The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s defense and special teams rankings:
DEF/ST rankings: 1-10
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only fantasy defense to reach 200 points in 2017, finishing with 203. They only had two games on the season without a turnover forced and in many games had multiple turnovers. Like any defense, they have their bad games, but those were offset with eleven games in double-digit scoring. With most of the defense back and good players on every level of the defense, the Jaguars should be the first defense selected in fantasy drafts.
2. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams ranked third last season but made some key offseason acquisitions to move up to the second spot here. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, both are great corners and should be able to shut down the opposition, if they can stay on the field and not get too heated. Ndamukong Suh joins Aaron Donald to provide two elite defensive linemen on the same team. While they are relatively weak at linebacker, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips should make the most of the great talent he has on the roster.
Joey Bosa (Photo by freep.com)
3. Los Angeles Chargers
There are two good defenses in Los Angeles. The Chargers were ranked fifth last season and clearly focused on adding to their defense via the draft this season. Derwin James will be an impact player at safety, while the other players will provide good depth. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa combine for good pass rushing, while the secondary of James, Jahleel Addae, Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Desmond King will make it tough to move the ball.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
They ranked fourth last year and added some key players, making the Eagles ready to go for 2018. Their defensive line rotation is so good that they simply can’t fit all of their good players on the field. They even added Michael Bennett to the fold this offseason. Philadelphia will love having Jordan Hicks back to help the linebackers after he suffered a season-ending injury last year. The secondary is good in its own right, but they really don’t have to keep their coverage too long with that pass-rush.
5. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore finished second in fantasy points in 2017 but will likely see some regression in 2018. They won’t get as many games this season to have big outings. Last year they got 20 point outings against the Bengals, the Bears, the Dolphins, the Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) and the Browns. The teams they do play on that list this year should be better and they may not be so lucky with the rest of their schedule. Many of their players are on the back-ends of their careers including Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and Brandon Carr. They still have solid younger players, including star linebacker C.J. Mosley, but if the veterans’ play falters, the whole defense will take a slight step back.
6. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have a good defense but ranked 14th in fantasy scoring last season. They should bounce back to form this season though with the number of talented players on that side of the ball. Sheldon Richardson was added to the fold on the defensive line that already has some great players. He should help improve their run defense, with the talented pass rushers and secondary will make it hard to throw. They should be owned most weeks in fantasy this season.
7. Denver Broncos
While their defense wasn’t great last season, ranking 20th in the league, but there a couple of reasons to watch for some improvement this season. Bradley Chubb was selected with the Broncos’ first-round pick and should get some production in his rookie season. The signing of Case Keenum will help the defense in many ways, as they won’t have to face short fields after turnovers and three and outs.
8. Chicago Bears
They ranked ninth in fantasy points last year and should get better. Chicago drafted Roquan Smith, the linebacker out of Georgia, with their first-round pick. He is a three-down player and will make an impact immediately. Their young safeties, Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson help to create turnovers and sometimes score. With a solid front seven and corners as well, the Bears should be a top 10 fantasy defense yet again.
9. Detroit Lions
The Lions were surprisingly good for a fantasy football defense last season, ranking sixth. They do have some holes on defense that were not adequately addressed in the offseason though, which means they likely will not have as successful of a season. What they do have is a solid player on the defensive line (Ziggy Ansah) and two in the secondary (Darius Slay and Glover Quin). Those players will need some more help but are a good start for 2018.
10. New Orleans Saints
While the Lions’ defense was surprisingly good, no one thought the Saints’ defense would be anywhere close to where they finished last year. They finished seventh in fantasy scoring and helped take some of the burden off of Drew Brees and the offense. With Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore having great rookie seasons, the secondary is a strength. Demario Davis can lead the linebacking core, while Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport can get after the passer.
DEF/ST rankings: 10-15
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh may not have one of their best defenses but they were able to rank 11th last year. They do have to deal with the loss of Ryan Shazier, who had the scary injury against the Bengals in early December. Their inside linebackers will struggle, but they have good pass rushers and a solid defensive line. Drafting Terrell Edmunds helped fill a need at safety and the main corners stay the same from last season.
Bobby Wagner (Photo by si.com)
12. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks will have a new look next season with the defense being far from the Legion of Boom just a few years back. They can still be solid fantasy play though. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor return at the back end of the defense. Byron Maxwell and super sophomore Shaquill Griffin will man the corner positions and will also be decent. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Frank Clark need to lead the front end of the defense with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett being gone.
13. New England Patriots
New England never seems to have the greatest players on defense and still plays solidly. They finished 13th last season but no longer have Matt Patricia to run the defense. They did sign Adrian Clayborn and acquired Danny Shelton, so their line should be significantly better. Malcolm Butler was replaced by Jason McCourty at the corner position.
14. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes will start on offense, which should put the defense on the field a bit more than last season. Kendall Fuller was acquired via the Alex Smith trade and he is the only good corner on the roster. Eric Berry returns again at safety, just like Justin Houston at edge rusher. Houston isn’t the same player he once was but will have to produce. Derrick Nnadi was drafted to play nose tackle and shore up the run defense.
15. Washington Redskins
The Redskins seem to be drafting a lot of Alabama defensive players and it has worked. They were solid last year when Jonathan Allen played but were horrible against the run when he didn’t. With him healthy and Da’Ron Payne added to the fold, the Redskins run defense should be vastly improved. Ryan Kerrigan can get after the passer, while the secondary plays their typical zone defense that Josh Norman excels at.
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I know you’re probably laughing at me right now. Why would anyone waste their time ranking kickers heading into the season? I find myself asking the same questions as I’m writing, but it’s part of the job. When it comes to kickers, there’s only a few that are markedly better than the rest of the group. Let’s find out who those players are in the first edition of my 2018 fantasy football kicker rankings.
Kicker Rankings: 1-5
1. Greg Zuerlein – Los Angeles Rams
Greg Zuerlein a top this list of kicker rankings was one of the easiest decisions yet. Here’s how good Zuerlein was last season. He finished first in points with 180, which was 11 more than the next closest kicker. He was one of six kickers that attempted at least 40 field goals, and attempted the fourth most amount field goals of 50 yards or more. And by the way, he only played in 14 games. While the Rams offense will likely regress, that doesn’t mean Zurlein’s numbers will as well. If anything, it could lead to even more attempts for “Greg the leg”. He’s easily the best kicker heading into 2018.
2. Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Stephen Gostkowski has been near the top among kickers for years. He’s attached to one of the best offenses year in and year out, and has the trust of his head coach to nail long field goal attempts. Even though Gostkowski missed multiple extra points and only attempted four field goals of 50 yards or more, he’ll still likely finish in the top five of total points.
3. Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens
I’m not usually a advocate of allowing kickers into the hall of fame, but Justin Tucker might be the exception. He’s historically accurate as a whole, as well as from distance. Even though he was chained to a terrible Baltimore offense, he finished fourth in total points. Joe Flacco and company are the only reason Tucker isn’t higher on this list.
4. Harrison Butker – Kansas City Chiefs
Harrison Butker was likely a fantasy season saver for some last year. Andy Reid’s trust in a rookie kicker was tremendous, especially to allow him to kick five field goals from 50 yards or more. In my opinion, Butker will produce at an even higher level next season. First, he’ll get to start the season as the Chiefs’ kicker, which he didn’t last season. And second, he’ll likely get more red zone attempts. Reid and his offense struggled in the redzone during the middle and end of the season, and that was with an accurate passer at the helm. Patrick Mahomes is talented, but he still comes with accuracy concerns. Butker will likely benefit from more questionable play calls and quarterback inaccuracy heading into 2018.
5. Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons
The ageless wonder continues to get it done. Matt Bryant, not to be confused with Matt Ryan, is the beneficiary of a tremendous offense in Atlanta and playing over half of his games in either a dome, or warm weather. Bryant is always a safe pick at this position.
Kicker Rankings: 6-10
6. Robbie Gould – San Francisco 49ers
When researching this article, I was shocked to see Robbie Gould so high in total points from last season. Meaning, he was producing before Jimmy Garoppolo showed up, and continued to produce when he was the starter. I’m not sure how it will translate to this season, but I couldn’t keep him lower than sixth on my first round of kicker rankings.
7. Will Lutz – New Orleans Saints
Will Lutz has been a DFS darling for years. He’s attached to one of the best coach and quarterback tandems in NFL history. He also, like Matt Bryant, gets to play over half of his games in a dome, or in warm weather. The only problem with Lutz is that he doesn’t get many opportunities to connect from 50 yards or more.
8. Chris Boswell – Pittsburgh Steelers
Like most kickers on this list, Chris Boswell plays on one of the league’s best offenses. What holds Boswell back is that there are some games where he only attempts extra points. Boswell also has games where he attempts six field goals; however, his production is too inconsistent to warrant higher placement on this list.
9. Ryan Succop – Tennessee Titans
Ryan Succop is a great option at kicker given his upside, and likely, his value. In 2017, he set an NFL record by making 56 straight field goals of less than 50 yards. That kind of consistency is what we want to find at any position. But, Succop missed over half of his attempts from 50 yards or more.
10. Matt Prater – Detroit Lions
Matt Prater, at worst, has the third strongest leg in the NFL behind Greg Zuerlein and Justin Tucker. Prater plays inside a dome and is attached to an above average offense with Detroit. He also benefits from the Lions’ lack of a running game in the redzone. It’s unclear how much Matt Patricia will impact this team and that uncertainty pushes Prater to tenth in these kicker rankings.
