TE’s are kind of an afterthought on draft day, I never spend much on them (in terms of auction dollars or high draft picks) but a consistent point scorer at TE is tough to come by. I’ve always figured that if you don’t get a Top 5 guy, one should just wait until the end to take a chance on a kid with high upside. This year seems a little different in my book, as many young pass catching TE’s have nice upside in ’09. Not only that but after the Top 5, there’s plenty of guys that could have big years, and should put up points week in and week out. Not much seperates the 2nd class from themselves, but hopefully my tiers can help you out with the Top 25 TE’s in ’09.
- Jason Witten (1)
- Antonio Gates (2)
- Dallas Clark (3)
- Tony Gonzalez (4)
This is the top tier, and top it is. The rest of the TE’s aren’t likely to finish in the Top 4, as these guys basically have the spot on lockdown. Witten is my #1 because he’s a TE and a #1 option on his offense without too much taking away touches from him. Think Tony Gonzalez in KC last season, but a better QB for Witten in Dallas. Gates is still a stud despite injuries nagging on his numbers the last couple years. Despite Vincent Jackson’s rise in SD, Gates is still the #1 receiving option, and I expect him to have his best season in the last 3 years. Dallas Clark will be Peyton Manning’s #2 or #3 this season. With Marvin gone, Anthony G and Clark will get a majority of Marvin’s old target, which makes Clark that much more of a solid TE. Tony G might be the best TE of all time, no doubt about it, but he is in a new offense with a lot of talent surrounding him. He’ll do big things in Atlanta, but I don’t think there’s enough balls to get Gonzo as many catches as he had last season. He’s still a top tier guy, but the bottom of that barrell.
- Chris Cooley (5)
- Kellen Winslow (6)
All by themselves in my second tier are Chris Cooley and Kellen Winslow. Cooley never really gets his due, and despite a semi-slow year for the Redskin passing attack in ’08, Cooley should be back in the Top 5 in ’09. Cooley is a big reliable target for Jason Campbell, a quarterback I see taking a big jump in 2009. With much of the focus on Portis and Moss, Cooley will find himself collecting fantasy points like Bengals collect arrests. Kellen Winslow is in a new uniform in ’09 and he’s still one of the most talented TEs out there. Winslow might not have the best QB getting him the ball, but he will have plenty of opportunities to make himself a valueable option for fantasy owners. He’s risky, but the kid is tough and plays through bumps and bruises and low grade muscle tears. I don’t think you’ll regret having Winslow fill your TE spot.
- Owen Daniels (7)
- Zach Miller (8)
- Greg Olson (9)
- John Carlson (10)
Owen Daniels is the highest returning scorer of this group, and a good argument could be made for him being included in the 2nd tier, but this is my ranking system and I’ll do what I want. Owen sure accumulates the catches, but I think Slaton gets more involved this year, Schaub likes to throw to his receivers, and something in me just sees Owen taking a tiny little step backwards. Still a solid TE option, but not a Top 5 guy. Zach Miller is a stud. JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders look like they are going to be better offensively this season. McFadden is going to play well and the other Raider runners will draw attention too. Russell likes going to Miller, and why not? Sure hands, big body, a QB’s best friend. Greg Olson is shooting up draft boards everywhere because he and Jay Cutler apparently have “chemistry” – ooh that sexy little word. One thing is true, Olson just jacked the starting TE job in Chicago. Another thing, he’s probably got the best hands amongst receivers. Cutler likes it when his guys catch his passes. Not a Top 5 guy in my opinion, but he’s in the Top 10, and his upside is nice. Carlson looks good to me too. I know Jim Mora likes utilizing talented tight ends, and Carlson proved he was one of those in his rookie season where he was the best pass catcher in Seattle. This year he might not lead the team in catches, but he’ll get his fair share, especially if the Hawks offense improves as much as I think they will.
- Jeremy Shockey (11)
- Visanthe Shiancoe (12)
- Tony Scheffler (13)
- Anthony Fasano (14)
- Dustin Keller (15)
- Chase Coffman (16)
- Vernon Davis (17)
- Brandon Petitgrew (18)
- Kevin Boss (19)
- Heath Miller (20)
- Todd Heap (21)
- Bo Scaife (22)
- Brent Celek (23)
- Jermichael Finley (24)
You’re in a weird league if you need 24 ranked TEs, but if you need more than that I can’t help you. If you think I’m not a fan of TE’s, you’re right on the button. But they are a nessecary evil in most situations, and any of these guys could give you what you need: a big athletic lineman type player that lucks out and catches a touchdown now and then. Right, so Shockey heads my list because he has high upside, a starting job, and he’s real athletic when he catches the ball. He’s in the same tier as unproven TEs that may or may not fizzle out and become nothing because of the whole “when he catches the ball” thing. But he could be great. Shaincoe is very underrated, so I put him here. I think Rosenfels will look for him often. Fasano is solid, will get points and his 15 yard routes are perfect because that’s where Chad Pennington’s arm limits out. Seriously. Dustin Keller has tons of talent and has the most speed on the list, but Kellen Clemmens scares me and the other option is a rookie. Chase Coffman already had more talent than any other TE in Cinci, but now the other guys are injured, and he might walk into TE production right off the bat. Upside. Speaking of upside, draft bust Vernon Davis might finally be a TE worth having now that Martz is gone (where is Martz these days anyway?). But Vernon knows how to disappoint, click clack style. Petitgrew is a young all around solid TE in an offense that will likely see it’s fair share of Matthew Stafford – and he might be the 2nd best receiving option in Detroit. Kevin Boss, he is the TE for the highest paid QB in the NFL – just saying that makes my puke. But Boss doesn’t have sure-fire receiving options on the outside, and he might be the guy that makes up for Burress’s absence. Miller and Heap. Miller won’t ever be grand but Heap might never be fantasy worthy again. Both have their place though, Miller because he manages to catch TDs and is pretty consistent in points, and Heap because he was pro-bowl material for a few years there. Bo Scaife broke onto the scene last year, but I think his production falls a bit as Collins (or Young) become more confident in the receiving options in Tennessee. Brent Celek put up solid numbers in Philadelphia, and now he’s the main guy at TE in that offense. Still, there’s too many talented players on that team for him to acrue too many numbers, right? And last is a back-up, with lots of upside, Finley. Green Bay really likes this kid, but he’s also option #6 or so, just like Celek, but keep an eye out!
Wide receivers and their tiers are very important on draft day. Because of the up and down ways of the position, their reliance on many other positions, the break out candidates in comparison to the every-year studs, and their overall effectiveness on a weekly basis, tiers are the only way to rank this position. Often times the guy ranked 20th and the guy ranked 40th are so close in production (both in predictions and actual numbers) that reaching for receivers – after the top ranked guys are gone – is as ridiculous as taking a defense in the 8th round. Follow the tiers, and get who you want, but overpaying for a “hopeful” could hinder you all season long. I’ve also took into account “upside” which I think is very important with a receiver. Taking late chances on guys with upside makes more sense than a sure thing 500 yard 4 touchdown guy. Believe me. Good luck!
- Andre Johnson (1)
- Larry Fitzgerald (2)
- Randy Moss (3)
I would love one of these three. Andre is a beast, I’ve always been fond of him, and Larry Fitzgerald laughs in the face of the double team. Randy Moss has his quarterback back, and while the all time TD season for receivers probably won’t be repeated, somewhere in the teens seems likely, and that’s an awesome year for pretty much any player. I do like AJ as my #1, that offense will be that much better this season. Plus Larry Fitz is on the cover of Madden, that moves him out of the top spot right there. Believe it!
- Steve Smith (4)
- Calvin Johnson (5)
Steve Smith and Calvin Johnson are very close to my top tier and also very close to the next 4 guys, but that puts them right smack dab in their own little tier. Smith has all the ability in the world and a quarterback that loves to throw him the ball. The problem is, there really isn’t a #2 receiving threat on that team, so everything Steve does is watched with a careful eye. That being said, he’s probably the most dangerous receiver in the game, because he still does work. Calvin Johnson is a freak of nature, and if he were on any team with a better passing attack than Detroit, I’d value him higher. One of these days he’s going to be the best receiver in the game, I just don’t think we’re quite there yet.
- Anquan Boldin (6)
- Greg Jennings (7)
- Roddy White (8)
- Reggie Wayne (9)
Anquan Boldin was originally behind Jennings and White on my list, but looking into his game moves him up for me. Sure, there’s injury concern there, but only because the guy does everything and catches anything thrown close to him. You know Kurt Warner will feed him the ball, and if Bolding gets touches and stays healhty, he’s a Top 5 guy, so I moved him up. Greg Jennings and Roddy White are guys I predict to finish just a hair behind Boldin this season. Both have great young quarterbacks, a physical receiving style, and tricky speed that gets them behind defenders game after game. These two guys will be great #1 options this season. The only thing bringing them to my 3rd tier is the way I see their offenses changing a bit. Some of Roddy’s touches will go to Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas (the talented #3 in Atlanta) and I doubt Ryan Grant will rush for just 4 TDs this season, meaning a couple of those might come out of Jennings’ stats. Still, both these guys are legit #1′s. I love Reggie Wayne, and so does Peyton Manning, who last time I checked is a really good quarterback. And I think he will be a legit #1 this season, however, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure about the Colts. That’s right, Peyton had his own questions this off-season, and despite claims that all looks peachy, questions are rarely a good thing. Will Reggie struggle? No, I don’t think so, but just thinking about change drops him a bit in my list.
- Brandon Marshall (10)
- Terrell Owens (11)
- Marques Colston (12)
- Dwayne Bowe (13)
Brandon Marshall maybe be all clown, but the kid can run with and catch a football with the best of them. You know the Broncos are going to throw the rock, and I know they are going to get double digit TDs from Marshall. I can only imagine that Marshall becomes the Randy Moss of the Broncos offense, and that will put him in the Top 10. TO may be in Buffalo where apparently “they have no offense” but I’m sold on him being in the Top 15 at seasons end, even though he’s collecting years well into his 30s and plays in icy Buffalo. Edwards is an accurate passer, the O-line looks more cohesive this season, Lee Evans is a game breaker on the opposite side, this is the best receiving partner TO has had in a while now. The running game is legit for the Bills. I see a nice year from the drama king, but I’m not sure he’ll be a Top 10 guy. Colston is a beast, catches everything, has great body control and can run. His coach is a not to be trusted with talent. I love Colston and he’ll probably have a big year, but there’s questions there that drop him into my 4th tier. Dwayne Bowe has tons of talent, is going to be one of the leagues best receivers in the next few years, but I think the KC offense struggles a little bit this season. Matt Cassel is supposed to have all the answers, but I’m not so sure they’ll be this season. New coach, new QB, new schemes – could be great, but lots of ifs.
- TJ Houshmandzadeh (14)
- Eddie Royal (15)
- Wes Welker (16)
- Vincent Jackson (17)
- Roy Willians (18)
I love TJ going to Seattle, but only if Hasselbeck is healthy all season. Big question. Still, if Housh can put up the numbers he did last season in Cinci where the whold circus seemed to be going down around him, I think he’ll be just fine in Seattle. His reception total should get up around 100. Eddie Royal is going to play the Wes Welker role, and I have to be honest, I like his talent more than Wes. I also think Orton will be looking for him because Royal catches everything and runs brilliant routes. Wes Welker has his main QB back, and even last year Welker was a catch machine. More touchdowns than ’08 move him into my Top 20. Vincent Jackson will be more consistent this season than he was last. I see him catching at least 70 balls which will get him up aroudn 1200 yards or more. Rivers is solid, that running game keeps the defense’s attention, Jackson will move up the charts. Roy Williams is my biggest risk in my 5th tier, but the guy has great hands and all the speed in the world. He runs duck-footed, which scares me a bit, but Tony Romo is a great QB, that running game is tough with 3 good runners, and Jason Witten will get enough attention to give Roy room to work. He’ll have a good ’09.
