Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC South

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC South.

Falcons

Rising

Matt Ryan, QB—He regressed last season, as I predicted, but a second year with his offensive coordinator should help Ryan and the Falcons improve on offense. Ryan threw a touchdown pass on 3.8 percent of his throws last year. That was a big drop from 7.1 in 2016. His career average is 4.6 percent, so I expect him to get closer to that number this year. Ryan is getting drafted after the likes of Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford. He looks like a value pick in the ninth round.

Falling

Mohamed Sanu, WR—Taylor Gabriel is no longer a Falcon, but Atlanta drafted a solid wide receiver in Calvin Ridley. That could affect Sanu’s value. He should still be the second best receiver for the Falcons, but his value depends on how much the rookie can take from the veteran. I don’t think 700 yards and five scores would make me happy if he was my second WR.

One to watch

Calvin Ridley, WR—Though I think Ridley probably ends up better than Sanu, I don’t know if he’s a candidate to be your WR2. I think the two receivers combine to make for a good season for Ryan, but it’s hard to say if one is worthy of a start on your team. Ridley is being drafted in the 10th so you might be able to take him after you’ve solidified your starters.

 

Buccaneers

Rising

Ronald Jones II, RB—Jones is the sixth rookie running back getting drafted, which is a bit surprising to me given that he’s virtually guaranteed to start for the Bucs. His fifth-round price might be a little high for an unproven commodity, but he’s got every opportunity to make an impact. He doesn’t have to worry about Doug Martin, who left for Oakland, and he should beat out Peyton Barber for touches.

Falling

Jameis Winston, QB—Winston will miss the first three games of the season and probably wasn’t going to be a QB1 anyway. His play has somewhat regressed recently. Winston only threw 19 touchdowns last season and has thrown no less than 11 interceptions in each of his first three years.

One to watch

O.J. Howard, TE—The second-year tight end is still getting drafted behind teammate Cameron Brate, but it will be interesting to see how he performs in the first three weeks with Ryan Fitzpatrick calling signals. The veteran QB is good at connecting with tight ends. Howard will be cheap in drafts so he may be worth taking a flier on late.

Panthers

Rising

Christian McCaffrey, RB—McCaffrey should be a solid RB1 this season if he at least matches his first season production. He gained 1,086 yards from scrimmage and caught a whopping 80 passes. McCaffrey rushed just 117 times last year so it’s likely that number increases with Jonathan Stewart now with the Giants.

Falling

C.J. Anderson, RB—One factor that could keep McCaffrey from taking the next step is the presence of Anderson. Last season with the Broncos, Anderson actually rushed for 1,007 yards, but he scored just four overall touchdowns. He’d likely have to earn the goal line role in order to become a RB2 option. Problem is Cam Newton can often serve as the Panthers goal line back. I see Anderson as falling in terms of value since he is being drafted too high with a lot of questions surrounding his productivity.

One to watch

D.J. Moore, WR—The rookie wide receiver enters a nice situation, looking to compete for the No. 1 spot as a wideout. Kelvin Benjamin is in Buffalo now so that helps Moore’s value. Devin Funchess is still in Carolina and Greg Olsen is a favorite target of Newton, so you’ll have to see how Moore competes in the preseason.

Saints

Rising

Michael Thomas, WR—Thomas was expected to improve last season and he did, catching 12 more passes and gaining 108 more yards in his second year. His targets also increased to 149 from 121 in his rookie season. The only question is if Drew Brees can continue to keep slinging the ball around like he’s done year after year. It will be interesting to see how Thomas starts the season since the Saints are likely to throw a little more given that they’ll be without Mark Ingram.

Falling

Mark Ingram, RB—I was wrong about him last season, of course, that was when Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara were supposed to share the backfield with him. Peterson left and Ingram and Kamara turned into one of the best 1-2 punches we’ve seen in a while. That said, Ingram is set to miss four games due to suspension. That’s not a good way to start the first quarter of your fantasy season, especially with him being drafted in the fifth round.

One to watch

Cameron Meredith, WR—The third-year receiver is a possible sleeper candidate as he missed all of last season with a torn ACL. But he has to start practicing soon if that’s going to happen. Meredith is expected to be healthy enough to start the season, though. He had a good 2016, catching 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Imagine what he could do with Brees tossing him the ball instead of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC North

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC North.

Packers

Rising

Davante Adams, WR—Adams is likely to continue putting up big fantasy numbers with the departure of Jordy Nelson. He’s the clear No. 1 in Green Bay now and is coming off of his second straight season scoring double-digit touchdowns. Even if he can’t score that many times this season, you can almost guarantee he’ll record his first 1,000-yard season.

