NFL top 100 players 2017: 90-81

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the second installment, containing players 90-81.

90. Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots

NFL Top 100

Malcolm Butler (photo by twitter.com)

Butler has gone from unknown out of the University of West Alabama, to Super Bowl hero, to one of the best corners in the league. He put his talents on display last season with 63 total tackles, four interceptions, 16 passes defended, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a sack.

He will pair with number 97 on our list, Stephon Gilmore, to create a great cornerback tandem. The Patriots had the best scoring defense in the league and ranked 12th against the pass. That rank will only get better this season with Butler improving from year to year and Gilmore on the other side of the field.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick get a lot of the praise, and deservedly so, but Butler and the defense are good enough to get some recognition too.

Comments: “I personally have Butler much higher on my list. Butler isn’t always asked to cover the elite receivers, but he’s proven to be excellent in coverage. Only 50 percent of the passes thrown his direction get completed. On average, he holds receivers well below their average in yards per game. He was essential to a Patriots secondary that played a major factor in getting New England a fifth Super Bowl ring.”-Blake Van Poucke

89. Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Josh Norman (Photo by washingtonpost.com)

It was a tumultuous, but effective first year in the nation’s capital for Norman. People criticized him for only playing one side of the field, not understanding what type of corner he is. He finished the season with 67 total tackles, three interceptions, 19 passes defended and two forced fumbles.

While Washington’s pass defense wasn’t good last year, ranking 25th in the NFL, Norman usually did a solid job of shutting down his side of the field. The rest of the Redskins’ secondary let the team down. In 2017, teams will still try to avoid throwing the ball to Norman’s side of the field because they can do so much damage throwing away from him.

Norman may get headlines for getting into scuffles with notable wide receivers, but he can play and it will show once again in 2017.

Comments: “Norman experienced maybe the biggest drop off from his first team all-pro 2015 with the Panthers after being moved to the Redskins. Nevertheless, he only experienced a small drop in production while taking on a smaller role on Washington’s secondary. He wasn’t the shutdown corner he was in 2015, but he was still very effective.”-Blake Van Poucke

88. Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Sean Lee (Photo by nfl.com)

Lee had a phenomenal 2017 with 146 total tackles, one pass defended and one fumble recovery. There is a noticeable difference when he is on the field and healthy for the Cowboys as opposed to when he is not.

One of the things Lee is known for the most is that he is injury prone, as he has never played all 16 games in a season. Staying healthy is a key for him to stay on this list, but if he does and performs like previous years, he will deserve his slot. Last year Dallas had the fifth-best scoring defense in the league and with an emphasis on drafting defensive players and controlling the clock on offense, Lee should be able to have another great season.

Playing under Rod Marinelli, Lee has thrived and there is no reason, other than injury, to think he won’t continue to thrive for the Cowboys.

Comments: “Sean Lee is one of the best linebackers in the league. The Cowboys look so much better on the defensive side of the ball when Lee is healthy. He is a tackle machine and is the heart and soul of the defense. If Lee can stay healthy, his spot on this list is almost guaranteed.”-Joe DiTullio

87. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

NFL Top 100

Marcus Mariota (Photo by titansonline.com)

In his second season in the NFL, Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 61% completion. His career is trending upward as he only won three games as a starter during his rookie season, but ended up winning eight in his sophomore campaign.

The Titans are starting to build a legitimate offensive threat around their franchise quarterback. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry provide two good running backs that keep each other fresh behind a good offensive line, which features Taylor Lewan. Tennessee selected Corey Davis with the fifth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and will pair him with Eric Decker, whom they have recently just signed, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker.

With more weapons and another year of experience under his belt, look for Mariota to have a very successful 2017.

Comments: “Marcus Mariota is not getting the respect he deserves and is a top 45 player. He got injured in the 15th game and still put up 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Had Mariota stayed healthy I fully believe the Titans would have won the division. Mariota will be a top-five quarterback by the end of this season.” -Matthew Hagan

 86. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

NFL Top 100

Marshawn Lynch (Photo by upi.com)

A guy who didn’t play last season makes the top 100. “Beast Mode” has given a lot of people reason to believe in him over the years, but had a disappointing and injury-plagued 2015 season before retiring. The 31-year-old has 9,112 rushing yards and will be looking to tack on as many yards as possible in his new silver and black uniform.

Live-game action is something that can’t be substituted, so Lynch may not have the greatest of starts, but he will have one thing that many running backs over the age of 30 don’t have, fresh legs. Another thing Lynch has going for him in 2017? His offensive line is among the best in the NFL and should be able to clear him a lot of space before he is contacted.

Lynch partially makes the list because of his great career, but also partially because of how great the guys in front of him will be.

Comments: “Similar to Brandon Marshall, Marshawn Lynch only made this list off of reputation. Lynch is 31 years old and didn’t even play last season. There will be some rust and he won’t be the every down back for the Raiders. I will be surprised if Lynch rushes for more than 700 yards.” -Matthew Hagan

“He lives up to his nickname Beast Mode. It seems impossible to tackle him. He can explode up the middle and have that big run like he had against the Saints that made him known as Beast Mode. With his new home with the Raiders I see him having the same success with the offensive line in Oakland. I think he could be a little higher on this list especially in front of Demaryius Thomas.”- Craig Stogdill

85. Jerrell Freeman, LB, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Jerrell Freeman (Photo by chicagobears.com)

Freeman was suspended for his use of PED’s in 2016, but still put up impressive numbers. He was left off of the NFL’s top 100 player list, but because this list focuses on how well the players will do in 2017, he makes the cut. In 12 games in 2016, Freeman recorded 112 total tackles and four passes defended.

Assuming he can stay on the field, Freeman is by far the best player on the Bears’ defense. He is good at both stopping the run and in coverage, which makes him a three-down linebacker.

In 2017 Freeman will continue to be the best player on the Bears’ defense and make top 100 lists.

Comments: “Freeman didn’t make a lot of top 100 lists because of his PED suspension last season. In 2017 Freeman will return to form and have another great season. His ability to cover makes him a very valuable player.”-Joe DiTullio

84. Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Justin Houston (Photo by cbssports.com)

Injuries have derailed Houston’s last two seasons, but in 2014 he had 22 sacks. He has had knee injuries, but now says he is healthy and ready to play. If he can stay healthy an regain his form he is one of the most dominant players in the league, but that is a big if.

Kansas City ranked 28th in sacks in 2017, but if Houston is healthy he should be able to help improve that number drastically. While knee injuries are never a good thing, Houston will be 28 this season, meaning that he should still be able to bounce back.

If Houston plays a healthy season, he will be on this list at season’s end, but if he gets hurt again, his best years are probably behind him.

Comments: “It’s a shame that Houston has only been able to play 16 games in the last two seasons. A fully healthy Justin Houston is still a top-five player in this league. 2013 is considered by many to be one of the greatest single seasons ever from a defensive end. He was still around a sack per game in 2016, but only got five games in. For the sake of entertainment, please stay healthy Justin Houston.”-Blake Van Poucke

83. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos

NFL Top 100

Demaryius Thomas (Photo by denverpost.com)

Thomas has made five straight Pro Bowls but saw his production dip last season. He had 1,083 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 90 receptions. These are all the lowest these stats have been since his second season in the league.

