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10 Fantasy Football Players Worth the “Gold Price” in 2017

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If you ignore this list, not even the Lord of Light can stop your fantasy team’s Watch from ending.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
QB9 in 2015, QB7 in 2016, QB15 in 2017?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

This is from the Game of Thrones wiki:

The iron price is a concept in the culture of the ironborn, and their local religion of the Drowned God. Paying the iron price means seizing something from those one has defeated rather than paying or treating for it. Thus, it is a primary aspect of the "Old Way", the traditional lifestyle of the ironborn. The opposite of the iron price is "the gold price" - paying for possessions - which is considered shameful for a man to pay.

Thankfully, the ironborn are so lame that we can safely ignore any of their beliefs that we disagree with. The “iron price” is one of them. For the purposes of our fantasy teams, the “gold price” will refer to a player’s average draft position (ADP). Thus, if I say a player is worth the gold price, he is a player I am comfortable drafting at sticker value (and maybe even slightly overpaying for) to make certain I acquire said services. In other words, if you were King Robert Baratheon (may the Lord of Light rest his soul) the following players are guys you would go all the way North for in an effort to name them Hand.

Two years ago I penned an effort similar to this one and had a 60% rate of success. Jordy Nelson, Julian Edelman, and Andrew Luck all succumbed to injuries, which torpedoed my chances at a perfect score (A-Rod was affected by the loss of Jordy). That’s football for you. May the Lord of Light watch over the following list, as the night is dark and full of terrors...and football is a brutal game.

Winter is HERE for one more episode, y’all. Then the Long Night sets in.

***Note: All rankings are derived from FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings.***

Matthew Stafford: QB15

Stafford is getting major shade from the fantasy community with a consensus ranking of QB15 at both FantasyPros and FF Calculator. Nevermind that he was the QB7 in 2016 and the QB9 in 2015. He approaches 600 passing attempts on a yearly basis, and should do so again with a middling Lions defense (they can’t play the preseason Jets every week). Marvin Jones should improve in his second year with this offense, Ameer Abdullah is healthy, Kenny Golladay has shown flashes, Golden Tate is annually underrated, and Eric Ebron is formidable when healthy and granted opportunity. Stafford will have no shortage of weapons in his arsenal this year. People are definitely sleeping on him. Everybody ranking Stafford outside of the Top 12 is as half-baked as Brandon Stark. Stafford’s comp is probably Tommen. Dude is awesome and potentially elite, but never gets any respect.

Devonta Freeman: RB5

Two years ago Freeman was the top running back in fake football. Last year he was sixth, even with Tevin Coleman siphoning carries away. This year the Falcons are trying to make Coleman run more passing routes. Devonta is the clear “banger” in this offense, but he can catch the ball as well. Given his youth relative to fellow first-rounders LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray, Freeman is an excellent “floor” pick. I can definitely envision a scenario where he stays healthier than LeSean McCoy, who is being drafted ahead of him on most major sites. Besides, the Bills have gone insane lately. Freeman is in a much more predictable spot and he gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling in the middle of the first round. I imagine this is similar to the feeling Jon gets whenever he is alone in a cave with Dany. As for Freeman himself, we’ve never really lost money on him, and the Young Wolf never lost a battle. Let’s say Freeman is Robb Stark.

Rex Burkhead: RB54

The Patriots ran the ball more than anyone inside the 5-yard line last year. Mike Gillislee was once the clear favorite for those carries in New England, but you have to pay an expectant price for his services (RB23) and he has not yet returned from a lingering hamstring injury. Burkhead, meanwhile, is a savvy and versatile veteran, and we know Bill Belichick has an affinity for those types. It makes total sense to grab a piece from this running back group on the cheap and see how the chips fall during the season. Burkhead makes a lot of sense at his ADP compared to Gillislee. He is sort of like Theon Greyjoy in his prime. He wasn’t your first choice, but his status is pretty elite and entitles him to some quality scoring opportunities.

Jonathan Williams: RB56

There is no limit to Buffalo’s craziness, it seems. But no matter what happens, Williams should offer standalone value in most formats. He is not just a handcuff, not for a team that is so effective at running the football. For reference, Mike Gillislee scored 8 rushing touchdowns as the backup in Buffalo last year and finished as the RB27. Gillislee had 101 carries in 2016, while McCoy still had an impressive workload of 234 (and 50 receptions). If Williams continues to produce when given opportunities, a similar workload to Gillislee’s 2016 seems plausible. I love finding guys who offer a combination of production AND upside in the event of a single injury ahead of them. Williams is one of those guys this year. This is probably too soon, but Williams’ comp has to be Rhaegal. Any dragon is plenty useful on its own, but if a fellow dragon were to turn to ice it would make Rhaegal all the more valuable.

