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 then ODB, or maybe Beckham has one more touchdown. Who knows; but I do know that both should finish better than a guy like Alshon Jeffery.
My Running Back, Wide Receiver and Tight End rankings coming within the week and I will continue to update them as the pre-season progresses.
Tom Brady, Patriots – PFF’s #1 rated QB from 2016 has even more weapons this year with addition of Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead. Additionally, Gronk is fully healthy coming into the season, even taking part in a recent WWE wrestling event, and Malcolm Mitchell has a year under his belt and flashed big time last season. This team’s running back core is also built for dump offs and big YAC, not grinding runs. If you feel nervous about his age, very easy to handcuff in MFL10’s and season long leagues with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – He’s as safe a pick as there is, but you have to hope this offense comes out of the gate hot and not sputtering like they have done the past few seasons. Jordy Nelson did look a bit slower; hopefully he comes out this year looking faster after having two years to fully heal. There is no safer player to draft.
Drew Brees, Saints - Locked and loaded as usual, but loss of Cooks and lack of a reliable tight end does hurt a bit. I like the addition of Alvin Kamara out of the backfield and I think they still add another wide receiver, possibly Vincent Jackson or Michael Floyd, who both could be great stretching the field. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 37 TDs last season, look for that to continue.
Andrew Luck, Colts – If everyone can stay healthy, there is no reason he can’t finish the year as a Top 5 QB. He played most of the season injured and it showed. Addition of Kamar Aiken gives them a legitimate third receiver and Donte Moncrief (still just 23 years old) is finally going to break out; despite putting up tight end type numbers last year, Matt Harmon’s reception perception methodology still loves him and I do too. Lack of a difference making running back and the right side of this offensive line are concerns.
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 with Jimmy Graham fully healthy and WR Paul Richardson ascending. While this team will still roll through the running backs, and attempts won't increase, what he does with those attempts should be even better. He also has a great floor running the ball.
Cam Newton, Panthers – Additions of rookie RB Christian McCaffrey and RB/WR hybrid Curtis Samuels should help give this team some speed and weapons near the line of scrimmage, which will help since Cam was pretty erratic throwing the ball down the field. Although it is disappointing to hear that Kelvin Benjamin checked into OTA’s reportedly far overweight. While they want to make Cam more of a pocket passer, he will not be able to change the way he has played his whole life in one off-season, especially since he is still coming off of shoulder surgery and can't even throw until mid-June. His transformation is a process that will probably take 2 or 3 years, so expect to see a lot of yards on the ground as usual.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – As long as Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell are healthy, Big Ben will put up numbers, at home at least. Those road splits are real and can kill you without other options at the ready. The return of Martavis Bryant and addition of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster will hopefully cure those clunker road games.
Derek Carr, Raiders – Carr has emerged as a legitimate NFL quarterback with very capable weapons in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook and potential rookie Ish Zamora, who has traits of Martavis Bryant. With a top 3 offensive line and the return of Marshawn Lynch, there is a lot to like in this offense.
Matthew Stafford, Lions – People hate on Stafford, but he’s a top level quarterback in an offense that is still built on passing the ball, especially in the red-zone. Injuries to Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick all worked to hamper what started out as a great season. If all his weapons can stay healthy, his new offensive line should provide him with adequate time to be a reliable to notch starter for you. Their only weakness is LG Laken Tomlinson, but he is entering his third year and is a former first round pick. Hope abounds especially if third round pick WR Kenny Golladay pans out and if they pick up another receiver such as Vincent Jackson or Boldin.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – Winston has weapons galore, adding Desean Jackson to go along with top notch rookies TE OJ Howard and under rated receiver Chris Godwin. Winston's only issue is the few holes on the offensive line, particularly at left tackle. If you’re betting on upside, he could easily finish in the Top 5 and I have a feeling I will eventually move him up these rankings.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Arguably an even better receiving core this year with the additions of Terrelle Pryor and a healthy rookie Josh Doctson to go along with Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder. Playing once again for a big contract, Cousins should be reliable.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Has a chance to be a Tier 2 QB if his offensive line and wide receivers stay healthy, something that has killed him two years in a row now. This offense is loaded with weapons (Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Dontrelle Inman, Melvin Gordon) and is going to be a fun watch. It would probably surprise some people to know he threw the 4th most TDs (33) last season playing with backups.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys - He has the best offensive line in football and played very well last season, but outside of Dez Bryant, this team lacks any reliable weapons and will still run their offense through Zeke. He's going to be over drafted even though I love the talent. He finished as the QB6 last year, but other offenses have reloaded and gotten healthy.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills –The key with Taylor is Sammy Watkins, whose foot injury is apparently serious enough that the team just turned down his 5th year option. Outside of Watkins, their only viable receiving threats are rookie Zay Jones (who is injured already) and TE Charles Clay. They also signed free agent Andre Holmes, so they have a capable, but not overly exciting, trio at this point at least. Also keep in mind, the Bills barley re-resigned Taylor, so it is not inconceivable that we could see pro-ready rookie QB Nathan Peterman sometime this year. Tyrod has a solid floor due to his running ability, finishing first amongst all QBs in runs, yards and TDs on the ground, but what is concerning is that "Taylor’s pass attempts per game ranked 35th in 2015 and 33rd in 2016." as noted by PFF analyst Pat Thorman. If Watkins is healthy, Tyrod will finish in Tier 2, if not, this is around his floor.