With the Super Bowl participants decided and the Pro Bowl in the books, let’s take a look at those players that earned the distinction of being considered 2017 Fantasy Pro Bowlers.
QB – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Isn’t this guy 40 years old? Shouldn’t he be showing signs of slowing down? How is he still performing at such an elite level? All Brady did this past season was: lead the league in passing yards with 4,577, finished third in passing touchdowns with 32 to just eight interceptions, guide the Patriots to a 13-3 record and a number one seed in the AFC playoffs. Oh yeah, he’s about to start his eighth Super Bowl, aiming for his sixth ring. Simply put, Tom Brady is The G.O.A.T.
QB – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Another old geezer, if you consider 39 as being old. The Saints enjoyed a renaissance season, during which Brees “only” threw for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns. His numbers were down considering last season he posted the fifth 5,000-yard passing season of his Hall of Fame career. Brees led the Saints to an 11-5 record, NFC South division title and came within a Stefon Diggs-miracle touchdown from playing for the right to appear in the Super Bowl. Brees enters the offseason as a free agent. Shouldn’t take too long for the New Orleans braintrust to make the call to re-sign this guy.
RB – LeVeon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
In his fifth season, Bell continued to show why he is one of, if not the best running back in the National Football League. Bell rushed for 1,291 yards, averaging four yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns. He added 655 yards on 85 receptions and two more touchdowns. All of this was accomplished in 15 games as he was inactive for the Steelers’ final game in preparation for the playoffs. With these types of numbers, it’s hard to argue with him when it comes to a long-term contract. He just finished this past season under the franchise tag and has threatened to retire if tagged again. Football fans certainly hope that doesn’t come to pass, as seeing more of Bell on the football field would be a joy, privilege and an honor.
RB – Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
With 1,305 rushing yards, good for second in the NFL, 64 receptions totaling 788 yards, a league-leading 13 rushing touchdowns and 19 overall, Gurley produced big numbers. Rejuvenated under new head coach Sean McVay, Gurley had quite a season, including a two-game stretch where he posted 270 rushing yards, 186 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. After a down year last season following a stellar rookie campaign, the third-year pro bounced back in a major way.
WR – Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL history was made when Antonio Brown secured his 100th reception of the season against the New England Patriots. He became the first player in league history to have five consecutive 100-catch seasons. Even missing the final two-plus games of the regular season with a calf injury, Brown still ended the year with the most receiving yards (1,533). Not bad for a former sixth-round pick. As one of Pittsburgh’s “Killer B’s” (along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Bell), Brown continues to put up amazing numbers leaving onlookers speechless. He returned from injury in time for the Steelers’ playoff game and didn’t miss a beat, with seven catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Brown and the Steelers, they would lose the divisional round shootout to Jacksonville. Nevertheless, Brown continues to be a nightmare for defensive backfields across the NFL. Double teams and the like notwithstanding, Brown keeps finding a way to get it done.
WR – DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson, and T.J. Yates. Those were the three different quarterbacks Hopkins caught passes from this past season. With all of that movement at the quarterback position, it’s a wonder anyone could have success. Hopkins not only survived, he thrived. He finished just four catches shy of 100 while leading the league in touchdown receptions with 13. His touchdown catch on Christmas Day against the Steelers is definitely a candidate, if not the play of the year. That catch, along with the other 95 he hauled in, were all in a day’s work for Hopkins. Looking forward to the 2018 season with a healthy Watson under center can only mean bigger and better things for the wideout known as “Nuk” and the Texans overall.
TE – Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
With his stellar play, Gronkowski has established himself as one of the best to ever play the tight end position. “Gronk” is a terror that keeps defensive coordinators up at night attempting to devise a plan to slow him down. At 6’6” and 265 pounds, he is almost impossible to stop. Gronkowski routinely puts up big numbers while leaving a wake of defenders in his path. Showing that he is human, he has been susceptible to injury and presently is working to be eligible for the Super Bowl after suffering a concussion in the AFC Championship game. With 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns this season, his absence certainly would be noticeable. The Patriots hope not to have that problem.
FLEX – Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
The rookie Kamara along with teammate Mark Ingram became the first running back duo to both post 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season. Making the transition from college to the NFL look seamless, Kamara was a key component in the Saints offensive attack that helped them rebound from a 7-9 record in 2016 to an 11-5, division title-winning season this year. With 728 rushing yards, 826 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, adding 347 kick return yards with another score for good measure, Kamara looks to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
K – Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
Signed by the Chiefs off of the Carolina Panthers practice squad, Butker would reward their confidence. He posted the following numbers: connection on 38-of-42 field goals, with a long of 53 yards, and a perfect 28 extra points. His 38 successful field goals would set an NFL record for rookies. Quite the debut season for the youngster out of Georgia Tech. Perhaps the pressure of playoff football crept in, as he missed a 48-yard field goal in the 22-21 wild card round loss to the Tennessee Titans. That notwithstanding, both Butker and the Chiefs are hopeful that he is the answer to their kicking game for the future.
DEF – Jacksonville Jaguars
Earning the name “Sacksonville,” 55 sacks goes a long way to getting one win shy of the Super Bowl. The Jaguars defense played a significant role in helping the team to put its losing ways in the rear-view mirror as they achieved great heights this past season. In addition to the sacks, they also recorded 21 interceptions. With youth all around, this unit looks to wreak havoc on NFL offenses in the seasons to come.