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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Top 175 Big Board, Non-PPR: Version 2.0
Preseason Matchup Analysis
8/20/13

PPR | Non-PPR | Ks & D/STs

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

One of the risks we run in fantasy football is not being 100% sure the changes we make are good decisions. When it comes to ranking players during the preseason, when are our eyes telling us the truth and when are they deceiving us?

Some changes occur in the rankings simply because they have to (injuries), others take place because a coach or general manager sheds a bit of light on his team’s depth chart and still others happen when one player is simply a much better player than the version we remember from the previous year. After watching as much football as I have over the years, I have learned to simply look for players who look like they don’t belong – good and bad – over the first two full weeks of the preseason or are quicker/faster/stronger/lighter than they were last season. Since the third week of the preseason is the only one in which coaches actually exercise their game-planning muscles, it is almost pointless to make a big deal about what we see outside of what I have already mentioned because coaches on both sides of the ball are using base looks almost exclusively. Even in the upcoming all-important third week, preseason football provides very little in the way of context. (Will the offense feature a certain player or is the defense he is going against any good?)

Fantasy football veterans understand the volatility of the market this time of year, which goes a long way in explaining why so many adjustments need to be made in such a short amount of time. Sometimes, my Big Board will change simply because I have taken another week to collect information to strengthen my case for one set of players. In other situations, I saw what I needed to see from a player in the preseason or simply had a change of heart about his situation that allowed me to move him. But more than anything, taking another seven days to reassess the fantasy landscape sometimes is enough to lead to a makeover of the Big Board.

In an effort to make sure I am not affected by last week’s rankings, I start from scratch each week once I finish a Big Board (only referring to the “old” one when I refer to how much a player’s stock has increased/decreased). And don’t think for a second that my Big Boards stay the same once I have submitted the third and final one. Breaking news and other information obtained in the minutes and hours prior to a draft – and sometimes even during a draft – can lead to a shift in thinking. While that may seem a bit extreme, the truth is that owners cannot always take a day to collect their thoughts about how they feel about a season-ending injury, change in job status, trade or free agent pickup that just happens to occur as your league is having its draft.

Loyal readers already know my stance on the importance of value when it comes to drafting, but most fantasy analysts fail to quantify it. As it relates to my Big Boards, I define "value" using the VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) concept for a two-RB, three-WR league, which essentially allows me to compare apples and oranges. At QB and TE, the value reflects the standard deviation from the 12th-ranked player at the position – the last starting-caliber player at the position. At RB, the value reflects the standard deviation from the 24th-ranked player at the position and, at WR, the 36th-ranked player. 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. 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 often separates the great drafters from the very good ones.

Beyond using “value” to ease the process of setting up a draft board, analyzing the playoff matchups and common sense has to enter into the conversation as well. A perfect example of the latter is Calvin Johnson, whose PPR value should make him the top player on my board. While Johnson certainly brings a huge advantage to his fantasy teams almost every week, no number cannot account for the economic principle of “opportunity cost” – the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen – in real-time when owners pass on an elite running back to draft Johnson. A simple number value also cannot account for the drastic falloff in value at running back after the established top options are drafted, usually by the end of the first round or early in the second. Smart drafting also involves supply versus demand. Every year, there are not nearly enough quality running backs to occupy 24 starting spots in 12-team leagues, but there are usually at least 36 receivers around the league that are worthy fantasy starters.

Before I get to the boards, I would like to remind readers about a few key points about the Big Boards:

1) They are not going to look like many other draft boards you see. My method of evaluating fantasy players relies heavily on projected consistency and matchups, not 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. I will put more stock into this area in 2013 than I ever have. 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) Much like last season, I want to provide readers with a clear risk sign. If a player is a moderate risk – be it due to holdout, injury, off-field, etc. – you 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 which players stand a good chance to frustrate you at some point this season.

Note: At least for this first set of Big Boards, I have chosen to stop at 150 players. Next week, I will add the kickers and defenses while also expanding the number of ranked players. In the final set of Big Boards in two weeks, I will add even more players.

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 addition to discussing value above, there is one other note regarding the numbers in the “value” column: 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.)

Here is the scoring system that I used to rank the players in the Non-PPR format:

One final note: Over the next week, I will be “quality controlling” my projections (basically double-checking my numbers, such as not having one defense projected to intercept 40 passes while another has just five), so this week’s Big Boards may look dramatically different – particularly at the bottom – in two weeks than they currently do. As with all things that are worth doing, this process takes time and needs to be constantly revised as more information about depth charts and injuries becomes available. What I can assure you is that my final set of Big Boards will be one of the most comprehensive draft-day tools anyone will have at their disposal.

