With the preseason barely underway and depth charts still in flux, these rankings are written in the most erasable of pencil. Players will shoot both up and down my draft board as the draft season progresses, and as such I will do my best to update the rankings every couple of weeks.
Even though the rankings will change, there are some common themes that will remain throughout the entire draft season.
The first is how I arrive at these 150. The first 100 players are more or less all ranked on projections. These are the players that will make up fantasy starting lineups, so their likely outcome is much more important than their potential outcome on draft day.
As the rankings move into the reserve rounds, the rankings will begin to focus much more on upside.
For example, while I project Mark Ingram to have a better statistical season than Christine Michael, Ingram is the definition of replacement level. There will be plenty of people like him available on the waiver wire all season long, and that means there is no reason to stash him on my bench.
Michael, on the other hand, does not project to have a lot of value as the backup to Marshawn Lynch, but he would be an every-week starter if Lynch were to go down. Late-round, upside players like Michael win fantasy leagues, and I want as many of them as possible on my roster.
The relative lack of value I place on quarterbacks will also remain. I have no problem with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in the third round, but the difference between their production and the production of the quarterbacks available in the tenth round is not large enough to justify taking Manning or Brees in the first.
Finally, throughout my rankings there will be several players from one position grouped together. These groupings represent tiers, and each player in the tier represents more or less the same level of value. Tiering players like this is very helpful during live drafts because it allows owners to easily identify which positions they can wait on and which positions they need to snap up quickly.
For instance, if all six running backs in a given tier are still available at a pick, an owner can pass on a running back and likely land one of similar value in the next round. Conversely, if only one running back from a given tier is left, the owner needs to snap up that player immediately because it is unlikely a player of his value will come back in the next round.
