Fantasy Football 2014: Tiered Fantasy Football Rankings for Every Position

James ParadisContributor IIJuly 8, 2014

Fantasy Football 2014: Tiered Fantasy Football Rankings for Every Position

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    With the start of NFL training camps quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to reflect and take stock of every fantasy football player of note for the upcoming 2014 season.

    The following rankings break down each position by tiers, grouping together players with similarly projected value. Such a methodology can prove very advantageous during fantasy drafts, making it easier to find the best deals at each position.

    Placing players in tiers is a particularly useful exercise for auction drafts, when it is imperative to understand the relative market value of each player.

    The overall fantasy landscape will continue to come into focus as depth-chart battles shake out between now and Week 1 of the regular season. To account for these movements, an updated version of these rankings will come out during the preseason.

     

    Note: The following rankings are most applicable to standard (non-PPR) redraft league formats.

Top 35 Quarterbacks

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. Peyton Manning, DEN

    2. Drew Brees, NO

    3. Aaron Rodgers, GB

    These quarterbacks will come at a premium, especially Manning, but their week-to-week value is unparalleled. It’s a luxury to roster a player who’s a virtual lock to return top-five production at their respective position every week. And like most luxuries, they don’t come cheap.

     

    Tier 2

    4. Matthew Stafford, DET

    5. Andrew Luck, IND

    6. Matt Ryan, ATL

    This group represents the next-best bet to offer elite-level production on a consistent basis. After the "Big Three,” these quarterbacks have the fewest question marks and are all loaded with an arsenal of offensive weaponry.

     

    Tier 3

    7. Robert Griffin III, WAS

    8. Cam Newton, CAR

    Griffin and Newton earn their own tier because their weekly ceilings are as high as any other player in fantasy, and either guy has No. 1 overall fantasy player upside for the season. Both quarterbacks come with recent injuries on their resumes, but they’re expected to be good to go for Week 1.

     

    Tier 4

    9. Tom Brady, NE

    10. Tony Romo, DAL

    11. Nick Foles, PHI

    12. Colin Kaepernick, SF

    For those looking to find starting QB value, this group could be the one to target. At least one of these guys should fall past the mid-rounds, but any one of them has a real chance to break into the top five at the position. All four players fall into this tier either due to questionable receiving weapons (Brady and Foles) or a lack of a top-level fantasy track record (Romo and Kaepernick).

     

    Tier 5

    13. Jay Cutler, CHI

    14. Philip Rivers, SD

    15. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

    16. Russell Wilson, SEA

    An argument can be made for any one of these four quarterbacks to be valued higher, but it is difficult to put them ahead of the guys ranked above. This represents the last group of quarterbacks who have a decent chance to offer reliable starting QB numbers in a standard league, though their floor is considerably lower than those in the top 12.

     

    Tier 6

    17. Andy Dalton, CIN

    18. Carson Palmer, ARI

    19. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

    20. Eli Manning, NYG

    21. Alex Smith, KC

    Unless you advocate drafting a very late-round starter or want to employ a quarterback by committee approach, this group should serve owners best as high-upside backup options. Every quarterback in this tier as flirted with starter status at one time or another, but the weekly consistency is simply not there.

     

    Tier 7

    22. Sam Bradford, STL

    23. E.J. Manuel, BUF

    24. Jake Locker, TEN

    All three quarterbacks here suffer from recent injury woes, questionable weapons and hard-to-trust talent. Anyone in this group could return decent QB2 value with some excellent weeks here and there, however, these players come with considerably higher risk than the previous tier.

     

    Tier 8

    25. Josh McCown, TB

    26. Joe Flacco, BAL

    27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU

    28. Johnny Manziel, CLE

    There’s still intriguing talent to take a flier on outside of the top 24 quarterbacks. McCown and Manziel are high-upside lottery tickets for deeper leagues, given McCown’s resurgence in Chicago last season and Manziel’s playmaking ability. Meanwhile, Flacco and Fitzpatrick are less interesting options capable of QB2 value from time to time.

