For those of us who love fantasy football, and spend time creating and examining rankings because of it, the progression of summer is definitely a welcome sight. I created my first rankings for 2012 in February, and have revised them at various times since. But now that preseason is upon us? Well... I can generate them without feeling quite as obsessive. And... with the full knowledge that fantasy football draft time in undoubtedly here.
With that, I now have the privilege of revealing my personal top 50, along with the other writers here at Fantasyknuckleheads.com. Please read on. And be sure to check out the rankings from the rest of our staff, which are continually being updated.
1. Arian Foster, RB, Houston
If you have the first overall pick, don't overthink. Foster is the most complete and most dangerous
back in the league today. If you are fortunate enough to be in this slot, get him.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia
McCoy's 4,241 total yards in the past two years speak for themselves. He is as close to a sure thing
for owners as anyone could possibly be.
3. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore
Even if his carries decrease somewhat, he will still be a major point producer. And he remains one
of just three RBs that you must take if given the opportunity.
4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
We already have numerous reasons to love Rogers, and here is one more: 15 QBs attempted more
passes than his 502 last year, but he still threw the second highest number of TDs (45), and
tossed just six INTs. That’s phenomenal.
5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit
This is pretty simple really. He is the best WR. And he should be the leading point producer at his
position again. There is nothing else to even think about if you desire a wideout, once your draft
has moved beyond the top four.
6. Tom Brady, QB, New England
While there is some uncertainty with drafting some of your other options in this slot, you can be
confident that he’ll deliver somewhere between 35 and 40 TDs, and around 5,000 yards again this year.
7. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
He has certainly endure some offseason distractions. But Brees will still provide excellent numbers, despite the
absence of Sean Payton’s exceptional playcalling.
8. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
He won't match his 2008 - 2010 stats. But despite understandable concerns, he also won’t replicate last year’s
marginal effort. That will enable him to produce as a top ten back.
9: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago
Owners can feel free to consider him much earlier in drafts, now that he has finally been signed. Former TE Mike
Tice is now running Chicago's offense, and will be build a sizable portion of his strategy around the Bear's
running game. Even with the presence of Michael Bush, Forte is far too talented and versatile to be taken any later.
10. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit
We now know exactly what he is capable of over the course of 16 regular season games. His
talent, the presence of Megatron, and his team’s pass heavy strategy, will allow him to accumulate
massive numbers once again. You could choose to worry about his potential for injury, but that risk
is present for every player under consideration.
11. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas
He averaged 150 YPG in weeks 7-10, and it would have been interesting to know how many yards he could have
accumulated without having to miss three games. This year, we might find out.
12. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland
Yes, injuries have been a problem. But he generated 1,664 total yards despite missing three games
in 2010. And was the NFL’s leading rusher before last year’s injury. He is a huge producer when
13. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona
Fitz has proven that he will amass yardage and TDs regardless of the situation. He deserves
enormous accolades for accumulating 1,411 yards and 80 receptions, while working
with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
14. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
The Panthers added yet another RB as opposed to providing Newton with a genuine threat at No.2 WR. As a result
of Mike Tolbert's presence, Newton could have difficulty matching last year's 14 rushing TDs. But he
will continue to accumulate rushing yardage outside the red zone, and he should improve somewhat on last
season's 21 passing TDs. All of which makes him the fifth best option at QB.
15. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Selecting him includes the gamble that Roger Goodell won't decrease his availability to you. Not to mention the
additional concern that his new contract will “calm the beast”. But he is that the same back who exploded for over
the final nine games of the year ( 941 yards, nine TDs), and Seattle's offense will be built around him when he is
16. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville
If his holdout doesn’t make you nervous, then his extensive workload over the past three
years should (318 carries per season). I had serious concerns about his ability to remain healthy
last year. Now, those additional 343 carries have only hastened injury worries.
17. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
He is set to explode. I’m purchasing as much Jones stock as possible this summer. And you should
too. He has an arsenal of skills that will create nightmares for opponents every week, and he could
finish in the top five among all WRs at season’s end.
18. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay
He will reward owners yet again, by combining with Rodgers to deliver 1,200 yards, 80 receptions and
19. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati
Another sure thing at WR. A second year of experience for Cincinnati’s unquestioned No. 1 receiver
will help him approach results in the neighborhood of Jennings.
20. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta
Even though teammate Jones is the preferred WR to own among that tandem, that is a testament
to his ability. White will also have a productive season, and is worth owning. Just don’t expect him
to approach last season’s league leading 181 targets.
21. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland
While he is unproven at the NFL level, he will be allotted an exhaustive workload in an offense that
is devoid of playmakers. That includes the critical goal line touches.
22. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans
The season of change in New Orleans won’t include a drop in his production. If anything,
Brees will rely upon him more.
23. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
With so many weapons at Brady’s disposal, he may not quite match last year’s numbers. But he’ll
still challenge Graham for the highest among TEs.
24. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
The trick here is determining when he can run effectively once again. If you want him, you will still need to draft
him early, despite his health concerns. If so, protect yourself by securing Toby Gerhart too.
25. Wes Welker, WR, New England
Despite the addition of Brandon Lloyd, and the conglomeration of options for Brady, Welker will deliver
another outstanding season. Just do not expect him to generate 1,500+ yards again.
