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Fantasy Rankings and Quick Thoughts

August 11, 2012

QB

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Philip Rivers
  5. Tony Romo
  6. Michael Vick
  7. Cam Newton
  8. Matthew Stafford
  9. Eli Manning
  10. Jay Cutler
  11. Matt Ryan
  12. Ben Roethlisberger
  13. Josh Freeman
  14. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  15. Joe Flacco
  16. Carson Palmer
  17. RGIII
  18. Matt Schaub
  19. Matt Hasselbeck
  20. Andrew Luck
  21. Mark Sanchez
  22. Brandon Wheeden
  23. Alex Smith
  24. Andy Dalton
  25. Tim Tebow
  26. Matt Cassel
  27. Sam Bradford
  28. Matt Flynn
  29. Jake Locker
  30. Blaine Gabbert

RB

  1. Arian Foster
  2. LeSean McCoy
  3. Ray Rice
  4. Chris Johnson
  5. Ryan Matthews
  6. Steven Jackson
  7. Matt Forte
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew
  9. Darren McFadden
  10. Michael Turner
  11. Marshawn Lynch
  12. Shonn Greene
  13. Trent Richardson
  14. Fred Jackson
  15. Adrian Peterson
  16. DeMarco Murray
  17. Doug Martin
  18. Ahmad Bradshaw
  19. Beanie Wells
  20. Ben Tate
  21. Donald Brown
  22. Frank Gore
  23. James Starks
  24. Darren Sproles
  25. Reggie Bush
  26. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
  27. Peyton Hillis
  28. Willis McGahee
  29. Toby Gerhart
  30. Jonathan Stewart
  31. DeAngelo Williams
  32. Mark Ingram
  33. Stevan Ridley
  34. Daniel Thomas
  35. Pierre Thomas
  36. Isaac Redman
  37. Michael Bush
  38. Felix Jones
  39. CJ Spiller
  40. Kevin Smith
  41. David Wilson
  42. Ronnie Hillman
  43. LeGarrette Blount
  44. Tim Hightower
  45. Evan Royster
  46. Jahvid Best
  47. Roy Helu
  48. Mike Tolbert
  49. Rashard Mendenhall
  50. Delone Carter
  51. Brandon Jacobs
  52. LaMichael James
  53. Kendall Hunter
  54. Isaiah Pead
  55. Jacquizz Rodgers
  56. Montario Hardesty
  57. Shane Vereen
  58. Cyrus Gray
  59. Bernard Pierce
  60. Robert Turbin
  61. Lamar Miller

WR

  1. Calvin Johnson
  2. Larry Fitzgerald
  3. AJ Green
  4. Andre Johnson
  5. Victor Cruz
  6. Percy Harvin
  7. Brandon Marshall
  8. Julio Jones
  9. Brandon Lloyd
  10. Steve Smith
  11. Roddy White
  12. Jordy Nelson
  13. Wes Welker
  14. Greg Jennings
  15. Dez Bryant
  16. Antonio Brown
  17. Denarius Moore
  18. Pierre Garcon
  19. Steve Johnson
  20. Jeremy Maclin
  21. Eric Decker
  22. Mike Wallace
  23. Vincent Jackson
  24. DeSean Jackson
  25. Reggie Wayne
  26. Dwayne Bowe
  27. Marques Colston
  28. Miles Austin
  29. Hakeem Nicks
  30. Torrey Smith
  31. Malcolm Floyd
  32. Santonio Holmes
  33. Doug Baldwin
  34. Darrius Heyward-Bey
  35. Robert Meachem
  36. Anquan Boldin
  37. Lance Moore
  38. Nate Washington
  39. Laurent Robinson
  40. Malcolm Floyd
  41. James Jones
  42. Justin Blackmon
  43. Michael Crabtree
  44. Nate Burleson
  45. Jabar Gaffney

TE

  1. Jimmy Graham
  2. Rob Gronkowski
  3. Antonio Gates
  4. Jason Witten
  5. VernonDavis
  6. Aaron Hernandez
  7. Tony Gonzalez
  8. Jermichael Finley
  9. Brandon Pettigrew
  10. Fred Davis
  11. Brent Celek
  12. Dustin Keller
  13. Jared Cook
  14. Jermaine Gresham
  15. Greg Olsen

