2017 fantasy football position rankings: Running Backs

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at running backs before turning to wide receivers next week. We’ve ranked the QBs from 1 to 32. We’ll rank the running backs from 1-36, the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

The top three running backs are so close, but I give the edge to David Johnson since he had 80 receptions last year and caught passes for more yards than Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Jordan Reed.

1. David Johnson, Cardinals—He nearly carried the ball 300 times last season and caught 80 passes. There’s no reason to think he won’t be used to that degree yet again.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers—No worries about an early-season suspension this time around. I had him No. 1 early in my rankings, but Johnson’s touches gave him the edge at this point.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—Elliott couldn’t have had a better rookie season. Given that, you have to assume he has just a tiny bit of regression. The Cowboys will also want to save him from too much work by using Darren McFadden to relieve some pressure.

4. LeSean McCoy, Bills—Mike Gillislee is in New England now, so if McCoy can stay healthy he might get even more work than he already does.

5. Jordan Howard, Bears—Howard gained the most yardage between the tackles in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. He should see an increase in touches given that he’ll likely be playing with a rookie quarterback at some point.

Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is hit by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers as he scores a touchdown in the 4th quarter at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 30-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

6. Melvin Gordon, Chargers—Gordon’s value has been improved by this offseason. Danny Woodhead is a Raven and the Chargers didn’t draft a running back, they drafted two offensive linemen. Gordon will continue to dominate touches in the backfield.

7. Devonta Freeman, Falcons—Have no fear of Tevin Coleman, Freeman actually is more productive when Coleman gets touches. If the Falcons can continue to run a potent offense without Kyle Shanahan, Freeman will do well.

Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons fails to reach the pylon against Vinnie Sunseri #40 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at the Georgia Dome on December 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

8. DeMarco Murray, Titans—He surprised some people last season, given his average draft position was in mid-to-later rounds. Murray suffered from Chip Kelly’s sideways run scheme the year before so he was undervalued in drafts in 2016. He seems to be back to his Cowboys-era self.

9. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins—Three games rushing for at least 200 yards can’t be ignored. Plus, it looks as if he’s making strides in the passing game. He showed his ability as a pass catcher in college so if he improves in that portion of his game he could be remarkable.

10. Lamar Miller, Texans—The addition of D’Onta Foreman may end up helping Miller stay fresh all season. Quality touches will be the key to his success in addition to decent volume.

11. Todd Gurley, Rams—He remains an RB1 despite his rough season last year. That’s because the volume is still there. His bad season probably means he can be had in the second round. But he’ll end up being undervalued if he goes after the first.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes for a first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

12. Spencer Ware, Chiefs—He got great news when the Chiefs didn’t re-sign Jamaal Charles, but they did end up drafting Kareem Hunt. Keep an eye on training camp to make sure Ware holds firm to the starting spot.

13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos

14. Isaiah Crowell, Browns

15. Carlos Hyde, 49ers

16. Mark Ingram, Saints

17. Tevin Coleman, Falcons

18. Adrian Peterson, Saints

19. Latavius Murray, Vikings

20. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks

21. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

22. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders

23. Doug Martin, Buccaneers

24. Mike Gillislee, Patriots

25. Robert Kelley, Redskins

26. Ty Montgomery, Packers

27. Jeremy Hill, Bengals

28. Derrick Henry, Titans

29. Frank Gore, Colts

30. Bilal Powell, Jets

31. Ameer Abdullah, Lions

32. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

33. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

34. Paul Perkins, Giants

35. Matt Forte, Jets

36. Joe Mixon, Bengals

Fantasy football Week 13 recap and waiver wire suggestions

As most leagues closed in on the fantasy football playoffs, Week 13 of NFL action went a bit haywire. Other than the usual high scores from David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, a lot of the usual top performers fell flat. Sure, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers were all OK, but Drew Brees and Colin Kaepernick probably dashed playoff hopes for some fantasy owners.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)

Brees threw for over 300 yards but added three interceptions and zero touchdowns while Kaepernick completed just one pass for four yards before getting benched.

The biggest games by quarterbacks were recorded by Derek Carr, Carson Palmer and Matt Stafford. Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton offered surprising performances from the position as well.

