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Doug Orth | Archive | Email | Twitter
Staff Writer


Big Boards - Version 3.0
Preseason Matchup Analysis
8/28/12

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Preseason doesn’t matter. I get it, even if the third week of the exhibition gives us our best look at each team before the real season starts. I also understand that it is smart not to read too much into preseason stats and/or player usage. But unlike the majority of football fans, I do find value in watching preseason action.

My job title doesn’t require me to watch all the preseason games, but I do because – just like a coach – I want to see players perform in certain situations. Other times, it is about watching a player that I could not have watched otherwise. Allow me to provide an example of each from this past week: Cedric Benson and Alfred Morris. If I simply look at the box score of the Packers-Bengals game, I’ll see Benson’s fancy 6.3 YPC and likely start thinking that he has just been held back by poor offenses for his entire career. (See what I actually think below, it may surprise you.) In Morris’ case, I don’t have the benefit of catching too many Florida Atlantic games, so watching him start and log 14 carries – even if it is against what projects to be a weak Colts defense – gives me some idea of what to expect, even if I all I can get from it is his “running style”.

Fantasy owners and writers can talk all that want about how they discovered Arian Foster two seasons ago, but few people had him ranked as a top 10 RB and mid-second round value in 2010 like I did. Do I get some players wrong in part because I follow the preseason? Of course I do; we all do. But I will likely always maintain there is more than can be learned from the preseason than most people realize, assuming you simply know what to look for within a given game.

As I have mentioned many times before over the years, "value" in drafting is key. Need has to outweigh value on occasion, but for the most part, it can't hurt to take the best player left on the board. It is understanding the delicate balance of realizing a player is too good to pass up and knowing exactly when the last spot in your likely Week 1 starting lineup needs to be filled that often separates the great drafters from the very good ones. And it is with both need and value in mind that I present my "Big Board" in an attempt to earn both the respect and envy of your fellow fantasy leaguers in 2012. Before I get to the boards, though, I would like to remind each of my readers about a few key points:

1) my “Big Boards” are not going to look like many other draft boards you see. My method of evaluating fantasy players relies heavily on consistency and matchups, not on overall fantasy point total projections. All too often, fantasy owners and even the so-called "experts" get hung up by the final numbers. Don't get me wrong, I want all my players to have 300+ points at the end of the season. But as the old saying goes, "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey"; if my RB1 gives me seven spectacular performances along with six duds during the regular season, there's a fairly decent chance I may end up 7-6. I don’t want that and neither should you.

2) I will push a player down my board if feel he is a health risk or if I simply don’t/can’t trust him. If you take the time to break down each position I provide below, you will notice that I don’t follow the point totals or averages to a tee. (Think of the average and value I provide for each player as a starting point for my rankings.) Outside of trust issues, I will push a player down my board – despite a higher average or overall point total – if I believe he will simply be less consistent throughout the season or if his playoff schedule appears treacherous.

3) I would like to direct your attention to one other significant change from seasons past. If a player is a moderate risk – be it due to holdout, injury, off-field, etc. – your will see a next his name. If I feel a player is a severe risk, your will see a next to his name. While I feel like I have accounted for each player’s “risk” with their spot on the Big Board, you may be more or less inclined to deal with that risk than I am. This is just another way of helping you take a look at the board and quickly identifying how many players are relatively decent bets to frustrate you at some point this season.

Note: At least for this first set of Big Boards, I have chosen to stop at 175 players. Next week – my third and final installment of The Big Boards – will feature 200 players and a few tweaks I am looking forward to sharing with you.

Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:

Red – A very difficult matchup. For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player, drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e. from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a RB2).

Yellow – Keep expectations fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White– Basically, this matchup is one that could go either way. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this defense. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.

Green – It doesn’t get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers..

Key:
OVR – Overall Rank
PR – Position Rank
FPts – Fantasy points scored
FPts/ G – Fantasy points/game
Value - Read *** below

***In short, the value that you will see below is based on the VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) concept for a two-RB, two-WR league with a flex spot, which allows me to essentially compare apples and oranges. At QB and TE, the value reflects the standard deviation from the 12th player at the position – the last starting-caliber player at the position. At RB and WR, the standard deviation is based on the 36th player at the position. Unlike last year, I make no assumptions about what position owners would prefer at their flex spot. One last note to mention regarding the values – numbers that are bolded reflect positive values while the italicized numbers are essentially negative. (For the more statistically-inclined, the former values are on the right side of the bell curve while the latter values are on the left side.)

Last week, I mentioned a tweak or two I wanted to share with you. If you take a look at the “Pos” column on each board below, you’ll see that I have taken the additional step of designating players to their “fantasy position”, much as I did last season. This year, however, I wanted to go one step further and explain my definition – or at least what I look for – from said fantasy position. Keep in mind that just because there may be 12 teams in your league, it doesn’t mean there are 12 players worthy of being designated as a QB1, RB1, WR1 or TE1. My definitions are below (numbers courtesy of the Consistency Calculator):

QB1 – A player who can post #1 numbers (18+ fantasy points in this format) in more than half of his games with the capacity to deliver elite production (30+) in about 4-6 games.

QB1/2 – A player who can post #1 numbers with high upside, but is either a poor bet to produce elite numbers or projected to be too inconsistent to be considered a regular starter.

QB2 – A player who can post #1 numbers between 25-50% of the time, but is best used on a matchup basis.

RB1 – A player who can post #1 numbers (16.5+ fantasy points in PPR, 13.6+ in non-PPR) in more than half of his games with the capacity to deliver elite production (23+ PPR, 18.8+ non-PPR) in about 4-6 games.

RB1/2 – A player who can post #1 numbers with high upside, but has an obvious flaw in his game (usually injury history or timeshare) that keeps him from being one step higher.

RB2 – A player who can deliver double-digit fantasy points in about half of their games, with the potential to be elite when the matchup is right.

RB3 – A player capable of scoring double-digit fantasy points in about six games a season.

RB4 – A player capable of scoring double-digit fantasy points in about four games a season.

RB5 – Usually a “handcuff”, but a player who is on the roster generally to keep the ship from sinking due to injury.

WR1 – A player who can post #1 numbers (16+ fantasy points in PPR, 10.8+ non-PPR) in about half of his games with the capacity to deliver elite production (21+ PPR, 13.8+ non-PPR) in about 4-6 games.

WR2 – A player who can post #1 numbers in about six games and consistently score double-digit fantasy points.

WR3 – Usually is an inconsistent “splash” player (DeSean Jackson is a perfect example) that can win his fantasy team with a huge performance.

WR4 – Usually a steady, lower-upside option that can be spot-started and used as a bye-week fill-in.

WR5 – Typically is a player who lacks the talent to be a regular starter or faces substantial hurdles in order to receive playing time.

TE1 – A player who can post #1 numbers (11+ fantasy points in PPR, 6.8+ in non-PPR) in about half of his games with the capacity to deliver elite production (18+ PPR, 12.3+ non-PPR) in about 4-6 games.

TE2 – A player who can post #1 numbers between 25-50% of the time, but is best used on a matchup basis.

Here is the scoring system that I used to rank the players in the PPR format (the non-PPR board below will use the same scoring minus the full-point point-per-reception):

Because this will be the final Big Board of the season, I will mix in some quick hitters this week in an effort to discuss more players.

