Power Ranking the Top 50 Fantasy Football Players at the Season's Quarter Mark
Imagine that, in August (or early September), you knew what you now know about fantasy-football players.
You knew that tight ends around the league would have fantastic games in the season's first month and that Antonio Gates would not be one of them.
You knew that quarterbacks would experience much of the same success league-wide.
You knew that whatever fantasy defense you picked really didn't deserve to be drafted in the seventh round.
You knew well in advance that the Washington Redskins' Alfred Morris and New York Giants' Andre Brown were going to have breakout seasons.
You knew that the Cleveland Browns' Trent Richardson would be worth the hype.
You knew for a fact that the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson wouldn't reach 100 yards in his first three games...combined.
If you knew all of that, what would your draft board have looked like?
Here's a glimpse of mine.
50. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Bowe hasn't had worse than a five-point fantasy game to this point in the season.
He has, however, scored 16 or more twice.
At Buffalo in Week 2, Bowe had eight catches for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
In Week 4, he gained 108 yards on seven grabs and scored a third touchdown.
He didn't score in Week 3, but still got 79 yards receiving on seven more catches—not bad for a fifth-round pick.
49. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Davis was fantasy's top-scoring tight end through the season's first three weeks, scoring four total touchdowns as Alex Smith's preferred target.
Then he followed it up with a two-point stinker while the 49ers blew out the Jets in Week 4.
His prospects going forward are bright, though, which is why he still makes the top 50.
48. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin started off the season with a couple of double-digit fantasy performances.
Since Week 3, he's only scored 10 fantasy points combined.
His number of carries has been moving in the wrong direction for fantasy owners all season (24 in Week 1, 20 in Week 2, 19 in Week 3 and eight in Week 4).
Martin has had some tougher matchups, however, and gets the Chiefs and Saints coming out of Tampa Bay's Week 5 bye.
47. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
The precipitous fall of Chris Johnson's fantasy value stopped with a thud in Week 4: Johnson ran for 141 yards against a Houston Texans defense that is highly regarded in the NFL.
And he took 25 carries to do it.
The fact that Johnson's still got a featured job in Tennessee makes him an intriguing fantasy option going forward, regardless of whether he actually runs with it.
46. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
The Law Firm finally coughed up the football in 2012.
And then he did it again.
Green-Ellis had a fumble in Week 3 and Week 4 this season, but he still gets plenty of carries for the Bengals.
He's had 80 totes so far this year.
45. Michael Bush, RB, Chicago Bears
So far, Bush is the guy you want if you're looking for a Bears running back.
Matt Forte has been injured this year, but even while he was playing, Bush has been putting up numbers.
He scored two touchdowns in Week 1 and another in Week 3.
44. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Manning has been up-and-down for his fantasy owners this season—but mostly up.
He had one bad game against the Atlanta Falcons on the road in Week 2.
The other three saw him throw for at least 253 yards and two touchdowns in each, but those were all home games.
Now he's just got to clear a hurdle on the road.
43. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
So much for this guy declining with age.
Gonzalez has only failed to score a touchdown once this season, and it's that type of consistency that makes him a prime target at tight end.
His lowest reception count is five. His worst yardage output is 51. Both happened in Week 4, but that's after three straight weeks of double-digit fantasy points.
42. Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
Bush really just had one huge game in 2012, but it was the type of game from guys drafted as late as Bush that wins you weeks as a fantasy owner.
Against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, he carried the ball 26 times for a ridiculous 172 yards and two touchdowns.
His highest output besides that was a 10-point showing in Week 1.
41. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
McFadden has been bottled up in two of his four games this season, scoring just three fantasy points in each.
He did have a 113-yard outing against the Steelers in Week 3. He scored a touchdown in that game.
The Raiders haven't allowed him to rush the ball 20 times in any game, presumably in an effort to keep him healthy.
He now has a bye. So, for now, mission accomplished.
40. Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints
Sproles has just 82 total rushing yards on the season, but that's not his role with the Saints.
