The start of the regular season is getting tantalizing close which means the bulk of fantasy football draft dates are knocking on doors right now. Following the second week of preseason games and before fantasy owners gear up for draft's this week, here's my latest breakdown of the top 150 rankings. This version includes notes on the top 25 players plus others on the list with links to previous thoughts on various sleepers and stay aways.
Before we dive in, some overall strategy thoughts, a look at players who have noticeably moved up/down whether on this list and those I've grown more/less fond of since the previous version:
- Because I'm in the camp that will wait on quarterback this year, the passers are lower on my list accordingly. Just to clarify, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are rock stars. This isn't about hating on them. It's about respecting the quality depth at the position while noting fewer options down the line elsewhere at other positions, especially running back. I'd draft the Big 3 quarterbacks at the right price which for me is where I slotted them.
- Jamaal Charles is my No. 1 guy assuming this latest foot boo-boo isn't a big deal. That said, if you prefer rooting for LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson, go for it. Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte are next. In standard scoring I'm taking one of those guys if I own a top 5 pick because they're the best of the best and the next set of backs start becoming a touch sketchy. As for Points Per Reception (PPR) league formats, my overall top 5 goes Charles, McCoy, Forte, Calvin Johnson, Peterson followed by wide receivers and Jimmy Graham.
- PSA - Whether you're looking at a top 150 list or a positional breakdown or whatever, realize that almost always the author is talking in terms of standard scoring. Your league might be and likely is something different even if just slightly. Rankings can change dramatically from standard to PPR scoring. I will be taking QBs earlier in a draft where they receive six points per touchdown pass rather than the customary four. How many bench spots do I have and are their IR spots? Knowing the players is important, but knowing your league rules is a must for a successful draft.
- Risers: Mark Ingram, Justin Hunter, Markus Wheaton, Tm Brady, Tony Romo, Marqise Lee, Kyle Rudolph, Heath Miller, Travis Kelce, Jonathan Grimes
- Fallers: Le'Veon Bell, C.J. Spiller, Robert Griffin III, Dwayne Bowe, Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron
- Check below for thoughts on Rob Gronkowski, Johnny Manziel, DeSean Jackson and the top 25. Check back later in the week for additional fantasy articles including updated QB rankings and next week for the next 150. Also, ask your specific questions anytime in the comments below or on Twitter (@benstandig)...
1) Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, RB - Faces steep odds against ending another fantasy season No. 1 overall. Taking him anyway, but please stop moving furniture.
2) LeSean McCoy, Eagles, RB - Top playmakers on team that tops all others in total plays per game.
3) Adrian Peterson, Vikings, RB - Maybe AD finds end zone as Vikings have more scoring options this year. Maybe.
4) Eddie Lacy, Packers, RB - Look what he did as a rookie without Aaron Rodgers helping to distract defenses.
5) Matt Forte, Bears, RB - Tremendous dual threat who jumps to No. 3 overall in PPR.
6) Calvin Johnson, Lions, WR - Finally gets some receiving helps, which makes Megatron even scarier.
7) Dez Bryant, Cowboys, WR - Had 12 touchdowns in 2012, 13 last year. Can we say 14?
8) Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, WR - Caught over 90 receptions in two straight years and enters free agency in 2015. Cha-ching.
9) DeMarco Murray, Cowboys, RB - Massive potential plus uncertain RB1 field outweighs injury risk.
10) Jimmy Graham, Saints, TE - Biggest difference maker compared to others at position.
11) A.J. Green, Bengals, WR - Where else is Andy Dalton throwing?
12) Julio Jones, Falcons, WR - Redemption time for entire Falcons passing attack after lost season.
13) Brandon Marshall, Bears WR - Doesn't receive hype of other receivers, but just keeps racking up stats.
14) Montee Ball, Broncos, RB - Buy into Peyton Manning influence and hope power back holds onto the ball.
15) Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks, RB - Wear-and-tear concerns and presence of two younger backups drop Beast Mode into round two.
16) Giovani Bernard, Bengals, RB - Electric performer with RB1 potential in standard leagues if he avoids RBBC situation.
