Updated 2018 fantasy football rankings: Top 250

We’re just a little more than two weeks away from the kickoff of the NFL season so it’s time to strap in for another year of fantasy football. You’ll want to make sure to check the frequently updated rankings at the bottom of the page. Here’s a look at the top 250 fantasy football players for half-point per reception leagues. Rankings by position can be found in the widget at the bottom of the page.

Top 250

1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT, RB—You could go with Todd Gurley here, but truth be told, any one of the top 5 could end up with the best fantasy year. Bell is playing with a franchise tag and will be a free agent after this season. He’ll want to put his best foot forward in order to demand a huge contract from his eventual team.
2. Todd Gurley, LAR, RB
3. David Johnson, ARI, RB
4. Antonio Brown, PIT, WR
5. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL, RB
6. Melvin Gordon, LAC, RB
7. Alvin Kamara, NO, RB
8. Leonard Fournette, JAC, RB
9. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, WR
10. Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB—Getting a minor injury in the preseason could have been the best thing that happened for him. He’s virtually guaranteed to enter the first week fully healthy after flashing a glimpse of what could be in his first preseason game.
11. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, WR
12. Julio Jones, ATL, WR
13. Christian McCaffrey, CAR, RB
14. Michael Thomas, NO, WR
15. Kareem Hunt, KC, RB
16. Dalvin Cook, MIN, RB
17. Keenan Allen, LAC, WR
18. A.J. Green, CIN, WR
19. Davante Adams, GB, WR—Jordy Nelson is no longer in Green Bay which opens things up for Adams to take the next step and likely record his first 1,000-yard season. When Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, you want to have the Packers’ No. 1 receiver on your fantasy squad.
20. Devonta Freeman, ATL, RB
21. Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE
22. Adam Thielen, MIN, WR
23. LeSean McCoy, BUF, RB
24. T.Y. Hilton, IND, WR
25. Joe Mixon, CIN, RB
26. Jerick McKinnon, SF, RB
27. Mike Evans, TB, WR
28. Jordan Howard, CHI, RB
29. Alex Collins, BAL, RB
30. Zach Ertz, PHI, TE
31. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, WR—He just keeps getting it done year after year. After a third straight season catching at least 100 passes and gaining over 1,000, he gets Sam Bradford as his quarterback. Bradford is extremely accurate on short routes, a Fitzgerald specialty.
32. Travis Kelce, KC, TE
33. Dion Lewis, TEN, RB
34. Aaron Rodgers, GB, QB
35. Stefon Diggs, MIN, WR
36. Amari Cooper, OAK, WR
37. Doug Baldwin, SEA, WR
38. Russell Wilson, SEA, QB
39. Royce Freeman, DEN, RB—I expect Freeman to be the main rusher for the the Broncos. They’ve used him on goal line situations in the preseason and he’s already scored in that role. The presence of Devontae Booker doesn’t make me shy away from the rookie.
40. Jay Ajayi, PHI, RB
41. Tyreek Hill, KC, WR
42. Cam Newton, CAR, QB
43. Demaryius Thomas, DEN, WR
44. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT, WR
45. Marvin Jones, DET, WR
46. Kenyan Drake, MIA, RB
47. Brandin Cooks, LAR, WR
48. Lamar Miller, HOU, RB
49. Marshawn Lynch, OAK, RB—I can see why he’s being drafted in the late fifth round of mocks, but he’s looked good in preseason and still put up decent numbers last year. He gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scored seven times. That’s nice from likely your third running back.
50. Jarvis Landry, CLE, WR
51. Deshaun Watson, HOU, QB
52. Golden Tate, DET, WR
53. Allen Robinson, CHI, WR
54. Drew Brees, NO, QB
55. Rex Burkhead, NE, RB
56. Derrick Henry, TEN, RB
57. Evan Engram, NYG, TE
58. Alshon Jeffery, PHI, WR
59. Chris Carson, SEA, RB—Rashaad Penny was all the rage on draft day based on who drafted him. But he hasn’t asserted himself as the No. 1 rusher and is now dealing with a broken finger. Carson can be had in the eighth round and he looks like he’ll start the season as Seattle’s starter.
60. Josh Gordon, CLE, WR
61. Tevin Coleman, ATL, RB
62. Corey Davis, TEN, WR
63. Jimmy Graham, GB, TE
64. Kirk Cousins, MIN, QB
65. Mark Ingram, NO, RB
66. Robby Anderson, NYJ, WR
67. Sony Michel, NE, RB
68. Isaiah Crowell, NYJ, RB
69. Tom Brady, NE, QB
