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ZWK's Dynasty Rankings (WR updated April 2021)


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The way I see ZWK ranking these players. I do not see it as that relevant where a guy might be ranked ahead of another when both of those players on in the same tier.

TE 3-11 are pretty much the same player. Which one of them you like more than the others is a matter of preference, current team needs and in the end may not matter much as they will all be scoring in the same range. Tier 4TE from 12-26 after that they may not be worth rostering.

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I've been looking over historical TE VBD from the past 30 years. Three patterns jumped out: 1. How top-heavy the position is. A few guys account for a large fraction of all fantasy value. Last ye

Post-draft WR rankings. Assuming PPR, start 3 WR, about 250 position players rostered. Age as of 9/1/18. Prev from 3/24/18. Tr    Rk    Player    Team    Age    Prev 1    1    Odell Beckham Jr.

WR rankings after 4.1 weeks. PPR, start 3 WR, about 300 position players rostered. Age as of 10/8/20. Prev from my unpublished draft rankings 9/9/20 (which weren't fully up-to-date); my last posted ra

My earlier comments on why I like Jermichael Finley & and Dustin Keller. Short version: 1) don't worry too much about one bad year - look at the track record since 2009 or 2010. 2) Quarterback matters a lot for TEs. Aaron Rodgers good. Mark Sanchez bad. Tannehill maybe pretty good? (I'm keeping a close eye on the Indy & Washington TEs for the same reason.)

1) Okay, so let's look back at Finley's track record since 2009. If we toss out 2012, Finley's averaging about 7.6 fantasy points per game (he's been remarkably consisting, with between 7.2 and 7.8 points per game in each of the three seasons). That's about 122 points per 16 games, which would be good for 26 VBD in 2012, 24 VBD in 2011, 25 VBD in 2010, or 23 VBD in 2009. So, basically, if you give Finley a complete mulligan for last season, (which would be unwise), he's a 24-25 VBD a year kind of guy- or, in other words, 6 VBD a season less than Jason Witten has averaged (without the assistance of a mulligan). Keller is even worse, as his mulligan only manages to get him to 105 points per 16 games, or about 7-8 points of VBD.

2) I get that you're upgrading Keller because he's likely seeing a big upgrade at QB. I don't get why you're giving Finley such a big boost for Aaron Rodgers. Finley is on the last year of his contract, and there's been enough bad blood in his relationship with Green Bay that there's a very good chance they don't bring him back. Hell, there were reports coming out in December that Green Bay was going to cut him outright after the season was over. It seems to me that, for someone who puts so much emphasis on the quality of quarterback play, you're ranking Finley as if there's a 100% chance he's still playing for Green Bay in 2014 and beyond. I'd put the real odds much, much lower than that.

In other words, Jermichael Finley is a guy who, while playing with arguably the best QB in the league, only manages to average 26 VBD a year if you do him the huge favor of tossing out a third of his last 50 games. And it's very possible, perhaps even probable, that this is the last year he'll ever play with that great quarterback of his. I happen to really like Finley- only one staffer (Borbely) has ranked him higher for dynasty, and only one staffer (Hammond) has him ranked higher for redraft. I sniped him from Dodds in the Staff Mock. I totally get being high on Finley, I just think TE3 is unreasonably so. Obviously I don't know what your overall rankings would look like, but for most, their 3rd ranked TE falls somewhere between the very tail end of the 3rd round and the very tail end of the 5th round. Again, it's possible you only have 2 TEs who you have rated as worth a pick in the first 6 rounds (Tefertiller, for example, has Witten as his third TE coming in at 72 in his overall rankings). Still, I would think that a TE3 ranking would typically suggest that you consider that player worth a pick in the 4-5 round range, and there's absolutely no way Jermichael Finley deserves to be picked anywhere near that.

If Finley signed a 6 year contract extension, then I think TE3 might be more justified. Unless and until that happens, though, it's just not realistic, even in such a brutally weak tight end crop.

I don't have Finley as a 4th-5th rounder - more like a 7th rounder (although I haven't made full overall rankings). As the intro to my TE rankings suggested, I see TEs 3-10 (Finley through Cook) as a pretty tight cluster (Bennett is a straggler, sort of between tiers).

Obviously Finley's value depends a lot on whether he stays in GB. I think that he has a pretty good chance of getting re-signed long-term, especially if he plays well this year (which means that the possible zeroes that he'll get from switchin to a worse team mostly cut out of the scenarios where he wouldn't have had much value in GB either).

25 VBD per year in GB is a reasonable projection for Finley as the most likely outcome. He has downside - a repeat of last year and then out of town & essentially valueless. And I think that he has plenty of upside too. There is a history in GB now of a receiver sticking around for a few years, looking like a middling talent with only a modest amount of fantasy value, and then stepping up into a bigger role. It happened with Jordy Nelson a few years ago after I had essentially given up on him (if he going to break out he would've done it by now, I figured), and then last year with James Jones (at a lower level). Finley could be next.

You think that it's not realistic to have Finley at TE3; is there any one particular TE that you think it's unrealistic to have him ahead of? I see that you have Witten at TE3 and he is the obvious choice. I actually had Witten ahead of Finley on my first pass through of the rankings, before I took a closer look at Witten and got more quantitative about it, and I think I would've kept Witten at #3 for a PPR league. But the 5-year age gap outweighs Witten's modest VBD advantage.

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On further consideration, I think I'm still overrating Witten, and I'm underrating Vernon Davis. They should flip spots and possibly move even farther - Davis vs. Finley is a close call, and I could see Witten ending up anywhere from 5th to 9th.

Both of these look like cases of anchoring and insufficient adjustment - I had Witten as the obvious #3 and then only slid him down below Finley at the last minute after guessing at Witten's numbers. And I don't think I'd fully incorporated Crabtree's injury into my thinking about Davis. Davis has the talent but didn't get the ball much from Kaepernick last year. Crabtree's injury should give him a big boost this season, and there's a good chance that there will be some carry-over after Crabtree comes back as he continues to have Kaepernick's eye (and at least some of the plays designed for him continue to be used).

Other than that, I'd find room for Gavin Escobar and Vance McDonald over some of the has-beens and never-weres like Zach Miller, Heath Miller, Ladarius Green, and Jacob Tamme. Either one of those guys could be a viable starter 2-3 years from now.