- Chad “Johnson” Ochocinco (19)
- Anthony Gonzalez (20)
- Lee Evans (21)
- Lance Moore (22)
- Braylon Edwards (23)
If you’re a veteren reader of my rankings, you’ll know that I was never a huge fan of Chad Johnson’s up and down weeks that always seemed to compile good year-long numbers. He’s a very talented receiver with a quarterback that possesses all the tools, and TJ’s not around to compete with Ocho as a #1 target. However, he’s streaky, he’s a little bit of a personality question mark, and I’m still ranking him higher than most sites. Will he be a Top 10? I think those years are over, but in the Top 20, you bet. Anthony Gonzalez should come into his own this year. As the sure-fire #2 and with Marvin gone, and the fact that Anthony was always very productive with Marvin out, Gonzalez is going to have a nice year. I have him ranked higher than most. Lee Evans may get some targets taken away from him, but no longer will he be constantly swarmed with double teams. TO, if anything, takes that away. Less targets but less attention could mean one of Lee’s biggest seasons. Lance Moore is getting absolutely NO love from the fantasy world. After a huge breakout season where he basically became Brees’ top option in New Orleans, I’ve seen Lance sit around 40. I guess I’m buying into what last season sold, call me a believer in Moore’s hands. Braylon Edwards showed lots of potential a couple seasons ago. But the Browns have fallen hard, and his drops have played a big role. This season he will be in a Man-Jina offensive system, but only if he gets in shape and doesn’t get into the dog house. I think he’ll be solid, but selecting him is high risk and possibly very high reward.
- Hines Ward (24)
- Antonio Bryant (25)
- Torry Holt (26)
- Bernard Berrien (27)
- Santana Moss (28)
- Santonio Holmes (29)
- DeSean Jackson (30)
- Jericho Cotchery (31)
- Dominik Hixon (32)
- Devin Hester (33)
- Laveranues Coles (34)
- Derrick Mason (35)
- Donald Driver (36)
- Kevin Walter (37)
- Josh Morgan (39)
Alright, I can’t talk about every single guy left on the list, but these guys are all very useable players. People say receiver is a shallow position this year, I think that’s a joke. I just think that there’s not much value in drafting any of the guys not in the Top 23 early. Wait, relax, breathe, and you might find a late steal on guys that fill out your receiver position like Santana Moss, Torry Holt, Jericho Cotchery, DeSean Jackson, Dominik Hixon, Devin Hester, and even sure thing performers like Mason and Driver, not to mention a load of young guys getting a chance to prove themselves this year. The people that think Hester won’t improve at all in his 2nd year at playing receiver are just plain crazy. Even without Cutler the guy would get better, Jay is just an added rocket fire arm bonus. Hixon is getting no love at all, and I think he’ll be the top Giant receiver, easily. Holt could be great in Jacksonville, I mean sure, he’s old, but he’s always open and Garrard and the Jags have never had a receiver with his type of talent – could be a nice year to take a chance on the wiley old vet. Josh Morgan? Face it, Royal and Morgan would have destroyed college football if they had a QB that could throw in college. Morgan is going to be the top receiving option in SF too. There’s options here, they just aren’t top notch guys, but I would love to have a couple of these guys on my squad.
- Hakeem Nicks (40)
- Steve Breaston (41)
- Ted Ginn Jr. (42)
- Deion Branch (43)
- Earl Bennett (44)
- Michael Crabtree (45)
- Donnie Avery (46)
- Nate Washington (47)
- Percy Harvin (48)
- Mike Walker (49)
- Nate Burleson (50)
- Patrick Crayton (51)
- Bobby Engram (52)
- Michael Jenkins (53)
- Mark Clayton (54)
- Mark Bradley (55)
- Isaac Bruce (56)
- Chaz Schilens (57)
- Chris Henry (58)
- Mushin Muhammad (59)
This list is full of huge upside, high risk, low risk, guaranteed numbers, possible goose eggs – but they rank out from 40-59 on my list. A guy like Deion Branch might get back to his best seasons with another option like Housh in town. When Branch has been healthy and in the game, he’s done well. Earl Bennett, Jay Cutler was his college QB, the know each other well, that’s something I’d like to have as a receiver. Crabtree has unreal ability. Get into camp young fella. Mushin is going to get some scores and catches and yards too, even though he’s older than time. Then you have a guy like Percy Harvin, he’s going to get targets and rushes, the Vikings drafted the RB/WR combo in the 1st round, believe me, they have plans for him. There’s lots of upside here, like I said, and then you have the Crayton’s, Engram’s, and Bruce’s of the world. Not much in terms of upside, but guaranteed numbers. I personally like to take low round chances on high upside receivers, Walker, Harvin, Avery, Bennett, those are a couple I think could do work this season.
- Jeremy Maclin (60)
- Kenny Britt (61)
- James Jones (62)
- Jordy Nelson (63)
- Sidney Rice (64)
- Pierre Garcon (65)
- Dwayne Jarrett (66)
- Antwan Randel-El (67)
- Chris Chambers (68)
- Mike Thomas (69)
- Patrick Turner (70)
- Derrick Williams (71)
This last list is full of young guys with big question marks. Maclin has all the speed but what about the route running? I think James Jones could be a nice #2 somewhere in the league, but Jordy Nelson is pushing him for the #2 spot – it’s tough. I’ve heard good things from Garon, Mike Thomas, and Patrick Turner – lots of talent, but these guys have shown nothing in the NFL, making them a risky pick – but you can get them late, last round late, and that’s always worth a shot.
Running backs are the key to fantasy football. If you blow your first two picks on a receiver and a quarterback, you have to really luck out to find yourself in the playoffs come Week 14 (or where ever you start the post-season). The same can be said for blowing your first two picks, if your top two studs start slow or get hurt, you’ll find yourself in an early season hole. These tiered rankings should help you find value at the running back position throughout your draft.
- Maurice Jones-Drew (1)
- Matt Forte (2)
- Adrian Peterson (3)
- Michael Turner (4)
My first tier is bigger than most, with a different order than most. What can I say, it pays to be different. Almost every ranking I’ve seen has Peterson and Turner or Turner and Peterson cuddling up like puppies at the top of their player rankings. Not me, oh no, not I. Talent-wise, sure, Peterson takes the cake, but Percy Harvin only takes away from his touches, and the guy is going to take one to many hits one of these days. Production-wise, I see how he can go #1, but right in front of Turner at #3 is where I have AP. Turner was a stud last year and despite the high carry load in ’08, I predict his ’09 will be right in the top tier of backs. He doesn’t have too much wear on his tires, but his team has only gotten stronger in the talented weapon department. His back-up is talented, and added to one of the best young receivers in the game is probably the best receiving TE ever, Tony Gonzalez. Less touches for Turner means less fantasy production, but still plenty of action to be considered a top pick. With everyone’s Top 2 at 3 and 4 respectively, that means my top 2 looks a little different. Matt Forte busts in at 2 on my sheets, as he should be smiling from ear to ear at the addition of Jay Cutler. I don’t think Forte will catch as many passes as last season, Cutler’s not much of a dump down guy, but he will get a lot of carries, he will be playing against defenses that have to worry about the air attack, and thus his YPC will go from 3.9 to 4.4 – at least that’s what I’ve got. That moves his production up – and last year his production was consistent and legit. Forte will be great, but MJD will be better. That offensive line is healthy and stocked with more talent than it’s ever been. Jones Drew will aproach 18-20 carries a game, and that is what gets him to the top of my chart. He’s never been a high-touch back, but he’s always been a big time game breaker, touchdown maker, and fantasy producer. That’s a lot of ers, but they are all good. When you add 8-10 more touches a game to his talent, you get the best fantasy back in the league.
- LaDainian Tomlinson (5)
- Chris Johnson (6)
- Steve Slaton (7)
- Frank Gore (8)
- Steven Jackson (9)
- Brian Westbrook (10)
My 2nd tier is 2 backs heavier than my 1st, which means I have a lot of guys resting near the same value. Which means I’d rather be at the end of drafts, picking in the 8-12 slot – you’re guaranteed a good one, maybe not sexy, but sexy gets you money as a playboy model, not a spot in fantasy playoffs. LT gets the 5th spot on my list. Dude may be 30, but he’s one of the best backs of all time, and he’ll be a great option again this year. This might be the last year LT breaks my top 10, but I’d love to get him on my squad, especially where he’s going in most drafts (about 10th overall). Chris Johnson is a stud, and many have him pegged with more touches in 2009, but I’m not so sure. LenDale White is a productive big man, and he’s in as good a shape as he’s ever been in since somebody gave him his first twinky. People are stupid, they jump on the “fat” band wagon, but White is in good shape and will steal yards and touchdowns from the owners taking Chris Johnson in the Top 5. However, he’s still worth an early pick, and he has as much upside as anyone. He’s the Usain Bolt of running backs, on a different speed level than everyone else. Steve Slaton is a flat out stud on a team that will be one of the Top 10 offenses in 2009, and a lot of that has to do with his all around skill set. Great receiver, great runner inside, outside – he does it all. He may be small, but all he needs to do is stay healthy to easily be a top 10 back in his 2nd season. Gore is a great player on and offense that should be improved in ’09. It is also an offense that won’t go away from their main guy. If healthy, Gore is as talented as any back in the league, and with a new smash mouth approach, he’ll be a nice top 10 guy. Steven Jackson is a beast, and while I dig his talent, his offense is young and Marc Bulger is a sack artist – or at least a canvas for other sack artists. That won’t help the Rams stay in running situations. But Jackson might go back to his early years, and I expect his rushing yards to be easily over 1000 while his receiving yards get up to 600+ yards as well. Will the Rams be in touchdown position that often? That’s why he slips a bit. Brian Westbrook is old, yes, but he stays in my 2nd tier because all he does is produce. He was pretty inconsistent last season, despite his nice end-game numbers, most of his stats came in big chunks. Still, this offense only gets better with additions of young talent, and Westy should be back to his old tricks (even though his age is catching up to his injury history) and still deserves to be a Top 10 back.