Kicker Rankings: 11-15
11. Kai Forbath – Minnesota Vikings
Kai Forbath isn’t particularly impressive or dominant in any category. However, he plays indoors, with an efficient quarterback, and a head coach who does not like to take chances.
12. Jake Elliott – Philadelphia Eagles
Like Harrison Butker, Jake Elliott was impressive as a rookie. Everyone remembers the 61-yarder he hit to beat the Giants. Elliott will likely be a great value at this position. What keeps him from being higher was his overall lack of attempts and inconsistencies inside 39 yards.
13. Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts
If Andrew Luck returns, Adam Vinatieri be a top five scorer at his position. Last season we saw some inconsistencies for the first time in his career, so he just cracks the top fifteen.
14. Graham Gano – Carolina Panthers
Graham Gano plays in a warm-weather division, including two domes. He plays on an above average offense, but does not get many attempts beyond 50 yards.
15. Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers
People forget that Mason Crosby had to deal with Brett Hundley for much of the 2017 season. He will bounce back nicely with Aaron Rodgers back under center.
Featured Image Courtesy of USA Today
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The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s WR rankings:
Wide receiver rankings: 1-10
1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown has totally proven himself over the last couple of years and will be the first wide receiver off the board in most drafts. He finished second in scoring last season, but sat out the last two games of the season. Brown did have some off games last season (five games of under 10 fantasy points) but did enough in other weeks to make up for it.
2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans
The leading fantasy receiver last season was DeAndre Hopkins. He has proven that it doesn’t matter which quarterback is playing, he still produces. Hopkins will be hoping that Deshaun Watson is healthy though, as three of his top four performances were with the rookie under center. With Watson improving in year two, Hopkins should be near the top of most fantasy rankings.
3. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons
Jones finished sixth among receivers last season and that was with Steve Sarkisian, who couldn’t figure out how to get him the ball properly. He also was coming off of a foot injury that led him to sit out of offseason workouts. While Sarkisian is still there, Jones will now have Calvin Ridley lining up with him and Mo Sanu. He is simply too talented not to give the ball to. Sarkisian needs to spend his offseason figuring out how to get the most of his players, Jones included, or he will be out of a job.
4. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants
He only played four games last season before getting injured but was able to rank fourth among receivers in those four weeks. If Beckham can get healthy and stay healthy he will produce. He will be aided by the fact that the run game will be better, which will keep defenses honest.
5. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen (Photo by nbanflnobody.com)
Last year was the first season in which Allen has been able to play in a full 16 game schedule and he shined. Allen finished fourth in fantasy points last season with help from a few very good weeks. With Mike Williams coming back healthy and the offensive line being more healthy at the start of the season, Phillip Rivers will not only have more time to read defenses, but will have more options to throw to, as teams can’t solely focus on stopping Allen.
6. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints
Thomas finished eighth last season and continues to get better every year. He also has Drew Brees throwing him the ball and a lot of bad secondaries to go up against in the NFC South. Since his rookie season, only Antonio Brown has more fantasy points than Thomas at the wide receiver position. Expect more big things to come for Thomas this season.
7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals
He finished 10th last season and that was without too many viable receivers on the roster. John Ross and Tyler Boyd should have increased roles in the upcoming season, but it is hard to tell with Marvin Lewis coached teams. Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft should create a good tight end tandem. This means that there will be less focus on Green. The offensive line will also be vastly improved from last season, meaning Andy Dalton will have time to hit him on more deep balls.
8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers
Without Jordy Nelson on the roster anymore, Adams is unquestionably the go-to-guy for Aaron Rodgers. He was just outside the top ten in fantasy scoring last season and should see a huge bump up with Rodgers being healthy as well. Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham and some young receivers will help keep double teams off of Adams.
9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans disappointed fantasy owners last year, finishing 20th overall. While it wasn’t a great season, he still managed to get 1,000 receiving yards. If Jameis Winston can take another step forward this season, Evans should move back up in the final fantasy scoring ranks.
10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs
Hill finished fourth in scoring last season but now has to deal with a new quarterback. Pat Mahomes has potential but needs to improve his accuracy. The reason Hill stays in the top 10 is that they can get him the ball in so many ways and once he has it, he’s a threat to take it all the way. Expect a decrease in production, but not by too much.
Wide Receiver rankings: 11-20
11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals
The ageless wonder continues to be a great option in fantasy football. He was top 10 in scoring last year and now will now have a new quarterback. If Sam Bradford is the starter, he will hit him on short routes and let Fitzgerald run after the catch. If Josh Rosen gets the nod he will need to rely on Fitzgerald early and often. Fitzgerald will produce with whatever quarterback is throwing him the ball.
12. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings
With Case Keenum having his career year, Thielen also excelled. Now he has Kirk Cousins, who hasn’t had great receivers to work with throughout his career. They have already started to work together and Thielen should post similar, if not better, numbers than last season.
13. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles
Jeffery tore his rotator cuff and may not be ready for the start of the season. He finished 15th last season while playing very sparingly over the last two weeks of the season. No matter who is throwing passes on the opening day of the season, Jeffery is a solid WR2 play.
14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts
He had a bad season without Andrew Luck, ranking outside of the top 20. With Luck seemingly coming back this season, Hilton should move up higher in draft boards. The offensive line is now built to protect Luck and the Colts being conservative with his injury recovery, should mean he stays healthy.
15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin is now one of the only decent targets that Russell Wilson can throw to with Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Jermaine Kearse all leaving the team in recent seasons. He should get a lot of targets and be a decent WR2 if Wilson can stay healthy behind a bad offensive line.
Amari Cooper (Photo by silverandblackpride.com)
16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders
Cooper struggled last season and didn’t produce. With Jon Gruden now taking over, a healthy Derek Carr and an offseason to get things straight, Cooper should start living up to his potential again. The field should be wide open with Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant flanking him.
17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos
A new quarterback in Denver in Keenum should increase Thomas’ productivity. He finished 23rd last season without good quarterback play, so a healthy bump up the projections should be expected. If Keenum has a season that is even slightly close to his season last year, Thomas will star.
18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions
Tate has over 90 catches in the last four seasons and is a model of constant production. He is in the last year of his deal, meaning he will want to produce. Matt Stafford targets Tate over one more time per game than his running mate, Marvin Jones Jr.
19. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions
He doesn’t get as many targets as Tate, but he makes the most of them and finished fifth in scoring last season. He will likely regress to the norm this season and shouldn’t be drafted as the fifth overall receiver this season. He fits in better as a WR2 than a WR1.
20. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears
Robinson has new digs in Chicago and will be Mitchell Trubisky’s number one target. He’s used to performing with a quarterback that didn’t always play well and should help Trubisky’s development. His 2015 season will give a lot of hopes to fantasy owners this season.
Wide receiver rankings: 21-30
21. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns
The Browns might have some semblance of a passing offense with Tyrod Taylor. Landry is a catch machine who is another receiver used to playing without the best players at quarterback. If the running game can keep the offense balanced, Landry shouldn’t see much dropoff in production.
22. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings
Diggs has morphed into the second best receiver on his team but still is capable of making big plays. He finished 17th last season and should finish in a similar range depending on how he vibes with Kirk Cousins.
23. Julian Edelman- New Orleans Saints
One of Tom Brady’s favorite targets returns from injury and will need to regain his quickness. Brady’s familiarity with Edelman and Brandin Cooks leaving should open up opportunities that Edelman has had in the past.
24. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers
Garcon is the number one receiver for the 49ers and his ranking will be very dependant on Jimmy Garoppolo improving. The soon-to-be 32-year-old had a season-ending injury, but should be able to reclaim his place as the team’s most productive receiver.
25. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets
There is no question about Anderson’s talent on the field, but he has off-the-field issues that make him a risky pick. He finished 16th in scoring last year and if he can stay on the field, will produce again this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by yahoo.com)
26. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers
He had a breakout season last year and now Martavis Bryant is gone, making him the undeniable number two target. The 18th wide receiver from last year may not have quite as good of a season with teams being able to scout him for a full season, but he is worth a pick in the middle rounds of most fantasy drafts.
27. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns
Gordon is another receiver that needs to stay on the field and can be a solid pick for fantasy. He too will benefit from the skill position players the Browns acquired this offseason.
28. Emmanuel Sanders- Denver Broncos
The 2017 season was disappointing for Sanders due to injuries and bad quarterback play. Keenum is the key here, as if he plays well Sanders should have a much better 2018.
29. Chris Hogan- New England Patriots
Hogan had a shoulder injury that left him unable to compete for the last seven games of the season (Hogan had one catch over that span). He was a great fantasy option last season and now Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are gone.
30. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers
Funchess and Greg Olsen will be Cam Newton’s first options this season, but there is more help around them now. He will continue to use his size to create matchup problems with just about every secondary in the league.
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The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s RB rankings:
Running back rankings: 1-10
1. Le’Veon Bell- Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell still doesn’t have the long-term contract he desires. He will sit out preseason then come back for the regular season, making him a safer running back pick than others getting carries before the season starts. His season will likely start off slow, much like last year, but then he will come on strong. He finished second in scoring among running backs last year and should have another great season.
