Adam Wagner – Fantasy Sports Analyst: The Wagner Wire
It is that time of year again. The nights are getting harder and harder to find any sleep. The thought of who you’re going to draft in your fantasy football league is consistently keeping you awake when you should be sleeping soundly. “Should I take a running back or a wide receiver?” “When should I take Lynch?” “Mike Evans! Julio! DJ!” Rest easy. The Wagner Wire is here in relief. After reading the 1st round of our mock draft, you’ll be sleeping like you’re on a steady diet of valium and whisky, and you’ll feel confident knowing you’re prepared for your 2017 fantasy football draft.
This mock draft was constructed using a format of (1) QB (2) RB (3) WR (1) TE (1) Def/ST (1) K and (6) bench players. It is a Point Per Reception (PPR) setting, awarding 1 point per reception. With the help of our friends over at Fantasy Pros, we were able to customize the AI to draft as experts. Please take this into consideration when drooling over this piece.
As mentioned, we teamed up with Fantasy Pros and used their incredible Draft Wizard tool. We highly recommend that you check them out. Click on anyone of their banners to sign up. As always TWW prides ourselves as a superior dfs unit of the DFS Army. The DFS Army is the fastest growing company in the DFS arena. The DFS Army is made up of a team of Daily Fantasy Sports Pros dedicated to helping average players compete in the shark-infested waters of the DFS landscape. We combine the industry’s best and most accurate projection methodology with the Domination Station Lineup Optimizer. Those tools combined, along with with coaching and advice from top ranked DFS Pros, allow the DFS Army team to continue to dominate the competition. Go to “DFS Army VIP Membership” and use Promo Code: WAGS to get 20% off your membership.
#1. David Johnson: RB – Arizona Cardinals
DJ doesn’t even need a write up, but we’ll entertain you with some numbers that justifies taking this beast as a consensus #1 overall in 2017. DJ rushed 293 times, gaining 1239 yards on the year, finding pay dirt 16 times. Thats just his ground attack. DJ also has aerial striking capabilities. He was tagged 120 times! He caught 80 of this 120 targets for 879 yards, and 4 of those were for a touchdown. He is to be considered extremely dangerous, and is #1 on The Wagner Wire’s High Value Target (HVT) list for the 2017 fantasy football draft.
#2. Le’Veon Bell: RB – Pittsburgh Steelers
No distractions off the field so far with Bell. After his incident last season where he failed to be present for a scheduled urination analysis, the elusive running back has been running a straight arrow off the field. That has to be a relief for the everyone in the “Burg”, and also means Bell will have a full NFL schedule. After missing 3 games in 2016, Bell toted the pigskin 261 times. He gained 1268 yards, finding the end zone 7 times. He is the only running back that I’ve compared to Marshall Faulk. He had 94 targets in 2016. Thats pretty good, and remember he will have a full 16 games this year. His 75 receptions should increase, along with his 616 rec yards. As far as Bell only collecting 2 reception touchdowns, he can score from anywhere on the field. Targets equal opportunity, and Bell will have plenty more. He could make me eat my words for not picking him #1 overall.
#3. Ezekiel Elliott: RB – Dallas Cowboys
This is the most genuine running back in the NFL. He is the epitome of a running back. As hard a runner as Emmitt Smith, and as graceful as Barry Sanders. His legs are fresh and he his lethal. Zeke runs behind one of the most dominant offensive lines in the NFL. He didn’t get touched on most of his runs last year until he broke into the 2nd wave of tacklers. Dallas’ thoroughbred carried the ball 322 time for 1631 yards, and crossed the goal line 15 times. Strangely he was only targeted 40 times last year. David Johnson is great, but he isn’t as smooth as Zeke. You could sit a glass of wine on Zeke’s helmet and it would stay on as he did a pirouette into the end zone for six points. His 32 receptions for 363 yards and 1 touchdown were astonishing low for that well-balanced Cowboys’ offense. If he gets more targets, he too could easily be considered as a #1 overall, but he’s only #3 for me.
#4. Antonio Brown: WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
AB was my #1 overall last year. His 154 targets in 2016 ranked 3rd in the NFL last year. AB caught 106 balls for 1284 yards, and celebrated in the end zone 12 times. He’s Big Ben’s favorite weapon in the high-powered Pittsburgh air assault. So as AB and my man DZ like to say, “Business is boomin!” We know Big Ben has seen many gridiron battles, but his rifle is as deadly as any other gunslinger in the NFL. His ability to extend the play allows AB to make that amazing 70+ yard touchdown grab that we’ve all come to love. Well, most of us at least. Bottom line is that this dude can easily get you 30 points each week. This is a no-brainer.
#5. Julio Jones: WR – Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is one of the most imposing wide receivers in the NFL. His size and speed allow him separate from defensive backs easily and is the prototypical Red Zone threat. Last season Julio was targeted 129 times, caught 83 balls for 1409 yards. Surprisingly Jones only had 6 touchdowns. I believe the 6 touchdowns is an anomaly. He’s the #1 WR for the Falcons and plays indoors for a better half of the season. Atlanta will hope for a smooth transition for their new OC, Steve Sarkisian. Sark is known for his offensive scheming, so I don’t expect a setback for the Atlanta aerial assault.
