With barely a week to go until the opener, here are my crunch-time rankings. These are my favorite 30 quarterbacks, 50 running backs, 60 receivers and 25 tight ends. I try to view them as format-agnostic, but they hew (much) closer to PPR than standard. Ultimately, I abide by, “would I really draft this player over this player?”
Top 30 Quarterbacks
1. Patrick Mahomes — Best player in the NFL was QB7 by average points in “down” season.
2. Lamar Jackson — TD regression could be offset by increase in passing volume.
3. Dak Prescott — Prescott’s embarrassment of riches have made him too big to fail.
4. Deshaun Watson — Even without Nuk, Watson has dynamic, versatile stable of weapons.
5. Russell Wilson — A man who refuses to regress, instead becoming ever more efficient.
6. Kyler Murray — Filled desperate need with Nuk. Christian Kirk healthy after uneven 2019.
7. Matthew Stafford — Jameis Winston without the turnovers is flying under the radar.
8. Matt Ryan — Was shell of self following high-ankle sprain. Volume, strong skill group remain.
9. Carson Wentz — Rewarded for 2019’s heroics with enhanced supporting cast, but it’s already injured.
10. Tom Brady — Unprecedentedly old QB has best supporting cast in over a decade.
11. Ben Roethlisberger — Threw for seventh most yards in NFL history in 2018.
12. Drew Brees — Despite playoff disaster, 2019 Brees was more consistent with higher upside than 2018 Brees.
13. Daniel Jones — The real Josh Allen? Jones had four 30-point games in 2019, zero others above 20.
14. Josh Allen — How much longer can Allen be better in fantasy than real life?
15. Cam Newton — Did not light camp on fire, but Cam is healthy.
16. Aaron Rodgers — Revenge difficult to serve with this cold supporting cast.
17. Jared Goff — 2019 split the difference between Fisher and McVay. Still has elite weapons.
18. Joe Burrow — Unlike Darnold or Bradford, Burrow set up for success after historic college season.
19. Ryan Tannehill — Can he win the electoral college without the popular vote again?
20. Kirk Cousins — Vikings Offense appears too #Established at this point.
21. Teddy Bridgewater — Bridgewater’s average 2019 throw was 3.3 yards short of the sticks, 0.8 more than anyone else.
22. Philip Rivers — Will upgraded offensive line offset diminished deep ball?
23. Jimmy Garoppolo — Garoppolo enters crossroads season with WR corps in injury shambles.
24. Baker Mayfield — Can improved OL and coaching erase last year’s freneticism?
25. Gardner Minshew — Deserves respect, but streamer only for fantasy.
26. Drew Lock — Ludicrously wide range of potential outcomes.
27. Derek Carr — Nonexistent upside despite deepened supporting cast.
28. Sam Darnold — Betrayed by the Jets’ front office.
29. Ryan Fitzpatrick — Legit streamer until Tua takes over.
30. Dwayne Haskins — Set up to fail by supporting cast.
Top 50 Running Backs
1. Christian McCaffrey — 223 receptions over past two seasons 61 more than any other RB.
2. Saquon Barkley — Averaged 163 yards from scrimmage the five games he was at full health.
3. Ezekiel Elliott — Lead back for elite O has cleared 1,300 yards rushing 3-of-3 non-shortened seasons.
4. Derrick Henry — Unstoppable force with 30 TDs in past 31 games is “catching the ball more confidently.”
5. Dalvin Cook — Three-down back for one of the GOAT RBs coaches, but strangeness abounds.
6. Alvin Kamara — Healthy, but contract situation suddenly a major wild card.
7. Joe Mixon — Mixon averaged 124 YFS as focal point of offense in second half of the season.
8. Aaron Jones — Lead, three-down back for pound-the-rock O. Regression (over)baked into ADP.
9. Miles Sanders — Primed to soar as long as he doesn’t run into his blockers’ backs.
10. Josh Jacobs — A top-five talent with a stubbornly mysterious passing-game projection.
11. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — I just don’t think Chiefs will force early-down issue in Sept. I could be missing out on league-winner.
