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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Top 200 Big Board, PPR: Version 2.0
Preseason Matchup Analysis
Posted: 8/20/19; Updated: 8/28/19

PPR | Half-Point PPR | Non-PPR

For the second straight year, I was invited to the King's Classic at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend in Canton, Ohio. Just like the first edition of the event in 2018, two drafts (one auction and one snake) were conducted across two divisions. Unlike last year, the size of both divisions was increased from 12 to 14 teams. I frankly cannot remember a draft in which every single owner seemed to walk out of the room unhappy, but that seemed to be the mood after the morning auction was over. So, don't sweat it, kids … even the industry pros get a bid jaded at times.

Now onto the business at hand, delivering a Big Board that allows owners to start the season out on the right foot …

For anyone unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain the SSI concept as well as the color-coding system before we start:

SSI (Success Score Index) - A rankings metric that incorporates my fantasy-point projections and includes a weight to my matchup analysis score. In other words, it allows me to compare apples to oranges across positions.

Red For lower-level players, a red matchup is the most difficult one a player can face. 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 an RB2).

Yellow For lower-level players, he is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, the slight edge goes to the defense in what is essentially a toss-up. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White This one can go either way, but I favor the player over the matchup. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this matchup. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable for all levels of players.

Green For non-elite players, the stage is set for a player to have a productive day. For the elite player, this matchup could produce special numbers.

Note: Players with a next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout concern. Players with a * next to their name have a higher than normal chance of losing their job at some point during the season.

Later this week, I will release my Top 200 Big Boards for standard and 0.5 PPR leagues. In the coming days, I will present my final rankings for kickers and defense/special teams as well. Next week will feature Top 200 Big Boards for The Fantasy Championship (TFC) and the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC).