#6. Odell Beckham Jr: WR – New York Giants
OBJ is arguably the most explosive weapon in the NFL. His 169 targets ranked 2nd most in the league. OBJ caught 101 receptions for 1367 yards, and hauled in 10 touchdowns. He can stretch a hitch or any 3-drop route into a long catch and run for a touchdown. He’s very comparable to AB. With the addition of Brandon Marshall, opposing defenses will have their work cut for them when playing the GMen in 2017. This should allow OBJ to get in favorable 1-on-1 matchups, allowing Eli Manning to capitalize on his tremulous arm strength.
#7 Mike Evans: WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans was the most targeted player in the NFL in 2016. His 173 makes him my most opportunistic WR for this years fantasy football draft. Evans only caught 96 of his 173 targets. Thats why he’s 7th and not 4th. He gained 1321 yards receiving and caught 12 touchdowns. Evans might be the biggest WR in the NFL. With the addition of O.J. Howard, the Bucs should have a tremendous size advantage, forcing opposing defenses to play more honest and not double Evans as much. This is all good news for Evans owners. I have no problem with taking Evans over Julio, or maybe even AB. However, for a player with a catch radius as great as his, you’d think his catch % would be higher. For that reason, Evans goes #7 this year and not earlier.
#8. Melvin Gordon: RB – Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon owners received a tremendous benefit at the expense of Danny Woodhead’s injury in 2016. Gordon had a breakout year and is poised to build off that success this season. With the departure of Woodhead to the Ravens, Gordon will continue to tote the rock as the primary back for the Chargers. His 254 attempts allowed him to gain 997 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Rivers also targeted Gordon 57 times; connecting with him for 41 receptions worth 419 yards, hauling in 2 touchdowns. The return of Keenan Allen should keep defenses honest, allowing for more running room for – dare I say “Flash” Gordon. Take Gordon as early as #8.
#9. Jordan Howard: RB – Chicago Bears
Jordan Howard started out the 2016 campaign as the 3rd running back on the depth chart for the Chicago Bears. He earned his starting position a few games into 2017. In his rookie season, Howard toted the rock 252 times for 1313 yards. He reached pay dirt 6 times. He was also a weapon in the passing attack. Howard was targeted 50 times. He caught 29 receptions 298 yards, with 1 touchdown. His impressive rookie season earn him a 2016 Pro Bowl selection. Howard is the feature weapon in Chicago. He is well worth the 9th overall pick in 2017.
#10. LeSean McCoy: RB – Buffalo Bills
Shady got back to being Shady in 2016. He carried the pigskin 234 times for 1267 yards. He crossed the goal line 13 times. He was T-Moble’s special weapon out of the backfield. Shady was targeted 57 times and caught 50 of those 57 targets for 356 yards and touchdown. He did this without the aid of highly-talented teammate, Sammy Watkins. Watkins is healthy and should create plenty of room for Shady to be Shady. With the drop-off in RB in 2017 being pretty significant, McCoy is worth a late 1st rd pick. TWW likes him at #10.
#11. A.J. Green: WR – Cincinnati Bengals
Maybe the only downside to A.J. Green is Andy Dalton. Dalton’s numbers are definitely the benefactor of A.J. Green. Green saw 100 targets in 2016. He only caught 66 balls. That speaks to the accuracy of his quarterback. He gained 964 yards through the air, but only caught 4 touchdowns. That should raise your eyebrows a hair. His catch radius is insane. He bails the red rifle out so many times that Dalton really only targets Green. If Eifert and Green can stay healthy, expect A.J. to catch around 100 balls for about 1250 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017. Green will face the Browns twice. Thats a plus!
#12. Jordy Nelson: WR – Green Bay Packers
Wrapping up the final pick in the 1st round, Jordy Nelson is worth either your 12th or 13th overall pick. He silenced critics in 2016 by having a tremendous season after returning from an awful injury. Nelson is one of the NFL’s best route runner and has outstanding hands. AR12 targeted Nelson 152 times. Nelson caught 97 receptions, gaining 1257 yards through the air. His ability to run after the catch and find the open holes in the defense’s zones, help him find pay dirt 14 times in 2016. I passed on him in 2016 and almost paid the price..literally. I highly advise taking Nelson around the end of round 1.
Thats going to finish the 1st round of TWW’s 2017 Fantasy Football Mock Draft. If there is anything that I want you to gather from this article it the fact that carries and targets equal opportunities. Opportunities are what I value most. Look for Round 2 to be published next week as well as drop the podcast for rd 2. Stay tuned! The best way to ask us fantasy sports related questions is to follow TWW on Twitter. Follow these account – @TheWagnerWire | @The_Wagner_Wire_News | @atwagner3181. #TheWagnerWire