As we continue our list of fantasy football”s top 101 PPR players of 2017 we feature the two best wide receivers from the 2011 NFL Draft.
Back when I was a freshman at college, anytime Alabama or Georgia was playing, I had to put on the game. Each team had a freshman phenom at wide receiver who looked like they could have been playing in the NFL as a teenager.
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Fast forward almost 10 years later and these two are a couple of the best wide receivers in fantasy football. Which one should owners draft first in 2017?
To be clear, the top 101 PPR players are for re-draft leagues only. Here’s a look at players ranked No. 8-6:
Dec 28, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) pulls in a touchdown as Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) defends in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
What many fantasy owners will remember about A.J. Green in 2016 is the star wide receiver missed basically seven games with a hamstring injury. What people might forget about Green is he was on pace to set career highs before the injury.
Across the Bengals first nine games last year Green totaled 66 receptions, 964 yards and four touchdowns. Before his injury in Week 11, Green was the fourth-best PPR wide receiver and was averaging over 20 points a week. Green’s 16-game projection at his nine game pace would have been 117 receptions, 1,713 yards and seven touchdowns. He easily would have surpassed his current career-highs in receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,426).
Green has six-straight seasons with 100+ targets and if it wasn’t for the torn hamstring last year, he’d also have six-straight seasons with 1,000+ yards. Look for quarterback Andy Dalton to target Green a bunch in 2017, just like he has since they both entered the league in 2011.
Nov 20, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs in for a first quarter touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
7. LeSean McCoy, RB – Buffalo Bills
Last year was the resurrection of running backs in PPR fantasy football leagues and Bills running back LeSean McCoy was a big part of it. McCoy was one of four running backs who averaged 20+ fantasy points per game in 2016. His 5.4 yards per carry was best in the NFL among running backs with at least 200 carries. Going into 2017, there’s reason to believe his situation has improved from a season ago.
During the offseason the Bills signed fullback Patrick DiMacro formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. Pro Football Focus graded DiMarco out as the best run-blocking fullback over the last two seasons. They also added Temple’s Dion Dawkins in the second-round of the NFL Draft. These two additions should improve a Bills rushing attack that finished first in the NFL in 2016. There was also a departure this offseason that should work in McCoy’s favor.
Last year Mike Gillislee had 101 carries, 577 yards, eight touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry (YPC). With Gillislee now in New England the Bills new direct backup to McCoy will be Jonathan Williams. Last year he only averaged 3.5 (YPC) on 27 attempts and there’s a chance he won’t get as many opportunities as Gillislee did a year ago. There’s always the possibility Mike Tolbert could vulture some touchdowns in 2017 but then again, he only has one rushing touchdown over the last three years.
Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of their game against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 48-33. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
6. Julio Jones, WR – Atlanta Falcons
The term “freak of nature” gets thrown around a lot when people are discussing professional athletes. When it comes to Julio Jones, it’s justified. The 6-3 and 220-pound wide receiver runs like a frighten deer on steroids and has a habit of embarrassing defensive backs. To nobody’s surprise, Jones has finished as the sixth-best PPR wide receiver or better in three-straight years.
I could go on for pages talking about how great Julio is but considering I have him ranked as the No.6 PPR player for 2017, it’s obvious how much I like him. Instead of going on and on about why I like Julio, I’ll quickly discuss my concerns with him.
Jones has dealt with foot injuries since 2011 and recently underwent surgery on his foot as recently as March. He’s also had his fair share of ankle issues as well. Due to these injuries, Jones has only played an entire 16-game season just twice in six NFL seasons. On top of the injuries, Jone only has one season with double-digit touchdown receptions. These concerns should be considered minor if I’m willing to take him midway through the first round, but they are the reasons why I prefer a handful of players over him.