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

 PPR Big Board - Top 200
Rank Pos Player Tm Age FPts SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 RB1 Alvin Kamara NO 24 374.0 225.0
2 RB2 Saquon Barkley NYG 22 378.2 218.2
3 RB3 Christian McCaffrey CAR 23 363.0 215.0
4 WR1 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 27 327.6 161.6
5 RB4 David Johnson ARI 27 317.3 159.3
6 WR2 Davante Adams GB 26 311.0 159.0
7 WR3 Julio Jones ATL 30 312.1 158.1
8 WR4 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 22 312.6 146.6
9 RB5 James Conner PIT 24 300.5 146.5
10 RB6 Dalvin Cook MIN 24 279.1 129.1
11 RB7 Nick Chubb CLE 23 290.8 127.8
12 RB8 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 24 286.7 126.7
13 RB9 Le'Veon Bell NYJ 27 280.4 124.4
14 WR5 Michael Thomas NO 26 275.2 122.2
15 WR6 Tyreek Hill KC 25 277.1 116.1
16 RB10 Todd Gurley LAR 25 267.7 112.7
17 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 29 278.7 110.7
18 WR7 Odell Beckham Jr. CLE 26 277.9 103.9
19 WR8 Mike Evans TB 26 273.9 101.9
20 RB11 Chris Carson SEA 24 263.6 99.6
21 WR9 Adam Thielen MIN 29 253.0 99.0
22 RB12 Joe Mixon CIN 23 264.0 96.0
23 WR10 Stefon Diggs MIN 25 255.5 89.5
24 RB13 Leonard Fournette JAC 24 256.4 89.4
25 WR11 Keenan Allen LAC 27 247.3 89.3
26 WR12 Chris Godwin TB 23 237.9 88.9
27 WR13 Antonio Brown OAK 31 239.2 87.2
28 RB14 David Montgomery CHI 22 241.2 85.2
29 RB15 Devonta Freeman ATL 27 248.5 84.5
30 RB16 Kerryon Johnson DET 22 246.9 80.9
31 WR14 Amari Cooper DAL 25 249.8 80.8
32 TE2 George Kittle SF 25 237.7 79.7
33 RB17 Aaron Jones GB 24 239.6 74.6
34 RB18 Damien Williams KC 27 234.5 74.5
35 TE3 Zach Ertz PHI 28 237.2 73.2
36 RB19 Mark Ingram BAL 29 226.8 69.8
37 RB20 Derrick Henry TEN 25 237.3 69.3
38 WR15 Robert Woods LAR 27 222.4 68.4
39 RB21 Josh Jacobs OAK 21 244.3 68.3
40 WR16 Brandin Cooks LAR 25 236.6 62.6
41 QB1 Patrick Mahomes KC 23 419.2 62.2
42 WR17 Julian Edelman NE 33 213.2 62.2
43 WR18 Tyler Boyd CIN 24 222.9 57.9
44 WR19 Tyler Lockett SEA 26 219.7 57.7
45 WR20 T.Y. Hilton IND 29 216.8 56.8
46 RB22 James White NE 27 213.9 55.9
47 WR21 Kenny Golladay DET 25 226.8 55.8
48 WR22 D.J. Moore CAR 22 221.8 55.8
49 RB23 Marlon Mack IND 23 219.0 55.0
50 WR23 Mike Williams LAC 24 215.4 54.4
51 WR24 Cooper Kupp LAR 26 199.1 54.1
52 WR25 Calvin Ridley ATL 24 207.5 50.5
53 QB2 Aaron Rodgers GB 35 402.5 49.0
54 QB3 Deshaun Watson HOU 23 403.3 47.3
55 TE4 O.J. Howard TB 24 206.0 46.0
56 WR26 Curtis Samuel CAR 23 208.2 45.2
57 RB24 Duke Johnson HOU 25 224.3 44.3
58 RB25 Kenyan Drake MIA 25 202.3 43.3
59 WR27 Allen Robinson CHI 26 217.0 42.0
60 RB26 Sony Michel NE 24 202.2 41.2
61 RB27 Melvin Gordon LAC 26 207.0 40.0
62 WR28 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 35 195.8 38.8
63 WR29 Alshon Jeffery PHI 29 207.6 37.6
64 RB28 Tarik Cohen CHI 24 191.1 35.1
65 WR30 Dede Westbrook JAC 25 198.1 35.1
66 WR31 Christian Kirk ARI 22 201.5 32.5
67 WR32 Jarvis Landry CLE 26 194.6 31.6
68 RB29 Phillip Lindsay DEN 25 198.4 29.4
69 WR33 Jamison Crowder NYJ 26 191.4 27.4
70 RB30 Miles Sanders PHI 22 176.5 23.5
71 WR34 Robby Anderson NYJ 26 203.3 23.3
72 WR35 Sterling Shepard NYG 26 196.4 21.4
73 RB31 Austin Ekeler LAC 24 189.9 20.9
74 WR36 Anthony Miller CHI 24 182.4 20.4
75 WR37 Marvin Jones DET 29 184.7 19.7
76 WR38 Will Fuller HOU 25 186.4 19.4
77 QB4 Carson Wentz PHI 26 372.4 18.9
78 WR39 DeSean Jackson PHI 32 174.8 17.8
79 TE5 Jared Cook NO 32 181.3 17.3
80 TE6 Hunter Henry LAC 24 193.1 17.1
81 WR40 Sammy Watkins KC 26 183.6 16.6
82 RB32 Tevin Coleman SF 26 174.0 16.0
83 TE7 Evan Engram NYG 24 188.0 15.0
84 RB33 Matt Breida SF 24 171.2 13.2
85 QB5 Jameis Winston TB 25 368.4 12.9
86 WR41 Courtland Sutton DEN 23 191.5 11.5
87 QB6 Baker Mayfield CLE 24 370.4 10.4
88 TE8 Vance McDonald PIT 29 182.0 10.0
89 QB7 Russell Wilson SEA 30 363.0 9.5
90 QB8 Cam Newton CAR 30 362.8 8.8
91 WR42 Geronimo Allison* GB 25 165.7 8.7
92 QB9 Matt Ryan ATL 34 362.2 7.7
93 WR43 Donte Moncrief PIT 26 182.5 7.5
94 RB34 Latavius Murray NO 29 181.4 5.4
95 RB35 Darwin Thompson KC 22 163.8 3.8
96 WR44 A.J. Green CIN 31 177.3 3.3
97 WR45 Corey Davis TEN 24 183.0 3.0
98 QB10 Kyler Murray ARI 22 356.5 2.5
99 WR46 Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB 24 166.0 1.0