Gavin Escobar & Vance McDonald: Similar thoughts to what I said about Chris Harper. My philosophy is that it's not worth waiting 2-3 years on a guy who probably won't pan out and doesn't have much upside. Roster spots are valuable - I try to fill them with guys who might start some games for me this year, or for prospects with a reasonable shot to be at least solid fantasy starters, or for guys who might be more of a long shot but have a chance to emerge very soon.

Obviously this depends on roster size (the value of a roster slot is much lower with huge rosters), and on your league's taxi squad rules. If I'm looking to fill a taxi squad spot, then the relevant list for me to look at is my overall rookie rankings rather than my positional rankings.

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On further consideration, I think I'm still overrating Witten, and I'm underrating Vernon Davis. They should flip spots and possibly move even farther - Davis vs. Finley is a close call, and I could see Witten ending up anywhere from 5th to 9th.

Both of these look like cases of anchoring and insufficient adjustment - I had Witten as the obvious #3 and then only slid him down below Finley at the last minute after guessing at Witten's numbers. And I don't think I'd fully incorporated Crabtree's injury into my thinking about Davis. Davis has the talent but didn't get the ball much from Kaepernick last year. Crabtree's injury should give him a big boost this season, and there's a good chance that there will be some carry-over after Crabtree comes back as he continues to have Kaepernick's eye (and at least some of the plays designed for him continue to be used).

Other than that, I'd find room for Gavin Escobar and Vance McDonald over some of the has-beens and never-weres like Zach Miller, Heath Miller, Ladarius Green, and Jacob Tamme. Either one of those guys could be a viable starter 2-3 years from now.

Gavin Escobar & Vance McDonald: Similar thoughts to what I said about Chris Harper. My philosophy is that it's not worth waiting 2-3 years on a guy who probably won't pan out and doesn't have much upside. Roster spots are valuable - I try to fill them with guys who might start some games for me this year, or for prospects with a reasonable shot to be at least solid fantasy starters, or for guys who might be more of a long shot but have a chance to emerge very soon.

Obviously this depends on roster size (the value of a roster slot is much lower with huge rosters), and on your league's taxi squad rules. If I'm looking to fill a taxi squad spot, then the relevant list for me to look at is my overall rookie rankings rather than my positional rankings.

2nd-4th round has yielded some good TE value in recent years. Witten, Gronk, Graham, Hernandez, Daniels, Finley, Pitta, and Fred Davis to name a few.

I'd rather take a flyer on someone like McDonald or Escobar developing into that kind of player than use the spot on a retread like Lewis, Tamme, or Z Miller. Those guys are known mediocrities and a bigger waste of roster space than a more unknown quantity who might have a higher ceiling.

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I would also rather not use a roster spot on guys like Lewis, Tamme, or Z Miller - that's why they're tier 5. They're low-end stopgap players, who are probably only worth owning if you might have a hole in your starting lineup TE. If I don't need that on my roster then I won't have any of them - I'll use that roster spot on some other position.

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Two things surprise me with the tight ends. 1st I can't believe Pitta is 28. Didn't he come out in the same draft with Gronk and Hernandez?

2nd. Another poster said he prefers Graham to Gronk because he thinks Gronk flames out early and with his injuries we have already started to see it. When have we seen it? When the guy has been on the field he has been a monster and has shown no signs of previous injuries slowing him down, he is also only 24 and 24 year olds heal better than 34 year olds.

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Two things surprise me with the tight ends. 1st I can't believe Pitta is 28. Didn't he come out in the same draft with Gronk and Hernandez?

2nd. Another poster said he prefers Graham to Gronk because he thinks Gronk flames out early and with his injuries we have already started to see it. When have we seen it? When the guy has been on the field he has been a monster and has shown no signs of previous injuries slowing him down, he is also only 24 and 24 year olds heal better than 34 year olds.

Pitta went to BYU. I would guess that he's LDS and that he went on a mission at some point in college. Hence the advanced age.

As for Graham/Gronk, the main difference in their production has been TDs. In 2011 Graham had 99 catches for 1310 yards. Gronk had 90 catches for 1327 yards. Last year Graham averaged 65 yards per game compared to 71 yards per game for Gronk. Those numbers are pretty similar. Similar enough that Graham could have more catches/yards than Gronk in any given year. Gronk seems to have an edge in terms of scoring touchdowns, but IMO those are always a bit more volatile and prone to variance than yards. I'm willing to give him a slight edge if both are 100% healthy, but it's not like he's leaps and bounds better. It's pretty close.

My main issue with Gronk is that I don't trust him to stay healthy. Graham is a lot more fluid and nimble than Gronk. He's capable of avoiding hits and protecting himself. Gronk is more of a pure bulldozer who tries to run over everything in his path. That's fun to watch, but probably not the best long term survival strategy. We've already seen him laid up with recurring back problems and a broken forearm. With his playing style, I think he's a prime candidate to flame out early. So even though he's two years younger than Graham and presumably has more left in the tank, I would be reluctant to use a top 20 startup pick on him.

Granted, that's more of a subjective hunch than really strong statistical analysis. The number of injuries has to be alarming though, especially since he missed an entire college season because of his back. I just get the sense that there's a lot more risk here than you'd think just looking at his age and production to date.

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On further consideration, I think I'm still overrating Witten, and I'm underrating Vernon Davis. They should flip spots and possibly move even farther - Davis vs. Finley is a close call, and I could see Witten ending up anywhere from 5th to 9th.

Both of these look like cases of anchoring and insufficient adjustment - I had Witten as the obvious #3 and then only slid him down below Finley at the last minute after guessing at Witten's numbers. And I don't think I'd fully incorporated Crabtree's injury into my thinking about Davis. Davis has the talent but didn't get the ball much from Kaepernick last year. Crabtree's injury should give him a big boost this season, and there's a good chance that there will be some carry-over after Crabtree comes back as he continues to have Kaepernick's eye (and at least some of the plays designed for him continue to be used).

