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Published: April 1, 2017 at 11:35 a.m.

Fantasy Fool's Gold

If there's one thing I've tried to do with my life, well ... it's actually to be a better person and more astute citizen of the world. But if there's a second thing I've tried to do, it's get the word "shenanigans" into more everyday speech. Which is one of the biggest reasons to be thankful for both St. Patrick's Day and April Fool's Day. Since we've already passed the former, here's a chance to celebrate the latter from a fantasy perspective. Here's a look at a few players who were money in 2016 that could turn out to be pyrite in 2017. Enjoy ... and be careful opening any cabinets today.

8 Photos Total

  • Blount currently doesn't have a job, but it's pretty plausible that he'll be employed before Week 1 kicks off. What's less certain is that he has a repeat performance of last season's top-10 fantasy running back finish. For Blount to hit that height, he needed a career-high 299 carries on his way to just his second 1,000-yard rushing season while racking up an astronomical 18 rushing scores. Wherever he eventually lands, all of those numbers will be nearly impossible to duplicate. 8

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    LeGarrette Blount, RB, Free Agent

    Blount currently doesn't have a job, but it's pretty plausible that he'll be employed before Week 1 kicks off. What's less certain is that he has a repeat performance of last season's top-10 fantasy running back finish. For Blount to hit that height, he needed a career-high 299 carries on his way to just his second 1,000-yard rushing season while racking up an astronomical 18 rushing scores. Wherever he eventually lands, all of those numbers will be nearly impossible to duplicate.

  • We've been predicting Murray's fantasy demise for a couple of seasons now. So why not double down in 2017? Murray came flying out of the gates last season, but experienced a fade later in the year. After averaging 4.87 yards per carry in his first 10 games, that number dropped to 3.5 in the final six contests thanks, in part, to a foot injury. Head coach Mike Mularkey says Murray will retain his workhorse role in 2017, but it's hard to imagine Derrick Henry not seeing more work. 7

    Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press

    DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

    We've been predicting Murray's fantasy demise for a couple of seasons now. So why not double down in 2017? Murray came flying out of the gates last season, but experienced a fade later in the year. After averaging 4.87 yards per carry in his first 10 games, that number dropped to 3.5 in the final six contests thanks, in part, to a foot injury. Head coach Mike Mularkey says Murray will retain his workhorse role in 2017, but it's hard to imagine Derrick Henry not seeing more work.

  • We did it, y'all. We finally got the "breakout" Mark Ingram season we'd been waiting for. The Saints back finally cracked the 1,000-yard barrier last season after playing in 16 games for only the second time in his career. But the Saints remain a pass-first team with a bad defense. There might not be a precipitous fall for Ingram's fantasy production, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him fall outside of the top 10 scoring backs. 6

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press

    Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

    We did it, y'all. We finally got the "breakout" Mark Ingram season we'd been waiting for. The Saints back finally cracked the 1,000-yard barrier last season after playing in 16 games for only the second time in his career. But the Saints remain a pass-first team with a bad defense. There might not be a precipitous fall for Ingram's fantasy production, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him fall outside of the top 10 scoring backs.

  • I'm sure I'll get plenty of pushback on this one, but hear me out. Cousins has never been a touchdown machine, having yet to throw 30 in a season, but was certainly finding a rhythm after a few seasons in Sean McVay's offense. Alas, McVay is now experiencing California love as the Rams head coach while the Washington receiving corps rebuilds itself after the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. It's not crazy to think that, once this group finds a rapport, Cousins could have a strong finish to the year. But the start could be a bumpy ride. 5

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins

    I'm sure I'll get plenty of pushback on this one, but hear me out. Cousins has never been a touchdown machine, having yet to throw 30 in a season, but was certainly finding a rhythm after a few seasons in Sean McVay's offense. Alas, McVay is now experiencing California love as the Rams head coach while the Washington receiving corps rebuilds itself after the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. It's not crazy to think that, once this group finds a rapport, Cousins could have a strong finish to the year. But the start could be a bumpy ride.

  • Stills' "breakout" season in 2016 was owed primarily to the career-high nine touchdown receptions he posted. The concern is that he's never approached 70 catches in a season and has only topped 750 receiving yards once in his four-year career. Unless Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins' passing game takes a huge, unexpected step forward this year, Stills is likely to take a fantasy step back. 4

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins

    Stills' "breakout" season in 2016 was owed primarily to the career-high nine touchdown receptions he posted. The concern is that he's never approached 70 catches in a season and has only topped 750 receiving yards once in his four-year career. Unless Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins' passing game takes a huge, unexpected step forward this year, Stills is likely to take a fantasy step back.

  • This is another one that will probably earn me a little side-eye from the Twitter crowd. After all, Ryan was the second-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2016. All he needed to do to accomplish that was set career highs in passing yards and touchdown passes while setting a career low in interceptions. That's plausible playing in an offense in which you've had a couple years of experience. That won't be the case this season with Steve Sarkisian taking over from Kyle Shanahan as the Falcons' offensive coordinator. Growing pains will abound. 3

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

    This is another one that will probably earn me a little side-eye from the Twitter crowd. After all, Ryan was the second-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2016. All he needed to do to accomplish that was set career highs in passing yards and touchdown passes while setting a career low in interceptions. That's plausible playing in an offense in which you've had a couple years of experience. That won't be the case this season with Steve Sarkisian taking over from Kyle Shanahan as the Falcons' offensive coordinator. Growing pains will abound.

  • Consider this a word of warning. There was plenty of fantasy excitement in the moments after Marshall signed with the Giants, but now that we're a few weeks removed, it's time to take a second look. There's the obvious issue of there being fewer targets to go around with Odell Beckham as the WR1 and Sterling Shepard looking to build on a solid rookie season. The other issue is whether Eli Manning can be better than a 2016 season that saw him post the lowest yards-per-attempt number of his career while being fairly pedestrian across the board. This may be less exciting than we first surmised. 2

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants

    Consider this a word of warning. There was plenty of fantasy excitement in the moments after Marshall signed with the Giants, but now that we're a few weeks removed, it's time to take a second look. There's the obvious issue of there being fewer targets to go around with Odell Beckham as the WR1 and Sterling Shepard looking to build on a solid rookie season. The other issue is whether Eli Manning can be better than a 2016 season that saw him post the lowest yards-per-attempt number of his career while being fairly pedestrian across the board. This may be less exciting than we first surmised.

  • The Cards have been a no-brainer as one of the first fantasy defenses off the board in recent seasons, but the Redbirds might not be such a sure thing in 2017. Arizona's defense was hit hard in free agency, losing six players -- including five starters -- from that side of the ball. In their place, the Cards added a pair of aging veterans (Antoine Bethea, Karlos Dansby) and an underperforming linebacker looking for a fresh start in a new place (Jarvis Jones). This could be a year of regression for Bruce Arians' defense. 1

    Paul Jasienski/Associated Press

    Cardinals D/ST

    The Cards have been a no-brainer as one of the first fantasy defenses off the board in recent seasons, but the Redbirds might not be such a sure thing in 2017. Arizona's defense was hit hard in free agency, losing six players -- including five starters -- from that side of the ball. In their place, the Cards added a pair of aging veterans (Antoine Bethea, Karlos Dansby) and an underperforming linebacker looking for a fresh start in a new place (Jarvis Jones). This could be a year of regression for Bruce Arians' defense.

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