Ideal Fantasy Football Players to Target
A lot of fantasy football rankings and draft boards are being dissected as we’re in full tilt into draft season. I love mocks as much as anyone and also want to be in as many leagues as possible. However, the question becomes who do you target after the first two rounds? The third round is when some of the more casual owners might start letting their attention wander. Your first two picks are going to be your studs that you rely on. After that, you better hit on quite a few of your picks to make sure you have the depth to be able to win a championship.
I’m going to feature ten players I’m targeting in every draft. Instead of just giving you a list, I’m also going to try to predict their best and worst case scenario. It’s important that even when you love a player, you’re aware of their floor instead of just the ceiling. I’ll be the first one to admit that when I want to take a player, I can be blind to the floor. As Matt Harmon of NFL Network is always good at pointing out, it’s the range of outcomes that you have to be prepared for. The range of outcomes can be hard to predict, so each scenario isn’t an exact science. This list is going to be players with an ADP of 30 or later in a standard league.
Terrelle Pryor, WR
Average Draft Position: 3.05
2016 Stats – 77 receptions, 1,007 yards, 4 TDs
Best-Case Scenario – 80-90 receptions, 1,200-1,350 yards, 8-10 TDs
Worst-Case Scenario – 60-70 receptions, 800-1,000 yards, 4-6 TDs
It’s possible Cousins, and Pryor can’t get on the same page once real games start up. TE Jordan Reed could wind up playing 14 or so games and remains the main man inside the 20. Jamison Crowder enjoys a breakout season and keeps Pryor’s ceiling low. Sean McVay leaving for Los Angeles hurts the offense more than we realize and Washington struggles all season.
I lean more towards the best case scenario here, and even though Pryor does cost you a pretty penny, I don’t think you regret it. However, the concerns of a new offense and QB are real. I was targeting Jamison Crowder later and still will if Pryor is taken. Pryor is still my #1 target of the Washington skill position players.
Martavis Bryant, WR
Average Draft Position: 4.08
2016 Stats – Suspended for the season
Best-Case Scenario – 65-75 receptions, 1,100-1,300 yards, 12-14 TDs
This is certainly not a surprise for any person that has read anything I’ve put out this off-season, but I’m a big Bryant guy. The Pittsburgh offense desperately needs a field stretching #2 alongside Antonio Brown (did you watch Sammie Coates last year?) and Bryant has one of the best God-given skill sets in the NFL. Blessed with freakish speed and size, Bryant continues to have a nose for the end zone and just destroys defenses all season. Le’Veon Bell, Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Bryant combine for an other worldly season, and Bryant puts his troubled past behind him.
Worst-Case Scenario – 50-60 receptions, 800-950 yards, 6-8 TDs
The easiest worst case is Bryant is not fully reinstated. He still needs to be cleared by the NFL for the regular season as of this writing, and we’re pretty close to kickoff. I’m assuming that happens, so if he plays 16 games, he could be a very boom or bust player. Brown and Bell command a lot of touches in this offense, and Bryant is simply a deep threat. He could settle in as just a secondary option instead of a legitimate weapon. Big Ben could also fall victim to his very real struggles on the road, capping Bryant’s ceiling for half the season.
I personally don’t buy into the floor for Bryant. As I outlined in this article, the Steelers need a #2 and average right around 600 pass attempts a season the past three years. I have a tough time believing Bryant’s talent does not win out, as long as he stays on the field.
Sammy Watkins, WR
Average Draft Position: 5.06
2016 Stats – 28 receptions, 430 yards, 2 TDs
Best-Case Scenario – 75-85 receptions, 1,000 yards, 7-9 TDs
Watkins walks into Los Angeles and is the best WR on the roster. He will give QB Jared Goff his first legitimate WR1 in his young career. While the jury is out on Goff as an NFL level QB, the offense he was in in 2016 was a mess from a talent and coaching perspective. Goff and Watkins hit it off from Day One on a significantly improved offense. Watkins leads the re-vamped passing attack and is still an excellent WR2 for fantasy.
