Fantasy Football Rankings 2017, Top 101 PPR Players: No. 5-4

Today in our list of fantasy football”s top 101 PPR players of 2017 we take an in-depth look at two of the final five players.

At this point in our list the remaining five players should be obvious to fantasy football owners. The only real uncertainty people have is where all five will be ranked. Today we have a popular player who I have ranked lower than most.

Are my reasons justified or should owners look past my concerns on draft day?

To be clear, the top 101 PPR players are for re-draft leagues only. Here’s a look at players ranked No. 5-4:

Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) runs for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR – New York Giants

In each of the last two years the ultra electric Odell Beckham Jr. has finished as a top-five PPR wide receiver. Only one other wide receiver in the NFL can say he’s done the same: Antonio Brown. The one year OBJ didn’t finish in the top-five was back in 2014 when he missed four games with a hamstring injury. Yet, on a per-game basis Beckham averaged more fantasy points than any player at any position in the NFL.

During the offseason the Giants added both wide receiver Brandon Marshall and TE/WR Evan Engram to their offense. These additions more than likely hinder Beckham’s ability to be the No. 1 overall player in fantasy, but he remains both a safe and high-ceiling option. In all three seasons in the NFL he has had at least 91 receptions, 1,305 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. In his career Beckham has caught 4+ receptions in 41 out of 43 regular season games and has never had fewer than two receptions in any game.

Other than a couple of additions (Marshall and Engram), Beckham’s situation remains virtually the same. OBJ will be playing in Ben McAdoo’s offense and catching passes from Eli Manning for the third-straight year. Under those circumstances, he has averaged over 21 PPR fantasy points per game. Beckham might be a tad eccentric and his antics can be a little bit on the annoying side. Good thing I don’t care about those type of things when it comes to fantasy football and neither should you. Draft OBJ early and often for your 2017 fantasy drafts.

Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs the ball and tries to jump over Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) during the second half at New Era Field. Pittsburgh beat Buffalo 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

4. Le’Veon Bell, RB – Pittsburgh Steelers

Last year if you were an owner lucky enough to draft Le’Veon Bell in the late first round or early second, chances are you did pretty well for yourself. Bell was the third-best fantasy football running back last season but averaged more points per game than any other player in the NFL. The reason two running backs finished ahead of him in 2016 is because he missed the first three games due to a suspension. Bell’s history of suspensions is one of two reasons why he’s my fourth overall player and not my first.

In back-to-back years, Bell has been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Due to these suspensions, Bell hasn’t suited up for a Week 1 game since 2014. According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the “good” part about Bell’s latest suspension is it kept him in Stage 2 of the program. This means if he’s suspended again, it will only cost him four games instead of a full season. The other part of the reason I’m keeping Bell out of my top-three players is due the other reason he’s missed multiple games in his career: injuries.

Over the last three years, Bell’s season has ended the same way: watching the Steelers get bounced from the playoffs as he sat helplessly from the sidelines with an injury. That’s not how 2013 ended, but he did miss the team’s first three games with a foot injury. In his four-year career Bell has missed 11 regular season games due to injuries. Including playoffs, Bell has missed 14 games due to injuries.

Between the injuries and suspensions, Bell has missed 19 total games since 2013. He’s missed 20 in his career, but that’s only because the Steelers rested their starters in Week 17 last year.

Bell has only played an entire 16-game regular season once in his career. If you could tell me he’ll play in all 16 in 2017, he’d be my No. 1 overall player. But obviously nobody can guarantee that. With his risk, I’m not willing to take him in my top-three. With his reward, I can’t in good conscience let him slip past fourth overall.

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