Odell Beckham Jr. and DeMarco Murray in 2014. Devonta Freeman in 2015. Mike Evans and LeSean McCoy in 2016. Every fantasy football season, there seems to be a group of players who outperform expectations and end up on a disproportionate number of championship teams. Obviously, 2017’s fantasy football champions have not been crowned yet, but with the playoffs starting and championship weekend just a few weeks away, it might be insightful to take a look at which players are on the highest percentage of this year’s top-scoring fantasy teams.
Conveniently, ESPN displays leaderboards of the 50 top-scoring fantasy teams in all of its public leagues. It’s not a perfect sample size, but it should paint a decent picture of which players have been carrying their owners’ teams the most this season.
Russell Wilson, SEA QB (56%)
Wilson has been phenomenal of late. He’s pretty much carrying the entire Seahawks‘ offense, and he’s clearly carrying many successful fantasy teams, too. Russ is averaging over 26 standard fantasy points per game since his bye week thanks to his dual prowess through the air and on the ground.
Todd Gurley, LAR RB (54%)
What a resurgent season it has been for both Gurley and the Rams. For a guy who was being drafted as a fringe RB1 in August, Gurley has certainly exceeded expectations. He currently leads the NFL in total touchdowns and is second in scrimmage yards to Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell. Needless to say, faithful owners who reinvested in Gurley after an abysmal 2016 season have been handsomely rewarded.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL RB (48%)
The fact that Elliott, who has missed the last 4 games while serving a suspension, still shows up on nearly half of the top 50 public teams on ESPN is amazing. Admittedly, getting half a season of a stud RB1 at a 3rd-round price tag still represents significant value. And winning championships is all about finding value where other owners can’t.
Antonio Brown, PIT WR (40%)
I need to just start picking Antonio Brown in the first round every year. For the record, my most recent three first-rounders in my main league have been Jeremy Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, and David Johnson (yikes). Antonio is simply the safest fantasy pick, year in and year out. Most of the other players on this list are here because they exceeded expectations by a significant margin this season, but that’s not the case for Brown. Expectations are always sky-high for the veteran wideout, and he meets them every year. I’m playing against Antonio Brown in the first round of my money league playoffs, and let me tell you, I’m terrified.
Jaguars D/ST (38%)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a fantasy defense scored as many points as a top-5 running back? Probably not, but the Jaguars have answered your question anyway. It’s been a perfect storm for this defense in 2017: a piece-of-cake schedule, a successful running game, and an infusion of talent on all three levels. Free agent addition Calais Campbell has been outstanding, with a career high 12.5 sacks in just 12 games. Jacksonville’s ‘D’ is getting plenty of turnovers and touchdowns, too. It’s no wonder they’re found on so many of the most successful fantasy teams in 2017.
Alvin Kamara, NO RB (36%)
Kamara might be the most exciting rookie in the NFL right now. His ridiculous average of 1.3 fantasy points per touch illustrates just how dynamic he has been for the Saints in 2017. What’s even crazier is that Kamara started the year as the 3rd-string running back behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. Even now, with Peterson gone, Kamara still only handles about 40% of the backfield touches for Sean Payton’s offense. Yet, somehow, he’s the number 2 running back in fantasy football. As he was nothing more than a late-round flier in most fantasy drafts this August, Kamara has proven to be the ultimate value pick.
UPDATE: Here is what Kamara said on Twitter after suffering a concussion on Thursday Night Football.
Right back at it next week. Hellyatalmboutt 🕺🏾⚜️
— Alvin Kamara (@A_kamara6) December 8, 2017
Do you own any of these players? Are there any other players that have saved and/or wrecked your season so far? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and, as always, roll Armchair.