Worst-Case Scenario – 50-60 receptions, 700-850 yards, 4-6 TDs
If you didn’t know, offenses on the NFL level are complicated. It’s going to be a challenging transition to a new offense for Watkins with kick off to the regular season being so close. Goff isn’t quite ready for the NFL in Year 2, and Watkins struggles to pick up the new playbook. There’s also a large transition from offensive coordinator to head coach for McVay, and there’s a season of growing pains for the Rams.
I wasn’t going to include Watkins in this list, but the trade from Buffalo to the Los Angeles Rams forced my hand. While much of the perception surrounding Watkins had turned negative with the trade, I haven’t changed my expectation for Watkins much. I do think he’ll have a hard time hitting a top 10 ceiling that I thought he could in Buffalo. There’s a good chance his ADP will fall too far. I still believe in Sean McVay as an offensive mind and am actually excited to see what Goff and Watkins can do. Additionally, I’ll admit the floor for Watkins did drop even further with this trade.
Ameer Abdullah, RB
Average Draft Position: 5.08
2016 Stats – 18 carries, 101 yards, 0 TD / 5 receptions, 57 yards, 2 TDs
Best-Case Scenario – 200-220 carries, 900-1,100 yards, 6-8 TDs / 35-45 receptions, 250-400 yards, 2-4 TDs
Abdullah could wind up being the workhorse back in Detroit. Fellow RB Theo Riddick won’t be as involved in the passing game as he was in 2016 with Abdullah on the field. Despite some labeling him as injury prone, Abdullah only had one noted injury in college. The fear of Zach Zenner poaching Abdullah near the goal line proves to be just off-season worries. The Detroit offense is potent and Abdullah is one of the most important components and could be a poor man’s, Devonta Freeman.
Worst-Case Scenario – 150-175 carries, 600-800 yards, 3-5 TDs / 20-25 receptions, 125-200 yards, 1-2 TDs
If Abdullah stays on the field for 16 games, he could find himself in a highly annoying timeshare that will drive owners up a wall. Theo Riddick maintains his role in the passing game and hauls in around 70 receptions. Abdullah cedes goal line work to Zach Zenner and the Detroit offensive line struggles to create much running room. The addition of WR Kenny Golladay and the ascension of TE Eric Ebron also help cap what Abdullah contributes in 2017.
Abdullah is currently outside the top 25 among running backs via ADP, and Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin is one spot ahead of him. I am taking Abdullah ahead of a player I know will miss three games(at minimum) every single time. I think the Detroit offense could be excellent for fantasy this season and I’ll take the chance on Abdullah’s talent. He does have to keep other backs at bay to hit his ceiling.
Jimmy Graham, TE
Average Draft Position: 5.08
2016 Stats – 65 receptions, 923 yards, 6 TDs
Best-Case Scenario – 75-85 receptions, 1,100-1,200 yards, 7-9 TDs
Graham came off of a horrific knee injury in 2016 and still threatened for a 1,000-yard season. Graham himself has highlighted how he feels going into 2017.
The Seattle offense will continue to evolve to more of a passing offense and put more into the hands of Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson. Breakout candidate Paul Richardson has an AC joint injury, and that will hold him back this upcoming year. Doug Baldwin and Graham will dominate the passing game with Graham approaching his glory days in New Orleans.
Worst-Case Scenario – 45-55 receptions, 700-850 yards, 4-6 TDs
Seattle returns to their bread and butter – leaning on the defense, running the football and the occasional big play from Russell Wilson. Their offensive line still has major concerns so the Seahawks do all they can to make sure Wilson gets through a season healthy. The three-headed monster of C.J. Prosise, Eddie Lacy, and Thomas Rawls rule the season for Seattle. Leaving Graham as a frustrating week to week option.
I love taking Graham because he doesn’t require the same draft capital as Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed. Old reliable, Greg Olsen now has more competition for targets with the addition of Christian McCaffrey and a healthier Kelvin Benjamin. Meanwhile, Graham finished as the TE4 in both standard and PPR formats in 2016. As my colleague Phil Clark lays out in his great article, Graham and Tyler Eifert are both in the running for that next tier of TE after the big guns. I very much agree with Phil, and I’ll happily snap up Graham whenever I can.