2. Todd Gurley- Los Angeles Rams
Last season Gurley finished second for all players and first for running backs in fantasy. It would be hard to imagine him having quite the same season this year, as teams figure out Sean McVay’s play-calls and tendencies, but he should play well again. The Rams also have a first-place schedule to worry about. Gurley, like Bell, helps out in the receiving game too, which aids in making him a great running back.
3. Ezekiel Elliot- Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys lack playmakers and are going to need to hand Elliot the rock often. Elliot still has a great line in front of him and can capitalize on that. Teams may stack the box to stop him and make Dak Prescott beat them, but Prescott excels on play-action passes, so they will be kept honest.
David Johnson (Photo by azcardinals.com)
4. David Johnson- Arizona Cardinals
Johnson is returning from his broken wrist last season. He has had plenty of time to heal so that injury shouldn’t be a concern for this season. Johnson was an early first-round pick in fantasy drafts last year, so this year may be the time to take him later in the first and get good value on him. He will be the focal point of the offense once again and can help out a new quarterback, whoever it ends up being, with his receiving capabilities.
5. Alvin Kamara- New Orleans Saints
The news that Mark Ingram is out for four games helps Kamara’s case for this season. He will still be splitting carries with Ingram when he returns, which makes it hard to put him much higher than this on the list. Kamara broke onto the scene last year and now will have teams game-planning around him. He finished as the fourth best running back last season and will have to work to get back to that spot.
6. Kareem Hunt- Kansas City Chiefs
With Mahomes taking over, teams will stack the box on Hunt next season. Defenses likely won’t pay too often, as Mahomes won’t complete a very high percentage of his passes. The good news is Hunt will get a large portion of the check-downs that Mahomes throws.
7. Leonard Fournette- Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette finished eighth among running backs last year and didn’ have a great offensive line in front of him. Andrew Norwell was signed to help improve the line and Fournette should see a little better results because of it. He missed three games due to injuries and being late to a team photo, so that is a concern going forward, but he’s still a top ten running back.
8. Saquon Barkley- New York Giants
Rookie running backs breaking out and having good seasons is more of a norm now. Barkley is one of the most talented college running backs in history and will be the player that the Giants have been looking for at the position for years. The offensive line for the Giants got better this offseason with the acquisitions of Nate Solder and Will Hernandez. He can help out in the passing game as well.
9. Melvin Gordon- Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ defense has gotten a lot better, which means that they will lead a lot more and Gordon will get more carries to close out games. Gordon finished fifth last year and is a good candidate to have another good year. He will be hoping that Dan Feeny and Forrest Lamp can stay healthy and improve this season to help create holes.
10. Dalvin Cook- Minnesota Vikings
Cook has a significant injury history dating back to college, so taking him could be a risk. His ability makes it a risk worth taking. He played well in his limited time last year. The offensive line was decent last year and Brian O’Neill as drafted to help improve it even more. Kirk Cousins loves to throw to running backs out of the backfield, so Cook should have a high work rate.
Running back rankings: 11-20
11. Christian McCaffrey- Carolina Panthers
The offensive line got worse this offseason with the loss of Norwell, but McCaffrey had 113 targets in the passing game. He was a boom-or-bust play last year with seven games of under six fantasy points and six games of over 10 points. Jonathan Stewart is now gone, so McCaffrey should see a better work rate.
12. Devonta Freeman- Atlanta Falcons
Freeman finished 13th last year and does split carries with Tevin Coleman. He formerly was the number one running back in fantasy, but that was under a different offensive coordinator. His value is limited with him sharing carries and playing for Steve Sarkisian, who fails to get the most out of his players.
13. Jordan Howard- Chicago Bears
Not many people have Howard this high on their lists, but with the offense getting better around him, he can have a good season. He was the 10th best running back last year and the field should be more spread out for him with Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel being able to produce.
LeSean McCoy (Photo by buffalorumblings.com)
14. LeSean McCoy- Buffalo Bills
Taking McCoy as a number one running back is no longer a viable option. He is aging and the team around him isn’t going to be very helpful. Cordy Glenn was traded and both Richie Incognito and Eric Wood retired this offseason. Their offensive line is not going to be good. This paired with the fact that an unproven quarterback will be taking snaps, means that other teams can focus their time on shutting down the run.
15. Jerick McKinnon- San Francisco 49ers
McKinnon was just the 24th best running back last season, but he has a tremendous opportunity this year. The 49ers will be able to use him on all three downs and his only competition for carries is Matt Breida. Even if Breida gets a decent amount of carries, McKinnon will get work in the passing game.
16. Kenyan Drake- Miami Dolphins
Frank Gore was signed this offseason, giving Drake a running mate. Gore’s career is winding down and while he may still get a decent amount of carries, Drake will be given the majority. With Ryan Tannehill returning to the lineup, Drake should be a security blanket to throw to in the passing game.
17. Alex Collins- Baltimore Ravens
While he didn’t start off the season to get a lot of the work out of the backfield, Collins ran with his opportunity and finished as the 16th ranked running back. With a full season getting the majority of the carries, Collins should be expected to be a RB2.
18. Joe Mixon- Cincinnati Bengals
After getting his feet wet as a rookie, Mixon is poised for a bigger year in 2018. The offensive line in front of him will be much better with the additions of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price.
19. Lamar Miller- Houston Texans
This ranking is very dependent on Deshaun Watson coming back healthy. At the end of the season, with Watson out of the lineup, Miller had five straight games of under 10 fantasy points. He didn’t have his greatest season last year, but the Texans had a bad offensive line and bad quarterback play without Watson.
20. Derrick Henry- Tennessee Titans
Demarco Murray is finally gone, so Henry can take the lead back role. He will split carries with Dion Lewis, but they should compliment each other well. Henry finished 25th last year and should be able to finish in the top 20 this season.
Running back rankings: 21-30
21. Derrius Guice- Washington Redskins
Guice will be part of a tandem as well, with Chris Thompson. Thompson will capitalize on all of Alex Smith’s short throws, but Guice is going to be tasked with getting all the tough yards on first and second down. He should also receive the majority of the goal line carries.
Marshawn Lynch (Photo by sportingnews.com)
22. Marshawn Lynch- Oakland Raiders
He wasn’t the same back that he was before retirement, but he was a top 20 fantasy back last season. Doug Martin now joins the fold, but Lynch will still see the majority of the carries. The line isn’t quite the same great one it was in 2016, but is still solid.
23. Rashaad Penny- Seattle Seahawks
The offensive line is still a huge issue that wasn’t adequately addressed, so Penny will be thrown into the fire as a rookie. The Seahawks did draft him too early, but that shows confidence in his abilities and a desire to use him in their offense. He can stay on the field for all three downs.
24. Royce Freeman- Denver Broncos
Freeman found the perfect situation in the Denver Broncos. He was a great runner behind zone blocking in college and will now run behind a similar zone blocking scheme in the NFL. With C.J. Anderson gone Freeman will only have to fight for carries with Devontae Booker.
25. Jay Ajayi- Philadelphia Eagles
He will surely have a better season than last year when he ranked 33rd in fantasy points for running backs. Ajayi will be the workhorse back, but they have many talented running backs who will get touches this season. They have talked about getting him more involved in the game plan, so expect him to be in the RB2-Flex range.
26. Ronald Jones II- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs needed a new running back without Doug Martin being on the roster any longer. Jones is a quick running back, who figures to get most of the carries this season. He will also help out in the passing game.
27. Mark Ingram- New Orleans Saints
Ingram is now suspended for four games for breaking the performance-enhancing drug rules of the NFL. He finished sixth last year, but was figured to take a small step back with the emergence of Kamara. With the suspension, he is now dropping down draft boards and shouldn’t be seen as more than a flex player even when he comes back.
28. Carlos Hyde- Cleveland Browns
Hyde has a new home in Cleveland but has to split carries with Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr. He should get carries near the goal line, but other parts of the field might see a more even split. Hyde also has injury problems as last season was the only year he played all 16 games.
29. Marlon Mack- Indianapolis Colts
There are reports that Jordan Wilkins will be a star, but he wasn’t vey successful in college. Mack should get most of the carries and he now has a much improved offensive line to run behind.
30. Chris Thompson- Washington Redskins
Thompson was crushing it before going down with injury and missing the last six games of the season. He is an excellent third-down back who should thrive playing with “Captain Check-Down” Alex Smith.
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One of the more frustrating positions in fantasy football are the running backs. There are only so many that are elite and can be considered No. 1 backs. There are not many starting running backs in the NFL that are reliable. The key is to get the number one running back early and get another solid one in the middle in the draft. These are the five running backs you don’t want to miss out on for your team.
No. 5 Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
This could come as a surprise but after being a rookie bust, he rebounded in his sophomore season.
Melvin Gordon (Photo by:sandiegouniontribune.com)
Before a season-ending hip injury in week 14, he entered that game with 12 touchdowns and third at the position in fantasy points. Gordon was the No. 8 fantasy running back in standard leagues last year with 254 carries for 997 yards (3.93 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. He also had 41 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns.
Gordon registered 17 carries inside the opponent’s 5-yard line (third most) and his 419 receiving yards ranked ninth. He benefited from Danny Woodhead’s injury and Woodhead is now in Baltimore.
Gordon should have more success with new head coach Anthony Lynn who has been a running backs coach for four teams in 11 years. As well as being a running backs coach, he got promoted to assistant head coach with the New York Jets in 2013.