- DeAngelo Williams (11)
- Marion Barber (12)
- Kevin Smith (13)
- Brandon Jacobs (14)
- Clinton Portis (15)
- Ronnie Brown (16)
- Ryan Grant (17)
My 3rd tier has some stars from last year, yester year, and the future. DeAngelo Williams had a great year last season, better than any other back in the league, but Jonathan Stewart will stay healthy this year, and while that won’t make Williams a bum, it will keep him out of the Top 10. He’s a solid runner on a run-happy team, if he didn’t have one of the league’s most talented backs teaming up with him in the backfield then he’d easily bust into the Top 10. Marion Barber is a beast, one of my favorite backs in the league. He struggled as the Cowboys struggled last year, but before his injury he was a Top 5 back. This year he falls a bit because I can only imagine Felix Jones getting more carries, and even though Dallas will run more in ’09, Barber will be lucky to slip into the Top 10, but he’s still a solid #2 for your fantasy squad. Kevin Smith isn’t getting as much love as he deserves. Last year, on one of the worst teams in NFL history (worst record-wise) Kevin still rushed for just under 1000 yards and caught 39 passes as well. He’ll be a go to guy in this offense, an offense that is getting tougher up front. Brandon Jacobs is a beast, the scarriest guy to tackle in the NFL, but he’s a really big guy that runs fast, and that’s cause for concern (injury-wise and for defensive health). Jacobs will get his 100+ and a TD if he’s playing, that’s almost a given, but defenses will key in on him this coming season, and his health could easily have him missing the better part of 3-4 games. Still, with 12 games starting he’s a Top 15 player. He loses some in PPR leagues though. Clinton Portis is always good. He was a surprise fantasy all-star in the first half of last season, going for 940 yards and 7 TDs. He finished slow, like the Redskins, but still managed 1487 yards and 9 TDs and just over 1700 total yards for the season. He’s only 27 when the season starts. But he’s older than his age insists, and while I’d love to see him prove me wrong, it will be tough for him to duplicate last season’s stellar stats. He’s still a great #2 though. Ronnie Brown gets a lot of flak for getting most of his fantasy points in one week last season against New England. But I don’t worry about that. He’ll get more carries, more catches, and more touchdowns this season, and he’ll do it more consistently. A great all around back 2 years after knee surgery. Remember 2007 when he tore up the first half of the season? His numbers will be closer to that than last year’s totals. Ryan Grant is a beast. He started slow, hung on to a naggnig hammy injury, and got carries taken away from him during the first half. But this year his TDs will double, and he’ll run more efficiently. He runs down hill really hard, expect better things from him – I do.
- Larry Johnson (18)
- Darren McFadden (19)
- Knowshon Moreno (20)
- Derrick Ward (21)
- Marshawn Lynch (22)
- Jonathan Stewart (23)
I might rank LJ higher than everyone else. I guess I remember the guy that buried opposing defenders when they got in his way. He was a beast teaming up with Preist Holmes, and he was even better when he got the #1 gig a year later. Some stuff has happened, he was carrying a lot of baggage, and he didn’t get many carries last season. It won’t take the new coach long to realize that he’s a top option on the team, and he’ll get back to scoring touchdowns and getting 20 touches a game. McFadden is too talented to struggle again. Last season was last season, you can’t always rely on what happened last year when drafting your team. Take a chance on a kid with all the talent in the world on a team that is gung-ho about getting him the ball – even if they are a semi-pro franchise. Knowshon may be a rookie, and he may be in the same scheme that never produced a Top 20 fantasy back in New England, but he does it all. He may not have the best 40, but there’s players that get it, run well in pads, and go fast enough to win – that’s Moreno, he’ll show it in his rookie season. Derrick Ward is a very good runner that can do all the little things. I honestly think he’s a better back than Jacobs, because he can catch too. I expect him to get most of the looks in Tampa, and that line is better than many people think. Marshawn Lynch will only play 13 games – but so what, so will a lot of running backs this season. You’ll be able to get him late for missing the first three games. Do it. Then even later pick up Fred Jackson, now you have a starting back, a good one, for two later picks. Lynch doesn’t get huge numbers, but he always gets solid stats, that helps your squad win every week. Jonathan Stewart, in my cocky opinion, is the best running back on this list, but he’s got a great back he’s sharing time with. Still, if Williams and Stewart are more even this season, splitting stats 50-50, that still makes for over 1170 yards and 14 touchdowns for J-Stew – that’s good production where he’s being drafted. Plus his upside is unlimited.
- Pierre Thomas (24)
- Reggie Bush (25)
- Joseph Addai (26)
- LenDale White (27)
- Ray Rice (28)
- Felix Jones (29)
- Beanie Wells (30)
- Thomas Jones (31)
- Julius Jones (32)
- Willie Parker (33)
- Cedric Benson (34)
Pierre Thomas would be ranked higher if I thought his coach would do anything right. The kid is talented, always has been, always produces when given the chance, and was the best back in NO last season. That being said, that clown in a man-suit running the Saints isn’t to be trusted, but Pierre is still Top 20. Even if he runs less, Bush is still a great receiver out of the backfield, and was having a pretty damn good fantasy season before an injury derailed his year. The Clown loves him, so he’ll get his touches. Bush is still magic with the football when he’s in space, he’s worth a pick in the 6th or 7th, where he’s being drafted. Addai might be good again this year, you never know, but it doesn’t seem like the Colts trust him much. That’s not a franchise that wastes early picks, and them taking a great all around college back in the 1st round doesn’t bread confidence in Addai. Still, Joseph is young and he’s had a couple pretty good years in a pretty potent offense – sounds like a buy low candidate to me. LenDale White can’t find love anywhere but here. You might think I just like fat running backs, but if you think LenDale is just a fat guy then you are an idiot. The guy can run the ball, always has been able to, and gets in the end-zone. This year he lost 20 lbs in the summer, and he’s in better shape than anytime in his career. Everyone can hate him, I’ll “round” off my Top 20 with his name. Ray Rice is in an interesting situation. The Ravens have put him as the #1, but you could argue that Le’Ron and Willis have shown better skills than Rice. Still, the Ravens see something, and they can pound the rock. Ray can compile the yards as a smart runner, a pretty good style for the Ravens offensive scheme. Felix Jones is amazing. If he stays healthy and gets the touches Dallas wants him to get, even this will be too low for his total output. But he’s a little-ish guy, and he has been hurt a few times. He’ll get a lot of TO’s touches though, so he’s definitely flex-worthy. Beanie Wells gets here on talent alone. He’s really big and really fast, which like I’ve said, is a recipe for injury. Still, he gets into a pretty nice offensive situation and should be able to beat out Hightower and his 2.8 YPC. Beanie is talented. Julius Jones might be an after-thought to everyone, but look at his stats, if you give him the ball 20 times he will do work for you. It happened in Dallas, and last year Seattle, and before both of those in Notre Dame. Julius is the unquestioned started in Seattle, and could prove to be a nice #2 for fantasy owners that take a chance on him. Willie Parker just keeps doing work. He won the job from Rashard Mendenhall (who I think is the better running in Pitt) last season, and put up pretty mediocre numbers while missing 5 games. His totals still project like a Top 25 back over 16 games, but I don’t think he’ll be the guy getting 20 carries next year, Rashard ruins some of Willie’s value. Cedric Benson is a nice story. He never figured it out in Chicago, but he found a home in Cincinnati last year, and cleaned up his act. That’s not how it usually goes, but give the guy two stars for swimming against the flow. Benson could benefit from Palmer being back in Tiger stripes, as his YPC and touchdown chances should go up this season.
- Rashard Mendenhall (35)
- Jamal Lewis (36)
- Donald Brown (37)
- Darren Sproles (38)
Backups and Jamal Lewis. Lewis still isn’t “old” but he is old. Age doesn’t tell the whole story, but the guy has many miles on his tires. Still, Mangini has a decent offensive line in Cleveland, and Lewis is the guy that should get the ball. Not much to be scared of from Cleveland’s offense, unless they revert back to 2007, but Lewis should still be able to get over 1000 and 6 touchdowns as the #1 in Ohio. Mendenhall, who I have ranked just ahead of Lewis, is super talented. I thought him and J-Stew were the best backs in last year’s rookie class. He got hurt early, and couldn’t unseat Willie Parker prior to that, but he looked solid against one of the league’s best defenses (Baltimore) before they knocked him out for the year. Plus I really like him. If he gets the carries, he’ll be an epic steal on draft day. Donald Brown looks like a pro back to me, a solid one. Joseph Addai has never really impressed me as a runner. He’s still a rookie and he’s still a back-up, but you never know, and I’d like to have this guy just in case. Darren Sproles might have a case for being the more productive back in San Diego late last year. He certainly did more with his opportunity, and made himself a lot of money in the process. He’s still a back-up this season, and LT does it all, but Sproles might get enough love to be ownable all year long, as a back-up/flex – not just an injury replacement. Those are the best kinds of back-ups to own.
- Fred Jackson (39)
- Leon Washington (40)
- Jerious Norwood (41)
Fred Jackson has done pretty good work when given the chance in Buffalo. This season he’ll get 3 games as the starter for the Bills, and if he succeeds in those 3 games, I don’t think the Bills can continue to give Lynch 85% of the carries. Jackson is a great late pick-up that could be a starting RB the first few weeks – plus he has nice upside. Leon Washington is obviously the back the Jets value more than any other. But Thomas Jones was a Top 10 fantasy back last season. It will be interesting to see what kind of touches Washington gets this year, but I’m guessing it’s more than he got last season. He’s always done well when give the chance, the problem is, this late, what kind of chance will he get? He’s a lot like Sproles, but Washington has a rookie QB or Kellen Clemmens as his signal caller – hello 8 man fronts. Jerious Norwood, a YPC machine and a guy that can take it the distance any time. He’s a great hand-cuff for Turner owners because he’s startable even as a back-up. I wouldn’t want in my starting line-up every week, but last year I was happy to have him on more than a couple occasions.
- Tim Hightower (42)
- Chester Taylor (43)
- LeSean McCoy (44)
- Ahmad Bradshaw (45)
- Willis McGahee (46)
- Le’Ron McClain (47)
- Fred Taylor (48)
- Sammy Morris (49)
- Michael Bush (50)
- Laurence Maroney (51)
- Shonn Greene (52)
- Justin Fargas (53)
- Ricky Williams (54)
Alright, this is my last list, and I’m putting them all in the same tier because I’m not so sure that I would be excited on having any of these guys on my team. Maybe the upside of McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw’s chance at sure thing numbers when Jacobs gets hurt, Chester Taylor because he’s a very good back with a good O-line, even though he’s stuck behind one of the most physically talented backs in a long time, if not ever, and Tim Hightower, becaue there’s a good chance he’ll start. So maybe those four guys should all be in a different tier, but I have to be honest, they’re upside might not match up with the opportunity some of these guys will get. Willis still has talent, if he wasn’t in a little dog house behind two other backs, McClain does well with his touches, but doesn’t get much guaranteed to him. Fred Taylor has always put up numbers and might, just might be the #1 in New England, but that’s a team that I can’t predict carries for, so I wouldn’t want to rely on him. Sammy Morris, same thing as Fred. Plus Laurence Maroney is the guy I think is most talented. Michael Bush has all the tools and is a beast, but he’s behind a first round pick who has better tools, and another guy that has been productive as a starter, Justin Fargas. Shonn Greene is a rookie, and will probably be the thunder to Leon’s lightning next season, but I wouldn’t expect a ton from him this year. And then there’s Ricky Williams, what’s a running back list without Ricky? I think Ronnie Brown should get an even bigger portion of the load this coming season, really limiting Ricky’s stock.
That’s the list, hop that helps!
Last year I busted out my Top 30 Quarterbacks (And other positions) in a tiered system, and many people thanked me for doing this all in a different and more helpful way. If you’ve drafted with help lists (or cheat sheets), you know there’s no better way than tiers. Not only do they help you assess value at a single position, but they also give you an open view at what’s left on your overall value board. These are how I rate out the quarterbacks for 2009, basically a prediction for how I think the quarterbacks will score out by season’s end. Hope this helps! Good luck on Draft Day!!!
