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Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton. Photo Credit: Keith Allison – Under Creative Commons License

With training camps underway and everyone coming out with their hot takes, I figured it’s time for me to interact with the NFL fans of every team and show them who they should be drafting in their fantasy football leagues this year. Getting to draft your teams best fantasy option just makes watching them on Sunday even better. Unless they just completely collapse and score you zero points. But hey, it’s a risk worth taking.

This list was made with standard scoring in mind. So let’s get into it.

Top Fantasy Football Players On Each NFL Team For The 2017 Season

Arizona Cardinals: David Johnson

David Johnson has been a phenomenal player in the league since the second-half of his rookie season. This season we could see Johnson join Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig as the only running backs to gain 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Along with being the best on the Cardinals, Johnson is the best-projected player in fantasy leagues this year and really the only way you can get him is by picking first. Johnson looks to hold on to his title as best fantasy running back in the league and is towering over the Cardinals other fantasy options.

Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones

I was tempted to put Matt Ryan here just because of the MVP season he had last year, but in 2017 we will probably see Ryan take a step back in scoring and see Julio Jones remain a consistent top wide receiver play in standard. Last year, Jones hauled in nine touchdowns while missing three games. While Kyle Shanahan leaving is projected to hurt the offense it won’t make much of a difference when this athletic freak lines up on the outside and Matt Ryan can just sit back and toss it up and expect a catch and probably more. The division competition also helps with no one in the NFC South boasting an elite corner to match up with him, not to mention, he also gets to play the Saints twice a year.

Baltimore Ravens: Jeremy Maclin

Remember that this is a projection and this projection happens to have Maclin moving into a top fantasy role this season. At least a better fantasy role than anyone else on the Ravens. Joe Flacco is at best a streamer in fantasy and as much as the fantasy community likes Terrance West, the Ravens were reluctant to use him last year and this offseason brought in Danny Woodhead to take over receiving for running backs. After that, there’s really no one else but Maclin poised to be the best fantasy player. He steps into a number one role and hopes to remain healthy after a rocky year in Kansas City. The target share he should receive from Steve Smith‘s and Dennis Pittas exits should give him the chance to go back up to his season high ten touchdowns and top 1,000 yards.

Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy

A team that looks to continue from last season in having a top rushing attack makes McCoy a top fantasy play in general as well as best on the team. McCoy reached the end zone 13 times running the ball last season and that was on a bad Bill’s team. If this defense can play better under Sean McDermott that just means more running for McCoy as the Bill’s will hope to stay ahead in games this year. His quarterback Tyrod Taylor also helps his case as a dual threat quarterback, forcing defenses to focus on more than just McCoy. After posting a top five fantasy performance last season, expect McCoy to be a bright spot on the Buffalo Bill’s offense, especially if Tyrod Taylor struggles or is replaced.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton

Newton was abysmal in fantasy football last year, not even being a top 15 fantasy start and having career low rushing attempts. But let’s not let last season stop us from thinking anyone else on the Panthers is a better fantasy play for the 2017 season. Christian McCaffrey has high expectations this season but he’s a rookie as well as sharing a backfield with Johnathon Stewart, even if he is poised to take over the receiving back role. However, all of these new tools for Newton means he has the potential to throw more touchdowns and have more openings to rush into the end zone since the defense cannot focus on his rushing attack as much. I expect Newton to be the potential fantasy comeback player of the year.

Chicago Bears: Jordan Howard

An astounding rookie season lead Howard to a top ten fantasy performance last season and a full season of a starter’s workload will put Howard as a must have back in your league. Howard posted seven games over 100 yards last season and his rushing touchdowns look to move up to the double digit region. With Jeremy Langford hurt in training camp, Howard gets to take on a receiving role and an increase in that area raises both his fantasy floor and ceiling.

Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green

After dealing with a hamstring injury that ended his season early, A.J. Green looks to take back his spot among top fantasy wide receivers.  With having 1,000 receiving yards in five of his last six seasons and ten or more touchdowns in three of them, expect Green to return to form this year. With the addition of rookie speedster John Ross and a stronger running game with Joe Mixon, Green looks to have one of his best seasons if he can stay healthy. Expect Andy Dalton to spoil his partner in crime with the most targets in every game.

Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Crowell

The Browns go into the 2017 season expected not to be the worst team in the NFL, finally. A major reason for this is rookie draft picks and an always scheming front office, but Crowell has been a hidden gem since he joined the team in 2014. With his carries increasing every year, he’s shown the front office that he can be productive as a feature back. The Browns front office went out this offseason and drastically improved the offensive line with the additions of Kevin Zeitler, J.C. Tretter, and the extension of Joel Bitonio. Crowell’s fantasy value has been skyrocketing as he looks to have a full workload and little competition at the goal line.

Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott

The second year phenomenon looks to take the league by storm again with his rookie companion Dak Prescott. The reason Elliott gets the nod over the 2016 rookie of the year and over Dez Bryant? Well, quite simply he’s going to produce more. With 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, Elliott is gunning for a 2,000-yard season and with his offensive line, it’s hard to bet against him. If Elliott can step into more of a receiving back role then his value grows even more.

Denver Broncos: Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos offense has changed a lot since Peyton left. Thomas’s and Emmanuel Sanders value have dropped significantly since Manning left. You have to put Thomas over starter C.J. Anderson because the wide out has shown that he is a red zone threat and can have ten or more touchdowns a season if the quarterback play is steady. Not a pretty pick here but he gets the job done for the team in fantasy.

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford

The man that helped the Lions stumble into the playoffs last year. Without Calvin Johnson, Stafford showed that some of those amazing plays were because of him too. Stafford was a nice performer in fantasy and has a weekly ceiling of three of more touchdowns. Last year, he cut down his interceptions to a career low ten in a season, besides his injured 2010 season. Stafford looks to make a jump into elite material this year and to take the NFC North throne from Aaron Rodgers. It’s been a fun time watching this quarterback become a leader on the field and in fantasy for the Lions.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers threw for 40 touchdowns last season and lead all quarterbacks in fantasy football. He only had three games last season with one touchdown or less. In recent seasons, he’s never thrown more than eight interceptions and is dynamite at Lambeau field. A top two quarterback in the league that you need to compete with cheeseheads to get early in fantasy drafts. Rodgers always proves to be a consistent fantasy starter and creates value for the players around him. Just look at Jordy Nelson and especially Davante Adams, they both finished with double digit touchdowns last season. Rodgers is the right step to claiming the fantasy title in 2017.

Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins

Last year, Hopkins struggled with possibly the worst quarterback play in the league. Yes, Brock Osweiler was that bad. Going into a contract year, expect last year to be forgotten as Hopkins will be a top wide out player in fantasy this year. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson should prove to provide better quarterback play than Osweiler. In 2015, his best year, Hopkins had four different starters and still had 1,500 receiving yards and eleven touchdowns. If either of these quarterbacks works out or if there is a switch in the year, Hopkins has shown that if they target him he can produce.

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck

Colts fans, can we just realize how lucky you guys are to go from Peyton Manning to Luck? Yes, you had a terrible 2011 season but then proceeded to go 11-5 for three years with Luck. That’s a lucky franchise. Alright, sorry for the side point but it just helps with the point that Luck is the top fantasy player on the team when healthy. I know in training camp Luck has struggled with recovery from shoulder surgery but it’s expected that Luck will start week one. New general manager Chris Ballard improved the defense drastically by signing Johnathon Hankins to help a weak defensive line, Jabal Sheard to help with the pass rush, and general depth among the linebackers and secondary. With a stronger defense this year we can expect Luck’s numbers to improve and his turnovers to decrease. With all of his weapons returning and a steady offensive line, Luck is your top fantasy Colt.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette

The first of the two rookies on this list. Fournette looks to lead a transition in Jacksonville from a passing attack to a hard running scheme, much like in Tennessee. Coach Doug Marrone has been adamant about keeping the ball out of Blake Bortles hands this year and would rather run the ball every down.  With a young defense looking to perform in the top five this year, this strategy could work. Fournette showed he was just too much for college football and will have no trouble transferring his game to the pro level. He’s already won the job and there’s no hint of it really being a committee unless he’s exhausted from his carries. His goal line opportunities could have the rookie crossing double digit touchdowns his first season and start his career off as an RB1 in fantasy.

