Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com wraps up his seventh season of Fantasy Football analysis for 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 and Dish Network.
For most Fantasy players, the 2017 season is now over, and hopefully you are now feeling the glory of a championship victory. If you’re still playing in Week 17, that is a mistake. Some NFL teams will be resting their starters in the final week of the regular season, and that is always a widespread risk by this point of the year. Many of the best teams in a Fantasy league don’t get a legitimate chance at deserved victories when there are Week 17 championship games.
In most cases, though, we are already looking ahead to the 2018 Fantasy Football season, while also playing Fantasy Basketball and starting to prepare early for Fantasy Baseball. Here’s a quick-hitting review of the highlights from each skill position for 2017. We peer back at 16 weeks, the truest measure of Fantasy performances for a season, with some forward-looking analysis for 2018 and keeper leaguers.
Russell Wilson has always finished among the leaders in Fantasy points, but this season he was the clear No. 1 player at his position. His 327.48 Fantasy Points on NFL.com were over 30 points higher than any other QB for the season. His 32 TD passes were second in the league and his 550 rushing yards more than doubled last year’s output and he added three rushing scores. Wilson should be the consensus No. 2 Fantasy QB in 2018, and some owners may actually want to take him over a healthy Aaron Rodgers. Rarely have we seen a dual threat of Wilson’s magnitude in terms of pure passing numbers combined with a nice extra boost from his rushing totals.
Despite missing three games, Carson Wentz was fourth overall with 281.74 points in a major breakthrough season, and may be a Top 4 QB in drafts next year. Kirk Cousins was sixth at 270.10 points and his draft stock next year will depend on his location. Jared Goff was eighth at 255.26 and with a strong running game and deep pass-catching crew, he has optimum offensive balance around him to breed more success. He’ll be on the back-end QB1/high QB2 radar next year. The position looks like it will remain deep for next year, and as always, it’s likely best to wait until at least the fifth round to draft your starting QB, ideally getting him after you have filled out your other main skill positions, where you have to employ more than one starter.
A healthy DeShaun Watson will be a Top 5, and possibly Top 3 QB next year after five consecutive 20-plus point performances on NFL.com beginning in Week 3. Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be a hot name after three consecutive 15-point performances from Weeks 14 to 16. I see him as a back-end QB1 for 2018. Rodgers, Wilson, Wentz and Watson are must-have keepers. We’ll be keeping a close watch on the potential return of Andrew Luck throughout the offseason to see where he figures in the Top 10.
Todd Gurley was this year’s unquestioned Fantasy Football Most Valuable Player, as his NFL.com standard 319.30 points were only bested by Wilson’s overall output and were over 60 points more than what was produced by perennial elite pick Le’Veon Bell. Gurley rushed for over 1,300 yards and totaled 13 TDs as his newfound versatility under Sean McVay paid major Fantasy dividends. He caught 64 passes in one of the best bounce-back Fantasy seasons you will ever see. What truly cemented Gurley as the Fantasy MVP was his 81.60 standard NFL.com points in the final two weeks of the Fantasy playoffs in Weeks 15 and 16. He is going to be a widespread No. 1 overall pick next year, as his high talent level and football smarts meshed perfectly with his surroundings this year.
Rookie Kareem Hunt was third at the position with 232.70 standard NFL.com points, starting and finishing strong in his NFL debut season. He is a definite first round Fantasy pick for 2018 and a prime keeper. In a never-before seen feat, both Saints running backs, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, finished tied for fifth with 214.60 points. With 75 catches for 742 yards and five TDs, Kamara was a major PPR league phenom in his rookie season, and he may be a Top 5 pick overall in 2018 if he is New Orleans’ clear lead RB.
Leonard Fournette joined Hunt and Kamara in an impressive Fantasy rookie class, with 180.60 standard points, eighth on NFL.com. He is another locked in first rounder for 2018. Christian McCaffrey was yet another top newcomer, as his 75 catches for 611 yards and seven total TDs made him an instant Fantasy must-start in PPR formats. Expect even more from him as an all-around player in 2018 and he is an iron-clad PPR keeper.
Dion Lewis stayed healthy and totaled 139.70 points, becoming a clear leader in the often confusing New England backfield down the stretch. He is a top flex target for 2018. Frank Gore was an unrivaled gem finishing in the Top 20 at age 34 and could be back to serve as quality depth in 2018. Alex Collins seized the starting job in Baltimore to produce a Top 20 year and will be a highly desired RB2 target in 2018. Marshawn Lynch rushed for seven TDs in his comeback season and was a respectable RB2.
A healthy Chris Thompson can return as a PPR force next season, and second-year players Marlon Mack and D’Onta Foreman will be among the potential risers for 2018. It was an impressive rookie class in 2017, and Joe Mixon and Jamaal Williams could also boost themselves to greater heights next year.
DeAndre Hopkins led the position in a somewhat unsurprising rebound year with 213.80 standard points, and despite a late-season injury, Antonio Brown finished second with 209.30. Tyreek Hill did not shy away from the challenge of becoming Kansas City’s top WR option and finished third with 164.20 points. A QB change in K.C., however, could potentially affect his 2018 outlook.
Keenan Allen stayed healthy and finished fourth at 156.90 points. Marvin Jones earned WR2 consideration next season with 150 points, good for seventh overall. Adam Thielen just missed the Top 10 in standard scoring, but his 85 catches for 1,215 yards and four TDs marked him as a WR1 for next season in PPR formats. Thielen was a breakout star in PPR formats and figures to be a second-rounder in many leagues next year.
Robby Anderson arrived as a promising WR2 type with a Top 15 finish and his 2018 success will be tied to the Jets’ QB outlook next year. Jarvis Landry was 15th in NFL.com standard scoring, but became more of a PPR force than ever as he delivered a career-high eight TDs to go with his second 100-catch season in three years. Landry’s outlook for 2018 may be affected by a possible address change.
Nelson Agholor put himself firmly on the Fantasy map with eight TD receptions and may have even more potential as a WR3 next season. Cooper Kupp caught 62 passes for 869 yards and six TDs and should improve even more as a PPR WR3 in his second season next year.
JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 113.40 points also put him in the Top 25 on NFL.com in his first season and he should be drafted as a WR2 next year while also getting strong consideration as a keeper.
Zach Ertz’s 126 points were third best on NFL.com and he arrived as an elite Fantasy TE. Evan Engram’s 109.60 placed him fourth as he became that rare rookie TE who made a significant impact. He is a strong keeper candidate and should be fourth off the board at the position next year. Jimmy Graham’s 10 TD receptions made him a standard league standout again. Look for continued progress for Hunter Henry next year and O.J. Howard is a possible breakout TE in his second year.
Follow Scott Engel and his team on RotoExperts.com all throughout the offseason for more Fantasy Football advice and tips in all other Fantasy Sports. Also listen to Scott daily from 6 to 7 am ET weekdays on Fantasy Sports Today on the Fantasy Sports Radio Network.
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