 PPR Big Board
OVR PR Pos Player Tm Risk Age Value FPts/G FPts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 1 RB1 Arian Foster HOU   26 9.58 23.4 351.5
2 2 RB1 Ray Rice BAL 25 8.17 21.4 321.5
3 3 RB1 LeSean McCoy PHI 24 8.10 21.3 320.0
4 1 QB1 Aaron Rodgers GB 28 7.76 31.2 468.6
5 4 RB1 Chris Johnson TEN 26 6.80 19.5 292.5
6 2 QB1 Tom Brady NE 35 6.98 30.1 452.0
7 1 WR1 Calvin Johnson DET 26 5.77 20.9 313.0
8 1 TE1 Jimmy Graham NO 25 6.84 20.3 304.5
9 5 RB1/2 Darren McFadden OAK 25 6.59 19.2 230.5
10 3 QB1 Drew Brees NO 33 5.08 27.4 411.7
11 6 RB1/2 DeMarco Murray DAL 24 6.37 18.9 264.5
12 7 RB1/2 Darren Sproles NO 29 4.42 16.1 242.0
13 8 RB1/2 Steven Jackson STL 29 3.81 15.3 229.0
14 9 RB1/2 Doug Martin TB 23 3.73 15.2 227.5
15 10 RB1/2 Marshawn Lynch SEA 26 3.12 14.3 214.5
16 11 RB1/2 Jamaal Charles KC 25 3.73 15.2 227.5
17 12 RB1/2 Ryan Mathews SD 24 6.72 19.4 252.0
18 13 RB1/2 Matt Forte CHI 26 4.32 16.0 240.0
19 2 TE1 Rob Gronkowski NE 23 4.20 16.6 248.5
20 4 QB1 Cam Newton CAR 23 3.37 25.0 375.4
21 2 WR1 Julio Jones ATL 23 3.55 17.7 248.0
22 14 RB2 Fred Jackson BUF 31 3.64 15.0 225.5
23 3 WR1 Victor Cruz NYG 25 3.72 18.0 269.5
24 4 WR1 Hakeem Nicks NYG 24 3.77 18.0 252.5
25 15 RB2 Trent Richardson CLE 22 2.94 14.0 196.5
26 5 QB1 Matthew Stafford DET 24 2.92 24.4 366.0
27 16 RB2 Reggie Bush MIA 27 4.00 15.5 202.0
28 5 WR1 Brandon Marshall CHI 28 3.11 17.1 256.5
29 6 WR1 Dez Bryant DAL 23 3.21 17.2 258.5
30 7 WR1 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 29 3.04 17.0 255.0
31 8 WR1 Andre Johnson HOU 31 3.83 18.1 235.5
32 9 WR1 Roddy White ATL 30 3.18 17.2 258.0
33 10 WR1 A.J. Green CIN 24 2.99 16.9 254.0
34 3 TE1 Aaron Hernandez NE 22 3.44 15.5 217.0
35 4 TE1 Antonio Gates SD 32 3.15 15.1 181.0
36 11 WR1 Eric Decker DEN 25 3.06 17.0 255.5
37 12 WR1 Jeremy Maclin PHI 24 2.62 16.4 246.0
38 13 WR1 Jordy Nelson GB 27 2.55 16.3 244.5
39 14 WR1 Greg Jennings GB 28 2.52 16.3 244.0
40 15 WR1 Marques Colston NO 29 3.11 17.1 256.5
41 16 WR1 Percy Harvin MIN 24 2.62 16.4 246.0
42 6 QB1 Matt Ryan ATL 27 2.61 24.0 359.3
43 17 WR2 D. Thomas DEN 24 2.55 16.3 212.0
44 18 WR2 Dwayne Bowe KC 27 2.03 15.6 233.5
45 19 WR2 Wes Welker NE 31 1.89 15.4 230.5
46 17 RB2 Willis McGahee DEN 30 2.09 12.8 192.5
47 18 RB2 Peyton Hillis KC 26 1.83 12.5 187.0
48 19 RB2 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 26 4.38 16.1 209.0
49 7 QB1 Michael Vick PHI 32 2.54 23.9 310.2
50 20 WR2 Brandon Lloyd NE 32 1.39 14.7 220.0
51 20 RB3 Adrian Peterson MIN 27 0.69 10.9 152.0
52 21 WR2 Vincent Jackson TB 29 1.72 15.1 227.0
53 22 WR2 Steve Johnson BUF 26 1.70 15.1 226.5
54 23 WR2 Steve Smith CAR 33 1.67 15.1 226.0
55 24 WR2 Miles Austin DAL 28 2.10 15.7 235.0
56 5 TE1 Vernon Davis SF 28 2.17 13.7 205.5
57 25 WR2 Torrey Smith BAL 23 1.11 14.3 214.0
58 26 WR2 Antonio Brown PIT 24 0.90 14.0 209.5
59 21 RB3 Kevin Smith DET 25 3.51 14.8 193.0
60 22 RB3 M. Jones-Drew JAC 27 3.43 14.7 221.0
61 23 RB3 Michael Turner ATL 30 0.79 11.0 165.0
62 8 QB1 Tony Romo DAL 32 2.07 23.2 348.0
63 6 TE1 Jason Witten DAL 30 2.03 13.5 202.5
64 7 TE1 Jermichael Finley GB 25 1.74 13.1 196.5
65 24 RB3 Rashad Jennings JAC 27 0.68 8.9 116.0
66 25 RB3 Pierre Thomas NO 27 0.81 11.0 165.5
67 26 RB3 Jonathan Stewart CAR 25 0.77 11.0 164.5
68 27 WR3 Nate Washington TEN 29 0.49 13.4 201.0
69 27 RB3 C.J. Spiller BUF 25 2.09 12.8 192.5
70 28 WR3 Reggie Wayne IND 33 0.19 13.0 194.5
71 9 QB1 Eli Manning NYG 31 0.58 21.1 316.4
72 10 QB1 Peyton Manning DEN 36 0.33 20.7 311.1
73 29 WR3 Mike Wallace PIT 26 0.78 13.8 207.0
74 30 WR3 DeSean Jackson PHI 25 0.46 13.4 187.0
75 31 WR3 Pierre Garcon WAS 26 0.61 11.8 177.5
76 32 WR3 Titus Young DET 23 0.24 12.4 185.5
77 11 QB1/2 Philip Rivers SD 30 0.16 20.5 307.4
78 12 QB1/2 Jay Cutler CHI 29 0.00 20.3 304.0
79 13 QB1/2 Robert Griffin III WAS 22 0.35 20.0 280.0
80 8 TE1 J. Gresham CIN 24 1.15 12.3 184.0
81 33 WR3 D. Heyward-Bey OAK 25 0.19 13.0 181.5
82 28 RB3 Stevan Ridley NE 23 0.61 10.8 150.5
83 29 RB3 Frank Gore SF 29 0.00 9.9 128.5
84 9 TE1 Tony Gonzalez ATL 36 1.11 12.2 183.0
85 10 TE1 Brandon Pettigrew DET 27 0.66 11.6 173.5
86 30 RB3 Donald Brown IND 25 0.11 10.0 130.5
87 31 RB3 B. Green-Ellis CIN 27 0.01 9.9 148.0
88 32 RB3 Shonn Greene NYJ 27 1.22 11.6 162.5
89 14 QB1/2 Andrew Luck IND 22 0.84 19.3 289.6
90 15 QB1/2 Joe Flacco BAL 27 1.01 19.1 286.0
91 33 RB3 Michael Bush CHI 28 0.79 8.8 131.5
92 34 RB3 Ryan Williams ARI 22 0.45 9.3 129.5
93 35 RB3 Mark Ingram NO 22 0.68 8.9 116.0
94 36 RB3 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 23 0.74 8.8 132.5
95 37 RB3 Isaac Redman PIT 27 0.37 9.4 140.5
96 34 WR4 Anquan Boldin BAL 31 0.82 13.9 194.0
97 38 RB3 Ben Tate HOU 24 1.40 7.9 118.5
98 39 RB3 D. Williams CAR 29 1.17 8.2 123.5
99 16 QB1/2 Jake Locker TEN 24 0.48 19.8 297.2
100 40 RB4 Toby Gerhart MIN 25 1.14 8.3 124.0
101 41 RB4 Evan Royster WAS 24 0.35 9.4 131.5
102 42 RB4 Beanie Wells ARI 24 0.65 9.0 116.5
103 35 WR4 Denarius Moore OAK 23 0.40 13.3 172.5
104 36 WR4 Greg Little CLE 23 0.07 12.8 192.0
105 37 WR4 Michael Crabtree SF 24 0.64 11.8 177.0
106 38 WR4 Justin Blackmon JAC 22 0.66 11.8 176.5
107 17 QB1/2 B. Roethlisberger PIT 30 2.42 17.1 256.1
108 43 RB4 Kendall Hunter SF 23 0.88 8.6 129.5
109 44 RB4 Shane Vereen NE 23 0.38 9.3 121.5
110 39 WR4 Robert Meachem SD 27 0.31 13.1 197.0
111 40 WR4 Mike Williams TB 25 0.00 12.7 190.5
112 18 QB2 Josh Freeman TB 24 0.74 19.5 291.8
113 11 TE1 Jared Cook TEN 25 0.16 10.9 163.0
114 12 TE1 Fred Davis WAS 26 0.00 10.6 159.5
115 13 TE1 Greg Olsen CAR 27 0.00 10.6 159.5
116 45 RB4 David Wilson NYG 21 2.06 7.0 97.5
117 41 WR4 Kendall Wright TEN 22 1.28 10.9 141.5
118 46 RB4 Mikel Leshoure DET 22 1.51 7.8 77.5
119 42 WR4 Austin Collie IND 26 0.90 11.4 160.0
120 47 RB4 Alex Green GB 24 1.99 7.1 106.0
121 19 QB2 Matt Schaub HOU 31 2.56 16.9 253.0
122 14 TE2 Kyle Rudolph MIN 22 0.33 10.2 152.5
123 48 RB4 Daniel Thomas MIA 24 0.23 10.2 143.0
124 49 RB4 Cedric Benson GB 29 3.12 5.5 82.0
125 15 TE2 Brent Celek PHI 27 0.28 10.2 153.5
126 43 WR4 Kenny Britt TEN 23 1.33 10.8 86.5
127 44 WR4 Malcom Floyd SD 30 0.61 11.8 142.0
128 50 RB4 Roy Helu WAS 23 0.91 11.2 134.0
129 45 WR4 Sidney Rice SEA 26 1.96 9.9 129.0
130 16 TE2 Jacob Tamme DEN 27 0.05 10.6 158.5
131 51 RB5 Vick Ballard IND 22 0.98 8.5 127.5
132 52 RB5 L. Blount TB 25 1.79 7.3 95.5
133 20 QB2 Christian Ponder MIN 24 1.34 18.6 223.1
134 46 WR4 Danny Amendola STL 26 1.13 11.1 166.5
135 47 WR4 Santonio Holmes NYJ 28 0.64 11.8 177.0
136 48 WR4 Alshon Jeffery CHI 22 2.78 8.8 131.5
137 49 WR4 Lance Moore NO 29 1.61 10.4 146.0
138 53 RB5 Jonathan Dwyer PIT 23 1.69 7.5 82.5
139 50 WR4 Randy Moss SF 35 1.96 9.9 149.0
140 51 WR4 Eddie Royal SD 26 1.04 11.2 146.0
141 52 WR5 Brandon LaFell CAR 25 2.78 8.8 131.5
142 53 WR5 Santana Moss WAS 33 1.15 11.1 155.0
143 54 WR5 David Nelson BUF 25 1.25 10.9 164.0
144 21 QB2 Alex Smith SF 28 1.75 18.0 270.3
145 22 QB2 Matt Cassel KC 30 2.08 17.6 245.8
146 55 WR5 Jerome Simpson MIN 26 2.26 9.5 114.0
147 56 WR5 Davone Bess MIA 26 3.09 8.3 125.0
148 54 RB5 Montario Hardesty CLE 25 3.66 4.7 56.5
149 55 RB5 Alfred Morris WAS 23 2.14 6.4 70.0
150 56 RB5 R. Mendenhall PIT 25 2.99 5.7 56.5
151 57 WR5 Randall Cobb GB 22 3.16 8.2 123.5
152 58 WR5 Doug Baldwin SEA 23 2.38 9.3 140.0
153 59 WR5 Steve Smith STL 27 1.84 10.1 151.5
154 23 QB2 Carson Palmer OAK 32 3.01 16.2 243.5
155 17 TE2 Tony Moeaki KC 25 0.19 10.4 114.0
156 24 QB2 Russell Wilson SEA 23 9.11 16.1 241.8
157 18 TE2 Dustin Keller NYJ 27 0.49 9.9 149.0
158 19 TE2 Coby Fleener IND 23 0.61 9.8 146.5
159 60 WR5 Jonathan Baldwin KC 23 2.55 9.1 136.5
160 61 WR5 Vincent Brown SD 23 1.94 10.0 109.5
161 62 WR5 Laurent Robinson JAC 27 1.53 10.5 137.0
162 57 RB5 Isaiah Pead STL 22 2.30 6.6 99.5
163 58 RB5 Taiwan Jones OAK 24 4.96 2.9 31.5
164 20 TE2 Owen Daniels HOU 29 1.11 9.1 136.0
165 25 QB2 Andy Dalton CIN 24 2.22 17.4 260.4
166 26 QB2 Sam Bradford STL 24 2.49 17.0 254.6
167 27 QB2 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 29 2.94 16.3 245.0
168 21 TE2 Lance Kendricks STL 24 1.63 8.3 125.0
169 22 TE2 Ed Dickson BAL 25 1.71 8.2 115.0
170 28 QB2 Ryan Tannehill MIA 24 2.59 16.8 252.5
171 23 TE2 Kellen Davis CHI 26 1.58 8.4 126.0
172 59 RB5 Mike Tolbert CAR 26 1.36 8.0 103.5
173 60 RB5 Bernard Scott CIN 29 1.71 7.5 104.5
174 61 RB5 Bilal Powell NYJ 23 1.78 7.4 110.5
175 63 WR5 Rod Streater OAK 24 4.10 6.9 103.5
176 62 RB5 James Starks GB 26 0.08 9.8 107.5
177 63 RB5 Jahvid Best DET 23 0.91 11.2 67.0
178 24 TE2 Marcedes Lewis JAC 28 1.81 8.1 121.0
179 25 TE2 Scott Chandler BUF 27 1.89 8.0 111.5
180 64 RB5 Ronnie Hillman DEN 20 0.86 8.7 130.0
181 65 RB5 Ronnie Brown SD 30 4.75 3.2 47.5
182 66 RB5 Robert Turbin SEA 22 5.02 2.8 39.0
183 Dexter McCluster KC 24 7.8 102.0
184 26 TE2 Charles Clay MIA 23 1.44 8.6 129.0
185 64 WR5 Nate Burleson DET 31 3.06 8.4 125.5
186 65 WR5 Brian Quick STL 23 2.83 8.7 130.5
187 66 WR5 Earl Bennett CHI 25 3.02 8.4 109.5
188 67 WR5 L. Hankerson WAS 23 3.98 7.1 106.0
189 29 QB2 Blaine Gabbert JAC 22 3.38 15.7 235.6
190 30 QB2 Brandon Weeden CLE 28 5.38 12.9 180.3
191 67 RB5 D.J. Ware NYG 27 3.31 5.2 78.0
192 68 RB5 Felix Jones DAL 25 0.98 8.5 102.0
193 27 TE2 Heath Miller PIT 29 0.87 9.4 141.0
194 68 WR5 Lestar Jean HOU 24 3.98 7.1 106.0
195 69 WR5 LaVon Brazill IND 22 7.61 1.9 29.0
196 70 WR5 Harry Douglas ATL 27 3.49 7.8 116.5
197 69 RB5 Danny Woodhead NE 27 4.23 3.9 58.5
198 71 WR5 Braylon Edwards SEA 29 4.86 5.8 87.5
199 72 WR5 James Jones GB 27 5.16 5.4 81.0
200 70 RB5 Mike Goodson OAK 26 3.43 5.0 75.5

