Thursday, August 18, 2022

Fantasy Football Today: How things stack up in our latest rankings update

Fantasy Football Today: How things stack up in our latest rankings update

Taking stock as we inch closer to draft season and the NFL season

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USATSI

On Friday’s episode of Fantasy Football Today, Adam Aizer had an interesting prompt to lead off the show: “Would you rather be weak at running back or wide receiver coming out of your draft?” I find the question absolutely fascinating because I think it boils down so much of how Fantasy players approach the game and draft season. 

I think most players would look at the upside of the high-end running backs and the relative depth at wide receiver and say they’d rather be weak at WR, with depth at RB in case things fall apart. And I think there’s some merit to that idea – If you have two true difference makers at running back, it can cover up for a lot of holes elsewhere because high-end running backs tend to be more consistent from week to week than their high-end WR counterparts. 

But, I think that is the wrong way to look at it. Because while of course you’d want multiple elite running backs, unless you’re willing to go for two in your first two picks, it’s pretty hard to guarantee that. Historically, running backs are very good bets to hit in the first two rounds – typically better than wide receivers, even. The first 12 running backs drafted hit 200-plus points in a season in PPR scoring about 63% of the time; the next 12 get there around 25% of the time – I did a deep dive on historical draft results last season, in case you want to know where I’m getting this from. 

At least based on history, even if you try to make sure running back isn’t a “weakness,” there’s a pretty good chance that whoever you take as your RB2 or especially RB3 isn’t going to be a stalwart in your lineup. To put it another way: Running back is probably already a weakness for your roster,  but you just don’t know it yet. That’s just how the position goes. 

I want you to keep that in mind as we take a look at the latest rankings for each position for this season. I have my own tiered rankings for you in today’s newsletter, and you can also see tiers from Dave Richard and Heath Cummings, plus rankings from the entire FFT team right here. Next week on CBSSports.com/Fantasy, we’ll be diving deep into the running back position with our RB preview week content, and the newsletter will reflect that as well – I’ll break down the state of the position for on you Monday, and we’ll have our latest sleepers, breakouts, and busts for the position, along with updates on everything you need to know from training camp. 

For now, here are my latest updated rankings for the 2022 seasons, with each position covered plus my latest overall top-150 rankings. 

QB Rankings

There hasn’t been much movement at the quarterback position for me of late. Note that I’m not ranking Deshaun Watson until we get some clarity on his eligibility for this season — I don’t know any more than any of you about his chances of playing a full season, and I wouldn’t be willing to tell you when or where to draft him until I do know.

That’s probably the biggest remaining question mark at the position, assuming Joe Burrow recovers from his appendix surgery without issue — if the time I had my appendix removed back in eighth grade is any indication, Burrow just needs to avoid laughing for a few days, and he’ll be back on his skateboard — err, the practice field — in no time. 

That’s not to say there aren’t question marks at quarterback, of course. Questions abound about how the Eagles plan to deploy Jalen Hurts and how Trey Lance will mesh with the 49ers offense, as well as whether the Vikings might turn into a pass-first offense with new head coach Kevin O’Connell and what that could mean for Kirk Cousins‘ upside. We might get some answers to those questions during training camp and the preseason, but we won’t know how the likes of Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones or Trevor Lawrence will look until we actually see them in games. You can go as far down as No. 22 (Trevor Lawrence) before you run out of players I could realistically see finishing as top-12 guys, though that doesn’t mean I’m just going to wait and bet on upside — I’ve already written this offseason about how not getting one of the elite quarterbacks is a riskier strategy than ever this season

  1. Josh Allen*
  2. Patrick Mahomes
  3. Lamar Jackson
  4. Justin Herbert*
  5. Kyler Murray
  6. Jalen Hurts
  7. Dak Prescott
  8. Tom Brady
  9. Matthew Stafford
  10. Joe Burrow
  11. Russell Wilson*
  12. Trey Lance
  13. Aaron Rodgers
  14. Kirk Cousins
  15. Derek Carr*
  16. Justin Fields
  17. Jameis Winston
  18. Tua Tagovailoa*
  19. Ryan Tannehill*
  20. Daniel Jones
  21. Marcus Mariota
  22. Trevor Lawrence
  23. Mitch Trubisky*
  24. Matt Ryan
  25. Carson Wentz
  26. Mac Jones
  27. Baker Mayfield
  28. Jared Goff
  29. Zach Wilson
  30. Davis Mills
  31. Drew Lock
  32. Jacoby Brissett*

