Blog Archives

UPDATED: Top 50 Running Backs

2017 Running Back Rankings

Updated June 27th, 2017

Not much changed in the top 10 with only minor changes coming as a result of some consistency research. I’ve added 10 more to the list to even out the rankings as a top 50. We’ll add more next time.

  1. David Johnson, ARI (E)
  2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT (E)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (E)
  4. LeSean McCoy, BUF (E)
  5. Jordan Howard, CHI (+1)
  6. Devonta Freeman, ATL (-1)
  7. Melvin Gordon, LAC (+1)
  8. DeMarco Murray, TEN (-1)
  9. Jay Ajayi, MIA (E)
  10. Todd Gurley, LAR (E)
  11. Lamar Miller, HOU (E)
  12. Carlos Hyde, SF (E)
  13. Leonard Fournette, JAC (E)
  14. Marshawn Lynch, OAK (+1)
  15. Isaiah Crowell, CLE (-1)
  16. C.J. Anderson, DEN (+1)
  17. Spencer Ware, KC (+2)
  18. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (-2)
  19. Mark Ingram, NO (-1)
  20. Joe Mixon, CIN (+1)
  21. Ameer Abdullah, DET (+3)
  22. Eddie Lacy, SEA (-2)
  23. Frank Gore, IND (+2)
  24. Tevin Coleman, ATL (-2)
  25. Ty Montgomery, GB (-2)
  26. LeGarrette Blount, PHI (+2)
  27. Dalvin Cook, MIN (-1)
  28. Mike Gillislee, NE (-1)
  29. Paul Perkins, NYG (+1)
  30. Doug Martin, TB (+3)
  31. Robert Kelley, WAS (E)
  32. Bilal Powell, NYJ (-3)
  33. Samaje Perine, WAS (+2)
  34. Danny Woodhead, BAL (-2)
  35. Theo Riddick, DET (+2)
  36. Matt Forte, NYJ (+3)
  37. Adrian Peterson, NO (+3)
  38. Latavius Murray, MIN (-2)
  39. Duke Johnson, CLE (+5)
  40. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (-6)
  41. Jeremy Hill, CIN (+5)
  42. C.J. Prosise, SEA (-1)
  43. Jamaal Charles, DEN (+2)
  44. Kenneth Dixon, BAL (-2)
  45. Terrance West, BAL (+4)
  46. Derrick Henry, TEN (-8)
  47. Jamaal Williams, GB (+5)
  48. Kareem Hunt, KC (-5)
  49. James White, NE (+2)
  50. Ryan Mathews, PHI (+6)

Top 10 (Running Backs)

  1. Adrian Peterson – Peterson is still the king and will be until the numbers say otherwise. 1700 total yars and 11 TD’s and enough in the passing game to plant him at the top even in PPR leagues, he’s the most likely of the top 10 to finish the season atop the most volitile position in Fantasy Football.
  2. Todd Gurley – He average more per touch than anyone not named Doug Martin (that carried the ball a significant amount). With a new QB in martinrookie Jared Goff, it will be interesting to see what he’ll do with more informed defensive schemes. I expect he’ll be just fine, but don’t be surprised if he has stretches where he disappears.
  3. Jamaal Charles – Every year he could be number one, but his injury history isn’t promising. If there was ever a handcuff candidate, it’s the ultra talented Jamaal Charles.
  4. Lamar Miller – I’m firmly on the hype bandwagon surrounding Millers move to Houston. A team that knows how to run the football will use him as their bellcow… a rarity in the NFL these days. It’s not a stretch to see him approach the league lead in combined yards by the end of the year.
  5. David Johnson – Carson Palmer was healthy all last year, and Johnson emerged as the Cardinals lead back. Now he has to prove it as the starter that it wasn’t just flash and smoke. If healthy, he’ll be a top 5 back.
  6. Le’Veon Bell – The only back in the Gurly/Peterson level of fantasy production, Bell did his owners a disservice by being suspended to start the year a second season in a row. Even missing 4 games, he’s nearly a top 5 RB.
  7. Mark Ingram – Will he be 100% to start the season? Who knows, but the New Orleans offense will put up points, and Ingram has proven that he can do what the coaches ask of him in both the run and the pass game.
  8. LeSean McCoy – Is Reggie bush an insurance policy or motivation? There’s some question marks with McCoy, and adding Bush to the backfield added just one more to consider when making that late 2nd round RB pick.
  9. Doug Martin – I feel like I’m being a bit harsh with the “Muscle Hamster” – after all he put up a top 3 season last year. But he’s always been mercurial and he’s just as likely to return to earth as he is to continue at the top of the position.
  10. Eddie Lacy  – I haven’t seen a lot of lists that have Lacy in their top ten, and I can say honestly that I’m excited about getting him later in drafts than he should be going. Lacy clearly heard the chatter surrounding his awful season last year, and he’s put the work in over the offseaon to come into camp ready to go. If it’s one thing Mike McCarthy is, he’s loyal to the players who do what the team asks. Green Bay is still a top 5 offense, and Lacy is likely to get the bulk of the work early on to see if he’s indeed the same player they thought he was when they drafted him.

