Shuffle Up and Pass: Sympathy for Mark Sanchez

Just the ranks for now, amigos. I'll be back in a little bit with comments, and I reserve the right to tweak the list here and there.

Today's assignment is to rank everyone in the passing game for future value, from Weeks 9 to 16. This is not a set of weekly ranks. Assume a basic scoring system, no PPR. And remember the golden rule: the players you own don't automatically gain 20 percent of value the moment you acquire them.

I'll listen to all respectful disagreement, but for the love of Babe Laufenberg, defend your side. Bring stats, bring facts. Further the conversation. If you win the argument, you might win the rank too. Bring your best game.

Make the jump and we'll hit the QBs, WRs and TEs. Next week, it's back to the ground game.

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1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Cam Newton
3. Tom Brady
4. Drew Brees
5. Michael Vick
6. Ben Roethlisberger
7. Eli Manning
8. Tony Romo
9. Matthew Stafford
10. Philip Rivers
11. Matt Schaub
12. Matt Ryan
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
14. Mark Sanchez
15. Tim Tebow
16. Josh Freeman
17. Jay Cutler
18. Joe Flacco
19. Matt Cassel
20. Tarvaris Jackson
21. Christian Ponder
22. Matt Hasselbeck
23. Andy Dalton
24. Sam Bradford
25. Carson Palmer
26. Curtis Painter
27. Colt McCoy
28. Alex Smith
29. Kevin Kolb
30. John Beck
31. Matt Moore
32. Blaine Gabbert
33. Shaun Hill
34. Matt Flynn
35. A.J. Feeley
36. Jon Kitna
37. Rex Grossman
38. Brady Quinn
39. Kyle Orton
40. Donovan McNabb
41. Bruce Gradkowski
42. Charlie Whitehurst
43. Kyle Boller

Comments: Sanchez has a 92.3 rating if you ignore the Baltimore game, you know, the game that ruined his reputation and brainwashed Rex Ryan into Ground and Pound. Sanchez is also a Top 10 to 12 quarterback in almost any scoring system (go check, he really is). His nifty play-faking helps at the goal, where he can throw off play action and occasionally take a bootleg in. He's not a needle-mover yet, but his season has been somewhat misunderstood. … Tebow is a tricky rank. Yes, his job is in jeopardy. Hell, he could be benched *in* Oakland, that wouldn't surprise me. But given that his upside is higher than those after him, and given the high replacement value at QB, I couldn't go lower on him. And I've learned one thing this year: arguing over Tim Tebow is no fun for anyone. … The Bengals have a fun fantasy playoff schedule (Rams, Cardinals), but it's going to be rough before that: TEN, PIT, BAL, CLE, PIT, HOU. Sorry about that, Red Dalton. … All of a sudden I'm trusting Tarvaris Jackson, and man does it feel weird. See what you did to all of us, Charlie Whitehurst? … Cassel looks a lot more interesting with Baldwin coming on. … Everyone is going to remember the Rivers fumble from Monday, or the messy start. I'd like to focus on what he did after the third drive: a 106 rating despite a mad rush from the Chiefs. Rivers was extending plays with his legs, and even if his arm strength wasn't ideal, he was getting the ball into catchable areas. And with the San Diego running backs banged up — everyone of note, even iron man Ryan Mathews — San Diego might have to focus more on the pass in the coming weeks. Rivers deserves his Tier 2 ranking here. … Tricky call on Roethlisberger: his play has been ridiculous, but the schedule is about to turn on him. He has four tricky matchups over the next six weeks, along with a bye in Week 11.

Wide Receiver
1. Calvin Johnson
2. Greg Jennings
3. Steve Smith
4. Mike Wallace
5. Wes Welker
6. Hakeem Nicks
7. Dwayne Bowe
8. A.J. Green
9. Roddy White
10. Larry Fitzgerald
11. Jeremy Maclin
12. Marques Colston
13. Miles Austin
14. DeSean Jackson
15. Andre Johnson
16. Pierre Garcon
17. Vincent Jackson
18. Dez Bryant
19. Brandon Lloyd
20. Stevie Johnson
21. Anquan Boldin
22. Brandon Marshall
23. Jordy Nelson
24. Mario Manningham
25. Santonio Holmes
26. Victor Cruz
27. Darrius Heyward-Bey
28. Sidney Rice
29. Julio Jones
30. Mike Williams (TB)
31. Michael Crabtree
32. Deion Branch
33. Antonio Brown
34. Percy Harvin
35. Eric Decker
36. Nate Washington
37. Malcom Floyd
38. Greg Little
39. James Jones
40. Reggie Wayne
41. Torrey Smith
42. Early Doucet
43. Jason Hill
44. Plaxico Burress
45. Jabar Gaffney
46. Lance Moore
47. Doug Baldwin
48. Steve Breaston
49. Greg Salas
50. Jonathan Baldwin
51. Hines Ward
52. Laurent Robinson
53. Emmanuel Sanders
54. Demaryius Thomas
55. Denarius Moore
56. Jerome Simpson
57. Michael Jenkins
58. Ben Obomanu
59. Preston Parker
60. Nate Burleson
61. David Nelson
62. Jason Avant
63. Jacoby Jones
64. Robert Meachem
65. Kevin Walter
66. Braylon Edwards
67. Mike Thomas
68. Mohamed Massaquoi
69. Brandon LaFell
70. Davone Bess
71. Arrelious Benn
72. Devin Hester
73. Damian Williams
74. Danario Alexander
75. Brian Hartline
76. Harry Douglas
77. Donald Jones
78. Earl Bennett
79. Santana Moss
80. Dane Sanzenbacher
81. Dezmon Briscoe
82. Austin Collie
83. Roy Williams
84. Legedu Naanee
85. Devery Henderson
86. Joshua Cribbs
87. Titus Young
88. Johnny Knox
89. Brandon Gibson
90. Jeremy Kerley