Falling

Ty Montgomery, RB—Montgomery was only able to play half the season last year and he struggled on the ground, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He can still be effective catching the ball out of the backfield, hauling in 23 passes in those eight games. The problem is Jamaal Williams has been running with the first team and has shown he can catch the ball as well. Aaron Jones could also be a factor once he returns after a two-game suspension.

One to watch

Jamaal Williams, RB—Williams rushed for 556 yards and four touchdowns and was healthy all year, unlike Montgomery and Jones. He also caught 25 passes for 262 yards and two more scores. If he can stay on the field on third down then he can make the leap into RB2 territory.

Vikings

Rising

Dalvin Cook, RB—Something that tends to happen in fantasy leagues is owners will forget a hot player who goes down with injury early in the season. That’s not happening with Cook. He’s still going early in the second round, and as high as the fourth pick overall in some fantasy drafts. He’s recovered from his ACL tear last season and should be consider an RB1 from the jump.

Falling

Latavius Murray, RB—Since Cook looks good to go, that means Murray won’t likely get much run unless Cook goes down with injury again. Murray’s value lies only in the fact that he’s a good handcuff for Cook. Something to note, however, is that you need not draft handcuffs, unless you want to do so with a final pick. Take a shot on a player with upside rather than an insurance policy that you can pick up off waivers later.

One to watch

Kyle Rudolph, TE—You don’t have to worry about Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, they’ll both be productive as WR2s. Rudolph is an interesting guy to watch, though. He’s had a solid career but I think he can improve his production from last year. Rudolph is being drafted as the seventh tight end off the board late in the sixth round. That could be expensive, but it might pay off. Kirk Cousins is no stranger to connecting well with the tight end. He has reliably healthy one to throw to now.

Lions

Rising

Kerryon Johnson, RB—Johnson can be a complete back for Detroit. He looks like a lean runner but can run on the inside and has catching ability. Johnson landed in a good spot where he can thrive without worrying about the competition too much. I like him because his upside comes with little risk. Johnson is currently being drafted as the 32nd running back off the board.

Falling

Ameer Abdullah, RB—With Johnson in town, a rookie who can catch, Abdullah isn’t likely to get much playing time. He got his shot last season and was a big disappointment, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the way to 552 yards rushing. He did catch 25 passes, but that could go decrease with Johnson in town.

One to watch

Kenny Golladay, WR—Golladay made big plays in the preseason last year and turned in a decent rookie campaign, catching 28 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns. What’s most encouraging is his 17-yard per catch average. That’s fifth best among players who caught at least 28 passes. Being drafted in the 12th round, he’s definitely worthy of a flier.

Bears

Rising

Trey Burton, TE—He only caught 23 passes for 248 yards last season, but he scored five times while playing behind Zach Ertz. He’ll start now and fantasy owners are treating him like a TE1, drafting him in the seventh round, ahead of Jordan Reed at times. Burton has the talent to be a top-8 tight end, but the play of Mitch Trubisky will be a big factor.

Falling

Mitch Trubisky, QB—Trubisky isn’t exciting a lot of fantasy owners as he’s being drafted late in the 14th round on average. His receiving corps improved, though, as the Bears added Allen Robinson, Burton, Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller. Trubisky could improve this season, but he’s not worthy of adding until he proves it on the field.

One to watch

Anthony Miller, WR—The rookie comes to an offense with a young quarterback and low expectations. Seeing where he fits in will be interesting to watch. Miller was extremely efficient in the red zone in college, despite his lack of size. Keep an eye on him as the season develops.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: AFC North

With the preseason kicking off Thursday night, fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC North.

AFC North

Steelers

Rising

Antonio Brown, WR—It seems nearly impossible that Brown could be held in any higher regard, but it’s happening in early drafts. In half-point PPR leagues, he’s getting drafted fifth overall, ahead of the likes of Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon and Saquon Barkley. The next best wide receiver getting taken is DeAndre Hopkins at No. 9. Brown is a can’t-miss player and, despite not being a running back, you can draft him as early as you like.

Falling

Vance McDonald, TE—When you have a potent offense with a lot of weapons it can be tempting to try to cash in on some of the wealth that’s spread around. McDonald has the talent to be a solid fantasy contributor but his injury history doesn’t instill confidence. He just left practice with a foot injury on Sunday so it could be another year of nagging issues. On the bright side, he’s pretty much free in drafts and offers upside.