Top 25: If the preseason were any longer, Doug Martin might just move into the first round. All kidding aside, the exhibition season has shown Martin is certainly ready for the lead-back role in Tampa Bay. When owners stack up his potential workload, the Bucs’ run-heavy scheme, his lack of durability questions and ability as a rusher and receiver, there is really no reason to rank him any lower than where I have him. In the somewhat defensively-challenged NFC South, Martin could easily emerge as the league’s best rookie runner.

One look at the 15-18 range will reveal three players (Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles and Ryan Mathews) that could either make or break your season and one (Matt Forte) who I feel is going to be more affected by Michael Bush than people realize. The promotion of mobile QB Russell Wilson into the starting lineup should serve as a nice boost for Lynch and Seattle’s running game as a whole, but does fellow rookie Robert Turbin cancel that advantage out by stealing more carries than we expect? Charles is clearly not as explosive yet as he was prior to his ACL injury – nor was he expected to be – but as a dual-threat weapon in a run-heavy attack that will probably make sure he gets 250 touches, I cannot move him much lower. Finally, Mathews will probably step right into 18-20 (or more) touches no later than Week 3. In a lot of ways, he is the second-round version of Darren McFadden. If I already have my RB1 and Mathews is still available to me as a RB2, he’s my first choice (assuming McFadden isn’t also available in the middle of the second round).

The potential for missed games seems to be the overriding theme of top fantasy RBs this season, so let’s close out the top 25 discussion by talking about one of the first injury dominos to fall – Trent Richardson. A rookie RB who was coming off the board in the middle of the first round during early drafts has fallen into the third round, with some people suggesting he is an injury risk and shouldn’t be selected until the fifth. I’m no doctor, but this isn’t the first time a loose body has been discovered in a knee following a surgery. Considering it was an injury he could have played with, owners should be glad he and the team opted to get it fixed so he can run comfortably. In my eyes, he is Mathews (in the sense that his first two games will likely be a wash) with a better offensive line and a tougher schedule. I hate to say this about a rookie that didn’t take a single preseason snap and still recovering from an injury, but I believe selecting Richardson at any point after the middle of the third round is a pretty strong value pick.

26-50: I’m a bit surprised I didn’t notice this after watching the first Dolphins’ two preseason games, but Reggie Bush looked noticeably bigger to me in their third game against the Falcons. Along with that, I also didn’t see his trademark speed or quickness either (which may have been due to the wet field). With that said, Bush seems to be a relatively safe pick in my eyes because after Davone Bess, who else is going to carry the passing game? All things being equal, I’d prefer not to consider anyone from Miami this season until very late in drafts, but I also wouldn’t be scared to spend a third-round pick on a player like Bush who we can be pretty sure will be heavily involved in an offense where he will be featured. Because he will likely push 60 catches, he stands a great chance at matching or even exceeding last season’s production.

On the other hand, Ahmad Bradshaw is a very tough player to rank. Given his success in the red zone in recent years, he isn’t likely to lose his short-yardage responsibilities anytime soon. However, rookie David Wilson is essentially a healthier version of a young Bradshaw and will, at the very least, turn this backfield into the latest edition of “Earth, Wind and Fire” (along with D.J. Ware). Coaches are no different than fantasy owners in the sense that when they see an explosive player like Wilson, they find ways to get him in the lineup, usually at the expense of a more proven option. The only question: when will that happen? When one also factors in Bradshaw’s durability concerns, Bradshaw strikes me as one of those players who may light up September but fade as Wilson’s big-play potential simply becomes too hard to ignore later in the year.

51-100: I am going to make one final plea to owners considering Adrian Peterson relative to his current 2.3 ADP: I cannot imagine a scenario in which he brings the kind of return to justify that investment. Let’s first remember that Peterson was averaging just 1.5 catches per game in OC Bill Musgrave’s conservative offense when he was healthy last year. Is that not enough reason? OK, forget that Toby Gerhart is slated for early-season lead-back duties and consider two other scenarios. Jamaal Charles suffered a lesser (but similar) knee injury 14 weeks earlier than AP and is nowhere near as explosive right now as he was pre-injury. Rashard Mendenhall’s ACL injury was similar to Charles’ and happened a week after Peterson. Mendenhall is not expected to contribute in any real way until at least midseason. So, an investment in Peterson within the first 15 picks of a fantasy draft suggests he will not only cut the usual rehab time for an injury as serious as his by about 50%, but that he will somehow have complete trust in his knee and make Gerhart an afterthought.

All offseason, I have been reading and hearing about how Joe Flacco has been lights-out. This past weekend against the Jags, I finally saw it. It wasn’t the number of attempts, his final numbers or the up-tempo offensive attack that grabbed my attention, it was the first time I saw Flacco’s accuracy match his arm strength. For most of his pro career, Flacco has been known as a strong-armed signal-caller that just didn’t have enough consistency to be anything more than a slightly above-average quarterback. Against Jacksonville – which appears to be an underrated defense to most general fans – I saw pinpoint accuracy with many of his throws and more confidence in his play than I have seen from at any point in his career. Perhaps some of that swagger can be attributed to the play of Torrey Smith, who also skyrockets up my board this week. I needed to see a player that was more than just a deep threat and Smith showed me just that, catching a number of passes on drag routes designed to get him the ball against zone coverage and allow him to run after the catch. I think Anquan Boldin benefits from all this as well, but he is still best suited as a WR4 in PPR this year. If the Ravens use the no-huddle on a regular basis – and they plan on doing so - Flacco should be considered a darkhorse candidate to break into the top 10 of fantasy QBs this season. I now believe Smith will finish in WR2 territory.

Jake Locker has drawn comparisons to a young Donovan McNabb due in large part to his athletic ability and inaccuracy. Unlike a young McNabb, Locker has better weapons than L.J. Smith, Todd Pinkston and James Thrash. So while there is a pretty good chance that Locker will not play the position as artfully as we would like, he will be a factor in fantasy this season. Based on what I saw from him against Arizona Thursday and throughout the preseason, he is already applying some of the tricks of the trade in the pocket that a first-time starter doesn’t usually have in his arsenal. Locker will be hard to watch at some points – make no mistake about it – but his athleticism and big arm is exactly what this offense needs to be a dynamic one. Chris Johnson will benefit from a mobile quarterback while defenses will need to respect Jared Cook, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and possibly even Kenny Britt (at some point) since Locker can reach just any part of the field he wants.

