Fantasy: 8 bounce-back candidates to target

Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Sports

It's impossible not to let emotions get involved in your fantasy decision-making. If a player let you down last year, it's almost guaranteed that you'll pass on drafting them this season, but that's not always a wise choice. Here are eight players coming off disappointing campaigns who we expect to rebound in 2017.

Related: Risky picks to gamble on in 2017

Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of FantasyPros and is based on 12-team leagues with standard scoring.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants

Is 36-year-old Eli Manning rapidly declining or was his weak 2016 campaign simply a result of a porous offensive line and a lack of weapons? The Giants addressed the latter by signing Brandon Marshall and drafting Evan Engram, a big-bodied receiver posing as a tight end. Improvements to the line rest with the addition of former first-rounder D.J. Fluker mixed with another year of development for their young blockers. Father Time is coming, but he won't prevent Manning from bouncing back with much better numbers this season.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: 11th round (QB18)

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

After breaking the 1,100-yard mark in just 13 games as a rookie, Gurley was a dud in his sophomore campaign. Gurley topped 70 yards just three times all year and was responsible for the demise of countless fantasy teams. However, a new regime has arrived in Los Angeles, led by offensive-minded Sean McVay. The hope is that McVay will be able to turn Jared Goff into a serviceable pro, which alone could kickstart the offense. The Rams also upgraded their offensive line by signing Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan. Gurley is set up to right the wrongs of 2016 and fantasy owners are taking notice as his ADP continues to rise.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: 2nd round (RB11)

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

It seemed Martin's time with the Buccaneers might draw to an end when he capped a underwhelming and injury-plagued 2016 season by earning a four-game suspension for PEDs. That hasn't come to pass. Martin has reportedly been highly impressive in offseason workouts - to the extent the Buccaneers didn't try hard to replace him, spending merely a fifth-round pick on a complementary runner. Martin must still serve three games of the suspension, but he could hit the ground running in Week 4.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★☆☆
ADP: 7th round (RB30)

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions

The Lions reportedly flirted with signing LeGarrette Blount, but opted against it and will return the same backfield they had a year ago - with the major difference being Abdullah is finally healthy. Theo Riddick will retain a pass-catching role, but this is Abdullah's job to run with and he certainly has the talent to make good on the promise he showed before injuries derailed his career. The Lions added T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner to the right side of their offensive line, which should help open holes.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: 8th round (RB31)

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

Can we blame Hopkins' disappointing 954 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 entirely on Brock Osweiler? Perhaps not, as Hopkins seemed at times to be distracted by his desire for a new contract. But Osweiler shoulders most of the blame; he was simply scared to attack downfield and trust his wideouts. Rookie quarterbacks rarely boost the fantasy value of their receivers, but Deshaun Watson (who should ascend the depth chart in short order, even if he doesn't start in Week 1) is as experienced as rookies come these days. Watson had no fear trusting Mike Williams to go up and get passes at Clemson. He will be aggressive targeting another Tigers alum in Hopkins.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: 3rd round (WR12)

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles

Jeffery didn't cash in this offseason and instead chose to sign a one-year "prove-it" deal with the Eagles. That's unfortunate news for the former Bears wideout, but great news for fantasy owners, who will get a motivated Jeffery on their teams this year. He instantly becomes the Eagles' No. 1 option, joining a team with solid complementary weapons and a young emerging quarterback. While he's failed to play full seasons the last two years due to injuries and a suspension, respectively, Jeffery's average yards per reception actually increased in both seasons. Expect to see him back in the top-20 fantasy receivers at the end of 2017.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: 3rd round (WR13)

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

Watkins' 2016 was a disaster, with the wideout rushing to be ready for Week 1 following offseason foot surgery, briefly trying to play through the injury, and eventually sitting out eight games in an attempt to let the ailment heal. The Bills declined to pick up Watkins' fifth-year option, meaning he'll be an unrestricted free agent after 2017. That should give him plenty of motivation to stay on the field this season, even if his injury woes persist. The Bills have almost nothing on the depth chart behind Watkins. If he can walk, he will be force-fed targets.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: 4th round (WR16)

Julius Thomas, TE, Dolphins

There aren't many tight ends that fit the bounce-back mold heading into 2017, but Thomas is reuniting with his former offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who now serves as head coach of the Dolphins. Thomas' best seasons came under Gase, when he scored 24 touchdowns over a two-year span for the Broncos in 2013-14. His stats have fallen off dramatically the last two years in Jacksonville, but Miami plans to put him to work in the red zone, giving him a chance to return to fantasy relevance.

Bounce-back Potential: ★★★☆☆
ADP: 14th round (TE19)

More from this series

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Fantasy: 8 bounce-back candidates to target
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