70. Greg Olsen, CAR, TE—In mocks he’s getting drafted at the 60th overall pick. I don’t see that as a value and he’s coming off an injury. The addition of D.J. Moore could take some targets away as well. Take Trey Burton in the eighth round instead of Olsen in the fifth.
71. Carson Wentz, PHI, QB
72. Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR
73. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, WR
74. Kerryon Johnson, DET, RB
75. Robert Kelley, WAS, RB
76. Marquise Goodwin, SF, WR
77. Matthew Stafford, DET, QB
78. Rashaad Penny, SEA, RB
79. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, QB—Big Ben is my 10th-ranked quarterback and has many weapons at his disposal. He’s got the best receiver in the game in Antonio Brown, a great sophomore wideout in JuJu Smith-Schuster, a talented rookie in James Washington and arguably the best pass-catching running back in the league.
80. Chris Hogan, NE, WR
81. Trey Burton, CHI, TE
82. Andrew Luck, IND, QB
83. Tarik Cohen, CHI, RB
84. Pierre Garcon, SF, WR
85. Sammy Watkins, KC, WR
86. Carlos Hyde, CLE, RB
87. Delanie Walker, TEN, TE
88. Allen Hurns, DAL, WR
89. Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR—I think Shepard is a great value as he’s being taken in the 10th round. Odell Beckham Jr. is back so Eli Manning will have three solid targets (Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, Shepard), four if you count Barkley. Shepard will be productive and a decent flex play if he stays healthy.
90. Michael Crabtree, BAL, WR
91. Duke Johnson, CLE, RB
92. Bilal Powell, NYJ, RB
93. Robert Woods, LAR, WR
94. Randall Cobb, GB, WR
95. Ty Montgomery, GB, RB
96. Marlon Mack, IND, RB
97. Jamison Crowder, WAS, WR
98. Nelson Agholor, PHI, WR
99. Philip Rivers, LAC, QB
100. Jamaal Williams, GB, RB
101. Kenny Stills, MIA, WR—Stills is another tremendous value (ADP in the 11th round) and could definitely end up as the best WR for the Dolphins. He’s had at least 726 yards and 6 TDs in each of the last two seasons. With Jarvis Landry in Cleveland now, there are a lot of targets unaccounted for.
102. Matt Ryan, ATL, QB
103. Jared Goff, LAR, QB
104. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF, WR
105. Kyle Rudolph, MIN, TE
106. Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI, TE
107. Peyton Barber, TB, RB
108. Jared Cook, OAK, TE
109. Dak Prescott, DAL, QB
110. Ronald Jones II, TB, RB—You may have noticed that three spots above this is Jones’ teammate Peyton Barber. Barber has the inside track so far and Jones hasn’t impressed yet. Jones is getting drafted in the sixth round which is way too high for a running back struggling with pass protection.
111. Chris Thompson, WAS, RB
112. Latavius Murray, MIN, RB
113. Marcus Mariota, TEN, QB
114. Jordan Reed, WAS, TE
115. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB
116. Devin Funchess, CAR, WR
117. Will Fuller, HOU, WR
118. LeGarrette Blount, DET, RB
119. Corey Clement, PHI, RB
120. Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB—Mahomes has a huge arm which was displayed on his 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in his second preseason game. He’ll be a great streaming option if he doesn’t prove to be a weekly fantasy starter for you. Also note that he can run the ball.
121. DeVante Parker, MIA, WR
122. Marqise Lee, JAC, WR
123. Rishard Matthews, TEN, WR
124. George Kittle, SF, TE
125. David Njoku, CLE, TE
126. Eli Manning, NYG, QB
127. James White, NE, RB
128. D.J. Moore, CAR, WR
129. Jordy Nelson, OAK, WR—He’s shaved five years off his age, if you’re to believe reports out of training camp. The 33-year-old isn’t playing with Aaron Rodgers anymore and he’ll be targeted behind Amari Cooper. Martavis Bryant could even take some deep targets away from Nelson.
130. Jacksonville Jaguars, JAC, DST
131. Alex Smith, WAS, QB
132. Derek Carr, OAK, QB
133. Minnesota Vikings, MIN, DST
134. Kenny Golladay, DET, WR
135. Frank Gore, MIA, RB
136. C.J. Anderson, CAR, RB
137. DeSean Jackson, TB, WR
138. Devontae Booker, DEN, RB
139. Los Angeles Rams, LAR, DST—I may have them ranked too low, at this point (make sure to stay up to date by checking the bottom of this page). They’ve added so much defensive talent in the offseason after having a great 2017.
140. O.J. Howard, TB, TE
141. Julian Edelman, NE, WR
142. Giovani Bernard, CIN, RB
143. Spencer Ware, KC, RB
144. Benjamin Watson, NO, TE
145. Philadelphia Eagles, PHI, DST
146. Tyrell Williams, LAC, WR
147. Donte Moncrief, JAC, WR
148. Matt Breida, SF, RB
149. Paul Richardson, WAS, WR
150. Los Angeles Chargers, LAC, DST