- Tom Brady (1)
- Drew Brees (2)
Last year old Tom was numero uno and the only one in my first tier. How’d that work out? So well that I’m willing to rank him number one a second straight season. Okay, maybe he only had 3 fantasy points in 2009, but that was one heck of a pass to Randy for a big gain. He’ll be back this year and he still has Randy and Wes, some old running backs, and one heck of a head coach. If Matt Cassel can look like a stud in this system, you can bet Tom will do just fine. Drew Brees gets in the tier this year though. His coach is dumb enough to call Drew’s number on about 75% of the plays, and Drew is accurate and smart enough to take that and translate it into 30+ touchdowns and 5000 yards. Not too shabby. I still say, stay away on draft day if the cost is first round pay. Hay. Bay. May…
- Kurt Warner (3)
- Peyton Manning (4)
- Aaron Rodgers (5)
- Phillip Rivers (6)
- Donovan McNabb (7)
My second tier is full of studs, some of them have question marks, some of them are always good, some of them really surprised last season. But they are all had at a better value than the first two guys, and thus they are all more likely to make it on to my team than either guy in Tier 1. Kurt Warner might not be the sexiest name out there, but the guy deserves credit. He has a very talented offense that just got another weapon in Beanie Wells and last time I checked Anquan Boldin is still lining up at WR in Arizona. You can get him later than this, but he’s looking like a Top 3 QB to me. Peyton has a lot of question marks (new coach, no Marvin, running game questions) but he’s always been a consistent signal caller with all the answers. Aaron Rodgers wowed the world in his first season replacing a legend, and he’s won over some fans. He was better than Favre last year, and looks to have sealed his position as a Top 7 QB. Phillip Rivers may throw marshmallows, and LT may be getting old, and he may have a couple receivers that fantasy football doesn’t give much credit, but this guy wins and he puts up numbers and he plays in a terrible division. I like his chances at another huge season. McNabb won’t get as much love this year, but he stayed healthy and did work last season. He gets another stellar set of weapons in Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy (Draft) and Westy should be back doing damage in the backfield. I think McNabb could have one of his best years since TO went wacko. This tier might not be the first, but they are all close to the top two, and hold better value for sure.
- Tony Romo (8)
Tony Romo is a very good quarterback. TO’s departure isn’t going to kill him, but I do think it will effect him a little bit. It’s hard not to put him in the 2nd tier, and I’ll still be debating it all pre-season, but right now he’s going into tier 3 all by himself. He could be great, but it depends on Roy Williams, and I’m still waiting to see how that will work out. Does he have the talent to be one of the best? Yes. Weapons? Maybe…
- Carson Palmer (9)
- Matt Schaub (10)
- Jay Cutler (11)
I didn’t get Carson Palmer’s rebound year right last season, but I’m hoping he fits well in my 3rd tier this time around. He was hurt basically all of 2008, but I expect 2009 to be different. Already the Bengals have a better rushing attack, and despite TJ Housh’s departure, a WR trio of Chad “Johnson”, Laveranues Coles, and Chris Henry isn’t something to scoff at. He’s far from safe, and I don’t know if I’d want him as my number one, but I think he’ll stay healthy, and if he does his talent will get him in the Top 10. Matt Schaub needs to stay healthy and he’d be a Top 5 guy. That’s right, he’s got an offense with lots of talent, an O-Line that is slowly getting respectable, and one of the biggest baddest receivers in the game. He had the 2nd most fantasy points per attempt last season, and I’ve always liked the kid. He’ll do work in 2009. I loved Cutler last year and he did great. I don’t think as much of him this season, but he’s no slouch. I don’t think the Bears have a receiver as good as either of the Broncos’ starters in 2008, but his running game is better, and the play calling will be more balanced. I’ve yet to figure out how much that will hurt him. What does hurt him is his love for the interception, if that haunts him again, even this relatively low ranking (for him) is too high. He needs to be consistent to be a top tier guy.
- David Garrard (12)
- Matt Ryan (13)
- Matt Cassel (14)
- Matt Hasselbeck (15)
- Kyle Orton (16)
- Ben Roethlisberger (17)
- Eli Manning (18)
To make things easier on your life (keeping friends, not being angry and bitter, not quitting fantasy football altogether because you hate everything) I’d target somebody in the first 4 tiers… But, if you want to walk the line, take a chance, and really be a fantasy rebel, here are a group of guys that could deal out fantasy worthy numbers for you in 2009 – but don’t get really crazy and leave yourself without anybody in the top 19. Tiers 6 and on aren’t places you want to be choosing a fantasy starter from. David Garrard heads this list because despite a bad offense, no real receiving threat, an O-line that was never healthy, and being knocked down more than any other quarterback in the league, he was still a Top 12 QB last season. He’s good. He’s accurate, and unless forced into a hellstorm of 300lb defensive lineman, he’s as mistake free as they get. He has Tory Holt this season, and while old, Tory is still always open. Jones Drew will be in the back field even more in ’09, and that can only mean good things for Garrard. He’s not a top level guy, but he’s going to get you points week in and week out – there’s something to be said for that. Matt Ryan, here’s a guy with a high ceiling. But he’s still a second year player and he still is in an offense that will give lots of carries to two very good running backs, Turner and Norwood. Too many weapons isn’t a bad problem though. Matt Cassel makes the biggest jump from ’08 to ’09, but he looks like a nice back-up option with a high reward possible. He has a very offensive minded head coach, he’s accurate, he has some talented young receivers (Dwayne Bowe is legit) and while I don’t think he’ll match last year’s totals, he’ll be serviceable in ’09. Matt Hasselbeck is a pretty low risk pick here. He got the best receiver on the free agent market as an upgrade. All his hurt receivers are coming back, and his new offense should take more downfield chances. He’s still very accurate and if he can stay healthy, he could be back to the Pro Bowl. Kyle Orton might be an awkward name to see here, but why not? Orton is in a pretty good situation with and offensive genius, a decent O-line, a super talented rookie running back, two very good receivers and an accurate offense that fits his throwing style. He still has that weird facial hair, but if he can do what he did in Chicago, Denver might turn out to be real nice. Big Ben is an interesting case, he takes lots of hits and gets hurt a lot. He isn’t asked to make too many mistake happy throws, and he isn’t asked to light up the airways. He’ll never have high yardage numbers, and with a couple real good running backs, his TDs will be limited too – but he can start for you in more than a couple situations. Everybody was ready to anoint Eli as the second coming of Peyton – and while he kind of is, blood wise, he’s just not. He makes way too many mistakes. He doesn’t have the most talented set of receivers, and he’s never played that well without Plax. Plus, don’t look now but his numbers seem to be declining – is that a good sign for a young QB? At least he won a Super Bowl…
- Sage Rosenfels (19)
- Joe Flacco (20)
- Jason Campbell (21)
- Jake Delhomme (22)
- Marc Bulger (23)
- Trent Edwards (24)
- Shaun Hill (25)
- Chad Pennington (26)
- Daunte Culpepper (27)
I actually think Sage could be a starter (fantasy-wise) at some point during the season. He’s had some great games over the years, but he also makes some bone-head moves. He won’t be asked to light up the airways in Minnesota, but I do think he’ll win the job, and it’s not like ‘Sota is a place without weapons. Percy Harvin can only help to take some attention away from Bernard Berrien, and Adrian Peterson will require 7-8 guys near the box most of the time. Sage could really surprise. Joe Flacco loses Derrick Mason, and old guy who just happened to be his best receiver. Todd Heap is a shadow of his former self. I like Mark Clayton, but as a number 1? Yikes. But Joe put up solid points last year and he’s got a cannon. Jason Campbell was almost traded, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play well. Looking for a new chance, a new contract, and having a coach that believes in him are three things I like about the former Auburn Tiger. Campbell has the tools, I just hope that off season motivated him. Jake Delhomme had a semi-successful return from elbow surgery, and he might be even stronger in 2009, but his huge interceptions and the fact that Carolina runs the ball half the time makes Jake a tough sell to me, even with one of the scariest receivers in the league. Marc Bulger once had a promising career. Then he signed a big contract. Now he just throws interceptions. Still, those big numbers came from somewhere, and this late that might be worth a shot. Trent Edwards has TO on his side now. An older TO, sure, but still a freak of nature. Will that make him fantasy worthy in ’09? I bet a lot of leagues will see him owned on draft day. I’m not sure I believe the hype, but 2 talented receivers and couple solid running backs might have Trent as a steal on draft day. I’m assuming Shaun wins the job in SF, but you never know. Still, when he does play he usually makes good things happen. It’s never pretty, but Hill has started for me a couple times and always come through. Chad Pennington might deserve more love than this, I just don’t see any upside, and as a #3 *maybe low end #2 fantasy QB, low upside is Chinese water torture. Daunte Culpepper might not even get the start, but I’d love to see what happens if he does. If he’s in good shape, he might have just found his Randy Moss clone in Calvin Johnson, and if it weren’t for a few bad seasons, almost no future, and a #1 pick rookie QB behind him, I might just rank him higher…
- Brady Quinn (28)
- JaMarcus Russell (29)
- Byron Leftwich (30)
- Vince Young (31)
- Matthew Stafford (32)
- Kerry Collins (33)
- Mark Sanchez (34)
I find it coincidental that these two find themselves ranked in the same tier, albeit a different order than a couple seasons ago when they found themselves drafted in the 1st round. JaMarcus actually looked pretty damn good at the end of the season, throwing 2 touchdowns in each of his last 3 games. But he plays for the Raiders. Not much better, but a little higher ranked in my lists, is Brady Quinn. Both of these guys have some talent, but I don’t see more than a handful of wins from each team and that usually doesn’t mean fantasy prowess. Byron Leftwich could find a nice fantasy situation, but who knows, I can’t trust him much, even though I like the guy. He has a couple good running backs, a nice offensive line, and a couple decent receivers – but he still winds up like Hideo freaking Nomo… Vince Young is the back-up in Tennessee, maybe, but I still think he’s the most valuable of QB’s there. Kerry Collins (even if he does start) isn’t worth anything fantasy-wise, where Vince can do some amazing things if he ever gets the chance again. Matt Stafford has a huge arm, and could be throwing to Calvin Johnson, so there’s at least 10 TDs… I already talked about Kerry, hope you never see that guy on your team. Mark Sanchez has a talented player or two in New York, and he’s a better fantasy prospect than the guy who will likely start, but I don’t see a fantasy worthy year out of either. Last but least I guess, but there’s 34….
Its quite unlike me to do a fantasy football rankings article toward the end of March, close enough to the draft that I should be focussed solely on the new cats entering the league, but unable to really include them because of the reality that their new uniforms have yet to be selected, and thus their bright future yet to be predicted. But this is going to be different.
There have been a number of emails asking me to do a fantasy article ranking players in a Dynasty League format. Dynasty leagues are those in which you keep all of the players that you draft, therefor taking ages, contracts, and their long term future more into account than in your yearly re-draft leagues or even leagues with a small number of keepers (1-3). Re-drafts in a dynasty format are often just rookie/free agent drafts and the veteren players only change teams if moved by their respective owner, either to the waiver wire or through a trade. This format has become more and more popular as it gives fantasy owners the feeling of team ownership, building from the ground up, often choosing to decide between winning now or building for later. It also gives losing teams something to look forward to, or the ability to trade crafty veterans for youth moving forward. It’s a whole new fantasy world, no doubt about it. You’re looking for solid production for at least 3 seasons – that allows you to continue to build through drafts and win now.
