Fantasy Football Top 150: Runners on the rise

Fantasy Football Top 150: Runners on the rise
August 26, 2014, 4:15 pm
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One round of preseason games remain, but those matchups will have little to zero impact to those listed in my latest breakdown of the top 150 rankings. More updates to follow seeing as many leagues draft next week, yet don't expect major changes going forward. As for this version, certainly some tweaks following recent injuries (Wes Welker), impressive performances (Shane Vereen) and suspect outings (Robert Griffin III).

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:

  • 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. 
  • There are two backfields I typically avoid due to rotational uncertainty and too many bodies: New England and New Orleans. Yet this offseason, one player from each squad has put such stay-away thoughts on hold. Shane Vereen is far better in points per reception (PPR) leagues. However, with the uncertainty elsewhere in the Patriots' backfield (Steven Ridley getting cut?), the shifty Vereen now has the look of an every-down back. As for the Saints, Mark Ingram's NFL career hasn't lived up to the Heisman hype he entered the league with. I know, I know we shouldn't go crazy about preseason games, but he's looked quicker and he's catching passes. Factor in the Saints offense's potential and Ingram looks like a strong RB4 and possibly an RB3 as needed.
  • Sammy Watkins might eventually live up to his NFL draft status, but don't bet on that happening in 2014 -- or as long as E.J. Manuel is the Bills' quarterback. This might seem obvious, and yet Watkins' Average Draft Position (ADP) remains in the late seventh-round range, ahead of fellow wide receiver Terrance Williams, Kendall Wright, Eric Decker, Rueben Randle. That's not wise, folks. If you want a rookie receiver who could break out, grab Kelvin Benjamin a 1 1-2 rounds later.
  • My top running back tier is now a quartet thanks to Eddie Lacy. The power back looks tremendous this preseason and Green Bay will score tons. I'm awfully tempted to snag Lacy ahead of Adrian Peterson in standard formats, but his injury history scare me just enough to keep him fourth on this list.
  • Click here for a look at all of my position rankings/tiers, including kicker and defenses. Speaking of kickers, Matt Prater as a standalone option essentially becomes undraftable now that he's facing a four-game suspension and will miss the first five weeks due to Denver's Week 4 bye. However, go ahead and select Denver's kicker early in leagues with a team kicker format. Broncos will score tons, obviously.

[RELATED: Wendy's Q&A: 2,000 yards for Redskins' Morris?]

1) Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, RB - No recent moving boxes mishaps, so there's that. As the lone playmaker in Kansas City's offense, Charles will receive all the work he can handle. 

2) LeSean McCoy, Eagles, RB - Top playmaker on a team that tops all others in total plays per game.

3) Adrian Peterson, Vikings, RB - More scoring options on the team might actually lead to opposing defenses from stacking the box against All Day. But probably not.

4) Eddie Lacy, Packers, RB - Drops a few spots in PPR, though he did catch 35 passes as a rookie.

5) Matt Forte, Bears, RB - Tremendous dual threat who jumps to No. 3 overall in PPR.

6) Calvin Johnson, Lions, Lions, WR - Finally gets some receiving help with the additions of Golden Tate and rookie Eric Ebron, which makes Megatron even scarier.

7), Dez Bryant, Cowboys, WR - Had 12 touchdowns in 2012, 13 last year. Can we say 14? As long as Tony Romo remains upright, yes we can.

8) Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, WR - Hauled in over 90 receptions in two straight years. Now could receive in more targets with Wes Welker dinged yet again. Factor in that Thomas is a free agent next year and, cha-ching.

9) Jimmy Graham, Saints, TE - Biggest difference maker compared to others at position.

10) DeMarco Murray, Cowboys, RB - Massive potential plus uncertain RB1 field outweighs injury risk.

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 - Quick recovery from having his appendix removed. Buy into Peyton Manning influence and just hope power back doesn't lose he ball.

15) Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks, RB - Wear-and-tear concerns and presence of two younger backups drop Beast Mode into round two.

16) Alfred Morris, Redskins, RB - Washington added talent at receiver while Alf still rules the backfield. The running game is the one part of the offense the coaching staff can rely on.

17) Jordy Nelson, Packers, WR - Touchdown machine worth more in standard than PPR formats.

18) Peyton Manning, Broncos, QB - Take a second and do a mock draft. If you like how your team looks when taking Manning in round one and are confident he'll post comparable numbers, draft him inside the top 12. Seeing as I don't and am not, I will not.

19) Giovani Bernard, Bengals, RB - Electric performer with RB1 potential in standard leagues if he avoids RBBC situation. Alas, rookie Jeremy Hill's presence makes that challenging.

20) Alshon Jeffery, Bears, WR - Jefferey went for 89-1421-7 last season and the best is yet to come.

21) Zac Stacy, Rams, RB - Fended off challenges from rookie runner Tre Mason. Now Stacy must maneuver past stacked run defenses in a post-Sam Bradford world.

22) Arian Foster, Texans, RB - Be leery of the constant injuries. Not targeting Foster at all, though cant ignore reality that he's one of the few bell cow backs.

23) Doug Martin, Buccaneers, RB - Helped by Charles Sims' ankle injury, in theory, and surprise addition of Pro Bowl caliber guard Logan Mankins.

24) Aaron Rodgers, Packers, QB - Monster season on the horizon. Even for those that want to wait on selecting a QB can't deny Rodgers' combination of steady and spectacular.

25) Drew Brees, Saints, QB - Read above. Saints finally upgraded or at least altered their lagging wide receiver corps.

26) Antonio Brown, Steelers, WR - Steelers always let receivers leave for big money elsewhere, but kept the PPR force.

27) Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, TE - I've become less freaked out about the injury concerns and more focused on the 42 touchdown receptions in 50 career games. That said, doubtful I touch Gronk before late second/early third round.

28) Andre Ellington, Cardinals, RB - Averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season. Now Ellington to receive 16-22 touches per game. Move him into low 20's in PPR format.

29) Le'Veon Bell, Steelers, RB - Like the talent, but loathe the idea that LeGarrette Blount is expected to pick up goal line touches.

30) Julius Thomas, Broncos, TE -  Already a major fantasy option and that was before the latest Welker uncertainty.

31) Randall Cobb, Packers, WR
32) Keenan Allen, Chargers, WR
33) Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers, WR
34) Roddy White, Falcons, WR
35) Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, WR
36) Andre Johnson, Texans, WR
37) Michael Floyd, Cardinals, WR
38) Toby Gerhart, Jaguars, RB
39) Shane Vereen, Patriots, RB
40) Reggie Bush, Lions, RB
41) Rashad Jennings, Giants, RB
42) Victor Cruz, Giants, WR
43) Frank Gore, 49ers, RB
44) Joique Bell, LIons, RB
45) Pierre Garcon, Bengals, WR
46) Ryan Mathews, Chargers, RB
47) C.J. Spiller, Bills, RB
48) Torrey Smith, Ravens, WR
49) Michael Crabtree, 49ers, WR
50) Percy Harvin, Seahawks, WR
51) Matthew Stafford, Lions, QB
52) Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings, WR
53) Bishop Sankey, Titans, RB
54) Jordan Cameron, Browns, TE
55) Marques Colston, Saints, WR
56) DeSean Jackson, Eagles WR
57) Mike Wallace, Dolphins, WR
58) Tom Brady, Patriots, QB
59) Andrew Luck, Colts, QB
60) Matt Ryan, Falcons, QB
61) Ben Tate, Browns, RB
62) Chris Johnson, Jets, RB
63) Wes Welker, Broncos, WR
64) Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos, WR
65) Ray Rice, Ravens, RB
66) Kendall Wright, Titans, WR
67) T.Y. Hilton, Colts, WR
68) Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders, RB
69) Vernon Davis, 49ers, TE
70) Fred Jackson, Bills, RB
71) Steven Jackson, Falcons, RB
72) Tony Romo, Cowboys, QB
73) Jason Witten, Cowboys,TE
74) Julian Edelman, Patriots, WR
75) Eric Decker, Jets, WR
76) Rueben Randle, Giants, WR
77) Cam Newton, Panthers, QB
78) Nick Foles, Eagles, QB
79) Jordan Reed, Redskins, TE
80) Lamar Miller, Dolphins, RB
81) Pierre Thomas, Saints, RB
82) Mark Ingram, Saints, RB
83) Dennis Pitta, Ravens, TE
84) Bernard Pierce, Ravens, RB
85) Trent Richardson, Colts, RB
86) Terrance Williams, Cowboys, WR
87) Jay Cutler, Bears, QB
88) Golden Tate, Lions, WR
89) Russell Wilson, Seahawks, QB
90) Jeremy Hill, Bengals, RB
91) Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, WR

92) Robert Griffin, Redskins QB - For the first time this offseason I have RG3 ranked outside the QB1 range in a 12-team league. Plenty of upside remains, but how do you start him Week 1 at Houston after such a brutal preseason?

93) Justin Hunter, Titans, WR
94) Brandin Cooks, Saints, WR
95) Reggie Wayne, Colts, WR
96) Kelvin Benjamin, Bengals, WR
97) Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, QB
98) Zach Ertz, Eagles, TE
99) Greg Olsen, Panthers, TE
100) Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, WR
101) Danny Woodhead, Chargers, RB
102) Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, TE
103) Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins, RB
104) Terrance West, Browns, RB
105) Andre Williams, Giants, RB
106) Devonta Freeman, Falcons, RB
107) Markus Wheaton, Steelers, WR
108) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, WR
109) Shonn Greene, Titans, RB
110) LeGarrette Blount, Steelers, RB
111) Carlos Hyde, 49ers, RB
112) Sammy Watkins, Bills, WR
113) Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, QB
114) Philip Rivers, Chargers, QB
115) Mike Evans, Buccaneers, WR
116) Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings
117) Alex Smith, Chiefs, QB
118) Cecil Shorts, Jaguars, WR
119) DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, RB
120) Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, RB
121) Martellus Bennett, Bears, TE
122) Josh Gordon, Browns, WR
123) Heath Miller, Steelers, TE
124) Seattle Seahawks, DST
125) Darren Sproles, Eagles, RB
126) Charles Clay, Dolphins, TE
127) Andy Dalton, Bengals, QB
128) Riley Cooper, Eagles, WR
129) Jordan Matthews, Eagles, WR
130) Jarrett Boykin, Packers WR
131) Lance Dunbar, Cowboys, RB
132) Anquan Boldin, 49ers, WR
133) Ladarius Green, Chargers, TE
134) Delanie Walker, Titans, TE
135) Brian Hartline, Dolphins, WR
136) Chris Ivory, Jets, RB
137) Aaron Dobson, Patriots, WR
138) Kenny Stills, Saints, WR
139) Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, WR
140) Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins, QB
141) Carson Palmer, Cardinals, QB
143) Anquan Boldin, 49ers, WR
144) Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts, RB
145) Hakeem Nicks, Colts, WR
146) Steve Smith, Ravens, WR
147) Travis Kelce, Chiefs TE
148) Kenny Britt, Rams, WR
149) San Francisco 49ers, DST
150) Jake Locker, Titans, QB

(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.)