     

    Tier 9

    29. Matt Schaub, OAK

    30. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN

    31. Geno Smith, NYJ

    It’s difficult to predict what this trio will bring to the fantasy table in 2014, but all are worth monitoring at the start of the season. Schaub, who had a top-10 fantasy QB season in 2010, clearly needed to part ways with the Houston Texans for a fresh start. Bridgewater’s rookie value is unknown, and Smith had a roller coaster of a first season as a pro.

     

    Tier 10

    32. Michael Vick, NYJ

    33. Brian Hoyer, CLE

    Neither Vick nor Hoyer may start a game in 2014. The fantasy stock of both players could rise significantly over the course of the offseason if named their respective team’s starter. When healthy, Vick is still capable of QB1 numbers. Meanwhile, Hoyer faces an uphill battle between Josh Gordon’s looming suspension and the nonstop Manziel hysteria.

     

    Tier 11

    34. Chad Henne, JAC

    35. Blake Bortles, JAC

    Question marks as far as the eye can see—avoid, avoid, avoid.

Top 70 Running Backs

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. LeSean McCoy, PHI

    2. Jamaal Charles, KC

    3. Adrian Peterson, MIN

    4. Matt Forte, CHI

    No matter how they’re ordered, these four players offer the clearest path to earn No. 1 overall fantasy running back honors for 2014. All but Peterson topped 1,900 total yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2013 (though Peterson racked up 2,300 total yards and 13 TDs in 2012).

     

    Tier 2

    5. DeMarco Murray, DAL

    6. Marshawn Lynch, SEA

    7. Eddie Lacy, GB

    8. Arian Foster, HOU

    9. Le’Veon Bell, PIT

    10. Montee Ball, DEN

    This next tier still offers tremendous upside. Due to limited track records or significant wear and tear, these running backs fall just below the guys at the top. The scarcity of unquestioned bell-cow running backs cements this group as mid-level RB1s. Going forward, every other back poses a greater risk to split backfield touches or is restricted by a poor offense.

     

    Tier 3

    11. C.J. Spiller, BUF

    12. Zac Stacy, STL

    13. Andre Ellington, ARI

    Any of these three running backs possess top-five fantasy running back upside, but each presents bigger question marks than the players ranked above. Spiller put together a historic campaign in 2012, but he couldn’t stay on the field last year. Stacy is a tough, volume rusher, but rookie Tre Mason is a legitimate threat to steal work. Ellington is explosive but diminutive, with a brief resume.

     

    Tier 4

    14. Doug Martin, TB

    15. Alfred Morris, WAS

    16. Giovani Bernard, CIN

    New coaches and stiffer backfield competition bump these young studs outside of RB1 territory in standard leagues.

    Martin had a ridiculously productive rookie season, but Tampa Bay plans to employ a RBBC this year, per Pat Yasinskas of ESPN. A subpar receiver, Morris should lose work on passing downs in head coach Jay Gruden’s pass-first offense. Bernard may see precious few scoring opportunities with Jeremy Hill and BenJarvus Green-Ellis dominating short-yardage touches.

     

    Tier 5

    17. Toby Gerhart, JAC

    18. Ryan Mathews, SD

    19. Joique Bell, DET

    20. Reggie Bush, DET

    There’s solid RB2 value to be found in this group. Gerhart’s fantasy stock continues to rise as he may be the last true workhorse off the board. Mathews put together a low-end RB1 season in 2013, but his lengthy injury history is still a concern. Bell and Bush could see a fairly even split in touches, with Bell garnering most of the goal-line opportunities.

     

    Tier 6

    21. Stevan Ridley, NE

    22. Frank Gore, SF

    23. Chris Johnson, NYJ

    24. Shane Vereen, NE

    25. Bishop Sankey, TEN

    26. Rashad Jennings, NYG

    27. Trent Richardson, IND

    28. Steven Jackson, ATL

    29. Ray Rice, BAL

    30. Fred Jackson, BUF

    High-risk RB2s and high-upside flex plays characterize this large group—pick your poison.

