Feb 17, 2017
What to do with top pick in 2017 fantasy football
By: Ben Morgan
Despite the fact that it’s only February and you won’t be selecting your fantasy football team for another six months, I’m already here to tell you who to pick first overall if you end up with the selection.
With Le’Veon Bell suspended for the beginning of 2016, and Zeke Elliott still just a rookie surrounded by a lot of hype, the first overall pick in last year’s fantasy football drafts was commonly between a couple of wide receivers – mainly Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.
Fantasy drafts in 2017 are sure to begin differently this year, as there’s a common consensus that the running back position is not dead, but rather the first three picks of drafts will be ball carriers.
The most likely top three picks, in any order, will be David Johnson, Elliott and Bell. Since there are a limited amount of running backs who dominate carries and consistently put up big fantasy-scoring weeks, you’ll be in line for the steal of the draft if you have the fourth pick and someone in the top three is selected that does not include one of these three guys.
Last year, Johnson led the position in fantasy points scored by about 35 points – depending on how your league scores – while Elliott was second and Bell finished fourth.
If you give Bell his average fantasy points per game over the three games he missed due to suspension, he would have finished second ahead of Elliott. Also, keep in mind that Bell didn’t play the final week of the season – not that it matters in most fantasy leagues anyways – but his season total would have been even higher had he played the entire season.
While you can’t go wrong with any of these guys, Bell should be your choice if you’re drafting first in your league in 2017. Bell failed to reach double-digit fantasy points just once last year and posted at least 20 points in five of his last seven games.
The Steelers offense features a very balanced offense which bolds well for Bell. He’s clearly in a situation where you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing his carries, and he’s utilized as a pass catcher – both out of the backfield and lined up as a receiver – as he caught 75 passes last year for 616 yards and two touchdowns.
Some may see Martavis Bryant coming back from suspension as a threat to Bell and Brown’s fantasy value, but I see Bryant as a weapon that can stretch the defense and open things up for Bell and Brown.
As an owner of Johnson in several leagues last year, it’s going to be hard for me to pass on him if I get the first pick in 2017 as he led my teams every week en route to a few championship matchups.
I also see it as a positive that Carson Palmer is coming back to Arizona next year as Johnson would have been my candidate to have a Todd Gurley-type season if Arizona was starting a new quarterback in 2017. While I see Johnson as an elite talent who can overcome the defense stacking up against him, I prefer a running back on a team who can be successful through the air as well so teams can’t continually load the box in an attempt to take away the team’s only offensive weapon.
My ranking of Bell over Johnson comes down to the fact that I have more faith in Pittsburgh’s offense than I do Arizona’s. The Cardinals struggled in 2016 and they’re going to have to make some changes offensively to get back to being a high-powered offense in 2017.
I prefer Bell and Johnson to Elliott, as Dallas could be a prime candidate for a letdown season in 2017. While I don’t predict Dallas falling off too far or missing the playoffs next year, I do think that defenses will have more success against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense since the book is now out on them.
Defensive coordinators now have a full offseason to watch film on Prescott and Elliott so it may be hard for them to duplicate the type of success they had in 2016.
Please note that I think these players are very good and they won’t struggle that much; it’s just my reason for why I prefer Bell and Johnson to Elliott. The second-year stud from Ohio State is hands down a top-three selection in fantasy drafts next year.
At the end of the day you can’t screw this pick up if you take one of the three top running backs, but you can ensure a pile of touches every week from your top pick when you follow this advice and go with Bell.