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Shuffle Up: Foster and Gronkowski hold their ground

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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Pink Panther (USP)

The running back and tight end ranks you find in this article are rest-of-season ranks, not Week 9 ranks. The goal of this assignment is to grade expected fantasy value to come over the final two months. Assume a standard scoring system, no PPR. And make sure you're not adding 15-20 percent of bonus value to the players you happen to roster; the real world doesn't operate that way.

Just the ranks for now. Later on Saturday, I'll add commentary and maybe change a slotting or two. Win the debate, win the rank. Let's figure out this crazy game together.

1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. LeSean McCoy
4. Adrian Peterson

I like McCoy's schedule more than Peterson's, and I like his versatility more. But if you want to shuffle things a little bit in your Top 4, I'm not going to arm wrestle with you. Foster's value gets a boost from the way Houston handles blowout games; he's been keeping the fourth-down work even when the score gets lopsided.

5. Doug Martin
6. Marshawn Lynch
7. Trent Richardson

Although Richardson went to a losing team in Cleveland, he didn't go to a bad offensive setup: the Browns have a strong offensive line in front of him. Cleveland is a Top 10 unit for run blocking and pass blocking according to Pro Football Focus. … Martin is going to miss Carl Nicks, sure. What back wouldn't miss a Pro Bowl lineman? But if you have to suffer an injury up front, you'd rather it be to a guard as opposed to a tackle or a center.

8. Matt Forte
9. Alfred Morris
10. Willis McGahee
11. Darren McFadden
12. Stevan Ridley
13. Reggie Bush
14. Ryan Mathews

There's a lot of Mathews angst in the community (owners and writers); in the case of the latter, it's mostly scribes who are chasing their own August ranks. Accept the reality of today, gamers. The Chargers like what Ronnie Brown is showing as the third down back, and they want to use Jackie Battle in some short-yardage situations. After the 31-13 romp over Kansas City, what's going to change? … It's frustrating that Ridley only has six catches, but at least he's getting plenty of scoring-area work. He's second in the league in red-zone carries (34), just six behind Foster.

15. C.J. Spiller
16. Chris Johnson
17. Ahmad Bradshaw
18. Jamaal Charles
19. Frank Gore
20. Michael Turner
21. Pierre Thomas
22. Jonathan Stewart
23. Fred Jackson
24. Rashad Jennings

It's a shame the Niners don't let Gore do more closing work. Consider his carries by quarter: 44, 23, 33, 19. He averages 6.4 yards a pop in the second half, but Jim Harbaugh apparently doesn't want to over-expose his veteran back. … Thomas gets his big shot in New Orleans now that Darren Sproles is out of the way. That said, the Saints have been reluctant to give Thomas heavy touches in the past, so I can't push the PT Crusier (tm: Yahoo Noise) into the Top 20 just yet.

25. Mikel Leshoure
26. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
27. Shonn Greene
28. DeMarco Murray
29. Steven Jackson
30. Donald Brown
31. Alex Green
32. LaRod Stephens-Howling
33. Kendall Hunter
34. Daryl Richardson
35. Daniel Thomas
36. Michael Bush
37. Isaac Redman
38. Ben Tate
39. Andre Brown
40. Ronnie Brown

San Diego's Brown has turned into a handy option in deeper PPR formats. He's caught 22 passes in his last four games, and he's quietly averaging 4.5 yards a carry when he's asked to run the ball, pushing the pile and showing surprising power. … I was excited to see what Green might do with a featured role, but he's been a three-game dud in Green Bay (64 carries, 154 yards). At least he's added eight catches (for 57 yards) the last couple of weeks to save the line.

41. Vick Ballard
42. Joique Bell
43. Rashard Mendenhall
44. Jonathan Dwyer
45. Shane Vereen
46. Robert Turbin
47. Ronnie Hillman
48. Mike Goodson
49. Jacquizz Rodgers
50. Mark Ingram
51. Beanie Wells
52. Felix Jones
53. Peyton Hillis
54. Maurice Jones-Drew
55. Shaun Draughn
56. Justin Forsett
57. Montario Hardesty
58. DeAngelo Williams
59. William Powell
60. *Darren Sproles

They're saying Sproles will miss 4-6 weeks after busting his hand. Your Sproles roster strategy going forward is predicated on your league depth, the size of your bench, and where you sit in the standings.

61. Jackie Battle
62. Danny Woodhead
63. David Wilson
64. Cedric Peerman
65. Bilal Powell

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London Calling (USP)

1. Rob Gronkowski
2. Jimmy Graham
3. Tony Gonzalez
4. Jason Witten

When you factor in the blocking, Gronkowski is far and away the best tight end in the game today. I know, I know, in fake football, no one cares about that stuff. So let's focus on the fact that Gronkowski leads his position in yardage and touchdowns, and he's capable of winning 1-on-1 even when the coverage is tight. There's no logical way to defend him.

5. Heath Miller
6. Owen Daniels
7. Antonio Gates
8. Aaron Hernandez

I know all the Hernandez owners are up in arms about his rank, but let's try to keep both cleats on the ground here. Hernandez has already been forced to miss games in two different segments, and even when he's healthy he still has to battle Gronkowski, Welker and Lloyd for targets. I'm never going to assume miracle health comebacks off major injuries; this is just another instance in that. … Ben Roethlisberger says he wants Miller in the Pro Bowl this year, and the team's usage of Miller backs that up. Miller is first at the position in red-zone targets (16) and goal-line targets (8), and only Gronkowski has more touchdowns. And why shouldn't the Steelers focus on Miller from in close? They don't have a size receiver who can dominate at the goal (no offense to the very talented Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown).

9. Vernon Davis
10. Jermaine Gresham
11. Dustin Keller
12. Brandon Pettigrew
13. Brent Celek
14. Greg Olsen
15. Martellus Bennett
16. Kyle Rudolph
17. Jared Cook
18. Jermichael Finley

Gresham is on pace to set career marks for catches and yards, and he's pushed his YPC up to a personal-best 11.6. It's not a loud breakthrough, but you like to see steady improvement like this. … Finley might as well be on a carton of milk right now. If you grade all the tight ends over the last four weeks, he grades out No. 47 (9-78-0 on 17 targets).

19. Scott Chandler
20. Dennis Pitta
21. Brandon Myers
22. Jacob Tamme
23. Joel Dreessen
24. Anthony Fasano
25. Logan Paulsen
26. Marcedes Lewis
27. Dwayne Allen
28. Rob Housler
29. Zach Miller
30. Coby Fleener
31. Dallas Clark

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