101-200: In news that should surprise no one, Justin Blackmon (playing the Roddy White role in Mike Mularkey’s offense) is benefitting greatly from Jacksonville’s emphasis on the short passing game while Laurent Robinson may not have a shot at much fantasy value, at least if the preseason is any indication. Even more impressively, Blackmon appears to have been a quick study in the classroom and may be on his way to putting his offseason troubles behind him. When we couple Robinson’s lack of preseason contributions with the earlier reports that he was having trouble picking up the offense, Robinson should probably go undrafted in most normal 12-team leagues. Blaine Gabbert has more than enough arm strength to make Robinson look good on a deep throw or two per game, but Mularkey may be hesitant to turn Gabbert loose much early in the season as he attempts to rebuild his confidence after last year’s rushed disaster. Speaking of Gabbert, he is showing the confidence I saw him play with last preseason. He should be a decent bye-week fill-in during the middle part of the season.

If you look far enough down, you may find that I have left Dexter McCluster without a position on both boards. Even though the Chiefs appear to be using him mostly as a slot receiver, he may be eligible at RB in your league. I’ve ranked him assuming he will still be listed as a RB, which would be a slight boost to his fantasy stock at a relatively shallow position. He is not likely to be all that consistent this season, but given the average quarterback play and emphasis on short passing in Kansas City, McCluster could be a 40-50 catch player if he becomes manages to see the field in about half of the team’s offensive snaps.

A few Raiders have crashed the top 200 party this week. Taiwan Jones – an oft-injured second-year RB out of Eastern Washington – and Rod Streater – an undrafted free agent from Temple – should now be squarely on the late-round fantasy radar for almost every owner in 12-team leagues. Jones has a lot of Chris Johnson in him in terms of speed and explosion and may just be the handcuff to McFadden. How long that lasts – given his injury history – is another question entirely, meaning McFadden owners would probably be wise to grab both Jones and Mike Goodson in the 10th-12th round area. The potentially more impactful player early on, though, may be Streater. The 6-3, 200-pounder has been incredible by all accounts since the offseason program began and he has carried that into the preseason. With injuries to Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, Streater has moved into the starting lineup and been a regular target for Carson Palmer. His role is far from secure, but the reason he makes both lists is because both Moore and Ford have not been able to stay on the field in their young pro careers.