Missed the cut

Ezekial Elliott (I don’t care that Dallas has the best O-line in football, he’s done nothing at the NFL level to justify a top 10 pick), Devonta Freeman (Whether or not he’ll put it together for 16 strong games remain to be seen. Freeman is gifted and could be a steal if he gets it together), Latavius Murray (A monster, Murray touched the football more than all but a handful of NFL backs. He’s likely to get even better as the youthful offense in Oakland gels) Thomas Rawls (This is a player I’m intrigued by. He’s quietly accepted the mantel from the departing Beast Mode, and we all know how stubborn Pete Carroll is. They’ll run the ball a ton and he’ll have a chance to put up huge numbers if he can run the offense beside Russell Wilson).

How long is too long? A Keeper Conundrum

bellCasual fantasy fans be damned, the most fun you can have playing fantasy sports (in this humble bloggers opinion) is by building your team not just for this year, but for years to come. Dynasty and Keeper leagues are becoming more popular every year even as daily fantasy sports like Draft Kings and Fan Duel are soaking up the spot light.

But what’s the right way to do it?

Now, for those of you who haven’t experienced the joy of keeping the top ranked RB in the 6th round, a keeper league (or dynasty league) is simply put: A fantasy league that you keep a certain amount of players. I’m not hear to discuss the best way to run one of these, instead we’re going to decide when it’s time to throw a player back.

I play in a competative Keeper league that allows a limited number of years on a players “contract”. After said time they are thrown back into the draft pool and will find their way to a new home (unless your Lamar Miller… then I’ll draft you every single year). Some people don’t put limits, while others have a sliding scale that moves the pick closer and closer to the top of the draft as the years tick by.

It’s all well and good in year two when you have to decide who to keep and who to throw back, but when you’ve had a player for several years and they haven’t quite reached the promise of the first campaign, you face a difficult choice.

How long is too long?

I’ve had Le’Veon Bell since year one, and I’ve enjoyed every minute he’s been on the field for my squad (sure… it’s been rough going the last two years but still). But our format only allows me to keep him for one more year. The value is right even with the suspension (I have him currently in the 6th round). But do I sacrifice one of the three keeper spots for a player I’ll have for 10-12 more weeks? Or do I dump him and commit that to a player for a longer term?

Now, the beauty of fantasy sports is this: It’s all up to you! Rankings be damned, if you love a player and think he’ll help your team, draft em when you want em. (You think the buddy of mine who drafted Brady/Moss in 2007 remembered the ball busting by the end of the year?) The same concept applies here. For a reference, I decided against keeping Bell. Not because the player I traded him for was better, but because I’d rather have Latavius Murray late in the draft for the next 3 years than 3/4 of a season out of Bell.

My suggestion to you is don’t hold onto players too long. They may have helped you last year, or the year before, but don’t get too caught up in what they did instead think about what they can do in the future.

Quick Hits (We’re Baaack!)

ezekielWell the NFL Season is right around the corner and The Dr. is in the house! I apologize for my late arrival, but the world around us never ceases. Alas, here we are!

To ease us into the new Fantasy year, we’ll come back with 3 quick hits ( a veritable Fantasy 3 and out, if you will ).

1) Ezekial Elliot, worth the hype?

I wrote this article last year when the Todd Gurley train was a-rolling. I still feel very much the same way about rookie RB’s. Let them be the other guys mistake! Now, I conceed that Elliot is in a fantastic position to provide hefty fantasy dividends, and I’ll also admit that he looks like he’ll be a solid NFL pro at some point, but for every Gurley or Peterson, there are more still of the Bishop Sankey/Felix Jones’ of the world.

2) Suspensions Galore!

One of the most difficult things to gauge is how a player is impacted by a suspension (or even injuries). The offseason so two elite Fantasy players in Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell find themselves with 4 games suspensions, and leave drafters wondering what their value is. Truthfully, I think both players will provide elite fantasy production down the stretch, and their draft positions will likely reflect that. You’ll have to go earlier than you probably would like to get them, so make sure you’re prepared with a good plan to suppliment their numbers in the middle rounds, otherwise skip on them all together.

