Our fantasy defense and special teams rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. Over the last few days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I have been sharing our rankings for each position side-by-side. We’ve ranked quarterbacksrunning backswide receivers and tight ends. We close out with defenses. Make sure to stay updated up until your draft with our standard and PPR rankings.

1. Tijerina—Vikings; Vasquez—Broncos

2. Tijerina—Broncos; Vasquez—Seahawks

3. Tijerina—Chiefs; Vasquez—Texans

4. Tijerina—Texans; Vasquez—Cardinals

5. Tijerina—Steelers; Vasquez—Patriots

6. Tijerina—Panthers; Vasquez—Chiefs

7. Tijerina—Falcons; Vasquez—Panthers

8. Tijerina—Seahawks; Vasquez—Vikings

9. Tijerina—Jaguars; Vasquez—Giants

10. Tijerina—Cardinals; Vasquez—Rams

11. Tijerina—Eagles; Vasquez—Steelers

12. Tijerina—Patriots; Vasquez—Ravens

13. Tijerina—Giants; Vasquez—Bengals

14. Tijerina—Titans; Vasquez—Jaguars

15. Tijerina—Buccaneers; Vasquez—Bills

16. Tijerina—Chargers; Vasquez—Eagles

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

Our fantasy tight end rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. For the next few days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I will share our rankings for each position side-by-side. We’ve ranked quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Up next are tight ends followed by defenses. At the end of this list are a few questions regarding where we ranked the tight ends. Ranks in bold are discussed at the bottom.

1. Tijerina—Rob Gronkowski; Vasquez—Rob Gronkowski

2. Tijerina—Greg Olsen; Vasquez—Jordan Reed

3. Tijerina—Travis Kelce; Vasquez—Travis Kelce

4. Tijerina—Jimmy Graham; Vasquez—Greg Olsen

5. Tijerina—Martellus Bennett; Vasquez—Jimmy Graham

6. Tijerina—Jordan Reed; Vasquez—Tyler Eifert

7. Tijerina—Delanie Walker; Vasquez—Kyle Rudolph

8. Tijerina—Zach Ertz; Vasquez—Zach Ertz

9. Tijerina—Kyle Rudolph; Vasquez—Hunter Henry

10. Tijerina—Hunter Henry; Vasquez—Eric Ebron

11. Tijerina—Tyler Eifert; Vasquez—Martellus Bennett

12. Tijerina—Jason Witten; Vasquez—Delanie Walker

13. Tijerina—Jack Doyle; Vasquez—Jack Doyle

14. Tijerina—Cameron Brate; Vasquez—Coby Fleener

15. Tijerina—Eric Ebron; Vasquez—Jason Witten

16. Tijerina—Coby Fleener; Vasquez—Charles Clay

17. Tijerina—Evan Engram; Vasquez—Antonio Gates

18. Tijerina—Austin Hooper; Vasquez—Benjamin Watson

19. Tijerina—Jesse James; Vasquez—Jesse James

20. Tijerina—Julius Thomas; Vasquez—Austin Hooper

Three questions about these rankings:

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle catches a pass during a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sarah Warnock)
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle catches a pass during a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sarah Warnock)

Who outside of your top 12 has the best opportunity to outperform their current ranking?

Tijerina: Cameron Brate, at 14. O.J. Howard will probably go before Brate on draft day, but those two both will put up good numbers. Rookies are usually fantasy wildcards; Howard has been hit or miss this preseason though he did get a couple of red zone targets last week. Brate’s been steady throughout and knows the offense.

Vasquez: Jack Doyle can inch his way into the top 12 by the end of the year. Dwayne Allen isn’t on the team anymore so things should open up for Doyle. Hopefully Andrew Luck doesn’t miss more than a game so that Doyle can put up TE1 numbers during the season. I expect him to catch more than five touchdowns this year.

O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Tashaun Gipson #39 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a preseason game at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Tashaun Gipson #39 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a preseason game at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Will a rookie be relevant for fantasy by the end of the year? Which one?

Tijerina: Relevant? O.J. Howard and Evan Engram. Either would be suitable backups with upside. But they also both have roster issues to contend with when it comes to red-zone targets. I don’t think David Njoku does much this year. Keep an eye on possible sleeper George Kittle, who only has Vance McDonald ahead of him on the 49ers’ depth chart; the fifth-rounder scored on a nice 29-yard catch and run in his first preseason game.

