Early 2017 fantasy position rankings

Jeff Ratcliffe offers his positional rankings for 2017 already, because fantasy never stops.

| 3 months ago
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Early 2017 fantasy position rankings


The best part about fantasy football is the season never ends. Sure, technically speaking, the 2016 NFL regular season is over. But we’re in the thick of the playoffs with the NFL scouting combine just over a month away. Then there’s free agency which spills into the draft. Minicamps and OTAs follow shortly after. Before we know it, the Fourth of July is here and we’re right back into fantasy draft mode.

In other words, it’s never too early to start prepping for next season. Let’s get the 2017 fantasy football season started with our first batch of rankings. The following list is for standard scoring. Of course, this is only the first incarnation of 2017 rankings. With so much yet to unfold across the NFL landscape, this list will undergo many changes over the next several months. We’ll give plenty of updates, along with PPR and overall rankings.

Quarterback

Rk Player Team
1 Aaron Rodgers GB
2 Drew Brees NO
3 Tom Brady NE
4 Andrew Luck IND
5 Matt Ryan ATL
6 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
7 Russell Wilson SEA
8 Cam Newton CAR
9 Derek Carr OAK
10 Dak Prescott DAL
11 Kirk Cousins WAS
12 Marcus Mariota TEN
13 Matthew Stafford DET
14 Jameis Winston TB
15 Philip Rivers SD
16 Blake Bortles JAX
17 Tyrod Taylor BUF
18 Carson Wentz PHI
19 Eli Manning NYG
20 Andy Dalton CIN
21 Carson Palmer ARZ
22 Joe Flacco BLT
23 Ryan Tannehill MIA
24 Alex Smith KC
25 Tony Romo DAL
26 Jared Goff LA
27 Colin Kaepernick SF
28 Jimmy Garoppolo NE
29 Cody Kessler CLV
30 Jay Cutler CHI
31 Sam Bradford MIN
32 Paxton Lynch DEN
33 Geno Smith NYJ
34 Brock Osweiler HST
35 Mike Glennon TB
36 Teddy Bridgewater MIN
37 Trevor Siemian DEN
38 Brian Hoyer CHI
39 Tom Savage HST
40 Matt Barkley CHI
41 Robert Griffin CLV
42 Josh McCown CLV
43 AJ McCarron CIN
44 Bryce Petty NYJ
45 Case Keenum LA

There was some debate on this past year’s top signal-caller, but in 2017 Rodgers is the clear top fantasy option. He finished the season with an impressive run, which has continued into the playoffs. Better yet, he’s only finished outside the top-two in fantasy scoring twice since 2008, and one of them was due to injury.

From there, things get a little tricky. Brees is no spring chicken, but he put together another remarkable season and has an impressive surrounding cast. Brady will be 40 next season, yet has managed to keep Father Time at bay. Luck has No. 1 upside, but the overall state of the Colts offense – especially the run game – keep him out of the top three. Ryan is coming off a massive year, but could regress, especially if Kyle Shanahan bounces for a head coaching job.

After that point, we have the trio of Roethlisberger, Wilson and Newton. All three disappointed in their own ways in 2016, yet each offers massive upside. This will likely be a good area to attack for middle-round value.

There are also a few late-round options to keep an eye on. Mariota flashed top-five potential at times this past season. He has a lengthy recovery from a broken fibula, but he’s still trending in the right direction. Likewise, Winston improved his passing yards and touchdowns in his sophomore season. With Mike Evans emerging as an elite option, Winston has a QB1 ceiling. Either option coupled with the uber-safe Philip Rivers is an enticing late-round duo. Rivers has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in eight of the last 10 years, including this past season when he tossed 33 scores.

