At different points throughout the year, I’ll be putting together rankings for the rest of the season. It’s important to note that while my preseason RotoViz rankings – like the RB Workshop and the WR Workshop – were explorations of the various RotoViz tools and apps, these are my personal rankings. (The Fantasy Douche should not be held accountable for anything crazy contained herein.)
The rankings are intuitive in that they don’t employ any mathematical formulas, but they’re heavily influenced by the various RotoViz applications like the RB Efficiency Report, WR Efficiency Report, and TE Efficiency Report, the Game Level Similarity Projections, and the upcoming Buy Low Machine. The rankings are also the result of many hours spent with the advanced stats generated by Pro Football Focus (where I write the Advanced Targets column each week).
Finally, a lot of people like it if you’ve watched the games you’re writing about, and I’ve watched every one. In fact, I’ve watched every game for the last three years (except for a few Week 17 contests, which, as we all know, aren’t real games). I’m one of the few people who believes watching the games can actually make you worse at fantasy football, but I love football so I do it anyway. (There’s kind of no point if it’s not fun.) Regardless, if you want your fantasy writer’s ideas to be contaminated by game watching, rest assured that mine are thus.
Full Disclosure: I own Jay Cutler and Alex Smith in almost every league. In addition, I have a smaller stake in RG3, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, and, finally worn down by Bryan Fontaine and FD, Sam Bradford. So it stands to reason that my emotional investment might bias my thoughts on those guys.
1. Aaron Rodgers – On pace for 6,400 yards and 56 touchdowns, Rodgers’ brilliance was on full display against Washington. Nelson, Cobb, and Finley are often banged up, but when healthy they combine with James Jones to form the best receiving corps Rodgers has ever worked with. Drafters who plucked Rodgers in Round 3 could ride him to a title.
2. Peyton Manning – Week 2 was a huge disappointment as Manning struggled to get the ball to Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker against the Giants’ porous secondary. Still a real threat to rewrite the record books, Manning’s lack of arm strength is a glaring weakness. (He ranks 22nd in deep passing percentage.)
3. Robert Griffin III – RG3 is clearly rusty and looks tentative on his bum leg, but he’s also been a fantasy force through two games. The idea that he’s hurting Washington is ludicrous. According to PFF, Griffin’s accuracy is at virtually the same level he managed last year, and his WR corps is currently second in the NFL with an 11.1% drop rate. The Racial Slurs field a terrible defense and face a shootout-heavy schedule.
4. Drew Brees – Brees currently ranks outside the QB1 tier despite seeing two favorable matchups. The NFC South may be slightly improved defensively, and the division doesn’t appear to be at the forefront of the up tempo revolution. It’s too early to know if the RotoViz Sim Scores were prescient in projecting a mild fall for Brees, but he’s off to a discouraging start.
5. Colin Kaepernick – Thankfully, Kaepernick has the first Seahawks game behind him and sees a very favorable schedule until facing them again in Week 14. On pace for over 800 yards rushing, his performance against Green Bay is far more indicative of his true value.
6. Matthew Stafford – Stafford has looked tremendous in the early going showing off a rifle arm and improved accuracy. Unfortunately, he still lacks weapons opposite Megatron and plays for one of the NFL’s worst coaching staffs.
7. Matt Ryan – Ryan’s physical limitations will probably always keep him from the truly elite group. He’s only thrown three passes 20 or more yards down the field this season, the same number as the constantly harangued Alex Smith.
8. Tom Brady – Brady is a good buy low for owners of elite squads and a strong sell for those who need every last point to stay in the playoff race. He’ll bounce back in a big way when Amendola, Gronkowski, and Vereen are healthy and the rookies get a little more experience.
9. Michael Vick – This may be low, but games against Washington and San Diego probably don’t paint a true picture of the warp offense.
10. Jay Cutler – Having survived two fairly difficult matchups, Cutler’s schedule opens up significantly after a Week 3 tilt with Pittsburgh. Expect to see the Trestman offense in full effect during a mid-season run of shootouts. Check out Charles Kleinheksel’s explanation for why Cutler shouldn’t be on any waiver wires.
11. Russell Wilson – Wilson has only managed two touchdowns so far and has gotten shockingly poor play from Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. His reality play has remained excellent and his fantasy numbers will catch up.
12. Cam Newton – Averaging barely 150 yards passing and only 25 yards rushing, a strong argument can be made for ranking Newton even lower. Newton is a star in a terrible situation. Playing for a bungling staff and surrounded by little skill position talent, he’ll need to start running the ball more frequently to remain a QB1.
13. Andrew Luck – Luck misses Bruce Arians badly and faces a brutal slate of upcoming opponents that includes both San Francisco and Seattle. A reality superstar in the making, we’re seeing the impact of overrated receiving talent and mundane playcalling. If Luck didn’t surprisingly lead the sophomore class in rushing yards, his numbers would be even worse. Update: I don’t expect the acquisition of Trent Richardson to help or hurt Luck.
14. Eli Manning – Manning is the anti-Alex Smith. A vastly overrated reality player, Manning forces the ball downfield relentlessly despite scattershot accuracy and decision-making with all types of throws. Playing for a rudderless squad, Manning has morphed into the preeminent garbage time passer in formats that don’t penalize for INTs.
15. Sam Bradford – Bradford has benefited from comeback mode in back-to-back contests but still appears lost early in games. After looking unstoppable in the preseason, Givens and Cook have taken turns disappearing in Weeks 1 and 2.
16. Tony Romo – Dealing with an injury, Romo ranks as QB17 despite having faced the Giants and Chiefs. Too many other quarterbacks are playing well to rank him any higher.
17. Alex Smith – Many sites continue to comically bash Smith. Currently ranked as QB14, the Chiefs signal caller is going to finish with 500-plus rushing yards and owns the best schedule of any QB in the NFL.
18. Andy Dalton – Brilliant in Week 1 against Chicago, Dalton suddenly has weapons. Unfortunately, schedule concerns remove him from the QB1 radar.
19. Matt Schaub – Schaub was my favorite deep QB2 this offseason. The pro-Schaub thesis has been right on the money through two weeks as the Texans have attempted 93 passes so far. He won’t hold his current position as QB6 but can be started in plus matchups.
21. Carson Palmer – PFF has graded Palmer as the No. 6 quarterback in the early going. One of my other favorite sleepers, he would be higher if not for a trio of mild concerns: the Fitzgerald injury, the puzzling lack of impact from Michael Floyd, the NFC West schedule.
24. E.J. Manuel – After nearly leading the Bills past the Patriots in Week 1 and then authoring a last second comeback against the Panthers, Manuel is already demonstrating the elite potential RotoViz trumpeted back in March. Unfortunately, he has an awful fantasy schedule.
26. Terrell Pryor – Pryor is a weekly start in Fanium’s ultra-run-heavy format.
27. Ryan Tannehill – Playing well, Tannehill just isn’t in a fantasy-friendly environment. He would move up the rankings if he showed a willingness to run more.
28. Jake Locker
29. Brandon Weeden
30. Josh Freeman
31. Christian Ponder
32. Chad Henne
Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He would be writing even more, but he’s playing in 25 high stakes leagues, 3 dynasty leagues (two of which include full IDP), 2 friends leagues (where he is the commissioner), a Fanium league, and the BroJackson Cartel Serie 1. There are only so many hours in the day.