You hit on my two. I've got Witten ahead of Finley only because staff dynasty rankings are PPR, and Witten pretty much doubles his VBD totals in PPR leagues. I'd have Davis ahead of Finley in all formats, just because he's a better talent and I think his role is going to be substantial. I also prefer Eifert to Finley, because I think he's a better talent with a pretty high floor, and because he's only 23. I've got Finley as my TE6, but I think there's a small tier break between those three and the Finley-through-Pitta/Gresham group.

I do think you're underestimating the chances that Finley plays well, but Green Bay lets him walk anyway. Green Bay is teeming with capable pass-catchers, and I'd imagine they wouldn't find it any harder to part with Finley than they found it to part with Jennings.

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I am curious what is your method (methods) for evaluating exit value for these players? How do you take age into account?


I am noticing that you have Fitzgerald in tier 3 while Andre,White, VJax are a tier below. All of these guys are slightly older than Fitzgerald. Is this part of why Fitz makes the 3rd tier instead of the 4th with those others?


Other players with similar age and track record are Colston tier 5 Mike Austin and Jennings tier 7. I know why Jennings is this low, Ponder sucks. Is Colston due to injury risk?


What are your projections for Fitzgerald, Andre, White, VJax, Colston, Austin for 2013? What about beyond that? How many seasons do you take into consideration for your ranking?

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It's fun to get this pushback - it's making me take another look at some of these players and put more thought into how I'm ranking them. I've been reshuffling my top 10 TEs, and now have them ranked:

3 Vernon Davis
4 Jermichael Finley
5 Kyle Rudolph
6 Tyler Eifert
7 Jason Witten
8 Dennis Pitta
9 Greg Olsen

There are a lot of changes in there, which I think is appropriate - when players are tightly clustered together, it shouldn't take much for them to move past each other.

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I am curious what is your method (methods) for evaluating exit value for these players? How do you take age into account?
I am noticing that you have Fitzgerald in tier 3 while Andre,White, VJax are a tier below. All of these guys are slightly older than Fitzgerald. Is this part of why Fitz makes the 3rd tier instead of the 4th with those others?
Other players with similar age and track record are Colston tier 5 Mike Austin and Jennings tier 7. I know why Jennings is this low, Ponder sucks. Is Colston due to injury risk?
What are your projections for Fitzgerald, Andre, White, VJax, Colston, Austin for 2013? What about beyond that? How many seasons do you take into consideration for your ranking?

I don't have numerical projections for everyone. My dynasty rankings for these guys roughly match up with my redraft rankings - I have Andre, Fitzgerald, White, and VJax in the 2nd half of my WR1s (roughly 7-10), Colston as a high-end WR2, and Austin & Jennings as WR3s. Age is why Fitz is a tier ahead, and lack of upside is why Colston is a tier below. Last year, Demaryius Thomas (WR5) was worth almost 1.5x as much as Colston (WR11); the guys ahead of Colston all have a real shot to put up seasons like DT's but Colston does not. Colston's injury history roughly cancels out his age advantage over guys like Roddy & Andre.

My rankings are based on expected fantasy production, not on future trade value, so I don't account for exit value. I take into account all future seasons, with future years discounted only slightly compared to closer years. You could think of my rankings as a rough (intuitive, approximate) attempt to guess at expected remaining career VBD, with some slight subtleties (e.g., accounting for the value of a roster space). To the extent that players' trade value in your league does not match their expected future fantasy production, that is something to take into account when you make trades or draft players; I account for it separately rather than trying to incorporate it into my rankings.

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Are you using quality years remaining? Or how are you valuing them in terms of long term expected VBD performance? When they hit certain ages do you discount them for that landmark? I seem to recall you saying you are using QYR? I am interested in the process moreso than the results.

accounting for the value of a roster space

This is interesting. I would like to see some analysis of the value of roster slots relative to one another. A 12 team league very different than a 16 team league. 20 roster spots compared to 40 each spot would be worth half as much as they would in a 20 slot league. The scoring baselines would be the same but the larger the number of roster spots the more players below baseline will be rostered. Part of what I do not like about deeper leagues is there is less waiver wire action and less viable prospects for a rebuilding team to usefully churn through and get back to competitive again. Draft picks become more valuable I think the deeper the roster. There are no free agents on the same level as prospects as the rookies in that situation except for occasionally a guy might slip through.

Pairing the value of a roster spot to a draft pick would be some useful information I think. Not sure how I would try to answer that question.

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Are you using quality years remaining? Or how are you valuing them in terms of long term expected VBD performance? When they hit certain ages do you discount them for that landmark? I seem to recall you saying you are using QYR? I am interested in the process moreso than the results.

accounting for the value of a roster space

This is interesting. I would like to see some analysis of the value of roster slots relative to one another. A 12 team league very different than a 16 team league. 20 roster spots compared to 40 each spot would be worth half as much as they would in a 20 slot league. The scoring baselines would be the same but the larger the number of roster spots the more players below baseline will be rostered. Part of what I do not like about deeper leagues is there is less waiver wire action and less viable prospects for a rebuilding team to usefully churn through and get back to competitive again. Draft picks become more valuable I think the deeper the roster. There are no free agents on the same level as prospects as the rookies in that situation except for occasionally a guy might slip through.

Pairing the value of a roster spot to a draft pick would be some useful information I think. Not sure how I would try to answer that question.

I am not being that systematic about how I do these rankings - a lot of it is just an intuitive "would I rather have this player or that one?". But I do a fair amount of thinking, looking at stats, number crunching, and other analysis which feeds into that question (though I spend more time on some players than others).

I am taking into account something like quality years remaining (QYR) - I did an analysis of aging patterns for RBs & WRs and found that age is more important for RBs than for WRs. When a RB gets 1 year older that reduces his expected number of remaining years by about 0.5; for a WR it's only about 0.3. RBs pretty much never make it past 31; with WRs that cutoff is age 35. When I did that "years remaining" analysis I also calculated the average remaining VBD (by age), and I use that as a rough guideline for how much to take age into account.

