NFL Power Rankings, Fantasy Football Edition: Eagles make leap in updated outlook

Power Rankings are silly. Power Rankings are fun. I like silly and fun things. And you probably do, too.

Today’s assignment is to update how fantasy-useful the 32 NFL clubs are. It’s my list and sure, it’s subjective. I welcome your reasonable disagreement at any time: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

We did this exercise before the season, and this is the 2.0 version. We’ll review the teams each quarter. Time for the first-term grades.

32. Chicago Bears (Previous rank 26)

You can start David Montgomery or Khalil Herbert, depending on their health status. The passing game has been submarined by over-conservative play calling. Darnell Mooney is barely worth a bench stash at the moment, and Cole Kmet’s breakout season appears canceled.

31. Houston Texans (32)

Dameon Pierce has been steady from the jump, but Davis Mills hasn’t been as steady as I wanted. That hurts Brandon Cooks, and crushes the sleeper hopes of Nico Collins.

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30. New York Giants (30)

Saquon Barkley has been outstanding, but the receiver room is the worst in football at the moment. Somehow this team is 3-1, though the under-the-hood metrics scoff at that (DVOA has them at 23).

29. New Orleans Saints (20)

Chris Olave will get behind any defense, no matter who the quarterback is. But Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are looking like fantasy bricks through the opening month.

28. Carolina Panthers (23)

I wanted to believe Baker Mayfield would be at least a modest upgrade over Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater, but that hasn’t been the case. Christian McCaffrey might be too big to fail, but D.J. Moore is going down with the Mayfield ship. OC Ben McAdoo isn’t doing us any favors.

Christian McCaffrey has been the only reliable fantasy element on the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey has been the only reliable fantasy element on the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

27. Tennessee Titans (31)

Derrick Henry is being used proactively in the passing game, which could add seasons to his career. But there’s not much fantasy value elsewhere — Ryan Tannehill is just a fantasy backup, while Robert Woods sits around WR50.

26. New England Patriots (28)

When you can reduce a productive backfield down to two players, we have fantasy utility. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are here to help. All of New England’s receivers are WR4-5 types at best.

25. Atlanta Falcons (27)

Forget Kyle Pitts going to the moon, I’d like to see him merely stick in the Top 10 at tight end. Arthur Smith, you are not helping. The Falcons are without Cordarrelle Patterson for a month, and the Week 4 win over Cleveland showed Smith doesn’t have full confidence in starting quarterback Marcus Mariota.

24. Washington Commanders (22)

You can’t watch Carson Wentz on a snap-to-snap basis, it will break your heart and spirit. Curtis Samuel is back in the mix, which has taken Terry McLaurin down a slot.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (25)

James Robinson has been better than expected, though some unsustainable long runs (never been his game) skews the picture. I’d be trying to sell him in a trade at a high perceived value. Trevor Lawrence has been a series of ups and downs, showing his worst form in the Philadelphia loss. Christian Kirk is an every-week starter, and even with a Week 4 scratch, I want Zay Jones on all of my rosters.

22. Seattle Seahawks (21)

Geno Smith was more ready for this moment than anyone imagined. And he’s getting the ball to the playmakers we care about. I’d like to see Rashaad Penny take this job and run with it.

21. Indianapolis Colts (18)

I knew Matt Ryan was on the back nine, but perhaps he’s closer to the 18th hole than I wanted to admit. Ryan is relying on his tight ends in the red zone, which underscores his current limitations. Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman are weekly staples when healthy, and Alec Pierce has a chance to be something. But the Colts are having trouble separating from a weak AFC South.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (17)

Kenny Pickett can’t be any worse than Mitch Trubisky, though a first start at Buffalo is a nasty challenge. Chase Claypool isn’t long for this team.

19. Arizona Cardinals (14)

Kyler Murray runs around and makes stuff up — hey, it’s better than anything Kliff Kingsbury comes up with. Hollywood Brown is off to a strong start with his college buddy, but James Conner is nothing when the touchdown deodorant runs out.

18. Denver Broncos (8)

Javonte Williams is lost for the year and Melvin Gordon was a mess through the opening quarter. And who expected Geno Smith to outplay Russell Wilson a month into the season? Nathaniel Hackett might not be a long-term solution at head coach.

