Here are my updated tier rankings with training camp set to open next week.
When I draft, I always have a tier sheet handy. I find that organizing players by tiers is far more beneficial than merely ranking players. I could rank Odell Beckham Jr. over Julio Jones, but it is impossible to truly predict who will finish better between the two of them. Maybe Jones has fifty more yards on the season than Beckham, or maybe Beckham has one more touchdown. Who knows, but I do know that both should finish better than a guy like Mike Evans.
I will post updated rankings once we have gone through a week or two of camp. I also invite you to check out my AFC and NFC articles outlining what to watch for as camp opens along with some of my predictions on how it will all shake out.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Injuries to his wide receivers and Fat Eddie killed him. “Fat Eddie” is now “In Shape Eddie” plus Jordy Nelson is back. The addition of Jared Cook could possibly help as well. Remember, in 2014 he threw for 4,381 yards and 38 TDs, adding 269 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. He put up even bigger numbers in 2012 and 2011.
Cam Newton, Panthers – Dominated last season with a pathetic wide receiver core. This year he gets back Kelvin Benjamin, plus Devin Funchess will be in his second year after flashing late last season and even possibly the return of Stephen Hill. There is a reason Jonathan Stewart scores so few touchdowns ... Cam.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Injury riddled season and recency bias will make Luck and Rodgers steals in early drafts. Expect a major bounce back. They also don’t have much of a run game or defense, so look for them to pass early and often.
Drew Brees, Saints - As sure a thing as there is at the QB position and has never finished outside of the top 5 since joining the Saints. The additions of Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener, plus the development of Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead will help ensure Brees is a top option once again.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Showed last year that he can have success as a pocket passer. He will have even better weapons available to him this season and while attempts may not increase very much, what he does with them might.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Weapons galore and he will always take his shots. Downside is that he is entering his age 37 season and has taken a good share of abuse over the years, yet great completion percentage (64%) and solid 8.7 yards per attempt last season.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – The loss of Martavis Bryant and now Bell for the first four games hurts. Sammie Coates and Ladarius Green should provide sufficient firepower to make up for this loss of Bryant and DeAngelo Williams with the loss of Bell, but this all knocks Big Ben down a Tier.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Would be in Tier 1 if not suspended, but between missing 4 games and his bye week, that's essentially over 30% of the fantasy season right there. A good strategy would be to buy low and play QBBC for the first four weeks to cover yourself.
Matthew Stafford, Lions – The teams early 2015 struggles weren’t his fault if you watch the tape. Came on big time after OC Cooter took over (19tds and only 2ints) and they beefed up the offensive line this off-season. Severely under-drafted at the moment.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Has a chance to be a Top 5 QB and reliable starter if the offensive line and wide receivers stay healthy. They were starting third stringers at both positions by mid-season last year. If all goes well, he's a steal. If you are betting against Gordon, you should be betting on this teams passing game.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Arguably has the best receiving core in the league with the addition of rookie Doctson to go along with DJax, Garcon, Reed and Crowder. Threw for 4,166 yards, with 29 TDs and only 11 Ints, while also rushing for another 5 TDs. Should be even better this season despite being a limited quarterback in a contract year.
Derek Carr, Raiders – This is a young offense on the rise and he proved that he was the one that made Davante Adams look good in college, not the other way around. Some game script criticism with better defense, but I'm betting on the young emerging talent in this Raiders offense (Walford, Cooper, Murray, Washington) along with a top 3 offensive line and a suspect run game.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars – Young team loaded with weapons started to blossom last year and should continue to improve this season. But better defense could lead to less garbage time production and poor 58% completion rate last year.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – Witten older, Dez never truly featured and more reliance on the run game makes Romo a solid but not elite option. You also have to hold your breath every time he lands on that shoulder. Possible suspension of Elliot is something to monitor closely and could increase his value.
Andy Dalton, Bengals –Additions of LaFell and Boyd are a downgrade to Sanu and Jones. While Dalton played well last year, you just can’t rely on him to be your QB1 despite stretches of great play, especially with Eifert still injured. It’s the untrustworthy factor that keeps him here.
Marcus Mariota, Titans – They’ve beefed up the run game, wide receiver core and offensive line. I’m a believer and could very well finish higher than this ranking.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – Has solid weapons and has dedicated the off-season to getting into shape and fine-tuning his craft. Lots of weapons (including intriguing second year player Kenny Bell) and he did throw for more than 4,000 yards as a rookie.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Talent isn't a question, but lack of receiving talent beyond Julio Jones still a concern. Improved offensive line and second year comfort in this complicated offense should help at least.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – He throws a nice deep ball and ran for 568 yards and 4 TDs, yet only 20 throwing TDs. The key is Watkins, who has a foot injury and accounted for nearly 40% of Taylor's passing yards and 44% of Taylor's touchdown throws. This is also still a run first team, which stifles his potential upside. Move him up if Watkins healthy before the season starts.
Jay Cutler, Bears – A healthy Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White could mean big numbers for Cutler, but like Dalton, huge weeks can always lead to some major duds. John Fox would also love for the run game to be the teams’ offensive foundation.
Joe Flacco, Ravens – He has better weapons this year and OC Marc Trestman likes to throw.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Jets – He's baaaaccckk. Lots of weapons and Chan Gaily loves to throw it around. He understands the offense and has mojo with his main receivers.
Brock Osweiler, Texans – John Elway didn’t believe in Brock after 4 years, I don’t either, but with J.J. Watt looking like he may miss some of the regular season, this is a team that may have to throw more than they were expecting and with emergence of Strong, drafting of rookie Fuller and addition of running back Miller, his weapons are looking strong.
Alex Smith, Chiefs – two words: Alex. Smith. He’s not like a box of chocolates.
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings – Limited passer on a team that runs through Adrian Peterson. Playing indoors, upgraded offensive line, the addition of rookie Treadwell and the emergence of second year player Stefon Diggs will all help elevate him to at least ... Alex Smith levels.
