Early Fantasy Football Rankings at Every Position

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2015

Early Fantasy Football Rankings at Every Position

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    It's time.

    Fantasy football draft season is upon us, and it's time to break out fantasy rankings for the 2015 season. Let's take a look at the top 20 quarterbacks and tight ends and 25 running backs and receivers based on standard fantasy scoring.

    These rankings assume health, though some players have obviously dealt with more injuries than others.

Quarterback

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

    This isn't merely based on his 2014 performance.

    Andrew Luck led all quarterbacks in standard fantasy scoring last season, a full 2.0 points per game (PPG) more than his next-closest competitor, Aaron Rodgers. He is only 25.

    Better yet, his arsenal has actually improved—receivers Andre Johnson and rookie Phillip Dorsett are in the fold, and tight end Dwayne Allen is healthy heading into the preseason.

    Add all that to the fact Luck can score points with his legs and you have a recipe for a repeat as the quarterback scoring champion.

    2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    Aside from a 2013 season that saw him play just nine games, Aaron Rodgers has finished in the top two in fantasy scoring every year since 2008. There is zero reason to think that will change in 2015.

    3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

    Speaking of scoring points with your legs, is Russell Wilson the premier running quarterback of today? Cam Newton might take issue with that assertion, but Wilson did lead the league in rushing and running touchdowns at his position last season. 

    That isn't to say he is a runner first—Wilson has proved to be a great passer—but he can do a ton of damage with his legs. 

    4. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

    A horrendous finish to his 2014 season left a bad taste in fantasy owners' mouths, but make no mistake—Peyton Manning is going to put up a ton of fantasy points if he stays healthy in 2015.

    5. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

    If he can stay healthy, Newton is going to be a top fantasy option in 2015. Heck, he could wind up at the top of the heap if he plays up to his potential.

    With two big-time targets in Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, Newton should be able to move the ball in the air. His rushing ability speaks for itself—Newton did break the all-time record for rushing touchdowns at his position as a rookie, after all.

    6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    Drew Brees hasn't been outside the top five in fantasy scoring since 2005. So what will change this year?

    Well, for starters, Jimmy Graham isn't around. The man who averaged nearly 1,100 receiving yards and over 11 touchdowns per season over the past four years is gone. His replacement? A Ben Watson and Josh Hill platoon.

    7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    Having one of the best receivers in the entire league does wonders for fantasy draft stock.

    8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

    New contract in hand, Ben Roethlisberger heads into the 2015 season with one of the best arsenal's he's had in his career.

    Antonio Brown is already one of the best receivers in the league, and Martavis Bryant was a revelation upon his return from injury as a rookie last season. Le'Veon Bell is a pass-catching machine out of that backfield, and Heath Miller is Old Faithful at tight end.

    9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

    Philip Rivers isn't wanting for weapons in San Diego, and he should be gunning for a massive contract this year. 

    10. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

    Is this a bit lofty for Tom Brady? Perhaps, given the Deflategate fallout. 

    Brady is slated to miss four games after he was suspended for his alleged role in the cheating scandal, a punishment that may not stick if the appeal goes his way.

    At the very least, expect his suspension to be reduced. Either way, it has served to sink his fantasy draft stock to a point where he'll be a bargain. After all, he got off to a bad start in 2014 before catching fire after the first four weeks.

    The Next 10

    Quarterback Rankings 11-20
    RankPlayerTeam
    11Tony RomoDAL
    12Ryan Tannehill MIA
    13Matthew StaffordDET
    14Eli ManningNYG
    15Teddy Bridgewater MIN
    16Carson PalmerARI
    17Sam BradfordPHI
    18Jay CutlerCHI
    19Andy DaltonCIN
    20Derek CarrOAK

Running Back

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    Tom Puskar/Associated Press

    1. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

    Running backs have been rather volatile in recent years. We haven't seen one repeat as the top fantasy performer since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2006 and 2007.

    More of the same is in store this year, for multiple reasons. Not only is DeMarco Murray's new situation a tougher assignment, but there will be plenty of challengers for his throne.

    2. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

    Just call him Mr. Consistency.

    Marshawn Lynch rarely gets talked about as an elite fantasy option, but Beast Mode has been one of the best performers in the league—he's finished in the top five in fantasy scoring at running back in each of the past four seasons.

    The Seahawks are going to be good for the foreseeable future, which means plenty of running while ahead in games. Lynch shouldn't see any real drop-off in usage this season, barring injury of course.