Doug Baldwin: WR11

I wouldn’t call Baldwin a “steal” at his ADP, but he is still very safe as Russell Wilson’s primary target in the passing game. He finished as the #7 wide receiver in 2015 and the #10 wide receiver in 2016. Last year was especially impressive given Wilson’s injury woes and the offensive line deficiencies. Wilson also posted a career low TD rate of 3.8 in 2016, despite a career mark of 5.6. Better things are ahead for this unit, and Baldwin’s floor makes him an extremely attractive choice at the end of Round 2 this year. Baldwin never gets the love he deserves from the fantasy community, which basically makes him our version of Tyrion Lannister. No pun intended with the stature thing.

Willie Snead: WR32

Snead is Drew Brees’ second-best wide receiver. I could stop there, but I won’t. Brees supported a pair of Top 10 receivers in 2016 in Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas. Coby Fleener is still abysmal (or maybe average) and Cooks now resides in New England. The only viable receiving threats after Thomas and Snead are Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Playing third fiddle last year, Snead finished as the WR34 in standard formats. I just don’t get his ADP this year. He is tied to an elite quarterback, which means his efficiency will vault him into elite WR3 status, if not WR2 or even low-end WR1 status. I think he is a legitimate WR2 option with upside. His main value derives from his attachment to an elite performer, so I think we gotta say that Willie Snead is our version of the Onion Knight. Dude is always yoked up to a king. No wonder you made it into old age, Davos.

Kenny Britt: WR42

Britt is the 50th wide receiver being drafted according to FF Calculator. Most other ADPs on this list are much closer together, but the sharps at FantasyPros are all over this one. I already wrote about Britt’s floor as a WR3 option in 2017. You can draft him as a WR4 or WR5 in some places, though. The sky is not the limit, but Britt should be the clear No. 1 option in the Browns offense at best, or share that role with Corey Coleman at worst (which would still afford him plenty of targets). Either way, enough opportunity will exist for Britt to meet or exceed his ADP. He is not a sexy pick, but he is safe. Hmmm. Is Britt our Brienne of Tarth? Sorry dude.

J.J. Nelson: WR63

Someone has to catch passes from Carson Palmer, and John Brown is continuing to recover slowly from a quadriceps injury due to his sickle cell trait. Coach Bruce Arians recently said Jaron Brown was his #2 wideout after Larry Fitzgerald, but my money is on Nelson to garner additional duties this season regardless of Brown’s availability. Nelson played at least 70% of snaps and had at least seven targets in all four games without Michael Floyd last season (stat coutesy of RotoViz). Now there is a chance he is on the field without Floyd and John Brown? Nelson’s 4.28 speed fits well in this vertical passing attack, as evidenced by his strong finish last year (Weeks 13-17). So, he has blazing speed. He is also the heir-apparent to Arizona’s deep threat role in the event of any continued absence by John Brown. Nelson’s comp has to be Gendry, who sprinted all the way from beyond the Wall to Eastwatch in a matter of minutes. He’d also have a great claim to the throne in the event of a tragedy to Jon and/or Dany.

Austin Hooper: TE17

Hooper had an efficient 2016 with 19 receptions, 271 yards, and three scores on his measly 27 targets. The Falcons did not re-sign his counterpart Jacob Tamme, who totaled 210 yards and three scores on his 31 targets last season. As such, Hooper is now the unquestioned starter in what should be a very good offense. I am excited to see what he can do with the addition of Tamme’s target share (or more) from last season. Tamme’s 10 red-zone targets from 2016 are especially enticing. The Falcons cannot want any more of those crucial targets to go to Mohamed Sanu (15 last year) or Justin Hardy (10 last year). Hooper could be the main guy benefiting from all the attention Julio Jones and the running backs command. There is a more than good chance that he is this year’s Hunter Henry. He is another solid character in his own right whose fortune is tied to a very quality character (Matt Ryan). Let’s say Hooper is Grey Worm, shall we?

Zach Miller: TE26

Miller has his limitations, namely injuries and poor quarterback play. However, it does not take much to be a viable tight end option in the fake game. Look no further than Miller’s 2016, when he appeared in only 10 games and still managed to finish as the #21 tight end in fake football. This year, his preseason absence has been a smokescreen, as you can have him for much cheaper than that right now. The Bears did sign Dion Sims to a three-year deal, but he is primarily a blocking tight end. Miller gets to do all the work that matters to us, and he just played all of his snaps with the Bears first team offense two days ago. Miller may not have TE1 upside with Sims in Chicago, but if he is anywhere close to healthy for most of the season he will finish as a TE2 option. You can draft him as a TE3. When he is healthy and not disappearing on us, Miller is exceedingly useful. Who knows how long he will stick around, though? His Thrones comp has to be Jorah Mormont.

I had a lot of fun with the Thrones comps in this one. Let me know if you have some better ideas. Mainly, though, let’s all get excited for the season finale and for the upcoming football season. What a time to be alive, right? Unless you’re Sansa Stark, of course. I would be terrified if I was her.