 Non-PPR Big Board - Top 175
OVR PR Pos Player Risk Tm Age Value FPts/G FPts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 1 RB Adrian Peterson MIN 28 4.96 18.7 242.5
2 2 RB Doug Martin TB 24 4.54 18.1 271.0
3 1 WR Calvin Johnson DET 27 4.24 14.9 223.0
4 3 RB C.J. Spiller BUF 26 3.91 17.2 257.5
5 4 RB LeSean McCoy PHI 25 3.72 16.9 253.5
6 5 RB Jamaal Charles KC 26 3.43 16.5 247.5
7 6 RB Trent Richardson CLE 23 3.34 16.4 245.5
8 7 RB Alfred Morris WAS 24 3.06 16.0 239.5
9 8 RB Marshawn Lynch SEA 27 3.06 16.0 239.5
10 9 RB Matt Forte CHI 27 3.25 16.2 243.5
11 10 RB Steven Jackson ATL 30 3.22 16.2 243.0
12 11 RB Ray Rice BAL 26 2.44 15.1 226.5
13 12 RB Arian Foster HOU 27 4.17 17.5 263.0
14 1 TE Jimmy Graham NO 26 3.72 12.4 185.5
15 2 WR Dez Bryant DAL 24 3.46 13.8 206.5
16 1 QB Aaron Rodgers GB 29 4.08 26.6 398.7
17 3 WR Julio Jones ATL 24 3.09 13.2 198.5
18 4 WR Brandon Marshall CHI 29 3.04 13.2 197.5
19 5 WR Demaryius Thomas DEN 25 3.21 13.4 201.0
20 13 RB Chris Johnson TEN 27 2.30 14.9 223.5
21 14 RB Stevan Ridley NE 24 1.81 14.2 213.0
22 6 WR Larry Fitzgerald ARI 30 2.55 12.5 187.0
23 7 WR A.J. Green CIN 25 2.50 12.4 186.0
24 15 RB Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 28 1.27 13.4 201.5
25 2 QB Drew Brees NO 34 3.97 26.4 396.5
26 3 QB Peyton Manning DEN 37 3.96 26.4 396.3
27 8 WR Roddy White ATL 31 2.29 12.1 181.5
28 9 WR Andre Johnson HOU 32 2.22 12.0 180.0
29 10 WR Vincent Jackson TB 30 2.03 11.7 176.0
30 16 RB DeMarco Murray DAL 25 1.58 13.9 166.5
31 4 QB Matt Ryan ATL 28 2.62 24.5 367.7
32 11 WR Dwayne Bowe KC 28 2.00 11.7 175.5
33 12 WR Eric Decker DEN 26 1.65 11.2 168.0
34 13 WR Victor Cruz NYG 26 1.56 11.1 166.0
35 17 RB Frank Gore SF 30 0.44 12.3 184.0
36 18 RB Eddie Lacy GB 22 0.50 12.3 160.5
37 5 QB Cam Newton CAR 24 1.82 23.4 350.8
38 19 RB LeíVeon Bell PIT 21 1.12 13.2 198.5
39 14 WR Jordy Nelson GB 28 1.53 11.0 165.5
40 20 RB Darren Sproles NO 30 0.18 11.9 178.5
41 21 RB Reggie Bush DET 28 0.58 12.5 174.5
42 6 QB Matthew Stafford DET 25 1.48 22.9 343.7
43 22 RB David Wilson NYG 22 0.00 11.6 163.0
44 23 RB Darren McFadden OAK 26 1.28 13.5 161.5
45 7 QB Tom Brady NE 36 0.76 21.9 328.4
46 8 QB Colin Kaepernick SF 25 1.03 22.3 334.0
47 9 QB Russell Wilson SEA 23 0.47 21.5 322.2
48 2 TE Tony Gonzalez ATL 37 1.65 9.4 141.5
49 24 RB Lamar Miller MIA 22 0.10 11.5 172.5
50 3 TE Rob Gronkowski NE 24 1.09 8.6 95.0
51 15 WR Steve Smith CAR 34 1.32 10.7 161.0
52 25 RB Shane Vereen NE 24 0.19 11.9 143.0
53 26 RB Andre Brown NYG 26 1.11 10.1 141.0
54 16 WR Pierre Garcon WAS 27 1.45 10.9 142.0
55 17 WR Marques Colston NO 30 0.87 10.1 151.5
56 10 QB Robert Griffin III WAS 23 1.40 22.8 319.1
57 11 QB Andrew Luck IND 23 0.74 21.9 328.0
58 18 WR Mike Williams TB 26 1.06 10.4 155.5
59 19 WR Wes Welker DEN 32 1.04 10.3 155.0
60 20 WR James Jones GB 29 0.73 9.9 148.5
61 27 RB Ben Tate HOU 25 2.85 7.6 106.5
62 21 WR Randall Cobb GB 23 0.71 9.9 148.0
63 28 RB Ahmad Bradshaw IND 27 0.54 10.9 130.5
64 22 WR Reggie Wayne IND 34 0.31 9.3 139.5
65 23 WR Danny Amendola NE 27 1.33 10.8 129.0
66 24 WR Hakeem Nicks NYG 25 0.83 10.0 130.5
67 4 TE Kyle Rudolph MIN 23 0.94 8.4 126.5
68 25 WR Mike Wallace MIA 27 0.68 9.8 147.5
69 5 TE Jordan Cameron CLE 25 1.15 8.7 131.0
70 6 TE Vernon Davis SF 29 0.90 8.4 125.5
71 7 TE Jared Cook STL 26 1.04 8.6 128.5
72 29 RB Rashard Mendenhall ARI 26 1.99 8.8 132.5
73 26 WR Cecil Shorts JAC 25 0.33 9.3 140.0
74 27 WR DeSean Jackson PHI 26 0.59 9.7 145.5
75 12 QB Tony Romo DAL 33 0.00 20.8 312.2
76 30 RB Chris Ivory NYJ 25 1.22 9.9 129.0
77 28 WR Josh Gordon CLE 22 0.56 9.7 125.5
78 29 WR T.Y. Hilton IND 23 0.26 9.2 138.5
79 8 TE Jason Witten DAL 31 0.68 8.1 121.0
80 9 TE Jermichael Finley GB 26 0.61 8.0 103.5
81 31 RB Ryan Mathews SD 25 2.10 8.7 121.5
82 32 RB Montee Ball DEN 22 1.00 10.2 153.5
83 30 WR Steve Johnson BUF 27 0.47 9.5 143.0
84 31 WR Torrey Smith BAL 24 0.09 9.0 135.0
85 32 WR Michael Floyd ARI 23 0.09 9.0 135.0
86 33 RB Giovani Bernard CIN 21 2.39 8.3 124.0
87 34 RB Mark Ingram NO 23 2.34 8.3 125.0
88 10 TE Antonio Gates SD 33 0.83 8.3 107.5