Most of this isn’t Thomas’ fault. He is still a good talent but has been playing with young quarterbacks who aren’t the most talented, yet. Evidence of this is his 62.5% catch percentage in 2016, which is the third highest in his career. Ultimately Thomas’ fate rests in the hands of the developing young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

While Thomas is a player anyone would want on their team, his production and ranking in 2017 may not match his actual talent.

Comments: “Demaryius Thomas is a really good player but the quarterback situation in Denver hurts him. Neither Paxton Lynch nor Trevor Siemian will be good enough to keep Thomas as a top 100 player. Unfortunately for receivers, being a top player is somewhat out of their hands.” -Matthew Hagan

“Last year was rough for DT. He didn’t have Peyton Manning to throw him the ball and played injured last season. But Thomas is still a big target with great speed for his size. He has the size of a tight end with the speed, agility and ball skills of a wide receiver. He can get up there and make that acrobatic catch. I think DT is ranked way too high only because of his situation and that 2017 won’t look any better”- Craig Stogdill 

82. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Top 100

Gerald McCoy (Photo by tampabay.com)

The Bucs have been lucky enough to have a consistently good player like McCoy on their team for seven seasons. Last year he continued his good production with 34 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.

As a defensive tackle, his pass rushing numbers stand out with 42 career sacks in his seven seasons. In a division that features Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, getting after the quarterback is a must. McCoy will have to be a great player once again to give the Bucs a chance to leap into the playoffs.

This season McCoy will be a top 100 player once again.

Comments: “This guy has been a stalwart on defense for the Bucs for a long time. He could be ranked higher just due to consistency. I expect that with his team finally in a real playoff push (last year a lot of things needed to happen for them to get in) he will exceed expectations, which are already pretty high.”- Robert Hanes

81. Phillip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Top 100

Phillip Rivers (Photo by espn.com)

In the Chargers’ last season in San Diego, Rivers had a solid season, despite not having the best talent around him. He threw for 4,386 yards on 60.4% completion, with 38 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

That might not be the best stat-line, but he was throwing to Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman for the most part, who were virtual unknowns before the season. In 2017 the Chargers will have Keenan Allen back (pending his ability to stay healthy), rookie Mike Williams, a reliable Antonio Gates and an up and coming Hunter Henry to go along with Williams, Inman and Travis Benjamin.

Rivers is aging and will be 36 this season, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. With a better cast around him in 2017, look for him to keep on climbing up in the record books and be a top 100 player yet again.

Comments:“Rivers had one of his worst seasons as a pro last year and being 35 years old doesn’t help. He threw 21 interceptions and was the leader of the offense that committed the most turnovers per game last season. As this year goes by, fans will start to realize that it is time for the Chargers to move on and look for their next franchise quarterback.” -Matthew Hagan

“What Rivers did last season with no offensive line and a crop of receivers that no one knew about is nothing short of amazing. Based on last year this ranking is justified, but looking ahead to this season, with his new weapons and a better team overall, Rivers is going to have a very good season and is better than a lot of players ahead of him on this list.”- Joe DiTullio

NFL Top 100 Players: 100-91

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

A good wide receiver one is important for any fantasy team. Last article, I featured some solid WR2s with WR1 upside. This list contains some low WR1s and some great number one receivers for your team.

20. Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots): How is it possible that the defending Super Bowl champs got even better? In this offseason, the Patriots made the blockbuster deal to acquire Saints stud Brandin Cooks. After playing under Drew Brees for the last two seasons, Cooks has gotten at least 75 receptions and 1,100 yards.

fantasy football wide receivers

(Photo credit: https://www.profootballfocus.com/brandin-cooks-wins-his-routes/)

Cooks was reliable and productive for the Saints last season. He ranked sixth in the league in yards per target with an even 10.0 and ranked 14th in yards after the catch with 383. Now he is playing alongside arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.

With the Patriots Cooks will primarily be used in the slot. We’ll have to see how he adjusts to the slot more often in New England. He has the ability to be a top five wide receiver if he pans out in New England.

19. Terrelle Pryor (Washington Redskins): The breakout story of 2016 now takes his talents to Washington to play with Kirk Cousins. Cousins has already said that he wants to get Pryor the ball.

One of the NFL’s Swiss army knives, Pryor can do it all. Last season he had 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013 with the Raiders, Pryor rushed for 567 yards on 83 attempts. Now with Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson out of Washington, Pryor is the No. 1 receiver and there are good things to come from it.

18. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)- Last year I had so much hope for Keenan Allen. I drafted him early and was sure he would finish as a top ten receiver. He then tore his ACL in the end of the first half of the first game of the season. He has all the talent to be a stud receiver in this league, if he can stay healthy. Since he’s been in the league, he hasn’t played a full season.

As a matter of fact, he’s only played nine games over the past two seasons. In 2015, he was very efficient ranking third in catch rate. Now hopefully he can play a full season with Phillip Rivers, who has the ability to throw for 5,000 yards. If that does happen, Allen can be a top 10 receiver easily.

17. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): Another case of a wide receiver with high hopes who didn’t amount to much last season. When Blake Bortles’ production decreased, so did Robinson’s. He had 600 less receiving yards and eight less touchdowns than the season before.

Bortles, the king of garbage time, threw most of his touchdowns when the team was trailing in 2015. Robinson thrived in the red zone, especially when the Jags were behind. His production comes down to whether or not Robinson can get his numbers from 2015 back.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

(Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports)

16. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers): Davante Adams finally lived up to his expectations in 2016. While he had 997 yards and 12 touchdowns, owners can’t be expecting the same numbers as last year.

Behind the scenes, Adams wasn’t very efficient but he ranked 12th in production and tenth in yards after the catch with 408 yards. Last season Adams had nine drops which is way too many for a player like him. If he can improve his catch rate his yardage will improve.

The double digit touchdowns aren’t a lock to repeat, however 7-8 is reasonable for a player like Adams. It also helps that he’s playing under Aaron Rodgers. Expect low WR1 numbers from Davante Adams.

15. Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills): Like Keenan Allen, Watkins has the talent and ability to be a top five wide receiver if he can stay healthy. Just a year removed from a 1,000 yard season, Sammy Watkins followed it up with a horrid 430 yards in eight games.

The thing that makes Watkins different from the rest of the receivers on this list is how he’s top dog in Buffalo. There are little to no targets around Sammy Watkins. He has Zay Jones and Marquise Goodwin as his supporting cast which is a little scary.

The targets will be there for Sammy Watkins but he won’t break the bank with his yardage numbers. Tyrod Taylor has the ability to throw for around 3,200 yards so it will be hard for Watkins to get 1,300 yards, but he’s worth it at the right price.

14. Alshon Jeffrey (Philadelphia Eagles): I’ve never been a big fan of Alshon Jeffrey, and supported drafting him as a WR1 except for this year. Jeffrey is playing under a young quarterback in Carson Wentz. People have said that Alshon Jeffrey has been a disappointment over the last two seasons, but he has still eclipsed 800 yards in both of those years.

Now Jeffrey just needs to work on his red zone production. Jeffrey only caught four of his 12 targets in the red zone for only three touchdowns. If Jeffrey can improve his catch rate inside of 20 yards, he’ll be the number one receiver we’ve all been waiting for.