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers – HC Chip Kelly likes to play fast and run a ton of plays, which has led to Kelly coached quarterbacks seeing an uptick in both their yards per attempt and completion percentages. Gabbert is also a plus athlete who can run, clocking a 4.61 forty at the combine. If he wins the job, and either Eric Rogers or DeAndre Smelter can emerge as a compliment to Torrey Smith and Bruce Ellington, he just may surprise as the teams plays catch-up all year.
Sam Bradford, Eagles – Okay supporting cast and has talent, but still nothing more than an average QB2 now running a more conservative offense.
Mark Sanchez, Broncos – Could surprise in real life, but probably not reliable fantasy option. Injured right now as well.
Jared Goff, Rams – Lack of weapons and an offensive line will keep the ball in Gurley’s belly. Bright future, but this might be rough.
Geno Smith, Jets – Fitzpatrick has to sign, right? Right!
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers - Will he really lose his job to Gabbert again? If anyone can get the most out of him it’s Chip Kelly.
Carson Wentz, Eagles – Will probably start at some point this season.
Josh McCown, Browns – Hopefully the Browns don’t need him, but should do okay if they do.
Brian Hoyer, Bears – Cutler does seemingly get hurt every season.
Paxton Lynch, Broncos – They have to hope he doesn’t need to play this year, but great dynasty future.
Chase Daniel, Eagles – Might be their starter if Bradford goes down.
RUNNING BACK TIERS
Todd Gurley, Rams – Fully healthy and the foundation of their offense. Some worry about game script, but their Defense is solid, so they should be in most games. Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders were on bad teams for most of their careers and both put up monster numbers, that's Gurley. I also think he is a better pass catcher than he was used as last season, and he still averaged 9 yards a catch. I think it's a good bet he catches at least 2-3 passes a game with a full pre-season under his belt.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Should be their workhorse back and will see light boxes. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will still get a few touches, but even with just 60% of the team's carries, that comes out to 250 carries. Add in catches, and he is pushing close to 300 touches easily. If you want a safe pick in this tier, this is the guy.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Unreal landing spot and he can do it all. The Cowboys will want to limit the wear and tear on Romo as well. My fear is Alfred Morris stealing goal-line work behind this dominant offensive line. Domestic violence charge against him looks to be debunked for now.
Lamar Miller, Texans – Rock solid RB1 who could finish in the top 3 easily. If picking towards the end of round 1, smart move may be going wide receiver in the first and Miller in the second despite presence of Tier 1 running backs.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Betting against him is never good and only converted 4 of 14 goal line carries, which is fluky. But while they have an upgraded offensive line and he performed well last season, he seemed to have lost just a step on some of his runs. They also have a decent receiving core with the addition of Treadwell to go along with Diggs. Reports of more plays out of shotgun too, which means McKinnon could see some more passing down work.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Steady option that was the third overall running back before he went down in Week 13. He has also not played more than 13 games since 2012. But he's their foundation back and once considered a passing down liability, last year he went 50/405 on 59 targets (85% catch rate) w/ 8.1 YPR in only 12 games. That's upside.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Don’t ever count this guy out, but goal line looks could go to Ware to keep him fresh coming off second ACL injury.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Fat Eddie is now Phat Eddie after jacking up in the off-season. Has the talent and situation to put up Tier 1 numbers.
C.J. Anderson, Broncos – Was the foundation of their offense during last season’s playoff run. Rookie Booker more of a compliment back that should keep Anderson fresh rather than steal his job and all signs point to the Broncos having the run be their foundation this year.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Freeman did most of his damage over only four games last year and averaged a pathetic 3.1 yards per carry between Week 9 and 17 last season. I’m not entirely sold like some, but concede that redzone ability and pass catching ability provide him a very solid floor in the PPR leagues. But Coleman will get the ball more than people are expecting, forming a Hill/Bernard type combo, especially after comments from the teams Head Coach, General Manager and Running Back coach all confirming this.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Chip likes to run as much as pass and Hyde has experience running his inside zone running scheme and thrives running out of the shotgun as well, averaging almost 2 yards per carry more (5.1). He's one of the leagues true feature backs that will push 20+ touches every game due to the 49ers uptempo style of play even if game flow restricts his touches in the 4th quarter.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Run heavy team, including top 3 last year in the redzone, and somehow only 27 years old. With Karlos Williams and Jonathan Williams both in trouble with the league, the jobs all his despite the addition of Reggie Bush. Jonathan Williams is someone to watch though, may only miss a game or two at most.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers – I’m probably lower on him than I should be. A better standard league option.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – He wasn’t the passing down back last season and still put up monster numbers. Marshawn Lynch was never the teams passing down back either and he did just fine. He was just activated off the PUP list, as long as he doesn't have a set back, he's a steal at his current 4th round ADP. Get him there while you can.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers – Rehab looked like it was going better than expected, but now suspended for the first four games of the season. DeAngelo Williams is a must own handcuff. Bell is now also one toke away from a 10 week ban. Don't sell low, but once he plays well during the regular season, I would sell high in dynasty leagues. Williams also played too well last year to just ride the pine, so he could be stealing some touches when Bell returns, making Bell not a true "bell-cow"
Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – Would have been my second rated running back if he came out this year. Similar profile to Marshawn Lynch with great hands. Went 50/535/4 through the air his final year of college, while adding another 347/1,823/28 on the ground. Arian Foster signing will steal a good chunk of his pass catching work, but I'm not counting on Foster staying healthy all year and I don't suspect he will have much juice left after years of soft tissue injuries. A great buy-low candidate who in 49 carries last year broke 12 tackles and averaged 3.3 yards after contact per attempt.
Danny Woodhead, Chargers – PPR gold that finished as the RB3 in PPR leagues last year. Usually catches at least three passes a game, received more redzone touches than Gordon last year and game script should be on his side.
Dion Lewis, Patriots – Rehab is key. Talent isn’t a question. Will move up to Tier 3 in PPR leagues if he's all systems go.