One to watch

James Washington, WR—The rookie was extremely impressive in college, but with Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster in town it’s hard to picture Washington having a positive weekly impact. He’s currently going in the 14th round in most drafts, but I expect that to move up once more leagues start drafting. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up at the end of the season, but be sure you have your starting WRs all set before entertaining drafting him.

Ravens

Rising

Alex Collins, RB—Collins is getting drafted early in the fourth round in fantasy drafts and will be the lead rusher for the Ravens. He rushed for 973 yards last year, playing in 15 games, starting 12 of them. He rushed for six touchdowns, all of them coming in the second half of the season.

Falling

Joe Flacco, QB—Flacco has thrown a touchdown on 3.8 percent of his passes for his career. He’s been below 3.8 percent in each of the last three seasons. Last year he tossed just 18 TDs to 13 interceptions, averaging only 196.3 yards per game. It was his worst per game average since his rookie season when he averaged 185.7 yards.

One to watch

Lamar Jackson, QB—It definitely sounds like Jackson will get on the field even if he isn’t named the starting quarterback. His talent is too much to keep on the bench. I’ve got a feeling he’ll take over full time sooner rather than later, especially if Flacco continues to struggle. Flacco’s contract be damned.

Bengals

Rising

Joe Mixon, RB—I call him the leader of the post hype crowd. He was supposed to be great right out of college, but people were reminded that he was drafted by Cincinnati, a team with a terrible line and a coach who doesn’t play rookies early. That said, he came on late and is set to be at least an RB2 in my opinion.

Falling

A.J. Green, WR—Don’t get me wrong. Green will still be a WR1 and should have a good season, but he’s getting drafted after Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen and Davante Adams. Those are three players he was clearly ahead of before last season’s fantasy drafts. The Bengals’ poor season in ’17 and Andy Dalton still in Cincy has Green slipping a bit.

One to watch

John Ross, WR—Ross is a player who could end up surprising fantasy owners. He played in just three games in his rookie season and scored negative fantasy points due to a fumble on his only touch of the season. After running a 4.22 in the 40 at the NFL combine last season, expectations were high. Injuries stunted his first year, but he’s healthy now and making plays at camp. He’ll be virtually free in drafts, so selecting him late could pay off.

Browns

Rising

David Njoku, TE—Tyrod Taylor will start the season with No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield on the bench. Taylor has a history of connecting well with the tight end position and could help Njoku’s value. The second-year player is currently being taken as the No. 13 tight end.

Falling

Josh Gordon, WR—Hopefully this changes soon, but it doesn’t look good when Gordon doesn’t start training camp with his team. We don’t know when he’ll return, but it’s not apparent that he’s facing any league discipline. Gordon is currently getting drafted ahead of Jarvis Landry, who may end up with more fantasy points by the season’s end.

One(s) to watch

Running backs—It’s tough to say which of the backs expected to get playing time will come out on top. Carlos Hyde is being drafted highest, in the seventh round. Duke Johnson is being taken in the ninth while rookie Nick Chubb is right behind Johnson. It’s the kind of backfield I tend to avoid, but if things settle as the season progresses, one could be useful off the waiver wire.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

2018 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 250

NFL training camps are in full swing so we’ll take a glance at my current fantasy football rankings. We’ll look at the top 250 overall which will be updated as teams progress through training camp. Keep an eye out for our divisional previews which roll out daily beginning Thursday.

It’s important to note that these rankings reflect a player’s true value in my opinion, not necessarily their average draft position. These rankings are for half-point PPR leagues, since more leagues are placing value on receptions. These rankings split the difference between standard and full PPR scoring leagues.

Scroll to the bottom for tiered rankings by position.

Name, Position, Team
1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, PIT
2. Todd Gurley, RB, LAR

Todd Gurley could very well end up the top-scoring running back in the league, but I’m giving the edge to Le’Veon Bell at this point in time. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

3. David Johnson, RB, ARI
4. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT
5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
6. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
7. Leonard Fournette, RB, JAC
8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
9. Melvin Gordon, RB, LAC
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, NYG
11. Julio Jones, WR, ATL
12. Kareem Hunt, RB, KC
13. Michael Thomas, WR, NO
14. Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG

Saquon Barkley put his best foot forward at the NFL scouting combine. His performance coupled with a stellar college career has a lot of fantasy owners with high hopes. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

15. Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN
16. Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
17. A.J. Green, WR, CIN
18. Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
19. Davante Adams, WR, GB
20. Jerick McKinnon, RB, SF
21. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
22. Adam Thielen, WR, MIN

