Fantasy Football 2017: Full Position-by-Position Rankings, Creative Team Names

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 15, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Summer has flown by, and now the NFL season will kick off in just three weeks when the Kansas City Chiefs face the New England Patriots on September 7.

This means fantasy football drafts are in full swing, so here are some rankings and team names to get you going.

For the rankings, we'll list the top 36 wide receivers, the top 24 running backs and the top 12 quarterbacks, tight ends, kickers and defense/special teams units (with one bonus pick for each).

Those numbers aren't random: Since the standard fantasy football roster has three wide receivers, two running backs and one of each for the other positions, all of these players below are deemed starting-caliber in a standard 12-team league.

Then, we'll finish with the top 15 fantasy football names after reviewing picks from Sporting NewsAthlon Sports and USA Today.

       

Quarterback

1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay)

2. Tom Brady (New England)

3. Cam Newton (Carolina)

4. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)

5. Drew Brees (New Orleans)

6. Kirk Cousins (Washington)

7. Derek Carr (Oakland)

8. Russell Wilson (Seattle)

9. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee)

10. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay)

11. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)

12. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia)

Bonus: Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo)

Expect Cam Newton to have a resurgent year mainly because the Panthers' schedule isn't particularly challenging. In fact, only five of their opponents made the 2016 playoffs.

Newton won the MVP just two seasons ago and now has a Swiss army knife-type on his team (rookie running back Christian McCaffrey). Expect big things from Carolina this year.

Other players on the rise include the Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz, who will benefit from having new wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the mix, and the Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr, who orchestrates an offense with fantastic potential with the additions of running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook.

      

Running Back

1A. David Johnson (Arizona)

1B. Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh)

3. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo)

4. Jordan Howard (Chicago)

5. Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville)

6. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta)

7. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina)

8. DeMarco Murray (Tennessee)

9. Lamar Miller (Houston)

10. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers)

11. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)

12. Jay Ajayi (Miami)

13. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota)

14. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas)

15. Mike Gillislee (New England)

16. Bilal Powell (New York Jets)

17. Frank Gore (Indianapolis)

18. Joe Mixon (Cincinnati)

19. Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland)

20. Ty Montgomery (Green Bay)

21. Thomas Rawls (Seattle)

22. Marshawn Lynch (Oakland)

23. Carlos Hyde (San Francisco)

24. Spencer Ware (Kansas City)

Bonus: Ameer Abdullah (Detroit)

The New York Jets' Bilal Powell could end up being the steal of a draft, especially in point-per-reception leagues.

In the Jets' last four games of the 2016 season, Powell averaged 5.0 yards per carry while catching 21 passes for 141 yards. He also found the end zone three times.

While Matt Forte is the current starter in the backfield, Powell should see plenty of time on the field given his skill set.

At the top, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are more 1A and 1B than one and two. They should both get plenty of touches, but Johnson should see more scoring opportunities since the touchdown wealth will be split in Pittsburgh between superstar wideout Antonio Brown and deep threat Martavis Bryant.

     

Wide Receiver

1. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh)

2. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants)

3. Julio Jones (Atlanta)

4. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay)

5. T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis)

6. Michael Thomas (New Orleans)

7. Jordy Nelson (Green Bay)

8. A.J. Green (Cincinnati)

9. DeAndre Hopkins (Houston)

10. Terrelle Pryor (Washington)

11. Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia)

12. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville)

13. Doug Baldwin (Seattle)

14. Amari Cooper (Oakland)

15. Demaryius Thomas (Denver)

16. Davante Adams (Green Bay)

17. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver)

18. Cameron Meredith (Chicago)

19. Dez Bryant (Dallas)

20. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota)

21. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)

22. Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis)

23. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona)

24. Kenny Britt (Cleveland)

25. Randall Cobb (Green Bay)

26. Tyrell Williams (Los Angeles Chargers)

27. Corey Davis (Tennessee)

28. Brandin Cooks (New England)

29. Jameson Crowder (Washington)

30. Davante Parker (Miami)

31. Michael Crabtree (Oakland)

32. Rishard Matthews (Tennessee)

33. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore)

34. Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Chargers)

35. Sterling Shepard (New York Giants)

36. Zay Jones (Buffalo)

37. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City)

Michael Thomas is the man now in New Orleans as Brandin Cooks was traded to the New England Patriots in the offseason, and one has to wonder if he's capable of producing a breakout campaign that will put him in the top-four wideout conversation along with Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones.