100 RB36 Rashaad Penny SEA 23 164.9 0.9
101 TE9 Darren Waller OAK 26 176.2 -0.8
102 QB11 Jared Goff LAR 24 349.7 -3.8
103 WR47 Dante Pettis* SF 23 162.1 -4.9
104 RB37 Jordan Howard* PHI 24 161.1 -5.9
105 RB38 Royce Freeman DEN 23 163.0 -6.0
106 RB39 Dion Lewis TEN 28 164.7 -6.3
107 TE10 David Njoku CLE 23 169.5 -6.5
108 WR48 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 32 164.7 -7.3
109 WR49 Keke Coutee HOU 22 153.4 -9.6
110 TE11 Austin Hooper ATL 24 167.1 -9.9
111 WR50 Michael Gallup DAL 23 152.5 -10.5
112 RB40 LeSean McCoy BUF 31 168.4 -11.6
113 TE12 Delanie Walker TEN 35 159.8 -12.2
114 WR51 Josh Gordon NE 28 149.8 -13.2
115 QB12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 37 343.7 -13.3
116 WR52 John Brown BUF 29 174.5 -13.5
117 WR53 Golden Tate NYG 31 152.3 -13.7
118 RB41 Alexander Mattison MIN 21 155.3 -13.7
119 RB42 Darrell Henderson LAR 22 146.5 -14.5
120 QB13 Lamar Jackson BAL 22 344.0 -14.5
121 RB43 Justice Hill BAL 21 144.0 -15.0
122 RB44 Derrius Guice WAS 22 162.4 -15.6
123 QB14 Dak Prescott DAL 26 340.9 -15.6
124 WR54 Tyrell Williams OAK 27 154.3 -15.7
125 RB45 Kalen Ballage MIA 23 160.2 -16.8
126 WR55 Mohamed Sanu ATL 29 152.1 -16.9
127 TE13 Jordan Reed WAS 29 158.0 -17.0
128 TE14 Mark Andrews BAL 23 156.9 -17.1
129 RB46 Jaylen Samuels PIT 23 146.3 -17.7
130 QB15 Drew Brees NO 40 336.7 -17.8
131 WR56 Trey Quinn WAS 23 144.6 -18.4
132 RB47 Giovani Bernard CIN 27 154.7 -19.3
133 WR57 DeVante Parker MIA 26 155.7 -23.3
134 QB16 Kirk Cousins MIN 31 333.2 -24.8
135 TE15 Eric Ebron IND 26 137.8 -26.2
136 QB17 Philip Rivers LAC 37 328.2 -26.8
137 WR58 Albert Wilson MIA 27 137.9 -28.1
138 QB18 Mitchell Trubisky CHI 25 332.0 -28.5
139 TE16 Chris Herndon NYJ 23 138.1 -28.9
140 WR59 Nelson Agholor PHI 26 137.0 -29.0
141 RB48 Tony Pollard DAL 22 144.3 -29.7
142 RB49 Ronald Jones TB 22 147.0 -30.0
143 TE17 Jimmy Graham* GB 32 141.6 -36.4
144 RB50 Adrian Peterson* WAS 34 140.9 -37.1
145 RB51 Peyton Barber* TB 25 139.7 -39.3
146 QB19 Jimmy Garoppolo SF 27 318.9 -39.6
147 WR60 Parris Campbell IND 22 125.1 -39.9
148 WR61 KeeSean Johnson ARI 22 139.0 -40.0
149 WR62 James Washington PIT 23 134.8 -41.2
150 QB20 Tom Brady NE 42 316.0 -41.5
151 WR63 Adam Humphries TEN 26 132.5 -43.5
152 TE18 Trey Burton CHI 27 138.4 -43.6
153 RB52 Damien Harris NE 22 116.9 -44.1
154 QB21 Jacoby Brissett IND 25 314.4 -44.2
155 RB53 Chase Edmonds ARI 23 115.7 -44.3
156 WR64 Cole Beasley BUF 30 130.5 -46.5
157 RB54 Justin Jackson LAC 24 122.2 -46.8
158 WR65 Mecole Hardman KC 21 131.8 -47.2
159 WR66 DaeSean Hamilton DEN 24 120.6 -49.4
160 RB55 Nyheim Hines IND 22 130.2 -49.8
161 WR67 Chris Conley JAC 26 128.2 -51.8
162 TE19 Dallas Goedert PHI 25 111.6 -52.4
163 WR68 Kenny Stills MIA 27 116.2 -52.8
164 WR69 Trent Taylor SF 25 114.0 -53.0
165 RB56 Jamaal Williams* GB 24 131.7 -54.3
166 WR70 Miles Boykin BAL 22 125.6 -54.4
167 TE20 T.J. Hockenson DET 22 126.5 -54.5
168 RB57 Devin Singletary BUF 21 124.9 -55.1
169 WR71 Marquise Goodwin SF 28 120.6 -55.4
170 WR72 Deebo Samuel SF 23 118.6 -56.4
171 RB58 Chris Thompson WAS 28 116.2 -56.8
172 WR73 Devin Funchess* IND 25 107.4 -58.6
173 TE21 Noah Fant DEN 21 125.4 -59.6
174 RB59 Kareem Hunt CLE 24 104.4 -59.6
175 RB60 Mike Davis CHI 26 96.9 -61.1
176 QB22 Andy Dalton CIN 31 299.0 -64.5
177 QB23 Sam Darnold NYJ 22 294.5 -64.5
178 WR74 John Ross CIN 23 107.2 -65.8
179 QB24 Derek Carr OAK 28 293.0 -66.0
180 RB61 Malcolm Brown LAR 26 100.9 -66.1
181 RB62 Jerick McKinnon SF 27 91.1 -66.9
182 TE22 Kyle Rudolph MIN 29 110.8 -67.2
183 WR75 D.K. Metcalf SEA 21 109.3 -67.7
184 QB25 Matthew Stafford DET 31 293.0 -68.0
185 WR76 Danny Amendola DET 33 98.7 -68.3
186 WR77 Willie Snead BAL 26 99.4 -68.6
187 WR78 Josh Doctson WAS 26 125.0 -69.0
188 WR79 Breshad Perriman TB 25 110.4 -70.6
189 WR80 Zay Jones BUF 24 110.2 -70.8
190 RB63 Dare Ogunbowale TB 25 100.0 -73.0
191 TE23 Mike Gesicki MIA 23 107.9 -73.1
192 RB64 Ty Montgomery NYJ 26 103.4 -73.6
193 WR81 Randall Cobb DAL 29 98.3 -73.8
194 WR82 Marqise Lee JAC 27 104.1 -73.9
195 WR83 Tre'Quan Smith NO 30 101.9 -74.1
196 RB65 Jalen Richard OAK 25 109.5 -75.5
197 RB66 Ito Smith ATL 23 104.8 -76.2
198 WR84 Jaron Brown SEA 29 102.3 -76.7
199 RB67 Damarea Crockett HOU 21 109.7 -77.3
200 WR85 Ted Ginn Jr. NO 34 98.1 -77.9