Matt Forte, Jets – As long as Fitzpatrick re-signs, Forte will end up being a solid PPR value in drafts. Powell will steal some touches and Forte may not put up big numbers on the ground, but he could easily catch over 80 passes in this vertical four pass offense.
DeMarco Murray, Titans – Derrick Henry will steal touches, and maybe the ones that count, but all reports have stated that Murray will be their lead back … at least this year. It's also worth mentioning, as Rotoworld's Rich Hribar pointed out, while Murray averaged only 2.8 yards per carry on runs behind or off tackle, he averaged 4.6 yards on runs between the guards, something that suits his power running style better. After new Titans HC Mike Mularkey took over mid-season last year, 56 percent of the Titans' running back runs were run between the guards. Additionally, when Murray played in Dallas, 90% of his runs came when the QB was under center, while with the Eagles, only 15% came when the QB was under center. Last season, 75% of the Titans runs came when the QB was under center ... you do the math.
Duke Johnson, Browns – Could be a major sleeper and move up the board as the season gets closer. He will be a PPR beast, pushing 80+ catches after catching 61 as a rookie. While Crowell may handle early down and goal-line work, negative game script could mean a whole lot more of Johnson. Hue Jackson also had the fourth highest rushing percentage in the redzone last season.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Still young and talented. I think they go to him more this season with very little receiving options outside of Green and (an injured) Eifert. The Bengals also finished last season as a top 4 team in rushing percentage in the redzone. Gamescript should work in his favor.
Ryan Mathews, Eagles – Big winner from the draft. He’s their guy and produces when he's on the field. Just needs to stay healthy. He never stays healthy.
Latavius Murray, Raiders – Not an elite back despite year end numbers (267/1066/6 rushing and 41/232/0 through the air on 53 targets). Upgraded offensive line and sheer volume should allow him to put up RB2 numbers every week while he is the starter even if he leaves some yards on the field. I also wouldn't be surprised to see rookie DeAndre Washington steal touches (and possibly his job), but for now, volume alone with make Murray a safe weekly play.
Frank Gore, Colts –Actually ran better than his 3.7ypc average. Great pickup at his current 7th round ADP as your 3rd or 4th running back, but best to let someone else take the 33 year old if his ADP rises too much.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals – PPR silver. Averaged a solid 4.7 YPC going 154/730/2 on the ground, with an additional 49/472/0 through the air for 9.6 YPR on 66 targets. Like Hill, he should be involved more with Eifert out and the loss of other weapons, but Hill kills his upside in the redzone, with Bernard only scoring 2 TDs last year.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – They didn’t add anything in the draft, so he’s their workhorse. Yet, how many times did he kill you in DFS last year? Cam and Tolbert will once again vulture the goal-line carries and he doesn't catch that many passes.
Matt Jones, Redskins – His body and hair fly’s in all directions, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going in the right direction as evidenced by his pathetic 3.4 yards per carry last year, and from Week 3 on, he actually averaged an even more pathetic 2.85 yards per carry. Additionally, 26.4% of his carries went for negative or zero yards, third worst in the league. He could easily put up Latavius Murray 2015 type numbers through sheer volume, but when he ends up in the doghouse for fumbling again, my money is on Keith Marshall or someone else stepping in eventually.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Crowded backfield with Vereen and the addition of Paul Perkins, but the team has stated that he will be the lead guy. Over the final 4 games of last season, once they committed to him, he averaged 21.5 touches and 5.47 yards per carry, clocking in as the #7 fantasy RB in that stretch with nearly 18FPG. He's a steal in the 9th round of drafts right now.
Ameer Abdullah, Lions – Love the talent, but he’s not going to be a true workhorse back with Ridley in town and Riddick a pass catching beast. May have to break long runs to score touchdowns, but he's certainly capable of it.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Major disappointment (at least for those who believed in him). Rookie wall and the decimation of their offensive line and receiving core didn’t help though. Juries still out especially with Woodhead in the mix.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Will form a RBBC with Duke Johnson. A team built on analytics seems to be sold on him as their bigger back. Hopefully RG3 and a new wide receiving core can keep defenses honest and open things up for him. Has good intangibles but Duke could run away with the starting job too if he falters.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers – Will put up elite numbers in the first four weeks with Bell suspended and if he plays like he did last year, he could be involved even when Bell returns, since Bell still coming off of knee surgery and this is a team that wants to be healthy in the playoffs. It's all about winning weeks and he will win you four for sure.
Jeremy Langford, Bears – He struggled on the ground (48/537/6 rushing - 3.6 YPC) ) and through the air (22/279/1 receiving on 42 targets - 52.4% catch rate), but being the only game in town with Forte, Bennet, Royal, Jeffery and White injured, he put up points. He will be in a time share and should be drafted as an upside PPR flex option, which means I’m probably never drafting him.
Charles Sims, Buccaneers – Underrated weekly PPR flex and bye week option. Managed 51/1,090/4 all-purpose yards. Look for those numbers to go up as he managed 4.9 yards per carry and flashed big time as a receiver. If Martin goes down, Sims value goes way up.
Arian Foster, Dolphins – Signed to a one year deal with a guaranteed salary of only $1.5 million, that's not starter money. Beset with soft tissue injuries, with his groin muscle being torn off the bone and then tearing his Achilles last year, he didn't have a lot of juice to begin with as he enters his year 30 season. Name recognition going a long way, just like Kobe Bryant in his final year, but his best bet is to help in the screen and passing game. Early camp reports have been very positive and he will probably return high end PPR flex value with weekly RB2 upside ... until he gets hurt again.
T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars – Addition of Ivory is a major buzz kill and for some reason they just don’t trust him near the goal-line. Has the talent to be a RB1, but may have to wait a year or two now. Ranking him above Ivory because I think he stays healthy while Ivory can't.