The Vikings have a new quarterback in Kirk Cousins and I think Adam Thielen keeps producing well at the wide receiver position. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

23. LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF
24. Travis Kelce, TE, KC
25. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA
26. Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
27. Jordan Howard, RB, CHI
28. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
29. Alex Collins, RB, BAL
30. Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
31. Mike Evans, WR, TB
32. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
33. Mark Ingram, RB, NO
34. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
35. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
36. Amari Cooper, WR, OAK
37. Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI
38. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
39. Dion Lewis, RB, TEN

Dion Lewis is a Titan now, putting a damper on those excited about Derrick Henry. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

40. Lamar Miller, RB, HOU
41. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI
42. Carson Wentz, QB, PHI
43. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
44. Allen Robinson, WR, CHI
45. Marvin Jones, WR, DET
46. Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
47. Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN
48. Jay Ajayi, RB, PHI
49. Kenyan Drake, RB, MIA
50. Golden Tate, WR, DET
51. Cam Newton, QB, CAR
52. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
53. Pierre Garcon, WR, SF
54. Derrius Guice, RB, WAS
55. Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU

Deshaun Watson isn’t likely to be as awesome as he was in the short time he played last season, but most signs point to a good year. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

56. Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL
57. Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA
58. Evan Engram, TE, NYG
59. Josh Gordon, WR, CLE
60. Rex Burkhead, RB, NE
61. Brandin Cooks, WR, LAR
62. Sony Michel, RB, NE
63. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, DEN
64. Greg Olsen, TE, CAR
65. Drew Brees, QB, NO
66. Royce Freeman, RB, DEN
67. Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ
68. Isaiah Crowell, RB, NYJ
69. Ronald Jones II, RB, TB
70. Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN

Kirk Cousins could put up a big year with all the weapons he has in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

71. Jimmy Graham, TE, GB
72. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
73. Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
74. Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
75. Ty Montgomery, RB, GB
76. Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET
77. Corey Davis, WR, TEN
78. Tom Brady, QB, NE
79. Duke Johnson, RB, CLE
80. Matthew Stafford, QB, DET
81. Michael Crabtree, WR, BAL
82. Delanie Walker, TE, TEN
83. Andrew Luck, QB, IND
84. Bilal Powell, RB, NYJ
85. Robert Woods, WR, LAR
86. Allen Hurns, WR, DAL
87. Marlon Mack, RB, IND
88. Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN
89. Sammy Watkins, WR, KC
90. Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
91. Jamison Crowder, WR, WAS
92. Jamaal Williams, RB, GB
93. C.J. Anderson, RB, CAR

C.J. Anderson will need to take on the goal line roll in Carolina if he’s going to have significant fantasy value. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

94. Randall Cobb, WR, GB
95. Devin Funchess, WR, CAR
96. Chris Carson, RB, SEA
97. Carlos Hyde, RB, CLE
98. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, BUF
99, Chris Hogan, WR, NE
100. Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
101. Chris Thompson, RB, WAS
102. Kenny Stills, WR, MIA
103. Philip Rivers, QB, LAC
104. Jared Goff, QB, LAR

I’m expecting Jared Goff to fall outside of QB1 status this season, but not necessarily because of bad play. Well rounded teams don’t always put up big fantasy numbers. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