Flacco threw for over 300 yards for just the third time this season while throwing four touchdowns for the first time this year.

Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 and quarterback Joe Flacco #5 after scoring a first quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 and quarterback Joe Flacco #5 after scoring a first quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Dalton threw for more than 300 yards and at least two touchdowns for the first time since Week 6. It was quite an impressive performance from a quarterback missing a key running back, Gio Bernard, and his top receiver, A.J. Green.

Johnson, Bell and Melvin Gordon all continued to produce like usual. Devonta Freeman, Spencer Ware and Latavius Murray recorded big games. LeSean McCoy, Jordan Howard and Thomas Rawls rounded out a good week for running backs.

Howard had his biggest game since Week 8, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 117 yards. McCoy had his second straight 100-yard rushing game after not having one since Week 6. He had a great game despite Mike Gillislee taking away two short-yardage touchdowns.

Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) runs for some yards while being chased by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Gerald Hodges (51) and cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) during the third quarter on Sunday, Dec 4, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) runs for some yards while being chased by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Gerald Hodges (51) and cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) during the third quarter on Sunday, Dec 4, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Thomas Rawls finally broke out for owners who have waited on him all season. He may have a tough Week 16 matchup, but not before having two good matchups in the next two weeks.

The biggest rushing disappointments were Lamar Miller, Todd Gurley and Jonathan Stewart.

Other than Jordy Nelson, Odell Beckham and Julio Jones, the top wide receivers in Week 13 were most likely riding the pine for owners. Tyler Lockett, Ted Ginn, Albert Wilson and Brandon LaFell would all have been strange starts heading into the week.

Golden Tate seemed to benefit the most from the Lions’ matchup with the Saints. He caught eight passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) pulls in a touchdown pass in front of New Orleans Saints cornerback B.W. Webb (28) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) pulls in a touchdown pass in front of New Orleans Saints cornerback B.W. Webb (28) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

The good news kind of ends there in what was supposed to be the most productive matchup of the week for fantasy scoring.

If you started a Saints skill player not named Coby Fleener, you were disappointed this week. Brees, Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower all had games to forget.

Rather than talk about the worst performances this week by starting wideouts (Davante Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Evans), I’d rather talk about the return of the high-scoring tight end.

Ladarius Green, a preseason sleeper who finally woke up, caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Travis Kelce had his third straight 100-yard game while Dennis Pitta scored twice on his way to 90 yards receiving.

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green (89) crosses the goal line for a touchdown after taking a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green (89) crosses the goal line for a touchdown after taking a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)

Cameron Brate, Jimmy Graham, Zach Ertz and Fleener all had big days as well. One disappointment was Martellus Bennett, who is taking over for an injured Rob Gronkowski. He had just two catches for four yards.

To add to a bizarre week, Stephen Gostowski and Matt Prater scored more points than a lot of receivers and running backs this week. Gostkowski connected on four 40-plus-yard field goals while Prater made five field goals, including a 52-yarder.

On the defensive front the Broncos had a great game, as did the Ravens. Denver logged a touchdown, two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery. The Ravens had three picks and two sacks while allowing just six points.

Waiver wire suggestions:

Quarterbacks

Alex Smith, Chiefs (He has two good matchups before Week 16.)

Running backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings (Just in case.)

Mike Gillislee, Bills (Vulture opportunities, plus a favorable schedule.)

Wide receivers

Ted Ginn Jr., Panthers (Three straight games with a touchdown.)

Tight ends

Ladarius Green, Steelers

Fantasy football: To tinker or not to tinker?

Full disclosure, I went 0-2 in my leagues this week. It’s not the kind of start you want to see out of your trusted fantasy guru. In fantasy football there is the right play and there’s the winning play. They’re not always one and the same.

In one league I faced Drew Brees and Spencer Ware. Brees was the second-highest scoring quarterback, behind Andrew Luck, while Ware was the second highest scoring running back in Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

In another league, the Office Football League here at the Statesman, I went up against DeAngelo Williams, the highest scoring running back in Week 1, in addition to Brandin Cooks and Antonio Brown. Cooks was the highest scoring receiver of the week while Brown was third best. Congratulations to Kirk Bohls on his near record-setting performance (191 points!) in the OFL.