Kansas City Chiefs: Tyreek Hill

The new wide receiver one in Kansas City will see a drastic increase in targets this year. Hill will take over Jeremy Maclin‘s target share and could also see an increase in rushing attempts. Andy Reid will be looking for every opportunity to give his young star the ball and if he can handle it, Hill should have a great fantasy season. His big play ability is scary for opposing defenses. Hill scored 12 total touchdowns last season and the expectation is for that number to stay the same or even improve as he takes on this huge role in the offense. The Chiefs also have had consistent winning regular seasons with Reid as their coach and they always seem to get just enough to win the game. So Hill has all the opportunities in 2017 to jump into a top fantasy player role.

Los Angeles Chargers: Melvin Gordon

It has to be an exciting year in L.A for Gordon. After a break out sophomore year, he gets to have a coach in Anthony Lynn who hosted one of the leagues best rushing attacks in Buffalo last season. He beats out Kenaan Allen for the team’s best fantasy player because of Allen’s injury downside. With Danny Woodhead gone, Gordon is expected to take over a full receiving role as well which makes him a secure pick for a top fantasy spot. Expect double digit touchdowns again this year for the Chargers workhorse.

Los Angeles Rams: Todd Gurley

If you had Todd Gurley last year you hated it. Oh, it sucked. Eventually, most weeks you just kept him on your bench. The difference for this year? Well, there’s a new coach in town and his name is Sean McVay. After making Kirk Cousins a starting quarterback and creating a dynamic Redskins offense, McVay will take his talents to the west coast and try to fix the broken offense Jeff Fisher left. This team may still struggle in 2017 but Todd Gurley is expected to go back into 1,000-yard rushing territory and if Jared Goff can get the team across the field Gurley will get the end zone scores to match. If he can at least replicate his rookie numbers, Gurley is the best fantasy player for the Rams.

Miami Dolphins: Jay Ajayi

With his breakout season last year, the prediction for Ajayi touches this season are surpassing 300. With his 260 carries last year, he had 1,272 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. If Ajayi can play as consistent as he did last year and see an increase in carries we could see his touchdowns go up to double digit. I don’t think he’ll have the receiving options like other backs with the rise of Kenyan Drake into more of a role this season but Ajayi will get all the goal line touches. He also had two games of over 200 rushing yards last season. Ajayi has a clear number one role in a decent offense and should be a good fantasy play from the Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook

Finally, the second rookie on the list. Cook has impressed everyone at Vikings camp and is expected to take over the starting role in his camp battle with Latavius Murray. While the Vikings have a struggling offensive line from last season, Dalvin Cook should be able to find production. When, not if, he takes the starting job completely over and potentially even third down roles he’ll be a challenge to Leonard Fournette for best fantasy rookie. Some have even predicted 300 touches for the back and many think he could be something special.

New England Patriots: Tom Brady

Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time. He’s also currently the best quarterback in the league and he just turned 40. 40! That’s a crazy milestone. Brady is a fantasy QB1 and rarely hurts you with interceptions. With all the tools he has this year it’s easy to predict Brady moving up into the range of 40 touchdowns, especially with LeGarrette Blount leaving he’ll have more goal line opportunities. Do not overthink this one if you have Brady on your team, you’re in good shape for the fantasy season.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees

Drew Brees might be the most consistent fantasy quarterback of all time. Yes I know I just talked about Brady, but Brees just puts up crazy fantasy numbers each year. He’s had over 5,000 yards passing four of the last six years and has not thrown less than 30 touchdowns since the 2007 season. The Saints defense is so bad that Brees always has the ball in his hand and most of the time his team is behind. While there’s not really anything to get excited for on the actual football field with the Saints, in Fantasy Brees is always an exciting play, especially at home.

New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr.

The wideout that’s taken the league by storm since he entered in 2014. Over 1,300 yards and ten or more touchdowns every season has solidified Odell Beckham as a must start in fantasy. Even if Eli Manning struggles, Beckham still produces. Playing in the NFC East helps him since the Cowboys and Eagles have struggling secondaries. Also, we get to see Odell versus Josh Norman every year and that’s always a fun matchup. Beckham has shown no matter who it is, he’s an every week starter.