13. Deandre Hopkins (Houston Texans): The Brock Osweiler experiment didn’t last long in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins also never benefited from Osweiler being there. With his big arm and love for targeting tight ends, Brock Osweiler and DeAndre Hopkins never clicked like people thought they would. After saying that, he still had 954 yards and four touchdowns.

Now DeAndre Hopkins has Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson throwing him the ball and it isn’t much different. Savage started the last three games of the season and didn’t throw a single touchdown which isn’t good for fantasy owners. Watson probably won’t get the start until midseason, and even then it isn’t likely he’ll have an amazing rookie year. The touchdowns are going to lack again for Hopkins, but he has a chance to top 1,100 yards.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

12. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos): Even with the horrible quarterback situation in Denver, Demaryius Thomas provided a good season. Thomas had 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.

He’s been as reliable as anyone in the league, with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his seasons since 2012. Thomas has been consistent since he entered the league, averaging 2.29 yards per route which is far better than the NFL average of 1.54.

He’s shown that he can play under any quarterback and still succeed. If he can get more touchdowns this season, then Demaryius Thomas will be a top 10 or a top five receiver easily.

11. Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys): Dez Bryant should be a top five wide receiver in this league. But now with the run heavy scheme that the Cowboys have, it’s hard for Bryant to put up top WR1 numbers. Couple that with the fact that he hasn’t played a full season since 2014, I’m nervous about Dez this year.

After putting up 796 yards and eight touchdowns last year, Dez is in line for a similar season this year. If he can stay healthy, he could easily put up 200 more yards and another touchdown or two. Dez won’t put up the numbers he did in 2014 behind Prescott and Elliot but if Dak Prescott can play like he did last year, 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns isn’t out of reach.

 

 

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 30-21

Running backs are going to go quick and early in fantasy drafts this year, so this list of receivers can fall to you later than they should.

30. Jamison Crowder (Washington Redskins): Jamison Crowder broke out in a big way in 2016. He had 847 receiving yards and seven touchdowns as the number two receiver for the Washington Redskins. Now that DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left and the Redskins only added Terrelle Pryor, Crowder is in line for more targets and a bigger workload. Last season lining up in the slot, Crowder found tons of success. He lined up in the slot on 56 percent of snaps per game. In a bigger role, expect Crowder to have more production and a better season.

29. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals): If anyone can beat father time its Larry Fitz. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, it doesn’t look like Fitzgerald is slowing down any time soon. Injuries haven’t been a problem for Larry Fitzgerald as he’s played in all 16 games in every season since 2008 except 2014 when he played in 14. Fitzgerald is also still consistent in terms of yards after catch. Over the last two seasons, he had at least 350 yards after the catch and there’s no reason why that number should decrease. Without Michael Floyd in the mix, Fitzgerald should be even better than last year.

28. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions): Golden Tate had a bounce back season for the Detroit Lions last year. In his first season as the number one receiver for the Lions, Tate lived up to expectations. He had 1,077 yards and four touchdowns. What people don’t know is how Golden Tate was a top-tier receiver in terms of production.

Tate ranked first in yards after the catch with 676 and tenth in receptions with 91. With Anquan Boldin still a free agent, it looks like Tate could be in line for more targets. Don’t be surprised if Tate ends up a top-15 wide receiver this year.

2017 wide receiver rankings: 30-21

http://jp2hs.org

27. Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts): The hype that surrounded Moncrief last offseason ended when he only played in nine games. In a disappointing season, Moncrief only had 307 receiving yards. What was a nice surprise was how he ended his season with seven touchdowns.

Playing alongside Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, Moncrief still has great upside. Currently being drafted as the 29th receiver and 67th player overall, Moncrief is going after he should be. He’s currently being drafted as a WR3 but has WR2 upside.

26. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs): Rookie sensation Tyreek Hill put on a show for fans last season in Kansas City. With a combined 860 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, Hill had an impressive season as a running back, receiver and a kick returner. He has big shoes to fill this season however.

With the departure of Jeremy Maclin, Hill is stepping into the lead receiver role for the Chiefs. An interesting quality of Hill was that he was the second best receiver in terms of fantasy points per target with 2.42. Now with the added targets and more experience in the NFL, Hill has the chance to be a legit WR2 this year.

25. Julian Edelman (New England Patriots): Reigning Super Bowl champ Julian Edelman is an interesting fantasy candidate this year. The yardage is consistently there for Edelman (1,106 yards last season), but the touchdowns are irrelevant. Last season he had three touchdowns which turns a lot of fantasy owners off.

One of the most productive receivers, Edelman ranked fourth in receptions, fourth in yards after catch and 12th in receiving yards. With the addition of Brandin Cooks, expect a decrease in yards but still a lot of production as a WR2.

2017 wide receiver rankings: 30-21

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com

 

24. Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh Steelers)- There’s not much to write about surrounding last season for Bryant considering he didn’t play at all. The talent and skillset that Bryant has is rare in the league today. His off the field actions is the only thing that is holding him back.

Standing at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds, Martavis Bryant has the size and catching ability to be a WR1 for the Steelers this season. If he can stay on the field and out of trouble, him and Antonio Brown will form a killer duo in this league.

23. Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins): Juice is loose in Miami. Landry enjoyed another outstanding season for the Dolphins in 2016. In back-to-back years, Jarvis Landry had 1,100-plus yards and four touchdowns.

Jarvis Landry was more productive than we expected in the slot. He ranked third in slot rate, seventh in receptions and second in yards after catch. Juice has the talent and surrounding cast to continue to succeed in this league. If he can produce more in the red zone, he’ll be a WR1.

22. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos): The quarterback situation in Denver is the only reason Sanders isn’t higher on this list. Even with that, Sanders has eclipsed 1,000 yards every season he’s been in Denver even with a hobbled Peyton Manning and Trevor Siemian.

Last season, Sanders ranked 17th in fantasy points per game, receptions and receiving yards. Lining up in the slot and on the outside, Sanders has been as reliable as anyone recently and we should expect that to continue. If the quarterback play increases, then Sanders can be a fringe WR1.

2017 wide receiver rankings: 30-21

http://content.newsinc.com

21. Michael Crabtree (Oakland Raiders): Crabtree is in a perfect situation to succeed again for Oakland this season. He is the second receiver on a high-powered offense in Oakland. After eclipsing 1,000 yards and catching eight touchdowns, Crabtree can take the next step this season.

Playing alongside Amari Cooper, Crabtree ranked 14th in fantasy points per game and 13th in receptions. Currently being drafted as the 21st ranked wide receiver, Crabtree is right where he should be. Don’t draft him too early but if he falls to you he’s a solid WR2.