Chris Ivory, Jaguars – Time-share with Yeldon. Should get the goal line and short yardage work, so solid flex option in standard leagues. Needs to stay healthy.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Talented enough to steal meaningful touches from Freeman and would be an immediate RB1 if Freeman goes down. No better handcuff and deep bench stash. Plus the team's coaches and General Manager have all stated that they intend to get Coleman more involved stating that "when it comes down to it, the one difference is the flat out long speed of Tevin Coleman."
Jordan Howard, Bears – Has a bit of an injury history, but a big and powerful running back that should easily assume early down and goal-line work for the Bears. John Fox wants the run game to be the teams’ foundation, as he did in Carolina.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots - They didn't grab a back in the draft and Lewis is coming off injury. Should handle early down work, although never truly reliable since the Patriots offense is often game specific. Donald Brown could steal some touches, as crazy as that sounds, or they could bring on someone else.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs – Won’t get many touches as long as Charles is healthy, but could get the ones that count. He's a dominant force on the ground who put up elite numbers in Joe Holka's Rushing Expectations methodology. Wouldn’t be shocked if he scored 8+ TDs and he should be involved even when Charles is healthy.
Theo Riddick, Lions – Needs an injury to Abdullah or for him to face plant to rely on him week-to-week, but that happened last year when he caught 80 passes.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Short, but thick receiver in the MJD mold. They would like him to be the receiving compliment to Murray, but could end up being much more.
Shane Vereen, Giants – Should catch 50+ balls this year. With one year in the offense under his belt, not inconceivable he becomes a reliable weekly PPR flex option.
C.J. Prosise, Seahawks – Big (6'1” 220lbs) and fast (4.48 forty). Needs to work on his game after only playing one year of running back in college after changing over from a wide receiver, has a Charles Sims like ceiling if it all comes together. Should start the season as their passing-down compliment to Thomas Rawls, but his ability to learn to better pass protect will be key to getting and staying on the field.
Derrick Henry, Titans – Won’t be their lead guy, but could score a lot of TD’s. A better standard league grab. I'm not sold on his talents as others are. Think Brandon Jacobs at his best.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings – Must own handcuff for Peterson with potential for stand alone PPR flex value now that Bridgewater has command of the Norv Turner offense and they might take more snaps out of the shotgun.
Alfred Morris, Cowboys – Behind this offensive line he could end up stealing a lot of Zeke's goal-line carries. Another sneaky candidate for few yards, but many touchdowns plus more with Elliot facing domestic violence charges.
James Starks, Packers – Must own handcuff to Lacy.
C.J. Spiller, Saints – I don’t think he ever got over his foot injury, which kept him out of the pre-season and start of last season. If he proves well in pre-season he could be a major steal at his current ADP. Boom or bust in the biggest way.
Mike Gillislee, Bills - With Karlos Williams looking like a second year bust at this point, Gillislee may open the season as the teams RB2. He averaged an impressive 5.7 yards per carry last year and on a team that likes to run, that holds value. Lots of competition though.
Jonathan Williams, Bills – True three down running back who noted analyst Greg Cosell compared favorably to Ezekiel Elliot. Missed all of 2015 with injury but had a 101.9 elusive rating in 2014 that would have been good enough for second in 2015. Great dynasty hold and more talented than Karlos Williams.
Wendell Smallwood, Eagles - He displays a nice combination of vision, lateral quickness and speed. The current handcuff for Matthews, who has a substantial injury history. Could act as their change of pace back right away if Sproles has nothing left and could explode if Matthews goes down. A lower case Jamaal Charles type.
Stevan Ridley, Lions – Now fully recovered from his knee injury, the Lions early favorite for early down work. Draft Twitter loves the idea of Zack Zenner, but Ridley is a seasoned pro. Monitor closely, if he plays well, could be their goal line back and sneaky play to score 8+ touchdowns.
Devante Booker, Broncos – Despite his size, he’s more of a complimentary back. Would be the lead in the committee if Anderson went down or faltered.
Josh Ferguson, Colts - UDFA who made some noise in OTAs. Watch closely in camp as he could emerge as the handcuff to Gore and possibly the future starter on this team. Excels in the passing game.
Paul Perkins, Giants – Lots of competition here, but has juice, good balance and body control. Decent in pass protection so could carve out a role or even take over lead duties if Jennings isn't getting it done. If you're looking for upside in a Giants running back, he's your target.
Keith Marshall, Washington – He’s big (5’11” 219lbs) and fast (4.31 forty). As value, I prefer him later over Matt Jones earlier. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones in the doghouse again and Marshall shines when given a chance. A flier only right now.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals – Played on 31% of the snaps in games he played, but will see only a handful of touches a game unless there is an injury to Johnson.
Javorius Allen, Ravens – Going to be a 3rd down specialist at best and probably just a special teams player.
Reggie Bush, Bills - Recently signed and if he can show he's fully healthy coming off of knee surgery, could have value. The problem is that there are so many running backs in the mix, it might be a RBBC from hell if Shady goes down.
Christine Michael, Seahawks – Seems to have had a change of attitude on his second deployment with the Seahawks. Nothing more than a handcuff to Rawls at the moment, but if Rawls can't go, he has shot to take over lead duties.
Donald Brown, Patriots - Sneaky sleeper to handle early down work if Blount falters. He's not special, but the Patriots don't require their back to be.
Tyler Ervin, Texans – Not big (5’10” 192 lbs - 4.41 Forty), but has good balance, is tough, fast and explosive. A bit of Brian Westbrook to him. Will form a committee if Lamar Miller went down as possible passing down back.
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins – Explosive for his size (6’1” 210lbs - 4.45 forty), but not a lead back. More of a package specific player, but conceivable he could be the Charles Sims to Ajayi’s Doug Martin. Horrible in pass pro in college, which isn't good for him seeing the field and one reason Arian Foster was signed.
Darren McFadden, Cowboys – Purely a handcuff for Elliot and he's also injured.
Darren Sproles, Eagles – Getting up there in age, not sure you can expect too much.
