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Top 225 Big Board, PPR: Version 2.0


Preseason Matchup Analysis

By Doug Orth | 8/23/22 |
PPR | Half-PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex | FFPC

Allow me to reluctantly engage in a bit of a humble brag before we get into the heart of what I believe is the best draft-day tool around. (Yes, I am biased.) I have been playing in money leagues for more than 20 years and in high-stakes leagues ($1,000-plus entry) for over 10 years. I have played in those high-stakes leagues during the leanest of times, and I did so in part because I knew I had an advantage over my competition. Does it always result in a championship? Of course not. However, I win roughly one of every six leagues I enter and have never had a season in which I lost money. Does that mean it cannot happen? Of course not. With that said, I will stack my success (and the success of many of my readers) against anyone else's in the industry.

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Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to evaluate and analyze because 11 men are asked to work in harmony approximately 60 times per game, while 11 other men are being asked to disrupt that harmony. Pro football is not pro basketball in that a team can clear out one side of the court when things break down and the offense can still score. Pro football is not pro baseball in that one player can defeat a pitcher and eight fielders by timing his swing just right. Even as great as Barry Sanders was, he never beat a defense all by himself. In football, every player needs some help to accomplish his goal. That is part of what makes football so great and part of what makes it so highly unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer standards now - adds another element to the equation that is difficult to quantify.

Regardless, it does not mean we should not try. Over the last month, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players. Analyzing matchups alone requires me to make more than 8,000 "decisions". That is not a humble brag. Each year, my goal is to give those who put their faith in my evaluations the confidence they have the best draft-day tool at their disposal. Even if my grading process is only 70 percent accurate, that is still a significant advantage over any analyst that does not consider it at all. I like to believe that even if readers believe my process is flawed for whatever reason, they can appreciate how much thought has been put into that opinion.

Fantasy football is a stock market game, and the job of an analyst is to identify when stocks are poised to skyrocket or ready to tank. While last year's results help fantasy managers/analysts set the table for the following season, they are merely a starting point. Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not reactive. I have taken this approach for more than 15 years. While some of the processes have changed in that time, the main goal has not.

The Success Score Index (SSI) below is powered in large part by my target and carry predictions. As always, the matchup grades are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly, I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.).

For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain the color-coding system before we start:

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. 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 next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout concern. In addition, I have added distinct tiers for this final round of Big Boards (represented by the different colors in the "Pos" column).

