Fantasy comeback player of the year candidates for 2017
One of the trickier propositions of fantasy drafts is trying to determine whether a player is likely to rebound from a disappointing season. Were factors such as injury, scheme and/or surrounding cast the main drivers behind that down year? Or is the player merely trending toward the start of a declining career arc? While others focus on the same red flags that cause a player’s draft stock to tumble, we can dig a little deeper under the surface to find value.
While putting this list together it occurred to me that many of the names you’ll see below are pretty obvious bounceback candidates. Or, at least, I thought should be obvious. But for one reason or another – injury, performance, regime change, etc. – the fantasy community doesn’t quite see it that way. We can gauge the current market pulse by perusing average draft positions on Fantasy Football Calculator.
The premise of this piece is to use some of PFF’s premium statistics to peel back the layers and identify some solid value opportunities for a savvy drafter like yourself to come in and swoop.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
2017 ADP: 2.06 (WR8)
2016 ADP: 2.02 (WR7)
What went wrong: Bryant missed three games and battled some nagging injuries, but his 16-game pace was still not quite vintage Dez (118 targets, 62-980-10), although it’s worth noting the Cowboys were breaking in a rookie QB and leaned heavily on its bread-and-butter ground game. The Cowboys dialed up run plays 51 percent of the time, compared to 44 percent one year earlier even with a QB carousel of Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Kellen Moore, with some Tony Romo sprinkled in. Bryant was targeted on only 21.6 percent of his routes in 2016, down from 23.2 in 2015 and 27.4 in 2014.
Why he’ll bounce back: The thought here is that the uber-competitive Bryant won’t stand quietly and let that trend continue. Still only 28 years old, he did manage to finish inside the top-20 WRs in YPRR (1.93), and then went on to post a 9-132-2 line in the playoff loss to Green Bay to remind everyone that he is still a game-changing talent.