 Non-PPR Big Board
OVR PR Pos Player Tm Risk Age Value FPts/G FPts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 1 RB1 Arian Foster HOU   26 7.58 19.0 285.5
2 2 RB1 LeSean McCoy PHI 24 6.38 17.3 260.0
3 3 RB1 Ray Rice BAL 25 6.17 17.0 255.5
4 1 QB1 Aaron Rodgers GB 28 7.76 31.2 468.6
5 2 QB1 Tom Brady NE 35 6.98 30.1 452.0
6 4 RB1 Chris Johnson TEN 26 5.84 16.6 248.5
7 1 WR1 Calvin Johnson DET 26 4.36 14.5 218.0
8 5 RB1/2 Darren McFadden OAK 25 5.47 16.0 192.5
9 3 QB1 Drew Brees NO 33 5.08 27.4 411.7
10 1 TE1 Jimmy Graham NO 25 4.90 13.7 205.5
11 6 RB1/2 DeMarco Murray DAL 24 5.26 15.8 220.5
12 7 RB1/2 Steven Jackson STL 29 3.18 12.8 192.0
13 8 RB1/2 Doug Martin TB 23 2.96 12.5 187.5
14 9 RB1/2 Jamaal Charles KC 25 2.73 12.2 182.5
15 2 TE1 Rob Gronkowski NE 23 3.35 11.5 172.5
16 10 RB1/2 Marshawn Lynch SEA 26 3.11 12.7 190.5
17 2 WR1 Julio Jones ATL 23 3.07 12.7 178.0
18 11 RB1/2 Ryan Mathews SD 24 5.11 15.5 202.0
19 4 QB1 Cam Newton CAR 23 3.37 25.0 375.4
20 12 RB1/2 Matt Forte CHI 26 2.94 12.5 187.0
21 13 RB1/2 Trent Richardson CLE 22 2.38 11.7 163.5
22 5 QB1 Matthew Stafford DET 24 2.92 24.4 366.0
23 14 RB2 Fred Jackson BUF 31 3.20 12.8 192.5
24 3 WR1 Hakeem Nicks NYG 24 2.70 12.2 170.5
25 4 WR1 A.J. Green CIN 24 2.47 11.9 178.0
26 5 WR1 Dez Bryant DAL 23 2.69 12.2 182.5
27 6 WR1 Andre Johnson HOU 31 2.71 12.2 158.5
28 7 WR1 Victor Cruz NYG 25 2.31 11.6 174.5
29 8 WR1 Jordy Nelson GB 27 2.31 11.6 174.5
30 9 WR1 Roddy White ATL 30 2.29 11.6 174.0
31 15 RB2 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 26 3.10 12.7 165.0
32 10 WR1 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 29 1.96 11.1 167.0
33 3 TE1 Aaron Hernandez NE 22 2.29 10.0 140.0
34 4 TE1 Antonio Gates SD 32 2.29 10.0 120.0
35 16 RB2 Willis McGahee DEN 30 2.26 11.5 172.5
36 17 RB2 Reggie Bush MIA 27 1.96 11.1 144.0
37 18 RB2 Peyton Hillis KC 26 1.76 10.8 162.0
38 6 QB1 Matt Ryan ATL 27 2.61 24.0 359.3
39 11 WR1 Jeremy Maclin PHI 24 2.00 11.2 168.0
40 12 WR1 Brandon Marshall CHI 28 1.98 11.2 167.5
41 13 WR1 Eric Decker DEN 25 1.89 11.0 165.5
42 14 WR1 Percy Harvin MIN 24 1.81 10.9 164.0
43 19 RB2 Darren Sproles NO 29 1.72 10.7 161.0
44 5 TE1 Vernon Davis SF 28 1.60 9.0 135.5
45 15 WR2 D. Thomas DEN 24 2.08 11.3 147.0
46 16 WR2 Marques Colston NO 29 2.07 11.3 169.5
47 17 WR2 Greg Jennings GB 28 2.05 11.3 169.0
48 7 QB1 Michael Vick PHI 32 2.54 23.9 310.2
49 20 RB2 M. Jones-Drew JAC 27 2.71 12.1 182.0
50 18 WR2 Brandon Lloyd NE 32 1.44 10.4 156.0
51 19 WR2 Steve Smith CAR 33 1.34 10.3 154.0
52 20 WR2 Torrey Smith BAL 23 1.15 10.0 150.0
53 21 WR2 Vincent Jackson TB 29 1.58 10.6 159.0
54 21 RB3 Michael Turner ATL 30 1.20 10.0 150.0
55 22 RB3 Adrian Peterson MIN 27 0.84 9.5 133.0
56 8 QB1 Tony Romo DAL 32 2.07 23.2 348.0
57 22 WR2 Miles Austin DAL 28 1.30 10.2 153.0
58 23 WR2 Dwayne Bowe KC 27 1.18 10.0 150.5
59 24 WR2 Steve Johnson BUF 26 0.99 9.8 146.5
60 23 RB3 Stevan Ridley NE 23 1.07 9.8 137.5
61 6 TE1 Jermichael Finley GB 25 1.27 8.6 128.5
62 24 RB3 Kevin Smith DET 25 2.28 11.5 150.0
63 25 RB3 Rashad Jennings JAC 27 0.44 7.7 100.0
64 25 WR2 Mike Wallace PIT 26 0.87 9.6 144.0
65 26 WR3 DeSean Jackson PHI 25 0.85 9.6 134.0
66 27 WR3 Antonio Brown PIT 24 0.52 9.1 136.5
67 9 QB1 Eli Manning NYG 31 0.58 21.1 316.4
68 10 QB1 Peyton Manning DEN 36 0.33 20.7 311.1
69 26 RB3 Shonn Greene NYJ 27 1.32 10.2 142.5
70 27 RB3 B. Green-Ellis CIN 27 0.44 8.9 134.0
71 28 WR3 Nate Washington TEN 29 0.64 9.3 139.0
72 29 WR3 Wes Welker NE 31 0.57 9.2 137.5
73 28 RB3 C.J. Spiller BUF 25 1.08 9.8 147.5
74 7 TE1 Jason Witten DAL 30 1.08 8.3 124.5
75 8 TE1 J. Gresham CIN 24 0.78 7.9 118.0
76 29 RB3 Frank Gore SF 29 0.46 9.0 116.5
77 30 RB3 Mark Ingram NO 22 0.00 8.3 108.0
78 9 TE1 Tony Gonzalez ATL 36 0.59 7.6 114.0
79 30 WR3 D. Heyward-Bey OAK 25 0.22 8.7 121.5
80 31 WR3 Reggie Wayne IND 33 0.00 8.4 125.5
81 31 RB3 Donald Brown IND 25 0.19 8.0 104.5
82 11 QB1/2 Philip Rivers SD 30 0.16 20.5 307.4
83 12 QB1/2 Jay Cutler CHI 29 0.00 20.3 304.0
84 32 RB3 Jonathan Stewart CAR 25 0.51 9.0 135.5
85 32 WR3 Titus Young DET 23 0.05 8.3 124.5
86 33 WR3 Justin Blackmon JAC 22 0.28 8.0 119.5
87 33 RB3 Michael Bush CHI 28 0.71 7.3 109.5
88 34 RB4 Ben Tate HOU 24 0.71 7.3 109.5
89 13 QB1/2 Robert Griffin III WAS 22 0.19 20.0 280.0
90 34 WR3 Pierre Garcon WAS 26 0.33 7.9 118.5
91 35 WR3 Denarius Moore OAK 23 0.58 9.2 119.5
92 36 WR4 Anquan Boldin BAL 31 0.30 8.8 123.0
93 37 WR4 Kendall Wright TEN 22 0.78 7.3 94.5
94 14 QB1/2 Andrew Luck IND 22 0.68 19.3 289.6
95 15 QB1/2 Joe Flacco BAL 27 0.85 19.1 286.0
96 16 QB1/2 Jake Locker TEN 24 0.32 19.8 297.2
97 38 WR4 Robert Meachem SD 27 0.40 8.9 134.0
98 35 RB4 Ryan Williams ARI 22 0.80 7.2 100.5
99 36 RB4 Pierre Thomas NO 27 0.34 7.8 117.5