151. John Brown, BAL, WR—Don’t be afraid to take a shot on Brown late in your draft. He can fly and has looked healthy in the preseason. Beating out Michael Crabtree as the team’s top target isn’t out of the question.
152. Case Keenum, DEN, QB
153. T.J. Yeldon, JAC, RB
154. Josh Doctson, WAS, WR
155. New Orleans Saints, NO, DST
156. Calvin Ridley, ATL, WR
157. Dede Westbrook, JAC, WR
158. Tyrod Taylor, CLE, QB
159. Nick Chubb, CLE, RB
160. Tyler Eifert, CIN, TE
161. Mike Williams, LAC, WR—I’m high on him as a second-year player to become a productive fantasy receiver. He’s looked good in preseason and his size makes you see how he could be a great red zone target in the absence of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.
162. Mohamed Sanu, ATL, WR
163. Jordan Wilkins, IND, RB
164. Chris Godwin, TB, WR
165. Denver Broncos, DEN, DST
166. Justin Tucker, BAL, K
167. Charles Clay, BUF, TE
168. Theo Riddick, DET, RB
169. Eric Ebron, IND, TE
170. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, K
171. Nyheim Hines, IND, RB—He’s too small to be a feature back, but he can catch and that can prove valuable if the Colts need to score a lot due to a poor defense. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Jordan Wilkins, but taking Hines in the 10th round isn’t a bad move.
172. Matt Bryant, ATL, K
173. Jameis Winston, TB, QB
174. Houston Texans, HOU, DST
175. Sam Bradford, ARI, QB
176. Tyler Lockett, SEA, WR
177. Greg Zuerlein, LAR, K
178. Cameron Meredith, NO, WR
179. Darren Sproles, PHI, RB
180. Andy Dalton, CIN, QB—The Bengals should lean on Joe Mixon and A.J. Green to do most of the heavy lifting for this offense. Nothing tells me Dalton will improve too much on last year’s effort, though. The line could be better, but that may not translate to fantasy production for Dalton.
181. Wil Lutz, NO, K
182. Baltimore Ravens, BAL, DST
183. Carolina Panthers, CAR, DST
184. Jack Doyle, IND, TE
185. Jake Elliott, PHI, K
186. Ted Ginn, NO, WR
187. Arizona Cardinals, ARI, DST
188. Quincy Enunwa, NYJ, WR
189. Doug Martin, OAK, RB
190. Martavis Bryant, OAK, WR—It’s amazing the kind of talent you can find in late rounds of fantasy drafts. Bryant isn’t getting selected until the 14th round of mock drafts, but I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on him a round or two earlier. He’s just that good when he’s not being a knucklehead.
191. New England Patriots, NE, DST
192. Kenneth Dixon, BAL, RB
193. Austin Hooper, ATL, TE
194. Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT, DST
195. Cameron Brate, TB, TE
196. Aaron Jones, GB, RB
197. Luke Willson, DET, TE
198. Chris Boswell, PIT, K
199. John Ross, CIN, WR
200. Lamar Jackson, BAL, QB—He’s not the starter…yet. If Joe Flacco starts feeling the pressure he could start forcing matters, which likely won’t end well. If Jackson gets on the field, his running ability gives him value. Even if he doesn’t start, John Harbaugh has hinted that he’ll be on the field.
201. Atlanta Falcons, ATL, DST
202. Chicago Bears, CHI, DST
203. Matt Prater, DET, K
204. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAC, TE
205. Chris Ivory, BUF, RB
206. Jonathan Stewart, NYG, RB
207. C.J. Prosise, SEA, RB
208. Taywan Taylor, TEN, WR
209. D’Onta Foreman, HOU, RB
210. Jermaine Kearse, NYJ, WR
211. Vance McDonald, PIT, TE
212. Blake Bortles, JAC, QB
213. Cole Beasley, DAL, WR
214. Seattle Seahawks, SEA, DST
215. Mason Crosby, GB, K
216. Geronimo Allison, GB, WR
217. Dan Bailey, DAL, K
218. Ryan Grant, IND, WR
219. Harrison Butker, KC, K
220. Kansas City Chiefs, KC, DST
221. Terrance Williams, DAL, WR
222. Danny Amendola, MIA, WR
223. Charles Sims, TB, RB
224. Adam Vinatieri, IND, K
225. Albert Wilson, MIA, WR
226. Joe Flacco, BAL, QB
227. Elijah McGuire, NYJ, RB
228. Cincinnati Bengals, CIN, DST
229. Mike Wallace, PHI, WR
230. Michael Gallup, DAL, WR
231. Dante Pettis, SF, WR
232. Stephen Anderson, HOU, TE
233. Vernon Davis, WAS, TE
234. Hayden Hurst, BAL, TE
235. New York Giants, NYG, DST
236. Ryan Tannehill, MIA, QB
237. Anthony Miller, CHI, WR
238. Christian Kirk, ARI, WR
239. Green Bay Packers, GB, DST
240. Chad Williams, ARI, WR
241. Mitch Trubisky, CHI, QB
242. Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB
243. John Kelly, LAR, RB
244. Brandon Marshall, SEA, WR
245. Terrelle Pryor, NYJ, WR
246. Keelan Cole, JAC, WR
247. Corey Grant, JAC, RB
248. Josh Rosen, ARI, QB
249. James Conner, PIT, RB
250. Alfred Morris, SF, RB

