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On Target: Looking Ahead to 2017

Davis Mattek

Davis Mattek has played DFS for a living for over a year and began in the fantasy sports industry in 2012. He is a member of the FSTA and FSWA.

Our final week of fantasy football has arrived, and I sincerely hope that you all are not forced to play your fantasy championship in Week 17. There is more noise and variance in the last week of the regular season than any other. As a result of that, I want to turn an eye towards fantasy in 2017 and analyze some guys I will be targeting in drafts next year.

Travis Kelce

It is incredibly possible that Kelce ends up being the most over-drafted player in all of fantasy next season. If he goes in the second round, that is way overpaying for his relative ceiling because Alex Smith is still his quarterback and Andy Reid is still his coach. However, we saw a real shift this season in Kansas City away from Jeremy Maclin towards a more innovative, and evenly distributed, offense that gave Kelce a plethora of chances he didnít have last season. With six 100-yard performances in his last eight games, it is shocking he scored only four touchdowns and I expect some positive regression with that next year.

T.Y. Hilton

I have been a long time Hilton detractor. I have been positive that Donte Moncrief is the more impactful real NFL player, but after watching the two play this season, I am no longer sure thatís true. Moncrief will be better at scoring points over the long run, but Hilton has the better fantasy value because he hasnít had the same injury issues (though his health has not been perfect) and is more involved all over the field than Moncrief. In particular, Andrew Luck seems to trust Hilton down the field in almost any situation, and he is therefore a favorite to finish in the top 10 in targets year after year.

Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos had a bottom five offense this season, and yet Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both had 1000-yard seasons. The assumption here is that the Broncos find some sort of solution at quarterback over the offseason, someone at least as capable as Peyton Manning was in his last decrepit season. If that in fact does happen, Thomas and to a lesser extent Sanders (who just doesnít have the same TD upside) should both settle in as high end WR2ís just based on the narrow tree in the Broncos' passing offense.

Terrelle Pryor

Fantasy players will almost certainly forget how explosive Pryor was to start off the 2016 season, with the high point of his campaign coming on an end zone reception while being blanketed by Josh Norman. The Browns are not likely to be significantly better in 2017, but they in all likelihood will be slightly better, and that could be enough to turn Pryor from a weekly gamble with a non-existent floor into a guy who is getting 8-12 interactions per week as part of a functional NFL offense. His cost likely wonít be high, especially early in the offseason before any fluffy puff pieces surface about the Browns using him as a runner and in the wildcat.

Jordan Matthews

The Eagles are not a good professional football team; that much became obvious. Doug Pederson is also not a great playcaller or head coach. In an odd sort of way, that works in Jordan Matthews' favor, as has the most anonymous 117-target season that Iíve ever witnessed. He has 73 catches and 804 yards playing with zero complementary players other than Darren Sproles and catching passes from a rookie quarterback. I hate to make excuses for a player I thought was so talented coming out in the draft, but put Matthews into even a league average offensive situation (and Carson Wentz absolutely can provide that in time), and heís going be a perennial high-end WR2 with WR1 upside if he develops as a red zone threat.

Tyrell Williams

More so than any player on this list, I can almost guarantee that I will be all in on Tyrell in 2017. Keenan Allen will be coming back from his third season-ending injury and really, Allen was never worth a first round draft pick anyway. In his four year NFL career, he has 16 touchdowns. Williams, in contrast, has eight touchdowns on 117 career targets. Heís the type of player who was put in the league to do what he did this year: provide a viable red zone target on a team full of dwarves (Danny Woodhead, Melvin Gordon, Allen etc.), and I think those players coming back will push his ADP way down. The public will see Woodhead, Antonio Gates, Gordon and Allen returning for 2017 and assume that Williams will be a bit player, but that outcome seems unlikely. He might straight up just be a better player than Allen, and yet might be drafted eight rounds later.

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