As the SSI scores indicate, there is a clear tier break after the top three running backs. In a PPR format, all three have already shown the capacity to finish with at least 80 catches. Alvin Kamara doesn't appear to have quite the upside when it comes to running-game volume, but he obviously makes up for it with efficiency and huge touchdown upside in an offense that should be even better than last year. If there was any hint that Christian McCaffrey was going to have goal-line work all to himself this season, he may be in a tier all by himself. As it is, Cam Newton is supposedly healthy again and Carolina is reportedly hoping someone will take a lot of the short-yardage and goal-line work in Carolina. Saquon Barkley's situation is what it is. Defenses can only load the box so much and Barkley is so good that he will occasionally beat a defense designed specifically to keep him contained, but it's a losing bet for fantasy owners to hope that happens every week. Still, the combination of volume and talent is what keeps him in the conversation for No. 1 overall.

After the first three backs and David Johnson (who also possesses 80-catch upside), owners probably need to strongly consider what seem to be the consensus top four receivers. DeAndre Hopkins and JuJu Smith-Schuster project to have the most difficult matchups, while Julio Jones seems to have a bit of a touchdown ceiling - much like Andre Johnson back in the day. Regardless of which order they come off the board, they are probably the safest remaining foundation players for fantasy teams. Owners need to realize that while it always feels good to come away from the first two rounds with two workhorse running backs, strong cases can be made for any of the running backs going in the third round to move up a round and equally strong cases can be made why the group of backs below the elite receivers should swap places with them.