During his time as the running backs coach from 2009 to 2014, Lynn’s rushing attack ranked outside the top 10 only twice out of the six years with the Jets and his team finished first in his first year as running backs coach with the Jets. In his last two years with the Buffalo Bills as offensive coordinator, his rushing offensive finished first in rushing twice.
The Chargers don’t have anyone on the roster to take Gordon off the field. He will be a standout No. 1 fantasy running back coming into the season and he should be an early second round pick.
No. 4 LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
One of the more experienced backs in the league, LeSean McCoy turned 29 in July but his age didn’t seem to slow him in 2016 and he ranks fourth on my list.
LeSean McCoy (Photo by:buffalobills.com)
He was the No. 3 fantasy running back in standard leagues in 2016 with 234 carries for 1,267 yards (5.41 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. McCoy also had 50 catches for 356 yards and one touchdown. McCoy ranked in the top six in rushing yards for the fourth time in six years.
The blocking in Buffalo was part of his success as his 5.4 YPC ranked fifth among backs. McCoy scored double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues in 12 of 15 games. He also caught 50 of 55 passes (91 percent).
Some of the concern that comes with McCoy is his age. His time as an elite fantasy running back could be coming to an end, but it looks McCoy isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The addition of fullbacks Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert should help McCoy as well as new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Dennison has had success in the run game as the offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans at the time Arian Foster broke onto the scene. From 2011-12 his rushing offense ranked in the top 10 in attempts, yards and touchdowns.
His last job with the Denver Broncos was less successful, ranking 15th and lower in those categories, but his west coast offense should help McCoy stay healthy and be an effective runner and reliable in the pass game.
McCoy should be the No. 4 running back off the board behind Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott.
No. 3 Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
A big part of his success was the great offensive line in Dallas and he took full advantage. He led the NFL with 322 carries and 1,631 rushing yards while finding the end zone a total of 16 times last season (one receiving touchdown). Elliott finished as the No. 2 fantasy running back in standard leagues and scored double digits in fantasy points in every game he played. Only David Johnson ranked higher.
He had seven games with at least 20 points in standard formats. Elliott’s rushing prowess, combined with Dallas’ terrific offensive line and run-heavy scheme, will keep him near the top of the running back rankings.
Ezekiel Elliott (Photo by:espn.com)
Some concern is always the sophomore slump. He will need to work on his pass catching skills as Lance Dunbar is no longer with the Cowboys.
The other concern is a possible suspension due to a domestic violence incident. Even though he wasn’t charged, the NFL continues its investigation and he could likely miss the first two games of the year according to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
Elliott should be a top-three pick in most standard leagues, and a top ten pick in PPR only because he is not a pass catching back like Johnson or Bell. In dynasty leagues he could be the top pick because he’s only 22. In this offense, he could be the best running back in the NFL for the foreseeable future.
No. 2 Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though he was suspended for the first four games last season, Bell established himself as arguably the most dangerous and productive all-around running back in the league.
Le’Veon Bell (Photo by:upi.com)
Bell managed to finish fifth at the position in rushing yards, as well as second in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He’s been good for 10-plus fantasy points in an unbelievable 85.3 percent of his games over the past three seasons. B
ell has been on the field for at least 86 percent of the team’s offensive snaps during 25 consecutive games in which he wasn’t injured or limited in. In those 25 games, he was on the field for 95 percent of the snaps and handled 22.2 carries and 6.7 targets per game. This allowed him to have a top-14 fantasy week during all 12 of his outings last season.
But why he falls to No .2 on my list is not participating in camp due to contract issues. This is like last year except we knew he would miss four games. This time it could be longer.
Bell held out from the start of Steelers training camp and could sit for several weeks according to an NFL Network report. Bell could be a risky number one pick if this doesn’t get resolved. But he is still worth a first round pick as we hope by mid-August he will be back. If you take Bell, likely go after presumed backup James Conner.
No. 1 David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Some players after a good rookie season have the sophomore slump but not David Johnson. He thrived for a breakout 2016 season in Arizona and is my No. 1 running back for 2017.
David Johnson (Photo by:thelab.bleacherreport.com)
To start, he was the No. 1 running back in all formats. He was a fantasy stud in every sense of the description last year with 293 carries for 1,239 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns, as well as 80 catches for 879 yards and four touchdowns on 120 targets. This totaled 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns on 373 touches.
He is a force not just in the running game but also in the passing game. Johnson paced all backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and end-zone targets (four). It seems Johnson could do everything.
He can run with top speed, catch the ball and pound the ball in between the tackles. He carried the ball inside the 5-yard line 22 times (second most) last season. Johnson scored double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues in 15 of 16 games last season.
He averaged 23 touches a game last season but head coach Bruce Arians said he would like to give him around 30 touches in 2017. While this should excite fantasy players, it could come as a concern with his health. In week 17, he suffered an MCL sprain but he’s fine heading into training camp.He won’t slow down with an increased role and he should continue to dominate.
Johnson is a top three pick in all leagues and has a case being the first overall pick in leagues with Bell’s contract issues.
Featured image from theinscribermag.com.
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The tight end position is known for big targets that can create space and are touchdown machines in the red zone. Tight ends can sometimes be nerve racking because there aren’t many that are elite. When its draft time it’s all about patience especially for tight ends as you don’t want to reach too high or wait to long for your starting TE.
Here are the top-5 fantasy tight ends you should consider for your fantasy team in 2017.
No.5 Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
To start, my number five tight end is Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2016 he was the most heavily targeted tight end in the league. This was due in part to Pat Shurmur replacing Norv Turner as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in early November. Tight ends have accounted for a 24 percent target share during Shurmur’s 122 games as a head coach or coordinator since 2009 according to ESPN.
In 2016, Rudolph paced all tight ends with 128 targets and ranked in the top four in receptions, yards, touchdowns and end zone targets (11). In the past, Rudolph would average around three receptions and 27.8 yards per game, basically becoming a touchdown-or-bust tight end. Rudolph flipped the switch in 2016 and put up 5.2 grabs and 52.5 yards per game. This helped him finish second at the position in fantasy points, his best ranking since he landed 11th in 2012.
In 2017, Rudolph should continue to be a featured option in the Viking offense as Shurmur is still around. He’s not a top-tier option but he’s much better than the tight ends you’ll find at the end of your draft.
No.4 Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Jordan Reed has proven to be a valuable target in Washington. In 2016 he ranked in the top 10 tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns despite only playing 12 games.
Reed has posted a pair of top-10 fantasy seasons in the past two seasons. In 2015, he had his best season to date with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which allowed him to finish as the No. 3 fantasy tight end in standard leagues. In 2016 he still produced at a high level with 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns but finished as just the No. 8 tight end in standard formats. An impressive stat is that Reed has caught at least three-quarters of his targets during each of his four NFL seasons. That’s scary good.
The one issue with Reed is injuries. He has yet to play a full 16 games in his career. Last year he missed two games with a shoulder injury and one with a concussion. But these injuries haven’t prevented Reed’s numbers to drastically decline. However in 2017 he should become the number one option in Washington with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both moving on.
No.3 Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
My number three tight end is Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers. He may not be the flashiest player, but without a doubt he’s the most consistent tight end in the NFL.
Greg Olsen (Photo by: nj.com)
Olsen finished third in fantasy points and in the top-seven at the position in targets, completions and receiving yards each of the past five years. In 2016 he had seven games with eight-plus fantasy points. He did, however, only have three touchdowns, his fewest since 2007. Olsen is still the main piece in the Panthers passing game especially in the red zone . He had another 1,000 yard season for the third year in a row and maintains consistency in targets and receptions.
The thing that Olsen excels in is durability. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He is always a reliable TE1 and expect him to bounce back in touchdowns and being consistent.
No.2 Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski (Photo by: washingtontimes.com)
I know I will have some hate mail, but if it weren’t for injuries Gronkowski would be my number one tight end. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years and a total of 24 during that span. However, outside of fantasy he is the best tight end in the NFL and always a top two in fantasy.
In 2016 he appeared in eight games and finished with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 38 targets. He still finished as the No. 20 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues which goes to show how good he is. From weeks 6-10 he was the top fantasy tight end in fantasy points. He’s finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he’s appeared in at least 11 games. In fact he has double digit touchdowns in all but two seasons of his seven year career and they were due to injuries.
Again, people will not agree with this ranking but I fear Gronkowski will again have injury issues. He hasn’t seen a full 16 games since his first two seasons. In 2014 and 2015 he only missed a total of two games and had top fantasy seasons. We hope he plays at least 13 games because when he’s healthy he’s easily the best fantasy tight end in any format. If he can do that he will be the Gronkowski that we can rely on. I do expect him to be ready and also to be the first tight end off the board in Rounds 2 or 3.
No.1 Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone might question this but I’m going with Travis Kelce as my number one tight end for fantasy in 2017. The first thing is why is he in front of Gronkowski? . Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011. Kelce has played in 16 games three of his four seasons and has started 42 of his 49 career games.
But other then durability Kelce had a breakout 2016 season. He led almost every category at the tight end position including yards, yards per game, catches for 20 and 40 plus yards, and had the longest catch among tight ends. The Chiefs tight end was also second in receptions. Kelce finished as the No. 1 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues with 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns on 117 targets. Another interesting stat about Kelce is that he was second among receivers with 100 plus yard games behind only Julio Jones with six. He had a span where he had four 100 plus yards game towards the time of the fantasy playoffs.
