The 2017 football season is almost upon us, and that means it is time to draft your fantasy football team for the year. This year looks to be just as exciting as years past have been, but that doesn’t mean that the competition is going to be any easier in your leagues. It also doesn’t mean that the same tactics that have worked for you in the past are going to work again this year. As you’re getting ready to draft your team, be sure to check out our reviews below. You want the best team possible early in the season regardless of how your league is scored, and our goal here is to help you out as much as we can.
And before you ask, this analysis takes both yearlong and daily fantasy sports leagues into account. Obviously, you will need to make adjustments if your player of choice goes before you can get to him in a yearlong league, which is why we’ve included more than one player at each position.
This information may even help you to draft a better roster when you’re putting together a team for DraftKings’ Perfect Lineup challenge. This free contest has a huge top prize of $1 Billion in the rare event that someone drafts a perfect daily fantasy team for Week 1 of the NFL season.
Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is the consensus number one quarterback in the NFL going into the season. He threw a league leading 40 TDs last year, and finished fourth in the NFL with 4,428 yards. Rodgers has a strong team of receivers backing him up this year, including first round pick Jordy Nelson. Rodgers is more of a second or third round pick in most yearlong leagues, but in DFS settings, he will likely be the most expensive choice at QB most weeks.
Tom Brady: Brady’s biggest drawback is that he’s another year older. He’s still every bit a top ranked quarterback, and in most settings, he’s ranked second overall behind Rodgers. Brady is likely to be drafted in Round 3 of most yearlong leagues, but if you can wait until Round 4, he’s suddenly a high value pick. Brady missed four games last season because of a suspension, but still threw 28 touchdowns and a total of 3,554 yards. His team struggled quite a bit last year at times, but Brady has been able to make average players post great stats. If you can get a deal on him, you will get a lot out of him.
Cam Newton: Newton might be ranked well below Rodgers and Brady on all of the cheat sheets, but in many league settings, he has a huge amount of potential. For one, he’s fast on his feet. He runs the ball often, and tends to have a lot more rushing TDs than other QBs as a result of this. In a league where rushing touchdowns count more than passing, Newton has a distinct advantage. If he’s not too expensive in these leagues, he’s a strong choice. He might have thrown 21 touchdowns fewer than league leader Rodgers did last year, but he has recorded almost double the rushing TDs in his six years as a pro than Rodgers has in his 12 years. That was even with last year being impacted by missed playing time. He will be a discounted pick in most DFS leagues, leading to a high value situation for many managers.
Antonio Brown: Brown is ranked number one in the NFL at WR going into the season. He had 1,284 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He didn’t lead in either of those categories, but he had a stronger combination of these than any other receiver in the NFL when it came to fantasy points. Brown was fifth in yards and tied for second in TDs. The Steelers have a pass heavy QB in Ben Roethlisberger, so he will continue to see a lot of throws coming his way.
Odell Beckham, Jr.: Beckham is ranked number two in the NFL going into the season. He had 10 TDs last year with 1,367 yards. Many experts believe that Beckham had a subpar season last year thanks to a poor performance from QB Eli Manning. If that’s true, then there’s a good chance that Beckham will be even better this year than he was last. And if that’s the case, then Beckham is going to be undervalued for the first couple weeks of the season. He’s still likely going to be a Round One pick in a yearlong league, but in DFS settings, his talent will not be reflected in his price tag.
Demaryius Thomas: Thomas is a sleeper pick this year. He had over 1,000 yards, but only 5 TDs. This will inevitably change given enough seasons. The issue with Thomas is that last year he split a lot of time as the top WR with teammate Emmanuel Sanders. Their statistics were almost identical. Thomas had the slightly higher yards per game number, which gives him the better value edge in this matchup. If you’re looking for a steal at the WR position, Thomas has the potential to add a lot of value for a little salary.
David Johnson: Johnson didn’t post impressive numbers when it came to yards last year, but he had the second highest number in the NFL when it came to TDs. The Cardinals look like they will be another powerhouse team this year, and Johnson will be leading that charge again. With his 15 TDs, and 1,239 yards rushing, Johnson is poised to have another fantastic fantasy season.
Le’Veon Bell: Bell is ranked second overall by most experts. He didn’t have strong numbers on a season long basis, but that was only because he played in just 12 games. He averaged over 100 yards per game last year, giving him a big edge over everyone but Ezekiel Elliott in the NFL. With Elliott being suspended for the first six games, Bell is potentially the best RB on paper going into the year.
Jay Ajayi: Ajayi was a surprise to most last year, and there’s a possibility that his outstanding performance was a fluke, but we don’t think that’s likely. Part of the reason for that is that the Miami Dolphins don’t really have anywhere to turn but to Ajayi at WR. He had 1,272 yards rushing for an average of over 84 yards per game, along with 8 TDs. That TD number is a bit low compared to what others did, but he ranked fourth overall with yards. Simple statistics says that this should even out over the course of time, especially if the Dolphins are able to improve their offensive line.
Regardless of how your league is formatted, you won’t be able to have all of the best players in the NFL included. Finding high value players is a must if you want to have an edge over your opponents—especially in a DFS league. If you’re going to be playing in the $1 Billion challenge at DraftKings, value plays will be the only way that you can get an edge. Value, plus a whole ton of luck, might make you a wealthy individual!