2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: Breaking Down The Wolf’s Top 150 Big Board

Entering The Wolf's den for a good ole fashioned showdown.

It’s a summer pastime as timeless as any other: kicking your feet up, relaxing, having a few adult beverages, crushing mock drafts and reviewing fantasy football rankings. And what better way to kickoff the 2017 Fantasy Football Season by reviewing the fantasy football community’s newest and brightest superstar’s Top 150 Big Board. While his teeth may scare you, The Wolf is a friendly sort, dropping knowledge and keeping us all up to date on the latest and greatest information regarding all fantasy movements. Just make sure to keep the sheep and bacon at home when you meet him. Fortunately for me, I’ve got a silver bullet to battle The Wolf. And that silver bullet is an undying passion for fantasy sports and stubborn, unwavering opinions. So let’s take a look at The Wolf’s 2017 fantasy football rankings and see where he went high, went low and absolutely nailed.

Too High

Carlos Hyde, Running Back (SF)

Kyle Shanahan seems to do wonders for players from a fantasy perspective. From the obvious names (like Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman) to the relatively unknown (Taylor Gabriel), Shanahan’s fast paced, high octane offense generates fantasy points by the bundles. So it is no wonder why so many people are bullish on the 49ers “starting” running back Carlos Hyde coming into draft season, especially after seeing what the two-headed Atlanta running back attack did the past few years. Oh, did I put quotation marks around the word starting? Gee that is odd, I wonder why. Let’s see. First, recent reports state that Hyde will have to compete for the starting job. Also, Shanahan drove the train on drafting rookie Joe Williams in the fourth round, a fast, strong and shifty back that could be perfect for Shanahan’s offense. Plus, the 49ers also roster the perennially effective and underrated backup Tim Hightower as well. That doesn’t sound like an RB16 to me. Now, let’s do a quick roster breakdown. According to Pro Football Focus, the San Francisco 49ers have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Also their starting quarterback is veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer and their best offensive weapon at wide receiver would probably be the fourth option on a good team. Shanahan is great and I love what he brings to the table for us fantasy owners, but a foggy RB situation and rough surrounding cast will make me pass on Hyde come draft day.

Joe Mixon, Running Back (CIN)

Speaking of deplorable offensive lines, the Cincinnati Bengals arguably have the worst offensive line in the league. And along with that I am supposed to trust a rookie with off field (and probably severe mental) issues with two more than respectable running backs behind him? No thanks. Joe Mixon may be one of the, if not the, most talented running back from the 2017 draft class, but his situation in Cincinnati just does not move the needle for me. Just like in San Francisco, there are too many running backs for this rookie to surpass to log meaningful and fruitful snaps for fantasy purposes. Sure Jeremy Hill has slowed down the past two years, but he has scored 29 rushing touchdowns since 2014, tied for the most in the NFL with LeGarrette Blount. And Giovani Bernard remains a significant threat in the passing game. Oh, and A.J. Green. Enough said. Maybe some day I will come around, but at RB 17 and number 42 overall in his rookie season, I will gladly let him slide by me.

Too Low

Russell Wilson, Quarterback (SEA)

I never thought I would speak so much about offensive lines in one article. Or about a low ranked quarterback as I always wait until the last rounds to draft those. Russell Wilson ran for his life the entire 2016 season due to a depleted and rather horrendous offensive line. Let’s also not forget the rotating door at running back between Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise and Christine Michael. And then there was the injuries that plagued him all last season. This season, Wilson reportedly dropped a good amount of weight and looks like his faster, normal self from seasons past (where he averaged 608 rushing yards and 3 TDs per season). And while the O-line still sucks and they still have a major issue at running back (and by major I mean fat with Eddie Lacy), I really think those things can be a positive from a fantasy perspective. First, I do not see Wilson deferring to Lacy, but rather using Prosise more in the passing game and Lacy as a change of pace guy. Second, since he is fully healthy, when the line breaks down Wilson can escape trouble more easily and do what he does best: scramble. Wilson makes most of his money in fantasy leagues with his legs and the staggering drop in rushing production last year (259 yards, 1 TD) can almost exclusively be attributed to his injuries. Healthy once again, I expect Wilson to exploit his connection with underappreciated wideout Doug Baldwin and to go back to running all over the field, good for a top 70 finish by the season’s end.

Just Right

Jay Ajayi, Running Back (MIA)

While I tried to give The Wolf a much needed taste of his own medicine, I think he needs some props where due. I love Jay Ajayi. I love him so much I drafted him in the first round of our most recent mock draft. And I proclaimed my love even before all those reports started leaking about him being a true workhorse who has improved a billion percent (I think that was the number) in the passing game. As the lead starter in 12 Dolphins’ games last year, Ajayi compiled 1,197 rushing yards. Imagine if the reports of the passing game are true. My gosh, the sky is the limit. With an easier schedule this year against run defenses and a quarterback prone to struggles I expect this to be the year the Dolphins lean heavily on Ajayi and finally figure out what they actually have in their young stud. And trust me, they will not be disappointed.

(For a well-thought and fully discussion regarding Jay Ajax’s prospects for the upcoming fantasy season, watch Episode 10 of the Fantasy Fullback Dive here.)

Willie Snead, Wide Receiver (NO)

Has every expert suddenly forgot about how the New Orleans Saints offense operates? Did Drew Brees retire? Did the team move outdoors? I think this is the same Saints team that perpetually relies on the arm of Drew Brees (over 626 passing attempts in 9 of his last 10 seasons, over 5,000 yards in 5 of those season) to win them games and that philosophy should stick this year. Yeah, budding superstar Michael Thomas is the flavor of the week this year (which I agree with), but why is everyone still so low on Willie Snead? The WR2 in the Saints offense typically produces at around a WR2.5 level, and sometimes much better. So let’s take a look at recent years: 2016, Michael Thomas (92/1,137/9); 2015, Willie Snead (69/984/3); 2014, Kenny Stills (63/931/3). I think you get the point. The WR2 still catches close to 75 balls for 1,000 yards and 5 scores per season over the past 3 years. Those numbers are akin to that of the 2016 version of Emmanuel Sanders, currently being drafted right near the top 50 overall. Couple that with Brees’ continued connection and relationship with Snead, Snead’s sure handedness (he has caught 68.4% of balls thrown to him since he entered the league in 2015) and his consistency, I only see the bond between these two growing, so a top 50 finish is not out of the question for someone being drafted in the 8th and 9th rounds of drafts and in the mid 30’s at the WR position.

So who do you agree with, me or The Wolf? Only time will tell as the 2017 fantasy football season unfolds, but I wanted to ruffle some feathers early and take the top dog on head on. Just know Wolfy, to quote a good friend of mine Omar Little, you come at the king, you best not miss.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy baseball discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.


  • There are many myths about RedSocker45. Is he, in fact, Pedro Martinez? Is he a mathematician gone rogue? Does he have magical powers equal to Gandalf The White? In actuality, he is a normal dude that grew up in the North End of Boston and he loves being Italian, eating delicious food and the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics. Myth, busted.