3) The continued fall of the RB.

Last year we saw more leagues than ever load up on QB and WR early and take swings at middling RB’s in the hopes that they turned into gold. I was one of the unlucky ones who retained Bell’s services and felt the egg as it hit my face simultanious to his knee injury. Owners of Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray, and other top of the draft RB’s who didn’t live up to expectations can attest to that now. Remember, RB is no longer the easiest position to draft, there’s too many committees and offenses that run through the air. Your best bet? Draft elite WR’s first, they’ve shown to be more consistent over the past few years.

 

Too Much Buzz is Bad Buzz

It seems that every abdullahyear the giddy excitement surrounding the deeper sleepers finds its way to the mainstream news outlets and the air is slowly let out of the balloon until it’s a shriveled up prune-looking hunk of strange smelling rubber. All disappointing birthday imagery aside, it’s time we scale back expectations in the on-coming preseason buzz machine that I can hear starting up.

Below are 5 players whose Buzz may have gotten too loud. Keep in mind I like most if not all of these players, but not nearly as much as THAT guy in your draft… you know who I’m talking about.

Ameer Abdullah, RB – DET: A nice player who has a lot of upside in that Detroit offense, the overwhelming exposure in light of Joique Bell’s nagging preseason injury has become so bright he’s in danger of burning up. There is a scenario here where Abdullah pans out; but that would involve Bell being on the shelf for an extended period of time, and I’m not sure we’ve reached that point yet. Draft Abdullah with the understanding that the likely committee in Detroit will hamstring his ability to be a viable starter for much of the season but as a keeper/dynasty target will return the investment in spades down the road.

Nelson Agholor, WR – PHI: Agholor has the potential to be a top 10 WR, this much is true, but as we’ve found in the past, hitching your wagon to a rookie can be a precarious thing. At his current ADP (94) he’s an excellent value, but don’t be the guy who drafts him in the 6th round thinking you have the next Jerry Rice on your hands; keep in mind Chip Kelly will spread the ball around, and as such temper year one expectations.

CJ Spiller, RB – NO: Spiller seems to be a buzzy player nearly every off-season, and this year is no exception. The idea that the team has to replace the departing Tavares Cadet and Pierre Thomas is a sound one, but consider that they’ve shown commitment to 3rd year pro Mark Ingram and it finally paid off last year as he quietly turned in a top 15 season and you see why Spiller is more of a middle to late round handcuff in standard leagues (and slightly more valuable in PPR). If you’re looking at Spiller in the 3rd round,  and I’ve seen some mocks that reflect this, I think it’s too early for a player who has NEVER turned in a full productive season.

Martavis Bryant, WR – PIT: A huge red zone target, Bryant seemed to be flying under the radar earlier with the talk about how good Bell and Brown were in this Pittsburgh offense, but every time his name pops up on a sleeper list is bad news for those looking to snag the 8-10 TD’s he’ll bring on the cheap. Bryant is certainly a specimen, but this offense has two studs with very large expectations, and to think that Bryant will contribute significantly beyond TD’s may be a mistake in the long run. He’s a nice cuff to Brown owners and a possible semi-flyer, but his numbers don’t suggest a huge breakout in my opinion despite what the pundits would have you think.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB – MIN: At a position with very few Elite options, fantasy owners are constantly on the look out for players poised to break out, and Bridgewater seems to be the name of the day. While he’s certainly poised to improve on an impressive start to his NFL career, to expect him to provide fantasy starter level production might be a reach. Sure, the chance exists that he blows up to the tune of 4,000 yards and 28-30 TD’s but he should be drafted with an eye to the future, not necessarily as the guy for the present. A fine player, Teddy will likely be drafted too early thanks to the buzz.

