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Shuffle Up and Deal: Here comes Arian Foster, your hero

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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We'll give you the four major positions tonight as you get ready for the four weeks ahead. Usual caveats apply. Assume basic scoring (non-PPR). I'll add comments later tonight and might tweak this list here and there.

One other point that needs to be made: the situation of your team will greatly shape how these ranks apply to you. Take Riley Cooper, for instance. I like him a lot for this week, but I actually cut him in one league where I won't have another meaningful game until Week 15 (and he faces the Jets then). It's conceivable that Cooper could be a good add for one owner and a good drop for a different owner in the same league. It's all relative. Some owners might want to try for the upside of Adrian Peterson, while other owners might be better off with the safety of Marshawn Lynch (I know, that sounds crazy). Some of us need to play for today, some of us need to think ahead, and some of us need to win four games in a row. One final goal, but so many paths to get us there.

Have at the first version of this, and after a hearty meal filled with red meat and adult beverages, I will return to discuss this and that (mostly that). And never forget the golden rule of Shuffle Up: players don't gain a 20 percent jump in value (and amazing rehab recovery skills) just because you own them. The McFadden Mafia was merciless a few weeks ago, but last I checked, Walk DMC isn't on the field. You all know the story about Johnson and Colston by now.

Here's hoping the final four weeks go your way. Make the jump for the ranks. {ysp:more}

Quarterback
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Drew Brees
3. Tom Brady
4. Matthew Stafford
5. Cam Newton
6. Tony Romo
7. Eli Manning
8. Tim Tebow
9. Ben Roethlisberger
10. Matt Ryan
11. Philip Rivers
12. Carson Palmer

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13. Matt Moore
14. Matt Hasselbeck
15. Rex Grossman
16. Ryan Fitzpatrick
17. Vince Young
18. Josh Freeman
19. Mark Sanchez
20. Michael Vick
21. Christian Ponder
22. Joe Flacco
23. Andy Dalton
24. Alex Smith
25. Kyle Orton
26. Tarvaris Jackson
27. Caleb Hanie
28. Sam Bradford
29. Colt McCoy
30. Kevin Kolb
31. Dan Orlovsky
32. T.J. Yates
33. John Skelton
34. Blaine Gabbert
35. Josh Johnson
36. Matt Flynn
37. Jake Locker
38. Shaun Hill
39. Luke McCown
40. Tyler Palko

As we discussed on Wednesday, Stafford's schedule is pure gold for a passer (Saints, Vikings, Raiders, Chargers). And unless Kevin Smith's ankle heals quickly, you have to figure the Lions will be passing heavily in most of those games - certainly the match in New Orleans. … I'm not going to make any hard assumptions on Vick's return schedule. The Eagles are out of the playoff race and they could reach a point where it's not worth it to take any unnecessary chances with their high-priced quarterback. And let's not forget that Vick isn't rushing in scores this year; he had nine rushing touchdowns in 2010, but he's yet to manage one this season. The yardage is still there, but the spikes aren't. … I understand why no one wants to trust Grossman against the Jets, but he's not a bad sleeper for the rest of the money schedule (Patriots, at Giants, Vikings). Mike Shanahan can still design tasty plays in a passing game, ask the Cowboys or Seahawks. … I'm not going to put Donovan McNabb into the Top 20 at any point this year, even if he lands in Houston or Chicago. There's too much to learn and not enough time to learn it.

Running Back
1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. Matt Forte
4. DeMarco Murray
5. LeSean McCoy
6. Michael Turner
7. Frank Gore

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8. Maurice Jones-Drew
9. Adrian Peterson
10. Marshawn Lynch
11. Chris Johnson
12. LeGarrette Blount
13. Michael Bush
14. Steven Jackson
15. Ryan Mathews
16. Willis McGahee
17. Beanie Wells
18. Rashard Mendenhall
19. Cedric Benson
20. Roy Helu
21. Reggie Bush
22. Darren Sproles
23. Jonathan Stewart
24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
25. Shonn Greene
26. DeAngelo Williams
27. Ahmad Bradshaw
28. Ben Tate
29. Peyton Hillis
30. Mike Tolbert