105. Nelson Agholor, WR, PHI
106. Jordan Reed, TE, WAS
107. Trey Burton, TE, CHI
108. Marshawn Lynch, RB, OAK
109. Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, ARI
110. Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN
111. Latavius Murray, RB, MIN
112. Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI
113. LeGarrette Blount, RB, DET
114. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
115. George Kittle, TE, SF
116. Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
117. Devante Parker, WR, MIA
118. Will Fuller, WR, HOU
119. James White, RB, NE
120. Doug Martin, RB, OAK
121. Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
122. Rishard Matthews, WR, TEN
123. Marqise Lee, WR, JAC
124. D.J. Moore, WR, CAR
125. Jared Cook, TE, OAK
126. Benjamin Watson, TE, NO
127. Alex Smith, QB, WAS
128. Spencer Ware, RB, KC
129. Donte Moncrief, WR, JAC
130. Marquise Goodwin, WR, SF
131. Jacksonville Jaguars, DST, JAC
132. Derek Carr, QB, OAK
133. Eli Manning, QB, NYG
134. Minnesota Vikings, DST, MIN
135. Julian Edelman, WR, NE
136. T.J. Yeldon, RB, JAC
137. Theo Riddick, RB, DET
138. Jordy Nelson, WR, OAK
139. Kenneth Dixon, RB, BAL
140. Los Angeles Rams, DST, LAR
141. Eric Ebron, TE, IND
142. Kenny Golladay, WR, DET
143. D’Onta Foreman, RB, HOU
144. Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
145. David Njoku, TE, CLE
146. Philadelphia Eagles, DST, PHI
147. DeSean Jackson, WR, TB
148. Cameron Meredith, WR, NO
149. Frank Gore, RB, MIA
150. Tyrell Williams, WR, LAC
151. Houston Texans, DST, HOU
152. Paul Richardson, WR, WAS
153. Case Keenum, QB, DEN
154. Nyheim Hines, RB, IND
155. Josh Doctson, WR, WAS
156. Denver Broncos, DST, DEN
157. Jermaine Kearse, WR, NYJ
158. Albert Wilson, WR, MIA
159. Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
160. Giovani Bernard, RB, CIN
161. Charles Clay, TE, BUF
162. Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
163. Ted Ginn, WR, NO
164. Devontae Booker, RB, DEN
165. Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL
166. Los Angeles Chargers, DST, LAC
167. Justin Tucker, K, BAL
168. Jack Doyle, TE, IND
169. Darren Sproles, RB, PHI
170. O.J. Howard, TE, TB
171. Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE
172. Aaron Jones, RB, GB
173. Matt Bryant, K, ATL
174. Andy Dalton, QB, CIN
175. New Orleans Saints, DST, NO
176. Jameis Winston, QB, TB
177. Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
178. Greg Zuerlein, K, LAR
179. Dede Westbrook, WR, JAC
180. Chris Ivory, RB, BUF
181. Blake Bortles, QB, JAC
182. Wil Lutz, K, NO
183. Baltimore Ravens, DST, BAL
184. Seattle Seahawks, DST, SEA
185. Tyler Eifert, TE, CIN
186. Jake Elliott, K, PHI
187. Quincy Enunwa, WR, NYJ
188. New England Patriots, DST, NE
189. Geronimo Allison, WR, GB
190. Peyton Barber, RB, TB
191. Ryan Grant, WR, IND
192. Arizona Cardinals, DST, ARI
193. Wayne Gallman, RB, NYG
194. Austin Hooper, TE, ATL
195. Carolina Panthers, DST, CAR
196. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, JAC
197. Charles Sims, RB, TB
198. Cameron Brate, TE, TB
199. Chris Boswell, K, PIT
200. John Brown, WR, BAL
201. Joe Flacco, QB, BAL
202. Pittsburgh Steelers, DST, PIT
203. New York Giants, DST, NYG
204. Matt Prater, K, DET
205. Luke Willson, TE, DET
206. C.J. Prosise, RB, SEA
207. Bo Scarbrough, RB, DAL
208. Jonathan Stewart, RB, NYG
209. Cole Beasley, WR, DAL
210. Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC
211. Terrance Williams, WR, DAL
212. Stephen Anderson, TE, HOU
213. Sam Bradford, QB, ARI
214. Jordan Matthews, WR, NE
215. Kansas City Chiefs, DST, KC
216. Mason Crosby, K, GB
217. Dante Pettis, WR, SF
218. Dan Bailey, K, DAL
219. Christian Kirk, WR, ARI
220. Harrison Butker, K, KC
221. Atlanta Falcons, DST, ATL
222. Terrelle Pryor, WR, NYJ
223. Chris Godwin, WR, TB
224. Mike Wallace, WR, PHI
225. Mike Davis, RB, SEA
226. Adam Vinatieri, K, IND
227. Mike Williams, WR, LAC
228. Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA
229. Corey Grant, RB, JAC
230. Chicago Bears, DST, CHI
231. Martavis Bryant, WR, OAK
232. Chester Rogers, WR, IND
233. Zay Jones, WR, BUF
234. Vernon Davis, TE, WAS
235. Antonio Gates, TE, FA
236. Vance McDonald, TE, PIT
237. Cincinnati Bengals, DST, CIN
238. Mitch Trubisky, QB, CHI
239. Anthony Miller, WR, CHI
240. Danny Amendola, WR, MIA
241. Green Bay Packers, DST, GB
242. Brandon Marshall, WR, SEA
243. Tyrod Taylor, QB, CLE
244. Jalen Richard, RB, OAK
245. Kalen Ballage, RB, MIA
246. James Washington, WR, PIT
247. J.J. Nelson, WR, ARI
248. Michael Gallup, WR, DAL
249. Ameer Abdullah, RB, DET
250. Josh Rosen, QB, ARI

The widget below will be updated throughout the preseason.