DEF

  1. 49ers
  2. Bears
  3. Ravens
  4. Steelers
  5. Eagles
  6. Jets
  7. Bengals
  8. Texans
  9. Giants
  10. Cowboys
  11. Bills
  12. Dolphins
  13. Seahawks
  14. Packers
  15. Titans
  16. Jaguars
  17. Broncos
  18. Saints
  19. Lions
  20. Cardinals

 Image

Guys I like more than most:

Philip Rivers: When looking at the past 4 years of stats on Rivers it’s pretty hard to see last season as anything but an anomaly. His LT missed basically the entire year, his star WR missed part of the season on a holdout, his star TE was on one leg, his defense rarely made a turnover to give him good field position, and his elite accuracy appeared off much of the year. Rivers was a top 5-7 fantasy QB going into last year and I’m keeping him at that level despite his down year in 2011.

Michael Vick: Vick is the classic underachiever who does his best work when everyone is doubting him. Going into 2011 he had guys like Matthew Berry championing him as deserving of the #1 Overall Pick, his team had made the playoffs, and with new additions appeared primed for a huge season. For a down year Vick still was a top 10 QB on a per game basis (fell out of top 10 due to missing games with injury) so it wasn’t like he had a terrible season but with the praise a little lower on Vick this offseason I expect him to come out and have an excellent start to the year. Anyone drafting him should get a talented backup as he still is injury prone but I expect him to be the #4 QB in fantasy on a per game basis so even with his injury issues I put him at #6. A healthy Vick come playoff time could win a few leagues this year.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: Let’s be clear here, I’m not predicting a top 8 season from him or anything but I have him ranked ahead of Flacco, Palmer, and RGIII who all have received much more praise so he’s still underrated to me. In his first 4 games Ryan was an absolute stud but then slowly cooled off. Part of that was a rib injury that he had to play with, part of that was a Chan Gailey offense that was a little bit smoke and mirrors and was figured out, and part of that was caused by the loss of Fred Jackson. That combination shouldn’t all rear it’s ugly head this year and I fully expect Ryan to be a top 15 starter which, considering he’s sometimes going undrafted, makes him a huge steal as a stud backup QB.

Steven Jackson: Few rank Jackson as high as I do (#6 RB) but to me it makes sense. He’s coming off a top 10 RB season last year, Sam Bradford should play better this year and get the defenses to respect the Rams passing game, and Jeff Fisher is a running quarterback who should feed him the rock. I think he’s in a similar offensively challenged offense like MJD was in 2011 and could have a similar workhorse type year. A top 3 finish among RBs wouldn’t surprise me at all if he can stay healthy yet because of the injury risk to him I would definitely lean to handcuffing him with Isaiah Pead who should be gotten cheaply and who impressed me a lot at Cincinnati last year.

Shonn Greene: Yes Tim Tebow is likely the Jets goal line and short yardage runner so Greene won’t get too many rushing TDs but last year he only got 4 anyways and had a decent season. While Tebow’s vulturing is getting so much pub the other factors aren’t being mentioned like how LT retired leaving worthless Joe McKnight as his most experienced backup, how Tony Sporano has become the OC and has a commitment to the running game almost unmatched in the league, and how Tebow’s running ability opened so much space last year for Willis McGahee. Willis was a has been, over the hill, washed up runner until last year when he teamed with Tebow to rejuvenate his career. Greene has more left in the tank than McGahee so I could see an even bigger boost to his yards per carry and get Greene to numbers somewhere around 1,300 yds 5 TDs. Greene is arguably the most underrated running back for 2012.

AJ Green: It’s funny how often you hear things like “rookie wide receivers never produce” and then don’t follow up with that logic. If they never produce then what does it mean when a rookie wideout actually does produce? It means you have a guy who is about to be a superstar. It happened with Larry Fitzgerald when he went from 780 yds as a rookie to 1,409 yds in his 2nd year and I expect it to happen to Green. I have Green as the #3 WR this year behind only the spectacular Calvin Johnson and the consistent Larry Fitzgerald. It actually surprises me how few people see him as such considering how impressive he looked last year.