I do consider redraft rankings (based in part on other people's published rankings and ADP, and in part on my own opinions). And I try to at least consider how I'd rank the player for redraft in 2014 as well (and occasionally also for 2015). That gets me thinking more about talent, about how a player's current redraft value depends on his role & situation, and about how stable his situation & role are and in what ways they might change. For example, I like Jordy Nelson a lot this year but his 2015 value is hard to predict, since two years from now he'll be 30 years old and at the end of his contract. That makes him somewhat similar to older receivers like Andre, Roddy, and Colston, as he's someone who is likely to have a lot of value over the next 2 years but has a high risk of offering nothing beyond that (he is still ranked ahead of all of them because of the chance that he'll re-sign).

Another thing that I try to do is to keep multiple possible scenarios in mind, and to give them the appropriate weight in my projections. I try to explicitly consider the main few possibilities, smushing/averaging together similar ones, with a rough sense of their likelihood and how to combine them. For example (sorry if this example is hard to follow), I think Jordy Nelson has a bit under a 50% chance of leaving GB in 2 years, in which case his value will plummet; his total future worth is worth roughly 2x his 2013 value in the leaves-town scenario. If he re-signs GB at age 30 then I'd guess he'll have another 3 years more in GB in expectation, with value each year a bit lower than in 2013 because of age-related decline and the risk of a shrinking role if they find another talented receiver. In the stays-in-GB scenario his total future value is roughly 4x his 2013 value or a little more. Combining those, I'd guess that his remaining career value is a bit over 3x his 2013 value, before taking into account the standard risks that every player faces (e.g., injury, etc.). This year he's worth maybe 80-90% as much as guys like Andre or Roddy, and a bit more than someone like Colston, and those guys probably have more like 2 years (worth of 2013-level production) left in expectation. I usually don't calculate this all out in numbers, but I do think through the scenarios and try to hone my intuitions to roughly match this kind of reasoning (e.g., with Amendola).

With younger prospects who haven't done much yet in the NFL, I'm more likely to use my generic rookie rankings as the starting point for my intuition.

For the value of a roster spot - in a league with about 250 position players rostered, a ballpark figure that I use is that a roster spot is worth 10 VBD per year. (I don't remember exactly where that came from; I may have just pulled it out of my, uh, brain.) If you spend the next 3 years with Gavin Escobar, Christine Michael, or Brock Osweiler on your bench, waiting to see if he'll take advantage of his chance once he gets it, then you burned about 30 VBD by not having that roster spot to churn. (Another ballpark figure: 100 fpts = 1 win; so you cost yourself about 0.3 games.) With Christine Michael I think the player is easily worth that cost - a starting RB can make those 30 pts up very quickly. With Escobar & Osweiler I'm not so optimistic. With larger rosters, that number can drop dramatically which changes the calculation considerably; managing the bottom third of your roster is a very different game then.

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QUARTERBACKS

1 1 Aaron Rodgers GB 30.7
2 2 Robert Griffin III WAS 23.5 **
2 3 Andrew Luck IND 24.0
2 4 Cam Newton CAR 24.3
3 5 Drew Brees NO 34.6
3 6 Matt Ryan ATL 28.3
3 7 Russell Wilson SEA 24.8
3 8 Colin Kaepernick SF 25.8
4 9 Peyton Manning DEN 37.4
4 10 Tom Brady NE 36.1
4 11 Matthew Stafford DET 25.6 --
5 12 Tony Romo DAL 33.4
6 13 Ryan Tannehill MIA 25.1
6 14 Josh Freeman TB 25.6 **
6 15 EJ Manuel BUF 23.5 **
7 16 Andy Dalton CIN 25.8
7 17 Sam Bradford STL 25.8
7 18 Eli Manning NYG 32.7
7 19 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 32.5
7 20 Michael Vick PHI 33.2 **
7 21 Joe Flacco BAL 28.6
7 22 Philip Rivers SD 31.7
8 23 Geno Smith NYJ 22.9
8 24 Jay Cutler CHI 30.3
8 25 Matt Flynn OAK 28.2
8 26 Ryan Mallett NE 25.2 **
8 27 Matt Schaub HOU 32.2
8 28 Carson Palmer ARI 33.7
8 29 Jake Locker TEN 25.2
8 30 Matt Barkley PHI 23.0
8 31 Nick Foles PHI 24.6
8 32 Alex Smith KC 31.4
9 33 Tyler Wilson OAK 24.1
9 34 Brock Osweiler DEN 22.8
9 35 Kirk Cousins WAS 25.1
9 36 Christian Ponder MIN 25.5
9 37 Brandon Weeden CLE 29.9
9 38 Chad Henne JAX 28.2
9 39 Blaine Gabbert JAX 23.9
9 40 Kevin Kolb BUF 29.0

Brief capsules of my top 22 (described in terms of their fantasy value, not their style of play):

Rodgers & Brees are super-elite fantasy QBs (near 100 VBD); Rodgers is not old for a QB.

RGIII, Luck, and Newton are already very good to elite fantasy QBs (mid-range QB1's or better), and have a shot to join the super-elite and stay there for a long time.

Ryan, Wilson, and Kaepernick are good to very good fantasy QBs, and young, with some upside (but not as strong as the other 3).

Manning & Brady are elite fantasy QBs (a step back from Rodgers & Brees but ahead of everyone else), but getting up there in years.

Stafford & Romo are good fantasy QBs (low end QB1's); Stafford is young but I don't see much upside for either.

Freeman is a high-end QB2 with some upside; EJ Manuel is a boom-or-bust guy who could become a mid-range QB1 (thanks in part to his running); Tannehill is in between. QBs usually show what they can do in their first year or two of starting, so it's worth getting them young based on something like the urgency consideration (which works on a longer time scale for QBs than for WRs).

Dalton is Freeman with less upside. Bradford is like Manuel after a few years without booming (but he started as a better prospect, so he has only fallen to a bit below Manuel). Eli & Ben are like Freeman but older. Flacco & Rivers are similar to them but worse (or: Flacco is like Dalton but older). Vick is like a riskier Romo, with less time left.

In tier 8 you're looking at much riskier options, or guys who are probably mid-range QB2's at best. Mallett is a tier ahead of other backups like Osweiler because he is likely to get a shot at a starting job sooner. Tier 9 (like my last tier at the other positions) has guys who I'd rather not have on my roster; Barkley and/or Foles is likely to join that tier after we see how camp shakes out in Philly.

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Two things surprise me with the tight ends. 1st I can't believe Pitta is 28. Didn't he come out in the same draft with Gronk and Hernandez?