 

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It’s on the Haus: Ezekiel Elliott in trouble, Carolina Panthers fire GM, NBA Summer League championship and Jeremy Lin’s comments

It’s on the Haus is a daily installment of sports news from the past day. Rather than waiting an entire hour to see the big news on a television program or come to multiple stories on multiple websites to get your sports fix, It’s on the Haus gives you the biggest sports happenings all in one place. You may feel guilty for reading this concise article that gives you everything you need to know, but don’t worry, It’s on the Haus. Today’s SEO focus keyword for your viewing pleasure: Ezekiel Elliott Carolina Panthers GM NBA Summer League Jeremy Lin

Last edition: Spurs win, Trail Blazers’ new logo, LaVar Ball talked again and Matt Harvey

Ezekiel Elliott was #Wildin at a club

Ezekiel Elliott Carolina Panthers GM nba summer league Jeremy Lin

Will Ezekiel Elliott be able to hurdle the NFL’s punishments? Well, it’s hard to say (Photo: ESPN.com).

Reports surfaced yesterday morning that Ezekiel Elliott was straight getting after it in a Dallas night club on Sunday night. A 30-year-old man was reportedly assaulted in the club and suffered severe enough injuries to earn him a trip to the hospital. Although the man could not identify who assaulted him, Elliott is suspected to be part of the incident.

No arrests were made in connection to the incident, but the NFL is looking into if Elliott deserves to be reprimanded.

Although we’re yet to see a report that Elliott was in fact part of the altercation, every news outlet is treating the situation like he was. Elliott is already under fire for a domestic violence incident that the NFL still hasn’t ruled on, and he’s also been spotted in a marijuana dispensery and had too much fun in New Orleans (Google it if you aren’t learned).

This new situation won’t bode well for the man who finished third in MVP voting and second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting last season. If I were a betting man (let the record show I am not), I’d put money on Elliott missing time in 2017.

But at least Dez Bryant, a standup citizen in his own right, came to bat for Elliott yesterday afternoon. Bryant became a proud keyboard warrior and lit up a troll on his Twitter account, causing the troll to delete the tweet that sparked the outburst from Bryant.

This is quite a hairy situation, and Elliott most likely will not come out unscathed.

NFL players React to carolina panthers firing gm dave gettleman

The Carolina Panthers fired former general manager Dave Gettleman on Monday morning, and no one knows why. Gettleman took Carolina to its first Super Bowl since 2004 just two seasons ago.

Former Panthers running back and current NFL free agent DeAngelo Williams crossed Carolina off his list of teams he wouldn’t play for next season thanks to the firing, per his personal Twitter account.

Steve Smith, who spent the first 13 of his 16 NFL seasons with the Panthers, shunned the organization for letting go Gettleman. Although Smith rallying around his former general manager is respectable, he needs to work on his Twitter game. Hashtagging your own name, Steve? Really? And fix your grammar while you’re at it.

Former Panthers cornerback Josh Norman used emojis to convey his message like any self-aware millennial would.


The overwhelming majority of keyboard warriors on Twitter were surprised that Gettleman had been let go, and even though the Panthers just went 6-10 last season, Carolina still reached the Super Bowl with a 15-1 record in 2015.

Adam Schefter expects Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Panthers director of personnel Don Gregory to be in the running for the now vacant position.

NBA Summer League Results

The NBA Summer League sucks. It causes people to overreact about rookies and scrubs who will never make an NBA roster for more than 10 days as fans vulture for any news they can during the offseason. The summer league is filled with lackluster play and lacks any noteworthy talent. You don’t believe me? Look at this tweet from a very handsome man:

However, it’s my job to report to you that the Los Angeles Lakers have the least scrubby of all the scrubs in the NBA Summer League. The Lakers won the summer league final last night, 110-98.

Good for Los Angeles, I guess. The majority of the players that played in last night’s final will never see NBA minutes that mean anything, so I really don’t care that Jayson Tatum lit up players that wouldn’t make my intramural basketball team during the summer league.

We’re reaching for news about Lonzo Ball’s freaking shoes, folks. Let’s put the summer league behind us and never ever look back.

Jeremy Lin to be drug tested today

Jeremy Lin and his Brooklyn Nets went 20-62 last season, good for dead last in the entire NBA. Clearly all that losing has gone to his head.

Ezekiel Elliott Carolina Panthers GM nba summer league Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin probably doesn’t know up from down after making asinine comments about the Nets yesterday (Photo: Charles Wenzelberg).

In an Instagram Live post yesterday (follow me on my new Insta account, btw), Lin declared his Nets would make the playoffs this season.

“We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else tells me,” Lin said according to Kyle Boone of CBS Sports.

Lin said himself and newly acquired D’Angelo Williams would do some “serious damage” in Brooklyn, and because of Lin’s claims, I’m gravely concerned for his mental health. Lin has played in 17 playoff games in his entire seven-year career, so his experience in getting past the regular season is about as much as Floyd Mayweather’s in quantum physics.

The Nets lost their leading scorer and best player in Brook Lopez in a trade to the Lakers, but have acquired the aforementioned Russell and DeMarre Carroll, among others. In short, there’s virtually no playoff-caliber talent on this roster. There’s no way the Nets make the playoffs this season, and Lin thinks he can blatantly lie in Taiwan and get away with it.

Lin may be off the hook for now, but he shouldn’t be surprised when the NBA asks him to urinate in a cup for his puzzled thoughts.

 

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

This class of wide receivers is deeper than it has been in years for fantasy football. You can win your league with two stud running backs in the first round and take one of these wide receivers as your number one, so pay attention to this list if you’re going to take two running backs.

 

40. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers): In 2015, when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the demand for Randall Cobb was high. He was the No. 1 wide receiver on a high-powered Packers offense, but he didn’t live up to expectations.

He followed up his disappointing 2015 season with an even more disappointing 2016 season. Cobb had 610 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and less catches per game last season than any season since 2014.

Mike McCarthy wants Cobb to get more involved in the Packers’ offense, but with a healthy Jordy Nelson, an emerging Davante Adams and a recently acquired Martellus Bennett, targets are going to be hard to come by. Don’t draft Cobb too early, but if the price is right take him.

39. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens): The Chiefs made the surprising move to cut Maclin this offseason. He ended up signing with the Ravens on a two-year deal. Jeremy Maclin had a disappointing season with the Chiefs but is in line for a lot of targets this season with Baltimore.

After losing their core of receivers and recently losing tight end Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin is the new No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. He’s playing with a reliable (and elite, debate that in the comments if you must) quarterback in Joe Flacco, but there are some things that make Maclin unreliable.

He ranked in the bottom half of production and efficiency last season and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. He ranked 62nd in receptions and 69th in receiving yards. I have high hopes for Maclin given his current situation in Baltimore, as he has a chance to regain his No. 1 wide receiver status.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.ravens.clubs.nfl.com

38.  Pierre Garçon (San Francisco 49ers): Pierre Garçon had a bounceback season with the Washington Redskins last year. Quietly, he was one of the most productive receivers in the league last season. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards with 1,041 and 17th in receptions with 79. He’s now joining a revamped 49ers team led by quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Not only was Garçon one of the most productive receivers, he ranked in the top half in efficiency. Pierre Garçon was the 13th-ranked receiver in terms of yards per target and that number can increase during Garçon’s tenure in San Francisco.

All in all, I didn’t agree with his choice to leave Washington, but I do think Garçon will surprise people and keep up his production next season.

37. Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins): The long awaited breakout of Devante Parker came last season, kinda. Parker had a nice year, with 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has drawn criticism from head coach Adam Gase and hasn’t fully emerged as the big receiver everyone thought he would be.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Parker should be catching more touchdowns than he did. He had only seven end zone targets which ended up as four touchdowns, which is weak for his size and role in the offense.

With Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins’ roster, there’s limited space for targets for Parker. He needs to emerge as a big end zone threat to make some noise in fantasy this season.

36. Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans): I don’t think Decker would make this list if he was still on the Jets. Riddled by injuries last season, Eric Decker never got the chance to do anything noteworthy for the Jets. But in 2015, we saw the Eric Decker that we expected. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top half in categories such as receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game.

Now he heads to Tennessee to play alongside Demarco Murray and Marcus Mariota. The up-and-coming Titans offense has their new No. 1 receiver and Decker has the opportunity to regain his status from 2016.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

https://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com

35. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints): Willie Snead has found success early in his career in the NFL. Snead has eclipsed 850 yards and 65 receptions in both of his seasons in the NFL so far. Playing with elite quarterback Drew Brees, Snead was the number 2/3 wide receiver for the Saints but now things have changed.

Brandin Cooks is gone but the emergence of Michael Thomas has put Snead as the No. 2 receiver. Snead won’t flash anything special in terms of efficiency and production, but one thing he is, is reliable. His reliability is what makes him so intriguing, as he’s a lock to gain 900 yards and five touchdowns. Take him as a No. 2 receiver or flex and love the numbers.

34. Desean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Another old face in a new place. Desean Jackson almost played a full season last year and was as explosive as ever. Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for Kirk Cousins and has the opportunity to be even better this year.

Most likely lining up in the slot and returning punts, Jackson has big play ability written all over him. Playing with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston, the new look Bucs have a high-powered offense and a lot of potential.

When healthy, Jackson can put up big yardage, but the only issue with him is he won’t have the touchdowns that the stud wide outs will have.

33. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in a good situation with the New York Giants. He is the No. 2 wide receiver behind the top tier, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.

Last season didn’t go as planned for Brandon Marshall but he’s a big bodied, reliable receiver with something left in the tank. The Giants pass on 62 percent of their plays and Marshall has the opportunity as the No. 2 receiver to see tons of targets and big plays in the red zone. The Giants weren’t great in the red zone last season, as they were successful on 51 percent of their plays, but Marshall will help in that category. Expect double digit touchdowns from Marshall this year.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.giants.clubs.nfl.com

32. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers): Everyone is down on Kelvin Benjamin this season and I don’t know why. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL, and didn’t quite rebound like everyone thought he would. He still had 941 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were only slightly worse than his impressive 2014 rookie campaign. Keep in mind that the entire Panthers offense was out of sync last season.

Now the revamped offensive line and a healthy Cam Newton makes KB an intriguing fantasy player this year. Still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, Kelvin is a monster and has the opportunity to be a stud this year.

31. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Diggs broke out as the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota last season. He had 903 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Stefon Diggs ranked in the top 15 players in the league in terms of receptions with 84 and fantasy points per game with 13.

The Vikings did a lot to revamp their offense by bolstering the offensive line and adding rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Vikings this season, as he recovers form his a knee injury. Diggs won’t have double digit touchdowns due to a lack of looks in the red zone, but 1,000 yards is very possible as he is a clear WR2.

 

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Is Dez Bryant a top fantasy option?

Dez Bryant has struggled with injuries and in-season battles in the past two years. Bryant was once a top five receiver in fantasy. From 2012-14, he finished in the top five in fantasy points in the receiver group. But with struggles with injuries and a transition to a new Dallas offense and quarterback, will Bryant return to being the elite fantasy player that he was early in his career?

Throw up the X: 2011-14

After his rookie season, Bryant came to life. In 2011, Bryant became a top option for Tony Romo behind Jason Witten. He finished with 63 receptions, 928 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished in the top 20 that year in fantasy for receivers.

The following season, Bryant broke onto the scene. He had his first season over 1,000 yards and had over 90 receptions and double digits in touchdowns. He finished in the top 10 in receptions (92), yards (1,382) and receiving yards per game (86.4). His 12 touchdowns were top-three. Bryant finished third in fantasy that season.

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant and Tony Romo (Photo by: zimbio.com)

In 2013, he had another solid season. He saw his targets spike from 138 to 160. He finished in the top five in fantasy again under receivers and his 93 receptions ranked eighth. His 13 touchdowns again ranked third.

Bryant did see a small decline in receiving yards with 1,233 and his receiving yards per game (77.1) that both ranked outside the top 10.

However, Bryant did perform in the top two inside the 10-yard line of the red zone. He led the league in targets (16), receptions (11) and touchdowns (9). He finished second in yards (38) and target percentage (43.2).

Bryant developed into a red zone weapon and also ranked in the top 10 in receptions (13) and target percentage (29.9) inside the 20-yard line. He was also second in touchdowns with 10 inside the 20.

2014 was probably Bryant’s best fantasy season to date. He finished third in fantasy points among receivers, his third top five finish in a row. He led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16. Bryant also improved his receiving yards (1,320) and receiving yards per game (82.5), which ranked eighth and 10th respectively.

He did have less receptions (88) but averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game, a career-best that season which ranked third. He also had his best PPR fantasy points per game at 19.8. Bryant also doubled his catches of 20-plus yards with 22 that ranked fifth in 2014.

In those four seasons, Bryant totaled 4,863 yards and 50 touchdowns. During that time, just Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green had more yards than he did. His touchdowns were the most during that timeframe, and no other receiver had more than 43 touchdowns.

Injuries and quarterback issues: 2015-16

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant (Photo by: whatthebuc.net)

Before the season, Bryant resigned with the Cowboys on a five-year, $70 million contract that included $45 million of guaranteed money and a $20 million signing bonus.

In a game against the Giants on Sep. 13, 2015, Bryant had a foot injury. The x-ray revealed a fracture in the foot that required surgery. He returned in week eight and struggled, getting two receptions for 12 yards.

In a season in which he struggled with health issues, he caught 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Before the injury, part of Bryant’s success was having Tony Romo as the quarterback. They only played three games together in 2015 as Romo had a back injury.

Bryant played with two other quarterbacks (Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore) that season. All of his three touchdowns came from a different quarterback. On Jan. 6, 2016, he underwent foot and ankle surgeries.

In 2016, his favorite quarterback in the preseason went down with another back injury and rookie Dak Prescott became the starter. It proved again that Bryant missed Romo as the quarterback as he and Prescott only connected on 16 of their first 41 targets in their first five games together.

This led to inconsistent fantasy numbers, as Bryant had just three games with 10 or more points, but two games with less than two points. He also missed three games with a knee injury. However, removing week 17 where they played only one series, Bryant and Prescott came to life.

In the final eight games including the playoffs, Bryant had 66 targets, 43 receptions, 646 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a 65.2 percent completion rate. It seemed that Bryant came back to being the receiver he once was.

2017 outlook

Dez Bryant fantasy value

Dez Bryant (Photo by: sbnation.com)

In 2017, there is some concern regarding Bryant. Besides adding no receiver help to complement him, Bryant will face Janoris Jenkins twice, Josh Norman twice, Aqib Talib/Chris Harris Jr., Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters, Desmond Trufant, Jason Verrett/Casey Hayward and Richard Sherman.

