2017 Outlook: Ajayi wasn't pleased about losing Miami's starting gig to Arian Foster last preseason. He may have had a point. After sitting out Week 1, Ajayi rolled to 1,423 yards and 8 touchdowns on 287 touches. He posted a 4.9 YPC (11th best), including 2.5 yards after contact (fifth). Although Ajayi was extremely effective, a hefty chunk of his fantasy production came in three games. He posted a top-three point total in each of those games, which accounted for half of his six top-20 fantasy weeks. Ajayi doesn't add much as a receiver, but he's now the clear feature back in Miami's run-first offense. The 24-year-old should be off the board during the second round of your draft.
2017 Outlook: Regression to the mean was an inevitability for Seattle's top wideout last season and, although his touchdown production was cut in half, Baldwin still managed his second consecutive top-10 fantasy campaign. Baldwin posted career highs in receptions and yardage on his way to an eighth-place finish. For the second straight season, he was a bit too boom/bust, posting five top-10 weeks, but only three additional top-30 finishes. Baldwin is in his prime years at age 28 and remains one of the games' most-underrated players. He's a solid WR2 play in a Seattle offense that has relied more on the pass in recent years.
2017 Outlook: Injuries have limited Bryant to 22 games during the past two regular seasons, so it's easy to forget that he finished as a top-seven fantasy receiver during the prior three seasons. He was pretty good during the 13 games he played last season as well, posting a top-20 fantasy week during 54 percent of his outings (seventh best). Bryant scored eight touchdowns in 2016 after averaging 13.7 per season from 2012 to 2014. Bryant is averaging 8.8 targets per game (27 percent target share) during the 53 games he's played at least three-quarters of the pass play snaps since the start of 2013. The 28-year-old's volume will be limited some by Dallas' run-heavy scheme, but he does enough damage to warrant second-round consideration.
2017 Outlook: Gronkowski is one of the most dominant players in the NFL, but injuries continue to derail his career. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years, a total of 24 during the span. Gronkowski appeared in eight games last season, and led all tight ends in fantasy points during Weeks 6-10. He's finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he's appeared in at least 11 games. Gronkowski turns 28 this year and is expected to be back to full health, so although his durability is a major concern, his dominant production makes him worth consideration during the second round of your draft.
2017 Outlook: Cooper already has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, which is pretty incredible when you realize that he achieved that prior to turning 23 years old. Cooper took a step forward in his second season, cutting his drops from 10 to four, improving his yards per target from 8.6 to 8.9 and jumping from 21st to 13th at the position in fantasy points. Cooper will need to find paydirt more often in order to join the fantasy elite -- he has just 11 scores in two seasons -- but the former fourth-overall pick is just scratching the surface of his upside. He's a strong candidate for another big leap in 2017.
2017 Outlook: Gurley's 2016 season was a disaster. He ranked fifth in carries and 12th in targets among running backs, but finished 15th at the position in fantasy points. Gurley failed to finish a single week better than 10th. His YPC fell from 4.8 in 2015 to 3.2 last season. Gurley faced an average of 7.6 in-box defenders, which is near league average, but his line struggled to create open lanes (1.6 yards before contact per attempt was seventh lowest). Gurley was quietly pretty busy as a receiver, handling 57 targets (12th most among backs). Gurley is only 22 and a strong candidate for a bounce-back season, but he will struggle to find running lanes and scoring opportunities if second-year QB Jared Goff fails to improve on a brutal rookie showing.
2017 Outlook: Thomas finished 16th among wide receivers in fantasy points last season and was 11th in 2015. That's not too bad, but he's trending in the wrong direction after finishing in the top six each of the previous three seasons. Amazingly, Thomas has posted a grand total of two top-10 fantasy weeks over the past two seasons. He caught 90 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns and racked up eight end zone targets last season, all of which were his lowest totals since 2011. Thomas is still in his prime at age 29, but Denver's shaky quarterback situation has dropped him to high-floor WR2 status.
2017 Outlook: The Jaguars selected Fournette with the fourth overall pick in April's draft. He immediately steps in as the team's feature back. In terms of running backs with elite athleticism, size and upside as a ball carrier, you'll struggle to find a prospect more intriguing than Fournette. The LSU product is 6-foot-0, 240 pounds with big hands, long arms and 4.51 wheels. Fournette was dominant during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but an ankle injury limited his effectiveness during seven games last season. Fournette's receiving and blocking inadequacies may limit his rookie-season contributions slightly, but the 22-year-old's clear path to carries and elite upside as a rusher positions him as a strong RB2.
