Fantasy Football: Early Picks for the 2017 Draft

The final installment of “Startable, Ownable and Eyeable” for 2016, containing 2017 fantasy draft targets on the 49ers and beyond.

August 23, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers fan Durell Harris barbecues before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Well, 49ers fans. It’s been a slice.

In all seriousness, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed regaling you with my fashionable opinions and nonpareil insights throughout the 2016 NFL season.

Now, some of you may be inclined to question my dedication, given that I passed on producing a Week 16 article… which is only the biggest fantasy football week of the year, no less. And you’d be well within your rights to do so.

But I figured, “Hey. Either you’re in or you’re out (most of you are out, by the way). And if you’ve made it this far, you don’t need me.”

Convenient, I know, as it afforded me the time to relax fireside with a remote in hand and a stein of souped-up eggnog in the other.

But, in all seriousness, I didn’t make it to the finals in my league. If you did, you likely had things well in hand.

And, you likewise, probably had many more “go to” sources than yours truly for fantasy wisdom. I know, I know. It pains me to say it. But, I’m just going to have to suck it up and put on my big boy pants like everyone else… one elastic leg hole at a time.

Now, in case you think I’ve forgotten you, oh few Faithful that actually play fantasy all the way to the bitter end, i.e. Week 17, let me be clear: You don’t need me either. Other than to advise you to end your season in Week 16 next year like every other self-respecting fantasy league.

OK. With that off my chest, what’s left for 2016? Great question. Stand-by for an even better answer.

In this, the final Startable, Ownable and Eyeable of the year, I’ll be sharing my coveted “insider” picks for the 2017 draft. That’s right, these are the hottest of the hot takes that you’ll want to keep stoked for oh… I’d say the next eight months or so.

Joking aside, there were definitely surprises in the 2016 fantasy season, as there are every year. And, there were, of course, those picks that were worth more than their weight in “average draft position” gold.

So, what follows are few names at each position to stow away in the memory banks, along with some very brief commentary on each.

Enjoy and thanks for all of your comments, emails and tweets throughout the season. They really made all the difference. Wait… there weren’t any comments, emails and tweets?

Well then, I guess a simple “Go Niners!” will have to suffice.

Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) looks to throw the ball in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks

Having a top producer at the helm is as critical for season-long fantasy goodness as it is on the actual gridiron. Here are the signal callers to ogle over heading into 2017.

QBs

Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) misses a tackle by Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) during the second half at New Era Field. The Dolphins beat the Bills 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Running Backs

2016 was supposed to be the year of the wide receiver. So what happened? It was the year of the running back, of course. And although there were a few surprises, things basically shook out as expected.

Anticipate David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliot and Le’Veon Bell to go top three next year, in any order. Beyond that, here are a few other names to ponder.

RBs

Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) spikes the football with wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receivers

It was not the year it was supposed to be for many receivers. However, several of the elite, like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., lived up to their billing.

Who else is worth filing in the mental Rolodex for next season? Why, it’s the names featured in the table below, of course.

WRs

Dec 18, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) makes a third quarter touchdown against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) and safety Barry Church (42) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tight Ends

We had to get here. The most vexing position in fantasy (although, I don’t know… kicker is neck-and-neck), tight end is as unpredictable as it gets.

Said differently, there’s Gronk and there’s everyone else. And Gronk can’t even stay on the field for a half a season. He’ll finish ’16 just inside the top twenty at the position. Can you say “El Busto!” So, buyer beware.

Here are a few additional, “cheaper” names to noodle on this offseason.

TEs

Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. encourages the defense before the start of the game against the New York Jets at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Defense/Special Teams

Picking a defense for next year is tough. There will be a lot of turnover, seeing as it’s not just one person, but an entire unit. However, these names could be worth a look.

Oh yeah, and take whichever team ends up with rookie Christian McCaffery as well; he’s a guaranteed four return touchdowns.

D-STs

Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) kicks a field goal as punter Sam Martin (6) holds the ball during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Kickers

You really want my kicker recommendations? Really?!

OK. Here goes. This and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee… cheap, disgusting, bottom-of-the-pot coffee, that is.

Ks

Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers fan in a sombrero decorated with ornaments during the third quarter against the New York Jets at Levi’s Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Final Thoughts

So, we’ve officially done it.

I’ve peppered you with salty opinions for over one quarter of a year. And although largely silent, you have been there, telepathically egging me on.

Thank you for your inaudible goading. And even more so, thanks for not shredding me, even during the weeks when my picks were as shreddable as pulled pork… cooked to an internal temperature of 190 degrees, of course.

Speaking of which, I’ll be at the game this weekend. No not the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl… the 49ers game. Although, there is a raging debate on social media right now as to which will be more entertaining.

And, I just purchased tickets to the Michael Mina tailgate. My first time. Can’t wait to see if I can eat several hundred dollars’ worth of food in one sitting.

If you’re there, give me a holler. Just shout “Niner Leidy” at the top of your lungs. I’m bound to pry my head off the table and reply.

Oh yeah… and bring the Rolaids (for both on and off-field angina, of course).

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