Updated: RB Rankings

Updated 6/17

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Marshawn Lynch
  4. Eddie Lacy
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Matt Forte
  7. Arian Foster
  8. C.J. Anderson
  9. DeMarco Murray
  10. LeSean McCoy
  11. Lamar Miller
  12. Jeremy Hill
  13. Alfred Morris
  14. Justin Forsett
  15. Carlos Hyde
  16. Latavius Murray
  17. Mark Ingram
  18. Melvin Gordon
  19. Jonathan Stewart
  20. Frank Gore
  21. Joique Bell
  22. T.J. Yeldon
  23. Andre Ellington
  24. Giovanni Bernard
  25. Joseph Randle
  26. Rashad Jennings
  27. Darren McFadden
  28. Isaiah Crowell
  29. LeGarrett Blount
  30. Tre Mason
  31. Todd Gurley
  32. Tevin Coleman
  33. Devonta Freeman
  34. Chris Ivory
  35. Doug Martin
  36. Ameer Abdullah
  37. Bishop Sankey
  38. Ryan Mathews
  39. C.J. Spiller
  40. Shane Vereen
  41. Fred Jackson
  42. Montee Ball
  43. Knile Davis
  44. Andre Williams
  45. Matt Jones
  46. Terrance West
  47. DeAngelo Williams
  48. David Cobb
  49. Stevan Ridley
  50. Lorenzo Taliaferro
  51. Fozzy Whitaker
  52. David Johnson
  53. Roy Helu
  54. Dan Herron
  55. Charles Sims
  56. Reggie Bush
  57. Danny Woodhead
  58. Jonas Gray
  59. Toby Gerhart
  60. Jay Ajayi
  61. Darren Sproles
  62. Trent Richardson
  63. Khiry Robinson
  64. Matt Asiata
  65. Alfred Blue

3 Up

Justin Forsett – New OC Marc Tressman has worked his magic in previous stops turning RB’s into intergral parts of the offense (think Matt Forte in Chicago). The advantage is that Baltimore intends to retain a semblance of balance so a healthy Forsett could see a spike in overall touches as he sees the ball in the passing game.

Frank Gore – Every year it seems that Gore drops down our draft boards only to reward loyal owners with consistency and fantasy production. Leaving the disfunctional fold in San Fransisco for greener pastures in Indy should help him remain near the top of the middle teir of RB’s. Although he won’t be featured heavily in the passing game, Gore is a safe bet to out perform his draft position.

Tre Mason – Todd Gurley is the heir apparent in St. Louis, that much is clear. But it will be at least until late in the season for him to supplant Mason as the starter in the offense, yet when looking at respective rankings, Mason’s value seems to far out pace his teammate. I expect a solid 4-6 weeks of unchallenged leadership, and if he plays great, the Rams will be in no rush to put Gurley back in harms way.

3 Down

Andre Ellington – A return to the passing game with a healthy Carson Palmer, and the addition of David Johnson in the draft means that Ellington’s value takes a massive hit in non PPR leagues. He’ll still get the lions share of passing attempts to RB’s in the offense, but John Brown figures to make more of an impact in the passing game, limiting Ellingtons contributions there as well.

Rashad Jennings – Averaging less than 4 yards a carry and having pay dirt stolen away by rookie Andre Williams spells a downturn in production to the aging Jennings. Expect Williams to push for more touches, and eventually supplant Jennings as the starter.

Joique Bell – A knee injury has opened the door in OTA’s and mini camps for Ameer Abdullah to run with the first team offense, and all accounts show that he’s impressed Detroit’s coaching staff with his play. Even if Bell returns as the starter in Detroit, his days as the bell horse in this offense are nearing an end as Abdullah is the future for the Lions.

5 Best Players at their Positions

demaryiusIn the world of fantasy, we all want to be the best. I find myself checking to see how my teams members are scoring against the other elite of the world, and it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to see my guys excel. Obviously there are week to week fluctuations, but in the end, only one can be crowned the best at his position.

QB: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – At only 25 years old, it’s impressive to see the poise and talent that Luck brings to every NFL game. At at time when the Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s of the world are entering the twinkling twilight of their careers, Luck hasn’t even entered his statistical prime. Still, after throwing for 4700 yards and 40 TD’s, it’s hard to imagine him being any better. Then he got new weapons to offset his already elite talent. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore may not be top 10’s anymore, but Luck certainly won’t regress with them added to the roster. I fully expect Luck to repeat his numbers, if not improve on them.

Runner Up: Aaron Rodgers – He has the same tools as Luck, but still has a bit of an injury history and Green Bay can be a more balanced attack with Eddie Lacy in the backfield. Still elite, Rodgers will push Luck at the top of the totem pole for a few more years.

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Tomlin loves a balanced offense, and Bell is a rare blend of speed and power. Playing all three downs, Bell will be the focal point for the offense going into the year despite missing time due to a suspension. Like Luck above, Bell has already established himself as elite despite only being 23. The difference this year is that from his first snap to his last, he’ll be a top option in a powerful Pittsburgh offense. Between his use in the passing game and his dominance on the ground, expect a few huge weeks and numbers that come close to last year even minus the two game suspension.

Runner Up: DeMarco Murray – Many will list Murray over Bell, and you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. This is a 1A, 1B situation, but I dock Murray a bit being in a new location running behind a line that couldn’t open up quality lanes for another elite back in LeSean McCoy the year before. He’ll be used a lot, but my concern is that he won’t duplicate the health or the numbers after a stellar year in Dallas.

WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos – As steady as they come, being the number one option for Peyton Manning doesn’t hurt either. I’ll argue that as Manning’s skills regress, his smarts become his strength and he’d be stupid to not rely on the elite talent he’s got in Thomas. With the offense shifting a bit (no Welker or Julius Thomas) Demaryuis will be called upon to do even more, and he’ll be up to the challenge. As a WR, he’ll pace the league and I’d be surprised if he didn’t push the single season TD record for WRs.

Runner Up: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers – Consistency is a boon in the world of fantasy football, and Brown finished at the top of the list for WR’s last year. As great as Brown is, he’s still relying on Ben Roethlisburger to remain elite and for Le’Veon bell to not shift the balance to a run first team. A lock to be top 3 WR, you can’t go wrong with Brown either way.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots – The big gifted TE in New England had to prove he could stay healthy after a rash of injuries in consecutive years. All he did was return and pace the leagues TE’s with 1,100 yards and 12 TD’s. If you account for a few rough weeks during the first few weeks of the season as Brady acclimated himself and Gronkowski returned to form, it’s not hard to imagine Gronk putting up a full year similar to his second half numbers. As a TE there is no other weapon in the league like Gronkowski and he should continute to be Brady’s primary target, especially in the red zone.

Runner up: Greg Olson – TE is a murky position going into the season. Antonio Gates continues to perform like a young stud, but the wheels will fall off soon and Ledarius Green is waiting in the wings. Jimmy Graham has pushed Gronk for the top spot in the past has left NO and gone to Seattle, where there’s no garuntee Wilson will use his as judiciously as Brees did. That leaves Olson who showed flashes and remained consistent throughout for fantasy owners. A healthy Cam Newton should see Olson’s numbers improve slightly while the other two mentioned should decline. 

Fantasy Team Rankings 12-1

luck12. Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill quietly put together a borderline top 10 QB season, and Lamar Miller proved he could run the football with some consistency and catch it on occasion in the passing game.  The receivers on this team are young and talented, with high volume option in Jarvis Landry and burners in Kenny Stills and Rishard Matthews. Adding Jordan Cameron only makes it harder for defenses to match up when they want to spread you out. Worth Drafting: Ryan Tannehill will likely be valued lower than he should be, as a later QB1 he’s worth it. Lamar Miller may have some competition later in the year from the uber talented Jay Ajayi, expect him to be a workhorse if healthy. Landry should be a good bet for 70+ catches, and Stills could be a weapon for Tannehill over the top. Jordan Cameron, if healthy, will step in and replace Charles Clay’s production very well.

11. San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers manages every year to put together a top 10 QB season, and expect this year to be no different. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd should still see the bulk of the passes, new addition Stevie Johnson has a lot to prove and could be a nice late round WR addition. Despite Ledarius Green’s presence, Antonio Gates went out and killed it last year, and I’ll never again doubt the big mans ability or drive. Worth Drafting: Philip Rivers as always falls just shy of the NFL elite, but is a solid QB if you miss out on the top teir guys. Keenan Allen has the tools to be a WR1 and Michael Floyd will still stretch the field a bit (16.5 YPC last year). Stevie Johnson is a risk/reward player as his pedigree may trick owners into jumping early. Antonio Gates should be himself again this year, and I would caution against Ladarius Green fans against expecting any real fantasy value unless Gates gets hurt. Melvin Gordon could be this years highest scoring rookie… don’t be afraid to draft.

10.  Chicago Bears

I know what you’re thinking, “the Bears in the top 10?” They may not be a top 10 NFL team, but we’re talking in terms of fantasy contributions. Jay Cutler may be inconsistent, as is evidenced by his second half slide, but he still has plenty of tools and a big arm. Alshon Jeffery will have an uptick in attempts as Cutler has shown a propensity to seak out his top target despite double teams. Matt Forte is a top 10 RB and top 3 in PPR formats, and Martellus Bennet moves into the top 3 conversation at TE thanks to Jimmy Grahams change of scenery. Worth Drafting: I was high on Jay Cutler last year, and this hasn’t changed. If you look at his first 5 or 6 weeks last year, he had some pretty good numbers that would have been even better if he didn’t turn the ball over. Kevin White is an unknown quantity but he should replace Marshall in the long run with the same kind of build. Jeffry should be a top 10WR and Bennett is a top 3 TE.

9. Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan did the best he could with the rash of injuries that clipped the Falcons wings last year, but a healthy squad will make a world of difference. Ryan is a top 10 QB even without his top two targets healthy. Tevin Coleman could push Devonta Freeman but both are talented and whoever makes it out of camp as the #1 should see above average RB numbers. Roddy White is still an every week start even with the top 3 WR in Julio Jones across from him. They have question marks at TE as Toilolo Levine led their active TE’s with 62 points last year (in 1pt PPR). Worth Drafting: Matt Ryan had a few brutal weeks and still managed a top 10 finish, he’ll have a better grasp on this offense and health not withstanding should be a top 10 QB this year as well. Julio Jones has the talent to finish #1, and he’ll likely go in the first 15 picks. Roddy White gets over looked more every year but he’s still a top 20 WR. The real question is Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman? I think it’ll be a battle in camp, and both guys should have some fantasy relevance come week 1.

8. New York Giants

The world was against the Giants after a brutal season prior, but Eli Manning still finished top 10 at QB, and Odell Beckham emerged as a top WR threat. With the return of Victor Cruz this offense could have two scary weapons for Eli to use. Rashad Jennings may be a little older than the other top RB’s, but he still averaged 10-11 points per week (depending on your scoring system). Larry Donnell put together an admirable season and the Giants like to use TE’s in the passing game. Worth Drafting: Eli is a safe bet to out perform his numbers last year if he has a healthy WR corps. Beckham will likely be drafted incredibly early, but with Cruz back, he’ll be hard pressed to repeat his second half numbers. Rueben Randle is the real steal here, as his value takes a huge hit with two studs in front of him, but in a passing offense, he should out perform his ADP. Rashad Jennings was fine when he played, but grab Andre Williams late as a handcuff if you need to use Jennings as a RB 1 or 2.

7. Detroit Lions

I hate to say that Matthew Stafford is overrated, because I think he’s an entertaining gun slinger in the Brett Favre mold, but his terrible efficiency actually lowers his ceiling despite as often as he throws the football. That being said, he has two elite WR’s in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Either one can carry the torch if the other isn’t performing. At TE, they have two question marks: is Brandon Pettigrew capable of being used in the passing game and can Eric Ebron be healthy enough to contribute. I think Ebron is the TE the Lions would rather emerge. Joique Bell got a lot of touches last year, but averaged under 4 YPC. His value lies in the passing game, but the Lions served notice in drafting what they think is a 3 down back in Ameer Abdullah. A great talent, he should push Bell for touches early and often. Worth Drafting: Matt Stafford at the right price has enough volume to contribute but he’ll drive you crazy. Calvin Johnson slipping down the ranks only helps the owner who gets him, he’s still the best in the game in my opinion. Golden Tate is a solid second option, and a good one two punch in Bell and Abdullah in the backfield make this a formidable offense. Ebron is the TE to look at with a much higher ceiling.

6. Seattle Seahawks

The beautiful thing about this offense is that it’s predictable and consistent. Russell Wilson will beat you through the air or on the ground, and his ability to run at the right time means he’ll get you a ton of points that other QB’s won’t. Marshawn Lynch is a workhorse unlike any in the league. He’ll touch the ball with greater consistency and efficiency than anyone else. The homeruns aren’t always there, but 4-5YPC and double digit touchdowns make him my #1 back. Doug Baldwin has proven to be a solid #1 for a team that doesn’t throw it that much, his value will reflect that. Beyond him, Jimmy Graham should give Wilson a redzone threat, but no one else is more than a flier. Worth Drafting: This team features three top 5 position options. Russell Wilson ran for 850 yards last year… he’s in my top 3 for QBs. Marshawn Lynch may not have as many 30+ point weeks as a Le’Veon Bell, but his unparralleled consistency (12 weeks above RB average) make him my #1, and Jimmy Graham will likely be the #1 option inside the 20 plus just a tick behind Baldwin elsewhere. Draft all three confidently. Doug Baldwin is a safe WR if he’s available after the top options are off the board.

