Fantasy bounceback candidates for the 2017 season
August: “I drafted a stud.”
September: “It’s one bad week.”
October: “I’m getting nervous.”
November: “I will never draft this guy again.”
December: “I missed my playoffs because of __________.”
Does that timeline look familiar? We’ve all been there. You took an elite player you knew was failsafe, but then he failed. And you know what? Life happens.
Some players get hurt. Players like Keenan Allen and Eric Decker should remain toward the top of your draft board because they are elite players. Allen seems to have the worst luck on the planet, but none of his injuries are connected. Decker’s injuries don’t scare me as much as the New York Jets organization, but that’s a different article.
Some players are victims of circumstance. Going into the 2016 season, DeAndre Hopkins was considered quarterback-proof. After all, he played with four different subpar quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden) in 2015 and ultimately caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Houston paid $72 million to prove us wrong. Ends up Brock Osweiler was the only quarterback that could bring Hopkins down.
But players can bounce back.
In 2014, DeMarco Murray led the league with 1,845 rushing yards. In 2015, Murray went to Philadelphia and put up less than half of that yardage (702). For the 2016 season, fantasy players had to make a choice: Was Murray a victim of the “Chip Kelly offense/coaching?” Could he re-emerge in a new offense that was committed to run the ball? Or was he done?
The rest is history. (And so is Kelly.)
There is an art to selecting bounceback candidates. The last day of February is a little early to make firm selections, but already certain players stick out as bounceback candidates that you need to grab now, before everyone else agrees.
Russell Wilson, QB Seattle Seahawks
Earlier this month, Mike Tagliere wrote a piece about Cam Newton not being a bounceback candidate. In fact, Tagliere argues that Newton won’t even be a QB1, let alone one of the top fantasy performers as he had been in the past.
Russell Wilson is not Cam Newton.
Yes, I felt the need to type that out as its own paragraph because fantasy players like to lump quarterbacks into two different categories: pocket passers and running quarterbacks. Football is a beautiful game. It’s far too complex to categorize the signal callers into a restrictive, binary system.
In 2016, for the first time in their careers, both Newton and Wilson finished outside of the top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. In 2014, Newton missed the top-10 mark, but that was due to sitting out two games due to injury.
But in a down year, Wilson still put up a 77.2 accuracy percentage, eighth-best in the league. Newton’s accuracy percentage was 65.4 percent, dead last among all quarterbacks who played in at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.
Wilson’s injuries killed his fantasy value. First it was a right high-ankle sprain in Week 1. In Week 3, he sprained his right MCL and doctors told him he was supposed to be out for four weeks. He didn’t do that, and instead added to an already dicey situation and suffered a right pectoral injury.