Fantasy Football Rankings 2017, Top 101 PPR Players: No. 17-15

Today’s list of fantasy football”s top 101 PPR players of 2017 features three players who have a good chance at finishing top-five at their respective positions.

Each player on today’s list will either be a first or second-round pick in fantasy drafts this year. They will be players who owners trust to provide them with strong numbers each week. That’s not to say they don’t carry some risk, because there are some concerns with each player.

Who of the three is shaping up as the best fantasy football asset for 2017?

To be clear, the top 101 PPR players are for re-draft leagues only. Here’s a look at players ranked No. 17-15:

Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) breaks the tackle of New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) to score a touchdown in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

17. Dez Bryant, WR – Dallas Cowboys

The last couple years haven’t been great for Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant or his fantasy owners. Since 2015 Bryant has missed a total of 10 games after only missing five during his first five years in the NFL. Due to these injuries, Bryant hasn’t been a top-35 wide receivers in each of the last two years. Despite these issues, Bryant should be treated as a WR1 going into 2017.

Between 2013-15, Bryant was a top-seven PPR wide receiver or better in all three seasons. In that time, he never had fewer than 88 receptions, 1,233 yards or 12 touchdowns. If people want to make the argument Bryant’s stats were aided by the great play of Tony Romo, I get it. Yet, Dak Prescott wasn’t too shabby as a rookie last year.

Last year Bryant missed three games due to a knee injury. When he returned in Week 8, it was business as usual. Between Weeks 8-17 Bryant was the 10th-best PPR wide receiver. In the Cowboys one and only playoff game he had 9 receptions, 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Dez can stay healthy like he has for most of his career, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a top-10 wide receiver with top-five upside.

Nov 20, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) scores a touchdown in the first half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

16. T.Y. Hilton, WR – Indianapolis Colts

After finishing outside the top-20 wide receivers in 2015, T.Y. Hilton had a great bounce-back campaign as he finished as the 5th-best wide receiver in 2016. He had a career-high in both receptions (91) and receiving yards (1,448) while also chipping in six touchdowns. Hilton should be able to finish as a top 5-10 wide receiver in 2017, but the opportunity could be taken from him by no fault of his own.

In 2015 Hilton finished as the 22nd PPR wide receiver but that wasn’t due to any flaw on his part. The Colts starting quarterback, Andrew Luck, missed nine games with a series of injuries including an issue with his shoulder. After the 2016 season, lingering issues forced Luck to have surgery on that same shoulder. Luck has yet to start throwing and there’s a good chance he won’t be ready for the start of training camp. However, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be ready before Week 1 as of right now.

Owners always have to be concerned with their players getting nicked up over the course of the fantasy season. With Hilton, owners not only have to worry about his health but also the heath of his quarterback who has missed 10 games since 2015. If he were to re-injure his shoulder, owners would be in some trouble. After six seasons in the NFL, Colts backup quarterback Scott Tolzien has thrown two touchdowns, seven interceptions and owns a passer rating of 66.4. No amount of praying to the big guy upstairs could turn Tolzien into a competent starting quarterback in the NFL.

Nov 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

15. Jordan Howard, RB – Chicago Bears

A lot of people will remember how Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards in his first year in the NFL. What many will forget is Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,313. As a result, the fifth-round pick finished as the 10th-best fantasy running back in 2016.

Maybe the most impressive part of Howard’s season in 2016 was he only had 12 carries between Weeks 1-3 and didn’t make his first start until Week 4. If he started right out of the gate, he would have easily finished higher than the No. 10 PPR running back. Heading into 2017, Howard will push for 275 carries, which is excellent. My only concern with him is how may receptions he’ll haul in.

Last year, Howard averaged slightly less than two receptions per game. Sporting Charts credited Howard with seven drops in 2016. His seven drops led all running backs and tied for, fourth-most in the NFL. This is why owners will have to keep an eye on the Bears fourth-round pick Tarik Cohen during training camp and the preseason.

The pint-sized running back out of North Carolina A&T showed good hands as he finished his college career with 98 receptions. Cohen could force Howard off the field on third downs and/or passing-down situations. If that happens, Howard could finish outside the top-12 running backs in receptions. That’s not to say this scenario would kill Howard’s fantasy season but it would limit his upside in PPR leagues.

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