Losing both of these games had me originally thinking about making some pickups or changing my lineup. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m going to touch a thing in one of these leagues.

Here’s my lineup from Week 1 in the OFL (standard + 6-points for TD passes, one point per two receptions):

QB: Jameis Winston
RB: David Johnson
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Mike Evans
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Antonio Gates
Flex: Demaryius Thomas
K: Dan Bailey
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Philip Rivers, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, Laquon Treadwell, Tyler Boyd, Tajae Sharpe, Michael Thomas, Tyler Eifert.

There’s a lot of youth on my bench in this keeper league, but I don’t see replacing what I’ve got in my lineup. Maybe I could go with DeMarco Murray instead of Thomas at my flex, but is the top receiver in Denver really going to be held to 48 yards again? Benching Marshall seems like a bad move as well since he was targeted a decent amount of times (8) on his way to just 32 yards receiving.

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals' Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals’ Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

In the other league I’m in I may actually end up tinkering a little bit.

Here’s that league’s lineup (standard + 6-points for TD passes):

QB: Derek Carr
RB: David Johnson
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
Flex: Christine Michael
K: Chris Boswell
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Melvin Gordon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard.

Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)
Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)

I went with Michael in response to him getting the start over a recovering Thomas Rawls. Rawls did end up playing, however, and had just two fewer touches than Michael. I had to see Gordon produce well before I started him in my lineup. He did great in Week 1, though he had fewer touches than Danny Woodhead, so I’ll probably give him a shot in Week 2. I also like Sterling Shepard’s matchup with the Saints so I may sit Maclin this week.

Dez Bryant had a week to forget, but you’d think the coaching staff would make sure he gets a lot more targets in Week 2.

Let me know what you think @AAS_Cat. Would you tinker with either lineup?

Fantasy football Week 1 recap and waiver wire suggestions

The fantasy football season opened up the throttle on Sunday, and there were definitely some high-octane performances.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Andrew Luck started his attempt at a bounce-back year with a stellar performance; he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover. Drew Brees might have been the top scorer of the week had he not lost a fumble. He threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yard score to Brandin Cooks. And A.J. Green had a brilliant start, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The best performance by a running back came from the waiver wire pickup of the week, Spencer Ware. Once word got out that Jamaal Charles wasn’t quite ready, owners rushed to pick up his main backup before the season kicked off.
Ware didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching seven passes for an additional 129 yards.

At the tight end spot, both of the Colts’ ends found paydirt. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jack Doyle had three catches for 35 yards and two scores.

The top defense of the week started slow but turned it on in the second half. Minnesota allowed 16 points to the Titans but forced three turnovers and added two sacks in addition to scoring two touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

It wasn’t all positive in the fantasy world. Quite a few players had some games to forget:
At the top of that list has to be Dez Bryant, who caught just one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants. He had a touchdown called back when it was reviewed and determined that he didn’t control the ball before touching out of bounds in the end zone.

Brandon Marshall, the top option for the Jets, had just three catches for 32 yards despite being targeted eight times.

Sammy Watkins also disappointed as he caught four passes for 43 yards. Additionally, Tyler Lockett, who was expected to break out for the Seahawks, had just three catches for 17 yards.

At running back, we saw Devonta Freeman produce just 40 total yards as Tevin Coleman gained 117 yards on 13 touches for the Falcons.

In Tennessee, Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards as the Titans were able to key on the run with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings.

A striking theme from Sunday was the great performances from second-year players. Jameis Winston, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Donte Moncrief and Stefon Diggs all produced well to start their sophomore seasons.

Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Cooks, also in his second season, had 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately we saw Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL after catching six passes for 63 yards. And word broke on Monday that Robert Griffin III could be done for the season with a shoulder fracture. Russell Wilson also has a sprained ankle to be monitored.