In many dynasty leagues that are starting this season, there will be a veteran draft in a snake format followed by a rookie draft in the opposite snake format. 1-12 and back for one, then 12-1 and back for the next. It evens out the board a bit, giving the teams drafting late a chance to make up for their lack of Top-5 power and take a blue-chip rookie going forward. But we’ll talk about rookies in the next few months, and closer to the start of the 2009 season.
I am ranking these players based on a format that starts this lineup: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, D. That format gives wide receivers a little added value based on the fact that you start 3 of them compared to just 2 RBs. Also, the point system is a PPR (point per reception) format, which many leagues have moved to. That also gives WRs a little added bonus, the same goes for pass catching running backs. QBs get 6 points for touchdowns just like everyone else, and other than that, the scoring is very normal. Under this scoring format last season, the top 4 point scoring options were Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner – in that order. Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald were the only non-quarterbacks in the Top 8, and DeAngelo Williams finished with 6 more points than Matt Forte to take the running back title. That doesn’t mean QBs hold more value than RBs, same with WRs, but it does put points into perspective a little bit.
I won’t be ranking D’s or K’s because I don’t care enough to do it. Also there’s some clutter in the middle a bit, that I argued with myself about a lot, but that’s the order I went with and I’ll own it. Throw in a comment (or email my uncle -email@example.com, i pretty much run his old pathetic life anyway – haha) and let me know what you think. Can’t fit them all in 112 spots…
Without further jib-jab and point scoring hog-wash, these are my 2009 dynasty fantasy rankings pre-draft. This is, more or less, how I think they’ll rate out over the next three seasons combined.
- Maurice Jones-Drew (absolute stud, and will get more carries and touches this season, just like Josh said, this guy’s point per touch numbers are absurd)
- Adrian Peterson (most people’s number one, should have his best year next season)
- Matt Forte (lots of touches for Matt, especially through the air, great feet for a big guy)
- Chris Johnson (Some people thought he was too small, the Titans didn’t, they win)
- Michael Turner (Justifiably some say he’s #1, his age and full load drop him a few spots in my Dynasty rankings)
- Steven Jackson (still very young and very talented – not much help in St. Louis, but the talent is there)
- Larry Fitzgerald (this guy is basically unstoppable)
- DeAngelo Williams (I’ve always liked his running style, and despite the great back-up behind him, he still ranks high)
- Andre Johnson (the only other non RB in my Top 10, AJ big brother’s DBs all year long)
- Marion Barber (he’s not going to get picked this high in drafts, but a return to prominence for MBIII is almost a guarantee)
- Calvin Johnson (if he were on a better team, this guy would be fighting Fitz, still his per touch numbers are awesome and he’s only getting better as that terrible Lions team improves – if Cutler goes there, watch out)
- Frank Gore (always one of my favorites, the center point of a run first offense, talent high, but injuries keep him out of the Top 10)
- Greg Jennings (young, strong, great young QB, the more touches he gets the better)
- Steve Slaton (some people see Slaton as a 3rd Down back, too small, but he’ll always be better than Fragile Reggie)
- Brandon Jacobs (Jacobs runs too hard to stay injury free, despite being the size of a D-end, but while he’s in he’s good for 100 yards and a TD – plus he’s young)
- Reggie Bush (if I trusted Sean Payton to do the right thing, he’d be lower, still in a PPR league he’s a solid play 20th RB last season missing 6+ games – + meaning he missed most of a couple other games)
- Roddy White (Roddy deserves more credit – he’s a stud – a go to guy for a great young QB on an improving team)
- Anquan Boldin (a couple donkeys say Boldin isn’t a #1, haha, I hope he goes somewhere else and proves everyone wrong)
- Steve Smith (His age – and physicality – drops him a bit, but he’s that close to Roddy and ‘Quan – and as fun to watch as anyone in the league – look how good he makes Delhomme look sometimes)
- Phillip Rivers (So what if he throws marshmallows, his team is turning pass happy, plays in a terrible division, and is just 27 years old – he’ll toss 40 TDs one of these years – and we’re the exact same age, to the day – it’s fate! ha)
- Marques Colston (if I trusted Sean Payton to do the right thing, he’d be higher)
- Kevin Smith (He won’t go this high, I promise, but invest now and you’ll reap the benefits of this talented back later)
- Brandon Marshall (If it weren’t for his ability to “find himself in bad situations” – hide and seek champ – he’d rank higher)
- Clinton Portis (Clinton will be 28 in September, going on 32 – I love the guy’s fight, but that drops the talented back into the 20s)
- Drew Brees (This guy plays tricks on defenses – the only problem is that I don’t know how much longer that idiot running this team will have a head coaching job, and another guy would surely run a more conservative and smarter offense)
- Ryan Grant (He may have struggled a bit last season, but he’s young and this offense will get better and rely on him more heavily next season)
- Joseph Addai (I can’t quite give up on Addai yet, but he’s never really impressed me as a runner. He’s thrown up some solid stat lines, but aside from pure numbers he doesn’t impress me as much as he does others)
- Peyton Manning (Elder Manning is 33, but still has a handful of good years left in him – but he’ll be 36 in 3 years, and you never know how age, and a new coach, will change a guy)
- Ronnie Brown (Ronnie will go under the radar in drafts, and this might even be a little low for one of the best all around backs in the league)
- Tony Romo (I might take Romo over Manning, but I wonder the impact of losing TO and how it will effect Tony, still a top flight QB though, and young)
- Tom Brady (Nobody does it like Tom – but his knee still has questions, and this team can’t be young forever)
- Reggie Wayne (he’s actually getting up there in age a bit, 31 or so, he’ll have a couple real good years, then start to die off, which is why he falls a bit now)
- Dwayne Bowe (Dwayne Bowe, watch Anquan Boldin films, that’s going to be you in a year or two – Bowe could break into the Top 10 this year)
- Aaron Rodgers (Explosive young arm with a great receiving corps and an improving offense – only his second year – could be great)
- Darren McFadden (I don’t care what people say, this is probably too low – still, I can’t put a Raider higher than Bo Jackson’s old number – Bo knows Al Davis is a team killing psycho path!)
- Eddie Royal (this looks like a reach now, but he’s like Wes Welker with elite speed and great maneuverability)
- Matt Ryan (this may be a reach, but I’m ranking for the next 3 years, and I’d love to have Matty Ice when he matures)
- Randy Moss (Randy’s old, but still basically unguardable with Tom Brady hucking footballs – only a couple real good years left though which drops him a bit)
- Marshawn Lynch (Obviously keep an eye on his situation, the kid will be suspended, and has been a question mark since draft day – on the football field he’s a great RB option)
- Braylon Edwards (very good player when he’s on, yet quite drop-happy and not as physical as his body – should be much better than he was last season, and still very young – doesn’t have great speed though)
- Derrick Ward (Could be an interesting time share in Tampa, but they brought Ward in to be the guy, and though he’s never been a beacon of health, he’s a very physical runner with good vision, and this O-line is underrated – he’s a young 29 though)
- Jonathan Stewart (Might seem ridiculous, but I’d rather have JS than Westbrook or LT, and this guy’s a backup)
- Brian Westbrook (This is where age shows it’s ugly face a bit, Westy might be a Top 5 guy this coming season but he’ll be 30 during this year and has always had health issues – still a great player though, just don’t overbid in Dynasty Leagues)
- LaDainian Tomlinson (I think LT has at least one really good season left in him, remember Michael Turner just had an unreal season while LT really struggled – and by the way, they were only 7 fantasy point apart – LT still has it, for at least another year)
- Vincent Jackson (Now’s the time, before Phillip uses Jackson as his number one for a full season)
- Jason Witten (I don’t think much of TEs, but Witten is the #1 in Dallas, don’t be confused by Jerry telling you it’s Roy Williams – oh, and Witten is a flat out stud)
- TJ Houshmanzadeh (it’s unbelievable how solid his numbers were last year despite being forked in one of the worst offenses in football – he’s perfect for the Seahawks and unless he’s cursed with injuries like all Hawks’ receivers, he should be solid – but he’s 32 this season – which drops him a bit)
- Carson Palmer (remember when he was in the Peyton, Tom, and Drew draft area? Well, he’ll get back there – this guy has all the tools – probably a good time to invest)
- Wes Welker (he might not be flashy, but he’s a PPR dynamo and very good at what he does, not PPR, not as good)
- Matt Cassel (risky? maybe – but I’ll risk it on a leader I really like on a team with talent to catch passes and a new offensive genius as his head coach – not as risky as it may sound as I agree with McDaniels, I’d rather have Cassel than Cutler)
- Jay Cutler (Jay might have been higher before he pouted his way out of Denver, I’m just not impressed with grown men acting like entitled little bitches, what can I say – still, he’s a great talent with a rocket arm)
- Willis McGahee (sometimes sportswriters take chances, I’m taking one on a guy I don’t like all that much, I’m saying Willis turns it around and finishes well above this ranking – still, the risk brings him down a bit)
- Matt Schaub (this is the season for Matt to lead his team to the playoffs and stay injury free, just that alone will put him in the Top 10 QBs)
- Antonio Gates (Gates is moving fast toward 30, and his hoops background is rearing it’s ugly head – for those of you in fantasy basketball, you know exactly what I mean – still, he’s a touchdown machine and Rivers knows it)
- Ben Roethlisberger (Big Ben will be better this season, he just needs to stay healthier, and improved line will help that)
- DeSean Jackson (I like him a lot, and think he’ll be a very good one in Philly, despite his tiny frame)
- Felix Jones (something tells me he’ll get used more this season, now might be a good time to get this speedy young runner)
- Santonio Holmes (interesting cat, but very, very good – should see more balls, but don’t overpay for Super Bowl glory)
- Donovan McNabb (Right above TO, planned that – McNabb will be an old 33 this season, and with no sure contract situation and last years’ struggles, I can’t guarantee anything form Donovan, except that he’s one of the best QBs in the league on a pretty damn good football team)
- Terrell Owens (A one year contract interests me always, but he’ll likely never get a longer one, still – one of the best WRs playing every single season for next year’s contract – I’ll take a chance on him, even in Buffalo – he’s older, no doubt, but in pretty good shape anyway)
- Lee Evans (Despite Edwards’ struggles, I still think he’ll be solid – add TO as a guy to take some pressure off Evans and I think Lee has a nice year – even if TO leaves next season, Evans will still be an elite talent)
- Eli Manning (I hate to do it, but I had to include Pouty-face in here somewhere, it’s personal, so he might be better than this)
- Santana Moss (In the 2nd season of Zorn’s system, this whole offense will move more efficiently, and Moss will benefit – turns 30 this year, but WRs should go worry free until 33 or so)
- Roy Williams (he’s young, has had a couple really good seasons, is the #1 in Dallas on a solid offensive team with a very good young quarterback – hell, this is too low – but there’s obviously some risk here, a guy with more ballsy would put him at 44)
- Antonio Bryant (I just can’t be sure about Bryant – what a great finish, scoring more points over the last 10 games than any receiver in football, that has to be worth something – he’s this far down because, well, he was out of football the year before last, can’t ignore that really)
- Bernard Berrian (steal on draft day I think – probably should rank him a little higher, I actually like Sage throwing him the ball)
- Anthony Gonzalez (something tells me that Anthony will see a lot of balls over the next 3 years, and very well could rate out higher than this)
- Donnie Avery (there’s no doubt in my mind that this kid will be the #1 in St. Louis next season, great upside there, but this team should struggle for a couple years at least – still, better to risk on upside)
- Chad Ocho-Cinco (you’ll be able to get him cheap, he’s getting older, he says one thing and does another and he changed his name to a fake spanish number – all that being said, he’s still #85 and gets his QB back this season)