Comments: Green can be as good as he wants to be; he might be the best receiver in the NFL soon enough. He's had a touchdown or a big yardage game in six of his seven starts — only the Niners held him down. He's got the size and strength to win in the trenches, and the speed to run by people. He should be fun in the fantasy playoffs, up against the Rams and Cardinals in Weeks 15 and 16, though the schedule is a mess before that (as we discussed with Dalton above). In the end, the rank reflects that I trust Green against anyone. … Garcon leads the league in targets over the last five weeks. Opportunity is a beautiful thing, and you know Indy will be winging it late most weeks. … Nelson is a tricky rank because he's a quality guy who doesn't get a ton of targets or snaps. The Packers don't care who they throw to; other than Jennings, you can't feel good about anyone's target count. But Nelson is on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards and score about nine times, he can score from distance (love the 19.4 YPC)), and he's tied to a passing offense and the best quarterback in the game. And if there's any significant injury to a receiving teammate, Nelson jumps into my Top 20. … Moore woke up in the St. Louis game, but he was silent for about four weeks prior to that (13-170, no scores, 19 targets). He's not big enough to be a dynamic red-zone guy, and he's not fast enough to challenge teams on deep routes. Let's accept what he truly is, a solid possession receiver who has three stars in front of him in the New Orleans passing offense (Graham, Colston and Darren Sproles). … If Ward turned out to be injured for a significant period of time, I'd consider Brown a no-doubt WR2 for the balance of the year. He's that dangerous, and no one throws a better deep ball than Roethlisberger right now.

As frustrating as the Andre Johnson thing has been for everyone, at least it's instructive. Fantasy owners have to be careful that they don't constantly assume the best return timetables for their hurt players. There's so much we don't know. Players heal at different rates (never listen to a player's personal timetable; they've lived a Superman's life, they have no context), teams lie or misrepresent or hold back stuff, tweaks happen, injury aggravations happen. You can hope for the best, but accept that you really don't know with any long-term injury. And there's a cost of holding a star like AJ on your bench; it costs you a roster spot, it costs you potential pickups, it robs you of flexibility (especially during critical bye weeks). I hope he's back real soon, he's a joy to watch and a fantasy star. But just file this story away for the next time someone is out x-to-y weeks. It could be X, it could be Y, it could be Z. We can't assume anything.

Tight End
1. Jimmy Graham
2. Jason Witten
3. Rob Gronkowski
4. Antonio Gates
5. Tony Gonzalez
6. Jermichael Finley
7. Fred Davis
8. Aaron Hernandez
9. Vernon Davis
10. Owen Daniels
11. Brandon Pettigrew
12. Greg Olsen
13. Jermaine Gresham
14. Kellen Winslow
15. Brent Celek
16. Jake Ballard
17. Dustin Keller
18. Ed Dickson
19. Jared Cook
20. Heath Miller
21. Visanthe Shiancoe
22. Dallas Clark
23. Scott Chandler
24. Jeremy Shockey
25. Joel Dreessen
26. Kevin Boss
27. Evan Moore
28. Tony Scheffler
29. Lance Kendricks
30. Benjamin Watson
31. Delanie Walker
32. Daniel Fells
33. Marcedes Lewis
34. Randy McMichael
35. Anthony Fasano
36. Jeff King
37. Todd Heap
38. Kyle Rudolph
39. Dennis Pitta

Comments: Ballard only has two scores but I like that he can threaten defenses downfield. He's averaging 17.3 yards per catch, and he's had a gain over 20 yards in four straight weeks. He's looking good against New England in Week 9 and Philly in Week 11. … I didn't get all excited over Celek in the Monday Dinner, but we can't ignore that he's scored in two straight games and this week's opponent, the Bears, is horrendous when it comes to marking tight ends. And then there's Arizona next week and the Patriots in Week 12. This could work out after all. … I have no idea why the Niners don't want to look at Davis more often — he's snagged 27 of 31 targets. A whopping 21 tight ends have received more passes in their direction this year, a silly number. And now Davis has to deal with the emerging Crabtree and the return of Edwards.

Photos courtesy Associated Press (Sanchez, Green, Moore) and US Presswire (Ballard)

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