Kelce if anything he should see an increase in usage this year with the release of Jeremy Maclin. Even though he will be picked as the second tight end behind Gronk, Kelce is a good option and is valuable in both standard and PPR leagues. Look for him around the 4th to 5th round to be off the board as he has become a top tier tight end in fantasy.
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In the past two weeks, I’ve examined every crucial fantasy football position. I’ve given Surefire Stamps of Approval to 18 different players, and I’ve also ranked the top players at each position. Today, I release my 2016 Fantasy Football Overall Rankings.
Now, before you roast my rankings and/or me, please take a moment to read up on all these players. Through the links below, you can understand why I’ve ranked players where I have. After you have done that, I then give you permission to torch me.
Please keep in mind this is not how I project the top scorers to place. This is how I rank players based on value, and how they’d be viewed in a live draft.
All rankings are PPR rankings. Although some of my colleagues here at The Game Haus disagree, PPR is the way to go. I believe it, and you, the fans, believe it too (according to a Twitter poll). Here’s your 2016 fantasy football tight end rankings.
1. Rob Gronkowski
From Surefire Tight Ends: “Rob Gronkowski is head and shoulders above the rest of the tight end crop. In the four seasons in which Gronk’s played 15 or more games or more, he’s finished first in points among tight ends three times; the only time he didn’t finish first was his rookie campaign.
It seems to me that fantasy players are overly-concerned with Rob Gronkowski’s health. He’s only had two seasons in which he hasn’t played 15 games. The root of the concern seems to stem from the fact that the two seasons Gronk missed more than one game came back-to-back (11 games in 2012, 7 games in 2013). Sure, he’s had some minor issues in each season, but none of them have been severe enough to hurt his numbers.
Gronk has proved pretty durable since the start of 2014. He’s also enjoyed three huge years with his New England Patriots while he’s been a starter and stayed healthy. Looking at the table below shows just how explosive the Arizona product has been.
90 REC, 1,327 yards, 17 TD (1 rushing)
82 REC, 1,124 yards, 12 TD
72 REC, 1,176 yards, 11 TD
There’s not really much that needs to be said about Rob Gronkowski. Barring injury, he’ll finish as the best tight end in football yet again this season. I still refuse to take him before the twelfth(ish) pick. However, grabbing a player with the Surefire Stamp of Approval (patent pending), and then picking Gronkowski will be huge for your team this season.”
2. Greg Olsen
Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s favorite player to throw to. (Photo: buccaneers.com)
From Surefire Tight Ends: “Greg Olsen has blossomed since joining Carolina five seasons ago. He’s stepped into the role of being Cam Newton’s primary pass catcher, which isn’t something tight ends normally do. Olsen will be a great tight end this season.
There are no question marks surrounding Greg Olsen’s durability. Olsen has been a pro for eight years, and in each of the last seven, Olsen has played in all 16 games. To add to his toughness, Olsen has started all 16 games in each of his last four seasons.
Greg Olsen is also Cam Newton’s favorite face to throw to. Last season, Olsen reached his career mark in targets with 129. Two seasons ago, he had 126, even with Kelvin Benjamin playing in all 16 games. The Miami (FL) product has led the Panthers in receptions in each of the last three seasons, proving he’ll get a high volume of targets this season.
The most exciting and safe argument for Greg Olsen has been his consistency. Consistency is the name of the game when I select players to receive the Surefire Stamp of Approval, and Olsen fits the bill. Olsen’s best seasons have been in each of his last four. In those seasons, he’s finished as the eighth-highest scoring tight end or better, including being the fourth-best tight end for two seasons in a row.
69 REC, 843 yards, 5 TD
73 REC, 816 yards, 6 TD
77 REC, 1,104 yards, 7 TD
I would suggest drafting Olsen over Rob Gronkowski as your starting tight end. He’s got a lot better value in terms of ADP, being selected at the 41st pick on nfl.com and espn.com. You’ll be able to stock up on other positions before selecting Olsen with your fourth(ish) pick.”
3. Delanie Walker
From Surefire Tight Ends: “The last player to earn the Surefire Stamp of Approval in our Surefire series is Delanie Walker. Walker’s career has taken off since joining the Tennessee Titans three seasons ago. He’s played in 15 games in each of his three seasons as a Titan, and his playing time has amassed strong numbers for the Central Missouri State product (go fighting Mules?).
With Walker consistently staying off the injury report, he’s been able to accrue at least 14 games in every season except for his rookie season. That said, he’s been able to finished as the 12th, 8th, and 5th tight end in 2013,2014, and 2015, respectively.
Walker also dominates red zone targets on his team. He saw 17 red zone targets last season, seven more than the second-highest target receiver. Walker also caught 14 passes in the red zone, an astounding 10 more than the second-highest receiver.
60 REC, 571 yards, 6 TD
63 REC, 890 yards, 4 TD
94 REC, 1,088 yards, 6 TD
A starter for the last three seasons, Walker has also seen his best three career seasons each year since 2013. Last year, he caught 94 balls. That was first among tight ends, and more than Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Allen Robinson. Walker’s 1,088 yards were more than Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, or Eric Decker. Walker simply needs to maintain the numbers he’s put up in recent years, and just add a few touchdowns to his statline.
Walker is a less talked about and less drafted tight end. He’ll still be taken in every draft, but he won’t be taken as high as the aforementioned tight ends. He’s being taken as a low TE1 right now, which is great value. If you want to wait on a tight end until Walker, it could be a great plan. You’ll be able to really pad your other position groups before going tight end.”
4. Jordan Reed
From Surefire Tight Ends: “Jordan Reed celebrated this offseason by signing a 5-year, $47M extension. Washington hasn’t thrown around money like it grows on trees either, as they’ve been stingy with paying Kirk Cousins top dollar. This shows that the front office in Washington is confident in Reed leading the tight end position for years to come for the Redskins.
The money Reed received is likely due to his breakout season in 2015. He finished with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed looks to use 2016 as a springboard to elite status. After finishing with the third-most points among tight ends last season, Reed can cement himself as a top tight end with another big year.
The fun part about Reed is his touchdown scoring potential. He had the third-most red zone targets last season, totaling 23. Brandon Marshall (25), Antonio Brown (24), and Gary Barnidge (24), were the only players who had more targets, and Marshall was the only one with more touchdowns (14). Reed reached paydirt 11 times, which was tied for first among tight ends.
There is some concern with his ankle issues, but other than that, Reed will be a high-quality and safe draft pick. The University of Florida product will always be Kirk Cousins’ favorite red zone target, which gives him ample opportunities to have consistent and quality fantasy performances.”
5. Coby Fleener
Now a member of the New Orleans Saints, Coby Fleener could have a huge 2016 season. We know Drew Brees knows how to utilize tight ends. He helped Jimmy Graham become a star and even allowed Benjamin Watson to have a good season last year. Fleener is a pure receiving tight end. He’s a great fit to the Saints’ system, and is in line for a 65/900/6 statline by the time this season is over. Yes, Fleener hasn’t produced TE5 numbers in his career, but this season could very well be his first season doing so.
6. Ladarius Green
At this point, the common reader will blow me off, call me an idiot, and not read my reasoning on why Ladarius Green should be number six. Per Green’s first six games of the season, he was on pace to finish with 64 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns. In my book, that’s a solid season. Now getting all the starting reps in Pittsburgh, Green is poised to breakout. We saw how much Ben Roethlisberger loved Heath Miller, and it’s now Green’s turn to take over that role. In a pass heavy offense, look for Ladarius Green to break out this season.
Tyler Eifert’s inconsistency and high ADP scares me away. Regardless, he’s still a good tight end if it’s late enough in the draft. (Photo: AP/Gary Landers)
7. Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert is the most risky player that you can draft at any position right now. Being taken as the number four tight end right now, his asking price is way too high. The first red flag with Eifert is that he was incredibly touchdown dependent last season. He scored 13 touchdowns last season, which is great. However, if someone told you that Eifert had less catches and yards than Jacob Tamme and Benjamin Watson, I don’t think you’d believe it. Well, that stat is true. If you take out Tyler Eifert’s best two games (a combined 17/194/4), Eifert’s stats aren’t appealing at all. The most catches he had in a game was five, and the most yards he had was 69.
I cannot stress enough that you should buy into a player if a high volume of his stats came in two games or less. I’m passing on Eifert right now, as his asking price is too high.
8. Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce was the most consistent tight end last season. In an astounding 75 percent of the games Kelce played, he had 4-6 catches. However, the yards totals were’t as high as you’d like to see. Kelce also found the end zone just five times, and only three times if you take out the first game of the season. The University of Cincinnati product is the best tight end after the catch, as he averaged 12.15 yards per reception last season. Kelce will be a consistent but low level TE1 this season.
9. Julius Thomas
In his first season in Jacksonville, Julius Thomas battled injuries while trying to learn a brand new offense. That doesn’t add up to a great season. Thomas had 46 catches for 455 yards and five score last season. Jacksonville’s offense is turning into a fantasy relevant team at every position, including tight end. Thomas will be better this season, but he still probably won’t get much better than a middling TE1 this season.