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

 

DFS fantasy football rankings: wild card

There’s not much football left to be played, but the wild-card round starts Saturday. If you’re in a fantasy football playoff league, or are playing the NFL Playoff Challenge on NFL.com, you’ll want to go here for my rankings. If you’re playing daily fantasy, check out my wild-card rankings below.

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

Fantasy football Week 15 recap and top waiver wire picks

Even if you were from a galaxy far, far away, and your first experience watching the NFL was Week 15, you would still recognize how dramatic and crazy the week was.

Football is often called “a game of inches,” but a game of folded sheets of paper? One of those quite possibly helped decide the Cowboys’ win over the Raiders on Sunday night. Head official Gene Steratore used a folded sheet of paper to prove that the football was indeed touching the line to gain on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak by Dak Prescott in the final quarter.

Another play that helped decide that game was Derek Carr’s fumble into the end zone to seal the win for Dallas. Marshawn Lynch can’t seem to find a quarterback that makes the right decision down near the goal line.

Speaking of plays down near the goal line, how about Big Ben’s decision to go for a fake spike and drill a slant to the middle of the field? Of course, the play ended in an interception by the Patriots to seal the win. That was after an unbelievable 69-yard catch and run by JuJu Smith-Schuster that set the Steelers up in great position. As for New England, sometimes it’s better to be lucky and good.

All this and I’ve yet to mention another superstar going down to injury. Antonio Brown partially tore his calf and will miss the rest of the regular season at least. But he’s out of your fantasy playoffs for sure.

Aside from the crazy endings, there were some big-time fantasy playoff performances turned in this week.

No performance was bigger than the one turned in by Todd Gurley, who helped the Rams decimate the Seahawks. With a young nucleus and a rookie head coach you couldn’t help wonder if this were a changing of the guard. The Seahawks are aging, especially on defense, and it’s been a long time since they’ve been treated the way the Rams treated them.

Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns, including a 57-yarder to all but end the game in the first half. He also caught three passes for 28 yards and another score. Gurley, who was disappointing last season, has thrived now that Jeff Fisher can no longer stunt his production. He’s definitely a fantasy MVP candidate and will very likely be on most fantasy championship teams.

The next best performance by a running back was the one turned in by Kareem Hunt on Saturday. That made it his second straight great start in a row. His resurgence is coming at the perfect time for fantasy owners in the playoffs. Hunt rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 51 yards and another score.

It was a nice week for a lot of the best rushers. Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy all put up the types of numbers they were expected to get for fantasy owners.

A few unexpected names led the charge for best wide receiver performances through Sunday night. A pair of Jaguars and another pair of Giants had the biggest days.

Sterling Shepard caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown as Eli Manning played great against the Eagles. Manning also hooked up with Tavarres King twice for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Manning probably didn’t start for a lot of fantasy playoff teams, but he finished with 434 yards and three touchdowns.

Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens helped Blake Bortles stay on a roll. Bortles was on of my starts of the week and did great against the Texans. He connected with Cole on seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. Bortles hit Mickens four times for 61 yards and two more scores. Bortles faces the 49ers and I was serious when I said he could possibly help some owners win their leagues in the playoffs. He was a good pick up for Carson Wentz owners last week.

You didn’t have to go far for another solid choice to replace Wentz. Nick Foles looked like he did in 2013, throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns passes in his first start in relief of Wentz. I suggested you pick him up last week when Wentz went down, but it looks like he’s still available in a lot of leagues.

Cam Newton also threw for four touchdowns and is looking like his old self again as he added 58 yards rushing on 14 attempts.

Outside of Newton, it was quite a mix of unusual suspects scoring well this week from the quarterback position. Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor and Joe Flacco all had big games.

Someone we’re used to having good numbers is Aaron Rodgers. He had a nice return, but he may get shut down since the Packers have nothing to play for anymore. Rodgers’ game benefited Randall Cobb more than Jordy Nelson.

Case Keenum, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith all had solid weeks as well.

Another quarterback that I have to mention is Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s picked up Kyle Shanahan’s offense in mere weeks and looks great moving around the pocket. Garoppolo already has good chemistry with his receivers, especially Marquise Goodwin. It’s early, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns in QB1 numbers next season.

As far as tight ends go, it’s been a tough road for the position this season. This week they scored in droves, but no tight end had a bigger week than Rob Gronkowski. He caught nine passes for 168 yards.

Greg Olsen also had a great week, his first one of the season, catching nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.

On the dark side…

Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton probably knocked a lot of owners out of the playoffs.

Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals have been huge disappointments. It’s one thing to be untalented and bad, but this team is talented and terrible.

Running backs that probably cost owners wins this week were Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Williams, Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde.

Of course, Week 16 is championship week so these waiver wire suggestions are obviously if you’re desperate at this point.

Top waiver wire picks

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: 237 yards, 4 TDs.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: 7 rec., 186 yards, TD. I thought Dede Westbrook was the better add of the two last week, but Cole is still putting up bigger numbers.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: 4 rec., 59 yards, TD. With Antonio Brown out, Bryant will likely see more targets and he’s available in a decent amount of leagues.

Kapri Bibbs, RB, Redskins: He caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown and could be utilized the way Kirk Cousins used Chris Thompson earlier this season.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants: He totaled 79 yards from scrimmage and is proving to be a pass option out of the backfield.

Kerwynn Williams or Elijhaa Penny, RB, Cardinals: Williams suffered a quad injury, but whomever starts next week will have a good matchup against the Giants.

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

Fantasy football Week 7 recap and top waiver wire picks

Week 7 had its share of disappointing performances, with three teams being shut out, but there were some big days by the usual suspects.

Ezekiel Elliott finally put a complete game together as the Cowboys trounced the 49ers 40-10. Elliott rushed 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He only had one catch out of the backfield, but he took it 72 yards for a score as he tight-roped the sideline and cut back to get into the end zone. Despite having the top performance of the week, Elliott’s future remains very much in question. He’s going to play Week 8, but after that his status is up in the air.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 8 rankings.

In that same game, Dak Prescott accounted for four touchdowns. Prescott threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns. He ran four times for 26 yards and another score. He’s a must-start every week at this point in his career. If Elliott can stay on the field, Prescott’s value will stay high.