Vasquez: Rookie tight ends don’t typically produce in fantasy football, but if anyone can this season, I’d bet on O.J. Howard of Tampa Bay. He’s finding his way onto the field with Cameron Brate at the same time. That makes things interesting, but it’s hard to be relevant when you’re sharing targets with the other tight end on the team.

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) is tripped up by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Brandon Dixon (35) during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Should you even draft a backup tight end? Or is it OK to pull one with a good matchup off the waiver wire during your starter’s bye week?

Tijerina: It’s OK to go with one tight end — if that tight end is one of the first 12 on our lists. If you’re only going with one, make sure he’s a true TE1. You can manage byes or injuries with waivers. By the time you’re considering drafting a second tight end, you’re already in best-available mode in the later rounds. You have better odds hitting on a late-round shot on a receiver or running back than a tight end. It’s a numbers thing: More draftable receivers and backs in the fantasy pond than tight ends.

Vasquez: I go back and forth on this one. If I can get a tight end with upside, like an Evan Engram, then I’ll take a shot late. If the options just aren’t exciting after I’ve drafted a tight end, I’ll go for upside on a receiver or a running back. I would advise doing that during the draft and picking up a substitute tight end off the waiver wire when necessary.

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

Our fantasy wide receiver rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. For the next few days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I will share our rankings for each position side-by-side. We’ve ranked quarterbacks and running backs. Up next are wide receivers, followed by tight ends and defenses. At the end of this list are a few questions regarding where we ranked the wide receivers. Ranks in bold are discussed at the bottom.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Tijerina—Antonio Brown; Vasquez—Antonio Brown

2. Tijerina—Julio Jones; Vasquez—Julio Jones

3. Tijerina—Odell Beckham Jr.; Vasquez—Odell Beckham Jr.

4. Tijerina—Mike Evans; Vasquez—A.J. Green

5. Tijerina—Dez Bryant; Vasquez—Mike Evans

6. Tijerina—Jordy Nelson; Vasquez—Jordy Nelson

7. Tijerina—A.J. Green; Vasquez—Michael Thomas

8. Tijerina—Michael Thomas; Vasquez—Dez Bryant

9. Tijerina—Amari Cooper; Vasquez—T.Y. Hilton

10. Tijerina—Doug Baldwin; Vasquez—Doug Baldwin

11. Tijerina—T.Y. Hilton; Vasquez—Amari Cooper

12. Tijerina—Tyreek Hill; Vasquez—Alshon Jeffery

13. Tijerina—Demaryius Thomas; Vasquez—Demaryius Thomas

14. Tijerina—Michael Crabtree; Vasquez—Brandin Cooks

15. Tijerina—DeAndre Hopkins; Vasquez—Terrelle Pryor

16. Tijerina—Emmanuel Sanders; Vasquez—Michael Crabtree

17. Tijerina—Martavis Bryant; Vasquez—DeAndre Hopkins

18. Tijerina—Davante Adams; Vasquez—Larry Fitzgerald

19. Tijerina—Kelvin Benjamin; Vasquez—Golden Tate

20. Tijerina—Terrelle Pryor; Vasquez—Keenan Allen

21. Tijerina—Stefon Diggs; Vasquez—Julian Edelman

22. Tijerina—Larry Fitzgerald; Vasquez—Sammy Watkins

23. Tijerina—Golden Tate; Vasquez—Jamison Crowder

24. Tijerina—Keenan Allen; Vasquez—Allen Robinson

25. Tijerina—Jamison Crowder; Vasquez—Donte Moncrief

26. Tijerina—Brandin Cooks; Vasquez—Jarvis Landry

27. Tijerina—Randall Cobb; Vasquez—Tyreek Hill

28. Tijerina—DeVante Parker; Vasquez—Davante Adams

29. Tijerina—Jarvis Landry; Vasquez—Jeremy Maclin

30. Tijerina—Willie Snead; Vasquez—Martavis Bryant

31. Tijerina—Pierre Garcon; Vasquez—Stefon Diggs

32. Tijerina—Brandon Marshall; Vasquez—Brandon Marshall

33. Tijerina—Marvin Jones; Vasquez—Emmanuel Sanders

34. Tijerina—Donte Moncrief; Vasquez—Kelvin Benjamin

35. Tijerina—Mohamed Sanu; Vasquez—Pierre Garcon

Three questions about these rankings:

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with De’Anthony Thomas #13 after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Will Tyreek Hill be a WR1 after last season’s breakout performance?

