It seems just like yesterday we were in the middle of the 2016 fantasy football season and we were making trades, crushing the waiver wire and making fun of friends on our way to our destiny – a fantasy football championship!
Time sure flies doesn’t it? If you’re like me and are now left with a gigantic void in your life (and a lot of extra spare time), there is good news!
It’s never too early to start prepping for the upcoming fantasy football season and what better way to do so than with some crazy and outlandish bold fantasy football predictions for 2017. Here we go!
Both Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson will go over 2,500 all-purpose yards
In the history of the NFL, only Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk has ever had 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. He did that back in 1999 with the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams. Faulk rushed for 1,381 yards and caught 87 balls for 1,048 yards. Now fast-forward to 2017 and we have two running backs who will each go over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. Bell might have done it this year if not for his three-game suspension to start the season. Bell finished 2016 with 1,268 rushing yards and 616 receiving yards. He is the focal point of the Steelers’ high-powered that will no doubt look to get him the ball as much as possible in 2017. As for Johnson, he almost achieved this feat last season with 1,239 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards. With Larry Fitzgerald turning 34 and the uncertainty surrounding Carson Palmer, you can bet Johnson is going to get plenty of touches in 2017.
Derek Carr will be the biggest fantasy bust of 2017
The MVP candidate – it’s crazy in the first place he’s even considered one of the contenders considering his statistical mediocrity – is an overpriced “luxury” vehicle that’s a true lemon. Yes, his hand injury limited him late in the season and he broke his leg in Week 16, but his unexciting yards per attempt (YPA) and completion percentage in consecutive seasons rubber stamp his overrated status. People will reach for him due to mainstream media takes, but analyze the metrics and he’s nothing more than a middling QB2. His aforementioned devastating fibula injury only complicates matters.
Deshaun Watson will have a better rookie season than Robert Griffin III did in 2012
Remember back in 2012 when RGIII was the second coming of Michael Vick? RGIII threw for 3,200 yards with 20 TDs and ran for an outstanding 815 yards and seven more scores. Watson’s name no longer sits atop many draft boards, but, for me, that kid has checked all the important boxes. He’s been a relentless winner over multiple seasons, and we’ve already seen him in action against the best defenses in college football. Watson has completed more than 67 percent of his passes, gaining 8.5 yards per attempt, while delivering a career TD-to-INT ratio of nearly 3-to-1. He’s a terrific dual-threat QB as well, having run for more than 1,600 yards in the past two seasons. If he lands in the right spot, with a creative coaching staff and competent receivers, he’ll have a path to fantasy stardom.
Rookie WR Corey Davis will be this year’s Michael Thomas
Davis is a beast and we would be getting far more attention if he played in the SEC or ACC for example instead of in the MAC for Western Michigan. He’s the complete package who is an absolute menace after the catch. Most impressively, he generates ample cushion from defenders with nifty footwork and clean routes. It’s no wonder why he totaled at least 78 receptions, 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns three straight seasons for the Broncos.
Marquise Lee will finish with more than 1,000 receiving yards
Jacksonville, thanks to Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson, left a bitter taste in many fantasy owners’ mouths this past season, but Lee certainly tickled the buds down the stretch. His routes sharpened and confidence soared as he not only gashed underneath coverage but also won several contested balls along the sidelines. In PPR settings, he scored at least 13 fantasy points in four of his final six games. It could be argued he’s the Jags’ most reliable receiver. Hopefully the new coaching regime will fully utilize his versatile assets.
Dalvin Cook will be this year’s Ezekiel Elliott
While you might think the answer should be Leonard Fournette, it will actually be Cook putting together the best rookie season, especially in PPR leagues. Cook topped 100 rushing yards in eight of his season’s final nine games for Florida State, averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and had some big games against key competition (4 TDs vs. Clemson, 3 TDs vs. North Carolina). He’s a capable receiver, too. Landing spot is everything at this position (though maybe not in Fournette’s case), but Cook has the profile of an every-down, workhorse-type of back.
Brandin Cooks will be this year’s DeAndre Hopkins (a huge disappointment)
“Strange” best summarizes Cooks’ 2016 campaign. Though he landed inside the position’s top 10 in total fantasy points, his up-and-down pattern of production left much to be desired. He surpassed 75 yards in a game just five times and found the end zone in six contests. People will invest solely on the superficial data, but I expect more consistency from a top receiver. Also, consider the advancements Michael Thomas is sure to make and Cooks is a middling WR2 masquerading as an overpriced WR1.
DeMarco Murray will be this year’s Todd Gurley (a huge disappointment)
Murray was one of the best steals of last year’s fantasy football season. He produced elite RB1 numbers and was drafted in the fourth, fifth or even sixth round. Everyone thought he was done, but he found new life in Tennessee. That’s not going to be the case in 2017. There’s just no way Murray gets the volume he got last year (293 carries for 1,297 yards). The reason for that is Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner. Henry isn’t going to be an understudy again in 2017 and the Tennessee backfield should be more of a 50/50 split in 2017.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.