the top shelf at this position. Actually, a healthy J.J. Watt would again be his own shelf. Behind him, though, Joey Bosa and Jason Pierre-Paul look like the only 2 players capable of getting close.
After that, you’re going to find everyone’s DL rankings varying quite a bit. In fact, from what I’ve seen, you’ll see plenty of variation from #2 down.
Jump on Bosa or JPP if the fit is right in your draft. After that, don’t be surprised if you can find strong value at any point.
LB: After Luke Kuechly
There are plenty of solid guys at this position that you can feel comfy drafting. But there’s only 1 sure-fire stud. The only knock on Kuechly is the concussion issue. It’ll be up to you how to treat that one. And once he’s off the board, you can decide when to pursue your favorite options from a large pool of potential LB1/LB2 producers.
DB: After Keanu Neal
Reshad Jones entered last year as the dominant force among fantasy DBs. After he went down with a shoulder injury, Landon Collins emerged as a new force. Picking between them – assuming Jones is healthy this summer – is a toss-up.
Slightly behind them sits Atlanta’s 2nd-year safety, who delivered strong rookie numbers despite opening the year on the sideline with a knee injury. Neal enters 2017 in position for good tackle production and with a promising big-play profile.
Behind him, though, you’ll find a piñata. Whack it just right, and the ground will be littered with enough fantasy-DB options for everyone.