He has 12 total carries, but in two separate games, he's recorded five catches and a receiving touchdown.
In another, he had 13 grabs for 128 yards. PPR owners of Sproles have little to complain about.
39. Jackie Battle, RB, San Diego Chargers
Battle has done damage for his fantasy owners when given an opportunity to get legitimate playing time.
In two separate games this season, he has scored two total touchdowns, but he has yet to top 100 total yards.
38. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Nicks is a stud.
Unfortunately, he seems to be a wounded stud more often than not.
In two games this season, Nicks has 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown, but in the other two, he has a pair of goose eggs.
37. Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
Raise your hand if you expected to see this guy on the list.
Now put your hand down. I can't see it anyway.
Hartline has produced the single-biggest fantasy output from the wide-receiver position in 2012. In Week 4, he caught 12 Ryan Tannehill passes for 253 yards and a touchdown for 31 fantasy points.
36. Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
There was an awful lot of post-Week 2 hype surrounding Danny Amendola, and with good reason.
He caught 15 balls for 160 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins.
Since then, he has returned to Earth with his production, but he did add another (trick-play) touchdown to his credit in Week 4.
35. Martellus Bennett, TE, New York Giants
Spoiler alert: There are no tight ends above Bennett on this list.
If the first quarter of the season has taught fantasy owners anything, it's that the tight-end position has been majorly productive.
That makes it even less imperative to take a tight end early in a fantasy draft.
Bennett's the first one off the board because of his consistency. He scored double-digit fantasy points in each of the season's first three games, finding the end zone every time.
34. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne is among the most-targeted wide receivers in the league in 2012.
He's also producing fantasy points at a high level.
He scored 13 points in each of the first two weeks, followed by eight in the third, and he's a PPR stud to begin the season.
33. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
If this were a draft on players' talent, Johnson would be higher on this list, but the Texans are unapologetically a run-first team.
Johnson, therefore, has only topped 100 yards once, but he has scored two touchdowns.
32. Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
All summer, we heard the hype about Dez Bryant coming out of Dallas, and Miles Austin continued to work.
Now he's Tony Romo's No. 1 receiver, but he probably never lost that position.
31. Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos
McGahee has two 100-plus-yard games to his credit this season.
In each of those, he's scored a touchdown (or two).
In the other two, he rushed for 100 yards combined.
It's the end of the third round, so it's hard to ask for more than that kind of production.
30. Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
We thought Ridley had the job to himself in New England after Week 1, but we were wrong.
Nevertheless, he has two 20-plus-point fantasy games this season. As a third-round running back, you could do worse than this boom-or-bust pick.
29. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Gore's yards-per-carry average dropped considerably in Week 4 at the Jets.
He carried the ball 21 times for just 62 yards, but he also scored a touchdown in what turned out to be the veteran rusher's second-worst game through the first four weeks.
Fantasy owners will take that.
28. Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
Brown has played himself into a timeshare in New York.
What fantasy owners don't know is how exactly it will work out for the rest of the season.
What they do know is that Brown delivered two big games from the RB position at a time when it was hard to predict who would.
27. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers was certainly worth a first-round pick last season, outscoring the rest of the league in fantasy points despite playing only 15 games.
This year hasn't been the same story.
Coming into Week 4, this guy was tied with Mark Sanchez for 19th among QBs in fantasy scoring.
However, he threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints to remind us he's still Aaron Rodgers.
It probably would have been five if he wasn't poked in the eye in the red zone.
26. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The Patriots are just 2-2, but Brady has played well enough to earn fantasy owners a lot of points.
On the season, he has seven passing touchdowns and one interception.
He's increased his passing yardage in every game this year.
He also ran for a score in Week 4, just for good measure.
25. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald started the season off okay with a four-catch, 63-yard effort at home against the Seahawks.
Then he had a doughnut, but since Week 3, Fitz has caught 17 balls for 178 yards (in two games) and a touchdown in each game.
He's still a No. 1 fantasy receiver.
24. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Jones tumbles down a lot of draft boards after recording two games that totaled four fantasy points.
