<
>

Eric Karabell's early 2017 fantasy football tiered positional rankings

David Johnson finished fourth among all players in fantasy points in 2016, tops among running backs. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

Welcome to the 2017 fantasy football season and yes, in case you're wondering, the rankings do not stop around here. That's a good thing, even in January! Here are my standard (non-PPR) rankings and indeed they will be changing due to offseason player movement, the NFL draft and whatever else tends to affect rankings.

In an attempt to differentiate from other rankings, these are done in tiers and broken down by position.

Jan. 18: While it's certainly OK to miss out on a top quarterback and focus on flex-eligible players, it seems like there's a small difference in the top two tiers, but then a large one before the third tier. After all, there's more risk with that intriguing third tier. Where's the consistency? With Cam Newton, he could be the best fantasy option or, like 2016, he could get outscored by Andy Dalton. Ben Roethlisberger gets so much rankings love, but still has only one top-10 finish in seven seasons, mainly because he misses games. Frankly, as of this date (before the Super Bowl, free agency and everything) the quarterbacks to watch are the ones who could be changing teams and adding value, like Tyrod Taylor (excellent runner), Tony Romo (he still has game, but needs a new home) and whomever the Jets choose, but even then, there's so much depth here, you shouldn't care in a 10- or 12-team format.

Jan. 18: Fantasy trends alter each season and it's tough to complain about the top of the running back position for 2017. Nothing against the best wide receivers, but they'll slot in to the middle of the first round. Just remember that, unlike quarterback, individual running back values change situationally. Melvin Gordon is a great example. Yep, he's legit. Can score touchdowns, can catch passes and ... his ol' pal Danny Woodhead is returning to frustrate everyone. Two Falcons in the top 20? Why not? Two Falcons finished top 20 in 2016! And ignore Adrian Peterson at your own risk; not saying he's worth a first- or second-rounder, but he's not done yet. His tier might be the most interesting.

Jan. 18: Standard stuff at this position, which doesn't look quite as loaded as it did entering the 2016 season. Still, there's depth and rookies will be added to the mix. What might be interesting to some is how I ranked Saints options, how I believe Davante Adams is legit and wondering how things will be any better for DeAndre Hopkins in 2017.

Jan. 18: The major change at this position, at least for me, is that I won't even pretend I'd choose a tight end in the first four rounds. And that includes the top tier. Gronk and Reed are so risky with the games played, and it's not likely to get better. I see more than 10 names I'd feel comfortable with in a standard format.