Fantasy football can be addicting for several fun reasons, but we all know that it also breeds trust issues. Below are 10 players that had disappointing fantasy seasons in 2016 for various reasons, but here is why you can trust them again in 2017.
I left out players like receiver John Brown as well as running backs Ameer Abdullah and Danny Woodhead because I already included them in my undervalued players to watch. I also chose not to put quarterback Russell Wilson, receivers A.J. Green and Keenan Allen and tight end Rob Gronkowski because those are already high-level players returning from injuries, and you don’t need me to tell you to take them back.
Lockett was awesome as a rookie in 2015, totaling 1,915 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns. He crashed back down in 2016 with 1,560 yards and 2 touchdowns, but that was a lot to do with nagging injuries. Lockett ultimately suffered a broken leg in which he is still recovering. However, he is expected to return full-go for training camp after participating in some offseason work. Lockett wasn’t the only Seahawk to see a decline in 2016, as quarterback Russell Wilson was banged-up all year behind a poor offensive line. Assuming Wilson and Lockett are 100 percent upon return, look for them to build on what they accomplished in 2015. Lockett is a good route runner, he returns punts and kickoffs — he is a big play waiting to happen.
Even at only 29 years old, many think that Maclin might be toast. After all, he just had the least productive season of his career in 2016 after looking like an upper-crust receiver the two years prior. However, Maclin revealed that he suffered a groin tear through the second half of the season. That would certainly explain his dip in production. Now in Baltimore, Maclin takes over for Steve Smith, the veteran receiver that quarterback Joe Flacco loved to look for. With the Ravens being the league’s reigning leader in pass attempts (42.4 per game) — even with Ryan Mallett — there certainly will be plenty of passes coming Maclin’s way. There is no other choice but to, considering Mike Wallace is the only other proven veteran receiver on the roster, and there are no great options at tight end with Dennis Pitta’s latest injury.
Decker was easily one of my favorite fantasy players in 2015. With Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback, Decker averaged 14.3 points per game and finished as one of fantasy’s top receivers. Decker’s 2015 performance set his 2016 stock sky high. Unfortunately, hip and shoulder injuries limited him to just three games. He had surgery for both issues this offseason and has since been released by the Jets and has signed on with a real quarterback in the Titans’ Marcus Mariota. Decker should be among Tennessee’s top three passing options along with Corey Davis and Delanie Walker. Decker has been able to succeed no matter who the quarterback is, so linking up with Mariota and being healthy means his arrow is up.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has declared that Prosise will compete to become the team’s starting running back. If Prosise becomes the starter, that is obviously huge for his fantasy prospects. He is a multi-dimensional back who is just as good catching the ball as he is running it. He was actually a wide receiver at Notre Dame before he converted to running back. Seattle tried to exploit that last year, giving him 30 carries and 17 catches (19 targets). Prosise delivered, averaging 8.1 yards per touch. It was a hell of a four-game stretch, but his season ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury. When he’s returned fully healthy, expect Seattle to go back to the well on Prosise.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Martin, but he usually comes through. After exploding for over 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns as a rookie in 2012, he struggled with injuries and compiled 1,080 yards and 3 touchdowns from 2013-’14 combined in 17 total games. Martin rebounded in 2015 after regaining his health, putting up over 1,600 yards and 7 touchdowns. Naturally, that gave fantasy owners confidence in Martin in 2016, but he struggled with injury again and got suspended, limiting him to just 555 yards and 3 touchdowns in eight games. So, now the question is: At 29 years old, does Martin have one more big fantasy season left in him? Everything out of Buccaneers headquarters sounds great about Martin, but you have to be comfortable taking him despite the injury history and the fact that he is suspended the first three games of the season.
This may be a reach, but there has been plenty of positive talk about Thomas this offseason in Miami. He was a stud in Denver from 2013-’14, totaling 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns. His main issue, however, has been injuries, which got him dealt from the Jaguars to the Dolphins. He only appeared 21 games in two seasons and put up a fraction of what he did in Denver: 76 catches for 736 yards and 1 touchdown. Now, Thomas is reunited with his offensive coordinator from Denver in Miami head coach Adam Gase. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen also has big plans for Thomas. If the talk out of Miami is any indicator, Thomas is on the way back up.
The main cause for Robinson’s struggles in 2015 won’t change in 2016, but there are other factors that should improve his situation. I’ll start by saying that Robinson didn’t even have a bad year in 2016, but it fell short of expectations. Now, what doesn’t change for Robinson is that Blake Bortles is his quarterback. What does is that, led by Tom Coughlin in the front office, the Jaguars should have competence in their leadership on both sides of the ball. After going off for 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015, Robinson dipped down to 73 catches for 883 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2016. With the Jaguars possibly becoming a run-oriented team behind Leonard Fournette in 2017, I don’t think Robinson will jump back up to his 2015 numbers. However, I think they will be somewhere in the middle of 2015 and 2016. Those are still low WR1/high WR2 numbers.
First thing’s first, Hopkins no longer has Brock Osweiler as his quarterback. From 2015 to 2016, Hopkins’ production dipped by 33 catches, 567 yards and 7 touchdowns. With how much of a mess the Texans offense was with Osweiler pulling the strings, almost everyone gets a pass for how they performed. Whoever wins the quarterback battle between Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson, it’s almost impossible for things not to improve. Remember, Hopkins put up 111 receptions for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback in 2015. Head coach Bill O’Brien will have the entire offseason to prepare Savage and Watson however he’d like. Hopkins is an elite receiver talent, and Houston should get back to treating him as such.
Ankle and back issues ruined Eifert’s 2016 season. Unfortunately, injuries tell the tale of Eifert’s career thus far, as he has only had one relatviely healthy season since his rookie year. In 2015, in 13 games, Eifert had 13 touchdowns. Right now, he is recovering from back surgery, and his status for training camp is up in the air. Could he miss some time to start the season? It certainly seems so. However, if he actually returns 100%, he could be quarterback Andy Dalton’s No. 2 option behind A.J. Green. With the Bengals’ offensive line also a question mark this year, it could mean lots of quick throws, with Eifert on the receiving end.
The NFL decided to move extra points back to the 15-yard line permanently in 2016. That likely played a role in Gostkowski’s odd down year. He struggled early in the season, so apparently he needed some time to adjust. He converted less than than 90% of his field goal attempts for the first time since 2012. And, he missed his first extra points since 2006. With Gostkowski being among the league’s all-time kickers, you can trust that he will be more steady in 2017.