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Fantasy football: Players ready to make the leap to relevance in 2017

Ameer Abdullah is a borderline top-20 RB, but

Ameer Abdullah is a borderline top-20 RB, but he has great potential to gain value this year. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Robbins

The majority of fantasy football’s top preseason players have been there, done that. The Antonio Browns and LeSean McCoys of the fantasy world have been among the top players at their position for years.

But every year, new names break through to become worthwhile fantasy contributors. We’re not just talking about the rookies, either.

Outside of the 2017 NFL draft class, the following young players are poised to make the leap and become starter level in fantasy leagues.

QB: Jameis Winston

The third-year passer has been solid for the Buccaneers since Tampa Bay chose him first overall in 2015, starting all 32 games since. He’s thrown for 4,000-plus yards each season, and saw his touchdown passes and accuracy rise in Year 2.

Winston has drawn praise for more accurate throws this preseason. New deep threat DeSean Jackson should pair well with elite receiver Mike Evans, and rookie tight end O.J. Howard is expected to help right away. Don’t be surprised if the 23-year-old passer finishes in the top 10 among QBs this year.

Sleeper: Jared Goff (Rams)

RB: Ameer Abdullah

Also entering his third year is the Lions running back, who has shown flashes of talent. Injuries robbed him of the bulk of 2016, however, and third-down back Theo Riddick has capped his ceiling to this point.

Although Riddick remains, Abdullah has tremendous upside. He enters the season as a borderline RB2 with potential to be a top-10 back if given more work in the receiving game.

Sleeper: Paul Perkins (Giants)

WR: Corey Coleman

So many receivers are capable of emerging as fantasy-relevant during the course of a season that choosing just one or two only scratches the surface. That said, Coleman has a real shot to be a vital weapon.

The Browns’ 2016 first-round pick missed time as a rookie after an eye-opening Week 2 performance (five receptions, 104 yards, two touchdowns) and never got it going again. But, as QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor proved last year for Cleveland, someone has to catch passes for that team. Coleman has elite potential, so snag him as a WR4 with the possibility he emerges as a WR2.

Sleeper: Kevin White (Bears)

TE: Austin Hooper

Other than a few rookies, tight end doesn’t appear likely to offer many fresh contributors from a fantasy perspective.

If anyone is bound to break out, it’s Hooper. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likes to go use his tight ends, and Hooper appears to be the leading option entering the season.

Avoid drafting him outright in normal setups, but keep him on watch lists in case his early-season production merits a waiver claim.

Sleeper: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jets)

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