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

 PPR Big Board - Top 225
Rk Pos Player Tm SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 RB1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 9.94
2 WR1 Justin Jefferson MIN 7.74
3 RB2 Jonathan Taylor IND 6.16
4 RB3 Dalvin Cook MIN 6.10
5 RB4 Saquon Barkley NYG 6.05
6 WR2 Cooper Kupp LAR 5.76
7 RB5 D'Andre Swift DET 5.44
8 RB6 Joe Mixon CIN 4.99
9 RB7 Austin Ekeler LAC 4.82
10 WR3 CeeDee Lamb DAL 4.28
11 RB8 Najee Harris PIT 3.45
12 WR4 Ja'Marr Chase CIN 3.30
13 WR5 Davante Adams LV 3.07
14 WR6 Stefon Diggs BUF 2.83
15 RB9 Aaron Jones GB 2.76
16 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 2.02
17 RB10 Derrick Henry TEN 1.72
18 TE2 Kyle Pitts ATL 1.38
19 RB11 Leonard Fournette TB 1.19
20 RB12 Alvin Kamara NO 1.18
21 RB13 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 1.12
22 RB14 Travis Etienne JAC 1.09
23 WR7 Michael Pittman Jr. IND 1.04
24 WR8 Tyreek Hill MIA 0.94
25 WR9 Tee Higgins CIN 0.93
26 RB15 Javonte Williams DEN 0.79
27 TE3 Darren Waller LV 0.75
28 WR10 Mike Evans TB 0.71
29 RB16 Nick Chubb CLE 0.57
30 RB17 Breece Hall NYJ 0.55
31 WR11 Allen Robinson LAR 0.43
32 WR12 A.J. Brown PHI 0.40
33 WR13 Courtland Sutton DEN 0.32
34 QB1 Josh Allen BUF 0.08
35 TE4 Mark Andrews BAL 0.04
36 RB18 AJ Dillon GB -0.44
37 TE5 George Kittle SF -0.44
38 WR14 Deebo Samuel SF -0.54
39 RB19 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL -0.56
40 WR15 Keenan Allen LAC -0.66
41 WR16 Brandin Cooks HOU -0.80
42 WR17 Mike Williams LAC -0.88
43 WR18 D.J. Moore CAR -0.92
44 WR19 Terry McLaurin WAS -0.96
45 WR20 Jaylen Waddle MIA -0.97
46 WR21 Diontae Johnson PIT -0.98
47 WR22 Jerry Jeudy DEN -1.05
48 WR23 Elijah Moore NYJ -1.30
49 RB20 J.K. Dobbins BAL -1.36
50 RB21 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC -1.39
51 WR24 Michael Thomas NO -1.46
52 TE6 T.J. Hockenson DET -1.58
53 WR25 DK Metcalf SEA -1.67
54 RB22 Elijah Mitchell SF -1.68
55 RB23 David Montgomery CHI -1.68
56 QB2 Justin Herbert LAC -1.95
57 RB24 Chase Edmonds MIA -1.98
58 WR26 Rashod Bateman BAL -2.09
59 TE7 Dallas Goedert PHI -2.11
60 WR27 Gabriel Davis BUF -2.17
61 WR28 Darnell Mooney CHI -2.20
62 WR29 Amon-Ra St. Brown DET -2.23
63 WR30 Hunter Renfrow LV -2.23
64 WR31 DeVonta Smith PHI -2.34
65 WR32 Marquise Brown ARI -2.34
66 RB25 Tony Pollard DAL -2.44
67 QB3 Jalen Hurts PHI -2.45
68 QB4 Lamar Jackson BAL -2.48
69 QB5 Kyler Murray ARI -2.67
70 TE8 Zach Ertz ARI -2.69
71 WR33 Chris Godwin TB -2.74
72 QB6 Patrick Mahomes KC -2.75
73 WR34 Adam Thielen MIN -2.75
74 RB26 James Conner ARI -2.78
75 RB27 Damien Harris NE -2.92
76 WR35 Allen Lazard GB -2.98
77 RB28 Nyheim Hines IND -3.02
78 QB7 Dak Prescott DAL -3.12
79 WR36 Brandon Aiyuk SF -3.17
80 RB29 Antonio Gibson WAS -3.17
81 TE9 Dalton Schultz DAL -3.18
82 WR37 Christian Kirk JAC -3.19
83 RB30 Josh Jacobs LV -3.22
84 WR38 Kadarius Toney NYG -3.25
85 WR39 Russell Gage TB -3.26
86 RB31 Miles Sanders PHI -3.29
87 QB8 Tom Brady TB -3.37
88 RB32 Rhamondre Stevenson NE -3.38
89 RB33 James Cook BUF -3.40
90 WR40 JuJu Smith-Schuster KC -3.41
91 QB9 Trey Lance SF -3.49
92 QB10 Russell Wilson DEN -3.53
93 QB11 Joe Burrow CIN -3.59
94 RB34 Melvin Gordon DEN -3.63
95 WR41 DeAndre Hopkins ARI -3.64
96 TE10 Cole Kmet CHI -3.66
97 WR42 Tyler Boyd CIN -3.71
98 WR43 Drake London ATL -3.72
99 TE11 Pat Freiermuth PIT -3.85
100 QB12 Matthew Stafford LAR -3.85
101 TE12 Irv Smith MIN -3.86
102 WR44 Tyler Lockett SEA -3.87
103 RB35 Kareem Hunt CLE -3.94
104 RB36 Dameon Pierce HOU -3.94
105 TE13 Dawson Knox BUF -4.08
106 TE14 Tyler Higbee LAR -4.09
107 QB13 Aaron Rodgers GB -4.10
108 WR45 Marvin Jones JAC -4.11
109 RB37 Cam Akers LAR -4.11
110 TE15 Albert Okwuegbunam DEN -4.14
111 TE16 David Njoku CLE -4.14
112 WR46 Amari Cooper CLE -4.29