In the two matchups with the Giants last year, he was held to just two catches for 18 yards on 14 targets and fumbled once that clinched the Giants win in the second meeting.

The last time he played against Sherman, he totaled just two catches for 12 yards on six targets.

And expect Norman to shadow Bryant this year after not doing so in 2016. In the first three games for Bryant, he plays the Giants at home and then goes to Denver and Arizona on the road. We could see again early season struggles for him.

He has missed 22 games in two seasons. He is also in a run-heavy offense with a great offensive line and a premier running back. The defense in Dallas hasn’t improved, especially in the backfield which could lead to Prescott throwing the ball more if they have to play catch up. That would benefit Bryant but the game plan will be to run the ball to protect Prescott.

But how good will Prescott be if he has to throw to win? That’s a question for another article.

Bryant is a top-10 fantasy receiver that should be drafted somewhere in the third round. Be cautious with his durability, and Prescott worries me this year as he is my top bust for quarterbacks. In some leagues he will be a top receiver for most teams, but he’s a high-end WR2 with a ceiling as a middling WR1.

 

Featured image from reddit.com

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 50-41

I’m continuing my rankings with the top 50 fantasy wide receivers for the upcoming season. Here’s the first list 2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 50-41.

 

50. Rishard Matthews (Tennessee Titans)- Rishard Matthews was quietly a solid option for fantasy last season. He had 950 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and was ranked the No. 15 ranked receiver in standard leagues.

Matthews really kicked it into gear in the second half of the season. His targets per game increased from 4.9 to 8.0 during the second half of the season and became a reliable play in most fantasy leagues. It is unlikely that he’s going to put up similar numbers to last year with the additions of Corey Davis and Eric Decker, however he is a nice late round target.

fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 50-41

https://cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/35/files/2016/10/9612339-rishard-matthews-nfl-cleveland-browns-tennessee-titans-850×560.jpg

49. Tyrell Williams (Los Angeles Chargers)- Talk about a break out year for Tyrell Williams. At the beginning of the season, he was fighting for the No, 3 wide receiver spot on the team, but by the end of the year he had 1,059 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns.

He’s a reliable pass catcher, as he only dropped five percent of the balls that came his way, and was one of the most productive receivers in the league last year after the catch. He had 439 yards after the catch, which was good enough for eighth best in the league last year.

I’d like to put Williams higher on this list, but because of the Chargers getting Keenan Allen back, and the addition of Mike Williams, he’s no more than a late round pick.

48. Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions)- Marvin Jones was nothing more than mediocre last year. He had his big moments early on in the season but after that he was nothing special. Jones started off the season strong putting up 83 fantasy points in the first seven games, but after that he had a mere 27 fantasy points in the last nine matchups. H

e wasn’t great in terms of efficiency or production, but the reason he cracks the top fifty is because of his opportunities. Last season, he ranked 10th in team pass plays and 11th in terms of how often he was on the field. We’ve seen that he has the ability to put up big numbers, so take him as a late round sleeper.

47. John Brown (Arizona Cardinals)- John Brown was a fantasy disaster last season. He only had 39 receptions due to illness and when he was on the field, he didn’t produce like he did in 2015. After having 1,003 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, things were looking good for John Brown in the NFL. The speedy receiver had a 64 percent catch rate and averaged 67 yards per game. He had a poor 2016 but don’t let that deter you from drafting him in fantasy this year, as he’s a strong bounce back candidate.

fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 50-41

https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/b4d18ab1702eed52d60bd7dfa9c8ab0a60e505e5/c=72-0-3079-2261&r=x513&c=680×510/local/-/media/Phoenix/None/2014/10/27/635500162067407390-awinners01.jpg

46. Corey Coleman (Cleveland Browns)- Limited by injuries in his rookie year, Corey Coleman showed promise but didn’t put up big numbers. Coleman had 414 receiving yards and three touchdowns with the poor quarterback situation in Cleveland.

However, there’s still hope for Coleman. He has a high ceiling and tons of talent, plus the opportunities will be there this year. With the departure of Terrelle Pryor, and the only notable acquisition at wide receiver being Kenny Britt, Coleman should see tons of targets and enjoy a nice sophomore year.

45. Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles)- Playing in 14 games last season, Jordan Matthews had 804 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He has been a nice option for fantasy teams but hasn’t broken out in the way everyone has hoped he would.

He isn’t the most efficient receiver but does rank in the top half of the league in terms of productivity. Matthews ranked 24th in receptions with 73 and ranked 46th in yards after the catch with 235.

With the addition of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, don’t expect much more next season from Jordan Matthews.

fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 50-41

Corey Davis (Photo by: titansonline.com)

44. Corey Davis (Tennessee Titans)- The Titans have put together a nice receiving core for the 2017 season. Corey Davis is by far my favorite rookie receiver and here’s why: He’s the second receiver on a high-powered offense, he’s working with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and that quarterback has never thrown an interception in the red zone in the NFL.

Standing at 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, Davis has a great shot to get some red zone looks this season. Expect a solid rookie year from Corey Davis.

43. Mike Wallace (Baltimore Ravens)- Mike Wallace had a great 2016 season. Wallace had 1,017 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He is one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top 26 in receptions, receiving yards and yards after catch.

Mike Wallace was the No. 1 ranked receiver in terms of team pass plays. There are signs of regression for Mike Wallace however. The Ravens recently signed Danny Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin who are candidates to take targets from Wallace this year.

42. Cameron Meredith (Chicago Bears)- Cameron Meredith had a nice 2016 season. He had 888 receiving yards and four touchdowns for the Bears and fans can expect more of that this year. With the departure of Alshon Jeffrey, Meredith has a chance to go into the season as the lead receiver for Chicago.

He was one of the most efficient wide receivers last season ranking 22nd in catch rate and 12th in yards per target. Overall, Meredith is a great receiver for the Bears, and more is expected for him next season.

41. Kenny Britt (Cleveland Browns)- Kenny Britt finally had a 1,000-yard receiving season. After being drafted in 2009, this is his first season with 1,000 yards and it made me excited for his production next year, until he joined the Browns. Making the decision to go to Cleveland didn’t help Britt’s status for the upcoming season.

It is a shame because he was a very productive receiver for the Rams last season. He was 23rd in receiving yards, 31st in receptions and 29th in yards after the catch with 303. I’m not saying Britt is going to just fall off the map completely, but he has the ability to put up big numbers, its just a matter of who’s throwing him the ball.

 

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2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 10-1

Here it is, the final list of my running back rankings. This list mainly consists of first round and early second round picks that will be the backbone of your fantasy football team this year. Here it is, 2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 10-1.

 

10. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams): Todd Gurley is the perfect example of a sophomore slump. The touches are still there for Gurley, as he averaged 17.4 attempts per game last year. He ranked fifth in carries and 12th in targets but the Rams offense just fell apart. He rushed for 885 yards on a terrible 3.2 yards per attempt.