    Question marks surround every player in this tier. Will Father Time catch up to Gore, Rice and the Jacksons, Steven and Fred? Can Johnson and Vereen return consistent value with limited touches? Will Ridley and Richardson bounce back from a disappointing 2013? And can Sankey and Jennings shoulder a starter's workload for an entire season?

     

    Tier 7

    31. Darren Sproles, PHI

    32. Lamar Miller, MIA

    33. Ben Tate, CLE

    34. Chris Ivory, NYJ

    35. Pierre Thomas, NO

    It will be worth monitoring how this group of intriguing flex options’ fantasy stock rises and falls throughout training camps and the preseason. It is currently unknown just how prominently featured each player here will be within their respective offenses when Week 1 hits. Stay tuned to the most up-to-date team reports as draft time approaches to pounce on the best value.

     

    Tier 8

    36. Terrance West, CLE

    37. Jeremy Hill, CIN

    38. Devonta Freeman, ATL

    39. DeAngelo Williams, CAR

    40. Danny Woodhead, SD

    Three high-upside rookies and two savvy veterans comprise this tier of slightly riskier flex considerations. West, Hill and Freeman are newcomers to watch closely—each guy adds some direly-needed depth to their team’s backfield, and their offseason play could earn them a valuable role in a RBBC. Meanwhile, Williams and Woodhead are reliable but low-end RB3s.

     

    Tier 9

    41. Bernard Pierce, BAL

    42. David Wilson, NYG

    43. Christine Michael, SEA

    44. C.J. Anderson, DEN

    45. Carlos Hyde, SF

    46. Donald Brown, SD

    47. Knile Davis, KC

    48. Tre Mason, STL

    49. Knowshon Moreno, MIA

    50. Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK

    This group includes a run of must-own handcuffs and a pair of highly questionable veterans. Pierce and Wilson currently lead the pack because they still hold an outside chance to lead their teams in touches this season. Michael, Anderson, Hyde, Brown and Davis should all return enormous value in the event of an injury to their team’s starter. Avoid bust candidates Moreno and Jones-Drew, if possible.

     

    Tier 10

    51. Shonn Greene, TEN

    52. Ahmad Bradshaw, IND

    53. Vick Ballard, IND

    54. Khiry Robinson, NO

    55. LeGarrette Blount, PIT

    56. Roy Helu, WAS

    57. Charles Sims, TB

    58. James Starks, GB

    59. Mike Tolbert, CAR

    60. Mark Ingram, NO

    61. Darren McFadden, OAK

    62. Isaiah Crowell, CLE

    63. Andre Brown, HOU

    64. Bryce Brown, BUF

    65. Jordan Todman, JAC

    66. Brandon Bolden, NE

    67. Andre Williams, NYG

    68. Ka’Deem Carey, CHI

    68. Robert Turbin, SEA

    70. Mike James, TB

    The run of backup running backs continues here. This group falls below the “must-own” tier since it is unlikely that any of these players would receive a long-term workhorse role under any circumstances. The only player here who is not necessarily a backup is McFadden, but his week-to-week value is too volatile to rank him higher.

Top 75 Wide Receivers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. Calvin Johnson, DET

    Tier one is a one-man tier, and with good reason. Beginning in 2011, Megatron has finished first, first and third among fantasy wide receivers. No other receiver, save for maybe Josh Gordon, can currently match his single-game or single-season upside, and there’s every reason to expect another monster year in 2014.

     

    Tier 2

    2. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

    3. A.J. Green, CIN

    4. Dez Bryant, DAL

    5. Jordy Nelson, GB

    6. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

    7. Brandon Marshall, CHI

    8. Julio Jones, ATL

    It’s hard to go wrong drafting any player in this tier as the top wide receiver on a fantasy roster this season. Thomas, Green, Bryant and Marshall finished top five at the position each of the past two years, while Nelson, Jeffery and Jones all have sky-high ceilings. Jones’ propensity for severe injury bumps him to the bottom of this list.