5.  Dallas Cowboys

My value of the Dallas Cowboys is contingent on the offensive line. Darren McFadden’s ability hasn’t been his big question, it’s been his health. If he can stay on the field he’ll benifit greatly from the O-Line that helped DeMarco Murray lead the league in rushing last year. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo have a special connection, allowing both to creep towards the top 5 in their catagories. Cole Beasley should be a good value pick in PPR leagues, and Jason Witten is ageless and productive. Worth Drafting: At their relative ADP’s I’d say nearly all of the offensive weapons are worth a look. Bryant, Romo and McFadden all three will be drafted in the first 4 or 5 rounds. Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley all have a good chance to produce weekly for this team as well.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Who knew Le’Veon Bell would bounce back from a tough rookie year to lead the league in fantasy scoring? We knew he’d be good, but it gave the offense the freedom to throw different looks at the defense. They were rewarded with a career year by Roethlisburger and the emergency of Antonio Brown as a top WR office. Marcus Wheaton will put up solid WR fantasy stats as well, and Heath Miller, although no longer Elite, still has some gas in the tank. Worth Drafting: Ben Roethlisberger may not finish with the totals he had last year, but he’s a good bet to finish at or near a top 5 QB. Le’Veon Bell is going to miss a few games to start the year, but it’s clear he’s the focal point of that offense and he’s young enough to eat up 300+ touches and is a beast in PPR. Antonio Brown is the Marshawn Lynch of the receiving game. Quietly posting 300 or so points in PPR leagues and nearly 15-20 points every week. Bell and Brown are likely first or 2nd round picks. Don’t sleep on Miller either as there is really only 5 or  6 elite TE’s on the board, and after you’re looking at either consistency (miller) or home run weeks.

3. Denver Broncos

This wouldn’t change if Peyton Manning was 50 years old, and that’s because they finally found their RB to compliment their lethal passing game. Peyton is a general, and will use his elite weapons liberaly, and will make mediocre talents look even better. Julius Thomas is gone but anyone that can run routes will look solid in this offense. CJ Anderson as a 3 down back compliments Manning in ways Montee Ball never could, averaging 180+ points in PPR formats over the final 7 weeks (on par with Le’Veon Bell). Worth Drafting: Manning may be falling behind his contemporaries a bit but should still finish in the top 5. Demaryius Thomas looks to be a top 2 WR with Emmanuel Sanders not far behind. CJ Anderson is a bit of an unknown quantity but even if he’s only a quarter of the back he was over the last 7 weeks, he’ll be a top 10 back. Not sure about Virgil Green, but I think we said the same thing about Julius Thomas a few years ago, and Manning turned him into a top option.

2. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy… do I need to say more?  A high powered offense with consistency and familiarity unlike any squad in the league, they could break records if the schedule shakes out for them. They play through the air, and on the ground, but they give everyone their due which is rare for a team with as many options. Worth Drafting: Aaron Rodgers may have been supplanted by Andrew Luck, but he hasn’t fallen far. All four of the players above will be gone in the first 3 or so rounds, which is scary for opposing defenses. Andrew Quarless is the other player to target, but they’ve never been a heavy TE use team.

1. Indianapolis Colts

AFC Championship withstanding, this is the most outstanding offense in football. A team that is often in shootouts, Indy has a quarterback to compete with them all. Adding Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, and Phillip Dorsett through the draft makes this offense even better than last year. Luck could (and I’d argue should) crest 5k yards and 50 TD’s, contributing to TY Hilton’s continued emergence as a 2nd round WR. Frank Gore has proven he can play forever, and in this Indy offense should contribute on the ground and in the air, and Andre Johnson may have lost a step but as a route runner, the dangerously accurate Luck should have no problem finding him in the soft spots of the defense. Worth Drafting: Andrew Luck will finish the year as the highest scoring player in football, draft him in the first round if you want him, he’s that good. TY Hilton and Andre Johnson should both have 70-80 Receptions with 1100 plus yards, although I expect Johnson to be the bigger red zone threat and higher ADP. Frank Gore may not be a top 5 or even top 10 RB, but expect some huge weeks from the old dog as he will be highighted in the passing game. Even Dwayne Allen, for all his deficiencies, should finish inside the top 10 of the TE ranks.

If you have a problem with any of these rankings, I say good, because debating and conversation is the best way to explain why we feel the way we feel. Tell me where I’m wrong, and who is your Fantasy Elite?

The First Round Conundrum

leveonAs a veteran Fantasy enthusiasts, I’ve seen several anti-RB draft stratagies sprout and die with a wimper. This years “zeroRB” philosaphy takes the cake in lack of common sense. If your arguement is that running back is a shallow and unpredictable position, that should only strengthen your resolve to grab a RB early and often.

Lets compare ADP data from 2014 for the top 5 picks at QB, RB, and TE.

Quarterbacks

  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Matthew Stafford
  5. Andrew Luck

Wide Recievers

  1. Calvin Johnson
  2. Demaryius Thomas
  3. Dez Bryant
  4. AJ Green
  5. Julio Jones

Runningbacks

  1. LeSean McCoy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Eddie Lacy
  5. Montee Ball
  6. Marshawn Lynch*

I included Marshawn Lynch because most people were aware of Adrian Peterson’s legal woes and we can’t infer from the single game played his return value.