- Jericho Cotchery (do I like Cotchery? you bet – do I like Kellen Clemmens? not a chance – but Cotchery is still a nice receiver and should average 80 grabs over the next 3 years, so this might be low for him – not great upside here though)
- Joe Flacco (Maybe he should go higher than this, his future is bright, that’s for sure. Still, Mason is aging and I’m not sure there’s another great offensive player on that roster)
- David Garrard (I still don’t see any receiving help for this poor guy, but his O-line should be way better this season – and despite what people think, he was pretty decent as a starting option last year – 12th overall)
- Rashard Mendenhall (he’ll go really late in drafts this year, what a time to get him, I still think he’s right there – talentwise – with anybody else from last year’s super talented class, this is too low, but he’s still risky)
- Domenik Hixon (he might not be a #1, and I doubt the Giants will let that happen, but I like this kid as a solid HR threat #2 and I expect him to play a nice roll in NY over the next couple years – I like him more than the other WRs on that roster)
- Matt Hasselbeck (how many years does Matty have left? his back might have a better answer than me – but he’ll be solid as long as he’s still around – the Hawks offense will be much improved this season)
- Deion Branch (good player, injury troubles have held him back, and he’s not a #1, but now he doesn’t have to be, and he’s still young enough to be good in the Hawks passing attack)
- Pierre Thomas (if I trusted Sean Payton, he’d be a heck of a lot higher – if he ever moves teams, he shoots way up the chart)
- Leon Washington (he’s talented enough to take a chance, but I don’t know if his coaches will give him the #1 job, and Thomas Jones was successful last season – still, this young offensive line is talented and getting better, and Washington has at least as much upside as Darren Sproles)
- Fred Jackson (Fred is a very good player that will probably get lots of time with Marshawn doing dumb things, a little risk could go along way with this kid)
- Thomas Jones (Yeah, I ranked his back-up ahead of him, so what – Jones is aging and while I still like him, he’s not really impressing the new staff with his hold-out threats)
- Tony Gonzalez (he may have a couple more years, but he’s in as good a shape as most 25 year olds, and even if he plays just 2 more he’ll rank out higher than most 3 year TEs)
- Dallas Clark (he’ll be one of Peyton’s top targets with Marvin gone, and he’s a pretty sure thing to be in the Top 5 over the next few years)
- Kellen Winslow (I like him better than Dallas Clark, but it’s very close, and Dallas has the QB advantage and health on his side, so Kellen moves behind him)
- Lance Moore (if I trusted Sean Payton, Lance wouldn’t be this high)
- Hines Ward (all he does is do the same good things year after year after year, consistently from game to game, and he’ll always be underrated – even though he’s 33 and plays a more physical football than most receivers, aging him faster perhaps, still, this is probably too low for a sure thing)
- Steve Breaston (he’ll be a #2 somewhere, if not in Arizona next season, then sometime soon down the line, he’s good enough to hold on to)
- Ted Ginn Jr. (could be a very good WR, he showed flashes last season, but there’s still enough question to keep him behind a lot of receivers)
- Chris Cooley (what a character – Cooley is a top notch receiver that should be even better in his 2nd season in this system)
- Sage Rosenfels (I think he’ll be good – that’s right, will probably draft him in more than a few leagues as my back-up – lots of risk here, but lots of upside too)
- John Carlson (His rookie year was a big success, he blocks well so he’ll always be on the field which makes him a solid red-zone touchdown target)
- Dustin Keller (probably a better receiver than Carlson, but not as physical and not as good of a QB, still this kid’s upside has a higher ceiling than JC’s)
- Trent Edwards (It’s tough to say, but I like Trent and think his sophomore slump will be exactly that – something you look back at and say, that was an aberration and this kid is going to be good – still, anybody in charge of Buff’s offense has risk)
- Chris Chambers (I wonder what happend last season – Chris played in every game and had just 33 grabs for 462 yards and 5 scores – I’m willing to bet he improves those numbers next season, he’s only 31 this season, but just incase, he’s not ranked high enough to get a bunch of crap for)
- Brady Quinn (here’s to hoping he goes to Denver and succeeds – still, I’ve never been sold on Brady)
- Mark Clayton (the former first round pick had a nice thing going with Flacco, his second 7 games were worth 31 fantasy points – his last 9 were good for 110)
- Torry Holt (we’ll see where he signs, he’s aging for sure, but I’m not ready to believe he’s done, he’s always open)
- Owen Daniels (not much not to like about this kid, except that he’s a TE – still, he’s very consistent which is rare for TEs not named Gonzo, Witten, Clark, and Gates)
- Donald Driver (old but effective, but for how long? not three years is my answer)
- Derrick Mason (old but effective, but for how long? not three years is my answer)
- Jason Campbell (probably shouldn’t be this low, but after the first 12-15 QBs, what can you do, i wouldn’t mind having him to be a back-up on my squad over the next few seasons)
- Michael Clayton (maybe this is nuts, but with Gruden gone I think Clayton’s not so “puckered up” as he was over the last few years, and the kid has enough talent to succeed)
- Josh Morgan (talented enough to do it, offensive passing attack a question in San Fran, still, I like this kid a lot)
- Kevin Walter (effective, but a white wide receiver nonetheless, sorry if I can’t believe)
- Miles Austin (I have to think he’ll get enough looks to be fantasy worthy, and his upside is greater than Patrick Crayton’s)
- James Jones (I’ve always liked him a ton, he fell behind a little bit last season, but he’ll be a nice #2 in this league some time over the next 3 seasons)
- Jeremy Shockey (gotta wonder about this werid-o, never been a fan, but if he stays healthy, and out of the dog house, he’s talented enough)
- Zach Miller (good young red zone target, if the Raiders ever get there he’ll be a solid option)
- Laurence Maroney (worth a pick late in dynasty leagues, I have always loved his talent but he can’t stay on the field and his HC isn’t a huge fan)
- Chad Pennington (he needed to go on the list, I just don’t think he has more than one season as a starter)
- JaMarcus Russell (you have to feel bad for a kid that gets stuck in Oakland – I believe JaMarcus!)
- Plaxico Burress (I think Plax was/is stupid – no doubt about that – however, mando-mins are the stupidest thing ever and should be abolished – he’s a super talented cat, but prison time is on the horizon which means his career could be shut down)
- Michael Vick (Yeah, he’s on the list, he’s an athletic freak and he did his time – get the hell over it – I’m a dog lover and after a guy spends time in jail for what he did, has to start his life and career over, I’m going to wish him the best)
Here are my *TOP 30 Quarterbacks. I’m not dancing around at all in these ones, I’m considering all factors and this is how I would tier my rankings of quarterbacks while getting ready for a draft. I explained my rankings a bit in each tier, and if you keep your rankings tiered like this, it should really help you determine value on draft day. Good luck!
- Tom Brady
You betcha – I’m not a guy thinking Tom is going to toss 50 TDs again this season, but he will get over 30. He’s the best quarterback in the league and he has the most dangerous wide receiver and a coach that really knows how to make things happen. Tom will surely be the 1st QB selected on draft day, and that’s respectable.
- Tony Romo
- Drew Brees
- Peyton Manning
I think Peyton Manning is a great quarterback – one of the best ever – but I’m a little scared of him this season. I had a hockey playing buddy from Finland that was never the same after a staff infection decided to eat at his knee. IVs and the inability to move the same bogged him down. I’m not saying Manning doesn’t have the best medical staff in the world or that he won’t be healthy by go time, but it might take him a little longer than expected to get it all back, that confidence and all. He’s just not as safe as he used to be, still a tier 2 guy though. Tony Romo is a stud with all the swag a quarterback needs to be successful. He really makes things happen. He has TO, Marion Barber, Jason Witten, and a little trick up his sleeve by the name of Felix Jones. Believe in him as the #2 QB overall. Drew Brees could surpass Peyton this year, in fact, I like it to happen. The Saints will still be throwing all the time and Brees is very accurate. With Shockey and Meachem, I think this passing attack got a lot better. Brees is the in Tier 2.
- Carson Palmer
- Donovan McNabb
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Matt Hasselbeck
Yes, believe it or not, I like Carson to rebound. He has talked about how he had started to play with bad habits and that he just started over in the off-season and worked his tail off. I like that. He has as much talent as any signal caller in the league and he still has TJ and Chad to toss the rock to. Expect a 30 TD year from the Bengal leader. McNabb is great – when he plays. He’s back to 100% and I like the Eagles to make some noise and maybe steal a little thunder from last years’ Super Bowl Champs and the Division winning Cowboys. Look for Donovan to have a great season, even without a #1 receiver. Big Ben had a great touchdown throwing season in ’07, and while I don’t think the passing attack will be quite as good in ’08, I still expect him to be a tier 3 guy. He has a very good arm, nice receiving options, and has matured quite a bit. Matt Hasselbeck will go underrated and under-appreciated for yet another season. Matt is one heck of a guy and a very good quarterback for a pass-happy team. Burleson will impress this year, behind the arm of Matt.
- Jay Cutler
- Derek Anderson
I feel the same way about Jay Cutler that I felt about Carson Palmer before the Bengal had his breakout season. Marshall is gone for 2-3 games, but I don’t think that should rob Jay of many fantasy points. Cutler has the cannon, and the confidence to be a Top 5 guy in this league. Just you watch. Derek Anderson is still a talented kid with a nice arm, but I don’t think he duplicates last years’ numbers. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit
- Brett Favre
- David Garrard
- Aaron Rodgers
- Jake Delhomme
- Phillip Rivers
- Marc Bulger
- Vince Young
- Matt Schaub
- Eli Manning
- Jon Kitna
Brett Favre, in a new system, on a new team, with new receivers, leading a group that didn’t win more than a handful of games last season – but yes, I still think he’s a starting fantasy options in a seasonal league. Coles and Cotchery are very good receivers – heck, look what they did with a QB that couldn’t stretch the field. Alan Faneca is a very good guard – one of the best in the league, and despite last years’ rushing woes, this offensive line in New York is young and talented. Look for Brett to be up to his old tricks. David Garrard was brilliant when he played last season – almost never throwing interceptions and guiding his team up and down the field with a balanced attack. He has some receiver woes, sure, but as a runner and a passer this guy will put up numbers week in and week out. Rodgers will be good. Mark my words – this guy is a talented passer with a feel for the game. He has a cannon arm and a strong work ethic, and Big Mike knows what he’s doing. This kid has too talented of a receiving corps and rushing attack to stumble. Jake Delhomme will be good if he stays on the field. He’ll probably rank out much higher than this if he plays 16 games this season. The Panthers (now that everyone is ignoring them) are actually a playoff sleeper this season. Jake and Steve Smith (after 1st two games) will run the show in Carolina. Phillip Rivers sure doesn’t get any credit. He’s supposedly looking good in camp, though I would never say he looks good. Despite throwing marshmallows, he is surprisingly successful. He grew up in the playoffs and I think he has a big year in ’08. Marc Bulger has so much upside with a good offense and a great receiver, but I’m not ready to say he’s going to be a Top 10 guy. He is a low risk high reward guy, and you have to love that. Vince Young has slipped right off the cliff of fantasy rankings, but don’t ignore him – he’ll be better this season. I like having Vince as a #2 in leagues where QBs get 4 points per passing TD – he’ll make up a lot of ground in those leagues. I still think he’s a #2 to starter in every league. Matt Schaub has a lot of upside and I’ve always liked him. I think he’ll be another low risk high reward guy. Bulger, Young, and Schaub – all solid options. Eli Manning will be picked much higher than this, so this is me suggesting you pass on the Super Bowl MVP – he’s erratic and the Giants will likely struggle in ’08. Jon Kitna is a solid passer, but I wouldn’t rely on him as a starter. His days of 350 passing yards are likely over, but his 20+ INT days are probably done too. He’ll be decent.
