My definition of an exploder is someone who is drafted after the fifth round or later who could greatly exceed their ADP value i.e. Jay Ajayi of 2016. These players are always a key to your success in the draft process. Finding the diamond in the rough is always a fun process and a lot of it comes down to personal beliefs and takes on players and teams. These are my opinions on who I believe will be the exploders of 2017, in no particular order.
ADP:135, QB 16
Trivia time! What QB had the most top 15 finishes at the position in 2016? Brady? Rodgers? Luck? Brees? NOPE! The answer is Tyrod Taylor! A model of consistency in his time as a starter in 2015 and 2016, Taylor has averaged 3,000 yards passing, 18 touchdowns with only six interceptions through the air and has added 570 yards rushing with 5 rushing touchdowns per season. Taylor’s 40 rushing yards per game is the equivalent of an extra passing TD a game! Taylor offers an extremely safe floor with the upside to finish as a top 10 QB in 2017. If you are a member of the late round QB team, Taylor is a no brainer pick.
ADP:155, QB 19
A finalist for the NFL MVP award in 2015, Palmer struggled to regain his form in 2016. A myriad of injuries to his offensive line and wide receiver corps left Palmer with little to work with outside of David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. So why am I high on Palmer in 2017? The answer is pretty simple, John Brown’s health and the expanded role J.J. Nelson will have in the offense. Palmer throws one of the best deep balls in the league and it is vital that Brown and Nelson are on the field at the same time for him to succeed. I believe the Cardinals and Palmer bounce back in 2017 and you should expect 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns. That’s a screaming value in the 13th round of your twelve team drafts.
ADP: 77, RB 32
The fantasy cockroach is primed once again to greatly exceed his current 7th round ADP. Currently being drafted as the 32nd Running Back off the board, would it really surprise anyone when Gore finishes as a top 20 player at the position again? The Colts drafted Marlon Mack so there is a popular narrative that Mack will take over at some point this season. You are going to have to pry that job from Frank Gore’s cold, dead hands. It’s a pretty sure bet Gore finishes over 1,300 yards from scrimmage and at least 6-8 touchdowns. Stay away Robert Turbin you sniping son of a bitch!
ADP:136, RB 49
The New England Patriots backfield has been one of the hottest topics in fantasy football this off season but for every fifteen written pieces for Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead you may see one touting James White as the RB1 for the defending Super Bowl Champions. I’m here for the James White breakout! Running back 49? Good lord that screams value. In PPR leagues White is a great “zero rb” target as he had 60 receptions for 551 yards and five touchdowns. His workload on the ground should only improve as he only saw 39 carries in 2016. White was rewarded for his MVP level performance in Super Bowl 51 with a brand new three year contract. This extension speaks volumes to me as the Patriots typically do not sign running backs to long term deals. If Bill Belichick believes in a player, so do I.
ADP: 93, WR 38
Pierre Garcon is perhaps one of the least sexiest picks in 2017 but what you have to understand is the opportunity he has to produce based on volume. Quick, name another wide receiver on the 49ers that should push him for targets? There isn’t a clear cut option on the rest of the roster. Brian Hoyer has shown that he likes to lock in on one receiver and feed the living hell out of him. Deandre Hopkins in 2015, Cameron Meredith in 2016 and Pierre Garcon is that guy in 2017. I would not be surprised to see Garcon receive 150 targets in the passing game and push for 1,300 yards and 6-8 touchdowns making him an absolute steal this year.
Ted Ginn Jr.
ADP:170, WR 60
This pick is actually more about Drew Brees than it is Ted Ginn. Ginn joins the most consistent fantasy QB we have ever seen (don’t @ me) and will play nine games on turf which is a big advantage for a player with speed to burn. Another unsexy pick, Ginn has averaged 750 yards receiving with seven touchdowns in his last two years with Cam Newton who isn’t in Drew Brees’ class as a deep passer. Ginn might be the cheapest way to get a 1,000 yard receiver on your roster in 2017. A perfect bye week plug in or weekly play based on match ups Ginn can definitely help you win your league this year.
ADP: 202, WR 72
The number one receiver for the Los Angeles Rams everybody! He basically costs you nothing and has the target upside you are looking for late in drafts. You heard it here first, I think Jared Goff develops into a decent starting QB this year and Woods is the main beneficiary. He is the only player currently on the team with any NFL experience on the outside which should lead to him seeing the ball fairly often. Tavon Austin and Cooper Kupp should excel underneath so I’m hoping Woods experiences a bit of a breakout in 2017 and at his ADP I’m willing to take a shot and find out.
ADP: 182, TE 21
A post hype sleeper you say? Fleener saw himself being picked in the seventh round last year after he joined the elite passing attack of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Fleener was a pretty big disappointment after a 50/631/3 stat line that saw him thrown into the free agent pool in no time. I LOVE buying players after a disappointing season in elite offenses. Brandin Cooks and his 117 targets got shipped to New England and the only other player of note added was the aforementioned Ted Ginn. If Fleener can work on the drops and get more comfortable in the offense there is no reason we can’t get a 800 yard and seven touchdown season from him. That’s TE1 production! The Tight End position was an absolute mess last year and if we see that happen again picking Fleener could result in you smelling like roses!
ADP: 187, TE 23
Breakout alert! We have told you before that investing in a rookie Tight End can be a fool’s errand the majority of the time but what about the second year when that rookie no longer has an established veteran in front of him and he is in an elite offense? I’m willing to take a flier on Hooper as a TE2 on all my rosters in 2017. He could easily finish as a top 12 Tight End and really explode on to the scene! I’m going to use Tamme’s baseline of 59/657 as an indicator of what impact Hooper may have this year. I honestly would not be surprised to see Hooper put up a 75/890/7 line in this offense.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my take on players who I think will pay greatly exceed their ADP this season! At the end of the season I will be recapping both Exploders and Imploders with a scorecard of how my predictions panned out as I like to be accountable for my work.
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