Around this time of year, most everyone is still reeling from the fantasy season now behind most of us. Here at DLF, we know there is no off-season, and there may be no better time for a piece like this. You see, the future is indifferent when it comes to the past. Whether you just endured a frustrating campaign or rose to glory in 2016, 2017 lies ahead, and you can either sit idly by or begin preparing for it now.
Most years, there are typically two players that could arguably be taken with the 1.1 in dynasty rookie drafts. 2015 is a good example of this with both Todd Gurley and Amari Cooper atop everyone’s draft boards followed by everyone else. Other years, there is one player forecasted to be the top pick in dynasty rookie drafts, and then a bunch of guys getting in where they fit in. 2016 is a good example of this as Ezekiel Elliot was the no-brainer 1.1, sitting alone in the top tier.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub message’ ]
Once in a blue moon, a draft class comes along that is so full of elite talent, an argument could be made for taking any one of a handful of players with the top pick in dynasty rookie drafts. Well brethren (and sistren), buckle up, such a draft class will soon be upon us in 2017. And, if you don’t have one of the top picks in your upcoming rookie draft, get one. I believe there are three sure-fire, elite players that could be taken with the 1st overall pick in 2017 rookie drafts—possibly even four. Take a look at the players slotted to go in the top third of 2017 rookie drafts, and then make sure you have one of these top picks, or regret it all summer long.
1.1 – Leonard Fournette
While 2016 wasn’t quite as explosive for Leonard Fournette as last year, the tape tells the real story. Fournette is a bruiser with speed and agility to spare, and is cut from the Adrian Peterson mold. Barring some unforeseen developments, Fournette will be this year’s consensus 1.1. He has all the tools to be a star back in the league, and his landing spot shouldn’t have much of an impact on that. However, fortunately for all of us, the teams most mocks show as going running back early this year (Jets, Colts, Eagles, Panthers, Giants) make for decent situations for an elite back.
When I think of Fournette and who he most closely resembles on tape, I instantly find myself thinking of AP. The guy’s a bruiser with speed, agility, and incredible vision. The tape doesn’t lie when it comes to Fournette, and there’s a reason he’s firmly planted at the pole position in what looks to be an offensively loaded draft class. Had he been eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft after rushing for nearly 2,000 yards as a Sophomore in the SEC, he very well may have been above Ezekiel Elliot on many teams’ draft boards, and rightfully so. Not so coincidentally, Elliot is actually another decent comp to Fournette. Be sure to tune in for the NFL Combine as this guy should steal the show. So long as Fournette can withstand the rigors of an NFL season and not succumb to injuries, he should be a key cog in your dynasty success for years to come, making him our first sure thing in the 2017 rookie draft class.
If you’re lucky enough to have the 1.1 in your upcoming rookie draft, hold onto it for dear life. There are very few pieces that would leave me willing to part with the 1.1/Fournette, so you better be thin and desperate, and adding a whole lot to your roster, if you are seriously contemplating trading away the 1.1. This highlight reel helps explain why, (there’s a reason it’s eight minutes long).
1.2 – Dalvin Cook
How spoiled can we get? I can think of more than a few rookie drafts from years past where Dalvin Cook would have been a slam dunk for the 1.1, but if you’ve been playing dynasty for some time, I don’t need to belabor that point. However, it’s important to stress the value of getting a guy like Cook with the second selection in a dynasty rookie draft. Top-flight running backs have become harder to come by, and this season we finally saw the pendulum swing back to the land of the backs. After multiple seasons of receivers stealing the show, this year we saw many receivers disappoint while top-tier backs like Ezekiel Elliot, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell won leagues across the land. There is no better foundation to a dynasty franchise than a reliable top-tier back, and before you rush to disagree, take a look at this article I posted back in 2015. Perhaps now I’ll re-run the numbers to make an even stronger case, but for the time being, I’ll simply reiterate the significance of 2017 providing us with not one, but two top-tier rookie backs. Getting a guy like Cook at the 1.2 is like Christmas all over again.
Cook has good size and tremendous burst. He’s elusive, and fits the mold of a guy who can fit into any NFL scheme as a three-down back. His agility is next-level, and all of these attributes that put Cook in the same tier as Fournette aren’t up for debate when you flip on the tape (check out this highlight reel if you don’t believe me). As a Freshman in 2014, he rushed for over 1,000 yards on just 170 carries while splitting time with Karlos Williams. As a Sophomore last season, Cook put up 1,690 yards on 229 carries with 20 TDs. Thus far in 2016, Cook has rushed for 1,620 yards on 268 carries to go along with 19 TDs. He’s been a fixture in the Seminole backfield, and his ability to withstand a heavy workload throughout his time at FSU elevates him even more for me. While it’s tough to pick a single comp for Cook as he reminds me of so many elite backs from yesteryear, I see a young Edgerrin James and think Cook’s career could very well shape up to be just as memorable. Who knows, maybe he’ll wind up in Indianapolis?