12. Austin Ekeler — Poor man’s CMC graduating from 1B status to 1A. Three 15-carry games in career.
13. Nick Chubb — I might be galaxy braining this one, but I am unsettled by a full year of Hunt.
14. Kenyan Drake — Something doesn’t feel quite right, but the words still look great on the page.
15. James Conner — Durability is Conner’s only 2020 question mark.
16. Todd Gurley — A minimum of 15 weekly touches was realistic even before OC’s prediction.
17. David Johnson — Hard to know what’s left. Impossible to ignore what Texans gave up.
18. Melvin Gordon — No stranger to two-man backfields. Gordon’s usage won’t change much.
19. Jonathan Taylor — It won’t take long for souped up Marlon Mack to phase Mack out.
20. Chris Carson — Rugged style makes him bigger breakdown threat than most RBs.
21. Le'Veon Bell — Sky darkening over a sea that was already churning.
22. Raheem Mostert — History suggests Tevin Coleman will make this easier than expected.
23. Devin Singletary — I would be lying if I said the incessant Zack Moss hype didn’t have me confused.
24. David Montgomery — Poorly-timed injury, but Montgomery still has no early-down competition.
25. Cam Akers — Akers’ selection speaks louder than any summer Darrell Henderson words.
26. Mark Ingram — The thanks Ingram got for 2019 was J.K. Dobbins. MI still clear starter.
27. Leonard Fournette — Despite Arians' comments, this should end up LF's backfield.
28. D’Andre Swift — Three-down weapon in an offense that’s easy to forget about.
29. James White — Even with his guardian angel gone, White is badly needed for his usual role.
30. Kareem Hunt — Perfect bench player because he has both standalone value and RB1 upside.
31. J.K. Dobbins — Dobbins is going to have to take it from Ingram.
32. Tarik Cohen — Doesn’t deserve 70-catch role, but the Bears lack better options.
33. Antonio Gibson — Peterson release adds floor to mouthwatering ceiling.
34. Zack Moss — A hype-piece standout in truncated summer.
35. Matt Breida — Jordan Howard is easy to underestimate, but Breida only ‘Fins back worth betting on.
36. Latavius Murray — Elite handcuff with modest standalone value.
37. Kerryon Johnson — D’Andre Swift leg injury has opened a window.
38. Sony Michel — Bailout of the century from Harris finger injury?
39. Chris Thompson — Won’t be Jags touch leader, but only touches we know for certain.
40. Phillip Lindsay — Snaps remain, but no area where Lindsay has the edge on Mel Gord.
41. Tevin Coleman — I refuse to play this game anymore.
42. Ronald Jones — It was apparently too good to be true.
43. Jordan Howard — He just won’t go away.
44. Chase Edmonds — Hayden Winks didn’t force me to do this, but he would have if I didn’t.
45. Damien Harris — Strong camp undercut by broken finger.
46. Ryquell Armstead — Armstead’s summer COVID might have dropped him behind Ozigbo.
47. Boston Scott — The dude simply balled out as unsung 2019 hero.
48. Tony Pollard — Oozing upside, but Pollard lacks standalone value.
49. Justin Jackson — One of my favorite summer sleepers picked up late-camp nick.
50. Alexander Mattison — Mattison’s setup is similar to Latavius Murray’s.
Top 60 Receivers
1. Michael Thomas — Avatar of the modern passing game.
2. Davante Adams — Has become of Edelman-ian importance to Aaron Rodgers.-
3. Tyreek Hill — 19 touchdowns over his past 28 games.
4. DeAndre Hopkins — Offense that wants to makes things easy addressed glaring need with Nuk.
5. Julio Jones — Held below 1,400 yards for first time in six seasons … with 1,394. Targets for the taking.
6. Kenny Golladay — Finished as WR3 in standard and WR9 in PPR even with Stafford hurt.
7. Chris Godwin — Brady skills fit, but 58.8 percent of Godwin’s 2019 yardage came on deep targets.
8. Mike Evans — That same number was a more modest 36 percent for Evans, belying reputations.
9. D.J. Moore — 23-year-old target machine has already had success with a variety of QBs.
10. Allen Robinson — Beat the Trubisky system in 2019. Foles not afraid to take shots downfield.
11. Odell Beckham — Injuries mounting, but dramatically improved offensive setup … we think.
12. Adam Thielen — 69/866/9 over past 18 games but primed for post-Diggs rebound.
13. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Weird camp where only consistent storyline was JuJu unlikely to be re-signed.
14. Terry McLaurin — Primed for targets explosion after electric rookie season.
15. Robert Woods — Ninth in receiving yards over past two seasons. A constant for an offense in flux.
16. Amari Cooper — Maybe this is irresponsible. I just want these other 15 players more.
17. Courtland Sutton — Overawes opponents with physical dominance.
18. D.J. Chark — Exploded modest 2019 expectations. Freak of nature athlete who has now put it on NFL film.
19. DK Metcalf — Special athlete the coaching staff has described as man on a mission.
20. A.J. Brown — Would anyone be surprised by a top-10 A.J. Brown season?
21. Calvin Ridley — Is Ridley an explosive enough athlete to justify high-end WR2 aspirations?
22. Tyler Lockett — A bit of an Amari when it comes to fantasy consistency.
23. DeVante Parker — Fifth in yards, fourth in scores and ninth in YPC, but Preston Williams splits scrutinized.
24. T.Y. Hilton — Not a fun player to bet against, but past year has been one of muscle injuries.
25. Stefon Diggs — A top-five talent in a bottom-five passing environment.
26. Keenan Allen — A floor-based player without a realistic path to ceiling under Taylor/Herbert.
27. Marquise Brown — Healthy offseason, no added target competition for ceiling scorcher.
28. Cooper Kupp — I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on here.
29. Michael Gallup — Produced Amari to 2019 standstill, but Cooper still focal point of passing attack.
30. Julian Edelman — Cam Newton was playing a little more Brady ball before injuries set in.
31. Will Fuller — Every NFL player is “injury prone,” but Fuller’s history prevents a higher rank.
32. Jarvis Landry — Underrated real-life player who simply can’t provide the necessary ceiling.
33. Tyler Boyd — The one constant in a receiver corps that has upside and variables in equal measure.
34. Brandin Cooks — Four 1,000-yard seasons and five concussions before 27th birthday. QB upgrade.
35. DeSean Jackson — Has never lost his wheels and needed for big role.
36. Christian Kirk — Kirk was more injured than you remember last year. Nuk will free up space.
37. Diontae Johnson — If you have a strong rookie year with Mason Rudolph and “Duck” at QB, you’re doing something right.
