A few weeks ago I broke down 8 NFL Vets who have the potential to bounce back and have a fantasy impact. Now I would like to take a look at the other end of the spectrum and break down 10 players who are in years 2-3 of their career. The players on this list are ranked 1 – 10 with #1 being the no doubter, fantasy stud for years to come and #10 being a guy who can have a big impact if and when he gets a chance.
Regardless of where they rank on this list, these are all players that I will watching closely as we move toward the 2017 NFL season.
1. Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Dallas: We all know that Zeke is in the elite category and will likely have another big season in his 2nd year. Zeke lead the league in rushing last season with 1631 yards while also adding 15 TDs. Any uptick in those numbers and Zeke will single handedly keep fantasy owners relevant all year.
2. Jordan Howard – RB – Chicago: Jordan is 2nd to Zeke both on this list and in rushing yards last season with 1313 yards. Howard figures to be the RB1 in Chicago and with the future of Alshon Jeffery and the QB situation uncertain, he could see more touches both rushing and receiving. Howard impressed for the most part and excelled late in the season when Chicago gave him lead back duties. Watch him closely.
3. Michael Thomas – WR – New Orleans: Thomas ended his rookie season with 92 catches, 1137 yards and 9 TDs. Thomas only figures to get better in 2017 and, if he isn’t already, he will soon be the WR1 on the Saints.
4. Dak Prescott – QB – Dallas: Though Dak is only going to be in his second year, it will be hard for me to ignore him in most drafts when looking at QBs. My guess is I will not be the only one interested. Dak threw for 3667 yards and 23 TDs. More impressive than that, he only threw 4 INTs! Expect big things in Dak’s future.
5. Robert Kelley – RB – Washington: Fat Rob will likely be the RB1 in Washington’s backfield heading towards the 2017 season. Kelley saw very limited action until week 8 last season when he then put himself on the fantasy map. Kelley finished with 704 yard on 168 carries which puts him over 4 yards per carry. Watch the Washington RB situation as we move forward, Kelley could be in for a big year.
6. Tyreek Hill – WR – Kansas City: Hill showed flashes of excellence every time he got a chance last season and that will likely continue in 2017. Hill is a great fit for the Andy Reid O and if they elect not to bring playmaker Jamaal Charles back, it could mean more touches for Hill. Hill had 860 combine receiving and rushing yards. Note: Hill is also a threat as a return man.
7. Rishard Matthews – WR – Tennessee: Matthews saw 108 targets last season. Of those 108 targets, he caught 65. With 945 yards and 9 TDs, Matthews had a nice 1st year in Tennessee and could build on that as he seems to have good chemistry with QB Marcus Mariota.
8. Carson Wentz – QB – Philadelphia: Wentz, another rookie, looked to be going stride for stride with Dak last season but Wentz ultimately cooled off later in the season. Wentz threw for 3782 yards and 16 TDs. the down side, the 14 INTs he had as well. Wentz would benefit greatly from another quality receiver whether it be a free agent signee such as Alshon Jeffery or the emergence of Dorial Green-Beckham or Nelson Agholor.
9. Ty Montgomery – RB – Green Bay: With James Starks gone and Eddy Lacy set to be a free agent, Ty is lining up to be the early RB1 favorite in Green Bay. The Packers leaned on Ty late in the season and he seemed to rise to the challenge. Ty is a good runner. However, he is equally as skilled as a pass catcher and that might be a better asset in that O system. He finished last year with 805 totals yards but only 3 TDs.
10. Hunter Henry – TE – Los Angeles Chargers: Henry had a solid season, even if it was only when Antonio Gates was out of order. Henry managed 478 yards and 8 TDs on 36 receptions. Philip Rivers likes to use his TEs and, if Henry gets a chance in a starter role, he could be a stud. Monitor this situation closely as he could be had at value in drafts as well.