Dexter McCluster, Titans – Will get a handful of touches a game, but tough to rely on for any real production.
Tre Mason, Rams – Most likely the handcuff to Gurley and has talent. But off-field issues and dedication are a concern.
Benny Cunningham, Rams - A change of pace back on a team that may never change their pace.
Charcandrick West, Chiefs – Will need an injury to Charles and then still a part time player.
Lance Dunbar, Cowboys – Was prolific catching passes last year for them, but Elliot may never leave the field.
Zach Zenner, Lions – Signing of Ridley a major buzz kill. Monitor him during the pre-season; Abdullah is not going to be a workhorse.
Kelvin Taylor, 49ers – A downhill no nonsense runner that should act as Hyde’s handcuff.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers – Just a guy.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Will form a committee with rookie Booker if Anderson falters or goes down.
KaDeem Carey, Bears – Needs some injuries.
WIDE RECEIVER TIERS
Antonio Brown, Steelers – The best wide receiver in Fantasy as long as Big Ben stays healthy.
Julio Jones, Falcons – An absolute beast and he’s the only game in town.
A.J. Green, Bengals – The focal point of their offense who will probably get force fed the ball even more with Eifert injured and Jones and Sanu gone. The three players in Tier 1 are interchangeable in draft position, Green falls just after them, keeping him in Tier 2.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Lack of truly being featured in the past keeps him out of the first tier, but there is no more talented a wide receiver in the league and addition of new OC Scott Linehan has a history of force feeding WR1's (see Calvin Johnson). Recency bias may allow you to grab him in the 2nd round of drafts, the best red zone receiver outside of Gronk.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texas – Brock not much of an upgrade over Hoyer, if at all, but Fuller, Strong, Shorts and Lamar Miller should help open up some space for him. J.J. Watt suspension should also ensure that this teams is throwing the ball a lot with a weaker defense.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Still getting better and I wouldn't bet against him catching another 14 TDs.
Keenan Allen, Chargers – Was on pace for a 134/1,450/8 line before he went down in Week 8 last season with a lacerated kidney. I preached last pre-season that he had Antonio Brown upside and he was proving me right. Just needs to stay healthy, which has been a problem going back to college and why I don't have him at the top of Tier 2.
Alshon Jeffery Bears – If the guy could just stretch properly before he played. As Rotoworld's Evan Silva pointed out, 95/1,314/11 over last 16 games, too bad they came over two years.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – Will this be the year he finally slows down? I doubt it. No reason he doesn’t have another 109/1,502/14 line this season.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers – He’s a better player than he showed last season and expect his TD total (3) to triple.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Luck’s go to guy stymied last year by bad quarterback play.
Jordy Nelson, Packers –Is already back running in their off-season program. He’ll be 31 this year, but no reason to think his play will fall off. Rodgers loves him.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Faltered being the focal point of their offense last season when he played hurt. With Jordy back, he’ll be back to being an every week high end WR2 in PPR leagues, putting up numbers closer to his 2014 line of 91/1,287/12.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – Proved many doubters wrong going 84/1,138/9. He’s also just 22 years old. Beat reporters have been raving about him all off-season, but more mouths to feed this year though with Fleener, Snead, Thomas and possibly Spiller.
Amari Cooper, Raiders –He hit the rookie wall last season, but he is capable of being a Tier 1 receiver.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Should actually have a better season with Mark Sanchez at the helm, but not really sure what that’s saying. We obviously know his insane upside, but he’s not playing with 2013 Peyton Manning.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Foot injury is a concern, otherwise would be up in Tier 2 or 3. If he is good to go for the start of pre-season, then move him up, if not, we saw what a foot injury did to C.J. Spiller last season so move him down.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Big time talent that is only 22 years old. Should be locked and loaded as a solid WR2 if Luck stays healthy and he may be the breakout receiver of this season.
Golden Tate, Lions – Stafford loves to throw and Tate is going to be his go to guy. He put up big time numbers in the past when Calvin Johnson missed time and now will have a full off-season preparing for that role.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – Injury a major buzz kill after putting up 87/1,088/8. If he's fully healed, he will exceed those numbers after dominating 26.8% of the team's target share and seeing 124 targets. This ranking is probably too low for him.
Eric Decker, Jets – Put up 80/1,027/12 last season. Should see a similar line this season if Fitzpatrick re-signs. Slight touchdown regression certainly possible though.
Josh Gordon, Browns – He's baaaaccckk ... But he will miss the first four games. The good news is that he is reinstated in time for training camp and can be around the team during his four game suspension. If he can stay clean and get into game shape, he's a WR1 at a discounted price playing with his college QB RGIII and a great offensive coach in Hue Jackson.
Julian Edelman, Patriots – The four game Brady suspension hurts. Couple that with their bye week and that means a diminished Edelman for more than a third of the regular fantasy season. He’s great, but probably let someone else over draft him especially coming off foot surgery.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – A 111/1,159/6 line seems like it should be a yearly occurrence for Landry. Once bodies start flying, Tannehill will once again look his way despite other options. He's his safety blanket whether your want to admit it or not.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – His production last season was no fluke, but the progress of Tyler Lockett and return of Jimmy Graham could cap some of the upside, but he has some serious mojo with Wilson, and that cannot be underestimated.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers – Cam playing better and he will resume his role as their top dog. Garbage time TDs won't be as frequent though.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Conceding I could be too low on him.
Marvin Jones, Lions – Underrated talent with a nose for the endzone, owning the 6th best touchdown to target rate in the redzone the past three seasons per Numberfire. The Lions will throw a ton with a suspect run game and Jones could possibly finish with more fantasy points than Tate.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Floyd, Brown and Fitzgerald are all extremely talented, you just don’t know which one will go off each week, capping their upside. If you can work it, all make for great WR3's (as opposed to WR2's) on your fantasy team with my bet on Floyd being the most consistent in a contract year. Keep in mind, in addition to these three they also have JJ Nelson, Andre Ellington and David Johnson catching passes out of the backfield.