    3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

    In a similar boat, Eddie Lacy figures to be a beneficiary of late leads for the Packers in 2015. He is also the primary running back in a great offense featuring the reigning MVP at quarterback.

    Opposing defenses will have to play honest.

    Despite a horrendous start to his sophomore campaign that saw him average 3.0 yards per carry through the first four games, Lacy wound up averaging 4.6 yards per carry on the season, scoring eight touchdowns over the final 12 games.

    4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

    He's back! But is he back to form?

    Adrian Peterson is 30, and he just spent an entire season not playing football. Still, it's hard to imagine him falling off a cliff from a performance standpoint, and he should have that backfield to himself for the most part.

    5. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

    A torrid second half to the 2014 season has strapped a rocket to Le'Veon Bell's fantasy draft stock in spite of his three-game suspension.

    Simply put, missing three games is no negligible matter. Drafting him too early could be problematic from a roster construction standpoint.

    6. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

    Marc Trestman is gone, meaning Forte's days as a points-per-reception (PPR) monster might be in the past. But that doesn't mean he won't see a bunch of touches in 2015. 

    7. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

    Has Arian Foster slowed down? Did the Texans sign or draft a running back to seriously contend for playing time?

    Foster bounced back from an injury-marred 2013 season to average 4.8 yards per carry and post the fifth-best fantasy score despite missing three more games with injury. Those injuries are certainly a concern, but it's clear Foster has the job to himself.

    8. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

    Ground-and-pound has made its way north to Buffalo, migrating with head coach Rex Ryan. LeSean McCoy will be the focal point of said strategy. General manager Doug Whaley seemed rather excited about the possibilities after landing the star running back, per Alexandra Vitale of BuffaloBills.com:

    The name of this game is scoring touchdowns and that’s what this guy does. We just keep trying to get playmakers on our squad and he’s one of the premiere playmakers in the league and we are excited to have him. Hopefully everyone in the league is a little nervous for us and hopefully everyone in Bills nation is as excited as we are to have him.

    Fantasy owners should be happy, too, if anything because the Bills aren't likely to keep McCoy off the field in goal-line situations like the Eagles bafflingly did last season.

    9. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos

    This feels dangerous.

    After all, weren't we here with Montee Ball last season? Being the primary running back for Peyton Manning has its benefits, after all.

    Ball was injured during the preseason, got off to a horrendous start before being injured again and ultimately lost his job permanently when C.J. Anderson showed he could handle the load. 

    So Anderson heads into the 2015 season as the presumptive starter, and that makes him a hot commodity in fantasy drafts.

    10. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles

    Last year's top fantasy scorer is in an entirely different situation, one that isn't conducive for him to repeat that feat. 

    Murray left the comforts of that fantastic offensive line and a clear-cut lead-back role in Dallas to the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles. The blocking isn't terrible there, but it certainly isn't the best line in the league.

    He'll also have to contend with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles for touches.

    11. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

    This time last year we all thought Giovani Bernard was going to be a top fantasy back. Then Jeremy Hill burst onto the scene, taking advantage of injuries to Bernard to take over the starting job.

    Prognosticating the Bengals backfield is a bit tricky given the talent in that stable, but Hill is better suited to carrying the load than Bernard, who should be more of a pass-catching option. 

    12. Alfred Morris, Washington

    Since coming into the league, Alfred Morris has rushed for nearly 20 more yards per game—and scored 2.2 more fantasy PPG—when quarterback Robert Griffin was on the field than not.

    13. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

    He might be 32 years old, but that only serves to discount Frank Gore in fantasy drafts.

    Gore has been well-preserved in recent years, with the San Francisco 49ers putting him on the field on fewer offensive snaps. Now he is playing in a high-performing offense with an incredible quarterback to keep opposing defenses honest.

    It could be a resurgent fantasy season for Gore.

    14. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

    Gore's replacement didn't do a whole lot as a rookie, but that's mainly because he wasn't asked to do much to begin with. 

    Now that Carlos Hyde has the starting job—and, perhaps, the role of lead back altogether—to himself, his production is going to climb just a bit.

    15. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

    There was plenty of buzz that the Miami Dolphins might take Todd Gurley in the first round. They never got the chance, though.

    All the better for Lamar Miller, who heads into the 2015 campaign looking like the lead back in Miami. Fifth-round rookie Jay Ajayi and pass-catching surprise Damien Williams will probably eat into his touches, which is the only reason Miller isn't ranked higher.

