Last week, I gave you five players ready to break out in a big way for the 2017 Fantasy Football season (LINK). Experienced players knew about those five, although, many might not have thought they could become top-end options at their positions. This week, we’re going deeper. Most Fantasy Football owners have likely heard the names, especially the quarterback, but few have these players on their radars for next year… but you should.
Carson Wentz, QB, PHI – Wentz started the 2016 season hot with seven touchdowns and an average of 17.7 FPPG in the first four games. After that, Wentz failed to reach 20 Fantasy points in a game, topping 15 just twice – the same number of games with multiple touchdowns. There were questions about Wentz transitioning from Division 1-AA to the NFL, and while his flaws were on display, Wentz’s receiving corps did him no favors.
There is still potential for Wentz to reach Top 15 status at quarterback next year. He’s similar to Ben Roethlisberger in stature. That’s important because Wentz is a solid runner, and we should expect increased rushing numbers next year. Wentz also has a strong arm and good ball placement. To draw a parallel, Blake Bortles had 2,907 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and 419 rushing yards for 13.1 FPPG as a rookie. Wentz had 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, plus 150 yards and two touchdowns rushing for 13.9 FPPG. No, Wentz isn’t the same quarterback as Bortles, but the point is that Wentz has a similar opportunity to improve. Even if it’s as ugly as Bortles’ production, Fantasy points are still Fantasy points. The Eagles will address their receiver position this offseason, and with a year under his belt and more rushing, Wentz is posed to make a solid jump in 2017.
Josh Doctson, WR, WSH – It’s easy to forget about Doctson after his missing the entire season. Doctson was my top receiver in last year’s draft, and if he’s healthy, he still has the ability to out-perform all of the rookie receivers from 2016. The health is a big concern, however. Doctson has yet to practice in full, reportedly, but let’s assume he can get back to 100 percent by training camp.
Both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are free agents for the Redskins, which opens up a clear path if just one of them leaves. Jamison Crowder is a great receiver, but he’s best utilized out of the slot. Doctson will line up out wide, and he has the leaping ability, ball control, tracking skill, hands and moves to grab all of his targets. He is a beast, and even with a missed rookie year, Doctson could be the top red zone receiver for the Redskins in 2017. If so, he’ll make his mark as a WR3… at least. Of course, this is assuming Kirk Cousins is back.
Leonte Carroo, WR, MIA – Carroo was my second ranked receiver in the draft, and while Doctson uses his athleticism to get open and beat defenders, Carroo does it with route running. That doesn’t mean that Carroo isn’t also athletic and a tough matchup, but Carroo was one of if not the best route runner in the draft. Carroo consistently shook defenders at Rutgers, even while not being 100 percent healthy for most of his last season. Again, it was Rutgers and Carroo still managed to finish with 809 yards and 10 touchdowns. And don’t forget, the Dolphins traded up to draft Carroo, so they obviously like him. With Kenny Stills a free agent, Carroo could be staring at a starting gig next year. He might even be able to overtake DeVante Parker if Parker keeps up with his inconsistency.
Roger Lewis, WR, NYG – Don’t worry if you don’t know who Lewis is. Heck, a good amount of Giants fans didn’t know until he stepped on the field. In fact, every NFL team overlooked Lewis in the draft (undrafted). Lewis had some off-field concerns that led to him not attending Ohio State and going to Bowling Green instead. All Lewis did was carry that offense with 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns. Lewis needs to improve his route running, and we saw that during his brief time on the field as a rookie. However, he has great foot control, throws off defenders with great stops and cuts and is dangerous after the catch. The Giants will likely cut Victor Cruz given his salary. While there is a chance that they bring Cruz back on less money, Lewis has the opportunity to become Eli Manning’s third receiver in his sophomore season, and that will carry Fantasy value with how often they go three wide.
Devin Smith, WR, NYJ – This is going very deep, and there are several factors in play here, namely the quarterback position. If the Jets don’t bring someone in, forget everyone on this team… maybe even Eric Decker. Nevertheless, the Jets could be without Brandon Marshall, have Decker returning from injury, Quincy Enunwa as a receiver-tight end hybrid and Robby Anderson being an average talent. Smith tore his ACL as a rookie, but his per reception production in college was off the charts. Smith had 32 catches for 886 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith can turn into a Torrey Smith/Nate Washington/Will Fuller type of receiver that specializes in big plays. Smith has several hurdles in front of him for value to hit, but there are also many opportunities that could break in his way and be a DFS option at worst.