He's still a beast of a receiver and has a combined 34 points in his other two games, so he doesn't fall too far.
In road contests against the Chiefs and Chargers, Jones scored three touchdowns on 11 catches.
23. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Cruz caught 11 balls for 179 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against Tampa Bay.
He had a couple of forgettable outings this season, but also played very well against the Eagles in Week 4.
Cruz had nine receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown in that game.
22. Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Smith started off the season a little slowly, recording two catches for about 50 yards in each contest.
His second pair of outings were a lot more productive.
Smith has totaled 12 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns since Week 3.
21. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Thomas has only had one deflating fantasy game: a one-point product of a Week 3 date with Johnathan Joseph of the Texans.
In the other three, he's rewarded fantasy owners with double-digit outputs. That includes a 110-yard, one-touchdown outing in Week 1.
20. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace is one of those rare wide receivers who hasn't had a bad fantasy game yet.
He's caught a touchdown in each of the Steelers' first three games while increasing his reception and yardage totals each of the last two.
His fantasy points have climbed as well.
19. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger has steadily increased his fantasy production through the season's first three weeks.
At Denver in Week 1, Big Ben threw for 245 yards, two scores and a pick.
He eliminated the interceptions thereafter, throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns at home against the Jets in Week 2.
When the Steelers went to Oakland in Week 3, Roethlisberger left with 384 passing yards and four touchdowns.
While his Week 3 game might be the best of his 2012 season, Roethlisberger has inserted his name into the conversation of top fantasy quarterbacks. Pittsburgh had a bye in Week 4.
18. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys know they have to get the ball to Murray. In two wins, he's averaging 21.5 touches (19 carries) per game.
In the team's loss, he received 16 touches (12 carries).
Murray scored just his third career rushing touchdown in Week 3 against the Bucs.
But his upside is so immense that fantasy owners can't be blamed for taking a chance on the talented runner in the second round.
17. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Maybe the most perplexing common question in NFL and fantasy football circles is: Why doesn't LeSean McCoy get the ball more?
One of the league's most explosive playmakers, McCoy's fantasy production has been limited by the Eagles' game plan.
He's barely reached double-digit fantasy points in two of the team's first three games, but fantasy owners have to like the prospects of a guy who has the ability of McCoy with the starting RB job all to himself.
16. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Perhaps the decline of Michael Turner has been overstated.
Turner has faced some of the weaker NFL run defenses this year, but he has increased his fantasy output in every week.
In Week 1, he totaled just three points at Kansas City.
He's scored a touchdown every time he suited up and increased his receptions and total yardage in each game since.
15. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Despite the Saints' struggles this season, Drew Brees has still surfaced as a No. 1 fantasy quarterback.
Against the Redskins in Week 1, he threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed two interceptions, but still finished with 21 fantasy points in standard scoring.
Brees threw two more picks at Carolina in Week 2 but topped 300 passing yards again (325) and recorded a passing and rushing score.
Brees threw for 240 yards and got back up to three passing touchdowns against the Chiefs at home in Week 3. He limited his interception count to one.
His best game came in Week 4, when he threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns while limiting his turnovers to zero for the first time this season.
14. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Alfred Morris has had an awesome start to the season for a sixth-round rookie—or for anyone, really.
The Redskins' tailback has four touchdowns to his credit on the season and has only been held out of the end zone once.
He's topped 13 fantasy points three times.
13. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson started the season off with a bang, scoring two touchdowns against Jacksonville at home.
He has since failed to reach the end zone, but recorded his first 100-yard game in Week 4 at Detroit.
All Day has reached double digits in fantasy scoring three times this year.
12. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has lit up scoreboards for the Falcons and fantasy owners early in 2012.
In Week 1 against the Chiefs, the Atlanta quarterback threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a fourth.
In Week 2 at home against the Broncos, he threw for 219 and two scores. He avoided an interception in both games.
Ryan threw a pick in each of his last two games, but amassed 275 yards and three touchdowns at San Diego.