Fantasy football impact: NFL draft first round

Wow. What a first round of the NFL draft we witnessed on Thursday night.

The festivities started with a bang as the Browns, who have made big splashes in the offseason so far, picked Baker Mayfield as the No. 1 overall selection. The safe pick was Sam Darnold. Josh Rosen was also more likely to go to Cleveland. Saquon Barkley was even a possibility. But word got out early Thursday that Mayfield was a real possibility.

It’s too early to know what, if any, kind of fantasy impact Mayfield has this season. Tyrod Taylor is in Cleveland and should at least start the season as the No. 1 QB. The upside for Mayfield is probably higher than any quarterback in this draft. He would be a good pick for dynasty leagues, but you can’t use any draft capital on a backup in a standard league.

The Cleveland Browns select Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

The Giants didn’t bite on a surprisingly available Darnold. Instead they went with the guy they were expected to take in Barkley. Now he’s a player that will have value in fantasy drafts. He’ll be penciled in as the Giants’ next starting running back with only Jonathan Stewart, Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman as his biggest competition. The offensive line needs help, but Barkley is an undeniable talent that will be valuable from Day 1.

The other team from New York, the Jets, had to be truly grateful that Darnold landed in their lap at No. 3. Like Mayfield, I don’t see Darnold as an early asset for fantasy. He’s still only 20 years old and Josh McCown will likely start the season. But if you’re drafting for a dynasty league, I have him ahead of Mayfield. He probably doesn’t have the upside that Mayfield has, but he has a much higher floor I believe.

Sam Darnold, a quarterback from USC, with Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected third overall, by the New York Jets, at the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, April 26, 2018. The Cleveland Browns took Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the top pick. (Cooper Neill/The New York Times)

The next skill position to get selected was Josh Allen at No. 7. He went to the Bills and I’ve got to admit I’m not a fan. Allen’s not efficient and I don’t see how a quarterback who can’t throw for at least 57 percent in the Mountain West can succeed in the NFL. But what about his athleticism? Allen rushed for more than 60 yards just twice in 2017.

I’m a big fan of the next quarterback taken, Rosen by the Cardinals. He’s been described as the most NFL-ready quarterback of the group. Rosen goes to a team with a fragile starter in Sam Bradford. Targets like Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson, Brice Butler and Cobi Hamilton aren’t scary, but they’re enough if Rosen can get on the field. He’s another solid dynasty pick that I actually like more than Darnold and Mayfield.

Josh Rosen of UCLA reacts after being picked #10 overall by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Behind Barkley, I think D.J. Moore will have the biggest fantasy impact this season. He was my highest-rated wideout and he goes to a team where he can contribute early. Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith aren’t WR1 material and Moore should get on the field early. The amount of screens he took for huge gains in college makes me think he can do the same for Cam Newton.

Calvin Ridley was the next receiver drafted and he becomes the third piece of what looks to be an impressive trio in Atlanta. He’ll battle Mohamed Sanu for the No. 2 spot behind Julio Jones. I think the location keeps Ridley’s ceiling pretty low. He may end up as a solid flex player this season, depending on if he can overtake Sanu as Matt Ryan’s second-favorite target.

What came after the Ridley pick was a huge and intriguing surprise. The Seahawks took Rashaad Penny, and though it’s a reach in real-life terms, it makes him a totally viable fantasy option. The guy rushed for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns in his last season with San Diego State. The Seahawks don’t have a true starter on their roster. Penny caught just 19 passes last season, but he carried it 289 times proving he can be a bell cow. He’s a dynamite return man as well.

A video board displays an image of Rashaad Penny of San Diego State after he was picked #27 overall by the Seattle Seahawks during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Some saw the Patriots taking Lamar Jackson late in the round, to try to find a new-era replacement for Tom Brady. They sidestepped that scenario by taking Sony Michel instead. The better of the two Georgia running backs joins a crowded backfield. The Pats have Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead and James White. I wouldn’t draft Michel in standard leagues, but he could be an early-season pick up if he finds a role in New England.

The first round ended as it began, with a Heisman Trophy winner getting selected. The Ravens took Jackson to be their quarterback of the future. Given that, he will be a high pick in dynasty leagues. He might even end up having the best career of all the QBs selected in this first round, but Joe Flacco will be the starter this season.

Early 2018 fantasy football rankings

It’s April so that means the NFL draft is right around the corner. We’ll adjust these rankings immediately after the draft, but here’s an early look at the 2018 fantasy football rankings.