Tijerina: I suspect he’ll end up being a WR2, somewhere in the good-to-upper-end WR2 territory. Still dangerous, still explosive. But the rest of the league is wise to him, he’s not going to be used as often on returns, and the addition of Kareem Hunt is going to affect him too. He’ll dip a bit from 2016 but is still a good one to get.

Vasquez: I’m going with no, due to the fact that he’s going to be the No. 1 wide receiver option in Kansas City. Sounds counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Well, the problem is he’ll be the top priority to stop for defenses now that Jeremy Maclin is in Baltimore. Travis Kelce will likely get more targets and I think the Chiefs will try to lean on a running game with Spencer Ware and rookie Kareem Hunt contributing. I like Hill and what he can do, but I wouldn’t draft him at his current ADP which is in the early fourth round.

Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots reacts before a preseason game with Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Do you believe Brandin Cooks will thrive in New England?

Tijerina: He won’t Randy Moss-thrive, but he’s the top receiver New England has. It’s Gronk, Cooks and Edelman in Tom Brady’s pecking order. I give Cooks the fantasy edge over Edelman, even with Edelman’s history with Brady, because Cooks is more explosive but also can catch those shorter routes that Brady likes. Brady will spread it around, though. That’ll affect all of their numbers.

Vasquez: Players just end up performing better when they go to New England. I go back-and-forth with Cooks. One one hand I see the talent and production he’s managed, but on the other I see the big fat goose egg he put up in one week last year. Still, I’m going to believe that Tom Brady takes advantage of Cooks’ skill set.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) catches a 37-yard touchdown pass as he is defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (30) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Who in your top-24 (WR1-WR2 range) concerns you the most?

Tijerina: T.Y. Hilton, at 11. He’s so dependent upon Andrew Luck, and Luck for me is so iffy for 2017. Luck still hasn’t thrown, Hilton still hasn’t caught a preseason pass, we don’t know if Luck will be there Week 1 and the Colts’ center is out till maybe November. I’m wary of all Colts this year. I have Hilton at 11 on the hope/assumption that Luck will be Luck. That being said, if it’s my pick, I need either a WR1 or WR2 and I’ve got my top four available guys on the board — No. 11 Hilton, No. 12 Hill, No. 13 Demaryius Thomas, No. 14 Michael Crabtree and No. 15 DeAndre Hopkins … I’m probably going to take Hill, Thomas, Hopkins or Crabtree ahead of Hilton, and probably in that order.

Vasquez: It’s Doug Baldwin at No. 10. Not because I don’t believe he’ll end up with great numbers overall, but because of the amount of games he came up short last season. For a WR1, which I’m predicting he’ll be, he busted in eight games last season. I’m defining that as not scoring or catching passes for less than 70 yards. That’s a lot of bad games. But at the end of the season, he still ended up as a WR1. That’s the problem. He gets the numbers over the course of the season, but he can lose you games if he puts up duds as frequently as he did last year. That said, I think Russell Wilson will be able to stay a bit healthier this season, helping Baldwin keep a high floor.

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

From cheat sheets to sleeper lists, here’s your fantasy football draft checklist

This weekend will be the biggest for fantasy football in terms of number of leagues holding their drafts. Make sure you’re ready by going over this checklist before you make your first pick.

1. Rankings/cheat sheets √

If you’ve been following this blog during the offseason, then you know we’ve got you covered right here. You’ll find fantasy rankings for over 250 players, including position rankings for standard and PPR scoring. If cheat sheets are more your speed, have a look here.

2. Note prominent bye week conflicts √

Our top-ranked player, David Johnson, is off in Week 8 of this season. In fact, a slew of pro bowlers are off that week. Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray and Odell Beckham Jr. are among those high-valued players off that week. Also off that week are Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette. Week 9 will also be a tough win for some fantasy owners, with Le’Veon Bell, Tom Brady, Jordan Howard, Isaiah Crowell, Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook all taking the week off.

3. Know prominent suspensions √

Most everyone knows Ezekiel Elliott is suspended for six games, but keep an eye on his situation since he would be allowed to play during his appeal. Another running back that will miss some time is Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of the season. Looking at wide receivers, Packers wideout Geronimo Allison is going to miss the first week while Jets No. 2 receiver Jalin Marshall will miss the first four weeks. Also on the Jets, tight end sleeper candidate Austin Seferian-Jenkins will miss the first two games. One player who is technically not cleared to play is Martavis Bryant, but all signs point to him being fully reinstated soon for the Steelers.