26. Steve Smith, WR, Carolina
While the Panthers have a full assembly of RBs, they remain limited at WR beyond the 12 year
veteran. He will easily be Newton’s principal target once again.
27. Eli Manning, QB, New York
All he has done in the past three seasons is average 4,319 yards, and 29 TDs. He is an outstanding option, if you
forego the initial tiers of QBs.
28. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas
For all of the debate surrounding his status among the league’s elite QBs, he remains a viable No .1 for owners
who avoid drafting a signal caller in the first two rounds. He has played all 16 regular season games in four of the
past six years, and should deliver 30 TDs and 4,000 yards again.
29. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans
As with Graham, he will be dependable. And he'll collect much needed fantasy points for you, while delivering
1,000+ yards, and eight TDs.
30. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
While you might breathe easier once you actually see him perform, he should have great success connecting with
Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Jacob Tamme. Among others.
31. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego
14 of his career high 20 INTs were thrown in the first eight games. Then he began to resemble the
#17 we’ve come to know. He should generate his fifth consecutive 4,000 yard season.
32. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City
Prior to tearing his ACL last September, former HC Todd Haley was far more successful at
stifling Charles’ production than any opposing defenses. While he will be sharing touches with
Peyton Hillis, remember that the 1,935 total yards that he accumulated in 2010, were generated
despite a time share with Thomas Jones.
33. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego
He narrowly missed rushing for 1,100 yards last year, despite being allotted far less carries (222)
than any other RB who finished in the top 10. But his inability for him to remain on the field has now become a
problem once again. When he does return, owners can only hope that he can maintain his health.
34. Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis
He has absorbed 2,138 rushing attempts, including an average of 305 in the past three years. While he will likely
handle a sizable workload once again, there is reason for concern.
35. Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami
He gathered 206 passes from Jay Cutler in 2007-2008, while gaining 2,590 yards. Their reunion should
revitalize Marshall, and his owners should reap the benefits.
36. Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota
Maybe he can continue where he left off last year, when 44 of his 87 catches occurred in the
final six games. Hopefully his combustible issues that already created mid June drama won't
reemerge at an inoperative time.
37. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay
After scoring two times in each of his first three seasons while averaging 423 yards, he jumped to
15 TDs and 1,263 yards last year. It is doubtful that he will sustain that level of production. He will remain a factor
in the Packers offense, but Randall Cobb will capture a sizable portion of targets that had been Nelson's last
38. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh
Despite the ascension of Antonio Brown last season, Wallace led the team in TDs with eight, while no teammate
garnered more than two. But Brown's long term deal, and the questions pertaining to Wallace's status are cause
for increasing concern.
39. Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans
The blueprint has been created on how to best utilize Sproles, after he exploded for career highs in rushing (603)
and receiving (710) last year. Owners should expect more of the same, and enjoy every moment.
40. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Whether or not he will be sufficiently recovered from foot surgery to play in the Giants' opener remains in
question. But there is no reason to doubt how productive he will be when he does return. He should deliver his
third straight 1,000 yard season, and score 10 TDs.
41 Andre Johnson, WR, Houston
After two consecutive years have been negatively impacted by injury, I’m not including him within
the top tier of WRs. He can still be productive, but don’t reach for him with so many high quality
options available at this position.
42. Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo
It’s important to remember how productive he was prior to last season's injury. He was leading the league in
rushing at the time, and still managed 934 yards in just 10 games. Along with 442 yards in
receptions. Despite Spiller’s presence, don’t underestimate Jackson.
43. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
Some observers and fantasy owners alike are expecting a huge year, but I see yellow flags. He has
survived an entire 16 game regular season exactly once in his career. And now he suddenly will at
age 32? Highly doubtful. Plus, his disappointing numbers from last season (18 TDs, 14 INTs are
being dismissed too quickly.
44. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia
He has been tremendously consistent in his first three seasons, while assembling an average of 865 yards and six
TDs. His dependability should continue, as he slightly improves upon those averages.
45. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Even though he won’t surprise opposing defenses this year, he will still cause them headaches. Expect
outstanding production. But not another 1,500+ yard season.
46. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver
Owners should enjoy every moment of watching his exceptional talent blend with Peyton Manning's ability
to maximze it. Thomas would be ranked higher, if not for the fact the Manning will also be employing Eric
47. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
He has the combination of skills necessary for an every down back, and is in the perfect situation
to become just that. LeGarrette Blount will not pose a significant threat, because new HC Greg Schiano will
prefer Martin’s versatility, and feel more confident in his ability to avoid fumbles. Martin should capture
the feature back role very quickly.
48. Miles Austin, WR, Dallas
Hamstring issues cost him six games last season, and his 579 receiving yards, were basically half of the 1,180 that
he averaged in 2009-2010. But he still managed to score seven times. He should generate 1,000+ yards
and could reach double digits in TDs.
49. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
He is proven producer when healthy. But fear persists, that there will be a reoccurrence of the foot issues that have
plagued him during his career. Then, there is also that little matter of David Wilson siphoning off touches.
50. Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England
Competition with talented teammates could cause his production to vary significantly from week to week. But he
remains your third best option among all TEs.
Just missed: Reggie Bush, Dez Bryant, Vincent Jackson, Michael Turner, Eric Decker