1. LeSean McCoy – Focal point of run-first offense with exceptional offensive line.
2. Matt Forte – Three-down back on one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
3. Jamaal Charles – Touchdowns will regress, but everything else is repeatable.
4. Adrian Peterson – Clear No. 1 overall upside, but durability a concern at 29.
5. Eddie Lacy – Averaged .2 more yards per carry with Rodgers under center in 2013.
6. Jimmy Graham – Far and away most dominant player at any position.
7. Calvin Johnson – Still No. 1, but Dez and Demaryius are nipping at his heels.
8. Demaryius Thomas – Even higher touchdown ceiling with Decker out of the picture.
9. Dez Bryant – Could see 30% of the targets in a high-volume passing offense.
10. DeMarco Murray – No. 1 overall back upside. Offensive line should be stellar.
11. Montee Ball – Injury not a concern, but dropping ADP should make him great value.
12. Julio Jones – Was on 131-1856 pace before the injury last season. Healthy.
13. Brandon Marshall – Still the primary red-zone threat in a high-octane offense.
14. A.J. Green – Lower volume means he will need to improve efficiency to stay top-5.
15. Le'Veon Bell – Handled 71% of Pittsburgh’s carries in the games he played.
16. Marshawn Lynch – Has upside, but the wear and tear is too scary to overlook.
17. Jordy Nelson – 94-1559-12 pace in nine games with Rodgers last season.
18. Alshon Jeffery – Needs to continue consistency he developed down the stretch.
19. Giovani Bernard – Makes up for few carries with heavy involvement in pass game.
20. Rob Gronkowski – All reports are promising. Will challenge Graham if healthy.
21. Julius Thomas – Touchdown reliant, but will not be a problem with Decker gone.
22. Antonio Brown – Still a high-volume target, but touchdown numbers likely regress.
23. Randall Cobb – Last season’s on pace numbers mirrored 2012 breakout.
24. Alfred Morris – May lose some carries, but still a good bet to get 250-plus attempts.
25. Zac Stacy – Any drop in carries hurts his value, but should still be workhorse.
26. Peyton Manning – Manning is too valuable to pass up in the third round.
27. Drew Brees – Has been a top-two fantasy quarterback five of the last six seasons.
28. Roddy White – 43-502-2 in five games once healthy last season.
29. Victor Cruz – New offense fits his game well. Should get peppered with targets.
30. Andre Ellington – Averaged 13.5 touches over his final eight games last season.
31. Arian Foster – Top-5 upside, but already missing time in camp. Boom or bust.
32. Keenan Allen – Targets dried up some as Chargers became more run oriented.
33. Michael Crabtree – Targeted on 27% of Kaepernick’s throws down the stretch.
34. Michael Floyd – Tearing it up in camp. Ready to take over No. 1 role in Arizona.
35. Toby Gerhart – Fantasy is all about opportunity, and he should get a ton of touches.
36. Doug Martin – Offensive line a huge problem. They were dismantled by Jacksonville.
37. C.J. Spiller – Offensive role holding him back. The Bills have no idea how to use him.
38. Rashad Jennings – Andre Williams a concern for his role. Still should get work.
39. Aaron Rodgers – Lack of volume puts him just a step below Manning and Brees.
40. Larry Fitzgerald – TD reliant in 2013. Needs at least 10 scores to return draft value.
41. Marques Colston – Was back to his old self down the stretch last season.
42. Ryan Mathews – Carry total should fall with Donald Brown, but still main back.
43. Shane Vereen – Played 47% of Patriots offensive snaps when healthy.
44. Joique Bell – Will be more involved in offense, but touchdowns a bit fluky.
45. Reggie Bush – Will lose carries, but has 80-catch upside in OC Lombardi’s offense.
46. Vincent Jackson – Can McCown stay upright long enough to deliver him the ball?
47. Andre Johnson – Quarterback concerns are valid, but will still command targets.
48. Pierre Garcon – Role in offense now in question. Needs volume to be successful.
49. Torrey Smith – Running a wider variety of routes. Could flourish in Kubiak’s offense.
50. Golden Tate – Dynamic open field player. 64 missed tackles in 184 career receptions.
51. Mike Wallace – Lazor could fix the offense, but he and Tannehill need to connect.
52. Matt Ryan – Could lead the league in pass attempts in an offense full of weapons.
53. Lamar Miller – Clear starter in Miami. Better offense should mask his deficiencies.
54. Ray Rice – Only suspended two games. Offensive line should be better.
55. Trent Richardson – 9.5 YPR last season shows he is still talented in open field.
56. Frank Gore – Talent waiting in the wings, but should get 200-plus carries again.
57. Percy Harvin – Finally healthy, he will be used all over the field.
58. Wes Welker – Health is a concern. Touchdown numbers sure to regress.
59. Eric Decker – Not a true No. 1, but still a dangerous red-zone threat.
60. DeSean Jackson – Playing in A.J. Green’s old role in Gruden’s offense.
61. Cordarrelle Patterson – Impressive in first game. Needs to continue development.
62. Jordan Cameron – No. 1 option, but offense could throw 200 fewer times.
63. Bishop Sankey – Greene is still around and healthy. Opportunity a concern.
64. Pierre Thomas – Sproles departure means his passing game role secure.
65. Fred Jackson – Bryce Brown could steal some carries, but will keep goal-line role.
66. Reggie Wayne – Still a target monster last season. Health is the only concern.
67. T.Y. Hilton – Under 8 fantasy points in 11 of 16 games despite ideal scenario.
68. Dwayne Bowe – His 13.3 YPR down the stretch very close to career numbers.
69. Kendall Wright – Touchdowns will never be there. A better play in PPR formats.
70. Rueben Randle – Good bet to lead the Giants in touchdown receptions.
71. Ben Tate – He will not start 16 games this season, but could give a few solid weeks.
72. Jeremy Hill – Legitimate double-digit touchdown upside in “big back” role.
73. Andrew Luck – Rushing ability underrated – 632-9 through two seasons.
74. Matthew Stafford – New offense should help him become more efficient.
75. Tony Romo – A good bet to eclipse 650 pass attempts this season.