100 37 RB4 Isaac Redman PIT 27 0.19 8.0 120.5
101 39 WR4 Mike Williams TB 25 0.05 8.3 124.5
102 40 WR4 Greg Little CLE 23 0.26 8.0 120.0
103 41 WR4 Michael Crabtree SF 24 0.59 7.5 113.0
104 38 RB4 Evan Royster WAS 24 0.34 7.8 109.5
105 39 RB4 Beanie Wells ARI 24 0.08 8.4 109.5
106 10 TE1 Jared Cook TEN 25 0.12 6.9 104.0
107 11 TE1 Greg Olsen CAR 27 0.05 6.8 102.5
108 40 RB4 D. Williams CAR 29 0.57 7.5 112.5
109 41 RB4 Kendall Hunter SF 23 1.14 6.7 100.5
110 42 RB4 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 23 1.37 6.4 95.5
111 12 TE2 Brandon Pettigrew DET 27 0.00 6.8 101.5
112 43 RB4 Toby Gerhart MIN 25 1.44 6.3 94.0
113 44 RB4 David Wilson NYG 21 1.66 6.0 83.5
114 13 TE2 Fred Davis WAS 26 0.19 6.5 97.5
115 14 TE2 Kyle Rudolph MIN 22 0.24 6.4 96.5
116 45 RB4 Mikel Leshoure DET 22 1.17 6.7 66.5
117 46 RB4 Vick Ballard IND 22 0.38 7.8 116.5
118 47 RB4 LeGarrette Blount TB 25 0.95 7.0 90.5
119 48 RB4 Daniel Thomas MIA 24 0.54 9.1 127.0
120 42 WR4 Austin Collie IND 26 1.07 6.9 96.0
121 49 RB4 Roy Helu WAS 23 0.16 8.1 97.0
122 17 QB1/2 B. Roethlisberger PIT 30 2.26 17.1 256.1
123 50 RB5 Alfred Morris WAS 23 1.55 5.6 62.0
124 51 RB5 Alex Green GB 24 2.06 5.4 81.0
125 52 RB5 Jonathan Dwyer PIT 23 1.28 6.5 71.5
126 43 WR4 Malcom Floyd SD 30 0.04 8.4 101.0
127 44 WR4 Sidney Rice SEA 26 1.13 6.8 88.0
128 45 WR4 Kenny Britt TEN 23 0.75 7.3 58.5
129 18 QB2 Josh Freeman TB 24 0.58 19.5 291.8
130 53 RB5 Shane Vereen NE 23 0.90 7.0 91.5
131 54 RB5 James Starks GB 26 0.38 7.8 85.5
132 55 RB5 Cedric Benson GB 29 2.90 4.2 63.0
133 46 WR4 Santonio Holmes NYJ 28 0.64 7.5 112.0
134 19 QB2 Matt Schaub HOU 31 2.40 16.9 253.0
135 20 QB2 Christian Ponder MIN 24 1.18 18.6 223.1
136 47 WR4 Randy Moss SF 35 1.11 6.8 102.0
137 48 WR4 Alshon Jeffery CHI 22 1.70 6.0 89.5
138 49 WR4 Brandon LaFell CAR 25 1.79 5.8 87.5
139 50 WR4 Lance Moore NO 29 1.32 6.5 91.0
140 51 WR5 Eddie Royal SD 26 1.35 6.5 84.0
141 15 TE2 Coby Fleener IND 23 0.24 6.4 96.5
142 16 TE2 Brent Celek PHI 27 0.28 6.4 95.5
143 56 RB5 Bernard Scott CIN 29 1.51 6.2 86.5
144 52 WR5 Santana Moss WAS 33 1.12 6.8 95.0
145 53 WR5 Steve Smith STL 27 1.56 6.2 92.5
146 21 QB2 Alex Smith SF 28 1.59 18.0 270.3
147 22 QB2 Matt Cassel KC 30 1.92 17.6 245.8
148 17 TE2 Owen Daniels HOU 29 1.01 5.3 80.0
149 18 TE2 Jacob Tamme DEN 27 0.38 6.2 93.5
150 19 TE2 Tony Moeaki KC 25 0.03 6.7 74.0
151 57 RB5 Ronnie Hillman DEN 20 1.96 5.5 83.0
152 23 QB2 Carson Palmer OAK 32 2.85 16.2 243.5
153 20 TE2 Dustin Keller NYJ 27 0.40 6.2 93.0
154 21 TE2 Ed Dickson BAL 25 1.10 5.2 73.0
155 58 RB5 Jahvid Best DET 23 0.69 7.3 44.0
156 54 WR5 Jon Baldwin KC 23 1.65 6.0 90.5
157 55 WR5 Vincent Brown SD 23 1.32 6.5 71.5
158 56 WR5 Jerome Simpson MIN 26 1.56 6.2 74.0
159 57 WR5 Brian Quick STL 23 1.60 6.1 91.5
160 24 QB2 Russell Wilson SEA 23 2.93 16.1 241.8
161 Dexter McCluster KC 24 2.28 5.1 66.0
162 59 RB5 R. Mendenhall PIT 25 2.52 4.8 47.5
163 25 QB2 Andy Dalton CIN 24 2.06 17.4 260.4
164 26 QB2 Sam Bradford STL 24 2.33 17.0 254.6
165 60 RB5 M. Hardesty CLE 25 2.84 4.3 51.5
166 61 RB5 Robert Turbin SEA 22 4.16 2.4 34.0
167 62 RB5 Taiwan Jones OAK 24 2.23 2.2 24.5
168 63 RB5 Mike Goodson OAK 26 3.21 3.8 56.5
169 64 RB5 Isaiah Pead STL 22 2.69 4.5 67.5
170 65 RB5 D.J. Ware NYG 27 3.42 3.5 52.0
171 22 TE2 Lance Kendricks STL 24 1.11 5.2 78.0
172 58 WR5 Laurent Robinson JAC 27 0.97 7.0 91.0
173 23 TE2 Charles Clay MIA 23 1.11 5.2 78.0
174 27 QB2 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 29 2.78 16.3 245.0
175 59 WR5 David Nelson BUF 25 1.44 6.3 95.0
176 60 WR5 Danny Amendola STL 26 1.60 6.1 91.5
177 66 RB5 Felix Jones DAL 25 2.04 5.4 65.0
178 61 WR5 Randall Cobb GB 22 1.93 5.6 84.5
179 62 WR5 Rod Streater OAK 24 2.88 4.3 64.5
180 63 WR5 Doug Baldwin SEA 23 2.14 5.3 80.0
181 28 QB2 Ryan Tannehill MIA 24 2.43 16.8 252.5
182 64 WR5 Lestar Jean HOU 24 2.57 4.7 71.0
183 67 RB5 Ronnie Brown SD 30 3.92 2.8 41.5
184 65 WR5 Davone Bess MIA 26 2.66 4.6 69.0
185 66 WR5 Braylon Edwards SEA 29 3.11 4.0 59.5
186 67 WR5 James Jones GB 27 3.13 3.9 59.0
187 24 TE2 Heath Miller PIT 29 0.68 5.8 87.0
188 29 QB2 Blaine Gabbert JAC 22 3.22 15.7 235.6
189 30 QB2 Brandon Weeden CLE 28 5.22 12.9 180.3
190 68 WR5 Nate Burleson DET 31 2.40 5.0 74.5
191 68 RB5 Bilal Powell NYJ 23 2.46 4.8 72.5
192 25 TE2 Kellen Davis CHI 26 1.11 5.2 78.0
193 26 TE2 Martellus Bennett NYG 25 0.97 5.4 81.0
194 27 TE2 Scott Chandler BUF 27 1.22 5.0 70.5
195 69 RB5 Mike Tolbert CAR 26 2.37 5.0 64.5
196 69 WR5 Harry Douglas ATL 27 2.45 4.9 73.5
197 28 TE2 Marcedes Lewis JAC 28 1.30 4.9 74.0
198 70 WR5 L. Hankerson WAS 23 2.90 4.3 64.0
199 71 WR5 Earl Bennett CHI 25 2.41 5.0 64.5
200 72 WR5 LaVon Brazill IND 22 5.02 1.3 19.0