Percy Harvin: In standard scoring format Percy Harvin scored 15 fewer points last year than Larry Fitzgerald. Please just go back and re-read that line again. It shocked me too and after you take into the account that Christian Ponder almost is guaranteed to improve in his 2nd year over his rookie season and how the coaching staff has been adamant about using Harvin more this year than ever before it makes me think that he could end the year as a top 5 wideout. He looks like an absolute steal to me where he’s being drafted right now (regularly in the 10-15 range for WRs).

Brandon Marshall: In his last two seasons with Jay Cutler he had +100 receptions each year. This year he reunites with Cutler and does it in an offense that has precious few other top notch targets and at a time when I think he and Cutler are more mature and prepared than ever before. I think both guys the past 3 years have realized just how special the other one was and I fully expect huge numbers from him. Why isn’t he in the top 5 then? Well the Bears still have a piss poor offensive line and it scares me just enough to drop him to #7.

Denarius Moore:Moore is a high risk flier type as his production was up and down due to injuries, coming back not fully healthy from injuries, and switching quarterbacks midseason from Jason Campbell to Carson Palmer. Yet in the 7 games where Moore was fully healthy and an active part of the Raiders offense he averaged 14.1 pts per game. Don’t expect a consistent ride with him as he was hot and cold in his career at Tennessee as well but he should be similar to a DeSean Jackson type in his production and likely can be taken many rounds later.

Antonio Gates: As a long time dynasty owner of Gates I can tell you from experience that the past few years haven’t been pretty. He’s had non stop lower leg and foot issues that have caused him to come into camp out of shape, miss practices, and occasionally gave his owners a surprising DNP at the last minute. If there was even one word about an ailing foot this offseason I would have promptly dropped him out of the top 5 but he finally appears to be 100% healthy and I expect big things. People forget that before the injuries he was the one changing the tight end position not Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. With Jackson’s 6’5 frame going to TampaBay and being replaced by the much less physical Robert Meachem I expect the red zone targets to increase to him and for him to once again be a top TE. I’m not stupid enough to rank him in the top 2 as those guys are still in a league of their own but I feel he will be ever bit worth it as the #3 TE.

 

Guys I like less than most:

Matthew Stafford: Before you freak out about how I ranked Stafford #8 while some analysts have him as high as #3 just go look up his career numbers. Yes his 2011 season was spectacular but he’s been in the league 3 years not 1 and if you get a season like his 2009 or 2010 season you will be kicking yourself for taking him in the 1st or 2nd round. Stafford played 16 games last year yet in his previous 2 seasons was averaging only 6.5 games per year due to injury. Stafford had a QB rating of (97.2) yet his two previous seasons of 61.0 and 91.3 give pause to anyone thinking the high 90’s QB rating will continue. Stafford still has Calvin Johnson, a terrible defense that will force him to throw often, and a committee of running backs that are extremely dicey so there is enormous upside to him. Yet I’m only looking at Stafford in the 4th round or later as the Lions have the look of a team that could regress and one big hit on Stafford could end his season early just like it happened 2 of the past three years. Final stat: Michael Vick is called injury prone in every conversation yet has played in 37 games the past 3 years while no one is discussing Stafford’s injury prone nature despite playing in only 29 games the past 3 years. Keep that in mind next time you see someone take Stafford in the top 20 picks. It’s a HUGE risk.

Cam Newton: I have him ranked #7 and most have him as #4 or #5 so it’s not too far off the mark but it’s still enough to warrant a comment. Yes he’s 250 lbs and stayed healthy all of last year but with Williams, Stewart, and now Mike Tolbert in the backfield doesn’t it make sense to stop running him roughshod in the red zone? If that one aspect of his game is cut down on his overall numbers will likely suffer dramatically and I have a suspicion that his gaudy rushing TD totals will be cut in half. Also I loved Steve Smith last year but hated him in 2010 and at his age we could have seen the classic final great season before father time robs him of his effectiveness. Keep in mind that Smith is 5’9 so the moment he isn’t the fastest, most explosive guy on the field he becomes just a short slot receiver who has minimal fantasy value. He won’t become irrelevant overnight but I expect Smith to have declining numbers in 2012 and it will leave Newton with little else to throw to. He’ll still have a good season but likely won’t match the great one he had in 2011.