The main reason for Gurley’s disappointing season is the poor play at quarterback for the Rams. If Jared Goff can be more successful and have a much better second year, he can take the pressure off of Gurley. The Rams did bolster their offensive line by adding tackle Andrew Whitworth. If Goff plays better and the offensive line holds up this season, we can expect a bounce back season for Gurley.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/todd-gurley-wins-offensive-rookie-of-the-year-has-message-for-rams-fans/)

9. Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins): Jay Ajayi broke out in a big way in 2016. Ajayi became the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in three games in a season. Ajayi found himself to be one of the most efficient backs last season, ranking third in yards after contact with 484 yards and sixth in yards after contact per touch with 1.7.

With the addition of Julius Thomas, the Dolphins could be in line for more of a passing offense in 2017, especially with Thomas’ poor blocking ability. But along with the addition of Thomas, the Dolphins added a high end blocker in Anthony Fasano. The Dolphins offense is in its prime right now and Ajayi is a prime piece in the offense, expect another good season from him.

8. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons): The other half of the two-headed monster in Atlanta has made his appearance on this list. Devonta Freeman has been very consistent over the past two years with 11 rushing touchdowns and at least 1,000 yards.

We did see Freeman’s rushing touches decrease last year, with 40 less attempts and 20 less receptions than he had in 2015. Freeman still had 462 receiving yards and two touchdowns last year. He is also a top ten running back in terms of efficiency, as he ranked eighth in yards after contact.

The only concern with Freeman is how the Falcons use Tevin Coleman. Coleman is the most important backup running back in football and he can put up flex/RB2 numbers any week. Draft Freeman and expect a nice season, just handcuff Coleman if you do.

fantasy football running back rankings

DeMarco Murray’s time in Philly came to an accelerated ending after tensions arose in 2015. (Photo by Philly Influencer)

7. Demarco Murray (Tennessee Titans): Murray returned to RB1 status in 2016. In his first year in Tennessee, he rushed for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns. The Titans elite offensive line helped him out as the smashmouth approach worked well for the Titans last season.

Murray found little competition from Derrick Henry last season, as he ranked third in snap share and sixth in the league for total team running back touches. Draft Murray as a late first or early second round pick this year.

6. Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears): People don’t realize that last season, Jordan Howard was the second-best rusher in the NFL. He rushed for 1,313 yards, only second to Ezekiel Elliot last season. He is the focal point of the Bears offense now that Alshon Jeffery is gone.

The only problem with Howard is his lack of touchdowns. Chicago ranked 23rd in the NFL in red zone scoring (touchdowns only) by scoring touchdowns on 51% of their opportunities last season. Howard may see an increase in his receiving yards this season in his first full season as the lead back, but definitely expect another great rushing season for him in Chicago.

5. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers): Melvin Gordon found success in his second season in the NFL. He was three yards away from 1,000 yards while only playing in 13 games. He hasn’t played a full season in the NFL yet, missing three games last season and two the year before, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him.

With the departure of Danny Woodhead, Gordon should see an increase in his role as a passing back and he can develop into a full-time three down back this year. The thing that is very intriguing about Gordon is his touchdowns. Last season he had ten touchdowns in 13 games and that number should increase if he plays a full season.

4. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills): McCoy had a bounce back year with the Bills last season, finishing the season as the No. 3 ranked running back. He rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Bills rushing attack falls on McCoy’s back now that they didn’t match the offer sheet for Mike Gillislee and he should have an ample amount of carries this upcoming season.

The problem with McCoy is that the Bills spent their offseason acquiring Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco. They have the ability to take many goalline touches from McCoy. McCoy should be a first round pick this season, with the rushing yards continuing to be there but a decrease in touchdowns.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/12514/lesean-mccoy)

3. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys): The rookie phenomenon proved he was the real deal in 2016. Elliott had 1,631 yards (first in the NFL) and 15 touchdowns last season. Elliott tore up opposing defenses last year and he should do the same this upcoming season.

Not only was he the No. 1 running back in terms of rushing yards and carries, he was also one of the most efficient backs. He ranked second in breakaway runs and third in evaded tackles, while finishing the season as the fourth-best running back in terms of yards after contact. Zeke shouldn’t fall past the third pick in any draft this year.

2. David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals): If you had David Johnson on your fantasy team last year, congratulations. DJ was insanely effective in the passing game and as a runner, rushing for 1,239 yards and twelve touchdowns and 879 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He is the definition of a dual-threat back.

He was the most productive back in the receiving game, as he was ranked first in receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns among running backs. David Johnson is the center of the Cardinals offense and should enjoy another amazing season as the first or second pick in fantasy this year.

1. Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)- Bell’s running style of cuts and hesitation running has found immediate success in the NFL. Last season, he had 1,268 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He is key on the Steelers high-powered offense and should continue to see 20+ touches a game. He missed four games last season and still finished as the number four fantasy running back.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/15825/leveon-bell)

Not only is he used as a rusher, but he is used immensely in the passing game for Big Ben. He had 75 receptions for 616 yards and two touchdowns last season and there’s no indication that those numbers should decrease.

The problem with Bell is his injuries and off the field antics. Last season he was kept out of the first three games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and he’s gone through multiple major knee injuries in his career. If he can stay on the field, and not have any problems off of it, he can be the No. 1 ranked running back in fantasy next year, and that’s exactly where he should be drafted.

 

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Top 5 Kickers in Fantasy

Top five kickers in fantasy football

When it comes to fantasy football, the one position that gets no recognition is the kicker. They just kick extra points and field goals to the common player. But just because they’re the pink label at your draft party doesn’t mean they can’t be a big component of your team.

There will be a time you need that one point to win a championship and it comes down to a kicker either you have or are playing against. Kickers can at times make or break your fantasy team, so don’t overlook them.

Here are the top five kickers for fantasy football in 2017.

No.5 Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints

Lutz had a successful rookie year in 2016. He had the fifth-most points thanks in part to his 98.0 percent accuracy on 50 PAT attempts. He was one of only two kickers with that many behind Matt Bryant.

He went on to post seven top-10 fantasy weeks and finished seventh at the position in fantasy points. Lutz made 28 of his 34 field goals (82.4 percent) that ranked 12th in field goals made and attempted. His situation in New Orleans is a good fit due to a good offense for him to get plenty of opportunities.

The Saints rank 31st in attempts in the past decade (278) but Lutz will be effective when his name is called. It’s possible the 23-year-old’s effectiveness improves in his second season.

No.4 Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots

top 5 NFL kickers

Stephen Gostkowski (Photo by: patriots.com)

Even though he had a disappointing 2016 season, I still like Stephen Gostkowski and rank him fourth on my list. Gostkowski had five straight seasons as a top-three fantasy kicker, including number one in each of the previous three years.

In 2016, Gostkowski fell to eighth in fantasy scoring. He converted 84.4 percent of his field goal attempts, which was his worst mark since 2012, and missed three extra point attempts. His 32 attempts were his lowest mark since 2010.

But Gostkowski still had at least over 50 percent when he attempted a field goal from each distance. The real reason why Gostkowski is still a reliable kicker is because of the team is playing for which has one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Gostkowski is still a quality kicker and expected to see more opportunities in 2017 as the Patriots rank third in the NFL with 336 field goal attempts during the past decade. Expect Gostkowski to bounce back.

No.3 Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys

Bailey converted only 27 (or 84.4 percent) of 32 field goal attempts last season, but his career mark of 89.5 percent is second-best all time behind only Justin Tucker.