4. Know who won position battles √

The Saints backfield looks like a tough one to call, but it would be surprising if Mark Ingram wasn’t the lead back, at least to start the season. Another battle going on that is yet to be determined is between Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon. While I think Mixon takes over at some point, Hill will probably start the year getting more touches while Gio Bernard plays the third-down role. One more battle to check out is the one between Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt. While Ware has been getting most of the first-team work, Hunt has impressed. If you’re drafting this Saturday, make sure you know what happened in the Chiefs’ Friday night contest. Be sure to pay attention to the other backfield in that game as well, Seattle’s.

5. Sleepers list √

You must have a list of possible sleepers ready to snatch up late in your draft. Here are a few names to consider late:
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers—He’s a more traditional back compared to Ty Montgomery, who is actually a wide receiver.
De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Broncos—He’s looked great in the preseason and with rushers in front of him not really impressing, he could end up making an impact.
Joe Williams, RB, 49ers—He was handpicked by new Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan and with Carlos Hyde’s injury history, the rookie may be worth a flyer.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions—The rookie has looked good, but a lot needs to happen in front of him in order for him to have ample opportunity. He’s worth a late pickup, though.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins—Terrelle Pryor has been making one-handed catches in camp, causing people to forget that Crowder will be Kirk Cousins’ top target after Jordan Reed.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Saints—A speedster with Drew Brees tossing him the ball? Sounds good to me.
Julius Thomas, TE, Dolphins—I think Jay Cutler’s addition to Miami gives Thomas a chance at being a top-12 tight end. If you draft a backup TE, make it Thomas.

6. Do Not Draft list √

Make sure you have a list of players you just absolutely won’t draft and make sure you adhere to it. For me, it’s players with uncertainty hanging over their head, players like Elliott (looming suspension) and Rob Gronkowski (drafted too high with injury history). Players that don’t offer value are also on my do-not-draft list. Aaron Rodgers, for example, is being taken too high for a spot that can be filled easily. Also, be sure you are on top of preseason injuries. It’s feared that Julian Edelman tore his ACL Friday night. Spencer Ware also has a sprained knee, but it’s yet to be determined how severe it is.

7. Pronunciation guide √

You remember that fantasy commercial where the one owner tried to draft T.J. Who’s Your Mama, instead of Houshmandzadeh? Don’t be that owner. Here’s a list of names with pronunciations.

Jay Ajayi—uh-JYE-ee.
Tyler Eifert—Eye-furt.
D’Onta Foreman—Dee-on-tay, and for the love of all things holy, it’s Foreman, not Freeman.
Kenny Golladay—Rhymes with holiday.
Alvin Kamara—Kuh-mare-uh.
Martavis
Bryant—Heard this often as Mar-tay-vious, but that’s wrong. Mar-tay-vis is correct.
David Njoku—nJOE-koo.
Trevor Siemian—Like the first name of Simeon Rice, Super Bowl champ and former Buc.

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

Our fantasy running back rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. For the next few days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I will share our rankings for each position side-by-side. We started with quarterbacks. Running backs are up next, followed by wide receivers, tight ends and defenses. At the end of this list are a few questions regarding where we ranked the running backs. Ranks in bold are discussed at the bottom.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Tijerina—David Johnson; Vasquez—David Johnson

