Players Who Will Rebound In 2017

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As is usually the case in fantasy football each and every season, players fail to deliver on their perceived value. Whether it be the result of inefficient production or injury, it is difficult to trust an individual that has previously fallen short of expectations. At the same time, fantasy owners need to remove emotions from the equation, as skill position players routinely bounce-back in the NFL. That being said, there are numerous rebound candidates to consider as the 2017 season inches closer. Below, I will discuss three assets that are in a prime position to resurface as premier options in the fantasy realm.

C.J. Anderson

Heading into 2016, C.J. Anderson was widely viewed as a featured running back for the Denver Broncos. Even so, skeptics considered fourth-round pick Devontae Booker an immediate threat to Anderson’s workload. To begin the season, Anderson managed to secure lead back duties in Denver, as he registered double-digit rushing attempts in each of his first seven games. However, Anderson was designated for injured reserve in Week 8 due to a torn meniscus. Before being sidelined for the remainder of the year, Anderson was on pace to finish as the RB12 in PPR formats. Over that span, he recorded 437 rushing yards and four touchdowns, in addition to securing 16 receptions for 128 yards and a trip to the end zone.

For those that fear Booker currently holds an advantage atop Denver’s depth chart heading into 2017, consider that the Utah product only produced five total touchdowns and 877 yards from scrimmage as a rookie. In other words, Booker was active for nine more games than Anderson in 2016, but both scored the same amount of touchdowns. Even more, Anderson only trailed Booker in collective rushing and receiving output by 312 yards despite missing over half of the season due to injury.

Still only 26-years-old, Anderson remains a viable RB2 in all scoring formats. Remember, in 2014 he finished as the RB11 overall in PPR scoring. Combine his pedigree with the fact that Mike McCoy has returned as the offensive coordinator in Denver, and it appears that Anderson has legitimate bounce-back appeal in 2017.

For a closer look at how previous running backs have fared under the direction of Mike McCoy in the Mile-High city from 2009 – 2012, review the table below:

Year Player Rushing Yards Receptions/Receiving Yards Total Touchdowns PPR Finish
2009 Knowshon Moreno 947 28/213 9 RB18
2010 Knowshon Moreno 779 37/372 8 RB18
2011 Willis McGahee 1,199 12/51 5 RB25
2012 Willis McGahee 731 26/221 4 RB28

As alluded to above, Mike McCoy has demonstrated the ability to incorporate running backs in both rushing and passing roles while serving as an offensive coordinator. After leaving Denver to become a head coach for the San Diego Chargers from 2013 – 2016, McCoy was also responsible for supporting numerous fantasy-relevant running backs. Over that time frame in PPR, Danny Woodhead finished as the RB12 (2013) and RB3 (2015), while Melvin Gordon ranked as the RB7 (2016).

Albeit early in the offseason, Anderson expects to be cleared and ready for OTAs as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. For those reasons alone, he should be considered a rebound candidate leading up to the 2017 regular season.

Keenan Allen

Those that have owned Keenan Allen in fantasy circles are accustomed to his susceptibility to injury. In fact, Allen has missed 26 regular seasons games over the course of his four-year career to this point. The closest sample size that Allen has provided to an entire season’s worth of fantasy production stems from his first two years in the NFL. As a rookie in 2013, Allen manufactured 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. In that same season, he also posted a career-high 14.7 yard per catch mark, while only missing one game due to injury. As a sophomore in 2014, Allen turned in 77 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns. He did miss two games because of injury in the process, but proved that he possesses the skill set to be an exceptional asset at the wide receiver position in fantasy when on the field.

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Since beginning his career at an impressive pace, Allen has witnessed his fantasy reliability diminish over the past two seasons. The 24-year-old wide receiver was forced to miss eight games in 2015, and only suited up for one contest in 2016 due to a torn ACL. Unsurprisingly, this has led to alternative viewpoints on Allen’s short-term value and longevity as a premier target for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Provided Allen’s age and proven production at the NFL level, it is difficult to write him off as an elite option moving forward. Entering his fifth season as a pro, Allen has yet to eclipse 77 receptions in a season or deliver multiple 1,000-yard campaigns. As a result, it is fair to assume that Allen has failed to reach his statistical ceiling. He has shown glimpses of elite production, but has never finished higher than the WR18 in PPR formats.

Heading into the 2017 regular season, Allen should be valued as a WR2 with WR1 upside for redraft purposes. Early reports have indicated that he is on pace to recover in time for training camp, which makes sense since the former third-round pick has already started running sprints after tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2016 season. Durability is an essential component to consider before drafting Allen, but he is firmly in the rebound conversation and could be drafted at a slight discount due to his checkered past. For the sake of his fantasy production, let’s hope that a change in scenery from San Diego to Los Angeles bodes well for Allen’s output moving forward.

Rob Gronkowski

When active, there is little doubt that Rob Gronkowski owns an elite tier all to himself at the tight end position in fantasy football. The issue is, he has only played in an entire regular season twice in his seven-year career. Even more, Gronkowski has nine documented surgeries to his name dating back to his final season at the University of Arizona in 2008. Over the course of his career, Gronkowski has had various procedures done to his back (three times), ankle, forearm and knee. Given his considerable injury risk, Gronkowski’s value will be debated all offseason.

Even though Gronkowski owns an elite skill set, it is safe to assert that his presence as a first-round asset is no longer warranted. For the first time in two seasons, the 27-year-old tight end failed to finish as the TE1 overall in PPR formats. Instead, he was limited to eight games while battling hamstring and chest injuries. Eventually, Gronkowski was designated for injured reserve in Week 13 due to a ruptured disk in his back that required season-ending surgery.

In order to rebound in 2017, Gronkowski only needs to improve on his 2016 receiving line of 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns. Based on his previous production, it should be an obtainable feat to accomplish:

Year Receptions Yards Touchdowns PPR Finish
2010 42 546 10 TE11
2011 90 1,327 17 TE1
2012 55 790 11 TE5
2013 39 592 4 TE19
2014 82 1,124 12 TE1
2015 72 1,176 11 TE1
2016 25 540 3 TE26

As illustrated above, Rob Gronkowski does indeed own a remarkable career receiving line of 405 receptions for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdowns. Since injury risk will be inherently calculated into the tight end’s fantasy value from here on out, it is entirely possible that he will be available in as late as the third-round of drafts next season. Those that are willing to invest in Gronkowski and take a gamble on his durability could stand to benefit in 2017. After all, he has finished as the TE1 overall in fantasy three times over the past six seasons. That, coupled with a trio of 1,000-yard receiving seasons is simply hard to find at such a scarce skill positon in fantasy.

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