Two of his five misses were in outside stadiums and not in dome stadiums where he is most comfortable. Three of his misses also came from 50-plus yards. He did have a career-low from 40-49 yards at 77.8 percent where he has done better than 83.3 percent in his first five seasons.

Bailey finished 10th at the position last year and has finished no lower than 11th since entering the league in 2011. Bailey is one of two kickers who haven’t missed an extra point attempt during the past two seasons. The high efficiency has led to a lot of fantasy success. The Cowboys offense should allow him plenty of opportunities.

No.2 Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons

top 5 NFL kickers

Matt Bryant (Photo by: http://atlantafalcons.blog.ajc.com)

It doesn’t matter how old you are if you’re Matt Bryant. The 42-year-old led all fantasy kickers in points with 176 points last season. Bryant has finished as a top-five fantasy kicker in four of the past seven years and posted a top-10 fantasy week 13 times last season, which was four more than the next-closest kicker. With Atlanta’s terrific offense, he converted an NFL-high 56 of his 57 extra point attempts.

Bryant is getting older but he still can hit his marks. He made 34 of 37 field goal attempts (91.9 percent) last season. One concerning stat from last year is besides attempts from 20-29 yards, he didn’t attempt over 10 field goals in each yard category. However, he made over 75 percent when attempting his field goals. He will still get his chances and be a top-5 kicker at the end of the season.

No.1 Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Justin Tucker ranks number one on my list and has every right to be. He was ridiculous last year. He missed one field goal all season and the one he missed was blocked. Bryant was a perfect 14 for 14 from 40-49 yards and 10 of 10 from 50-plus yards. No other kicker last year was perfect from 50-plus yards.

Tucker’s career 89.8 percent field goal conversion rate is the best of all time, and he has connected on all 56 extra point attempts since the league moved the ball to the 15-yard line in 2015.

The Baltimore Ravens have been reliable with their kicker as they have attempted an NFL-high 352 field goals during the past decade. He’s your best bet at the position as he was second in total points last year in standard scoring with 174 fantasy points and has finished no lower than 11th since he entered the league in 2012.

 

Featured image from ftw.usatoday.com.

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NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

This list of running backs fall in the low end RB1 category and the solid RB2 category. These are some of the running backs that can make your season if they breakout and make their way into the top ten. Here you go, the 2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11.

20. Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers): Montgomery switched from wide receiver to running back last season and found immediate success. Averaging 5.9 yards per carry, he also rushed for 457 yards. He is kind of like a Swiss army knife for the Packers because of how they still use him in the receiving game. Montgomery had 348 receiving yards last year while playing at both running back and receiver. Expect a bigger workload and continued success for Montgomery and the Packers this year.

19. Spencer Ware (Kansas City Chiefs): After the departure of Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware has the chance to lock up the number one running back position for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ware started last year after Charles went down with another knee injury, and he succeeded. He had at least 16 fantasy points in four games last season and had at least seven points in 11 games. Ware also averaged 2.9 yards after contact, which was good enough for seventh-best in the league last season. If he can fend off rookie Kareem Hunt, he’ll be a solid RB2.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

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18. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints): I had some trouble placing Mark Ingram on this list. He’s found success in a primarily passing offense, as the Saints passed on 63 percent of their plays last season. Now the Saints added former MVP Adrian Peterson and rookie running back Alvin Kamara.

Ingram will split running duties with Peterson and Kamara will get looks as well. The main reason Ingram is high on this list is because of he is used within the opposing 20-yard line. He scored five of his six touchdowns there and should continue to get the ball in the red zone.

17. Bilal Powell (New York Jets): Powell is in a prime position to be the lead back for the New York Jets this season. He will have to compete with Matt Forte in training camp and the starting spot isn’t guaranteed.

Last season, we saw Powell succeed as the number two running back in New York. He finished as the 23rd-best running back in standard leagues. In four of his last seven outings, he eclipsed 14 fantasy points.

What people don’t know is that he has quietly been the sixth-best running back in terms of receptions over the past two seasons. Powell is a great RB3 and a low end RB2 with tons of upside.

16. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers): The Stanford product finds himself in a perfect position to succeed immediately in the NFL. Everyone knows he has the skill to be a great player, and he gets to play alongside former MVP Cam Newton.

McCaffrey was an absolute beast at Stanford last year. He had over 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. The Panthers are going to use him to “create mismatches” for opposing defenses, and that is entirely possible. McCaffrey will line up out of the backfield or the slot and will get a lot of touches this season making him a good RB2 and an even better flex.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

(Courtesy of stanforddaily.com)

15. Lamar Miller (Houston Texans): Lamar Miller was a fantasy disappointment last year, plain and simple. He didn’t handle his increased workload as well as everyone hoped he would. His yards per attempt decreased from 4.5 to 4.0 from 2015 to 2016.

His work as a receiver wasn’t anything to brag about either. He had 16 less receptions and almost 200 less yards than the previous season. With the addition of Deshaun Watson, those numbers should be better in 2017.

The key to Miller’s success will be his offensive line. Ranked 29th in the NFL last season, if that group steps up, then Miller could be a top ten running back.

14. Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars): Former No. 1 recruit and All-American, Leonard Fournette is ready to make his mark on the NFL. Standing at 6-feet 240 pounds, Fournette is an absolute beast and his college film can back that up. Being this big, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t eclipse double digit touchdowns and get plenty of work in the red zone.

The Jaguars all but said they were going to commit to a power run scheme by drafting Fournette in the first and left tackle Cam Robinson in the second. Fournette would crack the top ten if it wasn’t for Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon being right behind him.

13. Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers): Carlos Hyde has the ability to be a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL. That’s if he can stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season since he entered the league in 2014, but when he plays he is effective. He ranked seventh in the NFL with 414 yards after contact and averaged 31.8 yards after contact per game. Recent reports have told us that he is looking slow and indecisive, so if you draft him make sure you handcuff Tim Hightower.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

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12. Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland Browns): Talk about a breakout year, Isaiah Crowell came into his own last season after rushing for 952 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Cleveland did a good job in the offseason of bolstering its offensive line, so expect those numbers to increase.

Two things that should be noted surrounding Crowell is the amount of garbage time running he gets and his goal line carries. Crowell had 591 of his yards when the Browns were trailing, which was most of the season. He is a good player when the Browns are losing but doesn’t get as many opportunities when they are ahead. Crowell is also wildly ineffective when in the redzone, averaging 1.6 yards per carry. Draft Crowell as a low RB1 and a good RB2.

11. Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Raiders): Beast Mode is back. Marshawn Lynch made the decision to come out of retirement this offseason and he is now a member of the Oakland Raiders and their high-powered offense. In 2014, Lynch had 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns and looked like he could play another ten years in the league. It wasn’t until the next season when Lynch hit the injury bug and people saw he was in fact human.

The Raiders had the sixth-best rushing attack last offseason and have the offensive line to help Lynch succeed this season. Their offensive line is currently ranked fourth in the NFL. With Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington also in the mix, Lynch should have ample rest opportunities and should be fresh the whole season. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect another 1,000-yard season and ten touchdowns for Marshawn Lynch.

 

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2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 30-21

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