10. Zach Ertz
Go ahead and light me up for this ranking too. Zach Ertz had 75 receptions last season- 75 in six games started. Ertz also had 853 receiving yards. Ertz would’ve been a solid TE1 last season, had he caught more than a mere two touchdowns. I’m all for guys who aren’t touchdown dependent. Ertz was far from it, and because of that, he has tremendous upside for this season.
11. Gary Barnridge
Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell- those are the players Gary Barnridge has to battle with this season for touches. With his breakout season coming at age 30, I don’t trust Barnridge has much left in the tank. He also won’t be the one of two respectable targets on the team like last season. His numbers will go down, so don’t overestimate Gary Barnridge this season.
12. Jimmy Graham
Healthy again, Jimmy Graham could be ready to get back to his old ways. A superstar in New Orleans, Graham started slow last season. Graham missed nearly half the season thanks to a torn patellar tendon, which ended an already disappointing 2015 season. The Seahawks will be passing more this season, which means Graham will have more opportunities. Still, I’m not trusting Graham to be anything more than my backup.
Zach Miller’s upside is enticing for 2016. (Photo: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)
13. Zach Miller
Zach Miller is one of the few non-TE1s with upside. He’s taking over for Martellus Bennett this season, and Bennett did well in his time with the Bears. I think Miller can pick up where Bennett left off, as he hauled in 29 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns in his final seven games last season. I like Miller’s situation and end to 2015, which paves way for him to have some upside for this season.
14. Jason Witten
Jason Witten has never finished worse than the TE13 since 2004. Witten will always have fantasy relevance as long as he plays, but he is trending downwards. He’s finished 11th and 12th in the past two seasons, and it’s hard to believe he’ll get much better this season. Witten is a great backup option, but I’m not trusting him to start for my team.
15. Antonio Gates
Somehow the Chargers let Ladarius Green walk, who I thought was the future of their franchise at tight end. San Diego must trust that Antonio Gates will be around for at least a few more seasons. Like Witten, as long as he’s around, Gates will be a fantasy producer. However, finishing no better than eighth in three of the last four seasons proves Gates is trending down.
All rankings are PPR rankings. Although some of my colleagues here at The Game Haus disagree, PPR is the way to go. I believe it, and you, the fans, believe it too (according to a Twitter poll). Here’s your 2016 fantasy football running back rankings.
1. Adrian Peterson
From Surefire Running Backs: “Adrian Peterson is about as steady as running backs come. Peterson’s worst finish among running backs is eighth, which occurred in 2011. Obviously this doesn’t include 2014, when he played just one game. Other than two eighth place finishes, Peterson has never finished worse than third in fantasy points in his career. A complete breakdown can be seen below:
AP will consistently put up great numbers. (Photo: Sporting News)
We all wondered how Peterson would respond to a year off at the start of last season. He finished with 231 points, and was the second-best rusher last season. All Day isn’t a PPR stud, but in standard scoring, he’s been incredibly dependable.
There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the Oklahoma product losing touches. The Vikings did spend their first pick of the draft on wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, but the Vikings are still a run-first offense.
Teddy Bridgewater threw just 14 touchdowns last season, and 9 of which came in the redzone. There’s no running back that will vulcher away redzone touches from Peterson. With just a 41 percent completion percentage in the redzone, Bridgewater wasn’t a valuable asset when it counted most.
This all paves way for Peterson to dominate redzone touches this season.
Entering his age 31 season, Peterson isn’t a guy to take early in a dynasty league. However, if you’re in a re-draft league, drafting him will be an all-too-easy pick for your RB1 this season.”
2. Devonta Freeman
After winning the starting running back job in Atlanta by a hair, Devonta Freeman took the fantasy football world by storm by scoring 146.5 points in weeks 3-6 last season. Freeman had just three games last season in which he scored less than 15 points. He also enjoyed 30+ point games four times last season.
Freeman is a PPR stud with the fourth-best offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus. He is the perfect fit to the zone-run scheme, and there’s no signs of slowing for the 24 year-old. Freeman will be an elite running back once again in 2016.
3. Todd Gurley
From Surefire Running Backs: “In his rookie season, Todd Gurley scored 189 fantasy points, good for fifth among running backs. Gurley also did this after missing the first two games of the season. Questions arose about whether Gurley would be as explosive as he was prior to his ACL injury, but Gurley swiftly hushed the nay-sayers.
Todd Gurley could be the best second-year back in the NFL this season. (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Gurley could be the next superstar in the NFL, but the only concern is his durability. Gurley missed the final game of the 2015 season due to a foot injury. He played in 13 games, which isn’t bad, and his injury history isn’t exactly extensive. However, an ACL injury is the most scary of them all. Even so, Gurley averaged 18 carries per game, and topped out at 30 last season.
If you’re looking for big time games, this is your guy. Five times last season Gurley rushed for 100 yards or more. He scored ten rushing touchdowns last season, which is about 0.8 scores per game. Gurley also had double-digit point totals ten times last season.
Gurley, like Peterson, is not a huge PPR get. He caught just 21 balls last season, good for 29th among running backs. He also had zero touchdown catches.
Nevertheless, Gurley could be the best running back in the league this season. His injury risk should be in the back of all fantasy owners’ minds. Other than that, drafting Gurley with your first pick should keep you giddy all season.”
4. Ezekiel Elliott
Running behind the best offensive line in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott is poised to become an elite rusher in this year’s NFL. Owners passed on Todd Gurley last season, simply because he was a rookie. Don’t make that mistake this season. People who don’t believe in Elliott as a pass-catcher are flat wrong. Of all rookie running backs this season, Elliott averaged the most targets per route in college, earning a target in 65% of routes ran in college (per rotoworld.com). Elliott is a great pass protector, which means he won’t lose snaps on passing situations. He allowed just one pressure on 17 chances at Ohio State.
All this adds up to a great all-around running back, playing with the best offensive line in football. Elliott will be a star in Dallas, there’s no question. My boldest prediction I’ve ever documented comes in this paragraph: Ezekiel Elliott is the next Emmitt Smith.
So draft Elliott as your RB1, take him at his ADP, or let him fall to your lap in the second round if possible.
5. David Johnson
Fantasy owners hope David Johnson’s second season is just as good as his first. (Photo: Getty Images)
From Surefire Running Backs: “I’m all in on David Johnson for 2016. In just five games started last season, Johnson accounted for 658 yards. He’s also managed to find paydirt five times during that stretch. Catching 17 passes in that time also proved Johnson has potential to become a great pass catcher.
What’s more is that Johnson will run behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Pro Football Focus ranks Arizona as having the ninth-best o-line in 2015. That ranking will improve with the addition of All-Pro guard Evan Mathis. Mathis had the best run blocking grade last season according to PFF. With Mike Iupati anchoring the line, Johnson should have plenty of room in the trenches this season.
The UNI product looks reliable as a middling RB1 this season. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will battle for backup carries, but don’t be afraid of them luring away touches from Johnson. Head coach Bruce Arians gave just about the highest praise you can give a second-year running back, saying he’s on track to be “one of the all-time best” at running back. That should be plenty reason to take Johnson as your first running back this season.”
6. Le’Veon Bell
From Surefire Running Backs: “Believe it or not, 2016 will be Le’Veon Bell’s fourth season in the league. He’s seems older than that to me, and that’s probably because of how quickly he became a prominent player in fantasy football.
Bell played in just six games last season thanks to another injury against the bitter rival Cincinnati Bengals. In those six games, however, Bell ran for 4.9 yards per carry (career best) and 3 rushing scores. He also caught 24 passes for 136 yards.
Barring injuries, Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in football. He’s a spectacular runner and possesses great hands and route running abilities for a running back. Bell was the second-highest scoring running back in fantasy in 2014. Had DeMarco Murray not blown up behind the strong Dallas o-line, Bell would’ve finished in first place by 23 points in standard leagues.
We say this far too often with running backs, but as long as Bell can stay healthy, he’ll be a fantastic player in fantasy. The Michigan State product can put up 20 points in any given week. In 2014 PPR leagues, he scored at least 20 points seven times. He also eclipsed 20 points in three of his six games last season.
Bell is an explosion on your fantasy waiting to happen. Week in and week out, expect him to be a top-five running back. Draft Bell on your team, and handcuff him with DeAngelo Williams. If Bell doesn’t start one week, roll with Williams, who will produce just as much as Bell.”
Even with Bell being suspended four games, I still trust him to be one of the best running backs in football after week four. Drafting DeAngelo Williams is a must for all fantasy owners, and especially if you draft Bell. Williams was spectacular replacing Bell last season, and there’s nothing indicating that will change this season.
7. Jamaal Charles
Coming off his second ACL surgery since entering the NFL, Jamaal Charles isn’t a favorite running back for fantasy owners. In the four full games he played last season, Charles’ lowest finish was 18.7 points. He also scored 31.2 points against Green Bay in week 3.
I understand the fear of another Jamaal Charles injury, as he hasn’t been the most durable running back since entering the NFL. However, he’s been a great fantasy asset since becoming a starter in 2008. He’s finished in the top-12 among running backs in every season in which he’s played in 15 games, other than his rookie year. He’s also got two first-place finishes under his belt. Take Charles as an RB1, and pending good health, he’ll be a top running back.
8. Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram has had a lot of hype for all of his seasons in the NFL, but he finally lived up to it in 2014. Ingram has finished as the RB15 in each of the past two seasons. To add to that, Ingram caught 50 passes last season, nearly doubling his totals from 2014.