*End of a tier

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RB Rankings

Things are largely holding steady in my running back rankings, but there has been some movement, for sure. The top 12 seems pretty set, with the exception of one player: Alvin Kamara, whose off-field questions still loom. He’s set for a preliminary hearing for his assault charges on Aug. 1, but we probably won’t know much more about the timetable then than we do now. Kamara has every incentive to try to delay legal proceedings as much as he can, and the NFL is unlikely to take action until and unless the legal system plays out, so it’s entirely possible Kamara won’t face any discipline until next season. If I knew he was going to be eligible to play the whole season, Kamara would be a top-five option for me, likely No. 4.

A few players I did notably move up in this update are James Robinson and Rhamondre Stevenson, who both now sit in the fringe RB3 range. There has been buzz about Stevenson pushing Damien Harris for the lead RB role for the Patriots, and he’s the only RB there with three-down potential, meaning he’s the most high-upside one there. That’s a trend we’ll be keeping a very, very close eye on during training camp, and I included Stevenson in my Breakouts update this week as well

As for Robinson, while he still has a lot to prove in coming back from a ruptured Achilles, the fact that he won’t be on the PUP list to open camp seems like a big deal to me. We’ve seen him be a difference-making contributor for Fantasy, and while it’s fair to be skeptical about his physical readiness coming off this specific injury, there simply aren’t many proven backs with three-down skills available late in your drafts. Robinson still went outside of the top-100 in our most recent mock draft after the news came out, so he still looks like a value to me. 

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Jonathan Taylor
  3. Austin Ekeler*
  4. Dalvin Cook
  5. Najee Harris*
  6. Aaron Jones
  7. D’Andre Swift
  8. Derrick Henry
  9. Leonard Fournette
  10. Joe Mixon*
  11. Saquon Barkley
  12. David Montgomery
  13. Alvin Kamara
  14. James Conner*
  15. Javonte Williams
  16. Nick Chubb
  17. Ezekiel Elliott*
  18. J.K. Dobbins
  19. Travis Etienne
  20. Josh Jacobs
  21. Antonio Gibson
  22. Breece Hall*
  23. Cam Akers
  24. Miles Sanders
  25. AJ Dillon
  26. Elijah Mitchell*
  27. Kareem Hunt
  28. Chase Edmonds
  29. Tony Pollard
  30. Damien Harris
  31. Clyde Edwards-Helaire*
  32. Devin Singletary
  33. Kenneth Gainwell
  34. James Cook
  35. Rashaad Penny
  36. Rhamondre Stevenson
  37. James Robinson
  38. Cordarrelle Patterson
  39. Alexander Mattison
  40. Ronald Jones II
  41. Melvin Gordon*
  42. Dameon Pierce
  43. Nyheim Hines
  44. J.D. McKissic
  45. Jamaal Williams
  46. Kenneth Walker III
  47. Darrell Henderson
  48. Gus Edwards
  49. Michael Carter
  50. James White
  51. Zamir White*
  52. Darrel Williams
  53. D’Onta Foreman
  54. Marlon Mack
  55. Isaiah Spiller
  56. Damien Williams
  57. Rex Burkhead
  58. Jeff Wilson
  59. Kenyan Drake
  60. Sony Michel*

*End of a tier

WR Rankings

If you want to sum up the state of the wide receiver position heading into 2022 drafts, I think this does it about as well as anything else: Wide receivers make up just nine of my top 24 and 19 of the top 48, but then 48 of the next 102 players are WR. The position is lighter on obvious impact players than we’ve gotten used to in recent years, but it remains as deep as ever with contributors. 

In recent weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think there’s probably a more definitive gap between Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase than I initially thought, hence the tier gap between them. Chase could, of course, take a step forward in his second season the same way Jefferson did, though I think it’s worth noting that while Jefferson did maintain elite efficiency, he still averaged 1.5 yards per target less in his second season than his first; he made up for that with 42 more targets, and it’s harder to project that kind of increase for Chase with Tee Higgins also demanding targets. 

Of course, I’m happy to have either as my No. 1 wide receiver, and it might be more important to get one of those elite guys because I’m just not sure how many of them there are this season. I feel very confident in the top five in my rankings being elite, and pretty good about the next two tiers, but there are enough questions about them all to be at least a little skeptical. Deebo Samuel in particular fell a few spots (and a tier) for me, as I’m just not at all convinced that he’s going to get the volume or quality of touches he needs to come close to repeating last season.  