New York Jets: Bilal Powell

Oh, the Jets. I said earlier the Browns were not expected to be the worst team this year and that’s because the Jet’s kicked out all the veterans and seem to be starting their rebuilding phase. On the depth chart, the Jets currently have Matt Forte as the starter. Wait until mid-season, the Jets will have given up and trying to see what they have in their young talent. Forte could even be a surprise cut in camp or in the season. What’s the point of playing your veterans if you’re rebuilding? That’s where Powell comes in. He impressed last year when he became the starter after Forte went down with an injury. Expect to see his role in the offense increase every week until he’s a full-time starter.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree

Amari Cooper is technically the Raiders number one wide receiver but Crabtree takes the number one fantasy spot. The reason? Well, he’s scored more touchdowns than Cooper the past two years. Derek Carr trusts Crabtree on third down or in the end zone. So he beats out his receiving partner and he also beats out Marshawn Lynch. I love Lynch as a player but he took a year off from football. I just do not trust it. Especially with how high he goes in fantasy drafts. Crabtree is the safe and productive fantasy play on the Raiders in 2017.

Philadelphia Eagles: LeGarrette Blount

I don’t expect Blount to produce 18 rushing touchdowns again this year, but I expect double digit. He comes into Philadelphia as the starter and can assume to have all the carries while Darren Sproles takes care of the receiving from the backfield. Carson Wentz will be able to hand it off to the 250-pound back and have him fall into the end zone. This offense is could be a sleeper for a top five performance this year and Blount could translate a lot of drives into scores for the Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell

Bell is going into a contract year in Pittsburgh and if he’s healthy he’s going to be a guy you want on your fantasy football team. Le’Veon Bell is a talent rarely seen in the NFL and he’s proven it with his patience and his numbers. The only worry with him is his health that’s limited him to only playing one full season. But he beats out Antonio Brown for the top Steelers fantasy player because when he’s on the field they run their offense through him, not the passing attack. He’s a top-two pick in fantasy this year with maybe the highest ceiling in fantasy.

San Franciso 49ers: Pierre Garcon

The 49ers are not a strong team this year but they have some upside with new head coach Kyle Shanahan. With a top offensive coach behind him, Garcon will see a lot of targets as the 49ers number one wide out. He’s a proven veteran that Shanahan loves and has the potential to reach 100 receptions this year. Garcon’s experience in the league will serve him well in learning a new offense and also jumping out far ahead of the other receivers on the team. With Hyde in a questionable starting role, Garcon gets the top 49ers spot and if you’re in a PPR league this season he’s a good sleeper pick.

Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin

One of the most underrated stories in the NFL is Doug Baldwin‘s top receiving performances in the past two years, in fantasy and on the field. He’s crossed 1,000 yards the past two years and is Russell Wilson‘s favorite target. His increase in production is connected with Wilson’s increase in pass attempts each year and a transition from a heavy running team to a dynamic passing attack. Baldwin could cross the 100 reception mark for the first time in his career this season. Look for Baldwin to have his third year straight as a top 10 fantasy weapon and for him to be a low-end WR1.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans

The Buccaneers offense is absolutely loaded with all the new weapons for Jameis Winston. But they do not have the trust Winston and Evans have. Winston will literally just throw it up because he knows Evans will catch it. Just go watch the Bears vs. Buccaneers game. At the beginning of the third quarter, Winston just refuses to go down and puts his trust in Evans. Evans has also caught 12 touchdowns two out of the last three seasons. Tampa Bay will continue to see greatness out of these two and Evans will continue to help your fantasy team. Expect a top 10 finish out of this wideout.

Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray

The leading rusher for the Titans last year will start to see a little less production due to second-year man Derrick Henry getting a larger role. But that should not scare you away from him. He’s a hard nosed runner who changed the Titans offense last year and made them one of the leagues top rushing attacks. Murray has a receiving role out of the backfield which will help and is still a monster on the goal line. Murray’s underrated and is one of the best backs in the league. He’ll make any Titan fan happy when he’s on their fantasy team.

Washington Redskins: Jordan Reed

Even with all the injuries, Reed manages to be a top 10 tight end. When he’s on the field the offense runs through him and he’s the number one target in the red zone. Kirk Cousins loves this big target and it’s hard to imagine most defenses in the league being able to match up with his talent. If he’s healthy he’s a top three tight end and is a must start in fantasy. Redskins fans, when you target him in drafts make sure you draft a decent back up for the injury concerns. But when Reed’s healthy, he’s a monster on the field.

 

 

Andrew Whisnant

Author Andrew Whisnant

Student, Fan, Coach, and Writer. Follow me on twitter @WhisnantAndrew

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