New Year’s Resolutions for Fantasy Football 2017
Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball for a seven yard touchdown run against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With 2017 on the horizon, everyone will be making New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t leave resolutions for fantasy football off your list!

Eat healthier. Travel more. Read more books. Start investing. These are just some of the New Year’s resolutions I should be making since they will actually affect my real life. Until then, these resolutions regarding fantasy football in 2017 will have to do.

*Standard scoring is used whenever point totals are mentioned*

Draft a stud RB early

2015 was a weird year that led to most people drafting in the top three picks in 2016 to shy away from running backs. The number one running back in fantasy football last year was Devonta Freeman with 230 points. He was ranked as the 21st player overall, behind 17 quarterbacks and two wide receivers. 17 QBs ahead of the top running back! Injuries, suspensions and uncertainty regarding players with limited or no NFL experience at running back caused most to go with proven commodities at other positions in the first round.

Next year’s drafts should be interesting as a handful of backs have proven worthy of an early first round selection. Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Demarco Murray, and Freeman all come to mind as potential first round picks. That’s not to say that Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and Julio Jones aren’t worth a look in the top five either. It’s just that next year is so wide open and having a stud running back puts you at such an advantage come fantasy football playoff time when the weather gets colder. The risk is that running backs are more likely to get hurt because of the nature of the position they play. To that I say: Football is a violent game by definition that you could get hurt on any play. Take a stud running back and hope for health.

Don’t overspend on rookies

Every year, there’s a rookie in fantasy football with “can’t miss talent” that mock drafts have going suspiciously high. Yes, for every Laquon Treadwell there’s an Ezekiel Elliott, but you also have to keep their situations in mind. Zeke was going to run behind the best offensive line in football — that made Darren McFadden a 1,000 yard back in 2015 — while Treadwell was joining a run-first team with Teddy Bridgewater/Shaun Hill at quarterback (depending on when your league drafted).

Also keep in mind that the 2014 wide receiver draft class was an anomaly that probably won’t be repeated for the next 20 years. Just don’t buy into the hype in 2017 when Mel Kiper Jr. compares an incoming wide receiver to Terrell Owens. See how their rookie season plays out before you waste a mid-round draft pick on someone who is unproven in the NFL. Take it from someone who drafted Breshad Perriman in 2015.

Forgive, but don’t forget

I will forgive those who wronged me last year, but I will also keep in mind who they really are. This past year my fantasy football roster was full of the typical injuries and disappointments you get when you play this fickle game. I am a big believer in, “Past results do not guarantee future performance.” However, when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. Whether it was the wrong offensive system, tough schedule, injuries, or just poor/inconsistent play, there a few players who made my “Do Not Draft in 2017” List. One of those players was Davante Adams, who always seemed to go off while sitting on my bench, and do nothing when I started him. Consistency is key in fantasy football, and he just didn’t have it this year. Davante Adams, I just don’t know if I can forgive you.

Wait on QB

As I mentioned earlier, in 2015 there were 17 quarterbacks who finished the season with more fantasy points than any wide receiver or running back. The difference between fantasy’s number one QB (Cam Newton) and fantasy’s number 10 QB (Eli Manning) was just over five points per game. You may remember that Cam had 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015, a stat he didn’t come close to replicating this year. But even with all of those extra points in the running game, Eli was still less than 100 total points behind Cam. And you could have gotten Eli 8-10 rounds after Cam, giving you plenty of time to stockpile running backs and receivers.

This season, two running backs rank inside the top five in fantasy points scored, but the QB distribution is even closer. Aaron Rodgers is fantasy’s number one quarterback heading into Week 17 of the 2016 season, with 295 points to his name. Ben Roethlisberger is ranked 10th with 227 points, or a difference of about four points per game. The numbers and players may have changed, but the distribution remains the same. I know it was tempting to draft Aaron Rodgers this past year when he fell into your lap in round four, Vin, but resist the urge in 2017 and instead draft a running back or receiver.

Don’t draft Gronk in the first round and wait on a Kicker until the last round

I’ve been able to resist the urge to draft the Patriots tight end in previous years, but I have fallen victim to other tantalizing options in the first round. Three years ago it was Jimmy Graham in the first round. Next year I have a feeling Travis Kelce might be the tight end everyone wants to pull the trigger on.

The tight end position is one of just four positions in fantasy football that you only start one player in. This creates the illusion that grabbing an elite tight end will give you an advantage — and it does — just as long as he doesn’t get hurt. If the running back or receiver you drafted in the first round gets injured, it doesn’t sting as much because you usually have several options to replace him with. That’s not the case at tight end, which is the thinnest position year in and year out. I must remind myself that waiting on a tight end in 2017 is essential to my draft strategy.

I must also remember that taking a kicker before the last round is a waste of a pick. This past year I was one of the last in my league to draft a kicker when I drafted Adam Vinatieri in the last round. Entering Week 17, he is fantasy football’s number four kicker. Stephen Gostkowski (who was drafted ridiculously early in my league in the 12th round) is fantasy football’s 14th ranked kicker. Patience is a virtue.

Stick to my guns

Most importantly, I will follow these resolutions and my gut in 2017. Whether that means not changing my lineup at 12:59 on a Sunday afternoon or sticking to my draft strategy, I will do what needs to be done to return to the top of the fantasy football mountaintop in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone!

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