  1. Cooper Kupp*
  2. Davante Adams
  3. Justin Jefferson*
  4. Ja’Marr Chase
  5. Stefon Diggs*
  6. Mike Evans
  7. CeeDee Lamb*
  8. Deebo Samuel
  9. Tyreek Hill
  10. A.J. Brown*
  11. Diontae Johnson
  12. D.J. Moore
  13. Tee Higgins
  14. Keenan Allen
  15. Brandin Cooks*
  16. Michael Pittman Jr.
  17. Mike Williams
  18. Marquise Brown
  19. Jaylen Waddle
  20. Amari Cooper
  21. Chris Godwin
  22. Terry McLaurin
  23. D.K. Metcalf*
  24. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  25. Allen Robinson
  26. Robert Woods
  27. Darnell Mooney*
  28. Jerry Jeudy
  29. Adam Thielen
  30. Rashod Bateman
  31. Amon-Ra St. Brown
  32. Michael Thomas
  33. DeAndre Hopkins
  34. Kadarius Toney
  35. Gabe Davis*
  36. Drake London
  37. Tyler Lockett
  38. Courtland Sutton
  39. DeVonta Smith
  40. Elijah Moore
  41. Hunter Renfrow
  42. Russell Gage
  43. Jarvis Landry
  44. Chase Claypool
  45. Chris Olave
  46. Garrett Wilson*
  47. Julio Jones
  48. DeVante Parker
  49. Tyler Boyd
  50. Allen Lazard
  51. Corey Davis
  52. Christian Kirk
  53. Brandon Aiyuk
  54. Marvin Jones
  55. Tim Patrick
  56. Kenny Golladay
  57. Curtis Samuel
  58. Rondale Moore
  59. Jamison Crowder
  60. Treylon Burks
  61. Donovan Peoples-Jones*

*End of a tier

TE Rankings

No man is an island, but at tight end, one man can be his own tier. That’s how it is for the first three, where I view Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Kyle Pitts to be separated from both each other and the rest of the position. I’m willing to take all three in the first two rounds if I really want them, whereas I think George Kittle and Darren Waller are more like fourth or even fifth-rounders this season, with another multi-round drop after those two. 

I’m not buying the idea that tight end will be different this year. We say that every year, and every year, there are like three tight ends who actually matter and then everyone else wouldn’t be worth starting if you didn’t have to have a tight end in your lineup. That doesn’t mean I don’t like T.J. Hockenson or Dallas Goedert (or even lower-end guys like Albert Okwuegbunam, Noah Fant, or Irv Smith). I’m just not going to reach for any of them except for the guys I know will be difference makers. This year, that only includes the top three. 

  1. Travis Kelce*
  2. Mark Andrews*
  3. Kyle Pitts*
  4. George Kittle
  5. Darren Waller*
  6. T.J. Hockenson
  7. Dalton Schultz
  8. Dallas Goedert*
  9. Zach Ertz
  10. Mike Gesicki
  11. Cole Kmet
  12. Pat Freiermuth*
  13. Albert Okwuegbunam
  14. David Njoku
  15. Noah Fant
  16. Irv Smith*
  17. Gerald Everett
  18. Tyler Higbee
  19. Austin Hooper
  20. Dawson Knox
  21. Hunter Henry
  22. Evan Engram*
  23. Logan Thomas
  24. Robert Tonyan*