17) Jordy Nelson, Packers, WR - Touchdown machine worth more in standard than PPR formats.
18) Arian Foster, Texans, RB - Be leery of the constant injuries. Not interested at all.
19) Alfred Morris, Redskins, RB - Washington added talent at receiver while Alf still rules the backfield.
20) Le'Veon Bell, Steelers, RB - Dropped a few spots on news that LeGarrette Blount sharing workload.
21) Peyton Manning, Broncos, QB - No way he throws 55 touchdown passes again this year. That might be obvious, but those drafting Manning in top-15 are paying for that value.
22) Zac Stacy, Rams, RB - Fended off challenges from rookie runner Tre Mason.
23) Andre Ellington, Cardinals, RB - Averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season. Now Ellington to receive 16-22 touches per game
24) Alshon Jeffery, Bears, WR - Went for 89-1421-7 last season and the best is yet to come.
25) Antonio Brown, Pit WR - Steelers always let receivers leave for big money elsewhere, but kept the PPR force.
26) Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, TE - Those leery of Gronk's injury history will embrace the hyperlinked message. Those daring types can and probably should ignore the stay away thoughts.
27) Toby Gerhart, Jaguars, RB
28) Doug Martin, Buccaneers, RB - Helped by Charles Sims' ankle injury, in theory. Tampa still wants to spread out the carries.
29) Randall Cobb, Packers, WR
30) Julius Thomas, Broncos, TE - Last of the true difference makers at tight end, which bumps his draft value higher than pure numbers indicate.
31) Aaron Rodgers, Packers, QB
32) Drew Brees, Saints, QB
33) Keenan Allen, Chargers, WR
34) Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers, WR
35) Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, WR
36) Reggie Bush, Lions, RB
37) Frank Gore, 49ers, RB
38) Joique Bell, Lions, RB
40) Roddy White, Falcons, WR
41) Pierre Garcon, Redskins, WR
42) Rashad Jennings - NYG RB
43) Victor Cruz, Giants, WR
44) Michael Floyd, Cardinals, WR
45) Shane Vereen, Patriots, RB
46) Ryan Mathews, Chargers, RB
47) Wes Welker, Broncos, WR
48) Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings, WR
49) DeSean Jackson, Redskins, WR - Again, an ADP of 49 isn't bad, but be leery of the Redskins tax and note how different last season was for Jackson versus his history.
50) Michael Crabtree, 49ers, WR
51) C.J. Spiller, Bills, RB
52) Matthew Stafford, Lions, QB
54) Jordan Cameron, Browns, TE
55) Chris Johnson, Jets, RB
56) T.Y. Hilton, Colts, WR
57) Mike Wallace, Dolphins, WR
58) Ben Tate, Browns, RB - For all the Terrance West talk this summer (including from yours truly), Tate dominated carries in Cleveland's second preseason game.
59) Bishop Sankey, Titans, RB
60) Trent Richardson, Colts, RB
61) Marques Colston, Saints, WR
63) Andrew Luck, Colts, QB
64) Ray Rice, Ravens, RB
65) Jason Witten, Cowboys, TE
66) Kendall Wright, Titans, WR
67) Torrey Smith, Ravens, WR
68) Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos, WR
69) Matt Ryan, Falcons, QB
70) Tom Brady, Patriots, QB
71) Fred Jackson, Bills, RB
72) Steven Jackson, Falcons, RB
73) Eric Decker, Jets WR
74) Julian Edelman, Patriots, WR
75) Terrance Williams, Cowboys, WR
76) Lamar Miller, Dolphins, RB
77) Pierre Thomas, Saints, RB
78) Stevan Ridley, Patriots, RB
79) Golden Tate, Lions, WR
81) Tony Romo, Cowboys, QB
82) Jordan Reed, Redskins, TE
83) Greg Olsen, Panthers, TE
84) Jay Cutler, Bears, QB
86) Robert Griffin III, Redskins, QB - Kept RGIII in my fourth QB tier, but moved him to the bottom of it and 12th overall. Seriously, how can he not know how to slide?
87) Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, WR
89) Mark Ingram, Saints, RB - Yes, always take preseason action with many grains of salt, but no RB has improved stock more than the former Heisman winner.
90) Reggie Wayne, Colts, WR
91) Zach Ertz, Eagles, TE - Love the potential with the tight ends ranked 6-11 and from that group I have the most fantasy love for Ertz.
92) Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, TE
93) Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, WR
94) Brandin Cooks, Saints, WR
95) Justin Hunter, Titans, WR - Great stat from Rotoworld's Adam Levitan: Including the preseason, Hunter has 30 receptions. Eight went for touchdowns.
96) Dennis Pitta, Ravens, TE
97) Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, QB
98) Jeremy Hill, Bengals, RB
99) Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders, RB
100) Danny Woodhead Chargers, RB
101) Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers, WR - Solid preseason and red-zone size makes the rookie one to watch.
102) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, WR
103) Rueben Randle, Giants, WR
104) Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins, RB - Lamar Miller's ugh start to the preseason has left starting RB job open if Moreno can get healthy quick.
105) Terrance West, Browns, RB
106) Andre Williams, Giants, RB
107) Devonta Freeman, Falcons, RB - Best value among Atlanta's backs and might be best fantasy option before long.
109) Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, QB
110) Philip Rivers - SD QB
111) Russell Wilson - Sea QB
112) Martellus Bennett, Bears, TE
113) Markus Wheaton, Steelers, WR - Clearly Pittsburgh's No. 2 wide receiver and a stone cold sleeper.
114) Mike Evans, Buccaneers, WR
115) Cecil Shorts, Jaguars, WR
116) Alex Smith, Chiefs, QB
117) Carlos Hyde, 49ers RB - Those in keeper/dynasty leagues now that Frank Gore is entering the final year of his contract.
118) Josh Gordon, Browns, WR - Have to keep last year's top fantasy receiver last season on draft boards until the NFL announces a decision on Gordon's appeal on a one-year suspension.
119) Darren McFadden, Raiders, RB
120) Charles Clay, Dolphins, TE
121) Seattle Seahawks, Seahawks, DST
122) DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, RB
123) Shonn Greene, Titans, RB
124) Ladarius Green - Chargers, TE
125) Andy Dalton, Bengals, QB
126) Riley Cooper, Eagles, WR
127) Brian Hartline, Dolphins, WR
128) Jarrett Boykin, Packers, WR - Not many teams can make a third wide receiver fantasy relevant. The Packers are one of them.
129) Kenny Stills, Saints, WR
130) San Francisco 49ers, DST
131) Tavon Austin, Rams, WR
132) Delanie Walker, Titans, TE
133) Heath Miller, Steelers, TE
134) Anquan Boldin, 49ers, WR - Lacks upside now that San Francisco has a bunch more receiving options.
135) Greg Jennings, Vikings WR
136) Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins, QB
137) Eli Manning, Giants, QB
138) LeGarrette Blount, Steelers, RB
139) Chris Ivory, Jets, RB
140) Jordan Matthews, Eagles, WR
141) Aaron Dobson, Patriots, WR
142) Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts, RB
143) Hakeem Nicks, Colts, WR
144) Darren Sproles, Eagles, RB
145) Johnny Manziel, Browns, QB - Not starting for Cleveland from the start is the best thing for Johnny Football. Clearly not ready, but in theory has the goods for fantasy success because of all that running.
146) Christine Michael, Seahawks, RB
147) Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, RB
148) Lance Dunbar, Cowboys, RB - DeMarco Murray handcuff and possible Flex option in PPR formats.
149) Knile Davis, Chiefs, RB - Jamaal Charles handcuff.
150) Jonathan Grimes, Texans, RB - Arian Foster handcuff.
(In addition to 20-plus years of playing fantasy football, Ben Standig covered fantasy football for the past several years at FFToolbox.com and helped direct the site to generating the industry's most accurate preseason rankings in 2012. Ben is also a noted NFL Draft reporter.)