Terrance West, RB
Average Draft Position: 7.08
2016 Stats – 193 carries, 774 yards, 5 TDs / 34 receptions, 293 yards, 1 TD
Best Case Scenario – 230-250 carries, 1,000-1,100 yards, 7-9 TDs / 25-35 receptions, 250-350 yards, 2 TDs
The Ravens are already in injury trouble with QB Joe Flacco most likely missing all of the pre-season with a back injury. They’ve lost TE Dennis Pitta and RB Kenneth Dixon to injury, clearing the run game for West to be the main component. While RB Danny Woodhead keeps his receptions low even if things go right, Baltimore is going to run the ball more. They have led the NFL in pass attempts for the past two seasons, and it hasn’t worked out very well. West is only 25 years old and will continue his career renaissance.
Worst-Case Scenario – 175-190 carries, 650-850 yards, 4-6 TDs / 10-15 receptions, 125-150 yards, 0 TDs
The worst case could be Danny Woodhead staying healthy and just flat out being the best back on the roster. This would severely cap what West could bring to your fantasy team. Buck Allen is still lurking and could be could be the goal line hammer. Newly acquired WR Jeremy Maclin meshes with WR Mike Wallace to form a formidable 1-2 passing combo. West becomes just a guy as the Ravens offense evolves without him.
Many analysts are quick to cite how many times the Ravens have thrown the ball the last two seasons. I don’t think we’ll see a third of that type of volume. After all, former offensive coordinator Marc Trestman was let go after the Ravens lost a game to Washington last season. What’s notable is Baltimore ran the ball 11 times for 74 yards in the first quarter. They only rushed the ball eight times after that and Trestman was let go. I believe current offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will bring a more balanced approach in 2017. West is currently in a battle with Rob Kelley as the cheapest starting back via ADP in fantasy football.
Tyrell Williams, WR
Average Draft Position: 8.12
2016 Stats – 69 receptions, 1,059 yards, 7 TDs
Best Case Scenario – 80-90 receptions, 1,000-1,150 yards, 7-9 TDs
Only 23 WRs in football eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2016. Of those 23, only two players hit this mark with fewer than 69 receptions (Kenny Britt, DeSean Jackson). Williams proves he was no fluke as he enjoys his second straight 1,000 yard season and may even find the end zone a few more times. His best-case scenario may not look a ton different than his breakout 2016. That really isn’t an issue, as he is going as the WR41 in drafts currently. He finished as a top 18 WR in both standard and PPR last year. A repeat of 2016 will provide monster value versus his ADP.
Worst-Case Scenario – 50-60 receptions, 600-800 yards, 3-5 TDs
It’s possible Williams was just the beneficiary of not having the best competition for targets. Keenan Allen walks back onto the field and doesn’t miss a beat and hogs targets. WR Travis Benjamin turns into the superior deep threat that the Chargers envisioned when they signed him. Williams will be hard-pressed to see looks in the red zone with TEs Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry doing their thing. RB Melvin Gordon maintains his heavy passing game presence. All of these factors destroy any upside Williams possesses.
Critics will point out that Keenan Allen missed the entire season. That’s fair, but that thrust a 24-year-old Williams into a role he was almost certainly not prepared for- the #1 receiver for the Chargers. Williams proved he doesn’t have to be a target hog to be a dynamic weapon. Having Keenan Allen back to full health should do nothing but help Williams. Rookie WR Mike Williams is fighting a back injury and shouldn’t have much effect this season. Williams is the number two wideout for Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
Duke Johnson, RB
Average Draft Position: 11.06 | PPR 8.12
2016 Stats – 73 carries, 358 yards, 1 TD / 53 receptions, 514 yards, 0 TD
Best-Case Scenario – 100-150 carries, 600-700 yards, 3-4 TDs / 80 receptions, 750-850 yards, 3-4 TDs
With fellow RB Isaiah Crowell getting almost all the attention in the Cleveland backfield, Johnson is being under-drafted. Cleveland is showing that they have no problem having both backs on the field at the same time. Johnson is lining up on the outside, which is a noteworthy development.