76. Cam Newton – Better option in four-point passing-touchdown leagues.
77. Nick Foles – Third best fantasy point per game quarterback last season.
78. Greg Olsen – A reliable set of hands for an offense in need of some.
79. Dennis Pitta – Should see an expanded role in new OC Kubiak’s offense.
80. Jordan Reed – Injury concern the only reason he is this low. Top-five upside.
81. Chris Ivory – He leads the Jets in rushing attempts and should get goal line work.
82. Chris Johnson – Initially change of pace, but will lead if/when Ivory goes down.
83. Stevan Ridley – Needs good preseason with James White breathing down his neck.
84. Terrance West – Question of when, not if, he will take over for Tate.
85. Bernard Pierce – Guaranteed 2 starts, and could get more if 2013 Rice shows up.
86. Maurice Jones-Drew – For whatever it is worth, he will win No. 1 RB job in Oakland.
87. Robert Griffin III – Has looked healthy in camp. Rushing numbers may come down.
88. Jay Cutler – Has top-five upside, but recent injury history is concerning.
89. Julian Edelman – Should lose around 50 targets with Gronk and Amendola healthy.
90. Terrance Williams – Not the best talent, but huge opportunity.
91. Kelvin Benjamin – Has been a standout in camp. Could get 8-plus touchdowns.
92. Jeremy Maclin – Has looked good so far in camp. Health still a concern.
93. Jarrett Boykin – Has solidified himself as No. 3 wide receiver in Green Bay.
94. Vernon Davis – Only 16.5% of the targets after Crabtree returned from injury.
95. Kyle Rudolph – Red zone threat with a tight end friendly coach.
96. James Jones – Hard to trust as No. 1 option in muddled wide receiver corps.
97. Cecil Shorts – Already dealing with hamstring issue. Cannot be trusted to play 16.
98. Brian Hartline – Averaged 12.6 PPR points a game over the last two seasons.
99. Marvin Jones – Back healthy. Should establish himself as No. 2 wide receiver.
100. Emmanuel Sanders – Does not have Decker’s touchdown upside.
101. Steven Jackson – Already injured. Will not be good even when healthy.
102. DeAngelo Williams – Jonathan Stewart already hurt, so his role is fairly secure.
103. Colin Kaepernick – Massive upside if the 49ers decide to open up the offense.
104. Russell Wilson – Same story as Kaepernick. Needs more opportunities to be a star.
105. Tom Brady – Has the upside, but was not the same quarterback last season.
106. Brandin Cooks – Lighting up training camp. Will be given the opportunity to shine.
107. Kenny Stills – Averaged 20 yards per reception with a 64% catch rate in 2013.
108. Doug Baldwin – Good chance to recreate his solid 2013 season.
109. Anquan Boldin – Could lose some work, but 100 targets is a safe projection.
110. Rod Streater – Has cemented himself as the No. 2 option in Oakland.
111. Justin Hunter – Breakout candidate if Tennessee finds consistent quarterback play.
112. Jordan Matthews – Will play right away. Little talent ahead of him on depth chart.
113. Roy Helu – Could earn a Gio-light role in Jay Gruden’s offense.
114. Danny Woodhead – Donald Brown could steal some passing down work.
115. Andre Williams – Loved him in pre-draft. Needs to show more in passing game.
116. Lance Dunbar – Has value now, but will become huge asset if DeMarco goes down.
117. Devonta Freeman – Passing game factor now. Could supplant Jackson this season.
118. Jason Witten – Safe bet to get at least 110 targets for the seventh straight season.
119. Charles Clay – May have reached his ceiling in 2013. Still as solid back-end TE1.
120. Heath Miller – Finally healthy. Will replace Cotchery as primary red-zone threat.
121. Ahmad Bradshaw – Neck injury a concern, but next in line if Richardson struggles.
122. Christine Michael – No opportunity right now, but RB1 upside if Lynch goes down.
123. Knile Davis – Must-start option if Jamaal Charles went down.
124. Carlos Hyde – Kendall Hunter injury makes him clear-cut No. 2 back.
125. Charles Sims – Solid all-around back that will be a passing game factor immediately.
126. DeAndre Hopkins – Offense will limit, but talented enough for #FreeNuk campaign.
127. Sammy Watkins – Quarterback play will sink his rookie value. Still good in dynasty.
128. Tavon Austin – Could make the jump if Rams figure out how to use him.
129. Marqise Lee – Injuries and suspensions have made him de facto No. 1 wide out.
130. Markus Wheaton – Will be given the first shot to win No. 2 receiver job.
131. Zach Ertz – Averaged 1.27 fantasy points per target his rookie season.
132. Ladarius Green – Physical ability off the charts. All about opportunity.
133. Mike Williams – Will not get volume, but should be a red zone target.
134. Andrew Hawkins – Pint-sized playmaker should be given large role.
135. Riley Cooper – Biggest regression candidate on the board.
136. Mike Evans – Huge touchdown upside, but will struggle for targets in run-heavy off.
137. Greg Jennings – 88-1018-8 pace in eight games with Matt Cassel last season.
138. Danny Amendola – Injury concerns push him down the board, but upside is there.
139. Ben Roethlisberger – Up-tempo offense should lead to more scoring opportunities.
140. Ryan Tannehill – Offensive line still a mess, but great athleticism gives him upside.
141. Darren McFadden – Will be a change of pace back, but could get shot if MJD falters.
142. Khiry Robinson – The role is uncertain, but the talent is evident.
143. Darren Sproles – Lost a step last season, but Kelly could revitalize him.
144. C.J. Anderson – Still expect him to win No. 2 job in Denver.
145. Aaron Dobson – Mounting missed practices a big concern in Patriots’ offense.
146. Kenny Britt – Gifted wide out that is still only 25. Could put it all together.
147. Harry Douglas – Will get targets in pass-heavy offense. Better in PPR.
148. Josh Gordon – Ray of hope his suspension could be reduced. Worth the shot.
149. Brian Quick – Is this the year he puts it together? Worth a bet in 15th round.
150. Dexter McCluster – Good chance he plays a Woodhead-lite role for Titans.
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