It's never too late to start, right?
Sure, week seven is a strange week to start. But what makes fantasy football great is the week-to-week fluctuations between players. How different owners perceive player performance in a given week could create interesting buy-low or sell-high opportunities for your fantasy team.
Look at Braylon Edwards. For five weeks, he was fantasy kryptonite. He had no trade value because of his abysmal early season performance, but after a 154 yard performance, how much do you discount his non-productivity early?
Edwards and Randy Moss have virtually the same amount of fantasy points through five games, but what is either player's true value? Is Edwards going to build on his Monday night performance, or will Randy Moss rebound late in the season to be the fantasy stud he has been throughout most of his career?
Then there are injuries to guys like Tony Romo, Joseph Addai, and Willie Parker. Obviously if you need to win immediately, trading for them wouldn't be prudent, but how much do their injuries affect their value?
Finally, there's the question of who is number one. Does LaDainian Tomlinson hold onto his preseason top ranking? Or have his injuries paved the way for Marion Barber, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, or even Drew Brees or Larry Fitzgerald to man the top spot?
Let me warn you that these rankings will change every week. Just because a guy is number one now doesn't mean he will stay there all season. But if you had to draft today, or if you're looking to cross-rank players, here is my fantasy fifty based on what I've seen this season, and based on how I believe these players will perform down the stretch.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, SD, RB - Says he's healthy, and while his production hasn't been all there, no one has taken the throne from him yet.
2. Adrian Peterson, MIN, RB - Hasn't shown it all just yet, but his upside is immense.
3. Clinton Portis, WAS, RB - Feature back in a good offense. 100+ yards in three straight, and he scores touchdowns.
4. Frank Gore, SF, RB - Very consistent. 49ers know that their only chance to win is a heavy dose of Gore.
5. Marion Barber, DAL, RB - Will injuries to Romo and Jones help or hurt him? It's hard to tell, but you know that he will get a heavy load this week.
6. Brian Westbrook, PHI, RB - If he's healthy, he's higher than this, but it's a weekly struggle to keep him on the field.
7. Brandon Marshall, DEN, WR - Cutler loves throwing to him (18 targets last week) and he produces.
8. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, WR – 25 years old and playing like people who saw him in college thought he’d play. Might be most consistent WR in fantasy.
9. Drew Brees, NO, QB - Easily the number one fantasy QB. And now he gets Colston back?
10. Steven Jackson, STL, RB - See Gore, Frank. St. Louis's only chance is if Jackson carries them.
11. Marshawn Lynch, BUF, RB - Beast Mode hasn't been himself the last few weeks, but the offensive line should improve, and the numbers will come.
12. Andre Johnson, HOU, WR - Time to buy low on him has come and passed. He's a physical beast, and Schaub throws to him a ton.
13. Reggie Wayne, IND, WR - Consistent, and Manning's health improving should lead to improved numbers for Wayne.
14. Ronnie Brown, MIA, RB - Wildcat offense, baby! But remember, Brown was a stud pre-injury last year. I'm just shocked he's this good (and healthy) again just one year later.
15. Reggie Bush, NO, RB - PPR god, but still just 3.1 YPC. Still generates enough all-purpose yards and touchdowns to be a consistent fantasy option.
16. Terrell Owens, DAL, WR - Just too talented and too big a part of the Cowboys offense to go any lower. Williams addition could help, but check Romo's status.
17. Michael Turner, ATL, RB - You know what he is. A fantasy god against bad teams, and a dud against bad teams. Improved passing game could take some pressure off.
18. Greg Jennings, GB, WR - Seems to grab a deep ball each week, and he might even deserve to be higher on this list.
19. Matt Forte, CHI, RB - Hopefully doesn't wear down in second half, but Bears rely on him, and he does everything on the field for them.
20. Joseph Addai, IND, RB - Missing a couple weeks could allow for Rhodes to cut into some of his carries down the line.
21. Steve Smith, CAR, WR - Delhomme favorite is the focal point of offense. Usually good for 70+ yards, but he can always bust out a huge game.
22. Tony Romo, DAL, QB - Roy Williams adds to his value, but broken pinkie is a concern. Solid #2 fantasy QB if he's healthy.
23. Roddy White, ATL, WR – Heavily targeted, and has 100+ yards 3 of last 4 games. Most underrated receiver in the NFL? Puts up big numbers every week with rookie Ryan regardless of matchup.
24. Jay Cutler, DEN, QB – Put up huge numbers early, and once Royal, Scheffler, and Torain return, he should be top 3 QB.