1.3 – Corey Davis
People can say what they want about the level of competition Corey Davis has faced throughout his collegiate career in the MAC. One needs to look no further than Antonio Brown or teammate Ben Roethlisberger to find out that playing college ball in the MAC is by no means determinative as far as success at the next level is concerned. Oh, and as a junior, Davis had ten catches for 154 yards and a TD against a Michigan State team that finished its season as part of the College Football Playoff.
Davis reminds me an awful lot of Terrell Owens, who interestingly enough played his college ball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Both Davis and Owens are listed at 6-foot-3, and Davis’ playing style is eerily similar to T.O.’s throughout his earlier years. The notable differences between the two are that—barring injury or (very) unforeseen circumstances—Davis will be taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, whereas Owens was a third-round selection, and that Davis is not a head case whereas Owens encapsulated the term. This video does a pretty good job illustrating the character that should help elevate Davis’ game at the next level.
Davis posted close to 1,500 receiving yards in each of his sophomore and junior seasons, and will likely eclipse that mark following Western Michigan’s date with Wisconsin in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. In case you hadn’t heard, Davis holds the FBS record for career receiving yards. In other words, the dude can flat out ball. He’s got the measurables, the stats to back them up, he’s (knock on wood) free of health concerns, and he has both the work ethic and humble personality needed to thrive as a professional. Take into account that he’s a tremendous, smooth route runner with great speed and impeccable hands, and you’ve got the makings of a top-tier fantasy asset for years to come (just ask Nick Whalen).
For full disclosure purposes, I will confess that WMU is one of my alma maters. However, while that does leave me rooting for him, I’ve almost certainly seen him play more than anyone else you’ve read fantasy advice from which leaves me in an excellent position to share my insights. I’ve done my best to remain objective and, as such, will concede that I’d like to see his leaping ability more on display. He does a great job high-pointing the ball, but he simply hasn’t needed to do so enough to provide a great measuring stick on that front. So, one thing to keep an eye on in the upcoming NFL Combine will be Davis’ vertical jump results. In the meantime, peep some Davis highlights and get hype.
1.4 – Mike Williams
Last but not least, there’s Mike Williams. Many analysts actually have Williams ahead of Corey Davis on their draft boards, but not me. I see greater potential in Davis, but who says there can’t be two top-tier receivers in the same draft class? Just ask 2011 about that (A.J. Green and Julio Jones). Playing on one of college football’s most prolific offensive machines, Williams made his presence felt. After missing his junior season, Williams came back strong and thus far through his senior season has 84 catches for 1,171 yards and 10 TDs. Williams is a nightmare for opposing defenses, and I expect his measurables at the 2017 NFL Combine to help illustrate why.
One NFL scout has already compared Williams to both Demaryius Thomas and Alshon Jeffery. Sure, his quarterback (Deshaun Watson) has helped, but Williams deserves a lot of credit, too. He has brilliant hands, and tracks the ball in the air like a star MLB outfielder. He can jump through the roof, and make all of the circus catches. What’s even better than his ability to make the toughest catches is his ability to make all the catches. He plays with grit and focus, and seems to always make his quarterback look good. Like Cook at the 1.2, Williams will be an absolute steal with the 1.4 across dynasty rookie drafts.
Each of the four players discussed above belong in the first tier for 2017 rookie drafts, and not a whole heck of a lot separates them from one another. The 2017 draft class is loaded with talent, but I do believe there is a drop off after the 1.04. So, I wanted to get this piece in front of you all now while there is still time to sneak into one of the top four spots in your rookie drafts, before your entire league has caught rookie draft fever and the prices for those picks sky rocket. Now go hit up your league mates and get yourself any one of these guys. They’ll be worth it.
Latest posts by Mark Johnson (see all)
- Rookie Draft Picks and Trade Value: How to Value the 1.03 - March 2, 2017
- Rookie Draft Picks and Trade Value: How to Value the 1.02 - February 15, 2017
- Rookie Draft Picks and Trade Value: How to Value the 1.01 - February 7, 2017