Now is the time to start formulating your draft strategy for the 2017 Fantasy Football Season. Pre-season rankings are up, mock drafts are being done each day, and your opponents are getting wiser now too. Time to make a plan and stick to it.

With the NFL evolving into more of a pass-heavy league with each passing year, the amount of big-time, bell-cow running backs are shrinking. However, the ones that remain are continuing to put up extremely helpful rushing and receiving totals, with a plentiful amount of touchdowns. Players like David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott are all focal points of their team’s offensive philosophies. They need to be taken at picks #1, 2, and 3. The reasoning here is because when the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds roll by, the player pool will consist of solid WR choices, but not many reliable, starter-quality RBs. It is better to grab one or two early, and then make your picks on whatever WRs, QB, and TE you like best.

If you are not lucky enough to have a top three selection, don’t fret, because there are still some excellent RB choices to be had in round one. Yes, you can of course still take Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr in round one, you will always have permission to take the extremely talented WRs at solid value picks, but going RB  in the first (and 2nd as well for that matter) will lead to a much more balanced lineup than the average owner in your leagues.

Here is what a typical 12 team league with standard scoring will have rolled out in round one, including last season’s statistics as well as my projection for 2017:

david1
Arizona Sports

#1 David Johnson

2016: 293 Rush, 1,239 Yards, 16 TDs
80 Rec, 879 Yards, 4 TDs

2017: 280 Rush, 1170 Yards, 12 TDs
75 Rec, 790 Yards, 5 TDs

Leveon-bell-IR-pead-11-02-15
CBS Sports

#2 Le’Veon Bell

2016: 261 Rush, 1268 Yards, 7 TDs
75 Rec, 616 Yards, 2 TDs
*In 12 Games

2017: 307 Rush, 1411 Yards, 9 TDs
77 Rec, 624 Yards, 3 TDs

 

Zeke(5)
Star-Telegram

#3 Ezekiel Elliott

2016: 322 Rush, 1631 Yards, 15 TDs
32 Rec, 363 Yards, 1 TD

2017: 328 Rush, 1565 Yards, 12 TDs
41 Rec, 375 Yards, 2 TDs


Antonio-Brown-LN-PI.vresize.1200.675.high_.47
Total Pro Sports

#4 Antonio Brown

2016: 106 Rec, 1284 Yards, 12 TDs

2017: 114 Rec, 1421 Yards, 11 TDs

 

odell
Newsday

#5 Odell Beckham Jr

2016: 101 Rec, 1367 Yards, 10 TDs

2017: 97 Rec, 1325 Yards, 10 TDs

 

julio-jones
sportsgrid.com

#6 Julio Jones

2016: 83 Rec, 1409 Yards, 6 TDs

2017: 95 Rec, 1458 Yards, 9 TDs

 

 

lesean-mccoy-650-362-mmqb
Sports Illustrated – MMQB

#7 LeSean McCoy

2016: 234 Rush, 1267 Yards, 13 TDs

50 Rec, 356 Yards, 1 TD

2017: 249 Rush, 1251 Yards, 10 TDs
48 Rec, 374 Yards, 2 TDs

 

 

melvin-gordon-san-diego-chargers-nfl-comeback-player
Sports Illustrated

#8 Melvin Gordon

2016: 254 Rush, 997 Yards, 10 TDs

41 Rec, 419 Yards, 2 TDs
*In 13 Games

2017: 272 Rush, 1123 Yards, 9 TDs
52 Rec, 456 Yards, 3 TDs

 

 

evans.jpg
USA Today

#9 Mike Evans

2016: 96 Rec, 1321 Yards, 12 TDs

2017: 92 Rec, 1294 Yards, 10 TDs

 

#10 Devonta Freeman

2016: 227 Rush, 1079 Yards, 11 TDs
54 Rec, 462 Yards, 2 TDs

2017: 218 Rush, 1023 Yards, 13 TDs
62 Rec, 524 Yards, 3 TDs

 

AJG
Cincinnati Enquirer

 #11 AJ Green

2016 66 Rec, 964 Yards, 4 TDs
*In 10 Games

2017: 95 Rec, 1340 Yards, 7 TDs

 

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Phin Phanatic

 #12 Jay Ajayi

2016 260 Rush, 1272 Yards, 8 TDs
27 Rec, 151 Yards, 0 TDs

2017: 273 Rush, 1196 Yards, 10 TDs
39 Rec, 257 yards, 2 TDs

 

As we examine the statistics from last year, we like to see how situations may have changed for certain players. We predict similar or more volume for each of these Round 1 RBs who have earned  even more trust from their play callers. All of the WRs should see similar volume, aside from slight target/reception dips for Odell Beckham and Mike Evans whose teams added Brandon Marshall and DeSean Jackson respectively.

If you ask me, I will say that I would rather have the RB that does it all over the star wideout. You can find high producing WRs in the middle rounds, but good luck finding high yield RBs once the top 15 of them are off the board. Grab your bell-cow first, and enjoy the rest of the draft.

Ring the bell.

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Written by Nick Del Vecchio

Writer at Fact Fiction Fantasy NFL Fantasy Writer at RotoBaller.com I cheer loudly for the New York Football Giants, New York Yankees, New Jersey Devils, and in the rare occasion that they deserve praise, the New York Knicks.

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