    The Next 10

    RB Rankings 16-25
    RankPlayerTeam
    16Justin ForsettBAL
    17Joique BellDET
    18Melvin GordonSD
    19Andre EllingtonARI
    20Mark IngramNO
    21Jonathan StewartCAR
    22Giovani BernardCIN
    23Latavius MurrayOAK
    24Andre WilliamsNYG
    25Tevin ColemanATL

Wide Receiver

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    1. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

    Can Odell Beckham come close to matching his outstanding rookie season in 2015, or will we see a sophomore slump?

    Given just how good he was despite missing four games and playing through injured hamstrings, a slump seems unlikely. 

    2. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Who'da thunk Antonio Brown would become one of the top receivers in the league?

    The 5'10" dynamo has become a route-running, pass-catching machine, and there is little reason to think he won't resume that role next season.

    3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

    If anyone has motivation to ball out this year, it's Dez Bryant.

    Armed with the sting of his reversed catch from the NFC divisional game against the Green Bay Packers and the motivation from playing under the franchise tag, Bryant will dominate the league in 2015.

    That or he is simply one of the best receivers in the game catching passes from a great quarterback.

    4. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

    If only Julio Jones could avoid the injury bug.

    Atlanta's No. 1 receiver broke his foot after a torrid start to his 2013 campaign, from which he bounced back with a vengeance in 2014. If he can stay healthy, Jones could challenge for the top spot in the fantasy realm at his position this season.

    5. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

    For years Calvin Johnson was pegged at the top of fantasy rankings, and rightfully so. Megatron was the best receiver in the league in a pass-happy offense. What more was there to say?

    Times are changing, however, and Johnson has proved to be less than a sure thing after all.

    He is still great, to be sure, but injuries and age started to catch up to the 6'5" monster last season. Megatron has missed five games over the past couple of seasons, and he barely made it to 1,000 receiving yards last season after nearly topping 2,000 just two years earlier.

    Johnson is still the No. 1 target for quarterback Matthew Stafford, however, and he is an ever-present red-zone threat. If he stays healthy, he'll get back into the top five in fantasy scoring.

    6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

    One of the benefits of being Peyton Manning's No. 1 receiver is that you get automatic admission into the Top 10 Club for fantasy football.

    7. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

    The same could be said for Aaron Rodgers' receivers, though Jordy Nelson isn't quite the player Thomas is.

    8. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

    Andy Dalton might be his quarterback, but that hasn't stopped A.J. Green from being one of the best fantasy receivers in the league since Cincinnati took him back in 2011.

    Green topped 1,000 yards and scored six touchdowns last season despite missing three games. He is a target machine, and he has the talent to convert those into another top-10 season.

    9. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

    Brandon Marshall is gone, but one could argue Alshon Jeffery had already overtaken him for the No. 1 role.

    That was certainly the case in fantasy land, where Jeffery was the 12th-best scorer at wide receiver last season while Marshall dealt with injuries. 

    10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    All the hullabaloo about Odell Beckham has overshadowed Mike Evans and the fantastic rookie season he had. Were it not for Beckham's exploits, Evans might have won Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    11. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

    The Texans moved on from stalwart receiver Andre Johnson this past offseason, paving the way for third-year standout DeAndre Hopkins to take over at No. 1. That means more targets for the nascent wideout, though he might be ranked a bit higher if Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer weren't duking it out for the starting job at quarterback in Houston.

    12. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

    Randall Cobb could've signed a massive contract with a team flush with cap space. Instead, he took a discount to stay with the Green Bay Packers.

    Opting to stick with his MVP quarterback will prove to be a savvy career move, and it preserves his fantasy value. How far would he have fallen with Blake Bortles throwing him the ball?

    13. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

    He had his ups and downs as a rookie, but Kelvin Benjamin proved to be a valuable fantasy asset last season. He led the Panthers in targets, and he was a huge red-zone threat.

    Benjamin's role should only grow with time, and he has as much upside as anyone at receiver.

    14. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

    Getting a read on the Indianapolis passing game as it relates to fantasy scoring is going to be a bit tough given the Colts added Andre Johnson to the mix.

    The big wideout should be an upgrade, and he could wind up stealing some targets from T.Y. Hilton. The latter has proved he can score from anywhere on the field, however, and he should still garner the most targets from star quarterback Andrew Luck.