25. Peyton Manning, IND, QB – He’s still Peyton Manning. 3 TDs, 0 INTs vs Baltimore a great sign that he’s back.
26. Plaxico Burress, NYG, WR – He’s back, and he should return to being Manning’s #1 redzone target.
27. Braylon Edwards, CLE, WR – Guess who’s back? Huge performance last week could just mean he and Anderson are finally healthy and on same page.
28. Marques Colston, NO, WR – Brees commands #1 passing offense, and there’s no reason Colston shouldn’t be a consistent stud down the stretch assuming he’s healthy.
29. Brandon Jacobs, NYG, RB – Gets the goalline carries, but schedule gets tougher after week 7. If Giants are behind, you can forget him putting up big numbers.
30. Jamal Lewis, CLE, RB – Gets all Browns carries, and though schedule is difficult, he should be able to get 20+ carries and a touchdown most weeks.
31. Willie Parker, RB, PIT – Was awesome first two weeks, but injury has stopped Fast Willie the last few weeks.
32. Randy Moss, WR, NE – He’s Randy Moss. I know Matt Cassel is awful, but he still had 10 targets last week, and has more upside than any receiver left.
33. Anquan Boldin, WR, ARI – Took a vicious hit against the Jets, but if that has no ill effects, he should continue to be a good fantasy option.
34. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC – Presence of Fred Taylor makes yardage a crapshoot, but Jones-Drew still gets TDs.
35. Jamal Lewis, RB, CLE – Gets the carries in a potentially good offense. Consistent last year, and if Browns offense is back, he’ll score.
36. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB – Still needs to prove he can stay healthy for 16 games, but even without practicing, Rodgers has been one of the top two fantasy QBs.
37. Kurt Warner, QB, ARI – Warner similar to Rodgers in that numbers are consistently good, but injury concerns exist.
38. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN – Still doesn’t get all the goalline carries, but he gets enough to be best in next tier of runningbacks. Tremendous upside each week.
39. Jason Witten, TE, DAL – Is Witten the new Gates? Almost twice the yardage of Chargers’ star, but scoring opportunities might be limited.
40. Steve Slaton, RB, HOU – Ahman Green’s presence limits his carry total, but he’s explosive enough to post a good yardage total and score either through the ground and the air.
41. Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI – Another injury concern, but Philadelphia sure loves to throw the football.
42. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET – Because what else is Detroit going to do? Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey could take some pressure off Megatron, but there will be will post some duds.
43. Larry Johnson, RB, KC – Suspended for week 7. Other than that, he’s a poor man’s version of Brandon Jacobs spliced with Michael Turner. Matchups play, but a good one when he’s on the field.
44. Antonio Gates, TE, SD – Getting healthier, and still scoring touchdowns. 4 TDs in 6 games this season make up for just 252 yards.
45. Thomas Jones, RB, NYJ – 3 touchdowns last game a good start, but yardage has not come easily.
46. Ryan Grant, RB, GB – He got 33 carries last week. Only 90 yards, but the Packers will want to give Grant every chance to live up to his new contract.
47. Earnest Graham, RB, TB – Warrick Dunn is a major concern for Graham owners, but Bucs trust him in the red zone, and he’s been able to break three runs of 45 yards or more.
48. Lee Evans, WR, BUF – Poor man’s Greg Jennings usually good for a big play downfield. Scored in last 2 games.
49. Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC – Usually a consistent option and the bona fide #1 option in Kansas City. Would like him more if Huard were starting.
50. Laveranues Coles, WR, NYJ – He and Cotchery are pretty equal in terms of value, but slight edge to slightly more explosive Coles.
Five to watch
1. Devin Hester, WR, CHI – With Brandon Lloyd out, Hester has stepped in and performed pretty well. Bears give him every chance to break open the big play, so if you’re looking for receiver help, he’s a decent option.
2. Ryan Torain, RB, DEN – If you’re scraping the barrel at runningback, Torain has as high an upside as anyone you can grab. Rookie turned heads in Broncos camp, and will vie for carries starting 11/2.
3. Dominic Rhodes, RB, IND – Chances are, he’s already gone in your league, but if not, Rhodes is a good option as the feature back in a Manning-led offense for a couple weeks.
4. Kevin Walter, WR, HOU – Somehow available in many leagues still. Matt Schaub is a solid QB, Slaton can run the ball, and Andre Johnson can take pressure off him on the other side. Walter has 3 TDs on the year and is coming off a 98 yard game. Plus, if Andre Johnson ever misses time, he’s gold.
5. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC – Larry Johnson should only miss one week, and Kolby Smith might get the start this week, but look for Charles to get more touches. Tennessee defense should prevent a big game from any Chief, but if Charles plays well, he could challenge the headache that is Larry Johnson.
Questions? Comments? Grievances? Feel free to comment! Mackenzie Kraemer can also be reached via e-mail. Visit his New York Jets blog at JetsDaily.com.