     

    Tier 3

    9. Randall Cobb, GB

    10. Antonio Brown, PIT

    11. Vincent Jackson, TB

    12. Roddy White, ATL

    13. Keenan Allen, SD

    14. Victor Cruz, NYG

    15. Pierre Garcon, WAS

    16. Andre Johnson, HOU

    17. Michael Floyd, ARI

    18. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

    The upside of this tier is evident—seven of the 10 receivers listed here reached No. 1 wide receiver status at some point in the past three seasons, and the arrow is pointed way up for the remaining three—Cobb, Allen and Floyd—who are all young in their very promising pro careers.

     

    Tier 4

    19. Percy Harvin, SEA

    20. Torrey Smith, BAL

    21. Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN

    22. DeSean Jackson, WAS

    23. T.Y. Hilton, IND

    24. Mike Wallace, MIA

    This is a shockingly fast tier—4.4-second 40-yard dash speed as far as the eye can see. These elite deep-threat wide receivers find themselves grouped together due to their similar strengths and weaknesses in fantasy. Each of these six wideouts only requires one big play to have a successful fantasy day; however, they can also disappear when those plays don’t materialize.

     

    Tier 5

    25. Michael Crabtree, SF

    26. Marques Colston, NO

    27. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

    28. Julian Edelman, NE

    29. Wes Welker, DEN

    30. Anquan Boldin, SF

    31. Dwayne Bowe, KC

    32. Kendall Wright, TEN

    33. Terrance Williams, DAL

    Whereas players in the previous tier share a similar skill set, this eclectic group is all over the map. But despite their many differences in playing style, each of these wide receivers should offer low-end WR2/high-end WR3 value in 2014. This tier illustrates just how deep the position has become, as every guy inside the top 30 could potentially return top-15 value.

     

    Tier 6

    34. Reggie Wayne, IND

    35. Riley Cooper, PHI

    36. Golden Tate, DET

    37. Marvin Jones, CIN

    38. Cecil Shorts, JAC

    39. Jeremy Maclin, PHI

    Three breakout candidates (Cooper, Tate and Jones), two steady WR3s (Shorts and Maclin) and one aging Hall of Famer (Wayne) characterize this tier. With current average draft positions ranging from WR25 (Maclin) to WR51 (Jones), per FantasyFootballCalculator.com, there is plenty of fantastic value to be found at the position late in standard league drafts.

     

    Tier 7

    40. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

    41. Eric Decker, NYJ

    42. Mike Evans, TB

    43. Doug Baldwin, SEA

    44. Sammy Watkins, BUF

    45. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR

    46. Rueben Randle, NYG

    47. Danny Amendola, NE

    48. Hakeem Nicks, IND

    It’s hard to trust that any player in this group will exceed WR3 value in 2014.

    Hopkins, Decker and Watkins are impeded by poor quarterback play and run-heavy offenses. Baldwin should be boom or bust as the starting deep threat on a team that finished last in passing attempts per game in 2013.

    The other five’s value is unknown and too risky to rank higher at this time. Evans, Benjamin, Randle, Amendola and Nicks could all start for their respective teams or they could be relegated to role players.

     

    Tier 8

    49. Tavon Austin, STL

    50. Brandin Cooks, NO

    51. Kenny Stills, NO

    52. Andrew Hawkins, CLE

    53. Robert Woods, BUF

    54. Aaron Dobson, NE

    55. Jarrett Boykin, GB

    56. James Jones, OAK

    The final three tiers are comprised of late-round fliers and wait-and-see waiver-wire guys that will go undrafted in most leagues. Of the remaining wide receivers, this group offers the most breakout potential.

    Austin, Hawkins, Woods and Jones all have a chance to emerge their team’s No. 1 wide receiver, albeit on subpar offenses. The Saints’ Cooks and Stills are a talented tandem but could cannibalize one another’s value in New Orleans’ spread offense. A good training camp and preseason could earn Dobson and Boykin valuable touches in high-powered passing offenses.