Top 25: Not a big change near the top, but enough of one to mention. LeSean McCoy leapfrogs Ray Rice to move into second place after I subtracted one touchdown from Rice’s year-end total (which just goes to show you how tight some of these rankings are). I suppose the most notable change over the past two weeks, however, is my willingness to move McFadden into the top 10. I realize it completely goes against the “avoid high-risk players in the early rounds” advice, but given the complete lack of feature backs, it would be foolish for me to suggest that I know for sure McFadden will get hurt this season. Yes, I realize the odds he does are quite high, but as I have suggested recently, pairing him up with a “safe” RB in the second round (like Matt Forte, Steven Jackson or even Doug Martin) actually ends up protecting your investment in McFadden. And even if he manages to play just 12-13 games this year, aren’t those games going to be just about as good as the top three backs almost every week?

While the hype surrounding Julio Jones has seemingly made him the clear No.2 choice at his position, Jones has been nothing short of amazing in the preseason with 13 receptions for 240 yards in roughly six quarters of action. Obviously, I still fear that he isn’t a great bet to last all 16 games, but he is as good of a bet as any receiver to challenge Calvin Johnson atop the fantasy receiver mountain. While I cannot support talk of Jones being a first-rounder this summer, he has quickly become nearly impossible to guard. With all the weapons the Falcons’ offense possesses, defenses are going to be hard-pressed to scheme him out of a game.

26-50: Since Dallas has pretty much assured itself of no off-field issues with Dez Bryant with the much-publicized guidelines the young receiver must now follow (no alcohol, strip clubs, midnight curfew and a rotating three-man security team…I sense I can turn this into a good fantasy team name), owners can be reasonably sure that he will be one of the top non-PPR receivers in the league. As much scrutiny as the team is likely to receive for essentially babysitting Bryant, the fact that he agreed to it suggests to me that he is maturing, even if the whole thing seems ridiculous for a grown man. I have a feeling this new “plan” will go a long way in keeping Bryant from the kind of immature and stupid acts that have plagued him since he entered the league. But more than that, these rules – especially the security team – may keep him away from a number of the bad influences he has in his life.
Jordy Nelson gets a well-deserved move up the Big Boards this week after I came to the realization that Jermichael Finley’s injury-plagued preseason and Greg Jennings’ concussion probably gave him the time necessary to bond with Aaron Rodgers to become option 1A or 1B in this prolific offense. Finley will still get his share of catches and scores, but it would be a surprise at this point if Jennings and Nelson don’t end up with similar fantasy point totals. I’m still a bit concerned about his weekly consistency when everyone is healthy, but everything else is there for him to enjoy another top 10-15 finish at his position.


51-100: It has always amazed me how two observers can watch the same game and come away with two totally different stories of what a player “is about”. Last week, a mostly-trustworthy resource essentially stated that Rashad Jennings pretty much “gets what is blocked and little more”. I cannot remember a time when that statement was true about him and last week’s game proved that point again. Look, I’ll be the first to admit he’s not a dynamic talent, but he has just enough elusiveness to make defenders think twice about trying to lay the wood to him and his 6-1, 230-pound frame. He’s going to be an early-season factor now regardless of whether or not Maurice Jones-Drew gets into camp in the next week because the league’s reigning rushing champion simply has too much to overcome at this point to be useful to the Jags early. Forget for a minute the history of holdouts disappointing and/or getting hurt, MJD has a new offense to learn. Beyond that, Jennings was probably going to eat into his carries anyway, even if he had been in camp the entire time. My ranking of MJD on both boards is a reflection of my opinion that he will essentially not produce much at all for the first month of the season, making him an 11- or 12-game back for fantasy purposes. Meanwhile, my placement of Jennings is most definitely his “floor” for where he should be drafted if we can assume this holdout continues into September. Of course, we don’t know if that will happen, so my advice is to either draft Jennings on the cheap or avoid both players entirely.

Speaking of disagreeing with the crowd, I was not blown away with Cedric Benson’s Green Bay debut last weekend. While it is true that he will probably never see more than seven men in the box and reap the benefits of the most dynamic offense he’s ever been a part of, I found it almost laughable when an opposing team’s scout reportedly got “nervous” when watching him and thought that he was the Packers’ best running back since Ahman Green. Seriously, James Starks was more impressive during parts of the Packers’ Super Bowl run during the 2010 season than Benson was during this game. And if you don’t believe me, I ask each of you to go re-watch the game and tell me how many times a defender even touched Benson before he was five yards past the line of scrimmage. Conversely, Alex Green dealt with defenders in the backfield on just about every one of his runs. And the few times I saw Starks run prior to his turf toe injury, he did so with more authority than Benson has since his days at the University of Texas. I don’t want to suggest that Benson didn’t look good, but understand that creating big holes for running backs to run through is a random occurrence and that any number of street free-agent RBs can look “quick” when there is no penetration and huge holes on inside running plays.