*End of a tier

Overall top-150 rankings

  1. Christian McCaffrey, RB
  2. Cooper Kupp, WR
  3. Jonathan Taylor, RB
  4. Austin Ekeler, RB
  5. Dalvin Cook, RB
  6. Davante Adams, WR
  7. Justin Jefferson, WR
  8. Najee Harris, RB
  9. Travis Kelce, TE
  10. Aaron Jones, RB
  11. Josh Allen, QB
  12. Ja’Marr Chase, WR
  13. Stefon Diggs, WR
  14. D’Andre Swift, RB
  15. Derrick Henry, RB
  16. Leonard Fournette, RB
  17. Joe Mixon, RB
  18. Mike Evans, WR
  19. Saquon Barkley, RB
  20. Mark Andrews, TE
  21. David Montgomery, RB
  22. CeeDee Lamb, WR
  23. Deebo Samuel, WR
  24. Tyreek Hill, WR
  25. Alvin Kamara, RB
  26. James Conner, RB
  27. A.J. Brown, WR
  28. Kyle Pitts, TE
  29. Diontae Johnson, WR
  30. D.J. Moore, WR
  31. Tee Higgins, WR
  32. Javonte Williams, RB
  33. Keenan Allen, WR
  34. Brandin Cooks, WR
  35. Nick Chubb, RB
  36. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
  37. Patrick Mahomes, QB
  38. George Kittle, TE
  39. Lamar Jackson, QB
  40. Michael Pittman Jr., WR
  41. J.K. Dobbins, RB
  42. Justin Herbert, QB
  43. Mike Williams, WR
  44. Marquise Brown, WR
  45. Darren Waller, TE
  46. Jaylen Waddle, WR
  47. Travis Etienne, RB
  48. Josh Jacobs, RB
  49. Amari Cooper, WR
  50. Chris Godwin, WR
  51. Terry McLaurin, WR
  52. D.K. Metcalf, WR
  53. T.J. Hockenson, TE
  54. Antonio Gibson, RB
  55. Breece Hall, RB
  56. Cam Akers, RB
  57. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
  58. Allen Robinson, WR
  59. Robert Woods, WR
  60. Darnell Mooney, WR
  61. Miles Sanders, RB
  62. Jerry Jeudy, WR
  63. Dalton Schultz, TE
  64. Adam Thielen, WR
  65. AJ Dillon, RB
  66. Elijah Mitchell, RB
  67. Kyler Murray, QB
  68. Rashod Bateman, WR
  69. Dallas Goedert, TE
  70. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR
  71. Michael Thomas, WR
  72. DeAndre Hopkins, WR
  73. Jalen Hurts, QB
  74. Kareem Hunt, RB
  75. Kadarius Toney, WR
  76. Gabe Davis, WR
  77. Zach Ertz, TE
  78. Drake London, WR
  79. Tyler Lockett, WR
  80. Mike Gesicki, TE
  81. Chase Edmonds, RB
  82. Dak Prescott, QB
  83. Courtland Sutton, WR
  84. DeVonta Smith, WR
  85. Cole Kmet, TE
  86. Elijah Moore, WR
  87. Tom Brady, QB
  88. Hunter Renfrow, WR
  89. Matthew Stafford, QB
  90. Joe Burrow, QB
  91. Russell Gage, WR
  92. Pat Freiermuth, TE
  93. Jarvis Landry, WR
  94. Chase Claypool, WR
  95. Chris Olave, WR
  96. Russell Wilson, QB
  97. Garrett Wilson, WR
  98. Aaron Rodgers, QB
  99. Tony Pollard, RB
  100. Damien Harris, RB
  101. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
  102. Kirk Cousins, QB
  103. Julio Jones, WR
  104. DeVante Parker, WR
  105. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE
  106. David Njoku, TE
  107. Noah Fant, TE
  108. Tyler Boyd, WR
  109. Allen Lazard, WR
  110. Irv Smith, TE
  111. Trey Lance, QB
  112. Corey Davis, WR
  113. Christian Kirk, WR
  114. Brandon Aiyuk, WR
  115. Marvin Jones, WR
  116. Tim Patrick, WR
  117. Gerald Everett, TE
  118. Devin Singletary, RB
  119. Kenny Golladay, WR
  120. Curtis Samuel, WR
  121. Kenneth Gainwell, RB
  122. Rondale Moore, WR
  123. James Cook, RB
  124. Rashaad Penny, RB
  125. Derek Carr, QB
  126. James Robinson, RB
  127. Jamison Crowder, WR
  128. Treylon Burks, WR
  129. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR
  130. Cordarrelle Patterson, RB
  131. Tyler Higbee, TE
  132. Zay Jones, WR
  133. Robby Anderson, WR
  134. Alexander Mattison, RB
  135. Justin Fields, QB
  136. Ronald Jones II, RB
  137. A.J. Green, WR
  138. Melvin Gordon, RB
  139. Mecole Hardman, WR
  140. Austin Hooper, TE
  141. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB
  142. Dawson Knox, TE
  143. Dameon Pierce, RB
  144. Jameis Winston, QB
  145. Sammy Watkins, WR
  146. K.J. Osborn, WR
  147. Nyheim Hines, RB
  148. J.D. McKissic, RB
  149. Jamaal Williams, RB
  150. Kenneth Walker III, RB

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