When it comes to red zone opportunities, Ingram’s numbers are deceiving. He rushed the ball inside the red zone on 33% of all Saints opportunities, which doesn’t look good. However, take just the games Ingram played in, and his red zone carries skyrocket to 71% of carries. When the Alabama product is healthy, he’ll hog all the carries when they matter.
Ingram doesn’t have superstar upside, but he also doesn’t carry a lot of risk. He just missed out on getting the Surefire Stamp of Approval, so draft Ingram as an RB1, and that’s what he’ll be.
9. Matt Forte
From Surefire Running Backs: “Matt Forte is the only player to join a new team for 2016 on this list. Although I’m usually leery of jumping on players who are on new teams, I’m excited for Forte this season.
Forte has never finished worse than an RB2 in his career. He’s also finished as an RB1 five times in his eight year career. Now with the Jets, Forte will be relied on heavily due to the quarterback situation in the Big Apple. Although the quarterback may be a walking question mark, Forte will hold down the fort as a consistent running back and pass catcher. Each of Forte’s finishes among running backs is listed below:
Now with the New York Jets, Forte will play under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gailey has coached Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis, Lamar Smith (in his best career season), Larry Johnson, and C.J. Spiller (also in his best season). Although Smith and Spiller are nothing close to big names in the NFL, they even had their best seasons while under Gailey.
Chan Gailey seems to be a running back whisperer, and Forte will be the number one source of offence for the Jets. Entering his age 31 season, Forte, like Peterson, is not a huge dynasty pick, but he will produce for at least a couple more seasons. Draft Forte as an RB1, especially in PPR leagues.”
10. Lamar Miller
Finishing ninth and sixth among running backs in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Lamar Miller’s career is on the upswing. He’s rushed for eight touchdowns and accounted for 1,000 yards or more in each of the past two seasons. Now a Texan, Miller hopes to pick up where Arian Foster left off. Once Foster went down for the year, the vulnerability of Houston’s o-line was showcased. Miller has enough talent to produce even behind a subpar line. Expect Lamar Miller to be a great addition in Houston, and a borderline RB1.
11. Doug Martin
Doug Martin is a muscle hamster, and that’s the best combination of two words in the history of speech. Since bursting onto the scene in his rookie season in 2012, Martin has only been able to replicate his success once. He totaled 1,454 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012, helping him to be the second best running back in fantasy football.
After two seasons filled with injuries and no production, Martin came back into his 2012 form last season. His 1,402 rushing yards was second most in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson, and nearly 300 more yards than the next best rusher. Martin was the third highest scoring running back last season, and he’ll be just as good this season. Expect him to be a high RB2, but closer to a middling RB1 this season, pending he plays 14 games or more.
Turns out P90X actually works. (Photo: Tony Horton Twitter)
12. Eddie Lacy
Eddie Lacy used to be chunky. Eddie Lacy is now not chunky. When the Alabama product is in NFL running back condition, he is good. In his each of his first two seasons in the NFL, Lacy finished as the RB6 in fantasy football. Last season, Lacy finished with the 25th most points in fantasy football. Lacy is in great shape, and that’s what held him back last season. Expect another 1,100 yard, 9 touchdown campaign from the Alabama product.
13. LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy has been all over the place in terms of fantasy football production. He’s finished in the top seven of running backs three times (two second place finishes), while finishing 12th and 17th in the past two seasons. Running behind Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked offensive line while be solid, and Karlos Williams being suspended helps McCoy’s case even more. Yes, the Bills did sign Reggie Bush, but he’s no threat to take McCoy’s production. The Pitt product will be a RB2 throughout the season, with bursts of RB1 showcases.
14. Carlos Hyde
Contrary to popular belief, Chip Kelly operates on a run-first basis. Although he did call plays at a record-breaking pace last season, he prefers to establish the run first. With Kelly controlling the Eagles last season, he saw his team attempt 442 rushes, 11th in the NFL. Kelly brings that scheme to San Francisco, and it will benefit Carlos Hyde. The Ohio State product was on pace to rush for 1,072 yards last season, so as long as he stays healthy, Hyde is in good position to have a solid season for fantasy owners.
15. Dion Lewis
The grim reaper of running backs afflicted many stars last season, and Dion Lewis was one of them. Through seven games, Lewis ran for just 234 yards, but added 388 receiving yards on 36 catches. Lewis will be a PPR magnet for both Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady, and should enjoy the featured back role in New England. However, Bill Belichick and his shenanigans are always in full swing. I refuse to trust any running back in New England as long as the Belitricks affect rushers, so be cautious but optimistic with Lewis this season.
16. Latavius Murray
After rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns last season, Latavius Murray is on the fantasy radar for all owners. With 41 catches for 232 yards, Murray also proved to be more than a one-dimensional back. Murray plays in one of the most talented offenses for its age, and will at worst make up for an average rushing game with a few catches. Murray will most likely finish as a hard RB2, and I’m more than okay with him as my second running back this season.
17. C.J. Anderson
C.J. Anderson is yet to put together a full season of consistent production. Anderson had just two games of 100 yards rushing or more last season. He also totaled nine games in which he didn’t even record 70 all-purpose yards. Add that to just five total touchdowns and only 25 receptions, and you have a consistently average running back. On the upside, Anderson ran for 4.7 yards per carry, and could be leaned on heavily due to the passing game in Denver being in question. I still don’t understand all the hype for Anderson, and see him as nothing more than a RB2 who only produces good games on occasion.
18. Thomas Rawls
After barely making the roster after training camp, Thomas Rawls was just happy to be on the team when the season started. After Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch went down with injuries, Rawls quickly had to step up to the starting gig. Rawls hit the ground running, rushing for 100 yards four times, including a 209 yard performance. The risk with Rawls is his running behind a terrible offensive line, and the questions about whether or not he’ll be able to replicate his high clip in 2016. I’m more comfortable with Rawls as my flex player, but a low RB2 to start isn’t too bad of expectations for him.
19. Ryan Mathews
It seems like there was more running backs getting playing time in Philly last season than there was Browns starting quarterbacks since they moved to Cleveland. Mathews was the only consistent runner last season for the Eagles, and with DeMarco Murray gone, it’s going to be all Ryan Mathews this season. As the featured back, I like Mathews as a low RB2 with upside to be a high RB2.
20. Jonathan Stewart
The Carolina Panthers have the second-best offensive line in football (PFF). That said, Jonathan Stewart has never been, and will never be, an elite running back. He is a good running back, but reigning MVP Cam Newton will get his touches, and so will Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Stewart was 11 yards away from his second 1,000 yard rushing season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get there this season. Stewart will be good enough to be an RB2, but his lack of touches hurts his ceiling.
The Surefire series is behind us, so now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. For the next week, I’ll be ranking the top players at each position in fantasy football. To start, we’ll look at the 2016 fantasy football quarterback rankings.
From the Surefire Quarterbacks: “Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scored the seventh-most points among quarterbacks last season, which is already great. Rodgers didn’t even get to enjoy the services of Jordy Nelson last season, who missed the entire year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Nelson finished with 230 points in 2014, good for second among wide receivers.
Aaron Rodgers is your number one quarterback for 2016. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
The Packers didn’t even have a great wideout last season. Their leading point scorer was James Jones (141 points), who isn’t even on an NFL roster right now. Randall Cobb was right behind Jones, scoring 130 points last season. Rodgers didn’t get to throw to an elite receiver, or even a great one at that.
I say all that to say this: Aaron Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he did it without an elite receiver. Of the six passers to score more than Rodgers last season, all of them had at least one player who scored in the top 12 of receivers last season.
Here’s the complete breakdown:
Greg Olsen (#5 TE)
Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE), Jullian Edelman (on pace to be#7 WR)
Doug Baldwin (#7 WR)
Allen Robinson (#4), Allen Hurns (#14)
Larry Fitzgerald (#11), John Brown (#21)
Bradin Cooks (#12)
Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since he became a starter in 2008. Rodgers hasn’t finished worse than third in points among quarterbacks since 2008, other than last season. He’s chalked up two first place finishes, coupled with two second place finishes.
Draft Rodgers this season, and don’t worry about drafting another quarterback until the double digit rounds. The UC-Berkeley alum stays healthy, and will get Jordy Nelson back this season, so don’t be surprised to see him finish in first among quarterbacks this season.”
Aaron Rodgers is the number one quarterback in fantasy football. He has an elite receiver in Jordy Nelson, a solid running game, and the fifth-best pass-blocking offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus.
From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Cam Newton scored the most fantasy points of all players in fantasy football last season. Just like Rodgers, Newton gets one of his favorite targets back after missing all of 2015. Kelvin Benjamin returns this season, and like the aforementioned Nelson, missed 2015 due to a torn ACL.
In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He was 11 catches away from Greg Olsen’s team leading 84 catches, and tied Olsen’s mark for most receiving yards. Benjamin also led the team in receiving touchdowns, snagging 9. With Benjamin back, Newton has a chance to have two top-15 pass catchers at their positions. Benjamin is just 25 years of age, and is about to enter the prime of his career. It will also be just his second full season in the league.
Alongside Benjamin and Olsen are Tedd Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess. Ginn’s rather ho-hum career was recharged last season. The Ohio State product was the ringleader of the wide receivers, pulling in 44 throws for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ginn is 31, so he may still have a few more productive seasons in him. Regardless, the speedster still should produce enough to help Newton be more than serviceable this season.