This is much different than just targeting a back out of the backfield or in the slot. Johnson capitalizes on his athleticism in 2017 and puts up legitimate WR3 numbers for fantasy.The rushing production he brings will just be icing on the cake. Cleveland needs any weapon they can get this year and Johnson delivers.
Worst-Case Scenario – 70-80 carries, 250-350 yards, 1-2 TDs / 40-50 receptions, 350-450 yards, 1-2 TDs
All the pre-season noise about Johnson being used heavily as a WR is just that, noise. Crowell has a monster year as Coach Hue Jackson commits fully to the run to try and keep Cleveland competitive. WRs Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt dominate the target share. TEs David Njoku and Seth DeValve become the safety blankets of whoever is the QB for the Browns. Johnson remains interesting without being fully utilized.
Average Draft Position: 13.12
2016 Stats – 364/597 for 4,233 yards, 26 TDs, and 14 INTS
Best-Case Scenario – 362/595 for 4,500-4,700 yards, 30-32 TDs and 8-10 INTs
Palmer saw a dip in production in 2016, after a career season in 2015. Coach Bruce Arians is one of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL and Palmer will benefit from it, once again. Palmer, Arians, and WR Larry Fitzgerald are all coming to the end of their respective careers. The sense of urgency takes over and Palmer lets it fly. Yardage really shouldn’t be a question for Palmer is this offense.
The touchdowns come back to the 30 range and Palmer once again will be a top 10 option at QB.
Worst Case Scenario – 323/501 for 3,900-4,100 yards, 25-27 TDs, and 13-15 INTs
The Cardinals continue to ride RB David Johnson and transition the offense to less high-flying and more ground and pound. They’ll lean on their excellent defense in addition to having Palmer pick his spots a bit more. Arians had some startling criticism of his wide receivers recently
Some will just brush it off as coach speak. Most of the time I would agree, but Arians is a different breed. He says exactly what he means to say at that moment. He’s a smart coach and will know the best way to win games and try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring as a head coach, runs through Johnson, not Palmer.
There are legitimate concerns with Palmer, but his ADP protects you against any struggles. He’s the QB20, and he’s the last starting quality QB who’s being drafted. I do think the Cardinals offense will see a small shift in philosophy this year. That also doesn’t mean Palmer can’t find a way to be an excellent fantasy QB. He’s the poster child for waiting on QB in your draft.
Average Draft Position: 14.05
2016 Stats – 103 carries, 596 yards, 9 TDs / 40 receptions, 492 yards, 4 TDs (College)
Best Case Scenario – 75-100 carries, 350-450 yards, 2-4 TDs / 55-65 receptions, 600-700 yards, 3-5 TDs
New Orleans traded up in the draft to get Kamara for a reason. They brought Adrian Peterson in to be an early down runner to mix in with Mark Ingram and Kamara will be the main passing down back. The natural comparison is the “Darren Sproles role, ” but that’s not an entirely fair comparison.
Kamara is an electric playmaker in one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Saints will help ease the loss of WR Brandin Cooks by using Kamara to move the chains. QB Drew Brees will pepper Kamara with easy targets, and he’ll make the most of them.
Worst Case Scenario – 50-75 carries, 250-350 yards, 1-2 TDs / 30-40 receptions, 250-350 yards, 1-2 TDs
Adrian Peterson reclaims his past glory and has one more Pro Bowl level season. Mark Ingram takes most of the passing down work, and those two backs combine for almost all of the running back touches. Kamara is a rookie in a complex offense and a steep learning curve. He becomes one of many late-round fliers that fizzle out early as far as contributing for the 2017 season.
Provided Kamara sees the field; he should have an excellent season. He’s a talented back who’s strengths mesh very well with what the Saints want to accomplish. What surprises me most is his ADP is lower in PPR than standard. He should provide much more value in PPR, although I look for him in any format. He could wind up as a league winning type pick if things break right for him.
These are my ten targets in every draft! Keep an eye out for ten players I’m avoiding in the coming days and let me know what players you’re taking every time you draft.
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