Fantasy football: Browns trade for new-look offense

The Cleveland Browns started Friday just like any other day, but ended it with a new look to the offense.

The Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry to help their passing attack and breathe life into their last-place scoring offense. The addition of those pieces can lead to bigger things down the road.

In Taylor you have a capable dual threat at quarterback, who isn’t a stranger to QB1 status in favorable weeks. In Landry you have one of the best, if not flashy, receivers in the league. He led the NFL with 112 receptions and scored nine touchdowns last season with downright bad quarterback play.

FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) dives for the first down marker during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File)

Though Taylor passed for just 187 yards per game last season, he added 427 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. Outside of LeSean McCoy, he didn’t have a lot of help in terms of pass catchers. Taylor’s fantasy value could increase with the trade. He’s definitely an upgrade over DeShone Kizer at this point.

The addition of Taylor and Landry to the offense not only changes their own fantasy value, but it could drastically affect the skill players already on the Browns.

Josh Gordon looks serious about turning his career around and caught 18 passes in five games for 335 yards and a score to end last season. If he gets together with Taylor soon, they could develop enough chemistry to make a big impact next season. The 26-year-old has a decent amount of quality years left if he can stay on the straight and narrow.

Second-year tight end David Njoku could provide a nice outlet for Taylor. As a rookie, Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns. With Gordon and Landry on the outside, Njoku has potential for a breakout year.

An upgraded passing attack can do a lot to relieve the pressure on the running game, a running game that could feature the exceptionally talented Saquon Barkley should the Browns take the Penn State product with their first pick. The offensive line for Cleveland is actually one of their few strengths, so it’s easy to see why Friday’s moves got the league’s attention.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

A lot of NFL players took notice as news of the trades broke. You can’t help but wonder if top free agents took notice as well. Could Kirk Cousins actually start taking the Browns seriously now that they have some real receiving threats? Is Taylor just an insurance policy if Cleveland doesn’t land this season’s free agency big fish? Time will tell. With the new additions, free agency and five of the top 65 picks in the draft, it looks like the Browns might finally have their ducks in a row.

NFL Playoff Challenge fantasy football rankings: Super Bowl LII

It’s all come down to this. The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots are the last teams standing and one of them will be crowned the Super Bowl LII champions on Sunday.

If you’re playing in the NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge, you’ve got one more lineup to set. There are couple of things to consider in this type of competition which I’ll cover as we get to each position.

Here are my rankings for the final game of the season.

Quarterbacks

This is a pretty standard call. If you’ve started Tom Brady since the beginning of the competition, you’ll want to cash in on his quadruple bonus. However, I could see a scenario where you’re close to the top of your group’s standings after starting Nick Foles in the conference championship. If that’s the case you can get double points starting him in the Super Bowl. That’s if you think he’ll stay hot.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Nick Foles, Eagles

Running backs

I think the Patriots will win it all, and Dion Lewis will have a big role. He lost some touches due to a fumble in the AFC championship, but his skills will make up for that. James White was a huge part of New England’s Super Bowl win last season. He could be a big factor again, which is why I have him ranked second. In either case, the running backs for the Patriots will have to get most of their points through the air against the tough Eagles run defense. The highest ranked Eagle for me is LeGarrette Blount. While Jay Ajayi is the better overall back, I think a touchdown for Blount is more likely if they get down near the goal line.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots
2. James White, Patriots
3. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
4. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
5. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
6. Corey Clement, Eagles

Wide receivers

I have Alshon Jeffery ahead of Brandin Cooks because he’s been hot recently. He’s a big target in the red zone. Jeffery’s quarterback is coming off his best playoff game. With Tom Brady having a lot of options, including Rob Gronkowski, it’s likely Jeffery is the highest scoring wideout in the game. The Patriots wide receivers that could lead in fantasy points are Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. Cooks is more talented, but Amendola has been solid for Brady.

1. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
2. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
3. Danny Amendola, Patriots
4. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
5. Chris Hogan, Patriots
6. Torrey Smith, Eagles
7. Mack Hollins, Eagles
8. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots
9. Kenny Britt, Patriots

Tight ends

It’s a no-brainer starting Gronkowski, if he’s fully recovered from the concussion he suffered in the conference championship game. Of course, Zach Ertz has been good, but it’s not likely you’ve sat Gronk so far this postseason. You’ll need that multiplier to work in your favor.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Zach Ertz, Eagles
3. Trey Burton, Eagles
4. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
5. Brent Celek, Eagles
6. Jacob Hollister, Patriots

Defense/Special teams

Nick Foles has played well in stretches and his 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 2013 was no fluke. That said, the Patriots have had two weeks to prepare for the quarterback who has also played poorly in stretches. Odds of the Patriots winning and of Foles turning the ball over have me picking the Patriots to score more fantasy points on defense.