89 33 WR Chris Givens STL 23 0.02 8.9 133.5
90 34 WR Greg Jennings MIN 29 0.04 8.9 125.0
91 35 RB Daryl Richardson STL 23 2.36 8.3 124.5
92 11 TE Greg Olsen CAR 28 0.00 7.1 106.5
93 36 RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN 28 2.58 8.0 120.0
94 35 WR Anquan Boldin SF 32 0.00 8.9 133.0
95 36 WR Antonio Brown PIT 26 0.07 8.8 131.5
96 37 WR DeAndre Hopkins HOU 21 0.45 8.2 123.5
97 37 RB Bryce Brown PHI 22 3.26 7.0 105.5
98 38 RB DeAngelo Williams CAR 30 3.26 7.0 105.5
99 39 RB Danny Woodhead SD 28 2.81 7.7 115.0
100 38 WR Kenny Britt TEN 24 0.07 8.8 131.5
101 13 QB Jay Cutler CHI 30 0.79 19.7 295.4
102 14 QB Andy Dalton CIN 25 0.26 20.4 306.7
103 12 TE Owen Daniels HOU 30 0.24 6.8 101.5
104 39 WR Golden Tate SEA 25 0.26 8.5 127.5
105 15 QB Sam Bradford STL 25 0.55 20.0 300.5
106 16 QB Josh Freeman TB 25 0.59 20.0 299.7
107 17 QB Eli Manning NYG 32 1.23 19.1 286.1
108 40 WR Tavon Austin STL 22 0.54 8.1 121.5
109 40 RB Vick Ballard IND 23 2.62 7.9 119.0
110 41 RB Pierre Thomas NO 28 2.51 8.1 121.5
111 42 RB Bernard Pierce BAL 23 3.45 6.8 101.5
112 43 RB Ronnie Hillman DEN 21 4.51 5.3 79.0
113 18 QB Michael Vick PHI 33 0.99 19.4 233.0
114 44 RB Jonathan Stewart CAR 26 2.43 8.2 98.5
115 19 QB Carson Palmer ARI 33 1.75 18.3 275.0
116 13 TE Robert Housler ARI 25 0.00 7.1 106.5
117 41 WR Emmanuel Sanders PIT 26 0.67 7.9 103.0
118 42 WR Justin Blackmon JAC 23 0.36 8.4 92.0
119 43 WR Miles Austin DAL 29 0.87 7.6 107.0
120 44 WR Alshon Jeffery CHI 23 0.82 7.7 115.5
121 45 WR Ryan Broyles DET 25 0.85 7.7 92.0
122 14 TE Martellus Bennett CHI 26 0.71 6.1 91.5
123 20 QB Matt Schaub HOU 32 1.36 18.9 283.4
124 21 QB Alex Smith KC 29 1.42 18.8 282.1
125 45 RB Shonn Greene TEN 28 4.34 5.5 82.5
126 46 WR Kendall Wright TEN 23 1.06 7.4 110.5
127 47 WR Lance Moore NO 30 1.60 6.6 99.0
128 46 RB Daniel Thomas MIA 25 4.70 5.0 65.0
129 48 WR Rueben Randle NYG 22 2.26 5.7 85.0
130 22 QB Ben Roethlisberger PIT 31 2.30 17.6 263.5
131 49 WR Percy Harvin SEA 25 1.15 10.5 42.0
132 50 WR Kenbrell Thompkins NE 26 1.65 6.5 98.0
133 47 RB Isaiah Pead STL 23 3.61 6.5 91.5
134 48 RB Lance Dunbar DAL 23 4.06 5.9 88.5
135 49 RB Rashad Jennings OAK 28 5.24 4.2 63.5
136 23 QB Ryan Tannehill MIA 25 2.39 17.4 261.6
137 24 QB Brandon Weeden CLE 29 2.62 17.1 256.6
138 15 TE Julius Thomas DEN 25 0.04 7.0 91.5
139 50 RB Joique Bell DET 27 5.57 3.8 56.5
140 51 WR Vincent Brown SD 24 1.97 6.1 79.0
141 52 WR Sidney Rice SEA 27 1.51 6.7 101.0
142 53 WR Jason Avant PHI 30 1.60 6.6 99.0
143 54 WR Brian Hartline MIA 26 1.72 6.4 96.5
144 55 WR Greg Little CLE 24 1.75 6.4 89.5
145 56 WR Mohamed Sanu CIN 24 2.38 5.5 82.5
146 16 TE Marcedes Lewis JAC 29 0.52 6.4 95.5
147 17 TE Coby Fleener IND 24 0.42 6.5 91.0
148 51 RB Christine Michael SEA 22 5.03 4.5 68.0
149 57 WR Julian Edelman NE 27 1.87 6.2 68.5
150 58 WR Rod Streater OAK 25 2.17 5.8 87.0
151 59 WR Nate Burleson DET 32 2.20 5.8 80.5
152 60 WR Jeremy Kerley NYJ 24 2.26 5.7 85.0
153 61 WR Denarius Moore OAK 24 2.36 5.5 83.0
154 62 WR Brandon LaFell CAR 26 2.40 5.5 82.0
155 52 RB Fred Jackson BUF 32 3.69 6.4 83.5
156 53 RB Michael Bush CHI 29 4.77 4.9 73.5
157 54 RB Roy Helu WAS 24 6.39 2.6 39.0
158 55 RB Kendall Hunter SF 24 5.36 4.1 61.0
159 63 WR Nate Washington TEN 30 2.85 4.8 72.5
160 64 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey IND 26 2.91 4.8 66.5
161 65 WR Markus Wheaton PIT 22 2.97 4.7 70.0
162 56 RB Denard Robinson JAC 22 5.71 3.5 52.5
163 57 RB Bilal Powell NYJ 24 6.06 3.1 43.0
164 58 RB Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 24 5.76 3.6 53.5
165 18 TE Ed Dickson BAL 26 0.80 6.0 89.5
166 19 TE Fred Davis WAS 27 1.13 5.5 82.5
167 59 RB Mikel Leshoure DET 23 5.55 3.8 57.0
168 60 RB Zac Stacy STL 22 5.26 4.2 63.0
169 20 TE Brandon Myers NYG 27 1.81 4.5 68.0
170 25 QB Joe Flacco BAL 28 3.99 15.2 227.5
171 21 TE Tyler Eifert CIN 22 1.44 5.1 76.0
172 22 TE Dwayne Allen IND 23 1.48 5.0 75.0
173 23 TE Jermaine Gresham CIN 24 1.72 4.7 70.0
174 66 WR Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 22 4.00 4.3 64.0
175 26 QB Christian Ponder MIN 25 1.25 19.0 247.6