Marshawn Lynch: This one confuses me as he’s often ranked as high as the #4 RB going into this year yet I owned him last year in one of my leagues and never thought he was terribly impressive. The key to his success was that he was 2nd among RBs in rushing TDs scoring a TD in 11 different games. That’s awesome but is it repeatable? I would say no considering the fact that Seattle’s offense was ranked #23 in points per game so he’s not in a terribly explosive offense and just happened to get the lions share of the TDs. Also his history is atrocious as he averaged 593 yds and 4 TDs a year the previous 2 years (’09-’10) before last season. I would say he’s just as likely to give you his ’09 or ’10 production as he is his elite 2011 production so I say anyone taking him in the top 12-15 picks is crazy.

DeMarco Murray: Some who read my blog might say I’m still being defensive about how I ranked Murray as a 7th rounder in the 2011 Draft. I admit that was a wrong analysis and I’m moving on but I still have to harp on his ranking as a top 10 RB on most pundits boards. Murray missed 3 games last year due to injury, continuing a trend that occurred all 4 years at OU, and essentially had a stretch of 4 games that made his season look much better than it really was. Everyone has this opinion of Murray that he was amazing and then got hurt but the reality is he was amazing then below average AND THEN he got hurt. In his 4 game stretch he averaged 150 yds on 8.01 yards per carry! Yet even in that elite stretch he only averaged 0.5 TDs per game and in his next 4 games he only averaged 55 yds on 3.5 yards per carry with 0 TDs. You can argue that his elite stretch is the real Murray but it either means you think he was being misused in the next 4 games (an assertion that should make you hesitant on Murray as the same coaching staff is around for 2012) or was wearing down (an assertion that should also make you hesitant on Murray as a guy wearing down after 4 games surely will wear down as the lead back for 16 games). No matter how you cut it it’s obvious that Murray is still a bit of a wildcard and while his upside is huge (averaging 16.8 pts per game in a 6 game stretch is elite) his downside is huge as well. Everyone bashes on Felix Jones but his career yards per carry is still an elite 5.1 and if Murray really is the 3.5 yards per carry guy he was in his final 4 games before his injury I don’t see how the Cowboys would feed him the majority of carries over Felix. I’m not trying to hate on Murray I just want to throw a little cold water on all of this Murray is a superstar talk as the numbers just don’t support it yet.

Mike Wallace: Yes he was an elite wideout last year (#9 in pts) yet ranking him as a top 10 or even 15 wideout means you haven’t been paying attention to anything that’s happened the past 9 months. In his final 9 games of the season he broke double digits only twice (22%) which is a huge discrepancy from his first 7 games of the season when he did it 6 times (85%) and the cause of that change in production (Antonio Brown) is still on the roster. Combine that with an increasingly ugly holdout that appears unlikely to end until the regular season begins and you have the potential for Wallace to have a DeSean Jackson 2011 type funk while playing with a wideout in Antonio Brown who was already battling him for the majority of targets in the offense. I have him ranked 22nd among wideouts and think it’s valid as I’d be shocked if he ended the year in the Top 15 among WRs. Buyer beware.   

Justin Blackmon: First off I rarely like rookie WRs due to their terrible track record. Second off I think his QB (Blaine Gabbert) is the worst QB in the NFL and my prediction is Chad Henne (oh yeah a real winner there folks) will replace him by midseason. Third off I had Blackmon as a mid 1st round draft pick and one of the more overrated players in the 2012 Draft as he isn’t fast, isn’t tall, and has a lot of Michael Crabtree to him in that he’s a mediocre athlete with good toughness who appears destined to be a possession receiver as a team’s #2 guy. I’d be shocked if he’s a top 30 wideout and him missing some of training camp over contract details only hurts matters further.

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