2nd. Another poster said he prefers Graham to Gronk because he thinks Gronk flames out early and with his injuries we have already started to see it. When have we seen it? When the guy has been on the field he has been a monster and has shown no signs of previous injuries slowing him down, he is also only 24 and 24 year olds heal better than 34 year olds.

I'm sorry I must be confused, since when has it become age that wins titles and not production?

I know a few old TEs that are way better then some young ones. By the time that old one is done, you acquire another old one, who used to be one of the younger ones you speak of. See how the cycle works and how age is one of the most over valued ratings systems of dynos. Just my thoughts.

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I like the RG3 ranking. Everyone seemed to panic about him this offseason. I think he'll be fine.

Knee will not be an issue, but people laughed at me when I said that about ADP last year. ACL injuries are not what they use to be, especially when the team doctor is the doctor who performed the surgery. Andrews has been there every step of the way. I would put value on that knee becoming mechanical like ADPs.

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Thanks for the response ZWK. I think I have a better understanding of where you are coming from when forming the rankings. Hopefully that helps others reading the thread understand them as well.

You are moving too fast for me! I was still working through the WR list. :)

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Flacco is too low in my opinion. I'm also going off of a 10-12 team league where QB is kinda deep. In that case, no team is viewing Flacco as a starter, but rather as a #2. As such, if you have a "stud" as your #1 (Rodgers through maybe R Wilson on your list), then would you rather have a 28 year old QB locked up in a long term deal, or any of the 2 (maybe 3) guys right above him who are all 4-5 years older as your "solid backup QB"? I'll take Flacco and then with my "stud" not have to worry about QB at all for the next 5-7 years.

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Thanks for the rankings. Really enjoy them; great work.

My thoughts on TEs - 2 guys offer major advantage this year, and for the next 5+. 1 more offers you a major advantage this year and for the next 2-3. 1 more offers major advantage for this year alone. That's it - in terms of proven production. The other proven guys aren't going to win you fantasy games.

Give me the proven advantage or the potential for that advantage. Swing for the fences and hedge your bet with the best incoming crop of TEs in my time playing (at this point in the process). Give me Witten or Eifer after the big 2. Give me Fleener/Allen as a combo late. But no way I would overpay for Davis, Finley, etc. It's choosing baseline production when said production rarely matters. Give me Daniels late over Finley early, etc. Baseline is baseline.

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I like the RG3 ranking. Everyone seemed to panic about him this offseason. I think he'll be fine.

Knee will not be an issue, but people laughed at me when I said that about ADP last year. ACL injuries are not what they use to be, especially when the team doctor is the doctor who performed the surgery. Andrews has been there every step of the way. I would put value on that knee becoming mechanical like ADPs.

I don't think the knee is the biggest issue. If it's not the knee, it will be the ribs, the head, the ankle, etc. His game is going to have to change some, and what does it look like, fantasy wise, when it does? That's the concern I have and the reason I am willing to take Newton and Rodgers over him, as well as consider other options, like Wilson and Luck.

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QUARTERBACKS

1 1 Aaron Rodgers GB 30.7

2 2 Robert Griffin III WAS 23.5 **

2 3 Andrew Luck IND 24.0

2 4 Cam Newton CAR 24.3

3 5 Drew Brees NO 34.6

3 6 Matt Ryan ATL 28.3

3 7 Russell Wilson SEA 24.8

3 8 Colin Kaepernick SF 25.8

4 9 Peyton Manning DEN 37.4

4 10 Tom Brady NE 36.1

4 11 Matthew Stafford DET 25.6 --

5 12 Tony Romo DAL 33.4

6 13 Ryan Tannehill MIA 25.1

6 14 Josh Freeman TB 25.6 **

6 15 EJ Manuel BUF 23.5 **

7 16 Andy Dalton CIN 25.8

7 17 Sam Bradford STL 25.8

7 18 Eli Manning NYG 32.7

7 19 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 32.5

7 20 Michael Vick PHI 33.2 **

7 21 Joe Flacco BAL 28.6

7 22 Philip Rivers SD 31.7

8 23 Geno Smith NYJ 22.9

8 24 Jay Cutler CHI 30.3

8 25 Matt Flynn OAK 28.2

8 26 Ryan Mallett NE 25.2 **

8 27 Matt Schaub HOU 32.2

8 28 Carson Palmer ARI 33.7

8 29 Jake Locker TEN 25.2

8 30 Matt Barkley PHI 23.0

8 31 Nick Foles PHI 24.6

8 32 Alex Smith KC 31.4

9 33 Tyler Wilson OAK 24.1

9 34 Brock Osweiler DEN 22.8

9 35 Kirk Cousins WAS 25.1

9 36 Christian Ponder MIN 25.5

9 37 Brandon Weeden CLE 29.9

9 38 Chad Henne JAX 28.2

9 39 Blaine Gabbert JAX 23.9

9 40 Kevin Kolb BUF 29.0

Brief capsules of my top 22 (described in terms of their fantasy value, not their style of play):

Rodgers & Brees are super-elite fantasy QBs (near 100 VBD); Rodgers is not old for a QB.

RGIII, Luck, and Newton are already very good to elite fantasy QBs (mid-range QB1's or better), and have a shot to join the super-elite and stay there for a long time.

Ryan, Wilson, and Kaepernick are good to very good fantasy QBs, and young, with some upside (but not as strong as the other 3).

Manning & Brady are elite fantasy QBs (a step back from Rodgers & Brees but ahead of everyone else), but getting up there in years.

Stafford & Romo are good fantasy QBs (low end QB1's); Stafford is young but I don't see much upside for either.

Freeman is a high-end QB2 with some upside; EJ Manuel is a boom-or-bust guy who could become a mid-range QB1 (thanks in part to his running); Tannehill is in between. QBs usually show what they can do in their first year or two of starting, so it's worth getting them young based on something like the urgency consideration (which works on a longer time scale for QBs than for WRs).

Dalton is Freeman with less upside. Bradford is like Manuel after a few years without booming (but he started as a better prospect, so he has only fallen to a bit below Manuel). Eli & Ben are like Freeman but older. Flacco & Rivers are similar to them but worse (or: Flacco is like Dalton but older). Vick is like a riskier Romo, with less time left.