My only concern with James Conner is being able to stay healthy for a full season. Jaylen Samuels may occasionally serve as a nuisance to Conner's owners, but I think it is within Conner's range of outcomes leads the league in rushing touchdowns. Most folks still have Ezekiel Elliott among the top five overall players. I understand why and can respect that. His holdout is only one of my concerns with him, however, and we're getting to the time of year where he needs to report or he's not going to be anywhere close to ready for the first game or two. Of course, that assumes he reports soon and there's no guarantee of that happening. Once again, people seem to be treating Le'Veon Bell as a sure thing. He hasn't played football in over a year, wasn't exactly Mr. Durability prior to that, left a beautiful situation for his fantasy production and isn't playing in the preseason. The warning signs aren't as obvious as they were last year, but still. Dalvin Cook has overall RB1 upside, but let's be honest about something: how much do we want to trust a running back who has never been able to string more than four straight games of 10 carries together?

Nick Chubb feels like he's going to be a player who will help his owners get off to a 7-2 or 8-1 start. There's probably not a lot of reason for owners to be concerned about cream Hunt taking his job, but one of the reasons a team adds someone like Hunt to the roster is to make sure a back like Chubb can take a break every so often and be relatively fresh for a potential playoff run. Maybe Cleveland is able to copy the Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram model the Saints used to such great effect in 2017 down the stretch. Or maybe OC Todd Monken wields his influence and makes the Browns the same kind of pass-happy bunch he turned the Buccaneers into at times last season.

It's rarely ever a good idea to put too much weight into Seahawks HC Pete Carroll's eternal optimism when it comes to what a certain player will do or how quickly he will return from an injury, but it's hard to deny what Carson has turned himself into over the last year or so. Carroll and OC Brian Schottenheimer have talked up getting their running backs more involved in the passing game to the point where it would be almost impossible to trust anything they say going forward if they didn't follow through. With that said, most owners would be perfectly fine if "more involved in the passing game" means Carson and Penny each double their target total from last season (24 and 12, respectively) by sharing the 42 targets Mike Davis leaves behind. Getting back to Carson, my only concern with him is his running style and how much at risk he is to miss multiple games because of it. Nevertheless, a talented back with 250-carry and 40-catch upside belongs in the first two rounds.

Kerryon Johnson has become a trendy second-round pick in recent drafts, but is that justified? His stock seemed to rise about the same time Theo Riddick was released because so many believe he was the obvious replacement for him. Do we know that for sure though? Rookie Ty Johnson may not have set the world on fire as a pass-catcher in college, but he has proven to be capable at it so far. He was drafted for his explosiveness, so it only makes sense that if he can catch the ball and create big plays - the latter of which Riddick did not do - then he would be a natural to play the "Riddick role" on a part-time basis. And in short-yardage or goal-line situations, doesn't it make more sense to go with C.J. Anderson? If Carolina feels compelled to take that kind of work away from McCaffrey, don't think it's not possible in Detroit as well. As is typically the case, the question isn't whether Kerryon Johnson can handle being a featured back, but rather a question if his team will let him do it.

Outside of the first three rounds

Derrick Henry returned to practice Monday (Aug. 19) for the first time since the opening day of training camp, missing roughly three weeks with a calf injury. He is supposedly set to be the focal point for what is expected to be a run-heavy offense, but it is still difficult to get behind a back who is used so sparingly in the passing game as a PPR asset. While very few will question he has the ability to lead the league in rushing if he can stay healthy and Tennessee holds up its end by feeding the ball 20 times per game, how much can owners count on him making last December more of a full-time thing? And if owners are really being honest with themselves, his four-game "breakout" was really two games - one against a Jacksonville team that had seemingly lost interest and the other against a poor Giants' defense. Those two contests were his only 100-yard rushing efforts of the season.