The quarterback that had the best week played on Thursday night. Derek Carr threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Amari Cooper, who finally had a big game this season. He caught 11 passes for 210 yards.

Amari Cooper #89 of the Oakland Raiders scores a 38-yard touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 19, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Raiders kept their season alive with a big win and it could possibly spark better play all around. Tight end Jared Cook is starting to earn a reputation as a big-play receiver. He had six receptions for 104 yards, including a big sideline catch to set up the winning score. Michael Crabtree continued to play well, scoring the game-winning touchdown.

The biggest disappointment for the Raiders was Marshawn Lynch, who rushed just twice for nine yards before he left the bench during a dust up and put his hands on an official. He’s been suspended for a week, making Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington possible waiver pick ups.

Also playing Thursday night, Tyreek Hill continued to put up nice numbers. He caught six passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.

A week doesn’t go by without Kareem Hunt gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage. He became just the second NFL player to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards in his first seven career games, joining Eric Dickerson.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) is forced out of bounds by Oakland Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LeSean McCoy, Aaron Jones and T.J. Yeldon all had big weeks from the running back position as well. McCoy totaled 122 yards and scored twice. Jones rushed for over 100 yards, including a 46-yard score, for the second time in three weeks as he continues to be the go-to back for the Packers.

Yeldon put up great numbers when it was expected that Chris Ivory would be the beneficiary of Leonard Fournette missing the game. Ivory was decent and had the bulk of the carries, but Yeldon rushed just nine times for 122 yards and a touchdown. That said, there’s really no reason to pick up Yeldon with the Jaguars’ bye week coming up and Fournette expected back in Week 9.

Speaking of the Jaguars, their defense pitched a shutout, as did the Rams and Chargers. Jacksonville recorded 10 sacks against a terrible Colts offense. The team is in shambles without Andrew Luck, but even if he returned tomorrow, they would still be in trouble with that offensive line. The Chargers shut out the Broncos while making five sacks and picking off one pass. The Rams blanked the Cardinals and severely jeopardized Arizona’s season as they knocked Carson Palmer out of commission with a broken arm.

The Palmer injury will be a big blow to the value of Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had just three catches for 29 yards Sunday. It also makes me wonder if the Cardinals will hold out David Johnson once he’s healthy if their season is beyond saving.

T.Y. Hilton had a terrible day as well, catching two passes for 27 yards. The Colts are 2-5 and with Luck’s recent setback, it seems like a lost season for the Colts and its skill players.

The worst nightmare came true for fantasy owners of the Packers receivers. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for five catches and just 40 yards a week after Aaron Rodgers went down to injury. Anyone who picked up Brett Hundley thinking he’d be somewhat adequate were severely disappointed. He threw for 87 yards and one interception. Hundley did rush for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Another disappointing quarterback this week, though unexpectedly, was Matt Ryan. He had a great matchup with a struggling Patriots defense and only managed 233 yards passing and a touchdown. Ryan’s regression is real and he’s looking like he did before his big year last season.

On the bright side, Alex Smith, Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston are all healthy and each had outstanding performances. Smith threw three touchdown passes in a losing effort while Wilson had a big second half to beat the Giants.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Rich Barnes)

Even Josh McCown, a suggested streaming quarterback from last week, had a great day, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

Winston hooked up well with rookie tight end O.J. Howard for the first time this season. Howard caught all six of the passes sent his way, gaining 98 yards and scoring twice.

Another rookie tight end who keeps playing well is Evan Engram. He caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. The Giants are a mess offensively, but Engram is probably the only quality start.

Top waiver wire picks

Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders: 9 rushes, 31 yards; 4 rec., 45 yards.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: 6 rec., 85 yards, 2TDs. He’s played well with quarterback Matt Moore in the past.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints: 7 rec., 141 yards. He’s had two quality games in a row and Drew Brees can utilize a speedster.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: 18 rushes, 113 yards, TD. Jerick McKinnon was the hot name last week, and the duo were virtually even in touches, but Murray had the most success.

Deonte Thompson, WR, Bills: He hasn’t been with the team for a week yet and he’s already proving to be valuable. He caught four passes for 104 yards Sunday.

Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins: Jay Cutler is out and Moore can be productive as a streaming QB.

O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers: 6 rec., 98 yards, 2 TDs.

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

Fantasy football Week 5 recap and top waiver wire picks

Another week, another devastating injury hits the NFL and the fantasy football world.

This time around it was Odell Beckham Jr. who was carted off the field after fracturing his ankle. He was having a good game, too, catching five passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 6 rankings.

Another huge injury that could significantly impact fantasy came in Sunday night’s game. J.J. Watt had a fracture occur in his knee, putting him out for the rest of the season. He wasn’t the only Texans defender to suffer a likely season-ending injury. Whitney Mercilus also went down with a torn pectoral muscle.

The Texans defense isn’t the only fantasy “player” affected by these injuries. It may actually help increase the value of Deshaun Watson. Take Sunday’s game as an example. Houston was trailing for most of the game and Watson showed he has the firepower to put up big numbers, even in garbage time. He threw five touchdown passes, most of which were in desperation to get back in the game. The Texans are more likely to need him to have big days in order to stay competitive.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Another quarterback that had a huge day was Carson Wentz. He’s entering must-start territory based on his passing attempts alone. He hasn’t thrown the ball less than 30 times in a game this year. In fact, Wentz had his lowest attempts Sunday (30) and translated that into 304 yards and four touchdowns.