- Matt Leinart
- Jason Campbell
- Jeff Garcia
- Tarvaris Jackson
- JaMarcus Russell
Matt Leinart has a better quarterback (Warner) behind him. HOwever, Matt still has a lot of talent and has two great receivers to get the ball to. I wouldn’t like to rely on him, but you could do worse. He’s a decent touch passer but he holds onto the ball too long. Jason Campbell has always been a favorite of mine, and I’ll probably try to get him as a #3 or even a #2 if I wait too long to draft old QB number two. He looked very good in the first pre-season game he played. I like Zorn as a groomer of young QB talent. Santana Moss is explosive and Chris Cooley is a very good receiving TE. Portis is a stud. Garcia does all the little things well and if he doesn’t get destroyed and injured, he’ll be a stable player. Remember, he plays 6 games a year against the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers… Not really defensive super teams. Tarvaris Jackson is getting a little too much hype. Sure, he’s on a good team where defenses stack the line, but how has that worked for his fantasy career thus far? Will he be better? Probably, but I don’t know if he’s a fantasy back-up even. JaMarcus Russell throws one of the prettiest balls I’ve ever seen and he can make any throw in the game. His arm is ridiculous. I expect lots of bumps from his as a starter, but at some point this season, he might be ready to be a fantasy factory.
- Kurt Warner
- Trent Edwards
- Chad Pennington
- Brodie Croyle
- Matt Ryan
Kurt Warner should be starting somewhere, probably Arizona. Right now, he’s just going to be a back-up, but is still a better fantasy option than a few starters in the league. You can get a great maybe player at the end of the draft and he could become a top option starter later in the season. That’s a good risk to take. I like Trent Edwards but I don’t know if he’s mature enough to take the right risks to be a fantasy contributer. I think he’s a good quarterback, and probably the right guy to move Buffalo in a more positive direction, but he’s a low tier back-up. Chad Pennington still can’t throw farther or harder than I can, and I’m and old offensive lineman. I like his accuracy and he seems like one heck of a guy. So, on the nice-guy-o-meter he’s a decent pick. Brodie Croyle isn’t consistent enough to be a fantasy option, but he’s still a starting option that can be picked up for bye weeks or if he slips and figures it out. Dwayne Bowe, Larry Johnson, and Tony Gonzalez are 3 solid offensive weapons at his disposal. Matt Ryan is a rookie quarterback – and that doesn’t usually bode well for fantasy success. However, the Falcons aren’t as bad offensively as many think and Ryan has a nice arm and solid confidence. Can he be counted on? Don’t get crazy, but keep him on the radar.
Here are my *TOP 60 Wide Receivers. Naturally, I’m not giving you a cookie cutter rankings list, but I do have some reasoning behind the sanity, and if it’s good enough for the girl you go with, it should do for you too. Enjoy my tiered rankings. I’ve written a few words about the first 5 tiers – the rest are just listed without all the verbiage.
- Randy Moss
- Terrell Owens
Yes – despite the hype and the excitement of youth, these two touchdown driven pass catching personalities are bound to be at the top come December. Randy and Owens are certainly in a league of their own. Reggie Wayne is close and Fitzgerald might be getting there, but right now there are two guys in the 1st tier. Randy is definitely #1, and while I don’t expect a repeat of last years’ numbers, I still believe him to be the best receiving option in the game.
- Reggie Wayne
- Chad Johnson
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Marques Colston
- Braylon Edwards
- Steve Smith
- Andre Johnson
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh
- Torry Holt
This is a tier in which all receivers have been absolute studs before, and should be studs again. Last season Reggie, Larry Fitz, T.J., Edwards, Chad Johnson, and Colston all finished within 20 points of each other, and ranked between 2nd and 9th overall amongst WRs in point per reception leagues. Braylon really broke out in 2007, and while there’s a chance he’s just a one-year wonder, I’ll take my chances on the super-athletic touchdown scoring monster of a receiver. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, after a couple of years falling just short of 1000 yards, has back to back 1000+ campaigns and is coming off his best season yet. Marques Colston has two very successful years under his belt, and while many thought he struggled to start the ’07 season, Colston came on fast and managed 98 catches for 1200 yards and 11 scores. He’s a beast. This is his 3rd year in the league and you all know what that means. Chad Johnson is the least consistent of these guys, on a game to game basis, but he is dynamite consistent on a year to year basis. 87+ catches, 1270+ yards, and 7+ TD’s in 5 straight seasons. He is getting a bad rap this year, but that just means he’s a better value for you. Torry Holt is the only one in this group that is quite possibly over the hill, but watch him play, he’s always wide open. Plus, the Rams offense has to be better this season, and he’ll be a large part of that upgrade. Steve Smith is the most dynamic of this group, but he’s missing 2 games to start the season and he got busted up with a concussion in pre-season game 1. Still, with Delhomme tossing the ball and a nice running game building in Carolina, Steve Smith should be one of the best receivers in the game. Get him at a nice value and bring in the money. Anybody in this field is good, so don’t break your bank to grab your favorite of the bunch – there’s a lot of depth at the top of the receiver rankings. As for Andre Johnson, well what can I say except that I dig this cat. He’s got all the ability to be one of the game’s best. He’s fast and he’s a beast. However, he might be prone to injuries because he’s so much of a physical freak. Still, in 10 games alone he’s probably worth a pick in this tier. If he’s healthy, you hit the jackpot!
- Anquan Boldin
- Roy Williams
- Wes Welker
- Brandon Marshall
- Plaxico Burress
- Calvin Johnson
- Santonio Holmes
- Greg Jennings
Boldin is a beast, and while he has a bit of Donovan McNabb disease (great production when he plays, but he isn’t always playing) he’s still a nice grab. He’s a quarterback’s best friend because he’s tough and holds onto the ball in the middle. Roy Williams, believe it or not, was on pace to nearly match his impressive 2006 numbers before he got knocked out in the teams 12th game of the season. He won’t lose touches with Martz gone, McDonald will, Furrey will, Calving and Roy won’t. I expect big things from him. Wes Welker was given a huge contract by the Patriots before any of this amazing season stuff. That means they knew what they were getting. Many don’t expect a repeat from Welker. Me neither… I expect better numbers this season. Marshall is a little immature and hot-headed, is that weird? Not for receivers. He’s still a stud. He’ll be gone for what looks like 2 games, but I expect great things from Cutler this year, and Marshall will be a huge part of that. Plaxico – I don’t know, he’ll probably get hurt or ride out his ankle problems. I don’t like Giants this season, but Plax is a touchdown machine. He’s big, fast, and has good hands. He’ll produce if healthy. I love Calvin Johnson, and would put him higher, but he hasn’t done much to deserve a better ranking. Still, his upside is amazing, and I still say he’s the best receiving prospect ever. A lot of people are sky high on Holmes, but I still think he’s too streaky. I think the Steelers will run a lot more this year, and the ball will spread out a little more. Holmes is a nice pick, and he fits in this tier, but those that have him in the Top 10 are ranking him too high. Greg Jennings is a touchdown scoring machine. With Favre out of GB, I still expect big things from this tough runner. His hands are soft and he can really take some contact and stay on his feet. I like him to match last years’ numbers.
- Jericho Cotchery
- Roddy White
- Dwayne Bowe
- Marvin Harrison
- Lee Evans
- Laveranues Coles
- Santana Moss
- Donald Driver
- Bernard Berrian
- Chris Chambers
- Nate Burleson
Cotchery will have a very nice season with Brett throwing him the ball. Jericho catches everything thrown his way, and it’ll be nice for him to get some down field chances. I think he’ll become Brett’s favorite target. Roddy White was not a fluke. I watch him play and I see a big strong target with all the speed you need. The Falcons will be better and White won’t disappoint. Bowe is a great young receiver, but I can’t rank him much higher than this in that KC offense with question marks at quarterback. Still, he’ll be a nice starting option. Marvin Harrison could be back to his old self, in which case he’ll be a steal. Still, Manning is fighting knee troubles and Wayne is the man in Indy. I wouldn’t mind getting a hold of Marvin, but only at the right price. Lee Evans has as much talent as anyone. He can turn any play into a touchdown, and you have to like that. Still, Trent Edwards is just a 2nd year guy, and that Buffalo offense is young. He’ll be better this season than he was last, but I don’t know if he’ll meet last year’s hype. I love Coles. If him and Brett can get on the right page, he’ll do big things. He’s a do everything receiver. I look for him to have a nice season. Santana Moss is very explosive. Look at his history and see what he can do in a season. I think Jason Campbell will be improved and Moss will help him take that next step. Drive is always solid and he looks tough right off the bat. He never gets credit, but I bet his production stays very similar to last seasons. I originally though that Berrian would struggle in Minnesota. Then I realized that he came from Chicago. Can’t get much worse than that passing offense. If Jackson figures it out, Berrian will put up his best numbers ever. If not, I stil think he gets close to last year’s figures. Chris Chambers will do solid things in San Diego. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a super-star, in fact I just don’t see it. He’s had some nice half-years. I think he’ll be more consistent this season, but SD isn’t the place for receivers to go off. Nate Burleson might be the steal of this group. He’ll be what looks like the surefire #1 option in Seattle, and he’s got touchdown making ability. He’ll be picked behind almost every single guy in this tier, and some from the next tier down, but I like his upside a lot.