Top 25: McCoy is one of my most favorite players to watch, so it pained me to label him as a second-round value last week. My concerns had nothing to do with last yearís concussion and everything to do with the supposed leader in the quarterback clubhouse during offseason practices (Nick Foles). As it becomes clearer that Michael Vick should be separating himself from Foles, it is now safe to anticipate those cutback lanes that mobile quarterbacks often create for their backs (when the weakside linebacker cannot crash in without worry the quarterback will burn him) should leave gaping holes for McCoy behind the Eaglesí athletic offensive line. Furthermore, HC Chip Kellyís breakneck offense should allow McCoy to easily get his 18-20 carries/week, which should enable him to return to the weekly 100 yards per game threat he has been for several years. Bryce Brown should still see a healthy amount of carries, but heís not a threat to the job. Itís unclear how much the backs will be used in the passing game, but I would expect the Eagles to match or exceed the Patriotsí league-record 1,191 plays from last season (74.4/game). Assuming a fairly equal run-pass ratio, McCoy is in line for a huge rushing workload.

Graham and Rodgers lost some ground in terms of their ďvalueĒ and dropped a bit in my rankings from last week, but they would have fallen a bit even if I hadnít tweaked their projections. This is not to say neither player isnít worth taking a few spots higher, but rather I cannot defend taking a tight end or a quarterback who should have two other players (Brees and Manning) push him for the top spot at his position ahead of a pretty solid RB1. When you consider that even an owner drafting at the turn could conceivably come away with two 1,500+ yard rushers from a season ago in Lynch and Morris, there is no reason not to square that position away immediately. It is also possible the worst anyone should do at that spot is Forte and Jackson, even if owners arenít as high on someone like either player as I am. Thus, the possibility exists than an owner can select two players capable of rushing for well over 1,000 yards and catching 50+ passes. I cannot honestly remember the last time I felt as good as I do this year about picking in the 11 or 12 spot. With that said, Iíll take the last spot in the first round that will allow me to land Sproles or Jones-Drew in the second.

