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Top 100 fantasy players of 2017: Alex Gelhar's list

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In honor of NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2017" series (airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET), the NFL Fantasy team is releasing their preliminary top 100 or 200 fantasy players of 2017 lists as well. Below is Alex Gelhar's list, and you can view other analysts through the tabs above.

Before we get into this list, I feel the need to address a few things. First, yes, this is extremely early to be compiling a top 100 list and the version you see below is far from set in stone. I haven't had a chance to really sink my teeth into everything post draft, and as a result, there might be some surprising rankings that will change soon in the list below. Second, man do things start to get dicey quickly this year. There appears to be a lot of potential in the middle rounds, but sorting out where to take certain players right now is difficult. Thankfully we have several months left to perform mock drafts, research and get ourselves in a better spot come draft day.

Yes, like pretty much everyone else my first three players are the big three running backs. I favor Bell slightly above the other two because I trust his offense the most. David Johnson might see the most touches, but that Cardinals offense could be an injury away from being an abject disaster, and that'd do Johnson no favors. The top-five receivers are also a strong fantasy bunch in my opinion, and whom to select first could ultimately be just a matter of preference. A.J. Green should bounce back now that he's healthy and the team has a deep threat opposite him to command more attention. Mike Evans could be set to explode in a similar spot with DeSean Jackson opposite him and an ascending Jameis Winston under center.

LeSean McCoy figures to be the centerpiece of the Bills offense once again. With noted touchdown vulture Mike Gillislee out of the picture, the only real threat for touches behind Shady is second-round back Jonathan Williams. Melvin Gordon was a big winner coming out of the draft and free agency and should be in line for a huge workload in what could be a surprisingly potent Chargers offense. The combination of his projected volume and touchdown upside pushes him into the back end of Round 1 for me at this point in the offseason.

The more I look at this group of players, the more excited I get about the upside of these wide receivers, and the more question marks arise surrounding some of these running backs. Is Carlos Hyde getting forced out in San Francisco? Can Frank Gore hold up? Will Ty Montgomery hold onto the starting job? Will Lamar Miller score any touchdowns? Will Eddie Lacy stay in shape? Will we see 2014 Marshawn Lynch, or 2015 Marshawn Lynch? Can Todd Gurley overcome the uphill battle that is playing on the Rams offense? And so on.

The wide receivers are more enticing personally when you look at the upside of a full season of Sammy Watkins, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant and Keenan Allen. Alshon Jeffery's situation concerns me a bit given his last few years of production, but his talent alone makes him a top-20 wideout. It's unlikely that Davante Adams scores 12 touchdowns again, but Aaron Rodgers raises all the WR ships in the Green Bay harbor. Adams should still be a solid WR2/3 option. I thought I'd be the highest on DeSean Jackson this year, but Marcas Grant had to go and jump the gun putting DJax at WR11 on his list. I really like the fit of Jackson in the Bucs offense and think he could really produce in 2017.

One running back I do love from this bunch is Terrance West, and I don't feel like he's getting enough love right now in fantasy. My pals over on the "Fantasy Hipsters" podcast discussed this recently as well, but when you look at West's situation in Baltimore, it's shaping up like a sneaky good fantasy spot for him. Kenneth Dixon is suspended for the first four games, and West's only competition for touches will be Danny Woodhead, who's most likely to fill in the Kyle Juszczyk role as the pass-catcher out of the backfield. The Ravens offense, in theory, should be better this year if Breshad Perriman stays healthy and can live up to some of his potential (he was a former first-round pick, don't forget), while Joe Flacco will be healthier as well. This could lead to plenty of scoring opportunities, and West should be the top option at the goal line. All told, West could be an absolute steal in fantasy drafts this fall if he keeps flying under the radar like this.

We start venturing into strange territory in this tier. Some of these players carry tremendous upside if they enter the year as the No. 1 option in their offenses, like Cameron Meredith, Joe Mixon, and Dalvin Cook. Others could be in a great spot, but we're lacking clarity at this moment. Take Ameer Abdullah for instance. He has all the talent in the world but has battled injuries and a split backfield in each of his first two seasons. If he's fully healthy and leads the Lions backfield, he could be a fantasy stud. Of course, Theo Riddick lurks, and the team was rumored to be considering adding free agent back LeGarrette Blount. Until we know more about his and other situations in this group, it'll be tough getting a more accurate take on their fantasy draft value.

A few early sleepers I like in this group: Jamison Crowder, Rishard Matthews, Willie Snead. Crowder was quietly great last year and could have plenty more targets coming his way now with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon out of the picture in Washington. Matthews' value is falling because the Titans drafted Corey Davis with the fifth-overall pick, but I love Matthews' potential for a strong WR3 season with around 800-900 yards and seven to eight touchdowns. Willie Snead is a name to remember as you prepare for drafts. With Brandin Cooks out of the mix in New Orleans, Snead could step into a much larger role opposite Michael Thomas. Sure, Ted Ginn is there as well, but running out of the slot Snead figures to see more consistent targets than Ginn.

There are a few backs in this group who could rise as the season approaches. If Doug Martin appears set to get the starting running back job once he returns from suspension in Week 4, he'll get a bump. Rookie Samaje Perine could jump Rob Kelley and take the starting job in Washington, and his stock would rise as a result as well. The Bilal Powell-Matt Forte dynamic will be an interesting one to watch this offseason. Forte is getting up there in age, and Powell was the more effective back in general last season. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise also could see their stock skyrocket if one or both beat out Eddie Lacy in Seattle. I think Martellus Bennett will be a monster in the Green Bay offense, and if Jordy Nelson takes a step back in his age 32 season, Randall Cobb could return to being a fantasy factor. As I've already said on Twitter, I love Jameis Winston in fantasy this year and will be targeting him in a ton of drafts, so naturally he had to make it into my top 100.

Hit me up on Twitter to discuss these rankings and more @AlexGelhar. May the Fourth be with you all.

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