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Fantasy Insider: 14 Sleepers & Breakthrough Players For 2017

Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com is in his seventh season of providing Fantasy Football analysis to seahawks.com. Scott is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association’s Hall of Fame and a former FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year Award Winner. He can be heard on FNTSY Radio every morning and seen on FNTSY Sports Network daily on CenturyLink’s sports package.

As many Fantasy Football players begin to start preparing for their annual drafts, they immediately being to wonder about and research potential value selections who will outperform expectations and soar above their Average Draft Positions (ADP). We help you get an early jump on the competition by identifying sleeper selections and breakthrough performers to target on draft day. Emblazon these names into your mind, and you’ll have a good shot to be ahead of the competition when it’s time to draft in 2017.

Running Backs

*Samaje Perine (NFL.com ADP – 120.38): *The rookie moves into an ideal situation with Washington. He is a smooth power runner playing behind a very good offensive line. Perine does a nice job of taking what his blockers can clear for him and then earning some yardage on his own. He will emerge as a very steady option for the Redskins very quickly.

*Kareem Hunt (123.44): *Another first-year player to watch, Hunt may open the season as a premier  ball carrier for the Chiefs. He also has a good blocking group paving paths for him, and can create some of his own space as well. There’s an opportunity to seize a starting job in Kansas City, and expect Hunt to pounce on it.

*C.J. Prosise (136.70): *The explosive and versatile second-year player is going to be a quality contributor in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues. Prosise can score from anywhere on the field and could prove to be more dynamic that many other pass-catching specialists taken ahead of him or in his range.

*Tim Hightower (150.50): *He has performed admirably when pressed into the service in recent seasons, and the door could open for him to see increased playing time with the 49ers at any point. He rushed for 189 yards on 49 carries in a two-game stretch in Weeks 8 and 9 last season, including a 102-yard outing against the Seahawks. If he gets a chance to carry consistently at any point, Hightower could be a solid play.

*Dwayne Washington (150.96): *This a deeper grab here, but the Lions have made some moves to improve their blocking and Washington could emerge as Detroit’s best pure runner at some point. If the opportunity presents itself, Washington may be significantly better behind a more respectable offensive line.

Wide Receivers

*DeVante Parker (145.92): *The Miami wideout is very talented, but has been slowed by injuries and a passing game that has not fully played to his skill set in the past. With Jay Cutler at QB for Miami, Parker should see more downfield and big-play opportunities in his third pro season. This seems to be his best opportunity to show that he can build on his considerable potential.

Tyrell Williams (147.04): His ADP on NFL.com is way too low for a guy that showed so much promise last season and may continue to have a large role in a quality passing game. Williams is a known player to experienced Fantasy owners, but based on his ADP, even on FantasyPros.com (107) he is a value selection. Williams topped 1,000 yards and scored seven times last season. He was a breakthrough performer last season, but obviously he needs to show it to many people again. Expect another impressive season and heed what you saw in 2016.

*Taylor Gabriel (148.09): *The Falcons offense will continue to fly high this season, and Gabriel will continue to emerge as a big-play threat. Julio Jones and the Atlanta running backs will command a lot of defensive attention, and Gabriel will make defenses pay if they leave him too much space in the open field. If you’re big on Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Gabriel can show some playmaking ability in the same mold. He averaged 16.5 yards per catch last year and scored six times, and should see an uptick in his reception total.

*Zay Jones (149.67): *The Buffalo rookie was a smart choice, as he will prove to be a good option for Tyrod Taylor to help him move the ball in more high percentage passing situations. Sammy Watkins is an explosive playmaker, and Anquan Boldin was a savvy veteran addition, but Jones can begin to start filling a role as a trusted target, and could see a boost in production if he is needed to step forward because of an injury or proves quickly to be one of the more reliable pass-catchers for Taylor.

Cooper Kupp (150.73): As the Rams’ passing game begins to move towards more respectability, this impressive rookie is going to be an important part of the mix. Los Angeles will need a reliable target to move the chains, and Kupp, even though a newcomer to the NFL, will fit the bill. For a first-year player, he appears to be a more polished technician than most newcomers. He’ll soon become an asset in PPR formats, and you can get him with one of your final picks. Kupp is going to be one of the best late round picks in Point Per Reception formats.

Tight Ends

Eric Ebron (123.34): There is a real opportunity for Ebron to step forward as a red zone target this year, and he has the talent and potential to become both a playmaker on key downs and a TD producer. Now in his fourth season, Ebron may be on the verge of his true breakthrough campaign.

Austin Hooper (150.21): He will become the middle of the field and red zone target the Falcons have been searching for since Tony Gonzalez retired. Hooper will add another needed dimension to the Atlanta passing game, complementing Julio Jones and Gabriel with more underneath and down the seam work.

Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz (143.53): He put the ball up over 600 times last year and has more weapons in his arsenal this season. The Eagles have made significant moves to surround their franchise QB of the future with more talent, and the addition of Alshon Jeffery can be what truly boosts him into at least high-end QB2 territory.

Deshaun Watson (147.66): The rookie QB is a special talent who should ascend to a starting job rather quickly. Much like Russell Wilson in his rookie season, Watson’s poise and leadership abilities can push him to initial success. Once he adjusts fully to pro schemes, which could be quickly, he will prove to be a productive Fantasy QB.

For more rankings and insights from Scott Engel and his team, register now for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package at rotoexperts.com/discount. Seahawks.com readers get 10 dollars off with promocode “seahawks” at checkout.

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