26-50: There seems to be an awful lot of Daniel Thomas smoke coming out of Miami for a starting job that Lamar Miller was supposed to have locked up this offseason. Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and HC Joe Philbin have repeatedly trumpeted Thomas as a ďbreakout playerĒ or expressed their pleasure with the way he has performed in the offseason and preseason. The Palm Beach Post also suggested recently Thomas would assume the goal-line and third-down back duties. Some of this Ė as we know Ė can be assigned to the tried-and-true method of motivating the starter by talking up the backup, but Thomas has shown a bit of a spring in his step this preseason and it is not out of the question that Thomas wonít be the poor manís Andre Brown to Millerís poor man David Wilson. Few would argue that Miller is a better talent than Thomas, but sometimes these battles are decided off the field by front office agendas and the like. It would be one thing if Miami had a dominant rushing attack or elite run-blocking line, but any threat to Millerís consistent 15-20 touch/game workload is reason enough to move him down into low-end RB2 consideration.

ESPNís Adam Schefter reported Monday that ďit is unrealisticĒ to expect Gronkowski for Week 1, making it possible that he still winds up on the reserve/PUP list and misses the first six weeks of the season. At this point, Gronkowski is more of a week-to-week consideration that we should expect to miss most of the first month of the season and work his way back into playing shape over the following 2-3 weeks. Assuming the numerous forearm surgeries are no longer an issue, there is still the small matter of not aggravating the back injury. Four missed games is the breakeven point for me if I am considering him with a pick in the first five rounds, so any reports that surface over the next week about an absence that extends past a month probably drops him down another two rounds. His indefinite return is also the reason I also canít rank Zach Sudfeld because if Gronkowski only misses two weeks, it seems unlikely the undrafted rookie free agentís impact will be such that he ends up with more fantasy value than a player like Ed Dickson or Tyler Eifert. That is not to say Sudfeld will disappear from the offense, but it makes sense that it will be Shane Vereen playing the role of Aaron Hernandez more than Sudfeld, who is 6-7 and 253 pounds.