2017 Outlook: Needless to say, Miller's first season in Houston was a disappointment. After averaging 4.6 YPC during four seasons in Miami, Miller failed to erase concerns that he couldn't handle a bigger role by averaging 4.0 YPC in 2016. He averaged 1.3 yards after contact, which was third worst in the NFL. Miller averaged nearly 20 carries per game but played a minimal role on passing downs and managed only 6.4 YPR. Miller is still only 26 years old and remains clearly atop the depth chart, but it's safe to assume he'll defer snaps and carries to third-round pick D'Onta Foreman this season.
2017 Outlook: The disaster that was the Brock Osweiler season in Houston had a fairly sizable effect on Hopkins' numbers last season. One year after finishing as fantasy's No. 4 wide receiver, Hopkins' targets fell by 44, his receptions by 33, his receiving yards by 567 and his touchdowns by seven. He managed two top-10 fantasy weeks and 26 receivers scored more fantasy points. Osweiler is gone, but Houston's quarterback situation remains shaky, at best. Nonetheless, Hopkins is a bounce-back candidate on the grounds that he's in his prime at age 25 and one of the game's most talented players.
2017 Outlook: Cooks -- a first-round pick back in 2014 -- has three NFL seasons under his belt, but incredibly is only 23 years old. He adds an every-down speed component to a Patriots offense that has relied heavily on short and intermediate passing in recent years. Cooks joins New England having posted back-to-back 1,100-yard receiving seasons, including a total of 17 touchdowns during the two campaigns. He was fantasy's No. 13 wide receiver in 2015 and improved to 10th last season. Cooks needs to be downgraded in New England's crowded offense and he moves from the Superdome to icy New England (he's yet to play in an NFL game at a temperature below 55 degrees), but he's one of the game's top lid-lifters in one of the game's best offenses. He's a WR2 target with big upside.
2017 Outlook: Jeffery heads to Philadelphia on a one-year deal after spending the first five years of his career in Chicago. The 2012 second-round pick has missed quite a bit of time during his career, but his durability woes are probably a bit overstated; he's missed a total of seven games due to injury the past four years. Jeffery has been a super-productive and heavily utilized target when healthy. During those past four years, he's averaging 9.0 targets per game. His average of 16.0 fantasy points per game in PPR play during that span would've ranked ninth at the position last season. He sits third in the entire NFL in end zone targets during the past four years (63). Jeffery is in his prime at age 27 and will be a workhorse as Carson Wentz's top target.
2017 Outlook: Crowell barely managed top-35 fantasy campaigns during his first two professional seasons but increased efficiency and a larger passing-game role helped him leap to a 14th-place finish last year. Crowell was a bit reliant on a handful of big plays but still managed a 4.8 YPC (15th) on 198 carries. He continues to struggle after initial contact -- since he entered the league, his 1.47 YAC is worst in the league among backs with at least 300 carries -- and was helped by 3.3 yards before contact last year (third highest). He doubled his previous career total with 40 receptions, but he'll still play second fiddle to impressive third-year back Duke Johnson Jr. in that department.
2017 Outlook: Elliott paced the NFL with 322 carries and 1,631 rushing yards while finding the end zone a total of 16 times last season. Not bad for a rookie. Elliott faced an average of 8.0 in-box defenders, which was fifth highest in the NFL. The 2016 fourth overall pick trailed only David Johnson in fantasy points despite being limited to 38 targets (33rd). Elliott's rushing prowess, combined with Dallas' terrific offensive line and run-heavy scheme, will keep him near the top of the running back rankings on a per-game basis, but he's in for some regression to the mean in the scoring department (only 11 carries inside the 5-yard line). Elliott also will need more receiving work to maximize his fantasy contributions, which is likely, following the departure of Lance Dunbar. Elliott is suspended for six games (appeal pending), so he's best viewed as a third-round target. He'll be an elite RB1 upon his return in Week 8.
2017 Outlook: Pryor spent the first four years of his pro career as a quarterback, but has made an impressive transition to wide receiver over the past two seasons. Last season marked Pryor's first as an every-down receiver and he wasn't short on volume. Pryor racked up 135 targets (13th most), including 14 while in the end zone (ninth), and was an average of 13.9 yards down field when targeted (11th highest). Despite the fact 26.7 percent of balls thrown his way were off target, Pryor finished as fantasy's No. 20 receiver. Pryor is in his prime at age 27 and, at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, he adds some serious size to the perimeter in Washington. Pryor will be heavily targeted and should easily improve in the touchdown department in a better offense.