Has anything this summer (or even at the end of last year) screamed Antonio Brown can be a value pick in the first three rounds? I'm not about to make fun of the guy for frostbite or the drama surrounding his helmet. (One of the reasons I stopped playing football when I did was because of how unsafe I felt with my helmet was back in high school. And no, there weren't other options. My high school had a total of 50 people in it, so we didn't exactly have it in the budget to get perfectly sized helmets.) Getting back to Brown, however, the way he has handled himself this summer doesn't suggest he's going to be a trustworthy fantasy asset. Seriously, this is a player who essentially quit on his team last year. Now, he's being allowed to skip training camp and the preseason because he's a "special talent." I find it incredibly difficult to believe he will be a good soldier for 16 consecutive weeks after what we have experienced since the end of the 2018 campaign.

After missing out on the James White train in 2018, it would be fun to own a share or two of him this year. With that said, a big part of his high usage had to do with the absences/injuries by his teammates at the skill positions. Julian Edelman will be ready starting Week 1 this year, as will Sony Michel. Rob Gronkowski may be gone, but Josh Gordon's reinstatement and the addition of N'Keal Harry figure to take away some of the targets from a player who is due for massive touchdown regression and could see his carries cut after the team added rookie Damien Harris. There's no question he will remain a fixture in the passing game - Tom Brady swears by him - but it's going to be very difficult for White to be a top-20 running back if he catches 70 balls this fall (87 in 2018) and scores six touchdowns (which was his career high before 12 last season).

It was a bit of an eye-opener to see Miles Sanders go at the 4.12 and 5.01 picks in this past weekend's Kings Classic drafts. Were they bad picks? Of course not. Questionable picks? Maybe. Upside picks? Certainly. But is there any proof - outside of draft capital - that HC Doug Pederson is willing to abandon his committee approach? He talked about it for the short time the Eagles had Jay Ajayi and he appeared to do it for a couple of weeks last year with Josh Adams but is there anything more than a potential early-down role realistically available to him right away - despite his abilities in the passing game. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles are good bets to make the roster, and it probably goes without saying the latter figures to be the primary passing-down back. Jordan Howard is going to be tough to beat out at the goal line even if he does relinquish the starting job. While only a little over a one-round difference, a sixth-round pick at least reflects the likelihood Sanders may not be able to serve as a flex consistently or immediately, whereas those the aforementioned draft slots means Sanders almost has to perform like a low-end RB2 for their teams at worst.

The best thing that could've probably happened for owners this past week was for Arizona to look as bad as it did against Oakland. Given how few starters are playing this preseason, one poor performance from a first-team offense really stands out and can stop a hype train in its tracks. The second preseason game is usually one of the roughest for teams in that they are either breaking camp or about to and usually suffering from "camp legs." Furthermore, it's probably a bit much to expect a team learning a completely new offense this year to all of its checks and blitz pickups down to a tee. There's no doubt that to some degree Kyler Murray was exposed as a young quarterback with limited playing experience, but did he lose his athleticism or accuracy? He moved down from my last set of rankings because I needed to better account for the likelihood he will miss games due to his poor offensive line and/or suffer a multi-week injury - even though he seems to have Russell Wilson's awareness when it comes to knowing when to get down. Make no mistake about it, however, Murray's a legit threat for 4,000 yards passing, 600-plus yards rushing and at least 25 total touchdowns - especially when one considers the defense will probably force the Cardinals to go into shootout mode a few times in 2019.


Outside the top 100

I was relatively low-key in my assessment of Darwin Thompson at draft time, but it became clear after a little more film study in the early part of the summer that he could be a dynasty asset at the very least. Fast forward to preseason action and there may not be a player who has been more impressive in such a small sample. There are not too many rookies capable of running an angle route like this in their first NFL game, nor do many 5-8, 200-pound runners have the leg strength to keep their balance when a defensive lineman is using his body weight to pull him down (and can't) and he can still gain yards after contact after shedding the aforementioned tackle attempt. It may take a few weeks for Thompson to build the trust that rookie running backs need to earn when a team is trying to keep its talented young quarterback upright, but it would be shocking if Thompson didn't force his way into a significant part of the backfield action by midseason. If Damien Williams isn't able to maintain the level of play he flashed at the end of last season, Thompson could end up being the next Chief back to help owners take home the championship in their leagues. I expect he'll be on several of the teams I draft over the next two-plus weeks.