In tier 8 you're looking at much riskier options, or guys who are probably mid-range QB2's at best. Mallett is a tier ahead of other backups like Osweiler because he is likely to get a shot at a starting job sooner. Tier 9 (like my last tier at the other positions) has guys who I'd rather not have on my roster; Barkley and/or Foles is likely to join that tier after we see how camp shakes out in Philly.

I think RG3 is ranked a couple spots high, I would rather have Cam since he is 240 lbs and hasn't had 2 ACL injuries already. I would also take Luck over him,and I would consider Brees but I guess I am just nitpicking.

I am not sure why you don't think Stafford has any upside? He is a young borderline qb1 that is in a pass happy offense, with the best receiver in the game for the next few years, and already has a 5k 40+ touchdown year under his belt. I am trying to buy in my leagues because I actually think he will be a top 6 dynasty guy after this season.

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Flacco is too low in my opinion. I'm also going off of a 10-12 team league where QB is kinda deep. In that case, no team is viewing Flacco as a starter, but rather as a #2. As such, if you have a "stud" as your #1 (Rodgers through maybe R Wilson on your list), then would you rather have a 28 year old QB locked up in a long term deal, or any of the 2 (maybe 3) guys right above him who are all 4-5 years older as your "solid backup QB"? I'll take Flacco and then with my "stud" not have to worry about QB at all for the next 5-7 years.

A player's value to you depends on what the rest of your team looks like. This is especially true at QB, since you can only start 1 and it is the most stable & predictable position in fantasy football. The value of Ben or Eli is very dependent on who else you have at QB. If you need a starter, then a borderline QB1 like that (even one who doesn't have many years left) is worth a decent amount, but if you're set at starter then that kind of player isn't worth very much.

But a pure backup QB is never worth very much. Unless your starter is very injury-prone, your backup is only going to play 2-3 games per year in expectation. Guys who you pick up off the scrap heap (Palmer, Fitzpatrick, Henne, A. Smith, Cassel, etc.) score maybe 4 ppg less than a solid QB2 like Flacco on average (with a lot of variability - Palmer actually outscored Flacco last year ). That's only ~10 fpts per year vs. a bargain basement backup QB, which shows that your 2nd QB is just not that important.

In other words, you can consider yourself set at QB for the next 5-7 years if you have Rodgers as your QB1, regardless of what you have at QB2. A Flacco-level backup just isn't worth that much, and you can get along fine without one. (Though you may need to devote some attention to keeping a warm body at QB2, especially if all of the starting QBs in your league are rostered. And if a Brady 2008 scenario happens then you might need to scramble for a stopgap.) I wouldn't bother to spend many resources on the QB position if I had a young stud QB1, except maybe only rookies or other high-upside guys who might emerge with significant trade value (which is often a smart thing to do, if the QB trade market in your league lets you). Instead, I'd make due with cheap bye-week filler (or injury stopgaps), and trust myself to figure something out on the fly if an injury suddenly created a bigger need.

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Two things surprise me with the tight ends. 1st I can't believe Pitta is 28. Didn't he come out in the same draft with Gronk and Hernandez?

2nd. Another poster said he prefers Graham to Gronk because he thinks Gronk flames out early and with his injuries we have already started to see it. When have we seen it? When the guy has been on the field he has been a monster and has shown no signs of previous injuries slowing him down, he is also only 24 and 24 year olds heal better than 34 year olds.

I'm sorry I must be confused, since when has it become age that wins titles and not production?

I know a few old TEs that are way better then some young ones. By the time that old one is done, you acquire another old one, who used to be one of the younger ones you speak of. See how the cycle works and how age is one of the most over valued ratings systems of dynos. Just my thoughts.

I am not sure which comment you are poking at, if it is Pitta it has nothing to do with his age or production I was honestly surprised he was already 28.

If it is the comment about Gronk I was just saying if Gronk and Gates had the same surgery this off season Gronk would heal faster and be more likely to produce at a high level because of his age.

Or maybe you are trolling

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I think RG3 is ranked a couple spots high, I would rather have Cam since he is 240 lbs and hasn't had 2 ACL injuries already. I would also take Luck over him,and I would consider Brees but I guess I am just nitpicking.

I am not sure why you don't think Stafford has any upside? He is a young borderline qb1 that is in a pass happy offense, with the best receiver in the game for the next few years, and already has a 5k 40+ touchdown year under his belt. I am trying to buy in my leagues because I actually think he will be a top 6 dynasty guy after this season.

Everyone has some upside, but Stafford has less than most. He is not an elite passer (like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, etc.) and I don't think he ever will be; I doubt that he'll catch Matt Ryan. His situation (including volume) is already maxed out, and will probably regress somewhat. And he doesn't get the running bonus that guys like Kaep & Wilson have.

RGIII showed last year that he was a great passer. Add that to his elite running ability and he is hard to top. Injuries (injury history & risk of future injuries based on his style of play) are his only downside, but I'm willing to take that risk vs. Cam (who is not as good a passer), Luck (who is not as good a runner, and did not pass as well as RGIII last season), and Brees (who has a degenerative physical condition that is approaching the stage where it will put his career in jeopardy - a human body subject to aging).

Thanks for the rankings. Really enjoy them; great work.

My thoughts on TEs - 2 guys offer major advantage this year, and for the next 5+. 1 more offers you a major advantage this year and for the next 2-3. 1 more offers major advantage for this year alone. That's it - in terms of proven production. The other proven guys aren't going to win you fantasy games.

Give me the proven advantage or the potential for that advantage. Swing for the fences and hedge your bet with the best incoming crop of TEs in my time playing (at this point in the process). Give me Witten or Eifer after the big 2. Give me Fleener/Allen as a combo late. But no way I would overpay for Davis, Finley, etc. It's choosing baseline production when said production rarely matters. Give me Daniels late over Finley early, etc. Baseline is baseline.

I think we just have different TE projections for this season.

First point (not sure if there's a disagreement here): no one else is anywhere close to Graham & Gronk, in redraft or dynasty. They offer more than twice the VBD of any other TE this year (at least for VBD per game), and ought to get different adjectives. If any other TE can be said to offer a "major advantage" then they offer a super-ultra-major-enormo advantage (or somesuch).