John Brown, Cardinals – See Floyd, Michael. Despite nagging hamstring issues last season, he went 65/1003/7 on 97 targets (67% catch rate, 15.4 YPC) and except for a zero in Week 10, he had at least 3 catches in every game. He also played nearly 81% of the team's snaps.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – He’s a baller but a run first team. Talent isn't a question.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins – Not as big a believer in his talents as some others. Don’t see him as a true number one and wouldn’t be surprised if Leonte Carroo ate into his production like Rishard Matthews did last year.
Kevin White, Bears – It is entirely possible he is a Top 10 wide receiver next year, making that Allen Robinson type leap. He would have been the best wide receiver in this year’s class and ESPN beat reporter, Jeff Dickerson, recently remarked that White looked like a "beast" in OTA's.
Michael Crabtree, Raiders – Should be an 85-catch guy again this year. What a difference a quarterback makes.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Lots of mouths to feed. He’s a better standard and best ball player, than PPR guy. Love his talent; they just aren’t going to be maximized in this offense.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Despite the hype, he’s best as a complimentary receiver and your WR3.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – With a year under his belt and locked in as a starter, I think we have only seen a glimpse of his talents. While depth of target a concern, he has great run after the catch ability, is playing indoors and rookie Treadwell should allow him to work against teams second corners.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Even though Chip is great at scheming wide receivers open, Smith still has to play with Kaepernick or Gabbert. I’m not buying a huge bounce back to where he can regularly be relied on in fantasy beyond your WR3, bye week replacement or flex starter. Will have some big weeks.
Corey Coleman, Browns – In this range, he's not a value, but when you are as talented as he is, you get them on your team. He’s not Odell Beckham Jr. yet, but has a chance to be ODB3 in the near future. The return of Josh Gordon helps him, it's not easy facing number one corners as a rookie.
Willie Snead, Saints – Emerged as a reliable target for Brees, but might be third on the pecking order this year behind Cooks and Fleener.
Laquon Treadwell, Vikings – 75/850/8 certainly possible since this team will feature the run and a lot of short passes, where he thrives. Will see a lot of teams top corners this year, which makes him a bit of a risk, but bright future.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans – Has the potential to be truly dominant after a year under his belt and after missing a full season of college football. Him and White have massive upside so he is someone to target in all drafts.
Tavon Austin, Rams - Last season he saw 86 targets and went 52/473/5 through the air adding an additional 52/434/4 on the ground. With teams focusing on Todd Gurley, Austin’s number could certainly improve this season making him a viable WR3 with some upside.
Phillip Dorsett, Colts – Lots of mouths to feed, but Luck can take advantage of his speed and they should go three wide a ton this year. Will probably be moving him up the board once we get a proper look during OTAs.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – Back with a quarterback that can take advantage of his talents. A 2011 72/1193/8 line not out of the realm of possibility and he's starting as of now.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – Great fit. Could easily catch 10+ TDs, but those TDs might come in bunches, so tough to rely on from week-to-week.
Sterling Shepard, Giants – Great landing spot. While his route running has been heavily lauded, it’s his toughness and fight for the ball that won me over. He’s a more athletic Jarvis Landry. Will man the slot and guzzle up catches like Julien Edelman.
Brandon LaFell, Bengals – He played injured all season and it showed, dropping passes like they were pieces of hot coal. Expect a bounce back as their #2 wide receiver with Eifert injured and Sanu and Jones gone. Can play the slot and outside.
Devin Funchess, Panthers – The light started to turn on towards the end of the season and showed well during OTAs. The return of Kelvin Benjamin should help him see plus matchups and right now he is ticketed for their WR2 role. Could move up these rankings if he shows well in pre-season.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers – Entering his age 33 season. Let someone else grab him since he has little upside.
Josh Doctson, Washington – Love the player, but lots of mouths to feed. And while Cousins is a limited player, the Gruden/Dalton connection did okay for AJ Green. A true breakout is probably a year away, but DJax, Garcon and Reed all major injury risks, so an amazing bench stash.
Bruce Ellington, 49ers - Chip Kelly is "intrigued" by him. Cousin to Andre, they are similar players that can both handle the slot or even handle some carries out of the backfield. Great late round snag since Kelly is a creative offensive mind that can utilize his talents and there really is nothing on this team outside of Hyde. Ran 4.45 forty with impressive 39.5 vertical. If things click, 80 catch potential.
Jaelen Strong, Texans – Earned raves by HC O'Brien during this off-season, a big body receiver who has the inside track to their second receiver role opposite Hopkins. Beat reporters have been hyping him up over Fuller all off-season and with JJ Watt injured, this team may have to pass a lot to start the season. Could be a great redzone threat too with no legit tight end on the team.
Anquan Boldin, Lions – Like Steve Smith, don’t ever count this guy out and landed on a pass first team that will go three wide a lot. Not huge upside, but could catch a decent amount of passes and touchdowns making him a decent bench spot in a pinch or waiver wire pickup when needed in PPR leagues.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – Seems to be carving out a role with Amendola and Edelman battling through injuries. Early reports are that he has been the go to receiver for both quarterbacks, getting open and making plays. He might just supplant one of those guys in the starting lineup.
Rishard Matthews, Titans – Will be a better real life player than a fantasy player. No better than 3rd in the pecking order.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys – He will catch 1 TD on 2 catches with 4 targets for three or four games in a row … don’t bite. Not a bad best ball flier in the 14th or 15th round.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Did well in the slot, but now even more mouths to feed.
Breshad Perriman, Ravens – Is he healthy yet? Bueller, Bueller. WR1 potential if he’s actually healthy. But he's not healthy.
