by Michael Nazarek
Editor's Note: Below you will find a portion of our Fantasy Football Creepers for 2017. If you'd like to read about all 20 creepers, please click HERE
to order our 2017 Pre-Season Draft Guide.
Were you one of those fantasy football owners who drafted Blake Bortles, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, or Rob Gronkowski last year? Unfortunately, these fantasy football players were some of the many disappointments due to injuries or other unfortunate circumstances. Just because they didn’t perform last year, doesn’t mean they will fail again in 2017, but I want to make sure to point out some of the warning signs which may cause certain fantasy football players to produce poor fantasy football numbers this year. I remind everyone that the players on the forthcoming list may produce good fantasy football numbers this coming season, but I recommend you think twice before drafting them for your team this year. Let the buyer beware!
Eric Ebron (Detroit) - Ebron has flashed co much potential in his young NFL career, but consistency remains a bug-a-boo with the guy. First, he often has a bad case of the dropsies at the worst time. Second, even though he caught a career-high 61 passes last year, he only scored once. Third, he is an injury risk, as he missed another three games last year. That said, when he plays, he is usually good for 3-5 catches each week, so even though he's listed here as a creeper, he simply has yet to live up the potential that he's shown in his first three years. Let's just say he makes a much better fantasy backup than starter, which is why we rank him outside the top 10 or so TEs. Update 8/16: Ebron has been dinged in camp, but the big reason he's still on this list may be the emergence of rookie WR Kenny Golladay as a real red zone threat. Ebron scored ONCE in 2016. Don't be shocked if he doesn't improve on that number at all in 2017! Update 8/30: No change here. Ebron began practicing again this week coming off a hamstirng injury, but he's still not a true red zone threat, so he's not one to target in drafts this summer.
Coby Fleener (New Orleans) - OVERRATED. Fleener has always been an inconsistent player, but he took that to a new level in 2016. In PPR leagues, Fleener topped 23 fantasy football points twice, while topping 10 points in only another two games. Unfortunately, in the other 12 games, he scored less than 10 fantasy football points with the majority coming in at 5 points or less. Yes, he has QB Drew Brees targeting him, but too often Fleener will disappear entirely from the game plan. While WR Brandin Cooks may be gone, that doesn't mean more targets for Fleener. And his current ADP of the 11th/12th round is much too early for a guy more than likely to disappoint in any one game, even if he's a backup on your roster. Bottom Line: You never know when he will produce that big game, just know that it's only 12.5% of the time, going on his numbers from 2016. Update 8/16: No change here. Fleener will still be used as the Saints like to use him, here and there. That means many low-point games with a few high-point games mixed in. UGH. Update 8/30: No change here again. Fleener is simply too inconsistent week-to-week to rely upon in fantasy.
Zach Miller (Chicago) - There's no doubting that Miller is talented, but a foot injury ended his 2016 season early. In addition, the Bears are in a total rebuild mode right now, and reports have surfaced that Miller's roster slot may be in danger due to TE Daniel Brown's presence and the fact that Miller may not be ready to practice come the start of training camp. That aside, the question here really is assuming that Miller keeps the starting job, can he develop quick chemistry with new starting QB Mike Glennon? Bottom Line: There are simply too many questions surrounding the Bears and Miller to trust that he will not only start, but produce enough to be a solid fantasy football player in 2017. Update 8/16: Miller is hanging around in Chicago, but his role is still uncertain, and he could yet be traded or released. That makes him too risky to draft! Update 8/30: One would think Miller's role would increase with Meredith's injury, but there is still nothing to keep the team from moving on from him this coming week.
Jared Cook (Oakland) - Cook has gone from team to team, based mostly upon his potential, and not real consistent production. In 2016, he missed six games as a Packer due to injury, and then only topped 56 yards receiving twice, while scoring just once the entire year. As a result, he is now a Raider, and while he may start for his new team, Oakland does not place an emphasis on getting the football into the hands of their tight end as a priority. As a result, there will be plenty of games where Cook catches 1-2 passes and doesn't score. In addition, injury remains a concern for the veteran tight end. Bottom Line: There are plenty of other consistent tight ends to target, even as your fantasy backup, in drafts this summer. Update 8/16: Cook has been up an down in camp, and the Raiders have yet to show they will target their TEs more in the pasing game. Not good. Update 8/30: No change here. Cook remains a potential tease in fantasy.
Julius Thomas (Miami) - Thomas scored a whopping 24 TDs playing with Peyton Manning as a Bronco. But since leaving Denver at the end of the 2014 season, Thomas has scored only a total of nine times over the past two seasons with the Jaguars. Now, he's a Dolphin, a team that has had trouble getting consistent production from their tight ends. Remember Jordan Cameron? But Miami is excited about his addition. At least until he began to have struggles getting on the same page with QB Ryan Tannehill this spring. The timing was off. Yeah, right. And with that, Thomas is officially off my fantasy football draft list and becomes my deep creeper! Update 8/16: Even though I bumped him up our rankings when QB Jay Cutler signed, Thomas found himself missing practice due to a back injury. Simply put, I seriously doubt this guy can stay healthy for an entire 16-game season. And for that reason, he remains as my deep creeper at TE. Update 8/30: Thomas scored in the team's last preseason game, showing he's healthy, but was still not a big target in that game. Not getting good vibes here, so I'm holding solid with Thomas as my deep creeper at tight end for fantasy football.
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