On to the main disagreement: Witten, Gonzalez, V Davis, and Finley. In non-PPR I have Witten & Davis essentially tied this season, as ~30-35 VBD guys (with a slight edge to Davis). Finley & Gonzalez are close to each other in my eyes and not far behind - they're perhaps 20 VBD guys. (This is roughly in line with their track records over the past 3 years). And I think that Davis & Finley have as much upside as any other TE in the league, after the big 2.

Finley: it is not a coincidence that Graham & Gronk have Brees & Brady, or that Dallas Clark had Manning.

V Davis: he looks to be the #1 receiver on a team where Crabtree put up 85/1105/9 last year.

That said, the strategy of targeting young upside guys (like Eifert or Fleener) and if necessary a late stopgap (like Daniels) seems very reasonable this year.

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QUARTERBACKS

1 1 Aaron Rodgers GB 30.7

2 2 Robert Griffin III WAS 23.5 **

2 3 Andrew Luck IND 24.0

2 4 Cam Newton CAR 24.3

3 5 Drew Brees NO 34.6

3 6 Matt Ryan ATL 28.3

3 7 Russell Wilson SEA 24.8

3 8 Colin Kaepernick SF 25.8

4 9 Peyton Manning DEN 37.4

4 10 Tom Brady NE 36.1

4 11 Matthew Stafford DET 25.6 --

5 12 Tony Romo DAL 33.4

6 13 Ryan Tannehill MIA 25.1

6 14 Josh Freeman TB 25.6 **

6 15 EJ Manuel BUF 23.5 **

7 16 Andy Dalton CIN 25.8

7 17 Sam Bradford STL 25.8

7 18 Eli Manning NYG 32.7

7 19 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 32.5

7 20 Michael Vick PHI 33.2 **

7 21 Joe Flacco BAL 28.6

7 22 Philip Rivers SD 31.7

8 23 Geno Smith NYJ 22.9

8 24 Jay Cutler CHI 30.3

8 25 Matt Flynn OAK 28.2

8 26 Ryan Mallett NE 25.2 **

8 27 Matt Schaub HOU 32.2

8 28 Carson Palmer ARI 33.7

8 29 Jake Locker TEN 25.2

8 30 Matt Barkley PHI 23.0

8 31 Nick Foles PHI 24.6

8 32 Alex Smith KC 31.4

9 33 Tyler Wilson OAK 24.1

9 34 Brock Osweiler DEN 22.8

9 35 Kirk Cousins WAS 25.1

9 36 Christian Ponder MIN 25.5

9 37 Brandon Weeden CLE 29.9

9 38 Chad Henne JAX 28.2

9 39 Blaine Gabbert JAX 23.9

9 40 Kevin Kolb BUF 29.0

Brief capsules of my top 22 (described in terms of their fantasy value, not their style of play):

Rodgers & Brees are super-elite fantasy QBs (near 100 VBD); Rodgers is not old for a QB.

RGIII, Luck, and Newton are already very good to elite fantasy QBs (mid-range QB1's or better), and have a shot to join the super-elite and stay there for a long time.

Ryan, Wilson, and Kaepernick are good to very good fantasy QBs, and young, with some upside (but not as strong as the other 3).

Manning & Brady are elite fantasy QBs (a step back from Rodgers & Brees but ahead of everyone else), but getting up there in years.

Stafford & Romo are good fantasy QBs (low end QB1's); Stafford is young but I don't see much upside for either.

Freeman is a high-end QB2 with some upside; EJ Manuel is a boom-or-bust guy who could become a mid-range QB1 (thanks in part to his running); Tannehill is in between. QBs usually show what they can do in their first year or two of starting, so it's worth getting them young based on something like the urgency consideration (which works on a longer time scale for QBs than for WRs).

Dalton is Freeman with less upside. Bradford is like Manuel after a few years without booming (but he started as a better prospect, so he has only fallen to a bit below Manuel). Eli & Ben are like Freeman but older. Flacco & Rivers are similar to them but worse (or: Flacco is like Dalton but older). Vick is like a riskier Romo, with less time left.

In tier 8 you're looking at much riskier options, or guys who are probably mid-range QB2's at best. Mallett is a tier ahead of other backups like Osweiler because he is likely to get a shot at a starting job sooner. Tier 9 (like my last tier at the other positions) has guys who I'd rather not have on my roster; Barkley and/or Foles is likely to join that tier after we see how camp shakes out in Philly.

Not sure what I was thinking with Weeden - a first round QB going into his 2nd season should be in tier 8 or better, regardless of other factors. I'll tentatively slot him in at 30, ahead of the Philly mid-rounders, and he could move higher.

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Finley: it is not a coincidence that Graham & Gronk have Brees & Brady, or that Dallas Clark had Manning.

V Davis: he looks to be the #1 receiver on a team where Crabtree put up 85/1105/9 last year.

That said, the strategy of targeting young upside guys (like Eifert or Fleener) and if necessary a late stopgap (like Daniels) seems very reasonable this year.

Finley: He's had one big year, TD wise, and aside from that has been a baseline player when accounting for flex value; this with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Randall Cobb is a major threat to Finley, in my opinion, too. GB will have to go 4 wide to get Finley in the slot.

RE:VD. I don't think it's a given that he's the #1 target, and would actually be very surprised if that ended up being the case. I don't think they'll move him around enough, and, at this point in his career, I don't know how much of threat he is in a hybrid role. I think he can do it, but well enough to be a top target? I personally wouldn't bet on it. This could be due to usage and recency bias - but he doesn't look like the same guy to me.

I think you're right, and it comes down to projections. I just don't see Finley and Davis doing enough to justify a premium over younger players with equal, or higher upside (Colts, Eifert), or cheaper players with similair production (Daniels, Olsen).

A guy I'm coming around on is Dennis Pitta, and I'd add a good deal to either VD and Finley to get him. Baltimore not investing in a replacement for Boldin, coupled with news that Pitta is playing the slot and acting as the first read on most passing plays - a lot of potential there. There is a very clear trend for Super Bowl winning QBs Flacco's age; they get a lot better statistically from that point on. Pitta could benefit from that.