For the fifth straight week Dak Prescott has improved his fantasy scoring, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another. His team fell once again to Aaron Rodgers, who threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 32 yards.

Cam Newton, once again proved that you can’t just write guys off in the world of fantasy football. He had another big day, throwing for three touchdowns. He’s thrown for six TDs over the last two games after throwing just two in the first three weeks.

At this point you’d rather be starting Newton over Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben had one of his worst games, throwing five interceptions in the loss to the Jaguars. Despite the terrible game for the quarterback, Antonio Brown still produced like always. He had 10 catches for 157 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) makes a catch in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

What’s strange is Blake Bortles had an even worse game than his counterpart. Though Roethlisberger threw five picks, he managed 312 yards. The Jaguars didn’t want to risk Bortles throwing too much so they only allowed him to drop back 14 times. He didn’t even eclipse 100 yards and threw a pick.

The Jaguars’ game plan was to the benefit of Leonard Fournette, who had a career game as he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns. His 90-yard score late in the game was music to some fantasy owners’ ears. The late-game big plays can save your day or break your heart.

That wasn’t more apparent than during the end of the Texans-Chief Sunday night contest. Watson’s final touchdown pass came with no time on the clock and gave DeAndre Hopkins his third score of the day. There were definitely fantasy owners that had the Watson-Hopkins stack that got a bonus 12 points on a meaningless play.

Speaking of Hopkins, he finished with just four catches but three of those were touchdowns. Another Texan, Will Fuller, continued to make a big impact since his return to action last week. He scored twice in Week 5, including a 48-yard score.

Another receiver that had two scores was Davante Adams, who recovered quickly from a brutal hit on Thursday night of Week 4.

The wide receiver that had the biggest week was A.J. Green, who has benefited from the change in offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. He caught seven passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Even losing a fumble didn’t ruin his fantasy day.

T.Y. Hilton continues to bide his time until Andrew Luck returns to action. Hilton caught seven passes from Jacoby Brissett for 177 yards. He has a great matchup against the Titans next week.

A teammate of Hilton’s who had a great day was Marlon Mack. The backup rookie running back rushed just nine times for 91 yards and a touchdown. He’s making a strong case that he deserves more touches than the aging Frank Gore.

After Fournette, Melvin Gordon had the best day among running backs. Gordon rushed 20 times for 105 yards and caught six passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts after rushing for a 2 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Another running back that cashed in through the air was Duke Johnson. He caught three passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Johnson also rushed for 20 yards and is seemingly the best running back in Cleveland, despite a lot of preseason hype surrounding Isaiah Crowell.

One player who had zero hype entering the season was Aaron Jones. The rookie out of UTEP was behind Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams entering the season. With Montgomery out this week and Williams slightly banged up, Jones made the most of his opportunity. Jones, a top waiver wire pick from last week, rushed 19 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.

In the same game Ezekiel Elliott posted another strong performance. The Cowboys will likely have more of the same out of the second-year back if he stays eligible. The run-heavy game plan is their best chance to win and they won’t have to play Aaron Rodgers every week.

The worst performers of the week out of the backfield were Carlos Hyde, Eddie Lacy and Todd Gurley. Hyde took a back seat to Matt Breida for some reason. Lacy had just 19 yards rushing despite getting the most attempts for Seattle. Gurley had a real letdown after a great game in Week 4. He was inches away from a touchdown in the first quarter, but Earl Thomas forced a fumble that resulted in a touchback for Seattle.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams runs a 12-yard touchdown which was overturned and ruled a fumble that went out of bounds in the end zone during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The biggest disappointment in the Rams-Seahawks contest was Sammy Watkins. He didn’t haul in one of the four passes sent his way.

As far as tight ends go, nobody had a better day than Ed Dickson. He’s replacing Greg Olsen in the Panthers offense and could turn out to really help Newton stay a strong option. Dickson caught five passes for 175 yards.

Zach Ertz, Cameron Brate and Travis Kelce performed well as usual while Austin Sefarian-Jenkins proved to be a solid spot start.

Top waiver wire picks

Ed Dickson, TE, Panthers: If he continues to be Newton’s favorite target, he could be a nice addition.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: 4 rec., 93 yards, TD. Wentz is getting hot and Agholor could be the one to benefit.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: 4 rec., 38 yards, TD. He’s the No. 1 option on a surprising 3-2 team.

Nick O’Leary, TE, Bills: 5 rec., 54 yards. He’ll fill in for an injured Charles Clay when coming off a bye in Week 7.

Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys: 4 rec. 23 yards, 2TDs. If Terrance Williams continues slumping, Beasley could benefit. He’s on bye in Week 6 so he should be available.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: 5 rec., 115 yards. His season-high 11 targets makes him one to stash.

George Kittle, TE, 49ers: 7 rec., 83 yards, TD. He has a good matchup in Week 6 for any Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham or Charles Clay owners. Those guys are on bye.