Nelson Agholor, Eagles – Their first round pick last year, he will be starting outside along with Randle and with Matthews in the slot. Great athlete but dealing with drops going back to college and things haven't clicked with him yet. The offense should be more conservative this year with HC Pederson coming from KC and Agholor only third or fourth in the pecking order behind Matthews, Ertz, Mathews and maybe even Randle. If you just want to bet on talent, then he's worth a shot.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals – Not an elite athlete and sometimes issues with separation, but runs good routes, good hands and physical for size. Will man the slot with Lafell and Green outside. PPR guy.
Robert Woods, Bills - The #2 wide receiver on the team, but fourth on the pecking order for targets. If Watkins can't go, bump him up.
Kendall Wright, Titans – He needs a fresh start somewhere else. Worth grabbing in dynasty leagues and stashing once he hits free agency next year.
Steve Smith, Ravens – One of my favorite players ever, but he’s old and coming off a serious injury. I would never count him out, but I’m not drafting him either. Currently dealing with injury still in camp.
Kenny Britt, Rams – Goff should help, but this team runs through Gurley.
Brian Quick, Rams – Has shown flashes, but hard to trust him or this passing game.
DeAndre Smelter, 49ers - He's big (6'2" 227lbs with massive 11" hands) and fast. He tore his ACL so his draft stock plummeted last year, yet the 49ers still drafted him in the 4th round. Now healthy and running with the first team offense, Smelter is teaming with upside. Lance Zierlein compared him to Eric Decker.
Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots - 6'0” 198lbs and ran a 4.45 forty. A lot to like: runs great routes, good hands, yac and toughness. Injuries stunted his college production, but should start for the Pats at some point this season. There’s certainly value in that. Has an outside chance to be the most productive first year receiver in this year’s rookie class and has been a star in camp so far.
Rueben Randle, Eagles - Has a shot to start on the outside along with Matthews and with Agholor in the slot. Tons of theoretical talent, but continues to underachiever.
Kenny Stills, Dolphins – Has never realized his full potential, and with Tannehill and an influx of new receivers, that doesn’t look like it will happen this year either.
Tajae Sharp, Titans – More of a slot player, playing on a team already with a great slot player. But he's been showing well in practice so far. This years Diggs? Perhaps. Just needs an injury in front of him.
Victor Cruz, Giants – Essentially just a dart throw until you actually see him put in a few weeks of full practice and a pre-season game or two. He may never recover from his injury properly.
Paul Richardson, Seahawks – Was placed on IR last year after not being able to get healthy from his rookie year knee injury. There is plenty of talent here. Matt Waldman loved him coming out of college and on the filed saw little difference between him and Sammy Watkins at times.
Cecil Shorts, Texans - Will man the slot in all three wide sets. But this is a run first team with an alpha number one receiver in Hopkins.
Jeff Janis, Packers – Started coming on, could have decent value if he wins their third receiver job. There is value to be had in this offense.
J.J. Nelson, Cardinals – Deep threat speedster (5’10 165lbs with 4.28 forty) that needs an injury in front of him to have any reliable impact.
T.J. Jones, Lions – Some size and speed (6’ 190lbs and 4.48 forty). Worth monitoring during pre-season to see if he can win the 3rd receiver role. Would be their deep threat, which holds value and Stafford has been raving about him. A name to keep in mind.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers - He's was an undrafted free agent last year for the Chargers and did enough in camp for them to work hard to stash him away on their team and practice squad. He stands 6'4" 210lbs and ran a 4.42 forty with a monster 39.5 vertical. Malcolm Floyd took him under his wing last season and he flashed in the pre-season. Worth monitoring especially now that Stevie Johnson is out with a knee injury.
Dontrelle Inman, Chargers - Has a chance to man the slot with Stevie Johnson injured. There is value in that role, but has to beat out Williams, who is more of a deep threat.
Albert Wilson, Chiefs – Wilson, Conley and Streater all have talent and it’s worth monitoring who wins out in camp in addition to tracking Maclin’s recovery from injury. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a ton of production to go around in this offense, but the winner of that battle can be moved up.
Chris Conley, Chiefs – See Wilson, Albert.
Rod Streater, Chiefs – See Wilson, Albert.
Cole Beasley, Cowboys - Could have 3 or 4 catches a game, but not much upside.
Leonard Hankerson, Bills - Looking good in camp once again, but he just drops too many passes. Will have a few usable weeks especially with Watkins injured.
Kenny Bell, Buccaneers – A Matt Waldman favorite. He has 4.42-speed, a 41.5-inch vertical, a good quarterback and has only a 33 year old Vincent Jackson in his way. He should be targeted late in drafts.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Jets –Currently the #3 wide receiver on a team that likes to use four receivers.
Danny Amendola, Patriots - Took a pay cut to stay with the team and still may be cut.
Stephen Hill, Panthers - Maybe ... but probably not. But maybe. If you are looking for upside on your final pick, he's it.
Davante Adams, Packers – He’s a disaster. There has been talk he may be cut.
Mike Thomas, Rams – Good size and speed (6'1" 200lbs - 4.5 forty) and plays even bigger with toughness and physicality. Could emerge to be a reliable WR2, but probably a year away as he adjusts to the NFL game and while he plays with a rookie QB.
Rashard Higgins, Browns – Not a great athlete, but does everything well. Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception is a fan.
Keyarris Garrett, Panthers - Inexplicably went undrafted, but landing on a team in need of additional receiving weapons. He is big (6’3” 220lbs), fast (4.53 forty) and only dropped 3 of the 99 catchable passes thrown his way in 2015. Someone to monitor in camp.
Roger Lewis - Giants – Solid athlete (4.46 forty, a 36-inch vertical and 10-foot-5 broad jump) but comes with off-field baggage, which most likely led to going undrafted. There is an opportunity here though with Sheppard in the slot and Beckham on the outside if Cruz can’t get healthy. Someone to watch rather than draft.
Pharaoh Cooper, Rams – A better real life player than a fantasy player this year. Some Golden Tate to his game.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – The return of Benjamin will limit his production big time. It was fun while it lasted though.
