The 2017 fantasy football season is officially in the books, and was it ever a crazy one! Let's review the 2017 season, hand out some end of season awards, and get a sneak peek into what we can expect to see next year in fantasy football.
For some, 2017 was a year to forget as injuries piled up throughout the year. Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Tyler Eifert, Dalvin Cook, Allen Robinson; the list goes on. The injury bug wasn't the only thing that hurt fantasy owners in 2017. Despite scoring 7 touchdowns on the year, Amari Cooper finished lower in fantasy points (158.4) than Ted Ginn Jr. (159.6). Julio Jones scored only 3(!) touchdowns in 16 games, compared to Chris Hogan who caught 5 touchdowns, and he didn't even play in 7 games this season. Carson Wentz threw the second-most touchdowns this season (33) despite missing 3 full games. Cam Newton scored more rushing touchdowns (6) than Isaiah Crowell (2) and LeGarrette Blount (2) combined, a year removed from the pair scoring 25 touchdowns between them both.
Last season, the top fantasy scorers were comprised of quarterbacks and running backs - the first ranked wide receiver was 32nd overall with 200.0 fantasy points. In 2017, the 5th (Antonio Brown) and 6th (DeAndre Hopkins) ranked overall players finished with 310.3 and 309.8 fantasy points respectively. Of the top 32 fantasy scorers, this year there were 9 wide receivers, compared to 1 just a year ago. Teams are passing the ball more than ever, making more fantasy wide receivers viable later on in drafts.
2017 Fantasy Awards
Most Valuable Player
Todd Gurley, RB (Los Angeles Rams)
The clear-cut MVP on the fantasy season is none other than Todd Gurley who single-handedly carried owners to a fantasy championship, averaging 47.3 fantasy points during the semi-final and final matchups. On the season, Gurley finished as the number one ranked player in all of fantasy, scoring 19 total touchdowns, accumulating 2,093 all-purpose yards, and finished the year with 383.3 fantasy points.
Jay Ajayi, RB (Miami Dolphins/Philadelphia Eagles)
The choice for Biggest Bust on the year belongs to Jay Ajayi who gifted owners with having to sit him for 2 bye weeks due to a mid-season trade to the Philadelphia Eagles. Ajayi didn't score his first touchdown of the season until week 9, only to return to a drought until week 16 where he had 1 receiving touchdown. Ajayi's touches were cut in half thanks to a four-headed committee in Philly and drove owners crazy. Ajayi finished the year with 1,031 all-purpose yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 fumbles, and finished the year as RB36 - not the year that those drafting him on average at 1.11 (7th RB selected) were hoping for.
Honorable Mention: Amari Cooper, Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pryor
Rookie of the Year
Alvin Kamara, RB (New Orleans Saints)
While Alvin Kamara could have taken home quite a few awards from the fantasy season, he has appropriately been chosen as the Rookie of the Year. Kamara was an absolute monster this season and didn't need many touches to get it done. He averaged 7.5 carries and 5 receptions per game yet averaged 20.03 fantasy points per week. Kamara finished the season with 1,552 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns, and finished as the third-ranked running back with 320.4 fantasy points, trailing only Todd Gurley (383.3) and Le'Veon Bell (341.6).
Honorable Mention: Kareem Hunt
Best Value on Draft Day
Adam Thielen, WR (Minnesota Vikings)
Looking back over the past year, one of the best values based on our ADP data was Adam Thielen who was drafted as early as 8.08 and as late as 12.04. Despite only scoring 4 touchdowns on the year, Thielen hauled in 91 catches (8th most) for 1,276 yards (5th most) and surpassed everyone's expectations this year, finishing as WR9.
Honorable Mention: Tyreek Hill, Latavius Murray, Marvin Jones
Bounce-Back Player of the Year
Keenan Allen, WR (Los Angeles Chargers)
Coming into the season injury-prone Keenan Allen was coming off a 2016 season in which was cut short in the first game of the season. Allen finished with 6 receptions for 63 yards and was seen by many as a fringe wide receiver 2 or 3 depending on the format played. This was only somewhat reflected in his ADP this past season as he was drafted 3.09 as the 13th wide receiver. Allen came back stronger than ever and posted career highs in receptions (102) and yards (1,393) while scoring 7 total touchdowns; Allen finished as WR3 on the year with 284.2 fantasy points.
Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski, DeAndre Hopkins, Carson Wentz
Sneak Peek into 2018
David Johnson Remains #1
Based on very early ADP data, David Johnson holds the top spot of mock drafts. Besides the Cardinals losing head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer (Larry Fitzgerald, too?) which may lead to stacked boxes against him, Johnson's fantasy points scored (313.0) in 2016 would rank 4th at the running back position this year behind Todd Gurley (383.3), Le'Veon Bell (341.6), and Alvin Kamara (320.4). While Johnson is an early round pick in drafts, expect his draft position to fall over the offseason unless the Cardinals are able to pick up a solid quarterback in the offseason.
Change in Philosophy
Compared to last year, early ADP data suggests running backs will be taken earlier than last year. This wasn't the year for zero-RB theorists as there were plenty of top wide receivers that either didn't produce or were injured, while many of the dominant running backs did well this season. With plenty of value being found in the later rounds for wide receivers, it wouldn't be a surprise to see owners move away from using their top selection on a wide receiver this year (exception of Antonio Brown in PPR formats) and back to finding a solid workhorse running back to provide more stability for their team on a week-to-week basis.
Stop Drafting Defenses Early
There are so many changes from one year to the next and defenses rarely finish as good as they were the year prior due to the turnover during free agency. Below are a select few of the defenses with their draft position and their finish on the season.
Denver Broncos: 1st defense drafted; finished 13th (117 fantasy points)
Houston Texans: 2nd defense drafted; finished 26th (75 fantasy points)
Kansas City Chiefs: 3rd defense drafted; finished 17th (101 fantasy points)
Jacksonville Jaguars: 15th defense drafted; finished 1st (208 fantasy points)
Baltimore Ravens: 13th defense drafted; finished 2nd (172 fantasy points)
Los Angeles Rams: 14th defense drafted; finished 4th (153 fantasy points)
Value can be found early in the year picking up a defense after a good week or two, or on a weekly basis if you chose to stream - defenses should not be a priority in drafts and this year's results are yet again another strong case against drafting defenses before the last two rounds.