113 TE17 Austin Hooper TEN -4.32
114 TE18 Evan Engram JAC -4.46
115 RB38 Kenneth Gainwell PHI -4.50
116 WR47 DeVante Parker NE -4.50
117 WR48 Chris Olave NO -4.50
118 WR49 Robert Woods TEN -4.57
119 RB39 Tyler Allgeier ATL -4.60
120 WR50 Treylon Burks TEN -4.65
121 TE19 Noah Fant SEA -4.70
122 QB14 Kirk Cousins MIN -4.71
123 WR51 Nico Collins HOU -4.85
124 TE20 Brevin Jordan HOU -4.86
125 WR52 Garrett Wilson NYJ -4.95
126 TE21 Gerald Everett LAC -5.43
127 WR53 Rondale Moore ARI -5.43
128 RB40 James Robinson JAC -5.50
129 RB41 Devin Singletary BUF -5.53
130 RB42 Rachaad White TB -5.56
131 WR54 Isaiah McKenzie BUF -5.60
132 RB43 Jamaal Williams DET -5.72
133 WR55 Chase Claypool PIT -5.76
134 WR56 George Pickens PIT -5.85
135 WR57 Skyy Moore KC -5.89
136 TE22 Hunter Henry NE -5.95
137 RB44 Michael Carter NYJ -6.02
138 RB45 Ameer Abdullah LV -6.04
139 QB15 Derek Carr LV -6.06
140 WR58 Jahan Dotson WAS -6.07
141 RB46 Brian Robinson Jr. WAS -6.24
142 WR59 Romeo Doubs GB -6.25
143 WR60 D.J. Chark DET -6.35
144 WR61 Julio Jones TB -6.37
145 WR62 Wan'Dale Robinson NYG -6.40
146 QB16 Trevor Lawrence JAC -6.42
147 WR63 Nelson Agholor NE -6.48
148 WR64 Jakobi Meyers NE -6.50
149 QB17 Tua Tagovailoa MIA -6.59
150 WR65 Jarvis Landry NO -6.62
151 WR66 K.J. Osborn MIN -6.62
152 QB18 Daniel Jones NYG -6.71
153 TE23 Mike Gesicki MIA -6.76
154 RB47 Kenneth Walker SEA -6.79
155 QB19 Justin Fields CHI -6.85
156 QB20 Matt Ryan IND -6.88
157 TE24 Tyler Conklin NYJ -6.93
158 RB48 Darrell Henderson LAR -6.94
159 QB21 Ryan Tannehill TEN -6.99
160 WR67 Parris Campbell IND -7.02
161 RB49 Rashaad Penny SEA -7.06
162 RB50 J.D. McKissic WAS -7.11
163 WR68 Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC -7.13
164 TE25 Jonnu Smith NE -7.13
165 WR69 Josh Palmer LAC -7.24
166 RB51 Khalil Herbert CHI -7.24
167 WR70 Curtis Samuel WAS -7.26
168 WR71 Robbie Anderson CAR -7.29
169 QB22 Mitchell Trubisky PIT -7.29
170 TE26 Daniel Bellinger NYG -7.32
171 TE27 Hayden Hurst CIN -7.46
172 RB52 Chris Evans CIN -7.47
173 RB53 Eno Benjamin ARI -7.55
174 RB54 Isaiah Spiller LAC -7.60
175 QB23 Jameis Winston NO -7.60
176 RB55 Isiah Pacheco KC -7.64
177 QB24 Mac Jones NE -7.77
178 RB56 Alexander Mattison MIN -7.93
179 WR72 Kenny Golladay NYG -7.97
180 WR73 Michael Gallup DAL -8.11
181 WR74 Velus Jones Jr. CHI -8.25
182 WR75 Van Jefferson LAR -8.32
183 WR76 Kyle Phillips TEN -8.34
184 WR77 Cedrick Wilson MIA -8.42
185 RB57 Gus Edwards BAL -8.48
186 TE28 Logan Thomas WAS -8.57
187 RB58 D'Onta Foreman CAR -8.63
188 WR78 Mecole Hardman KC -8.69
189 TE29 Robert Tonyan GB -8.97
190 WR79 Jalen Tolbert DAL -9.09
191 WR80 Alec Pierce IND -9.19
192 WR81 Zay Jones JAC -9.29
193 TE30 Isaiah Likely BAL -9.29
194 RB59 Sony Michel MIA -9.43
195 WR82 Terrace Marshall Jr. CAR -9.44
196 RB60 Zamir White LV -9.46
197 RB61 Raheem Mostert MIA -9.47
198 WR83 Randall Cobb GB -9.50
199 RB62 Hassan Haskins TEN -9.69
200 RB63 Ty Montgomery NE -9.80
201 RB64 Jaylen Warren PIT -9.90
202 WR84 Corey Davis NYJ -9.90
203 WR85 Christian Watson GB -9.92
204 WR86 Bryan Edwards ATL -9.94
205 RB65 Mark Ingram NO -9.95
206 WR87 Jameson Williams DET -10.09
207 WR88 David Bell CLE -10.10
208 TE31 Greg Dulcich DEN -10.20
209 RB66 Dontrell Hilliard TEN -10.60
210 WR89 KJ Hamler DEN -10.62
211 RB67 Zack Moss BUF -11.05
212 WR90 Devin Duvernay BAL -11.08
213 WR91 Mack Hollins LV -11.21
214 RB68 Jeff Wilson SF -11.53
215 TE32 Taysom Hill NO -11.73
216 WR92 Sammy Watkins GB -11.76
217 RB69 Chuba Hubbard CAR -11.82
218 RB70 Ronald Jones KC -11.88
219 WR93 Khalil Shakir BUF -12.70
220 RB71 D'Ernest Johnson CLE -13.53
221 WR94 Sterling Shepard NYG -13.58
222 RB72 Marlon Mack HOU -13.89
223 WR95 Jamison Crowder BUF -14.22
224 RB73 Tyrion Davis-Price SF -15.77
225 QB25 Deshaun Watson CLE -17.14