1. Patriots
2. Eagles

Kickers

I’m not expecting a blowout, but I think the Patriots can hold the Eagles out of the end zone more often than not. That would give Jake Elliott more opportunities to kick field goals.

1. Jake Elliott, Eagles
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

DFS fantasy football rankings: conference championships

There are just two more games remaining in the NFL playoffs, so that’s just two more opportunities to play fantasy football. Here are my DFS fantasy football rankings for the conference championships. There’s not much difference between these and my NFL Playoff Challenge fantasy rankings with the season so close to an end. But there are a few differences and more options ranked here.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: conference championships

It’s starting to get serious if you’re playing NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge. The players you started in the first round are now due to earn triple points if you’ve kept them in your lineup this whole time. Last week I suggested you start a few top-scoring Saints and Titans, but with the caveat that it would possibly be the end of the line for them. It was indeed the end of the line for the Saints, and in unbelievable fashion.

Here’s a look at my rankings for the conference championships.

Quarterbacks

The Patriots have just been cruising along this whole time, having all the breaks go their way. Now they take on an upstart Jaguars team that needs their defense to score points in order for them to win. If Brady can’t be productive against the Jags’ pass defense, it might be time to start thinking his skills are falling off. I don’t think that happens. If you started him in the first week of the playoffs, you’ll get to multiply this week’s points by three. A lot of people started Drew Brees to begin the Playoff Challenge, but with him no longer available, they should look to Case Keenum, who is favored to make the Super Bowl.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Case Keenum, Vikings
3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
4. Nick Foles, Eagles

Running backs

Dion Lewis did it all last weekend, though James White was the running back that scored twice. Lewis is a safer play that can pay off big if he ends up getting in the end zone. He had 24 touches for 141 yards from scrimmage while White had just eight touches, though he scored twice. Someone that I think will have to score in order for his team to advance is Jay Ajayi. He had 19 touches and 98 yards from scrimmage, but things should be tough against the Vikings. For the Vikings, I think Latavius Murray continues to take a big share of carries, especially if Minnesota controls the game.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots
2. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
3. Latavius Murray, Vikings
4. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
5. James White, Patriots
6. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
7. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
8. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
9. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
10. Corey Clement, Eagles
11. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
12. Corey Grant, Jaguars
13. Tommy Bohanon, Jaguars

Wide receivers

Stefon Diggs was the big hero last Sunday, but a big chunk of his numbers came on the winning play. The numbers still count, obviously, but Adam Thielen has been the more consistent receiver for the Vikings. I don’t have Diggs far behind Thielen, though. Brandin Cooks is my third-best receiver this week as I expect the Patriots to find a way to get by the Jags’ defense. Jacksonville, though stout on D, has had some high-scoring affairs this season and they just gave up 42 points to the Steelers.

1. Adam Thielen, Vikings
2. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
3. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
4. Danny Amendola, Patriots
5. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
6. Chris Hogan, Patriots
7. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
8. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
9. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
10. Jarius Wright, Vikings
11. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
12. Torrey Smith, Eagles
13. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
14. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
15. Kenny Britt, Patriots
16. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski was the easiest call in terms of starting a tight end for the Playoff Challenge. Owners will get rewarded with triple points this week. I’ve got Kyle Rudolph ranked second since he and the Vikings are favored to make the Super Bowl. He had five catches, but just 28 yards in the win over the Saints. Zach Ertz had a disappointing game last weekend, catching three passes for 32 yards. I have him behind Rudolph because I think his season ends in a loss to the Vikings. Of course, if you have a multiplier in play for Ertz, you might want to start him over Rudolph.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
3. Zach Ertz, Eagles
4. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
5. Trey Burton, Eagles
6. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
7. Brent Celek, Eagles
8. James O’Shaughnessy, Jaguars

Defense/Special teams

These picks are pretty straight forward. I think the Patriots, who are favored by more than a touchdown, won’t have much trouble against the Jaguars. I’ve ranked the Vikings second since I think they move on.

1. Patriots
2. Vikings
3. Eagles
4. Jaguars

Kickers

If you pick either one of the top two kickers, you’re likely to have a multiplier in play during the Super Bowl.

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Kai Forbath, Vikings
3. Jake Elliott, Eagles
4. Josh Lambo, Jaguars

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.