Running back

Rk Player Team
1 Le’Veon Bell PIT
2 David Johnson ARZ
3 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
4 LeSean McCoy BUF
5 Melvin Gordon SD
6 Jay Ajayi MIA
7 Jordan Howard CHI
8 DeMarco Murray TEN
9 Carlos Hyde SF
10 Devonta Freeman ATL
11 Todd Gurley LA
12 Mark Ingram NO
13 Lamar Miller HST
14 Spencer Ware KC
15 Adrian Peterson MIN
16 Eddie Lacy GB
17 LeGarrette Blount NE
18 Robert Kelley WAS
19 C.J. Anderson DEN
20 Isaiah Crowell CLV
21 Jonathan Stewart CAR
22 Latavius Murray OAK
23 Bilal Powell NYJ
24 Giovani Bernard CIN
25 Kenneth Dixon BLT
26 Tevin Coleman ATL
27 Thomas Rawls SEA
28 Ameer Abdullah DET
29 Jamaal Charles KC
30 C.J. Prosise SEA
31 Paul Perkins NYG
32 Jeremy Hill CIN
33 Dion Lewis NE
34 Ty Montgomery GB
35 Frank Gore IND
36 Matt Forte NYJ
37 Theo Riddick DET
38 Doug Martin TB
39 Danny Woodhead SD
40 Derrick Henry TEN
41 Ryan Mathews PHI
42 Jacquizz Rodgers TB
43 Duke Johnson Jr. CLV
44 Jerick McKinnon MIN
45 Chris Ivory JAX
46 T.J. Yeldon JAX
47 DeAndre Washington OAK
48 Charles Sims TB
49 Devontae Booker DEN
50 Darren Sproles PHI
51 James White NE
52 Christine Michael GB
53 Terrance West BLT
54 Wendell Smallwood PHI
55 Shane Vereen NYG
56 Jalen Richard OAK
57 Kenyan Drake MIA
58 Mike Gillislee BUF
59 Rashad Jennings NYG
60 Cameron Artis-Payne CAR

The likely consensus top-three overall picks top the list at running back. Depending on your fantasy football pundit, you’re either going to see Johnson or Bell in the No. 1 spot. Bell gets the slight edge in our rankings due to his massive workload coupled with Johnson’s likelihood for touchdown regression. Elliott is in the conversation, but his somewhat limited role as a receiver puts him a tick behind the top two options.

Running back may see the most ranking fluctuations during the offseason, as there are a number of situations in flux. A few that stick out include the Vikings, Packers, Seahawks, Jets, Ravens and Bengals. Adrian Peterson is on the wrong side of 30 and owed a massive $17.75 million next season. Without a pay cut, he’s unlikely to be in a Vikings uniform next season, which would position Jerick McKinnon as the lead back.

Green Bay will face a decision at running back with Eddie Lacy set to become an unrestricted free agent. If they let him walk, Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael are the most likely in-house replacements. C.J. Prosise flashed massive upside before getting hurt midseason. He and Thomas Rawls could form a one-two punch for the Seahawks. The Jets have a 31-year-old Matt Forte coming off a lackluster season and an ascending Bilal Powell. A committee seems likely, but Powell is the more intriguing player. Baltimore could end up addressing running back in the draft, but Kenneth Dixon has to be considered the early favorite for lead back duties. Jeremy Hill dynasty owners should be concerned. There’s a chance he moves to a short-yardage role next season, which would position Giovani Bernard as the lead back.

Of course, it should also be noted that this is a strong running back class in the draft. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman, and others will make an impact in 2017 fantasy leagues.