2. Tijerina—Le’Veon Bell; Vasquez—Le’Veon Bell

3. Tijerina—Devonta Freeman; Vasquez—LeSean McCoy

4. Tijerina—LeSean McCoy; Vasquez—Devonta Freeman

5. Tijerina—Ezekiel Elliott; Vasquez—Melvin Gordon

6. Tijerina—Melvin Gordon; Vasquez—DeMarco Murray

7. Tijerina—Jordan Howard; Vasquez—Jordan Howard

8. Tijerina—Todd Gurley; Vasquez—Jay Ajayi

9. Tijerina—Isaiah Crowell; Vasquez—Leonard Fournette

10. Tijerina—Dalvin Cook; Vasquez—Isaiah Crowell

11. Tijerina—DeMarco Murray; Vasquez—Todd Gurley

12. Tijerina—Jay Ajayi; Vasquez—Marshawn Lynch

13. Tijerina—C.J. Anderson; Vasquez—Ezekiel Elliott

14. Tijerina—Leonard Fournette; Vasquez—Frank Gore

15. Tijerina—Christian McCaffrey; Vasquez—Lamar Miller

16. Tijerina—LeGarrette Blount; Vasquez—Christian McCaffrey

17. Tijerina—Joe Mixon; Vasquez—Mark Ingram

18. Tijerina—Spencer Ware; Vasquez—Spencer Ware

19. Tijerina—Carlos Hyde; Vasquez—Carlos Hyde

20. Tijerina—Lamar Miller; Vasquez—Joe Mixon

21. Tijerina—Tevin Coleman; Vasquez—Ty Montgomery

22. Tijerina—Marshawn Lynch; Vasquez—Dalvin Cook

23. Tijerina—Ty Montgomery; Vasquez—Danny Woodhead

24. Tijerina—Mark Ingram; Vasquez—Tevin Coleman

25. Tijerina—Paul Perkins; Vasquez—Mike Gillislee

26. Tijerina—Derrick Henry; Vasquez—C.J. Anderson

27. Tijerina—Doug Martin; Vasquez—Ameer Abdullah

28. Tijerina—Adrian Peterson; Vasquez—Adrian Peterson

29. Tijerina—Mike Gillislee; Vasquez—Matt Forte

30. Tijerina—Matt Forte; Vasquez—Bilal Powell

31. Tijerina—Rob Kelley; Vasquez—Doug Martin

32. Tijerina—Ameer Abdullah; Vasquez—Kareem Hunt

33. Tijerina—Jonathan Stewart; Vasquez—Theo Riddick

34. Tijerina—Thomas Rawls; Vasquez—Paul Perkins

35. Tijerina—Darren McFadden; Vasquez—Terrance West

Three questions about these rankings:

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) beats Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Robert Golden (21) and Cortez Allen (28) to the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

What do you do with Ezekiel Elliott, assuming the suspension holds at six games?

Tijerina: Worst case, he misses six games. You draft accordingly and have yourself covered till he returns for the last half of your regular season and the playoffs. He’ll be angry, fresh and who knows what situation the Cowboys’ season will be in? And that offensive line still makes him an elite fantasy back. Draft Darren McFadden if you can, as protection. This feels like when Tom Brady slipped in drafts and ended up having the monster year despite his suspension. And Elliott’s appeal hearing isn’t until Aug. 29; who knows how this will play out? The suspension could be reduced, or it could be thrown out, or it could be put off till later, like Brady’s did.

Vasquez: I can’t see myself drafting him any higher than the mid-to-late third round. Missing six games is just about half your fantasy season. The only way he holds value is if he can be taken later in drafts. Of course, if you can weather the storm for those first six games he’ll be an automatic RB1 upon his return and you’re looking good. The other issue is that this appeal process could possibly loom. It’s not set in stone that a ruling will come down before the season, or even in the middle. You’d hate to have him play during the appeal and have a decision interrupt your season. I almost want to stay away altogether.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) rushes as Seattle Seahawks linebacker Terence Garvin (52) closes in during the first half of an NFL football preseason game, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Why is Dalvin Cook an RB1 or RB2?

Tijerina: Cook’s not only an RB1, he’s my favorite rookie running back. He’s in such a better position in Minnesota than the other first-rounders who were taken ahead of him. All of them (Fournette, McCaffrey and Mixon) are contending with experienced backs who’ll take carries away from them. But Latavius Murray’s bad ankle has kept him out of the first two preseason games and Jerick McKinnon isn’t getting touches. Cook is averaging more than 4 yards a carry and also is getting passes out of the backfield.

Vasquez: He’s going to be great some day, just not quite yet. With Latavius Murray in the picture I can see the rookie not being used to his full extent. Rookies like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are in better situations at this point. Cook will be good on passing downs, but I have a feeling Murray could end up taking care of goal line work. I haven’t been the biggest believer in Murray, but he’s what’s keeping me from making Cook an RB1.

What is Frank Gore’s outlook for this season and does he hold any fantasy value?

Tijerina: No thanks. I’ll pass on Gore. For me, he’s a bench player, someone to plug in on a bye week. I’d rather have Marlon Mack if I’m drafting a Colts running back. But I actually stopped drafting him about two years ago.