With that, look to the waiver wire:

Quarterbacks
Alex Smith, Chiefs (363 passing yards, 3 total TDs)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (278, TD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots (264, TD)
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (227, 0 turnovers)

Wide receivers
Will Fuller, Texans (5 catches, 107 yards, TD)
Mike Wallace, Ravens (6-91, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots (60, TD)
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (57, TD)
Sterling Shepard, Giants (43, TD)
Victor Cruz, Giants (34, TD)
Tajae Sharpe, Titans (7-76)
Michael Thomas, Saints (6-58)

Running backs
Tevin Coleman, Falcons (117 total yards, 13 touches)
Jalen Richard, Raiders (95, TD, 5 touches)
Shane Vereen, Giants (61, 9 touches)

Fantasy football position rankings heading into final weekend of drafts

It’s the final weekend before the fantasy football season kicks off. Here’s a look at my position rankings for the upcoming season. For quarterbacks I’ve listed two deep for a 12-team league. I’ve listed three deep for running backs and four deep for wide receivers. I’ve also listed the top 12 tight ends and defense/special teams.

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Cam Newton, Panthers—I don’t think he’ll be quite as productive as he was last year, which is why I have him behind Aaron Rodgers.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
4. Andrew Luck, Colts
5. Drew Brees, Saints
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
7. Tom Brady, Patriots
8. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
9. Carson Palmer, Cardinals—I’ve dropped him a couple of spots from the last time out because he hasn’t looked great in preseason. Plus there’s always the fear of him getting hurt. If he stays healthy, he’s got the weapons to end up as a top-5 quarterback.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Philip Rivers, Chargers
12. Derek Carr, Raiders
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
14. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
15. Kirk Cousins, Redskins
16. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
17. Matthew Stafford, Lions
18. Andy Dalton, Bengals
19. Marcus Mariota, Titans
20. Matt Ryan, Falcons
21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
22. Alex Smith, Chiefs
23. Jay Cutler, Bears
24. Brock Osweiler, Texans

Running backs

1. David Johnson, Cardinals—I think he has the potential to be the best back in the league. That said, he will probably not be the first running back taken in your draft. If not, make sure you don’t pass him up.

David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

2. Todd Gurley, Rams
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
5. Lamar Miller, Texans
6. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
7. Eddie Lacy, Packers
8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
9. Mark Ingram, Saints
10. LeSean McCoy, Bills
11. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
12. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos
14. Latavius Murray, Raiders
15. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
16. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
17. Matt Forte, Jets
18. DeMarco Murray, Titans
19. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
20. Jeremy Langford, Bears
21. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
22. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
23. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
24. Frank Gore, Colts
25. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
26. Arian Foster, Dolphins
27. Matt Jones, Redskins
28. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
29. Gio Bernard, Bengals
30. Derrick Henry, Titans
31. Rashad Jennings, Giants
32. Duke Johnson, Browns
33. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
34. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
35. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
36. Christine Michael, Seahawks

Wide receivers

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
2. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
3. Julio Jones, Falcons
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Really excited to see what he can do with Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong and Braxton Miller spreading the defense thin.

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

5. A.J. Green, Bengals
6. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
7. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
8. Brandon Marshall, Jets
9. Jordy Nelson, Packers
10. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
11. Keenan Allen, Chargers
12. Amari Cooper, Raiders
13. Alshon Jeffery, Bears
14. Sammy Watkins, Bills
15. Brandin Cooks, Saints
16. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
17. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
18. Randall Cobb, Packers
19. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
20. Donte Moncrief, Colts
21. Eric Decker, Jets
22. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
23. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
24. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
25. Michael Floyd, Cardinals
26. Julian Edelman, Patriots
27. Josh Gordon, Browns
28. Marvin Jones, Lions
29. Golden Tate, Lions
30. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
31. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
32. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
33. John Brown, Cardinals
34. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
35. Jordan Matthews, Eagles
36. DeSean Jackson, Redskins
37. Sterling Shepard, Giants
38. Michael Crabtree, Raiders
39. Kevin White, Bears
40. Willie Snead, Saints
41. Corey Coleman, Browns
42. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
43. Torrey Smith, 49ers
44. Tavon Austin, Rams
45. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
46. Travis Benjamin, Chargers
47. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
48. Michael Thomas, Saints

Tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Jordan Reed, Redskins
3. Greg Olsen, Panthers
4. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
5. Delanie Walker, Titans
6. Coby Fleener, Saints
7. Gary Barnidge, Browns—He may not duplicate last year’s numbers, but Robert Griffin III could use him as a security blanket.