In Week 4, Ryan threw for a season-high 369 yards and three more scores.
11. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Megatron entered the season with the highest expectations of any fantasy-football wide receiver.
He's been fine so far, with his best game being a 10-catch, 164-yard outing at Tennessee in which he scored a touchdown.
That has been his only score on the season.
Johnson's totaled 29 grabs for 423 yards and a touchdown so far.
10. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
White had a monster game in Week 4, totaling eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
He's playing keep-away with Julio Jones for Matt Ryan's No. 1 WR position.
White has caught 27 passes for 413 yards and three scores on the season so far.
9. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Spiller jumped into action for Fred Jackson early in Week 1 and had two monster games to begin the season.
On just 29 total carries, he amassed 292 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2.
Unfortunately, Spiller also went down to injury in Week 3, but not before scoring his first receiving touchdown on the season.
His injury didn't keep him out of Week 4 play, but Spiller did have a down game while splitting reps with Jackson.
8. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
How high did you take RGIII in your fantasy draft? Apparently, it probably wasn't high enough.
Rookies aren't supposed to be able to do what Robert Griffin III has done in the first month of the season. RGIII threw for 320 yards in his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints.
We've since learned that the Saints don't stop anybody.
Griffin continued his assault on the box score in Week 2 against the Rams, throwing for 206 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 82 yards and two more scores and surrendering an interception.
His rushing yards continued to climb in Week 3 against the Bengals. RGIII gained 85 yards on 12 carries and scored another touchdown. He also threw for 229 yards and a score.
In Week 4, he found the end zone himself for the third straight week while throwing for a career-high 323 yards against Tampa Bay.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD has come on strong lately.
After taking just 31 handoffs in the first two games for 137 rushing yards, he saw 28 rushing attempts for 177 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 at Indianapolis.
He only had 80 total yards in Week 4 against the Bengals, but he edges out Spiller because he's still healthy.
6. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Lynch gets the ball, and that's what you're looking for from a first-round pick in fantasy football.
He has scored no fewer than nine fantasy points in any single game this season.
He's also topped the 100-yard mark and scored a touchdown in the same game twice in 2012.
5. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Richardson was a first-round pick in the NFL draft this year. Maybe the guys who took him in the first rounds of their fantasy drafts were onto something.
He started the season off slowly against the Eagles, rushing for just 39 yards on 19 carries, but in the three games since, he's found the end zone in each one.
Richardson has also shown versatility, scoring a receiving touchdown in Week 2 at Cincinnati.
4. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Rice was a consensus first-round fantasy draft pick. It's a good thing that he's on this list.
He's not getting 20 carries per game in the new edition of the Ravens' offense, but he's been efficient with his touches.
Rice took 10 handoffs in Week 1, converting them for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that performance with 16 carries for 99 yards at Philadelphia.
In back-to-back home games with the Patriots and Browns in a five-day span, Rice had 38 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown.
3. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green has been balling.
The Cincinnati Bengals' sophomore wide receiver has caught at least five passes in every game this season.
In Week 1, he caught five balls for 70 yards in the Bengals' loss to the Ravens.
In three straight wins since, Green has caught 22 passes for 358 yards and had a touchdown in each game.
2. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles has rebounded quite nicely from his torn ACL, wouldn't you say?
His first two games were kind of what we expected: 22 total carries, 90 yards, no scores.
Then, in Week 3 against the Saints, he went off.
Charles had 33 carries for a whopping 233 rushing yards and scored a touchdown.
He followed that up with another end-zone trip against the Chargers at home.
If you have Charles on your team, he likely flat out won you two weeks. He has 53 fantasy points since Week 3.
1. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
It should be no surprise that Foster makes this list. He's scored a touchdown in each game so far this season.
He had two in Week 1 to go with 79 rushing yards on 26 carries.
Foster followed that up with 110 rushing yards and another touchdown in Week 2 at Jacksonville.
He had a receiving score in Week 3 at Denver in addition to 105 yards on the ground.
In Week 4, Foster carried the ball 24 times for 86 yards.