As we continue our list of fantasy football”s top 101 PPR players of 2017 we feature three players who have been to multiple Pro Bowls.
With our list creeping into the teens a majority of the players left are established players instead of one-year wonders. They have a track record of being featured in their offenses and putting up good-to-great numbers.
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Today we have three players who will be selected early in fantasy football drafts but who out of the three should be drafted first?
To be clear, the top 101 PPR players are for re-draft leagues only. Here’s a look at players ranked No. 20-18:
Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) is defended by Buffalo Bills cornerback Kevon Seymour (29) on a 37-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter during a NFL football game at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
20. Amari Cooper, WR – Oakland Raiders
Back in 2015 the Raiders bolstered their wide receiver corps when they selected Amari Cooper fourth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. As a rookie Cooper finished with 72 receptions, 1,070 receiving yards and six touchdowns. A year later he had an even better season with 83 receptions and 1,153 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He finished as the 14th PPR wide receiver.
The issue with Cooper is when the Raiders bolstered their wide receiver corps in 2015, Cooper wasn’t the only addition. After spending six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Michael Crabtree has had two solid years with the Oakland Raiders. In back-to-back seasons Crabtree has had 85+ receptions and eight-plus touchdowns. He’s bested Cooper in both receptions and receiving touchdowns for two straight years. He’s also been the better fantasy receiver in each of the last two years.
I believe this is the season Cooper leads the team in both receptions and receiving yards with the touchdowns being a toss up. Yet, Crabtree isn’t going anywhere. Him and quarterback Derek Carr have shown great chemistry since 2015 and he will be a big part of the offense once again in 2017.
Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) runs past Chicago Bears inside linebacker Christian Jones (59) during a 48 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
19. Demaryius Thomas, WR – Denver Broncos
Despite catching 90 passes last season, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had a down year by his standards. After two straight seasons with 105+ receptions and finishing as a WR1, Thomas was the 16th PPR wide receiver in 2016. His 1,083 receiving yards was his lowest amount since 2011. Despite the “down” season last year, Thomas should have a better season in 2017.
Last year Thomas was catching passes from either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. After being a seventh-round pick in 2015, last year was Siemian’s first year as a starter in the NFL. 2016 was Lynch’s first season in the NFL. No matter who is the starter in 2017, he should be better than what he was a season ago. Another factor working in Thomas favor is new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
McCoy was the head coach for the San Diego Chargers between 2013-16 and in all four seasons the Chargers offense finished top-ten in passing yards. As the Broncos offensive coordinator between 2010-2012, the Broncos finished top-seven in passing offense or better in two out those three years. In his final year in 2012, McCoy helped Thomas finish as the sixth PPR wide receiver. Look for them to rekindle their magic in 2017.
Oct 16, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) scores in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 28-26. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
18. DeMarco Murray, RB – Tennessee Titans
After a disastrous season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, DeMarco Murray bounced back big time with the Titans in 2016. Murray finished as the 5th PPR running back after finishing top-three in the NFL in both rushing attempts (293) and rushing yards (1,287). Going into 2017 we should see similar results but there is some downside with Murray.
In his first season in the NFL the Titans 2016 second-round pick, Derrick Henry, only finished with 123 touches in 15 games. Yet, over the final three games Henry finished with three touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. There’s a good chance Henry will see an increase in touches in 2017. If he sees the field early and gets off to a hot start, it’ll be difficult for the Titans to only give him 6-8 carries a game like last year.
For now, Murray is expected to lead the Titans backfield in both rushing attempts and receptions by a decent margin. He will be running behind an offensive line Pro Football Focus graded as the best in the NFL after the 2016 season. There is plenty of upside with Murray but with the 6’2 and 247-pound Henry lurking in the background, there’s a good chance he doesn’t repeat as a top-five running back.