Tight end Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tight end Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

8. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
9. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
10. Antonio Gates, Chargers
11. Zach Ertz, Eagles
12. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks

Defense/special teams

1. Broncos
2. Seahawks
3. Cardinals
4. Panthers
5. Texans—They’ve got a Week 1 matchup against a hurting Bears offense and J.J. Watt may be healthy enough to play by then.

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans, John Simon #51 and Whitney Mercilus #59 in the first quarter durting a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans, John Simon #51 and Whitney Mercilus #59 in the first quarter durting a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

6. Vikings
7. Rams
8. Chiefs
9. Patriots
10. Bengals
11. Jets
12. Raiders

Fantasy football Top 100 heading into final weekend of drafts

It’s the final weekend before the fantasy football season kicks off. No matter what kind of league you’re in, a just-for-fun league or a serious money league, you’ll need a cheat sheet. Here’s what we’re offering up at the Statesman. So without further ado, here are the top 100 fantasy football players in standard leagues for 2016.

Top 100 overall

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
3. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
4. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
6. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys–In the last week, his average draft position has jumped from the tenth pick of the first round to the sixth. Seeing his performance in the third preseason game got a lot of owners excited. I’ve got him seventh on the board.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-17. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-17. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
9. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
10. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
11. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
12. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
14. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
15. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
16. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
17. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
18. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
19. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
20. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs–The lastest word is that he’s running behind on his recovery. It’s the second time he’s had to recover from an ACL injury. Spencer Ware is taking first team reps right now, but it’s not yet clear if Charles will actually miss any games.
21. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
22. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
23. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
24. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
25. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
26. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
27. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
28. Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints
29. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
30. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos–You can say he’s attempting to have a bounce back year, but not many receivers need to bounce back after catching 105 passes for over 1,300 yards while scoring six touchdowns. I’m a believer in Trevor Siemian so Thomas could be great again.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) makes the catch as Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) makes the catch as Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

31. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
32. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
33. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos
34. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
35. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
36. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks
37. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
38. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
39. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
40. Matt Forte, RB, Jets
41. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
42. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts–He’s in line for a breakout year. He can play like a possession receiver, but he’s got the skills of a deep threat. If he ends up combining those abilities he could end up being the best receiver in Indy.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief (10) walks off the field following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. The Eagles defeated the Colts 33-23. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief (10) walks off the field following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. The Eagles defeated the Colts 33-23. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

43. Eric Decker, WR, Jets
44. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins
45. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
46. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers
47. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
48. Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears
49. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
50. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
51. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
52. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
53. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
54. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
55. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
56. Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles–He had just over 100 carries last year because DeMarco Murray was in town. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and if he remains healthy, big if, he should put up very good numbers.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

57. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
58. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
59. Marvin Jones, WR, Lions
60. Golden Tate, WR, Lions
61. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
62. Frank Gore, RB, Colts
63. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
64. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers
65. Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins–If he’s available this late, don’t feel bad about taking him. He’s gone earlier in a lot of drafts, even as high as the third round. I don’t advise taking him earlier than the fifth round.

Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster (34) slips past Atlanta Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster (34) slips past Atlanta Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

66. Matt Jones, RB, Redskins
67. Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
68. Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
69. Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals
70. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
71. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
72. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
73. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
74. Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
75. John Brown, WR, Cardinals
76. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
77. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants
78. Coby Fleener, TE, Saints–Fleener’s got Drew Brees throwing him the ball, how can he not be a good option as your tight end.

Coby Fleener #82 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Coby Fleener #82 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

79. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
80. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars
81. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
82. Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers
83. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
84. Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
85. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions
86. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
87. Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns
88. Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
89. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns–Both Browns running backs are pretty good value picks. Not much risk taking either of them this late, but they could pay off.

Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) rushes for yardage during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) rushes for yardage during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

90. Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders
91. Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks
92. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
93. Kevin White, WR, Bears
94. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
95. Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
96. Broncos defense/special teams
97. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
98. Willie Snead, WR, Saints
99. Corey Coleman, WR, Browns
100. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers

It’s time to start mock drafting

It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.

mymockteam

mymockteam2

Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.

The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.

Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.

A few other things I learned from the mock draft:

  • David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
  • Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
  • Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
  • If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.