Another Ohio State alum who’ll continue to improve his young career is Corey “Philly” Brown. Brown caught 31 balls for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown is just hitting his stride in his NFL career, and will be a deep-threat slot receiver for Newton this season.
Wedged in between two OSU alums is Michigan standout Devin Funchess. Many fantasy experts are waiting for Funchess to quit spinning his wheels and gain traction in the NFL, but it hasn’t happened yet. With 473 yards on 31 catches and 5 touchdowns last season, Funchess was widely known as a fantasy sleeper last season. Instead, Ginn took his projected role. Funchess is still a pretty good option for Newton, who is really becoming accustomed to not-so-new faces in Carolina.”
Newton’s rushing abilities make him a much more valuable quarterback in fantasy football. He had 10 rushing touchdowns, more than any other quarterback in 2015. He also had 636 rushing yards, which was also first among passers. Couple that with Newton’s 35 passing touchdowns a season ago and you’ve got an elite fantasy football quarterback.
From Surefire Quarterbacks: “In 2012, the first season after Tony Romo got married, Romo had the best season of his career. On July 6 of this year, Russell Wilson tied the knot. People say history repeats itself, so I project big things for Russell Wilson. All humor aside, let’s get to the undeniable stats.
Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has been in the top-ten in scoring each season. He’s improved each season in points, shooting all the way up to second last season. Wilson’s exact finishes are shown below.
To make a better case for Wilson, he gets one of the best tight ends in the league back this season. Jimmy Graham started slow last season prior to his gruesome knee injury that ended his season. However, three of his best four games took place in the second half of his season.
In addition, Wilson may be passing the ball more frequently with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch this offseason. Thomas Rawls was great in Lynch’s absence in 2015, but it’s not certain whether or not the running game will be as steady as last season. Pro Football Focus gives Seattle the worst offensive line grade in the entire league after the 2015 season. Wilson is a great passer when on the run, and it’s easier to throw with a mobile quarterback than run with a terrible line.”
Another quarterback with uncanny running abilities, Russell Wilson is a fantasy asset thanks to his legs. Wilson only managed one rushing touchdown in 2015, but he still had 553 yards rushing. Wilson will be a high-end QB1 this season.
From Surefire Quarterbacks: “If you’re looking for a player with consistency like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees is your guy. Since 2004, Brees’ worst season was finishing as the ninth-best quarterback(!). He did that twice, in his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Since then, Brees has finished in the top-five in every season except two, when he finished sixth in 2010 and 2015.
To add to Brees’ allure, he’ll get to throw to one of the most respected rookies from other players’ standpoint in the league. Michael Thomas was the Saints’ second-round pick, and the first of two Buckeyes to be drafted onto the roster (Vonn Bell). Thomas will be a huge red zone target for Brees, and has great hands. Thomas has gotten knocked due to his inability to showcase a large catching radius, but every rookie has some kind of kink to work out.
Rave reviews aren’t few and far between for Thomas. The highest of praise came from Saints in-house reporter Sean Kelley, who said Thomas is “going to be a star”. He went on to say that Thomas will easily take the number three spot on the depth chart, and that he could even push Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks.”
Drew Brees has managed to be one of the most elite quarterbacks of the past 10 years. He gets a rookie in Michael Thomas who has already impressed many during training camp. As long as Drew Brees is a quarterback, he’ll most likely be a QB1.
It seems like a lot of quarterbacks threw for 35 touchdowns last season, and Carson Palmer is part of that group. Palmer is a lot like Ben Roethlisberger, in that they both have a lot of weapons in their offense. David Johnson is set to be a PPR stud, Larry Fitzgerald at worst will be the best blocking wideout in the league, and John Brown is poised to set Arizona on fire as a breakout receiver. Palmer does have knee issues, as he’s torn his ACL two times. Barring an injury, Palmer will be the beneficiary of one of the best offenses in the NFL this season.
From Surefire Quarterbacks: “Ben Roethlisberger would’ve finished as the fifth-best quarterback last season had he played all 16 games last season according to projections.
Big Ben will be a QB1 this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Let’s marvel at all the toys Ben gets to play with. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Ladarius Green, will all catch passes from Big Ben this season. Roethlisberger has the best weapons in the league, paving way for a monster season for the bruising quarterback.
Roethlisberger threw for less than 250 yards just twice in the entire season in 2015. Six times he threw for 350 yards or more, and also had a game with 349 yards. The Miami (OH) product is just keeps on keepin’ on, and so long as he stays healthy, enjoy his services.”
Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first four games, and Martavis Bryant is suspended for all 16. It could be tough going for Big Ben until Bell returns, but when he does, he’ll be an easy QB1.
Now everyone pull up a seat and let me drop some truth on you. Philip Rivers isn’t that bad. Listen here, Rivers was the number two quarterback in fantasy football through eight games last season. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen’s season was cut in half, just like his kidney (not confirmed), causing Rivers’ numbers to plummet. I’m no fortune teller, but I can tell you Keenan Allen is back, Travis Benjamin has signed with the Chargers (for whatever that’s worth), and I’m high on Rivers this season.
Andrew Luck makes me nervous. His line allowed anything with as much horsepower as motorized Heelys get to the quarterback last season. There’s a bunch of hype in the receiving corps, but my momma told me that potential shouldn’t be taken as results- it hasn’t done anything yet. Luck is a gifted quarterback, but he must stay healthy in order to be a top-flight passer. Temper your expectations with Luck this season, and maybe he’ll be a number one quarterback like he was in 2014.
Way to go Tom Brady. You let air out of a football and got re-suspended after getting un-suspended from your original suspension. Because of that, I have to rank you as my number nine quarterback. You know what you get from Tom Brady. He’s going to throw for 300 yards a game, 3 touchdowns, and stay uninjured. Survive with another quarterback for the first four games, then ride with Brady as a top-five quarterback for the rest of the year.
Some writers call Andy Dalton a sleeper for the MVP. I’m a Bengals fan and a writer, so I know that’s just something called #clickbait. Andy Dalton has the potential to be a QB1, that’s for sure. He has a WR1 in A.J. Green, and TE1 in Tyler Eifert, and two running backs who have dual uses in Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Cincinnati is a balanced attack, so Dalton simply won’t get enough passing attempts in to be a reliable QB1 each game.
The two best wide receivers with the first name of Allen play for the Jags. Allen Robinson, a top-ten wide receiver, and Allen Hurns (64 receptions, 1,031 yards in 2015) will both help a scary Jacksonville pass offense. Don’t forget about former Denver Bronco Julius Thomas, who enters his second season in Florida. Bortles passed for 35 touchdowns last season, and will be a solid QB1 this season.
Underrated in 2015, let Carr fall into your lap as a high QB2 late in drafts. (Photo: AP/Joe Mahoney)
Amari Cooper is a budding star, and it turns out Michael Crabtree doesn’t suck in the NFL. Derek Carr has great deep threat and possession wide receivers, and a solid running game behind Latavius Murray. Carr threw for 32 touchdowns last season, and could venture his way into QB1 territory.
Eli Manning was straight peeved when Peyton Manning clinched the Super Bowl. That said, he’ll have some extra fire girded within his loins this season. Odell Beckham is overrated but good (how about that for a hot #take for your Monday). Sterling Shepard could be one of the next great receivers in the NFL, and there are enough average running backs in New York (technically New Jersey) to have a mundane running game. Manning plays in a pass heavy offense, which means he could go off in any week.
Julio Jones just so happens to be good at gracing footballs into his hands. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but he has no other friends to throw to. I guess Devonta Freeman will have to suffice, because there’s no way the Falcons knew what they were getting in signing Mohamed Sanu to an absurd $32 million deal.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was the number 12 quarterback in fantasy last season. After finally agreeing to a new contract with the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick is in position to be a solid streaming option for your team this season. Throwing to the likes of Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall is as good as it gets, and Matt Forte can run and catch out of the backfield. Fitzpatrick is a solid QB2 with potential to be a low QB1.
Tony Romo can’t stay healthy, even with the best offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. That’s very concerning. What’s more is that Ezekiel Elliott will be seeing upwards of 300 touches according to Dallas coaches.
The Washington front office doesn’t believe Kirk Cousins is the long-term quarterback, but I believe he’s your long-term backup fantasy quarterback for this season. Jordan Reed is an animal inside the 20, and DeSean Jackson is an animal outside the 20. What more could he need? A running game? Psh.
Eric Ebron is slowly becoming a good tight end in the NFL. Golden Tate catches two-yard touchdowns like it’s his job (I guess it kind of is). Marvin Jones is no longer a sleeper because everyone is calling him a sleeper. Oh, and the Lions signed Anquan Boldin (meh). Calvin Johnson retiring will make Matthew Stafford have to actually throw the ball with some precision.
When he’s not stealing crab legs, Jameis Winston is a viable QB2. He ran for 6 touchdowns last season, better than all passers not named Cam Newton. He gets to throw to the likes of Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so he does have the potential to sneak into high QB2 range this season.
Marcus Mariota had 19 touchdown passes and 2 rushing touchdowns. There’s also more young receivers with potential in Tennessee than there are “Go green” bumper stickers on a Toyota Prius. Lots of upside for Mariota.
Throwing to DeAndre Hopkins is a privilege. The only problem is that Hopkins is the only great receiver to throw to in Houston. Minor details.