PPR | Half-PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex | FFPC



Tier 1

While each of them has at least one potential wart, the first nine players on the Big Board are rock-solid foundation pieces for any fantasy team. For four of the top five running backs, their major blemish is their injury history. The lone exception of that group (Jonathan Taylor) is almost guaranteed to see significantly less volume than last year. Joe Mixon is an excellent bet to score at least 16 touchdowns for a second straight year behind a much-improved offensive, but his involvement in the passing game remains in question. What happens if the Bengals decide to rely more heavily on their passing game this season? The Chargers made significant upgrades this offseason, almost to the point where we have to believe Ekeler will lose some work because they will be in positive game script much more often.

Managers of Justin Jefferson and Cooper Kupp do not have a lot to worry about, but they are not perfect fantasy options either. While the Vikings' new offense is expected to air it out much more often and use Jefferson in the same way the Rams use Kupp, the biggest threat to his path to finishing as the overall WR1 in 2022 is Kirk Cousins' tendency to rely on Adam Thielen in the red zone. (New HC Kevin O'Connell appears to be on board.) Irv Smith returns to steal some targets after missing all last season as well.

Allen Robinson's addition should make the Rams a better offense this season, but he is going to be a major thorn in the side of any manager expecting Kupp to come close to repeating his historic 2021. Kupp had 13 TDs on 37 red zone targets last year and nine scores on 18 targets inside the 10. Those numbers are coming down. While the 29-year-old can afford can take a bit of a hit when it comes to his opportunities, fantasy managers cannot afford him to return to his pre-2021 production when they are using a top-five pick on him. It is just as likely he finishes outside the top five at receiver as he finishes inside it with Robinson as his sidekick.

Tier 2

CeeDee Lamb is a dark-horse candidate to lead the league in targets. The primary concern is why he did not do a bit more last season considering Amari Cooper was playing hurt for most of it. Somewhat amazingly, Lamb has yet to finish with a pro game with more than nine catches. That should change in 2022, but his emergence - at least the kind of jump some are expecting - is not a lock.

Najee Harris' status as a bell-cow running back is not in question. His biggest concerns: 1) Pittsburgh did not dramatically improve its offensive line, 2) Mitchell Trubisky may not check down as often as Ben Roethlisberger did and 3) the Steelers seem intent on cutting back his snaps (not necessarily his touches, however). With that said, UDFA Jaylen Warren is making enough of an impression this month that he could eat away at Harris' workload, which is arguably Harris' biggest fantasy strength right now.

Fantasy managers can make a strong case for Ja'Marr Chase and Davante Adams as first-round picks and are entirely justified in drafting them there. The same can be said for Stefon Diggs. There are also obvious concerns: Chase scored 18.3 percent of his 304.6 fantasy points in his historic four-touchdown effort against the Chiefs in Week 17. There is also this little tidbit. Derek Carr is not near the downgrade from Aaron Rodgers that some think he is, but he is nonetheless a step down from the Packers' quarterback. Adams is the top option in Las Vegas without question, but Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow give Carr the kind of options Rodgers begged for a couple of years ago. Diggs' target share is safe, but is it possible that Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox cap his touchdown upside?