Fantasy football: Week 4 rankings

Are you hanging in there? I’m pulling for you all. Just a reminder that an 0-3 start in fantasy football isn’t the same as it is in the NFL. You’ve still got a decent chance to make the playoffs. Don’t give up and stay engaged. With that said, here are my Week 4 fantasy football rankings by position.

Fantasy football: Week 3 rankings

Congrats if you had Tom Brady or Michael Crabtree in your fantasy football lineup in Week 2. My condolences if you started Ezekiel Elliott or Jordy Nelson. That said, we’ll look forward to the Week 3 fantasy football rankings. Every week I’ll give you rankings for each position. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for analysis, trends and waiver wire advice throughout the season. In addition, every Thursday we’ll bring you start/sit suggestions. Rankings will be updated throughout the week so make sure to check back here.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 2

Well, that was an interesting first week of the season, wasn’t it? Can’t wait to see what Week 2 brings. It kicks off Thursday night with Houston at Cincinnati. Safe starts are clearly A.J. Green and Lamar Miller. We’ll help you with the tougher calls as we tell you who should start and sit this week (and every week this season).

START THESE GUYS

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: This is a vote of confidence for Stafford, even though he’s taking on a tough secondary in the Giants. He’s got a solid, dependable target in Golden Tate and an emerging big play receiver in Kenny Golladay. Add to that his receiving threats out of the backfield, and I think Stafford does just as well as Dak Prescott did in Week 1 against the Giants.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 2 rankings.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He did more than hold his own against a great Broncos defense. Rivers has a much better matchup as he faces the Dolphins this week. He found Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin and Melvin Gordon for touchdown passes in Week 1 and should be a low-end QB1 in Week 2.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders: I don’t trust him over the long haul because of age and wear and tear. But it’s early in the season and he should still be fresh. He had over 90 yards of offense last week and he should find the end zone for the first time this season against the lowly Jets.

Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots: I was wrong about him last week, but it looks like he really is taking on the LeGarrette Blount role. He scored three short touchdowns last week and should have plenty of chances to produce good fantasy numbers against the Saints.

New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Terrance West, RB, Ravens: Danny Woodhead is out and the Ravens give their running backs a good amount of touches. West has a nice matchup against the Browns this weekend and should produce RB2 numbers at least.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots: Cooks had a solid outing in the season opener, but he wasn’t able to cash in on a score. This week should be better, given that he’s facing a bad Saints defensive backfield that got torched by Sam Bradford and the Vikings.

Eric Ebron, TE, Lions: I’m going out on a limb on this one after Ebron had just two catches for nine yards in Week 1. He’s facing the Giants and I think he’ll take advantage of the matchup that Jason Witten did in the first week of the season.

SIT THESE GUYS

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Is it just me or does Palmer look like he should have retired in the offseason after all? Last week he was horrible against the Lions. He has a great matchup against the Colts, but I don’t trust him after his Week 1 performance.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: His performance in Week 1 was nothing to write home about and he’s got a tough matchup against the Rams. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns in their game against the Colts. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the Rams will make things tough.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (93) and defensive end Brandon Graham (55) sack Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (93) and defensive end Brandon Graham (55) sack Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: He’ll replace David Johnson in the Cardinals’ lineup, but I don’t think he’s worthy of the start on your fantasy team. It’s more about how the Colts have played the run so far. They faced Todd Gurley and the Rams in Week 1 but allowed just 1.9 yards per carry.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Despite Hill being the veteran starter, Joe Mixon got the most touches out of the backfield for the Bengals last week. The Texans had trouble stopping the Jaguars on the ground last week, but with three mouths to feed, it’s hard to start Hill.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: The Steelers face a solid defensive backfield and Bryant disappointed against the Browns last week. Ben Roethlisberger plays a lot better at home, but he’s found a nice target in tight end Jesse James. Antonio Brown will most likely be the only wideout for Pittsburgh worthy of a start.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: With Andrew Luck still out, I don’t see how Hilton holds much value, especially facing tough coverage from the Cardinals.

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

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Rankings

It’s finally here. Week 1 of the NFL regular season starts Thursday and that means the kickoff of the 2017 fantasy football season. Every week we’ll give you our rankings for each position. Here’s the first installment. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for analysis, trends and waiver wire advice throughout the season. In addition, every Thursday we’ll bring you start/sit suggestions.

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

17 for ’17: Fantasy Football Predictions for 2017

Fantasy football success can come through many avenues. It can come through dogged research and statistical analysis. It can come through eye tests and understanding likely game scripts. Sometimes success comes from going with your gut. Ideally, your preparation is a well-rounded mix, but there’s a lot to be said for that gut feeling. With the NFL season a week away from kicking off, here are 17 gut predictions for the upcoming fantasy football season. Make sure to stay updated up until your draft with our standard and PPR rankings.

1. David Johnson will rush for 1,000 yards and gain 1,000 yards receiving. Last season he was 121 yards shy of accomplishing the feat when he got hurt in the final game of the season. This time he’ll make it happen. The receiving corps isn’t outstanding, so he’ll have ample opportunity to be used in the passing game. He caught 80 passes last year, more than Brandin Cooks, Terrelle Pryor, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Pierre Garcon.

