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Fantasy football stardom isn’t an easy thing to come by, and it’s not just handed out to any NFL player. Names like Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Julio Jones and Rob Gronkowski are the obvious superstars. Then there’s a whole tier right below that of players who can still be considered stars, and a few who can arguably be placed with that top group.
But who’s got next? Which NFL players are ready to become the next fantasy football stars? Whether it’s rookies who are on the rise or players who have really begun to break through, these five names below are on the verge of becoming can’t-miss players in your fantasy league. Let’s break it down after seeing their Week 1 performances.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette isn’t your typical rookie running back. When a runner gets drafted No. 4 overall in the NFL draft, the expectations are colossal. But, for the 2016 No. 4 pick, Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, he’s already hit that superstar level. Next up is Fournette, and he hit the ground running with his impressive NFL debut.
Fournette didn’t just rush for 100 yards and a touchdown, he did it against an incredibly talented Houston Texans defense, complete with a healthy J.J. Watt. If Fournette can top the 100-yard mark against the Texans, I’m pretty confident he can do it against almost any team in the NFL.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
If there was any question that Stefon Diggs and Sam Bradford would continue to have great chemistry entering the 2017 season, that got put to bed in the team’s 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints. Bradford looked Diggs’ way eight times, resulting in seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Diggs was just unstoppable in Week 1, and while he may be the player who’s the furthest from hitting that star level in fantasy, he’s still approaching it.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
You never want to see a player lose his job to an injury, but that’s likely the case for Chiefs running back Spencer Ware, who tore his MCL and PCL in the team’s third preseason game of this season. The injury led to rookie third-round draft pick Kareem Hunt taking over the starting job, and tallying 148 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in the team’s opener against the defending Super Bowl champs. The New England Patriots had no answer for Hunt in the opener, and it’s unlikely many if any other teams will either.
Hunt is the real deal, and we’re already seeing the tremendous upside that he has.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
I’m done doubting Stafford’s ability to dominate and take over games. The Arizona Cardinals have a legitimately strong pass defense, yet Stafford took over when it mattered most and completed 70.7 percent of his passes in Week 1. He finished up with 292 passing yards and a superb four touchdowns. He’s coming off two exceptional seasons, and I think that 2017 may be the season in which he enters that top tier of NFL quarterbacks in fantasy football.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
One thing to note about Prescott is that his fantasy football value comes from much more than his arm. It also doesn’t directly have to do with his performance in the opener of the 2017 season. Prescott can dominate with his legs when needed, and his dual-threat ability is downright scary. In the opener, Prescott played an excellent Giants secondary and still wound up throwing for 268 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 24 yards.
He wasn’t asked to do much either in the second half, as the Cowboys relied heavily on Ezekiel Elliott to run the clock. There’s no sophomore slump here for Prescott, and by the end of 2017, he’ll be considered among one of the best all-around fantasy quarterbacks.