17. New York Jets (24)

Zach Wilson had three messy quarters and one great one in the win over Pittsburgh. That’s his career in a nutshell. But he’s surrounded by four good pass-catchers and two quality backs. The Jets have a chance to be fun.

16. Miami Dolphins (15)

We’re not any closer to an answer on Tua Tagovailoa, though he had his moments before the concussion. Tyreek Hill hasn’t missed a beat, and Jaylen Waddle is showing that he was misused last year.

15. Los Angeles Rams (10)

Cooper Kupp continues to wreck fantasy, but most of the other Rams are wrecking your roster. Matthew Stafford doesn’t trust his offensive line, and the team hasn’t figured out how to use Allen Robinson. Tyler Higbee has been a pleasant surprise at tight end.

14. Cleveland Browns (29)

The Browns have been a surprise package — two backs holding value, and flashes from Amari Cooper and David Njoku. But Jacoby Brissett is still a below-average starter, so the passing game will have a capped upside for three months.

13. Las Vegas Raiders (11)

Davante Adams was great in Week 1 and Josh Jacobs was terrific in Week 4, but this team (heck, this division) has been a mild disappointment through the opening quarter. Darren Waller, anytime you’re ready.

12. San Francisco 49ers (12)

We’ll have to wait another year for answers on Trey Lance, but at least the Niners are one of the rare teams with a playable backup. George Kittle hasn’t flashed in a while; maybe he’s destined to always be better in real life than he is in fantasy. Deebo Samuel is always fun.

11. Dallas Cowboys (7)

Tony Pollard is still the best back here, but to be fair — Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t been bad. Cooper Rush proved to be a better backup than anyone expected, and Dak Prescott will return soon anyway. CeeDee Lamb might have been overdrafted in the summer, but just slightly. He’s a true No. 1.

10. Green Bay Packers (19)

The Packers finally identified a core four, as Aaron Rodgers likes to keep his Circle of Trust tight. You can play Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs with relative confidence every week.

9. Detroit Lions (16)

The ultimate fantasy carnival, a high-octane offense and a defense that can’t stop anyone. Some cold water to the story: the opposing defenses get a lot harder over the next four games. But this offense is going to be better than average all season.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)

The Buccaneers have dealt with injuries and a one-game Mike Evans suspension, and Tom Brady’s play has also taken a step backwards. Brady teams have a knack for improving in-season, but I won’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to make that bet in perpetuity.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6)

Justin Jefferson has two smash games and two quiet ones, but Week 4 showed the Vikings will probably make good on their promise to creatively scheme him into a career season.

6. Baltimore Ravens (13)

Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews are obvious hits at their summer ADP, and Rashod Bateman has been playable, if not outstanding. J.K. Dobbins has a chance to push this offense into overdrive.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (4)

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are steady as ever, but it’s been difficult mining consistent production from the other spots. Even off a strong Week 4, I don’t fully trust Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

[Week 5 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

4. Cincinnati Bengals (5)

Joe Burrow’s pocket awareness was a mess for two weeks, but things are trending upward. The Bengals retain a narrow usage tree and special talent at the key positions. They’re always watchable.

3. Los Angeles Chargers (3)

It’s a shame this team doesn’t have a burner on the outside, but Justin Herbert nonetheless is a superstar and Mike Williams will always be a contested-catch monster. Austin Ekeler would stick in the first round if we redrafted today.

2. Buffalo Bills (1)

Injury has kept the Gabe Davis breakout from truly happening, and Dawson Knox has yet to pop. But Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are as consistent as it gets, and Devin Singletary looks ready for Circle of Trust privileges. The Jamison Crowder injury could push Isaiah McKenzie into fantasy relevance, assuming McKenzie himself is hale. You still expect Buffalo to score 30 or more against everyone.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9)

Profit players all over the place, starting with Jalen Hurts, who has taken a step forward. Miles Sanders was a steal at his summer ADP. The passing game has three great options who all excel at different things, and the Eagles also have a fantastic offensive line. No NFL team has more automatic fantasy starters at the moment than the NFC favorites.