The rest of the tier (Aaron Jones, Travis Kelce and Derrick Henry) also have strong cases to make to be first-round picks, but I think this is about the point of the draft where the concerns are more legitimate and less nitpicky. By now, most of the fantasy world has seen what Aaron Jones' splits are with and without Davante Adams playing. What those splits do not account for is how much more Green Bay trusts A.J. Dillon than it did during those Adams-less contests.

Kelce should still be plenty effective at age 32, but history and logic are working against him. Even the most elite of tight ends tend to decline at Kelce's age, first and foremost (history). Logic dictates that Kelce will play fewer snaps as he gets older and Kansas City attempts to keep him fresh for December and January. Henry is a certified stud who may be a lock for 20-plus touches/week again in 2022. With that said, many running backs tend to fall off at his age (28) and the history of age-28 backs - especially recently - finishing inside the top 12 at their position is not great.

Tier 3

If I knew for a fact that Leonard Fournette was going to remain the primary back on passing downs all season long (thereby holding off rookie Rachaad White), he would find a spot close to Najee Harris in the previous tier. Travis Etienne has been too good in camp - and is far too explosive - to not have a meaningful role in Jacksonville. With that said, James Robinson is a trusted asset in pass protection and will play more snaps than many expect, even as he continues to fully recover from last year's Achilles injury.

Breece Hall and Javonte Williams fittingly appear near the bottom of this tier. Both possess league-winning upside. Both players also have formidable competition for touches in their backfield (Michael Carter and Melvin Gordon, respectively). It would be a mistake to assume either Carter or Gordon will just fade away by Week 4, but I would rest easier rolling the dice on Williams. While I think Hall will eventually get a chance to establish himself as the clear leader in the backfield by late October or early November, the overall situation in Denver is more conducive to fantasy success. If I had to bet on one player from this group becoming a first-round selection in fantasy next season, my pick would be Williams (closely followed by Hall).

Tier 4

This group contains a fair amount of potential league-winners. My stance on Allen Robinson has been the same since the start: he has top-10 upside. There is some potential that his week-to-week consistency may be a bit lacking with Cooper Kupp still likely to be a target hog, but most people are not drafting Robinson as anything more than a WR2 anyway. Doubters can choose to believe one of two things in regards to his upside for 2022: either Robinson is in decline at age 28 or he regains the form that made him "quarterback proof" before last year. Remember, he is about to play with the best quarterback he has ever played with and will be a big part of the best offense he has been on entering his ninth season as a pro.

Having two running backs inside my top 18 at the position from the same team scares me a lot. With that said, AJ Dillon theoretically offers low-end standalone RB2 value and has a relatively safe floor, yet he comes with incredibly massive upside if Aaron Jones misses time. What the public seems to be missing is that he is poised to assume at least some of the receiving upside - created by the departure of Davante Adams - that people are assuming will go directly to Jones. Dillon did not consistently become a regular factor in Green Bay's offense until Week 8 last season and still finished with 34 catches (on 37 targets). HC Matt LaFleur has consistently told reporters all summer that he sees Jones and Dillon as starters. In fact, he reminded us of that Monday (Aug. 22) when he told reporters Jones and Dillon are "two of the premier backs in our league they can do anything." Aaron Rodgers recently made similar comments suggesting it has to be about getting the best 11 players on the field and that Jones and Dillon were among them.

Whereas Dillon's ceiling may not be fully realized until the second half of the season, Cordarrelle Patterson's ceiling may cave in around the same time. However, I see that more as a probability than a strong possibility. Tyler Allgeier will almost certainly cut into Patterson's workload as the season progresses, but HC Arthur Smith's decision to keep Patterson as fresh as possible this preseason suggests to me that Atlanta wants Allgeier to absorb the "heavy" runs and utilize the 31-year-old in a similar fashion as last season. It seems utterly ridiculous to me that the industry wants to put a player with 588 career offensive touches (846 if we include kick and punt returns) into the customary "he's too old" box. It's not Patterson's fault that it took until his age-30 season for a coaching staff to use him correctly. He signed a two-year contract this offseason and I fully expect him to produce both seasons.