Vasquez: The more we keep writing him off, the longer Gore keeps staying relevant to fantasy football. In his first six seasons he played every game just once. Over the next six seasons he hasn’t missed a game. That’s durability. It has to run out at some point, but I’ll wait until we see signs of that happening. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and accounted for eight touchdowns. That’s not what you want out of a RB1, but he can definitely contribute as a high-end flex player and a mid-level RB2.

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

Our fantasy quarterback rankings: Whose are best?

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting this weekend. For the next five days reigning 3-peat Office Football League champ Rich Tijerina and I will share our rankings for each position side-by-side. We’ll start with quarterbacks followed by running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and defenses. At the end of this list are a few questions regarding where we ranked the QBs. Ranks in bold are discussed at the bottom.

QUARTERBACKS

1. Tijerina — Aaron Rodgers; Vasquez — Aaron Rodgers

2. Tijerina — Tom Brady; Vasquez — Tom Brady

3. Tijerina — Drew Brees; Vasquez — Drew Brees

4. Tijerina — Russell Wilson; Vasquez — Russell Wilson

5. Tijerina — Matt Ryan; Vasquez — Andrew Luck

6. Tijerina — Jameis Winston; Vasquez — Dak Prescott

7. Tijerina — Kirk Cousins; Vasquez — Matt Ryan

8. Tijerina — Dak Prescott; Vasquez — Kirk Cousins

9. Tijerina — Phillip Rivers; Vasquez — Andy Dalton

10. Tijerina — Marcus Mariota; Vasquez — Jameis Winston

11. Tijerina — Matthew Stafford; Vasquez — Derek Carr

12. Tijerina — Cam Newton; Vasquez — Marcus Mariota

13. Tijerina — Derek Carr; Vasquez — Matthew Stafford

14. Tijerina — Ben Roethlisberger; Vasquez — Philip Rivers

15. Tijerina — Andrew Luck; Vasquez — Cam Newton

16. Tijerina — Eli Manning; Vasquez — Ben Roethlisberger

17. Tijerina — Andy Dalton; Vasquez — Carson Palmer

18. Tijerina — Carson Wentz; Vasquez — Eli Manning

19. Tijerina — Carson Palmer; Vasquez — Carson Wentz

20. Tijerina — Tyrod Taylor; Vasquez — Tyrod Taylor

21. Tijerina — Joe Flacco; Vasquez — Jay Cutler

22. Tijerina — Deshaun Watson; Vasquez — Joe Flacco

23. Tijerina — Blake Bortles; Vasquez — Blake Bortles

24. Tijerina — Trevor Siemian; Vasquez — Deshaun Watson

25. Tijerina — Brian Hoyer; Vasquez — Sam Bradford

Three questions about these rankings:

Andrew Luck didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time all year in Week 16. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Andrew Luck didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time all year in Week 16. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Why do you believe (or not) in Luck? 

Tijerina: I believe in Luck’s talent and viability as a top-five fantasy quarterback. It’s just that with the injury, his lack of offseason work and the fact that he probably won’t play in the preseason all make me want to see him prove it before I expend a high pick on him. In fact, I’m not sure there’s a single Colt that I wouldn’t fret about after drafting. Luck’s hurt, Moncrief is dependent on Luck, Marlon Mack might be a good value pick but he’s also an unknown. The offensive line is still shaky and the defense is still a question mark. Sure, Luck’s a stud QB. I just think there are safer QBs to go with this year.

Vasquez: He’s coming off a season in which he set a career high in total QBR and he’s been great when healthy. He started his career playing in every game for three straight seasons. After missing half the season in 2015, he played in 15 games last year. If Donte Moncrief can stay healthy he’ll provide Luck with another weapon to pair with T.Y. Hilton. Another plus to Luck’s game is his rushing ability. He had 341 yards and two rushing TDs last season. Luck has 14 rushing touchdowns in his career. I don’t think he’ll suffer from missing preseason.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton runs the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Is Andy Dalton a QB1 or QB2?

Tijerina: If Dalton hasn’t gotten to QB1 status by now with A.J. Green to work with, he’s not going to. But for me, he’s a fairly safe QB2; he’s got Green back from injury and also has Tyler Eifert — who has 18 TDs in his 20 games over the last two years — along with John Ross and Joe Mixon. His line lost its two best guys, however. I don’t see Ross blowing up as a rookie and I still see Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard taking away Mixon carries.