2. Todd Gurley won’t be as disappointing as last season, but he won’t finish the season as an RB1. While it’s great that Jeff Fisher is finally gone and Sammy Watkins is now on the team, Gurley still has a bad line in front of him. In addition to that, he just doesn’t look good when he has to make one guy miss. He rushed for 3.2 yards per carry last season and had a long run of just 24 yards.

3. Martavis Bryant will finish the season as a WR2 or better. Before he was suspended last season, he was targeted 92 times in 2015. He caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant has looked solid in preseason and his talent is undeniable. He’ll definitely be able to hold off Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

4. Marshawn Lynch won’t break 850 yards rushing. His coach said he doesn’t want to give him more than 200 rushing attempts. It’ll be tough for him to be an RB1 with that volume. Also, people forget that before he was injured in 2015, he wasn’t playing very well. He had 417 yards on 111 carries for a 3.8 yard per carry average. He scored just three times.

5. Jay Cutler will make DeVante Parker a WR2 and Julius Thomas a TE1. Smoking Jay Cutler has never lacked ability. He just needs a good situation in which to thrive. If he can get the ball out quickly and rely on Jay Ajayi’s running ability, the passing game will open up and provide nice numbers Parker and Thomas wouldn’t have gotten with Ryan Tannehill.

6. LeGarrette Blount will have major regression, rushing for less than 8 touchdowns this season. He had 18 rushing touchdowns last season and won’t come close to that production this year. The running style of the Eagles isn’t conducive to Blount’s style. The Eagles’ best back last year rushed for just 661 yards. Blount was in a perfect situation last year. He won’t repeat.

7. Dak Prescott will be a top-6 fantasy quarterback. The lack of Ezekiel Elliott for (likely) six games will force the Cowboys to rely on the second-year quarterback that has looked great in preseason. Prescott was third in quarterback rating last season, but threw for just 229 yards per game. That was 26th best last season. If he can keep the efficiency up in an increased passing role, his fantasy scoring could propel him to the top tier.

8. Jamison Crowder will score more fantasy points than Terrelle Pryor. He already has chemistry with Kirk Cousins, playing in all 32 games in his first two seasons. Crowder was targeted 97 times last season with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both ahead of him last year. Pryor will be the focus of defenses, leaving Crowder with softer coverage.

9. Mark Ingram will be the best running back in New Orleans this season. He finally rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, but the Saints brought in Adrian Peterson. Ingram had a very efficient season, rushing 205 times with a 5.1 yard per carry average. He’s rushed for at least six touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. What’s even more encouraging is his reception numbers over the last two seasons. He’s caught 96 passes in the last two years. Ingram had four receiving touchdowns last year.

10. Jeremy Hill will win out in the battle of the Bengals running backs. Joe Mixon looks like he can do anything, and he probably can if his head coach lets him loose. But Marvin Lewis doesn’t like to do that. Gio Bernard will remain the third-down back and provide a change of pace. Hill is a veteran and is nursing an ankle injury now, but if he stays healthy then Lewis will trust him.

11. Nobody will have 100 receptions this season. Just three receivers had more than 100 receptions last season. Larry Fitzgerald (107), Antonio Brown (106) and Odell Beckham Jr. (101) were the only players to accomplish that feat last year. Fitzgerald is getting old, Brown will share targets with Bryant and Beckham Jr. has Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to contend with. The player that was next closest was Julian Edelman with 98 catches.

12. Matthew Stafford will respond to his mega contract with a top-8 fantasy performance this season. When the Lions didn’t draft one of the many available running backs, it became clear that they are happy with Stafford throwing the ball. Last season he threw 594 passes and the Lions rushed just 350 times, tied for the league low. With two agile, pass-catching running backs and a lot of receiving options, Stafford will put up big numbers.

13. Zach Ertz will be a top-5 tight end. Ertz was the number one receiving option in Philly last season, but when Alshon Jeffery joined the team it seemed he’d take a back seat. He may not be the top option for the Eagles anymore, but Jordan Matthews shipping off to Buffalo opens things back up. Ertz might be the No. 2 option but put up bigger raw numbers since he won’t be the focus of the defense.

14. Keenan Allen will play 16 games for the first time in his career. He’s looked great in the preseason and after playing just nine games in two years I’ve got a feeling he finally puts an entire season together. If he can pull that off, he’ll likely post career highs in catches and yards.

15. Andrew Luck won’t start the season, but he’ll end up as a QB1. He hasn’t practiced all preseason after undergoing shoulder surgery seven months ago. Chuck Pagano is being tight-lipped on the quarterback’s availability. It’s definitely a situation to be concerned about. But I just have a gut feeling that he’ll be back before too long. The good news is he’s falling in most drafts. You may be able to take him a lot later than his ADP (8th round). He’s going as low as the 11th in some drafts.

16. At least five rookie running backs will be RB1 or RB2 status. Leonard Fournette will benefit from volume while Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey can showcase versatility. D’Onta Foreman has looked great in preseason and it doesn’t take him a lot of touches to be productive. He’ll play second fiddle to Lamar Miller early, but he could break out when given the opportunity.

17. Kareem Hunt will be the top-performing rookie, outpacing the running backs mentioned in prediction No. 16. Spencer Ware had a great season last year, except he didn’t get into the end zone often. If Hunt continues to look like he does in preseason, with little competition in KC, he could end up as a high-end RB2 or even a low-end RB1. The Chiefs offensive scheme benefits the rookie greatly.

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