In terms of fantasy football success, the No. 1 overall pick can either pay big-time dividends, or end up being a significant burden. Those in the unique situation to bat lead-off for 2017 fantasy drafts will surely get imaginative in preparing for all possible contingencies. We’ve certainly seen former early-1st-round picks backfire in the last handful of seasons.
Even if Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley weren’t selected atop your league’s board last year, you can rest assured owners were greatly disappointed in the returned value of an early 1st-round-pick. Fantasy football is the sports world’s version of the stock market in the sense that your wisdom and research are just educated assumptions at the end of the day. That said, I’m here to help illustrate why there’s an obvious pick atop 2017 draft boards.
When it comes to breaking down prospective success for the upcoming season, there’s a specific criteria to hold ourselves accountable to. Using a criteria that considers volume of touches, age, past production (with an emphasis on recent production), injury history, the team they play for, or extenuating circumstances; we all know those are the types of crucial variables when it comes to hypothesizing potential success. When evaluating which player checks the most of those boxes coming into 2017 – it’s easy to crown David Johnson as the consensus No. 1 pick in 2017.
Let’s kick off the conversation by thinking about Johnson’s resume to date. This is a third-year, 25-year-old who makes his living off being one of the busiest backs in the NFL. In his first full season as a NFL starter, Johnson totaled 2,118 yards between the air and ground, toting the rock 293 times for 1,239 yards and adding another 879 yards in the air (hauling in 80 of his 120 targets). Tack on 16 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns and you’re looking at one of the most complete seasons for a running back in recent history.
Despite the massive production last season, Johnson has vehemently expressed his desire to receiver 30 + touches a game this season. Last year’s massive numbers were fueled by a stout 23.3 touches per game. While it’s unfair to expect Bruce Arians and the Cardinals to put more mileage than necessary on the engine in the Arizona offense, it’s safe to assume that 350 touches will be the floor for 2017-2018.
When comparing DJ to another top back in contention for fantasy’s No. 1 selection, it’s easy to see where Johnson has a leg up. Le’Veon Bell is coming off a monster season himself and poses the biggest threat to Johnson’s No. 1 candidacy. Just two months apart in age, both Johnson and Bell project to be one-two in fantasy value this year.
However, while Le’Veon Bell is every bit as talented as Johnson, both as a rusher and pass catcher, Bell’s ambiguous holdout situation makes it that much easier to choose DJ at No. 1. Easy reassurance for owners still skeptical on Johnson’s credentials is the fact Bell accumulated seven total TDs in 12 games last year, while Johnson posted 20 TDs across 16 contests. Everything on paper points towards David Johnson as top dog when it comes to landing the No. 1 spot in your draft this season.