2017 Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts
Predicting Fantasy Sleepers and Busts
Everyone knows the obvious fantasy football studs. They want help finding value and avoiding the duds. Ben Standig offers his take on sleepers and busts with about two weeks remaining before the 2017 NFL season kicks off.
Sleeper -- Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Everyone knows about Rivers seeing as he’s been an NFL staple shortly since entering the league in 2004 and has thrown at least 21 touchdown passes in 11 consecutive seasons. This mention is about his fantasy football ranking. Rivers is generally coming off the board after 13-14 other quarterbacks. That says more about positional depth than what Rivers can do. Last season he tossed 33 touchdowns. The interceptions (21) were high, but that good and bad came without injured receiver Keenan Allen. Waiting on QB means bolstering your fantasy roster elsewhere and then snagging someone like Rivers in the ninth round or later.
Bust -- Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
We recognize the talent. We know the recent fantasy production. We’d take Luck with glee under normal circumstances. Just over two weeks before Week 1, though, there is little normal with Luck’s injury situation. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday there is “no timetable” for the quarterback’s return from shoulder surgery way back in January. That likely knocks Luck’s ADP some. For now, as the No. 6 quarterback when there are 16-18 worthy starting options, pass on the Colts passer.
Sleeper -- Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
“Big Red” is rarely a must-have, must-start option. That became even truer in 2016. Even though he passed for over 4,200 yards, Dalton’s fantasy numbers took a step back last season with only 18 touchdown passes. There were circumstances, however. A.J. Green missed six games, Tyler Eifert (back surgery) sat half the season and the No. 2 receiver was Brandon LaFell.
Now Eifert is back and projects among the top 5-8 fantasy tight ends this season. The Bengals drafted speed receiver John Ross in the first round and playmaker running back Joe Mixon in the second. Green is elite. Dalton ranks a low-end QB1 on my list, but others have him lower. Either way, weapons exist for a steadier and more productive campaign.
Sleeper – Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Philadelphia didn’t exactly load up with receiving options for the No. 2 overall pick’s rookie season. Entering Wentz’ sophomore campaign, they made amends. Enter Alshon Jeffery, a bonafide stud receiver, and faster than fast Torrey Smith. That’s on top of tight end Zach Ertz and new slot receiver Nelson Agholor. Wentz flashed star level at times last season. His own growth and newfound targets should add consistency. Draft him in the QB2 range, but he’s the type who could develop into much more. Wentz paired with a Philip Rivers or Eli Manning makes for a balanced QBBC.
Bust -- Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders
He’s baaaaack. What the power runner with a flair for the wacky and a Skittles fetish provides his new team is the question after sitting out the 2016 season. There are concerns that Oakland might not give Lynch 20 carries a week as they try preserving the veteran running back over a 16-game schedule. Regardless, the Raiders offense should put up gobs of points with Lynch serving as the goal line option. But don’t forget Lynch missed eight games with injuries in his final season with Seattle and averaged only 3.9 yards per carry. There’s a decent ceiling here, but Lynch’s floor is also lower than many other backs that will go off the board in the 2-3 round range.
Sleeper – Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
The Jamaal Charles era is over in Kansas City. We’ll see how long the Spencer Ware show lasts. Oh, Ware is the likely Week 1 starter, but Hunt is making moves early in preseason. The third round selection is blessed with powerful legs and needed agility. Hunt also showed good hands at Toledo, catching 41 passes during his senior season. Andy Reid’s offenses churn out fantasy running back heroes. It could take a minute, but Hunt looks like the next one set to don the cape.
Bust – Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks
The running back your league’s super duper casual owner drafts in the sixth round. That’s at least a couple of rounds earlier than the former Packer should be considered at this point. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise will steal touches if not flat out take them from Lacy, who may never revisit those glory days with the Green Bay.
Sleeper – Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers
Rather than list Green Bay starter Ty Montgomery a bust, let’s go with the positive side of the Packers backfield. Williams offers impressive running credentials coming out of BYU and seems well versed in other aspects of the game for a rookie. Though the 213-pounder enters the season as a backup role, note that Montgomery is hardly a bell-cow back; he only received double-digit carries once all last season. His value comes in the passing game. Someone is going to get work on the ground regardless. Williams is that someone and likely that work also comes in goal-line situations.
Sleeper – Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
This call is straightforward. Starter Frank Gore is 34. He continues keeping Father Time at arm’s length. That won’t last for long. If the fall happens this season, Mack is ready to start trucking defenders. Indianapolis selected the physically impressive back in the fourth round and he’s flashed needed athleticism in preseason. Whether he moves to the top of the depth chart in 2017 depends on Gore’s play and health. Technically, Robert Turbin is the primary backup. Shrugs. Mack is at least in a position to take over as a starter in 2018. That puts him on the keeper league radar, but most leagues should consider Mack in the later rounds.
Bust – Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins
Think about Average Draft Position when reading this blurb. The inclusion seems weird seeing as Pryor wowed everyone during training camp with his athleticism and size. That’s helped his ADP rise over two rounds since signing with the Redskins to an early-to-mid third round pick. Considering the adjustment period with a new offense and that Pryor is still refining his game entering his second full season as an NFL receiver after switching from quarterback, that price is a bit rich. Don’t shy away from selecting Pryor for the potential, but as WR 18-22 rather than his current WR13 range.
Sleeper – Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins
Achilles injuries wiped out Doctson’s rookie season after Washington drafted the big target in the first round. Part of his 2017 practice and game prep went good-bye because of hamstring woes. The addition of Terrelle Pryor has eclipsed Doctson’s hype. In terms of upcoming drafts, all of that is good news. Doctson is going in the late rounds, the spot where owners throw darts at deep sleepers. That’s not Doctson, who has shown his playmaking flair at camp this summer. His size-speed combination should net six or more touchdowns this season and ample yards. Drafting Doctson as your WR5 is a sound investment with major return potential.
Bust – Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
Blake Bortles, come on man. Robinson is a legit stud on the outside, offering the kind of yardage and touchdown potential that can carry a team for a given fantasy week. The problem is Jacksonville’s quarterback play is so dicey that counting on Robinson week-to-week won’t be easy. Considering he’ll cost a fourth or fifth round pick, the downside makes the investment steep. Fingers crossed Bortles or Chad Henne prove steady enough, but divine intervention may be the only hope for such prayers answered.
Sleeper – Jack Doyle, TE, Colts
Neither the name nor the game is flashy. That Andrew Luck loves throwing to his tight ends and Doyle produced when given chances is the appeal. His ADP falls a tick outside TE1 range in 12-team leagues. Don’t fret if the Colts’ best red zone threat ends up as your starter, though the Luck injury uncertainty means it would be wise to consider a TEBC at the start with an Austin Hooper, Julius Thomas or Cameron Brate.
Bust – Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
This is less about the productive Walker and about those around him. After being the obvious go-to target for the past couple of season, the veteran now must share targets with free agent addition Eric Decker, rookie Corey Davis and holdover Rishard Matthews among others. That means fewer targets and don’t forget DeMarco Murray will receive plenty of work on the ground. Walker is currently the eighth TE off the board with a seventh round projection. Better off letting another owner take him and wait for Zach Ertz, Jack Doyle or maybe even Eric Ebron 2-3 rounds later.