Devin Smith, Jets –Has a chance for some big weeks as their deep threat, but better best ball league player than reliable weekly fantasy starter especially since he’s still coming back from major knee injury.
Stevie Johnson, Chargers – Torn meniscus in camp will sideline him for some time, still waiting to see for how long. He's more talented then he showed last year.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings - Maybe .... nah.
Jordan Payton, Browns - Good size and speed (6'1" 207lbs 4.47 forty). Matt Waldman likes him and thinks he’s a smooth and understated route runner. Long term WR3 at best.
Demarcus Robinson, Chiefs – Suspended four times in college, so is a raw prospect, but tons of potential. Outside chance he emerges over Conley, Streater and Wilson.
Devin Lucien, Patriots – Lots of mouths to feed here, but if Amendola is released, will battle with Mitchell for outside duties. Underrated talent.
Rashawn Scott, Miami – Joins a crowded receiving corp. Could be cut, but worth monitoring where he lands.
TIGHT END TIERS
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – The most dominant player at any position for fantasy.
Jordan Reed, Redskins – Love the talent and put up a monster 87/952/11 last season. Although DJax missed 7 games and with Doctson in town and Crowder coming on, those numbers will most likely go down a bit. Concussion history also a major concern. If you use a high pick on him, I would handcuff with Niles Paul.
Coby Fleener, Saints – Couldn’t have landed in a better spot. The 125 targets Watson leaves behind are all his. Snead and Cooks are also both under six feet, while Fleener stands 6'6" with 4.51 jets. His hands an issue, but Brees will take full advantage.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs – The offense frustratingly caps his upside.
Zach Ertz, Eagles – I'm higher on him than most since he is the teams best receiver. He caught 75 passes last season but only 2 TDs. Look for those TD totals to increase this year under new HC Pederson who has a history of featuring the tight end.
Greg Olsen, Panthers – Return of Benjamin and emergence of Funchess could impact his bottom line. He was the only game in town last season.
Julius Thomas, Jaguars – Should be their number two receiver behind Robinson and major threat in the redzone. Local press called him "nearly unstoppable" in OTAs.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – The juice is gone, but still will catch a ton of balls.
Delanie Walker, Titans – A steady option, but they have a full complement of receivers this year, in addition to Demarco Murray.
Gary Barnidge, Browns – Won’t be the only show in town, but should still be RGIII’s security blanket.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals – A touchdown monster and clear-cut second option in their passing game. Return from ankle surgery key so if you draft him, you need a quality backup.
Eric Ebron, Lions – They need him to step up and I think he does.
Dwayne Allen, Colts – With Fleener gone, the tight end targets are all his and OC Chud loves to feature the tight end, as a former one himself.
Martellus Bennett, Patriots – Should have at least 3 or 4 catches a game and probably many of the ones that count.
Jason Witten, Dallas – The juice is gone, but still will catch a ton of balls.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks – Value depends on how soon he comes back from injury. Early reports are that he will avoid PUP. But as ESPN's Stephania Bell recently said: "Of all the different surgeries that these guys have, those who fared the worst when it comes to rate of return to play and performance metrics like yards gained and touchdowns scored, it was patellar tendon repair." If he avoids PUP, he's still good bet for TDs, but may not give you much else beyond that.
Will Tye, Giants – A touchdown dependent tight end who very may well catch a lot of touchdowns. A lot more mouths to feed, but he’s a big body for Manning in the redzone and proved to be a reliable target. Could surprise as a Top 12 tight end.
Charles Clay, Bills – Their number three receiver behind Watkins and McCoy.
Zach Miller, Bears – Will be third or fourth on the pecking order, but will be involved every week.
Virgil Green, Broncos - Freak athlete who has been used mainly as a blocker so far despite being mainly a pass catching tight end in college. Has been their number one tight end in camp and catching touchdowns regularly. The Kubiak offense loves involving the tight end. Major sleeper if they do indeed use him this year.
Jared Cook, Packers – Whoever wins the primary receiving role between Cook and Rogers will have value. My money is on Cook despite early reports that this is Rogers job to lose. Move him up if early reports are positive.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers – Built like a building, but will be touchdown dependent and currently in the doghouse.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Is always touchdown dependent. His talent is lost on this team.
Cameron Brate, Bucs - ASJ seems to be imploding while Brate is showing dominance in the red zone drills.
Richard Rogers, Packers – Signing of Cook a killer to his value, but still a chance he wins the starting job.
Vance McDonald, 49ers – At least he starts. That’s something. Now if he could just catch.
Jace Amaro, Jets – Could move up if plays well during pre-season after missing all of his sophomore year. Positive reports so far out of camp. Major sleeper in this vertical four offense.
Jeff Heuerman, Broncos – The Broncos believe in him and should be fully healthy after injured rookie season. Elway expects him to “step in and be a force," but still behind Green at the moment.
Hunter Henry, Chargers – Great dynasty hold. Their tight end of the future.
Dion Sims, Dolphins – Needs an injury in front of him to have any value.
Niles Paul, Washington - Missed last season with an ankle injury in preseason, could be a stud if Reed gets another concussion.
Austin Hooper, Falcons – Rookie tight ends rarely make much of an impact, but he has the best chance.
Tyler Higbee, Rams – Great dynasty stash, but he’s a rookie and may be suspended to start the season due to legal issues.
Maxx Williams, Ravens – If he wins the starting job, move him way up. Great hands and route runner. But now Denis Pitta may be back? The team has 4 or 5 starting caliber tight ends.
Tyler Kroft, Bengals – Needed an injury to Eifert to have relevance, and he got it. He's a great athlete and showed progress as his rookie season went on.
Larry Donnell, Giants – Lost his starting gig to Tye.
Josh Hill, Saints – He’s going to mostly block, but will inevitably catch a few touchdowns.
Crockett Gillmore, Ravens – Played well last season, but Williams and Watson kill his value.
Brent Celek, Eagles – Should block more than catch this year.
Lance Kendricks, Rams – Their blocking tight end.
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