51-100: One example of how my rankings were a bit ahead of my projections last week (since updated) was Brady, who shoots up five spots overall in the rankings and four places at his position. It seems next to impossible to believe that Brady will remain a top-five quarterback given the losses of Welker and Hernandez as well as the indefinite return of Gronkowski, so I can assure readers he will not move up any further on my quarterback rankings. Itís also unlikely that he falls out of the top 10 either unless Amendola is lost for a long period of time and Gronkowski cannot come back this season (both of which are possible given their respective injury histories, but doubtful to happen concurrently). While Brady lacks the all-around contributions of Kaepernick and Wilson, the Patriots will almost certainly roll off more plays and throw more often than the 49ers and Seahawks Ė not to mention play in a less threatening division. Nevertheless, there are nine quarterbacks Iím happy to call solid QB1ís this season, with the Brady-Kaepernick-Wilson grouping rounding out the bottom of that list. (There are also 10 additional QBs Iím willing to start on a matchup basis, further strengthening the argument owners can wait on the position this season.)

Unfortunately, not everyoneís arrow can be pointing up at this point of the preseason. Several running backs took a tumble of varying degrees over the past week, including Ball. Denverís second-round rookie still could establish himself as the clear lead-back in Denver sometime early in the season, but Iím becoming less and less optimistic about Denverís running game given a number of factors, not the least of which is the number of injuries on the offensive line. Hillman fumbled at the goal line in the teamís preseason loss to Seattle, but appears to have at least a slight lead on Ball (who blew a blitz pickup that led to Manning getting hit). Further consider the overwhelming talent the Broncos have in the passing game and it becomes less likely Ball is going to have an early impact in fantasy. Speaking of muddled backfields, it is hard for fantasy owners to throw a lot of support behind either Wilson or Andre Brown. Brown seems to remain the clear choice for goal-line duties while Wilson is the superior between-the-20s option. It would be accurate to say this remains a fluid situation, particularly if either player fumbles the rest of the preseason. Wilson gets the nod here given his gamebreaking talent and the lack of serious injuries in his injury history, but a compelling argument can be made that Brown should go earlier. Both players would make fine flex plays, but highly inconsistent RB2 options.

101-175: In the PPR section, I hinted there were some Philadelphia players I expect will see their stock rise in light of the supposed clarity at quarterback and Jeremy Maclinís injury. The most obvious would be the winner of the quarterback race himself, Vick. While I donít get the sense that Kelly wants his any of his quarterbacks running all that much at this level, he wants defenses to fear it just enough in order to give McCoy as much space as possible. Vick has never required a lot of rushing attempts in order to gain yards, so when 30-40 rushing yards are combined with the high volume of plays he will run, it isnít hard to see where Vick could be a fantasy QB1 every week he is healthy Ė which is the only reason why he is as low in the QB2 ranks as he is. The other Philadelphia player to discuss is Avant, who Vick trusts as much as any Eaglesí receiver. Riley Cooper may end up being named the starter, but he is a much stronger blocker than receiver. Avant has caught 51-53 passes over the last three seasons in an offense that featured Jackson and Maclin and did not move at near the pace Kellyís offense will. He doesnít have much touchdown upside, but a career year across the board is also not out of the question.

One of my biggest fallers from last week is Bennett, who is the most likely of the four main pass-receivers in Chicago to be forgotten from time to time. While I still expect Cutler to push his career highs in a number of categories, his first, second and third read still appears to be Marshall in the intermediate or deep passing game. (On two of Cutlerís five throws Ė his touchdown and his interception Ė against the Chargers, Marshall was his only read in the 3-5 seconds he had the ball in the pocket.) While I do expect HC Marc Trestman to coach Cutler out of his heavy reliance on Marshall, it may take some time Ė time that redraft owners do not have. I do expect Bennett to play a big role in the Bearsí red-zone offense, however, so itís not all doom and gloom for him.

Next: Big Board: Ks & D/STs

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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and 2011. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday this past season. Doug regularly appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C). He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.