D.J. Moore can make every bit as strong of a case to move into Tier 3 as Allen Robinson. While Baker Mayfield may not be Matthew Stafford, he is the best passer Moore has worked with in Carolina. His biggest help AND hindrance may be the health of Christian McCaffrey. A healthy McCaffrey should increase Moore's touchdown upside (his career-high in that department is four) but lower his target share and catch totals. Another injury-plagued season for McCaffrey likely means more overall opportunity for Moore but reduces the team's chances of visiting the red zone regularly.

Tier 5

The recent history of 49ers' running backs keeping their job from one year to the next has not been good, but it seems as though HC Kyle Shanahan believes Elijah Mitchell is a near-perfect fit for his system. Even if San Francisco employs a committee attack - as was rumored earlier this month - this offense figures to run the ball around 500 times to keep the pressure off Trey Lance and complement its defense. There should be more than enough opportunity for Lance to get his 100-150 carries and Mitchell to match or exceed last year's 207. The goal this time should be to reduce the number of times Mitchell carries the ball 20 times (which he did six straight games to end the regular season and begin the postseason). Deebo Samuel should see some occasional work in the backfield, but the biggest difference this year should be the health of Jeff Wilson. Shanahan trusts him. His health should give Mitchell a better chance to hold up in Year 2.

I am at a loss when it comes to the public perception of T.J. Hockenson. We are talking about a player who started 2021 out on fire and ended it with six double-digit fantasy efforts in his final seven games before a hand injury ended his season in Week 13. Yes, the Lions added D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams, but how much does that matter if Jared Goff - who has seemingly morphed into more of a caretaking quarterback who is hesitant to stretch the field - does not take advantage of their speed? Hockenson was Goff's primary target for most of the time he was healthy last season. What are the odds that Chark and Williams do more to free up Hockenson (and Amon-Ra St. Brown) than take a bunch of targets away from them?

Drafting Gabriel Davis at or around the fourth round and/or WR25 seems silly. There is a distinct possibility he will not live up to his draft cost. There is also a distinct possibility his touchdown efficiency will continue and he is a poor man's Allen Robinson in that he is in a good offense and offers the kind of size and contested-catch ability no one else on the roster possesses.

Short of a complete offensive ineptitude (which is a possibility for the Bears), it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Darnell Mooney does not enjoy a 25 percent target share. Let us assume that Chicago is not quite the offensive train wreck in 2022 that it was in 2021 and throws the ball more often under new OC Luke Getsy (the Bears attempted 542 passes last year). Even with a disinterested and injured Allen Robinson around to absorb 66 targets last year, Mooney still attracted 140 looks in 2021. Can we expect that number to go down with Velus Jones set to replace Robinson? Doubtful.

Tier 6

Quarterbacks will be the focus of this tier simply because there are four of them in it (as opposed to two in the first five combined). I have a slight hesitation with Jalen Hurts being my QB3, if only because so much of his early production last year - when he was a volume passer - was a result of negative game script in the second half of games. The other side of this conversation regarding Hurts is that Philly gave him an alpha receiver in A.J. Brown. Hurts also appears to be the team's primary running threat near the goal line. Comparing his situation to either Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray's, the simple reality is that Hurts has his alpha and operates behind a very good offensive line. Baltimore is hoping Rashod Bateman becomes an alpha, while Murray will not have DeAndre Hopkins for six games.

James Conner is ranked much lower here than probably anywhere else, in all likelihood. Some of that has to do with a brutal schedule that has Arizona playing the Rams and Eagles without Hopkins AND the Saints, Rams (again) and Bucs after he gets back. That alone could make it almost impossible for Conner to approach 18 total touchdowns again. Here are some other reasons why:

1) Arizona's offensive line could be worse than it was last year (when he averaged 3.7 yards per carry),
2) Conner received 18 opportunities from the 1-yard line last year and scored 10 times (both occurrences will be nearly impossible to repeat),
3) Eno Benjamin is a real threat to steal at least some work from him in the passing game.

Almost 35 percent of his fantasy production last season came as a result of scoring a rushing touchdown (second only to Damien Harris' 42.8 among top 50 running backs). That is another level of efficiency that will be hard to repeat.

That will do it for this week. Even though the rankings will be different next week (I will likely be focusing on 0.5 PPR or standard leagues at that point), I will focus more on the late-round players that are typically going after pick 100.


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.