     

    Tier 9

    57. Greg Jennings, MIN

    58. Harry Douglas, ATL

    59. Justin Hunter, TEN

    60. Brian Hartline, MIA

    61. Markus Wheaton, PIT

    62. Odell Beckham, NYG

    63. Jordan Matthews, PHI

    Every player listed here has at least an outside shot to earn a starting wide receiver spot on their respective team by Week 1. While Jennings, Douglas, Hartline and Wheaton should already have those roles locked down, the door is open for Hunter, Beckham and Matthews to impress in training camp and the preseason.

     

    Tier 10

    64. Mike Williams, BUF

    65. Stephen Hill, NYJ

    66. Cody Latimer, DEN

    67. Marqise Lee, JAC

    68. Miles Austin, CLE

    69. Rod Streater, OAK

    70. Denarius Moore, OAK

    71. Marlon Brown, BAL

    72. Jerricho Cotchery, CAR

    73. Steve Johnson, SF

    74. Martavis Bryant, PIT

    75. Chris Givens, STL

    Throw a dart and say a prayer when drafting any of these wide receivers in the deepest of leagues. A couple of these guys will assuredly pop for a week or two and make for trendy waiver-wire adds, but any useful value is unlikely to be sustained over the course of the season.

Top 30 Tight Ends

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. Jimmy Graham, NO

    Now that Graham is officially still a tight end, it is not a bold statement to say that he stands alone at the top of his class in 2014. Graham led all receivers in touchdowns in 2013 and still continues to develop as a football player. He’s the definition of a fantasy stud and merits a first-round pick in all formats.

     

    Tier 2

    2. Rob Gronkowski, NE

    3. Julius Thomas, DEN

    With the news that Gronkowski should be ready for the start of the regular season, per Paul Perillo of the team’s official website, he’s leapfrogged Thomas in the rankings. Both players have Graham-like ceilings and deserve early-round consideration as well. With Eric Decker gone from Denver, Thomas could see his touchdown total rise. Meanwhile, Gronkowski instantly resumes his valued role as Tom Brady’s top target.

     

    Tier 3

    4. Jordan Cameron, CLE

    5. Vernon Davis, SF

    These two tight ends separated themselves from the next tier in 2013 and should continue to do so this season. Cameron should emerge as the true No. 1 target on the Browns with Josh Gordon likely gone for the year. Davis may not repeat his impressive 13-touchdown mark from last year with a healthy Crabtree back in the mix, but he should still return top-five tight end fantasy value.

     

    Tier 4

    6. Greg Olsen, CAR

    7. Jason Witten, DAL

    8. Kyle Rudolph, MIN

    9. Dennis Pitta, BAL

    10. Health Miller, PIT

    11. Jordan Reed, WAS

    This middle tier of tight ends should return solid value given their current price tag.

    Olsen is Carolina’s only receiver who played for the team in 2013, so he may benefit from the trust of quarterback Cam Newton. Witten is a consummate stud and the safest bet left to finish as a top-10 TE. Rudolph’s value should rise under offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheming. Pitta and Miller are both healthy and play the security-blanket role for their respective quarterbacks.

    Though Reed may have the most talent of this tier, his four concussions over the past two seasons are a serious concern.

     

    Tier 5

    12. Zach Ertz, PHI

    13. Ladarius Green, SD

    14. Antonio Gates, SD

    15. Martellus Bennett, CHI

    16. Charles Clay, MIA

    Still likely to offer low-end TE1 value, anyone in this group makes for an intriguing late-round selection.

    Waiting on tight end and picking up two of these players should be a sound strategy for 2014, increasing the chance that one of them will emerge. Gates, Bennett and Clay were top-10 TEs in 2013, while monsters-in-waiting Ertz (6'5", 250 pounds) and Green (6'6", 240 pounds) should see their offensive roles expand significantly in 2014.

