QB: Derek Carr, OAK: The Raiders are poised to become a legitimate threat to dethrone the defending champion Patriots this season. I believe that Carr has something to prove after suffering a broken leg in last season’s Week 16 game. The one thing that I absolutely love about Carr is that his completion percentage has gone up every season (58.1% in 2014, 61.1% in 2015, and 63.8% in 2016). The addition of Marshawn Lynch, if he stays healthy, will give Carr a power back that allows him to use the play action more effectively. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree return after combining for over 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The Raiders have also added tight end Jared Cook from Green Bay and speed threat Cordarrelle Patterson from Minnesota. With the weapons and solid offensive line play, Carr is a must have for your fantasy team.
RB: Jordan Howard, CHI: This is a guy I am very high on. He is going to be an absolute workhorse for the Bears this season. Howard will only be turning 23 years old midway through the season as well. As a rookie last season, he ranked 2nd in rushing yards and 4th in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry. The Bears running back also proved to be a weapon in the receiving game as well, going for almost 300 yards in year one. He did all of this in a season where Chicago played Matt Barkley, Jay Cutler, and Brian Hoyer. Howard has proven that he can be a dynamic playmaker out of the backfield, no matter who lines up under center. With Howard and first round pick Mitch Trubisky, Chicago’s future looks very bright
WR: Mike Evans, TB: Evans should be a top 10 pick in most fantasy drafts. The guy has elite skill and is one of the top receivers in the game. He has been consistent with 1,000+ yard seasons in each of his three years in Tampa Bay. There are no injury concerns, as he has only missed a total of two games in his career. I would make Evans my number one receiver this season. He had 4 games of 100+ yards last season and 1 game of 150+ yards. Last season, Winston targeted him 175 times, which were 94 more than TE Cameron Brate received. The addition of rookie tight end O.J. Howard could help lead to more one on one coverage for Evans. All things considered, Evans is primed to lead the league in receiving in 2017.
TE: Hunter Henry, LAC: Any time you have Phillip Rivers at the helm, you will be getting the football in the red zone as a tight end. Henry had 8 touchdowns in his rookie season with the Chargers last year. I expect that he will be getting more touches this season, after Antonio Gates getting the touchdown record in 2016. Henry is a young, blossoming tight end that fits so well with Rivers and the San Diego offense. At 37, Gates will be on the decline this season and Rivers will be looking to Henry more often. Standing at 6-5, he is the perfect red zone target for this team. Look out for him this season, as he should be a sleeper later in the draft.
FLEX: Tyreek Hill, KC: This guy just makes plays. As a fantasy player, he strikes fear into your opponents every week because of his big play ability. He figures to get even more touches this season with Kansas City. Hill is as versatile as they come, scoring touchdowns by rushing (3), receiving (6), and returning (3) in his first season. Not getting this guy 10+ touches per game is just silly. He will have every opportunity to be a playmaker, and with the loss of RB Jamaal Charles, this should only help Hill become the number one option.
K: Dan Bailey, DAL: Yes, kickers are people too. While you should take a kicker with your last selection, its best to know who you want to target. Bailey is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL. With the loss of Zeke Elliot for 6 games, Dallas should have more trouble scoring inside the red zone. This should give Bailey more opportunities for points. Bailey is 250 for 250 on extra point attempts in his career, which is important because since the rule change, kickers are only 94% successful in 2016, opposed to 99.3% in 2015. When the draft is almost over and you can feel the food coma kicking in, remember to pick the right kicker.
DEF/ST: Chiefs: In 2016, the Kansas City defense ranked first in interceptions (18), touchdowns (8), fumble recoveries (15), and pass deflections (100). Led by CB Marcus Peters and S Eric Berry, the Chiefs look to feast off opposing quarterbacks once again. Facing Tom Brady on opening night and Derek Carr/Phillip Rivers twice will be a tough task, but I believe this defense will make big plays. Going back to my flex choice, Tyreek Hill is a huge reason why I have selected this unit. One thing is for sure: count on this defense to produce big plays every week.
Sleeper of the Year: RB, C.J. Prosise, SEA: The Seattle backfield is crowded. Along with Prosise, the Seahawks have Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and Alex Collins figuring to get some touches this year. Because of his ability to run and catch passes, Prosise will emerge as the number one back. Lacy is one dimensional, and Rawls has injury problems. If he is able to stay healthy, he will be out there significantly more than the other backs. In just his second season out of Notre Dame, Prosise will be a big factor in the Seahawks game plan. Look for him deeper in your draft as a flex option, who has the potential to be a number one by midseason.
Author: Brandon Sweet
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