Even with the quarterback shuffle in Houston, I'm not the slightest bit worried about Foster. I wish I had him on some teams. He's working behind the best offensive line in the game, he gets a heavy rushing workload every Sunday, and he's a dynamite and explosive receiver (that's the most underrated part of his game). And look at the heavenly schedule waiting for the final two fantasy weeks: Carolina in Week 15, Indianapolis in Week 16. You better hope you don't meet up with this guy in the playoffs. … McCoy has a hellish schedule ahead, not to mention a nagging toe injury, but he's proven to be matchup proof during his career. If he's in a uniform, he's in my lineup. … Jackson is up against a horrendous schedule (Niners, Seahawks, Bengals, Steelers), with three of the games coming on the road. At least the rematch with San Francisco is tucked into the fantasy nothingness of Week 17 (at least in most leagues it won't mean a thing). … Mendenhall's down season is mostly about volume and cheap scoring chances; his YPC is at 3.8 this year after a 3.9 campaign in 2010. The identity of the Steelers has clearly switched. … Green-Ellis is still the lead back in New England but the club isn't running him into the ground. We'd like to see plentiful carries in the second half as the Pats are salting away leagues, but that wasn't the case in the blowout wins over Kansas City and Philadelphia . . The Giants offense improves the second Bradshaw returns to action, even if he's still stuck at a low YPC. The playbook expands when Bradshaw is on the field and the New York offense becomes a lot more difficult to defend. The story is similar with the Jets, where Greene is the limited runner and McKnight is the dynamic guy.

31. Donald Brown
32. C.J. Spiller
33. Darren McFadden
34. Kevin Smith
35. Brandon Jacobs
36. Mark Ingram
37. Pierre Thomas
38. Marion Barber
39. Daniel Thomas
40. Maurice Morris
41. Felix Jones
42. Kendall Hunter
43. James Starks
44. Jackie Battle
45. Toby Gerhart
46. Javon Ringer
47. Dexter McCluster
48. Ryan Grant
49. Joe McKnight
50. Chris Ogbonnaya
51. Bernard Scott
52. Montario Hardesty
53. Shane Vereen
54. Joseph Addai
55. Danny Woodhead

If I knew Kevin Smith were at 100 percent, he'd be inside the Top 20. Ankle injuries are notorious for lingering. … If it were going to break for Starks this year, it would have happened a long time ago. The Packers are routinely playing with second-half leads, and every opponent has to defend the passing game first and foremost. … I wouldn't play Addai on a bet these days. It's time for the Colts to give Brown a heavy workload and see if he's worth anything as a primary back in 2012.

56. Johnny White
57. Danny Ware
58. Isaac Redman
59. Deji Karim
60. Tashard Choice
61. Dion Lewis
62. LaDainian Tomlinson
63. Marcel Reece
64. Lance Ball
65. Stevan Ridley
66. Thomas Jones
67. Keiland Williams
68. Jason Snelling
69. Kregg Lumpkin
70. Ricky Williams
71. Ronnie Brown
72. Delone Carter
73. Jacquizz Rodgers
74. Curtis Brinkley
75. Kevin Faulk
76. Ryan Torain

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Wide Receiver
1. Calvin Johnson
2. Wes Welker
3. Greg Jennings
4. Steve Smith
5. Larry Fitzgerald
6. Victor Cruz
7. Mike Wallace
8. Jordy Nelson
9. Roddy White
10. Hakeem Nicks
11. Brandon Lloyd
12. A.J. Green
13. Marques Colston
14. Percy Harvin
15. Brandon Marshall
16. Dez Bryant
17. Vincent Jackson
18. Stevie Johnson
19. Laurent Robinson
20. Antonio Brown
21. Andre Johnson
22. Anquan Boldin
23. Dwayne Bowe
24. Julio Jones
25. Miles Austin
26. Santonio Holmes
27. Plaxico Burress
28. DeSean Jackson
29. Eric Decker
30. Jeremy Maclin

The Giants have a middle-of-the-road schedule left (Packers, at Cowboys, Redskins, at Jets), but considering how New York can't really run the ball, Cruz and Nicks should be fine. It's been no fun watching Cruz do his free-agent bonanza thing knowing that he's on zero of my clubs. He's had all of one bad game since his Week 3 breakout, a quiet showing in the victory over Buffalo. In every other game Cruz has scored, topped 84 yards, or both. … I suppose the Robinson rank looks optimistic, but consider a couple of things. First and foremost, Robinson has a terrific set of football instincts, knowing how to get open when a play breaks down. Tony Romo loves chucking it to No. 81 at the end of a broken play. And second, as much as I'd love to see Austin back and healthy for the Pokes, I'm not going to make any sharp assumptions about his return and how effective he'll be. And considering the injury and inconsistency issues that Austin and Bryant both bring to the table, I'm not going to sweat Robinson's snaps and targets. They'll find room for this guy. … That hissing sound is the air going out of DeSean Jackson's free agent case. … Burress never feels like a consistent property, but he's been a trustable fantasy option for five games in a row. He's scored in three of those outings, and he had 143 yards in the other two starts combined. I still want to see better focus between the 20s, but we all know Mark Sanchez locks in on Burress inside the red zone.