Vasquez: Dalton has thrown for more than 4,000 yards twice in his career, and one of those times was last season. It was a season in which he missed A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert for extended periods. He has the weapons with those two returning, not to mention two additions through the draft. Joe Mixon could take short dump off passes to the house and John Ross can fly on the outside.

Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after a touchdown by Jordan Howard #24 (not pictured) during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Will Jay Cutler be a viable streaming option?

Tijerina: No. Miami won’t see much of a dropoff in the passing game but that’s also taking into account that Miami’s passing game was already average to below-average for fantasy purposes. Cutler lacks what Ryan Tannehill does best: Be mobile and draw plays out. If Cutler was a non-factor in fantasy his last few years in Chicago, I don’t see him catching fire with a set of receivers he doesn’t know.

Vasquez: Smokin’ Jay Cutler will definitely be a decent streaming option for teams with their No. 1 QB on bye. He looked solid, for someone set to be a broadcaster just days earlier, in his debut with Miami. Cutler completed 3-of-6 passes for 24 yards. His addition to the Dolphins could mean big things for DeVante Parker. Cutler could also make Julius Thomas a viable fantasy tight end if they build some chemistry. The quarterback knows head coach Adam Gase and performed well with him as an offensive coordinator two years ago in Chicago.

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

Updated Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard and PPR

Here are the updated standard and point-per-reception rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season. Click on the different positions to get rankings by position. Toggle between STD and PPR to get standard and PPR rankings.

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

Fantasy football preseason first impressions

We finally got a look at some live football over the past week and there were a lot of things to take away. Here are a few thoughts as we look back at the first full week of games, and look forward at what’s to come:

Golladay puts fantasy owners on notice

Kenny Golladay might not be a sleeper anymore. He would have been a nice receiver to stow away late in your drafts but probably not now after catching two touchdown passes in his preseason debut. Golladay is going in the 14th round currently, but he likely moves up if he keeps it up.

Foreman to be more than a handcuff?

D’Onta Foreman looked great in his debut, busting out on a 41-yard run and averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Lamar Miller will start, but if Foreman continues to impress it will be hard for the Texans to keep him off the field.

Let these rookie QBs play

Deshaun Watson was 15 of 25 for 174 yards and rushed for a touchdown for the Texans. Mitch Trubisky had a dream debut for Chicago as he went 18 of 25 for 166 yards and a touchdown. And Patrick Mahomes has already moved up the depth chart to No. 2 behind Alex Smith. They all looked good, but they need to be named starters before you make any plans with them in mind.

When does Rico Gathers officially become fantasy-relevant?

Rico Gathers had four catches for 47 yards and scored for the second straight game in the preseason. With Jason Witten in front of him on the depth chart, does that mean he’s not going to contribute this year? He passes the eye test, though, and if he can carve himself a red zone role then it’s possible he makes it on some fantasy rosters.

RELATED: Fantasy football rankings: Top 250 (and more).

RELATED: Fantasy confessions of a 3-peat champ

Monitor these running backs

These backs aren’t currently the apparent starters on their teams. But that could change soon:
De’Angelo Henderson, Broncos: He had 54 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per carry in the first preseason game. The Broncos backfield is somewhat unsettled, though C.J. Anderson looks to be the starter.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers: He’ll actually start the first four games for the suspended Doug Martin and it’s possible he could keep the job outright if he performs well.
Joe Williams, 49ers: Carlos Hyde is looking like he’ll keep his job, but Williams busted out for 60 yards on seven carries after it was reported he was having a bad camp.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks: When Eddie Lacy signed with Seattle it was assumed he’d take over as the featured back. Rawls is hoping to hold him off, however, and started the first preseason game.
Dion Lewis, Patriots: Lewis was once considered a solid, versatile running back before injuries stalled his development. He looked good in the first week of preseason, gaining 55 yards on 11 touches. If Mike Gillislee struggles with his hamstring for long, Lewis could make a comeback.

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

2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 250 (and more)

Here are up-to-date overall and position rankings for the 2017 season. Rankings are updated almost daily, depending on news and trends. Bookmark this page to make sure you can stay up to date on players rising and falling before your fantasy drafts.

You can see our rankings vs. ECR, or Expert Consensus Rankings on FantasyPros.com, and vs. ADP, they’re average draft position. You can click on each position at the top to see rankings for those specific positions. Rankings are for standard leagues.