38. Jamison Crowder — All filler no killer.
39. Mecole Hardman — Instead of overthinking that rookie year in Patrick Mahomes’ offense, I won’t do that.
40. Darius Slayton — Fiercely debated. Only 11 wide receivers had more yards after Week 10.
41. Sterling Shepard — Older than you think and two injury-wrecked seasons in four years.
42. Preston Williams — Freaky talent made quick recovery from torn ACL. Narrow target tree.
43. Marvin Jones — Somewhat quietly missed 10 games since 2018, but great fit for this O.
44. Brandon Aiyuk — First-rounder will be fire thrown as a rookie.
45. A.J. Green — If Green still wants to be playing for Bengals, he has a funny way of showing it.
46. John Brown — Quiet down the stretch in 2019. Diggs cuts Brown’s fantasy heart out.
47. Henry Ruggs — Player who never had 800-yard season in college finds himself in crowded offense.
48. Breshad Perriman — Someone who should be role player in good O forced to be alpha in bad O.
49. Anthony Miller — Bears targets have to go somewhere.
50. CeeDee Lamb — This could be seriously low for the best receiver in this year’s draft.
51. Jalen Reagor — Injury happened in the wrong place (shoulder) at the wrong time.
52. Deebo Samuel — No firm timeline, but looking more like a bargain than player to avoid.
53. Sammy Watkins — Nothing more that needs to be said about Sammy Watkins.
54. N’Keal Harry — For better or worse, Cam has had success with similar players.
55. Allen Lazard — Opted in to forced relevance after Devin Funchess’ opt out.
56. Parris Campbell — Big-play upside out of the slot.
57. Curtis Samuel — At some point, a receiver needs to manufacture his own offense.
58. Michael Pittman — The kind of receiver Philip Rivers would probably create in a lab.
59. Mike Williams — Injured, Williams is a poor fit in conservative post-Rivers offense.
60. Hunter Renfrow — Where the Raiders’ new shiny things go to die.
Top 25 Tight Ends
1. George Kittle — Was still No. 2 TE in injury-marred year. 49ers desperately need targets.
2. Travis Kelce — Fifth in receiving since 2018. Hasn’t missed game with injury since 2013.
3. Mark Andrews — Finished as the TE3 by average points on 41.3 percent of Ravens’ snaps. Nuts.
4. Zach Ertz — The Terminator of getting 110 targets.
5. Darren Waller — The ADP never feels appropriate, but Waller remains LV’s No. 1 target.
6. Evan Engram — Injuries have sapped Engram’s overall production, but rate stats remain elite.
7. Tyler Higbee — Brandin Cooks’ departure solidifies floor and opens up ceiling. Rams pledging more two-TE sets.
8. Rob Gronkowski — Sleepy camp, but why exactly would 31-YO Gronk turn it on in camp? Better than remembered in '18.
9. Austin Hooper — Hooper’s ADP has over-regressed.
10. Jared Cook — Potential touchdown regression offset by 16 games of Brees.
11. Mike Gesicki — Early overdraft candidate whose floor was stabilized by opt outs.
12. Hunter Henry — Hard to know what to expect with quarterback downgrade.
13. Chris Herndon — Jets need to force the issue with talented third-year pro.
14. Hayden Hurst — I understand the Hurst case, but he’s a 27-YO NFL’s most TE-obsessed team saw fit to trade.
15. Noah Fant — A no-brainer TE1 based on talent, but crowded, new offense.
16. Eric Ebron — Could be the Steelers’ Jared Cook. Could also be their Kyle Rudolph.
17. Jack Doyle — Has chance to return to his ancestral low-end TE1 home.
18. T.J. Hockenson — A top-10 leap would not be surprising.
19. Jonnu Smith — Titans have talked about creating touches. Narrow target tree.
20. Dallas Goedert — Even with the Eagles’ injury woes, Ertz makes the path so difficult.
21. Blake Jarwin — Has the ability but also the target competition.
22. Greg Olsen — Aggressive contract puts distance between Olsen and Dissly/Hollister.
23. Ian Thomas — Quiet camp capped off by toe injury.
24. Irv Smith — Kyle Rudolph refuses to stop undead zombie-ing.
25. Gerald Everett — “12” personnel supposedly becoming a Rams theme.