Dante Pettis' stock has experienced one of the bigger drops since the start of the preseason. A common misconception is that he would be subject to competing with second-round pick Deebo Samuel, but they don't play the same position. However, HC Kyle Shanahan has been less than pleased with Pettis' ability to defeat physical coverage in the same way Samuel and Kendrick Bourne have. And let's not forget Jalen Hurd has impressed the team as well. Suffice it to say that after George Kittle, there's not a clear pecking order in the passing game. (As one beat writer put it, San Francisco doesn't have a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver but a bunch of 2.5s and 3s.) By all accounts, Trent Taylor was the team's most impressive receiver prior to going down with a foot injury. It's entirely possible he ends up leading the position group in catches if he is ready to go by Week 1 or Week 2.

It's amazing how much the hype surrounding Darrell Henderson has quieted over the last few weeks. Perhaps it is a result of a nondescript preseason showing so far. Perhaps it is a realization or an acceptance Malcolm Brown is going to see his fair share of work. Perhaps it is an acknowledgment Todd Gurley may be all right to go this year after all. Whatever the reason, it may be helpful for owners to think of Henderson as a healthier version of Chris Thompson and be pleased if he provided a heftier return. As has been the case all summer (at least in my mind), Brown seems like the better handcuff for Gurley owners, while Henderson looks the better choice for owners hoping for a standalone option with flex potential.

It was bound to happen at some point, but Josh Gordon's reinstatement threw the fantasy world off its axis this past weekend. Owners just cannot seem to help themselves when it comes to Gordon, who has only played one full season in his career and hasn't been a significant fantasy asset since 2013. Despite that and his sad but exceedingly long list of suspensions and transgressions, his conditional reinstatement bumped his stock up from a late-round flier in the 14th-round area to a player going off the board in the fifth, sixth or seventh round. Folks, I cannot overstate this enough: the personal demons Gordon needs to overcome in order to return even WR3 value for an entire season are significant. This is a player who has admittedly struggled with drug use and/or sold drugs since before he was a teenager. He is now 28. If owners want to roll the dice on him as a WR4 over a "boring" option such as Mohamed Sanu or John Brown, go ahead. Just don't draft him with the intent of starting him every week.

Could Adrian Peterson be a late-round value yet again at age 34? It's possible, although it will be more of an uphill battle this year than it was in 2018. First of all, Derrius Guice appears to be ready to return to game action for the first time in over a year. His road to recovery has hit a few speed bumps, however, as an infection following ACL surgery reportedly required three additional surgeries. He was expected to be a full participant in training camp until he suffered a hamstring injury in mid-July while rehabbing, which has kept him out of game action. Guice has been practicing since the start of camp, but doctors didn't give him the go-ahead to play in games until this week. One would think Peterson is going to open the season as the starter because he, quite frankly, has not done anything to lose the job. Another obstacle in Peterson's way is the likely extended absence of LT Trent Williams. OL coach Bill Callahan has a reputation for getting the most out of his troops, but the expected front five - especially the left side - might keep the coach awake at night. Still, it should surprise no one if Peterson finds his way into another 200 carries yet again.

More longshots

Regardless of how anyone stacks their board, there are players that are nearly impossible to rank. A handful of these players exist near the bottom of this Big Board. Tony Pollard may be the Week 1 starter in Dallas or he could be the change-of-pace option in Dallas who sees a maximum of 10 plays per game behind Elliott. Kareem Hunt could emerge as a flex option when his suspension is over (and possibly be an RB1 if Chubb gets hurt), but can owners burn a roster spot for nine weeks to find out? Robert Foster might be the most talented receiver in Buffalo, but there's a good chance he may not even start. Dallas Goedert could easily become a top-10 tight end if Zach Ertz misses any time or he could be a 40-catch player who scores five touchdowns and is impossible to start with any confidence. Adam Humphries could be a 60-70 catch slot option in Tennessee, but how many targets will actually be left for him if Corey Davis and Delanie Walker combine for 200? Devin Singletary may end up starting by midseason or he could top out around 70 or 80 carries if LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore prove to be an effective tandem. Mecole Hardman might as well be the wide receiver version of Goedert. Justin Jackson could go for 150 carries if Melvin Gordon holds all season or settle for half of that number if Gordon reports sooner than later. Malcolm Brown could easily be an RB2 possibility if Gurley bows out early. And so on and so forth …


Half-Pt PPR Big Board | Non-PPR Big Board


Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.