Thomas is just that good. In his rookie year, he caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine scores in 15 games. If he had not missed the Week 14 loss to Tampa Bay due to a foot injury, it's possible that he could have eclipsed the 100-reception and 10-touchdown marks in his first year, which is remarkable.

      

Tight End

1. Rob Gronkowski (New England)

2. Travis Kelce (Kansas City)

3. Greg Olsen (Carolina)

4. Jordan Reed (Washington)

5. Jimmy Graham (Seattle)

6. Martellus Bennett (Green Bay)

7. Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati)

8. Delanie Walker (Tennessee)

9. Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota)

10. Zach Ertz (Philadelphia)

11. Jack Doyle (Indianapolis)

12. Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers)

T-13. Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay)

T-13. Jared Cook (Oakland)

If you're in a point-per-reception league, keep an eye on Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

Rudolph was first among all tight ends in targets last year with 132, catching 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. He should be quarterback Sam Bradford's security blanket yet again.

Ertz caught 73.6 percent of passes thrown his way last year, which ranked sixth among qualifying tight ends. Overall, he snagged 78 passes for 816 yards and four scores. With the Eagles on the rise on offense, Ertz could have an even better year.

      

Kicker

1. Justin Tucker (Baltimore)

2. Stephen Gostkowski (New England)

3. Matt Bryant (Atlanta)

4. Dan Bailey (Dallas)

5. Mason Crosby (Green Bay)

6. Matt Prater (Detroit)

7. Chris Boswell (Pittsburgh)

8. Steven Hauschka (Buffalo)

9. Brandon McManus (Denver)

10. Caleb Sturgis (Philadelphia)

11. Nick Novak (Houston)

12. Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis)

13. Cairo Santos (Kansas City)

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has a bionic leg and will once again kick field goals of 50 yards or more with relative ease. He's far and away the best kicker pick this year.

Stay partial to any kickers that (a) are fantastic, (b) kick indoors or (c) are on teams who will have plenty of scoring opportunities this year. The first seven kickers on this list fit one (or all) of those criteria.

     

Defense/Special Teams

1. Kansas City

2. Denver

3. Carolina

4. Minnesota

5. Houston

6. Seattle

7. Arizona

8. New England

9. New York Giants

10. Pittsburgh

11. Buffalo

12. Philadelphia

13. Baltimore

The Panthers defense should vastly improve this year as long as the unit stays relatively healthy. Julius Peppers should provide a boost to the pass rush, and veteran Captain Munnerlyn is an excellent addition to a young secondary that showed promise at the end of last season.

The best linebacking corps in the game is still intact, as Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson form an excellent three-man unit.

If you're looking to draft a defense late, check out Pittsburgh because of this note from Evan Silva of Rotoworld:

The Steelers defense should dominate early, which will be beneficial to any fantasy team that has them this year.

      

Creative Team Names

1. Hilton Rewards (Sporting News)

2. More Than A. Thielen (Sporting News)

3. Bilal the Way Up (Sporting News)

4. Dez Dispensers (Sporting News)

5. Kelce Lately (Sporting News)

6. Baby Got Dak (Athlon Sports)

7. Deshaun of the Dead (Athlon Sports)

8. Le'Veon on a Prayer (Athlon Sports)

9. Highway to Bell (Athlon Sports)

10. Abdullah Oblongata (Athlon Sports)

11. Little Red Fournette (USA Today)

12. Game of Jones (USA Today)

13. Hooked on a Thielen (USA Today)

14. All You Snead is Love (USA Today)

15. Doyle Rules (USA Today)

If you are lucky enough to land Le'Veon Bell or if you grab Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen in the later rounds, you have plenty of options for team names if you're stuck this year.

Otherwise, any Adam Sandler fans will love the "Billy Madison" reference (Doyle Rules), and Prince fans will undoubtedly be impartial to Little Red Fournette.

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