    15. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos

    Emmanuel Sanders was a bit of a surprise last season, though we shouldn't be all that surprised that any Peyton Manning receiver would have a great fantasy season.

    He caught 101 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns en route to the seventh-best fantasy output at wide receiver. Who knows how the targets will get distributed with Julius Thomas and Wes Welker gone, but it's a good bet Sanders won't see a downtick.

    The Next 10

    WR Rankings 16-25
    RankPlayerTeam
    16 Brandin CooksNO
    17Julian Edelman NE
    18Andre JohnsonIND
    19Jordan MatthewsPHI
    20Brandon MarshallNYJ
    21Keenan AllenSD
    22Vincent JacksonTB
    23 Amari CooperOAK
    24Mike WallaceMIN
    25Sammy WatkinsBUF

Tight End

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

    What is there to say about the best tight end in the game? Gronk smash, regardless of quarterback.

    2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

    He may not get the buzz that Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham generate, but Greg Olsen has quietly become one of the best tight ends in the game.

    Olsen has become one of quarterback Cam Newton's favorite targets in recent years, which helps explain the fact he has fallen in the top 10 in fantasy scoring in each of the past three seasons. None of that should change this year.

    3. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    Last year's sleeper has turned into a top option at tight end.

    Travis Kelce teased us with his potential last season, but limited snaps kept him from becoming a consistent option as a rookie. With Anthony Fasano gone, Kelce has no barriers to playing time. Baby Gronk is going to bust out in his sophomore season, even with Alex Smith under center.

    4. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

    Moving to Seattle is going to put a damper on Jimmy Graham's fantasy stock, if only because his new offense passes the ball far less.

    The Seahawks threw the fewest passes in the league last season, 205 fewer times than the Saints, who typically have a great passing offense. The Seahawks are efficient, but fewer targets make for a bit of a disappointing fantasy season for Graham, at least relative to what we've seen in the past.

    5. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

    Assuming Martellus Bennett comes back—the big tight end is holding out, per Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, creating some buzz that he might be traded before the season.

    That's certainly possible, but my money is on Bennett staying in Chicago, where he has crafted a connection with quarterback Jay Cutler that's put him in the top 10 in fantasy scoring in the past two seasons.

    6. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

    It's easy to forget about Delanie Walker as a top fantasy option at tight end. He plays for the Titans, after all.

    Walker wound up ninth in scoring at his position last season despite a rotation of Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, Zach Mettenberger and a tackling dummy at quarterback. Second overall pick Marcus Mariota represents an upgrade in that department, at least in theory. 

    7. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

    The attrition in Philadelphia has clarified the once-muddy waters at tight end.

    Zach Ertz is primed to become the top option at the position for the Eagles, and he should be third in line for targets behind receivers Jordan Matthews and rookie Nelson Agholor. 

    Well, at least he'll be fighting to be third on the totem pole for targets with DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles. At the very least, Ertz is the team's best red-zone threat.

    8. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars

    He wound up second to Gronkowski in per-game scoring last season, but Julius Thomas isn't in Kansas anymore.

    Well, Denver, anyway.

    Thomas took the big payday with the Jacksonville Jaguars this past offseason, a move that will boost his bank account while simultaneously deflating his fantasy stock. Going from a high-volume offense with Peyton Manning to an average one with Blake Bortles will do that.

    9. Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins

    As injury risks go, Jordan Cameron is one of the biggest in the fantasy realm.

    Cameron has shown massive upside in his young career, but injuries have almost derailed it. The big tight end missed six games last season with a concussion that threatened to end his season. 

    If he can stay healthy, however, Cameron has a starting role waiting with a quarterback on the rise and an ever-evolving offense in Miami.

    10. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

    Injuries slowed him down in 2014, but Dwayne Allen was ninth in fantasy PPG thanks in large part to scoring eight touchdowns in 12 games. 

    He'll need to stay healthy and stave off Coby Fleener—who had a nice year himself—in order to break into the top 10 in overall scoring this year, but few offenses could afford Allen a better opportunity to do that than the Indianapolis Colts. 

    The Next 10

    TE Rankings 11-20
    RankPlayerTeam
    11Owen DanielsDEN
    12Jason WittenDAL
    13Josh HillNO
    14Charles ClayBUF
    15Antonio GatesSD
    16Jordan ReedWAS
    17Larry DonnellNYG
    18 Coby Fleener IND
    19Kyle RudolphMIN
    20Tyler Eifert CIN

     

    All fantasy statistics courtesy of FFToday.com.