- Anthony Gonzalez
- Kevin Curtis
- Joey Galloway
- Derrick Mason
- Hines Ward
- Reggie Brown
- D.J. Hackett
- Deion Branch
- Javon Walker
- Devin Hester
I love Anthony Gonzalez as a player, but his value could very well depend on Marvin’s comeback. If Harrison has troubles, Gonzo is a steal. If not, I still think you get a guy that should produce like Brandon Stokely did as the #3 receiver in Indy a few years ago. Over 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns – you bet. Kevin Curtis has one great week and that week terribly inflated his numbers. Still, I think he’s a solid receiver. I don’t think you’ll ever see an 80 catch 1200 yard 10 TD season from this kid, but he’s a nice option if McNabb and company get #1 production from an unknown receiving source this season. I don’t think Curtis plays as well as the scariest option. Joey Galloway is still one of the fastest receivers in the game, and Jeff Garcia is a solid quarterback. If both stay healthy, Galloway will outperform this ranking. I don’t think they’ll both stay healthy all season. Derrick Mason is another old guy that was caught outperforming his expectations last season. There are too many quarterback questions in Baltimore for him to repeat last seasons’ surprises, right? I don’t know, he’s a safe bet to produce so he fits in this tier. Hines Ward had a down year, dealt with injuries, and became a 2nd option to Santonio Holmes. Still, he’s a very good player that, if healthy, will continue to produce at a high level. He’ll be underrated on draft day. Reggie Brown had a tough season in Philly last year, but I still like his upside. You can get him late and he might just be the #1 Philly wanted him to be. Hackett has as much talent as anyone on this list. He can never stay healthy, but if he does, he’ll do good things in Carolina. This kid can really run and catch the ball. Deion Branch would be higher if he was a sure thing to be healthy by the get-go. Right now, he’s way ahead of schedule on his ACL, but that often worries me. He’s a good player though, consistently scoring fantasy points. Javon Walker could be a great pick, but, like everyone else, I’m worried about this guy. Proceed with caution, I don’t know if we’ll ever see the Walker that played great in Green Bay. Devin Hester gets the last spot in this tier, but he’s as much of a question mark as any. He may have more upside as well. He’s a risk, sure, but Chicago is putting him down as a starting WR, and if he can get 60-70 touches this year, I think 10-12 touchdowns could be obtained. That would make him a steal!
- Reggie Williams
- Bryant Johnson
- Isaac Bruce
- Vincent Jackson
- Bobby Engram
- Justin Gage
- Patrick Crayton
- Derek Hagan
- Steve Smith (NYG)
- Eddie Royal
- Sidney Rice
- James Hardy
- Ronald Curry
- Donte Stallworth
- Drew Bennett
- Jabar Gaffney
- Ted Ginn Jr.
- Devery Henderson
- Mushin Muhammad
- James Jones
- Kevin Walter
- Jacoby Jones
- Robert Meachem
- Mark Clayton
- Davard Darling
- Antwan Randel El
Here are my *TOP 35 Running Back Rankings. I’ve tiered them out for you, and yes, this list could look a little different from the ones you’ve been reading. However, I am a fantasy genius so follow wisely. I’ve written a little about each tier so enjoy the commentary and good luck this year!
- LaDainian Tomlinson
- Marion Barber
- Steven Jackson
- Adrian Peterson
- Brian Westbrook
This group will be stellar in 2008. I put Brian Westbrook as the last player in Tier 1 because his talent level gets him into the Top 3, but his injury history and that fact that he was relatively injury free last season makes me worried. When he plays he’s great but every once in a while he’ll be listed as probable then not play – that kills fantasy teams.
LT is the best running back in the league and he plays 6 games a year against Oakland, Kansas City, and Denver – what more could a running back ask for?
Steven Jackson gets my #3 nod over Adrian Peterson because he’s more durable. Sure, he had a down year in 2007 but I’m willing to bet he meets expectations this time around. He’s a beast and as athletic as big backs get. He catches the ball with ease. Look for him to stay healthy and impress. AP runs very hard and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL. However, he plays against tough defenses and will lose plenty of carries to Chester Taylor. I like him a lot, but he can’t get into the Top 3 in my rankings.
This leaves my surprise pick in 2008 – Marion Barber at #2. I’m not just doing this to be “different” but truly believe he’s going to dominate for Dallas this season. Some are scared because Felix Jones was a 1st round pick, but I wouldn’t worry much about that. Barber touched the ball less than 250 times in 2007 but still managed just under 1200 all purpose yards and 12 touchdowns. He’ll get 300+ looks this season, and that will mean great things for the hardest runner in the league.
- Frank Gore
- Joseph Addai
- Ryan Grant
- Clinton Portis
- Larry Johnson
- Marshawn Lynch
Call me optimistic, but I think Frank Gore will be a lot more like Marshall Faulk than Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell. First of all, he’s just a better athlete and instinctive runner than either of the latter, and he’s the best player on the team – just like Faulk was in St. Louis. Mike Martz is no dumby – well he’s kind of an idiot – but he knows to get his best players the ball. In St. Louis that was Faulk, Holt, and Bruce. In Detroit that was Roy Williams, and Calvin Johnson. In San Francisco that’s Gore – so yeah, I like his chances.
Addai is lower in my rankings than most other “experts” and that’s because of the way he finished the year and all the weapons in Indy. Over his final 8 games (half the season) Addai didn’t rush for more than 77 yards once. He did score 5 TDs, but still, that worries me. With Marvin coming back, Wayne, Gonzalez, and Dallas Clark in the fold, and a great 3rd down receiving back in Dominic Rhodes, I just don’t see Addai getting enough touches to be a top tier back.
Ryan Grant is a beast and if it weren’t for all the craziness in Green Bay and the Packers brass talking about Brandon Jackson getting more carries, he might find himself in the top tier. I know he’s a one year guy, but you all saw him run, the guy is a beast – ask Seattle.
Clinton Portis is probably getting undervalued here at 9, but I just don’t like the Skins offense all that much. Apparently they’ll be better this year under the 1st year head coach Jim Zorn, but I’m not sure that means more carries for Clinton. Either way, he’ll still be a nice #1 back in ’08.
Larry Johnson is one of the toughest runners in the NFL and if his quarterback wasn’t Brodie Croyle I’d be a little more excited about his chances. The way it is, he’s a #1 back, but somewhere toward the back of the pack, and he’s a little more high risk than most. He’s still a great runner though, and if the Chiefs offensive line can figure life out a little bit, LJ will be back in the Top 5.
I like Lynch a lot, and think he’ll be a nice back in 2008, but the Bills offense is still a little too limited for me to rank Marshawn much higher. Fred Jackson ran very well late last year in Buffalo, so he might share some carries with Lynch. Marshawn has lots of room to grow though, and he could make the jump sooner than later.
- Maurice Jones-Drew
- Earnest Graham
- Willis McGahee
- Michael Turner
- Reggie Bush
- Jamal Lewis
- Ronnie Brown
I love Jones-Drew, probably my favorite player in the league, but there are still time-share worries with Fantastic Fred so his hype has lost some pull with me, but I still have him as a low #1 starter in 12 team leagues. Earnest Graham played out of his mind last year, and I see more of the same in 2008. His offensive line is good and monstrous. Willis McGahee is an idiot but a talented runner. Still, Ray Rice will steal some touches and I’m not yet sold on Baltimore’s offense. Michael Turner could be the best on this list. He’s being vastly underrated in fantasy circles and should be a solid #2 in all formats. Reggie Bush has fallen off a little on the hype train, but he’s going to be better than the last two seasons. He’s not a full time runner, but he’s definitely a full time #2 starter for fantasy teams – especially in PPR leagues. Jamal Lewis can’t have as good of a run this year, can he? Many had him pegged as finished before he killed it last season. I don’t expect as good of numbers, but he’ll be a nice #2 again – that offensive line is solid in Cleveland. Ronnie Brown is my last Tier 3 runner, but only because he shouldn’t be fully healthy until week 6 or so and Bill Parcells seemingly loves Ricky Williams. Never saw that coming. Anyway, Brown is ultra talented and proved his worth as the only good Dolphins fantasy player last season. Expect a solid year from him.
- Laurence Maroney
- Darren McFadden
- Thomas Jones
- Willie Parker
- Brandon Jacobs
- Edgerrin James
- Matt Forte
I think Laurence Maroney is more talented than Reggie Bush and Joseph Addai, but this high flying offense in New England doesn’t have room for a stellar fantasy output at running back. Still, he’ll have better numbers than he did in 2007, and who knows, NE could go ground crazy? McFadden isn’t a top tier running back this season, but he’s not a bottom of the barrel guy either. Many have him out of the Top 30, but I like his upside and see him as a #2 back. Thomas Jones will be back in 2008. Adding Faneca to a maturing offensive line will mean good things for Jones, and those who take a chance on him will reap the rewards. Willie Parker will lose regular and goal-line carries to rookie Rashard Mendenhall. However, if he doesn’t he’s going to be an incredible steal. It’s a crap shoot, but 22 is a safe ranking for him. Brandon Jacobs probably got hurt while I was writing this article – but when he plays he’s a 100 yard TD guy for a solid offense. My problem is that I think Ahmad Bradshaw is the best back in New York. Edge is old, sure, but he had a nice season in 2007 and I’m sure he’ll produce well for a solid offense in Arizona. Another offseason with the Cards new coaching staff should help that offensive line, too. Matt Forte has a great chance to succeed in Chicago. He does all the things that Adrian Peterson (Bear not Viking) does, but he does them better. I love watching Forte play, he runs hard, and will become a fan favorite in Chicago.
- Jonathan Stewart
- LenDale White
- Rudi Johnson
- Kevin Smith
- Selvin Young
Jonathan Stewart is, in my opinion, the best back drafted in 2008. However, he is also a running back playing for a coach that hates to play rookies, and a rushing attack that is slow with tiny holes to run through. Oh, and DeAngelo Williams isn’t a nobody. Still, J-Stew’s upside is too high to let slide. LenDale might lose carries to Chris Johnson. If that happens, I’m not so sure White’s confidence will stay in tact. He’s a nice TD threat, but it could be a tough year for the former Trojan TD killer. Rudi could be one hell of a steal this late, if last year was a fluke. But if he comes out running like Shaunna Alexander (like he did last year) hurry and trade him as fast as you can. Worth the mid-round risk? You bet, but it’s a dark shot. Kevin Smith and Selvin Young – I love both of these guys as possible starting options drafted very low. Usually, with backups, I like big upside and both of these guys have it. Smith, though, runs with the Lions – and that hasn’t been a blessing to anyone since James Stewart. Exactly. Selvin spends his time in Denver, and while that is a blessing of sorts, it also means he’s on thin ice and Shanny Splinter could have Ryan Torain running with the starting unit in no time. Still, everyone in tier 5 has risk with high reward.
- Julius Jones
- Fred Taylor
- Rashard Mendenhall
- Chris Johnson
- Ahman Green
Fred Taylor, Ahman Green, and Julius Jones don’t have the high upside, but at least two of these vets are a sure thing for carries and decent numbers. Usually players like that fall late in drafts but more often than not they are fantasy worth all season long. That means they are good picks. I’m not sure Green is a great pick, but you can get him late and if he finds the fountain of youth, or just health, he’s going to be worthy. Jones won’t be a 25 carry 1400 yard 15 TD guy like Shaun was back in his hayday, but I like him to finish with more than a grand of rushing yardage and 6-8 touchdowns. That’s a solid year for a #3 back. Taylor won’t have as many scores, because he has a stud behind him that flourishes in the red-zone, but ask anyone who knows the game and they’ll tell you that Fred can still get it done. He’ll get 1000 yards or so, and be a stop gap player all season long – unless he gets hurt. That leaves me with two rookies in my final tier and both have a grand upside. Still, both have 1000+ yard backs with ability in front of them, and at least in Pittsburgh, that will matter early on. Willie Parker is a good back, but Mendenhall should get a fair share of carries on a pretty solid team. He’ll be a nice sleeper pick late and a handcuff for Willie that you’ll need. Chris Johnson could be dynamite in Tennessee. They have a pretty solid offensive line and he can make a lot of plays in the open field. As a late pick he could be a similar version of Reggie Bush in Reggie’s rookie year – but probably not as many catches seeing as though Tennessee doesn’t take as many chances as New Orleans does on offense.