*We have recently updated our rankings, they can be found here. (8/24/2011)
There will officially be football played this year, which means your fantasy football draft is coming up sooner rather than later.
It’s time to get your fantasy football rankings together, and we at The Sports Cannon are doing our best to help you bring home that league championship. We’re on our second run of fantasy football positional rankings now, and although some names remain the same, others have risen and fallen in the rankings. You can see each player’s previous ranking next to their current rank.
How we rank ‘em: There are a number of factors that go in to our fantasy football rankings. We have to look at coaching schemes, the supporting cast, strength of schedules and injury concerns.
The whirlwind that will be free agency will surely change the dynamic of the NFL and Fantasy Football season. For now we can only speculate that certain players will resign with their current teams. Most, however, are bound for a new city and fresh game plans. We can’t sufficiently predict their 2011 value without knowing who they are playing for, so their current rankings are based solely on their athletic capabilities paired with their previous fantasy successes.
So without further ado, we present the “Thank God There Is Football” Fantasy Football Rankings 2.0.
1 (1) Michael Vick, PHL
This probably comes as no surprise, as the fantasy stud is now a great passer as well as a runner. We’ve heard the injury concern argument over and over, but we’re not budging. The knock on Vick is that he has played one full 16-game season in his eight year NFL career. We get the concern, but Vick has too many threats around him and a coach that will keep stretching the field.
2 (3) Aaron Rodgers, GB:
It’s hard to argue Rodgers not being the top quarterback pick in fantasy. Last year, Rodgers ended the season as the consensus top quarterback in fantasy, and it wasn’t even his best season.
We are a little wary of Rodgers coming off of his Super Bowl victory. The last QBs to dominate fantasy, go on to win the Super Bowl and game MVP have all seen drops in their value the following season: Brees second in 2009, fifth in 2010; Manning fourth in 2007, ninth in 2008. Maybe it’s that added bulls-eye on his back, but we think it is going to be hard for Rodgers to repeat his success.
3 (7) Drew Brees, NO
All the talk around the NFL player workouts so far is that Drew Brees is looking more focused than ever. The short and less than prototypical QB has always performed best when the chip on his shoulder was it’s biggest.
The NFC South has turned in to one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, but the Bayou QB will be doing everything in his power to take the division crown again. The diminished running attack in 2010 caused Brees to drop out of the top-three for the first time since 2005. We actually like the addition of rookie Mark Ingram and his added skill out of the backfield. Brees should be back in the top three this season.
4 (4) Tom Brady, NE
Brady is always a safe pick and is a consummate professional, and we think the lockout actually plays in his favor. Only the most prepared and hard-working are going to take advantage of the confusion and lack of OTA’s going on across the league. Brady is that guy.
Add the fact the Patriots find themselves nearly $8 million under the cap, and there is a chance he could have an added weapon to his receiving corp this season.
5 (2) Phillip Rivers, SD
The Chargers are the NFL’s enigma: they appear leaps and bounds ahead in their division and seem like they should be a Super Bowl contender every year. Luckily for us, losses don’t count in fantasy football.
Rivers has the easiest schedule going in to the season but will likely lose a valuable receiving threat in Darren Sproles and possibly Vincent Jackson. Still, we like Rivers’ upside and the fact he may be forced to throw the ball more often than not at the end of each game.
6 (5) Peyton Manning, IND:
Mr. Consistency has a red flag flying over head this season. It’s hard to for us to rank him outside of the top-five this season with his body of work in the past. Still, Peyton’s neck issue and lost time could mean more than we know. Peyton is one of the few athletes that actually likes training camp, and his loss of time there could throw off his perfectly timed routine.
7 (10) Tony Romo, DAL
Romo was all the hype in the 2010 preseason, but everything fell apart for he and the Cowboys early on. Dez Bryant made some very nice strides as a rookie, Miles Austin was at his best when Romo was around, and Jason Witten actually got stronger every game.
We think Romo could actually surprise a lot of people a year after having the most hype in fantasy. That is, if he can stay healthy.
8 (6) Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
The Steelers of the 2000’s differ than their 70’s counterparts in that they don’t live up to expectations after a Super Bowl appearance. The team failed to make the playoffs after each Super Bowl victory, and
it will be interesting to see how the team reacts after a Super Bowl loss. Ben has improved his statistics every year, and the team is focusing more and more on passing the ball. Add some needed youth and speed to the receiving corps and Ben seems like a great fantasy pick. The Steelers still largely run the ball inside the redzone however, and Ben has yet to play a full 16 game season in his career. But really, were just nit-picking now.
9 (9) Josh Freeman, TB
Freeman was a fantastic fantasy pick last year because of his stellar decision-making. His 25 touchdown passes were no fluke; the Bucs have a real star in the Kansas St. alum. We're just not sure that he will be able to repeat his only six interception campaign.
The Bucs are an up-and-coming team with a lot of money to spend this offseason. They have a good young receiving corps and an underrated pass blocking offensive line. Still, it’s only logical to assume Freeman posts almost twice as many interceptions this season now that defenses are going to game plan specifically for him.
10 (11) Matt Ryan, ATL
Last year Ryan ended the season as the 11th ranked quarterback in fantasy and has made strides every season as a Pro. This year, the Falcons mortgaged their future on Julio Jones, and he will likely be thrust in to a large role this season. We really don’t like rookies in fantasy, so this isn’t a testament to Jones, more of a realization the Falcons want Ryan to have as many weapons as possible.
The defense is getting better, and they will likely add some help on that side of the ball in free agency. We like Matty Ice, and some day he could be in the top-five, but we actually like Michael Turner too much this season and see the Falcons relying on their back enough that Ryan’s fantasy upside is less than expected.
Nick Sero is a fantasy football writer for TheSportsCannon.com. You can get all of your news, rankings, cheat sheets and more at TSC, or receive up-to-the-minute news by following us on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute NFL Free Agency updates.