For those of us who love fantasy football, and spend time creating and examining rankings because of it, the progression into late 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 the regular season is nearly upon us, it is an extremely critical tool in this critical juncture of draft planning.
With that, here is my personal top 50. Please read on. And be sure to check out the rankings from the rest of our staff.
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. 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.
3. 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.
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
5. 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 around 40 TDs and 5,000 yards again this year. In fact, he could surpass those numbers, and lead
your league in scoring.
6. 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.
7. 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. If you need a back, and won’t have the opportunity to select Foster, Rice or McCoy, here is your RB.
8. 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.
9: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago
Owners can feel free to consider him at this point in round one. Former TE Mike Tice is now running Chicago’s
offense, and will be build a sizable portion of his strategy around the Bears’ 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. 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 active, which makes selecting
him such an enticement.
12. 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. He has certainly worked his way
into the first round.
13. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Selecting him includes the decreasing 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 active.
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 could improve somewhat on last season’s 21
passing TDs. All of which makes him the fifth best option at QB.
15. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
He is set to explode. I’ve been purchasing as much Jones stock as possible throughout the summer. He has an
arsenal of skills that will create nightmares for opponents every week, and he should finish in the top five among
all WRs at season’s end. Or even better.
16. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona
Fitz has proven that he will amass yardage and TDs regardless of the situation. He deserves enormous accolades
17. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay
He will reward owners yet again, by combining with Rodgers to deliver 1,200 yards, 80 receptions and
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Selecting Peterson remains somewhat of a gamble, because he easily might not be 100% at any point of the
season. But considering his high level of commitment, his immense talent, and how thin the RB position
currently is, he is well worth drafting here even at less than 100%. But protect yourself by securing
Toby Gerhart too.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego
The benefits of drafting him remain the same: 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. And he is one of the few backs who
will not be forced to share a sizable percentage of touches. Unfortunately, the questions regarding his health have
resurfaced. And understandably so.
27. 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. But he will maintain a sizable role in the
Packers offense, even if Randall Cobb captures a portion of the targets.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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
33. 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.
34. 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 created mid June drama won’t
reemerge at an inoperative time.
35. 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. While Brown’s continued improvement and Wallace's need to quickly learn a new
offense are causes for concern, Wallace possesses enough talent to overcome these hurdles.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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. Providing that Michael
Vick can stay in the lineup.
44. 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.
45. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh
He could now be Pittsburgh's WR1, although the belief here is that Wallace will retain that role. But Brown will be
a major factor in the Steelers' new offense, and deliver exceptional numbers.
46. Eric Decker, WR, Denver
While you might breathe somewhat easier once you witness Peyton performing a little better, fear not. Decker's
production should explode.
47. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City
Despite the late start, he should deliver his fourth 1,000+ yard season, and produce at least 70 receptions.
48. 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.
49. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
Ryan has spearheaded an aerial assault by the Falcon offense to this point of the preseason, and has supplied
fantasy owners with a sizable amount of incentive to target him.
50. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay
Even though he now has a new contract and a new environment, his numbers should remain
remarkably consistent: another 1,100 yards with 8-9 TDs. And he will be the most effective
end zone target that Josh Freeman has ever had.