Examining the statistics:

Of the top 5 QB’s drafted, 4 of them finished in the top 5 at the seasons end. On the surface this seems like a predictable position, but looking at the consistency of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning show that down the stretch neither lived up to the billing. Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson outperformed all 5 of the names above in playoff weeks.

Of the top 5 WR’s drafted, 2 of the 5 finished at in the top 5 of their position. If you’re playing in a PPR league, the middle of the pack begins to compress and you’re looking at 25 WR’s that all finished around 200 points total. Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, and Emmanuel Sanders, the other names in the top 5 could all have been had in the 3nd round. A larger number of the top 20 WR’s were late round or undrafted players, showing that the flux is greatest here.

Of the top 5 RB’s not named Adrian Peterson drafted, 3 finished in the RB top 5 (Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, and Eddy Lacy). Beyond DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster, there was difficulty predicting the RB’s 10-20.

Now if you’re argument is that the inconsistency for RB’s like Montee ball and Gio Bernard are your reasons for going with a zero RB stratagy, more power to you. This just means your RB’s come the 4th or 5th round end up looking like CJ Spiller and Ben Tate. I’d argue I’d rather have an underwhelming 9th over all pick in Arian Foster paired with a Julio Jones or Randall Cobb than Dez Bryant and Ben Tate or Bishop Sankey circa 2014

.

Just sayin’…

Way Too Early Rankings: RB

Lets now take a look at my WAAAAY too early RB rankings.

  1. Marshawn Lynch
  2. Jamaal Charles
  3. Adrian Peterson
  4. DeMarco Murray
  5. Le’Veon Bell
  6. Eddie Lacy
  7. Arian Foster
  8. CJ Anderson
  9. LeSean McCoy
  10. Lamar Miller
  11. Jonathan Stewart
  12. Alfred Morris
  13. Mark Ingram
  14. Jeremy Hill
  15. Latavius Murray
  16. Melvin Gordon
  17. Joique Bell
  18. Darren McFadden
  19. Justin Forsett
  20. Frank Gore
  21. Andre Ellington
  22. Isaiah Crowell
  23. Giovanni Bernard
  24. Carlos Hyde
  25. Rashad Jennings
  26. Todd Gurley
  27. Doug Miller
  28. LeGarrette Blount
  29. TJ Yeldon
  30. Bishop Sankey
  31. Chris Ivory
  32. Reggie Bush
  33. Devonta Freeman
  34. Shane Vereen
  35. Ryan Mathews
  36. CJ Spiller
  37. Stevan Ridley
  38. DeAngelo Williams
  39. Tevin Coleman
  40. Tre Mason
  41. Joseph Randle
  42. Khiry Robinson
  43. Montee Ball
  44. Andre Williams
  45. Zac Stacy
  46. Alfred Blue
  47. Ameer Abdullah
  48. Jonas Gray
  49. David Johnson
  50. Knile Davis

Three Up

  • Lamar Miller – After it was apparent that Miller had lost his job to Knowshon Moreno prior to the 2014 season, fantasy owners soured on the often over valued Miller. He rewarded his owners with a solid, consistent fantasy year. Confident in his starting position and with new weapons in the Miami offense, Miller should have more room to run.
  • Latavius Murray – The Raiders coaching staff has been vocal in the off season that they want to taylor the run game to Murray’s strengths and use him as a way to protect their young upstart QB in Derek Carr. Murray could be a middle round workhorse.
  • Jonathan Stewart – The once crowded backfield in Carolina has shed it’s dead weight and the onus will be on Stewart to tote the rock. When he’s played a larger role, Stewart has been an elite fantasy option in the past.

Three Down 

  • DeMarco Murray – If you’re looking at a RB to regress significantly, there’s no better candidate than Murry. Whether you point to the Dallas O-Line for his success or at LeSean McCoys inability to churn out yards despite toting the ball 340 times, there’s so many questions and not a lot of answers.
  • Darren McFadden –  The man tasked to replaced Murray, McFadden has begrudgingly been moved up many draft boards, but his injury history doesn’t bode well with the fact that Dallas likes to use their RB’s. Joseph Randle ran the ball well in limited exposure last year, so I’d worry that McFadden won’t finish the year in the top spot.
  • Jeremy Hill – The excitement around Jeremy Hill had in part to do with how easily he fished the starting gig from Giovanni Bernard. Still, the numbers don’t bear out that he’s worth where he’s being drafted. In fact, his numbers look similar to Bernards when set side by side, don’t expect him to have an outrageous amount of touches.