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

Most likely to regress, break out and bounce back in fantasy football

If NFL players were that predictable, fantasy football would be easy. That’s not the case, however, but we’ll give you an idea of who’s likely to regress, break out and bounce back this season. As always, keep my overall and position rankings in mind while going over this list. Just because someone’s likely to regress doesn’t mean they won’t end up being very productive. Just don’t expect them to match last year’s numbers.

Most likely to regress

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons—When a player puts up career highs after about his fifth year, it’s likely an anomaly. Not that Ryan isn’t still a top-5 quarterback, but he won’t match last seasons numbers, especially without Kyle Shanahan making the calls.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys—Rookies just aren’t as efficient as Prescott was last year. He won’t be a surprise this year, and there’s lots of game film on him now. Defenses can limit him with the blueprint the Giants laid out last season, plus he might have to miss Ezekiel Elliott for a couple games.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles—He led the league in rushing touchdowns last season with 18. His previous career high was seven, also with the Patriots in 2013. I think he’ll have some value in Philadelphia, but don’t think he’ll come close to matching last season’s production.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints—Sean Payton is always looking for ways to take Ingram out of the game, whether it’s giving Tim Hightower significant touches last season or adding Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara to the mix this year. Ingram had a career-high 1,043 yards rushing last season and I don’t see how he gets there this year.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers—He’s a non-factor in the passing game and I don’t see how he can score nine rushing touchdowns with do-everything rookie Christian McCaffrey joining the squad. If Cam Newton looks more like himself, he’ll be scoring some of the TDs Stewart had last season.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers—Adams broke out in 2016 with more than 900 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. Randall Cobb missed three games and played through some injuries, allowing more targets to move to Adams. Cobb is healthy now and the Packers added a pass-catching tight end in Martellus Bennett. Adams will still be quality, but don’t expect 12 touchdowns this season.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants—He had a nice rookie season, but the Giants added Brandon Marshall and drafted Evan Engram, a wide receiver playing tight end. Shepard’s targets will very likely drop as will his overall numbers.

Most likely to break out

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals—The legend continues to grow with reports out of training camp saying it’s possible he gets 20 touches in Week 1. I don’t know about that, but all he needs is the opportunity and people will forget about Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars—Fournette’s in the perfect situation in that his competition isn’t very strong and the Jaguars definitely want to run the ball. Expect him to be on the verge of RB1 status. He won’t come cheap, though, as he’s being drafted early in the second round.

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers—He only had 36 catches in his rookie season, but eight of them went for touchdowns. Henry may not score that many times, but I expect him to take over for Antonio Gates at some point this season, adding to his receptions and yards.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers—There are highlights online of him evading Luke Kuechly in drills so you know he’s got the skills to be productive. Rookie running backs are looking more and more likely to be productive from day 1. He looks like one of them.

Paul Perkins, RB, Giants—Perkins had a nice final quarter of the season, averaging 4.4 yards per carry over that stretch. He finished the season with his first career 100-yard game. With no competition besides third-down specialists, he has the opportunity to break through.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings—Another rookie looking to break out? Yup. His biggest competition is Latavius Murray who did the bare minimum with a great offensive line in Oakland last season. Cook has all the tools to make an impact early.

Most likely to bounce back

Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens—His season was cut short last year and he’s joining a team that loves to dump the ball down to its backs. Add to that the injury to Kenneth Dixon and Woodhead has a great opportunity to bounce back.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles—When he’s on the field, he’s great. He’s missed time in each of the last two seasons, so he’s due to play a full one, right? He’ll be the No. 1 wideout and I’m thinking he’ll definitely have more than 52 receptions and two touchdowns.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans—With the injury to Will Fuller, it’s more likely that the Texans quarterback, whoever it is, will force the ball Hopkins’ way. He’s got the talent to make the play on 50/50 balls.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens—Another Raven looking to bounce back is Maclin, who is automatically the new No. 1 in Baltimore after returning from injury. I prefer Joe Flacco throwing his way over Alex Smith.

Eric Decker, WR, Titans—He played in just three games with the Jets last season, but he’s finally fully healthy. He’ll likely be a bargain in drafts and could pay big dividends if he produces the way we’ve seen in the past.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers—The need to bounce back is his own doing, coming off a year suspension, but if he keeps his head on straight I expect him to be in WR2 territory as a top-24 receiver.