Wide receiver

Rk Player Team
1 Antonio Brown PIT
2 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
3 Julio Jones ATL
4 Mike Evans TB
5 A.J. Green CIN
6 Jordy Nelson GB
7 Dez Bryant DAL
8 T.Y. Hilton IND
9 Amari Cooper OAK
10 DeAndre Hopkins HST
11 Michael Thomas NO
12 Sammy Watkins BUF
13 Allen Robinson JAX
14 Keenan Allen SD
15 Alshon Jeffery CHI
16 Brandin Cooks NO
17 Doug Baldwin SEA
18 Demaryius Thomas DEN
19 Davante Adams GB
20 Michael Crabtree OAK
21 Julian Edelman NE
22 Emmanuel Sanders DEN
23 Jarvis Landry MIA
24 Golden Tate DET
25 Terrelle Pryor Sr. CLV
26 Larry Fitzgerald ARZ
27 Donte Moncrief IND
28 Stefon Diggs MIN
29 Eric Decker NYJ
30 Kelvin Benjamin CAR
31 Brandon Marshall NYJ
32 Kenny Britt LA
33 Jordan Matthews PHI
34 Martavis Bryant PIT
35 Randall Cobb GB
36 Rishard Matthews TEN
37 DeSean Jackson WAS
38 Sterling Shepard NYG
39 Tyler Lockett SEA
40 Josh Doctson WAS
41 Jeremy Maclin KC
42 Corey Coleman CLV
43 Tyreek Hill KC
44 Adam Thielen MIN
45 Tyrell Williams SD
46 DeVante Parker MIA
47 Breshad Perriman BLT
48 Willie Snead NO
49 Jamison Crowder WAS
50 Malcolm Mitchell NE
51 Will Fuller V HST
52 Marqise Lee JAX
53 Kevin White CHI
54 Laquon Treadwell MIN
55 Kenny Stills MIA
56 Cameron Meredith CHI
57 Marvin Jones DET
58 Tyler Boyd CIN
59 J.J. Nelson ARZ
60 Michael Floyd NE
61 John Brown ARZ
62 Mike Wallace BLT
63 Tajae Sharpe TEN
64 Pierre Garcon WAS
65 Tavon Austin LA
66 Josh Gordon CLV
67 Cole Beasley DAL
68 Devin Funchess CAR
69 Taylor Gabriel ATL
70 Eli Rogers PIT
71 Mohamed Sanu ATL
72 Chris Hogan NE
73 Allen Hurns JAX
74 Leonte Carroo MIA
75 Paul Richardson SEA
76 Robby Anderson NYJ
77 Chris Conley KC
78 Quincy Enunwa NYJ
79 Phillip Dorsett IND
80 Dontrelle Inman SD

Again, we could easily debate the top two rankings. Beckham has been insanely consistent in his career with double-digit touchdowns in all three seasons as a pro. Brown is coming off a “down year” where he finished third among wide receivers in fantasy scoring. However, he very likely would have taken the top spot for the third consecutive season had he played in Week 17. Ultimately, it’s splitting hairs, and both players will likely come off the board after the Big 3 running backs.

We have a number of receivers poised for bouncebacks in 2017. Hopkins and Robinson top the list. Both were major disappointments given their respective ADPs, and that will drive down their upcoming draft stock. Likewise, the masses may be down on Cooper following his late-season decline. But keep in mind that he’s entering just his third professional season. That’s often a pivotal year for wide receivers where they take the next step forward (see: Evans, Mike circa 2016).

Tight end

Rk Player Team
1 Rob Gronkowski NE
2 Jordan Reed WAS
3 Travis Kelce KC
4 Greg Olsen CAR
5 Jimmy Graham SEA
6 Tyler Eifert CIN
7 Delanie Walker TEN
8 Zach Ertz PHI
9 Hunter Henry SD
10 Eric Ebron DET
11 Cameron Brate TB
12 Kyle Rudolph MIN
13 Ladarius Green PIT
14 Antonio Gates SD
15 Martellus Bennett NE
16 Zach Miller CHI
17 Jason Witten DAL
18 C.J. Fiedorowicz HST
19 Austin Hooper ATL
20 Vance McDonald SF
21 Coby Fleener NO
22 Julius Thomas JAX
23 Tyler Higbee LA
24 Jack Doyle IND
25 Dennis Pitta BLT
26 Charles Clay BUF
27 Jared Cook GB
28 Dwayne Allen IND
29 Gary Barnidge CLV
30 A.J. Derby DEN
31 Clive Walford OAK
32 Maxx Williams BLT
33 Vernon Davis WAS
34 Dion Sims MIA
35 Jermaine Gresham ARZ
36 Austin Seferian-Jenkins NYJ
37 Will Tye NYG
38 Jacob Tamme ATL
39 Jesse James PIT
40 Lance Kendricks LA

Tight end was extremely volatile in 2016 with a number of injuries affecting the position and little consistency from week to week. Gronkowski and Reed are among the least durable options, but both possess massive upside and remain atop the position. Kelce could join the elite tier if the Chiefs continue to use him as they did down the stretch.

There are some late-round options who look to have breakout potential. Ertz still hasn’t taken that next step, but he’s close. He was fantasy’s No. 1 tight end over the season half of the season. Henry will likely see an expanded role in San Diego Los Angeles. He showed a lot of promise as a rookie, catching a position-high eight touchdowns. Green flashed massive upside when he was on the field this season. If he can overcome his injury issues, Green could be a monster in the Pittsburgh offense.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

Comments are closed.