What Benson does offer is durability, which may be enough in Green Bay’s backfield to put him on the fantasy radar. Just don’t try to convince me he is a fantasy RB2 candidate in 12-team leagues, considering how poor he has been at the goal line throughout his career and that John Kuhn or Green will be a fixture on passing downs. I also highly doubt Benson will steal the goal-line job from Kuhn or (as seems to be the case with the Packers) Aaron Rodgers. In the end, I expect about a half-season contribution from Benson before Starks or Green finishes things out. Then again, rumor has it that Starks could be released and Green is recovering from an ACL tear; a setback for either player would increase my opinion of Benson as a fantasy property substantially (seventh- or eighth-round range in all likelihood). Much like the advice I provided for owners interested in MJD or Jennings a few paragraphs earlier, either buy at an extreme discount or avoid altogether.

101-200: Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Ryan TorainAlfred Morris. (In all seriousness, it is not that bad.) Sure, we have no clue whether he will start in Week 1 – because the team has no other healthy alternatives – or sit on the sidelines and explode in Week 5. As seems to be the case with most of HC Mike Shanahan’s backs nowadays, Morris doesn’t exactly possess one skill that will separate him from the pack, but he is a 220-pound back with good vision and just enough elusiveness to make the first tackler miss in the open field. Just like every other owner out there, I don’t claim to have a read on Shanahan’s motives, but it sure seems like given Tim Hightower’s slow recovery from his ACL and Roy Helu’s Achilles woes that the early-season workload will fall on either Evan Royster or Morris.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Russell Wilson emerging as the starter in Seattle is what I hope will be the beginning of the end of this ridiculous notion that height is a major prerequisite to playing quarterback in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a tall quarterback over a similarly-skilled signal-caller any day of the week, but the great quarterbacks don’t spend much of their time throwing over defensive linemen, they find open passing lanes. And when they can move as Wilson can, they open themselves up for even more opportunity. With all that said, I don’t expect a huge year-one fantasy contribution from him as the leader of a ground-based attack that added another physical runner in the draft, Robert Turbin. Perhaps I would change my mind on this if I knew for sure that Sidney Rice would stay healthy, but I don’t know that and wouldn’t count on it happening. Since Edwards and Golden Tate are working at split end (opposite Rice), I doubt Edwards will just slide over to flanker if/when Rice goes down. The reason I mention this is because Edwards would likely get stuck running a lot of short and intermediate routes at his current spot in OC Darrell Bevell’s offense, taking away the only other Seattle receiver who can realistically benefit from Wilson’s surprising ability to throw the deep ball.

Monday’s announcement that Austin Collie should be ready for Week 1 is not only good news for him and his fantasy owners, but it puts a bit of a damper on the emerging stock of rookie LaVon Brazill. I ranked Collie at the end of the 10th round on this Big Board, but owners can expect him to provide them with a WR3 return or better – even in non-PPR – if he can simply avoid yet another concussion or related head trauma. Of course, there is no way of knowing what the future holds for him, which explains why I ranked him so conservatively this time. Then again, the rest of your league is unlikely to value him any more than I do here, meaning he could be a steal as a player who was emerging as Andrew Luck’s favorite target before his most recent incident. Now, in the event Collie does suffer another setback, Brazill is a something of a raw speedster with relatively high upside in an offense with a young standout at quarterback on a team that will need to throw the ball a lot. Sad as it sounds, Brazill’s appearance on the Big Board is an acknowledgement that Collie may be one hit away from a season-ending injury.

As promised, let’s pay our respects to the kickers and defense/special teams units that help us decide our fantasy fates each and every season…once again, these are 15-game projections.

 Kickers
Rk Player Tm Age Value FPts/G FPts XP FG
1 Stephen Gostkowski NE 28 1.13 9.4 141 60 27
2 David Akers SF 37 0.66 8.7 131 41 30
3 Mason Crosby GB 27 0.66 8.7 131 59 24
4 Jason Hanson DET 42 0.38 8.3 125 50 25
5 Matt Bryant ATL 37 0.33 8.3 124 49 25
6 Shayne Graham HOU 34 0.19 8.1 121 43 26
7 Sebastian Janikowski OAK 34 0.19 8.1 121 37 28
8 Robbie Gould CHI 29 0.19 8.1 121 43 26
9 Matt Prater DEN 28 0.14 8.0 120 45 25
10 Dan Bailey DAL 24 0.14 8.0 120 45 25
11 Lawrence Tynes NYG 34 0.05 7.9 118 43 25
12 Alex Henery PHI 25 0.00 7.8 117 45 24
13 Garrett Hartley NO 26 0.09 7.7 115 55 20
14 Justin Tucker BAL 22 0.24 7.5 113 38 25
15 Rob Bironas TEN 34 0.28 7.5 112 43 23
16 Nate Kaeding SD 30 0.28 7.5 112 43 23
17 Ryan Succop KC 25 0.38 7.3 110 41 23
18 Rian Lindell BUF 35 0.42 7.3 109 40 23
19 Justin Medlock CAR 28 0.42 7.3 109 46 21
20 Nick Folk NYJ 27 0.57 7.1 106 31 25
21 Mike Nugent CIN 30 0.57 7.1 106 34 24
22 Josh Scobee JAC 30 0.66 6.9 104 32 24
23 Steve Hauschka SEA 27 0.75 6.8 102 30 24
24 Connor Barth TB 26 0.90 6.7 101 38 21
25 Adam Vinatieri IND 39 0.75 6.7 101 38 21
26 Billy Cundiff WAS 25 0.00 6.7 101 38 21
27 Dan Carpenter MIA 26 0.85 6.6 99 30 23
28 Phil Dawson CLE 37 1.08 6.3 94 25 23
29 Shaun Suisham PIT 30 1.08 6.3 94 34 20
30 Jay Feely ARI 36 1.23 6.1 91 34 19
31 Blair Walsh MIN 22 1.27 6.0 91 31 20
32 Greg Zuerlein STL 24 1.46 5.7 86 32 18

And now the defenses…

Bonus determined by the following benchmarks:
10 points for shutout or held to 2 points
7 points if held from 3-6 points
4 points if held from 7-12 points
2 points if held from 13-16 points
1 points if held from 17-20 points
0 points if held from 21-28 points
-1 point if give up 29-34 points
-3 points if give up 35+ points

 Defense/Special Teams
Rk Team Value FPts/G FPts PA Sks INT Fum TD Bonus 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 49ers 2.03 11.2 168 237 44 20 13 24 34
2 Texans 1.18 10.0 150 242 45 20 11 18 25
3 Falcons 0.71 9.3 140 307 38 25 8 24 12
4 Packers 0.61 9.2 138 389 44 25 8 30 -2
5 Eagles 0.61 9.2 138 345 48 18 12 24 6
6 Bears 0.61 9.2 138 327 38 16 11 36 10
7 Bills 0.38 8.9 133 315 44 17 11 24 13
8 Chiefs 0.33 8.8 132 286 34 20 8 24 18
9 Steelers 0.14 8.5 128 242 40 14 10 12 28
10 Seahawks 0.09 8.5 127 311 39 17 11 18 14
11 Broncos 0.00 8.3 125 350 40 16 12 24 5
12 Lions 0.00 8.3 125 408 44 17 12 30 -7
13 Giants 0.09 8.2 123 363 44 17 14 18 -1