Want to win your fantasy football league? It all starts with the draft. We understand your time is limited, creating your own cheat sheet is a none starter. So here are a few players that we think will be sleepers, busts and breakout stars in 2017.
Here is how we define each:
Sleeper: A player not being drafted as a starter but should be.
Bust: A player drafted as a starter but will disappoint.
Breakout Star: A player projected to finish in the top five at their position but are not currently being drafted like a superstar.
To create these rankings, we used a combination of FantasyPros experts and then compared those rankings to the average draft position (ADP), which is a composite of rankings from ESPN and Yahoo, of each player. The draft rankings are based on a standard league.
First up, 2017 sleepers…
2017 ADP: 11th quarterback
2017 Projected Rankings: 7th quarterback
The Redskins foolishly have not signed Kirk Cousins (or is it Kurt?) to a long-term contract. Maybe that is causing fantasy owners to think twice about the Washington quarterback but don’t make the same mistake. Cousins was a top 10 starter in 2015 and finished 5th in fantasy points last year. After throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2016, Cousins is being drafted outside the top 10. The consensus rankings have him among the best in the league once again.
2017 ADP: 12th quarterback
2017 Projected Rankings: 8th quarterback
Health is key in fantasy and the broken fibula that Mariota suffered at the end of last season is depressing his value. But the Titans franchise quarterback is back to 100% and ready to take a step forward in year three. Tennessee added Eric Decker and first round pick Corey Davis in the offseason, along with veteran tight end Delanie Walker, Mariota now has a formidable receiving corp. Plus, he is still a threat with his legs (349 yards, 2 scores in 2016).
2017 ADP: 30th running back,
2017 Projected Rankings: 25th running back
The ageless Frank Gore isn’t a sexy pick but he is consistent. The 13-year vet has now rushed for over 1,000 yards in five of the last six years. He has averaged more than seven touchdowns a season rushing and receiving in that span. Gore is currently being taken in the 11th round, not bad for a guy that finished 12th in fantasy points in 2016.
2017 ADP: 46th running back,
2017 Projected Rankings: 35th running back
West’s outlook was cloudy after being out-touched by Kenneth Dixon down the stretch last season but Dixon is now on IR. West had over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving last year, plus six scores. He will get all of the goal line work in Baltimore and only cede passing situations to Danny Woodhead (who has an injury history). The Towson product is being drafted as a flex option but has RB1 upside.
2017 ADP: 31th receiver
2017 Projected Rankings: 25th receiver
Fitz continues to be a target monster despite his age. The future Hall of Fame receiver has gotten more than 145 looks in each of the last two years and caught more than 107 balls as Carson Palmer’s favorite target. Fitzgerald gets knocked for starting hot and fading down the stretch, so draft him and then trade the receiver by the Cardinals Week 8 bye.
2017 ADP: 37th receiver
2017 Projected Rankings: 31st receiver
Do you believe in the third-year receiver theory? Snead fits the profile and will get the opportunity to succeed. The Saints need to replace Brandin Cooks (117 targets, 1,173 yards, 8 touchdowns in 2016) and Snead is a primary candidate for the extra work. He already got more than a 100 looks from Drew Brees last season and has breakout star written all over him.
2017 ADP: 48th receiver
2017 Projected Rankings: 40th receiver
Fantasy owners never forget a player that disappointed and Brown had a letdown season in 2016 after racking up 101 targets, 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. It is easy to understand why Brown is being overlooked in drafts but complications with his sickle-cell trait slowed the speedy receiver last year. Reports out of camp have Brown back to 100% and poised to bounce back. Brown might have burned you a year ago but he is ready to make up for his transgressions this season.
2017 ADP: 23rd tight end
2017 Projected Rankings: 14th tight end
We always preach taking a contrarian approach to sports betting and that applies to fantasy as well. Fleener is a great buy-low opportunity a year after finishing 15th among tight ends in fantasy points. There will be extra looks to go around now that Brandin Cooks is out of town and Drew Brees still leads the offense. The best part, Fleener is going late in the 14th round, so it won’t cost you much for a tight end with fringe top 10 potential.
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