31. Mike Williams
32. Michael Crabtree
33. Torrey Smith
34. Santana Moss

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35. Lance Moore
36. Nate Washington
37. Deion Branch
38. Denarius Moore
39. Reggie Wayne
40. Damian Williams
41. David Nelson
42. Nate Burleson
43. Riley Cooper
44. Johnny Knox
45. James Jones
46. Pierre Garcon
47. Greg Little
48. Darrius Heyward-Bey
49. Jabar Gaffney
50. Steve Breaston
51. Doug Baldwin
52. Vincent Brown
53. Mario Manningham
54. Jason Avant
55. Early Doucet
56. Joshua Cribbs
57. Titus Young
58. Earl Bennett
59. Robert Meachem
60. Jacoby Ford
61. Jerome Simpson
62. Arrelious Benn
63. Malcom Floyd
64. Roy Williams

Cooper is a tricky call. I like his size and competitiveness, the ability to get deep. But the remaining schedule isn't friendly (at Miami, Jets, at Cowboys) and there's uncertainty tied to this passing game. If Vick comes back, will he click with Cooper? When will Maclin be back on the field? What's the frequency, DeSean? … I'm not confident Manningham will be back on the field at any point in the final quarter. There's no universally-correct way to rank injured players — if you don't have a deep bench, you probably don't want to bother. … I'm in on Vincent Brown if Floyd as any additional setbacks. Otherwise, I can't go too deep on a passing game that's been a mess all year. I can't wait to see what coach and coordinator inherits the San Diego situation after the year; there's still a motherlode of talent here. If you put the Super Bowl over/under at 0.5 for Phil Rivers (career-wise, that is), I'd still take the over. … Orlovsky surely can't be worse than Painter, right? With that in mind, I'll cling to a tiny bit of hope for Wayne and Garcon. … Moss didn't move the needle with a four-catch, 29-yard game in Seattle, but hey, it was his first start off the hand injury. We'll watch him closely against the Jets this week (don't start him unless you have to), then hope for something splashy against that friendly closing schedule (Pats, at Giants, Vikings). It's not hard to run through and past that horrendous (and injury-ravaged) Minnesota secondary.

65. Mike Thomas
66. Brian Hartline
67. Andre Caldwell
68. Davone Bess
69. Brad Smith
70. Harry Douglas
71. Brandon LaFell
72. Jacoby Jones
73. Kevin Walter
74. Ben Obomanu
75. Devery Henderson
76. Braylon Edwards
77. Jonathan Baldwin
78. Devin Hester

Tight End
1. Rob Gronkowski

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2. Jimmy Graham
3. Jason Witten
4. Antonio Gates
5. Fred Davis
6. Jermichael Finley
7. Tony Gonzalez
8. Aaron Hernandez
9. Vernon Davis
10. Brandon Pettigrew
11. Brent Celek
12. Kellen Winslow
13. Greg Olsen
14. Dustin Keller
15. Jermaine Gresham
16. Owen Daniels
17. Jake Ballard
18. Ed Dickson
19. Heath Miller
20. Scott Chandler
21. Jared Cook
22. Benjamin Watson
23. Marcedes Lewis
24. Delanie Walker
25. Tony Scheffler
26. Anthony Fasano
27. Jacob Tamme
28. Joel Dreessen
29. Charles Clay
30. Jeremy Shockey
31. Kyle Rudolph

Finley hasn't returned a profit on his draft-day cost, but the matchup slate looks good to him — he's actually got the most tight-end friendly slate remaining (Giants, Raiders, Chiefs, Bears). Collectively, those four clubs have allowed 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns to opposing tight ends. … Winslow is hobbling around like Fred G. Sanford and his quarterback is no sure thing either. But if the Tampa tight end can gut it out, good things can happen against the Panthers, Jags, Cowboys and Panthers (again) over the final four weeks. Only Jacksonville has shown anything with tight-end coverage this year … Fred Davis gets the Washington float that we've talked about all week. The Jets, Pats, Giants and Vikings are favorable matchups for any tight end; only New England is close to the league average for TE points allowed over the past two months … Talent always gets the call over schedule when push comes to shove, but Gresham has his work cut out for him down the stretch. The Ravens (Week 13 and 16) have locked up tight ends this year, and Pittsburgh and Arizona also grade out as difficult matchups.

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