     

    Tier 6

    17. Dwayne Allen, IND

    18. Tyler Eifert, CIN

    19. Travis Kelce, KC

    20. Eric Ebron, DET

    21. Delanie Walker, TEN

    For deeper leagues, any player in this group could still finish in the low-end TE1 mix. Solid pass-catchers across the board, the players listed here either face greater competition for touches than those ranked higher and/or have not yet proved to be productive on a week-to-week basis.

     

    Tier 7

    22. Jace Amaro, NYJ

    23. Jared Cook, STL

    24. Coby Fleener, IND

    25. Garrett Graham, HOU

    26. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB

    27. Levine Toilolo, ATL

    28. Zach Miller, SEA

    29. Marcedes Lewis, JAC

    30. Richard Rodgers, GB

    This group poses the greatest risk to disappear for several weeks at a time throughout the fantasy season. Therefore, these tight ends are best left on the waiver wire, only to be called upon to start when necessary. That being said, it’s worth keeping an eye on rookies Amaro, Seferian-Jenkins and Rodgers throughout the offseason to gauge how they will be used in 2014.

Top 20 Defenses/Special Teams

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. Seattle Seahawks

    Though the team lost some defensive depth in free agency, the starting defensive lineup is as formidable as ever. It rarely pays off to reach and draft a defense early, but Seattle absolutely justifies a selection prior to the final two rounds.

     

    Tier 2

    2. San Francisco 49ers

    3. St. Louis Rams

    4. Denver Broncos

    5. New England Patriots

    6. Carolina Panthers

    Beyond the Seahawks, it’s difficult to guarantee consistent fantasy production from any team defense. This tier offers the next-best bet to return decent value in 2014, though it would be unwise to burn a mid-round pick to acquire one of them.

     

    Tier 3

    7. Cincinnati Bengals

    8. Arizona Cardinals

    9. Baltimore Ravens

    10. Kansas City Chiefs

    11. Cleveland Browns

    12. Houston Texans

    Beyond the top teams, it is generally advised to employ a streaming approach for team defenses based on favorable weekly matchups. The teams in this group all have talented rosters and should be targeted when streaming, if available.

     

    Tier 4

    13. Chicago Bears

    14. New Orleans Saints

    15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    16. Buffalo Bills

    17. New York Jets

    18. Green Bay Packers

    19. Pittsburgh Steelers

    20. New York Giants

    Most of these squads should be average or better in 2014 and are worthy of a draft selection only in deeper leagues that require selecting a defense. Otherwise, owners should play the weekly matchups.

Top 15 Kickers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Tier 1

    1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE

    2. Matt Prater, DEN

    These two kickers just might justify drafting a round ahead of everyone else, but no earlier. Both guys are exceedingly talented and essential locks to finish top five at the position. For the most part, drafting a kicker is a gamble; however, Gostkowski has finished second, second and first over the past three seasons, and Prater has endless upside in Denver’s offense.

     

    Tier 2

    3. Justin Tucker, BAL

    4. Steve Hauschka, SEA

    5. Phil Dawson, SF

    6. Dan Bailey, DAL

    This group should offer the next-safest bet for reliable production after the top two guys are gone. Beyond this prolific quartet, streaming kickers makes for a smart strategy.

     

    Tier 3

    7. Matt Bryant, ATL

    8. Alex Henery, PHI

    9. Mason Crosby, GB

    10. Nick Novak, SD

    These accurate guys in high-octane offenses are still a decent bet to return solid week-to-week value.

     

    Tier 4

    11. Adam Vinatieri, IND

    12. Robbie Gould, CHI

    13. Blair Walsh, MIN

    14. Graham Gano, CAR

    15. Nate Freese, DET

    It’s tough to predict value among kickers beyond the first few guys off the board, but the track record of the players in this tier suggests that they could be worthy of a draft selection.

     

    All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

    James Paradis is a fantasy football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Be sure to check out his entire archive on fantasy strategy and analysis.

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