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Jennings seems too low to me. Amendola seems to high - we have minimal reason to think he can stay healthy, and even if he does, no guarantee that he replaces Welker's production.

Great list, but I strongly disagree with you placing Amendola over Crabtree (even with injury). I move Amendola down about 5 spots and Crab up 10.

eta--stick to your guns on VD this season. He will lead the team in targets. TE3 is about right IMO.

Edited by 5Rings
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Everyone has some upside, but Stafford has less than most. He is not an elite passer (like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, etc.) and I don't think he ever will be; I doubt that he'll catch Matt Ryan. His situation (including volume) is already maxed out, and will probably regress somewhat. And he doesn't get the running bonus that guys like Kaep & Wilson have.

RGIII showed last year that he was a great passer. Add that to his elite running ability and he is hard to top. Injuries (injury history & risk of future injuries based on his style of play) are his only downside, but I'm willing to take that risk vs. Cam (who is not as good a passer), Luck (who is not as good a runner, and did not pass as well as RGIII last season), and Brees (who has a degenerative physical condition that is approaching the stage where it will put his career in jeopardy - a human body subject to aging).

Nice job overall, but the bolded is just plain silly. How can a guy with a 5000+ yd and 40+ td season on his resume (at age 23 no less) have less upside than most? He certainly has issues, but upside isn't one of them.

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It depends on what you mean by upside. If you mean that he has the potential to perform significantly better than he has in past seasons, I don't think so. He threw for 5000 yards and 41 TDs in 2011. He will probably never hit either of those marks ever again in his career.

Stafford is a perfect example of why efficiency stats are important. If you looked at his 2011 season in terms of FF points, you would've thought he was an elite player. If you looked at the stats from an efficiency standpoint, there were some reasons to doubt his high ranking. Even in that career year he only averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. Solid, but nothing amazing. And that was better than his typical performances. Stafford's career average is 6.87 yards per attempt. He throws too many INTs. His accuracy is below average.

He's still young, but at this point he basically looks like Jay Cutler + Calvin Johnson. The reason why people confused him for an elite talent is because he has thrown the ball so much. He leads the NFL in pass attempts over the past two seasons. He's well ahead of the next guy on the list (Brees). When you are already throwing the ball more than anyone else in the game, it means there's nowhere to go but down. As the Lions improve their defense and running game, I'd expect Stafford's pass attempts to regress significantly. So where is the upside going to come from? He's not going to throw the ball more than he has been. In order to get better, he will need to become more efficient.

I think his efficiency will rebound somewhat if he's not forced to throw the ball every down, but I don't know that the increase will be enough to keep him in elite territory. The reason why guys like Manning, Brees, and Brady are gold is not only that they throw the ball a lot, but also that they have great per-throw averages. Stafford lags well behind them in the latter category. Maybe he can improve. Maybe not. I don't think he's worthless, but I would rather take a higher YPA passer like Russell Wilson and hope that he can get more attempts in the future as opposed to taking a more mediocre passer who's already been throwing the ball a lot.

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Because Stafford has already been throwing the ball a million times per season.

So that means he doesn't have much upside?

I think a lot of people are thinking about regression to the mean. Being that they just added a pass catching RB I don't really buy that theory. They are a passing 1st, passing 2nd team.

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It depends on what you mean by upside. If you mean that he has the potential to perform significantly better than he has in past seasons, I don't think so. He threw for 5000 yards and 41 TDs in 2011. He will probably never hit either of those marks ever again in his career.

Stafford is a perfect example of why efficiency stats are important. If you looked at his 2011 season in terms of FF points, you would've thought he was an elite player. If you looked at the stats from an efficiency standpoint, there were some reasons to doubt his high ranking. Even in that career year he only averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. Solid, but nothing amazing. And that was better than his typical performances. Stafford's career average is 6.87 yards per attempt. He throws too many INTs. His accuracy is below average.

He's still young, but at this point he basically looks like Jay Cutler + Calvin Johnson. The reason why people confused him for an elite talent is because he has thrown the ball so much. He leads the NFL in pass attempts over the past two seasons. He's well ahead of the next guy on the list (Brees). When you are already throwing the ball more than anyone else in the game, it means there's nowhere to go but down. As the Lions improve their defense and running game, I'd expect Stafford's pass attempts to regress significantly. So where is the upside going to come from? He's not going to throw the ball more than he has been. In order to get better, he will need to become more efficient.

I think his efficiency will rebound somewhat if he's not forced to throw the ball every down, but I don't know that the increase will be enough to keep him in elite territory. The reason why guys like Manning, Brees, and Brady are gold is not only that they throw the ball a lot, but also that they have great per-throw averages. Stafford lags well behind them in the latter category. Maybe he can improve. Maybe not. I don't think he's worthless, but I would rather take a higher YPA passer like Russell Wilson and hope that he can get more attempts in the future as opposed to taking a more mediocre passer who's already been throwing the ball a lot.

Upside from expectations/value. The OP has him as QB 11, and I think he presents plenty of upside from there (and from ADP).

No one is arguing he's the best QB in the league, and no one is valuing him as if he's going to continue to set records for attempts. However, he can still put up ridiculous FF numbers with fewer attempts- just look at 2011, when he was more efficient.

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Because Stafford has already been throwing the ball a million times per season.

So that means he doesn't have much upside?

I think a lot of people are thinking about regression to the mean. Being that they just added a pass catching RB I don't really buy that theory. They are a passing 1st, passing 2nd team.

I know they are, but it seems they've forgotten about 2011. He threw the ball 64 fewer times than he did last season, but put up 100 or so more ff points. He can regress in terms of attempts and still have tons of upside.

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Because Stafford has already been throwing the ball a million times per season.

So that means he doesn't have much upside?

I think a lot of people are thinking about regression to the mean. Being that they just added a pass catching RB I don't really buy that theory. They are a passing 1st, passing 2nd team.

I know they are, but it seems they've forgotten about 2011. He threw the ball 64 fewer times than he did last season, but put up 100 or so more ff points. He can regress in terms of attempts and still have tons of upside.

he'll probably be my redraft QB on all my team this year.

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Because Stafford has already been throwing the ball a million times per season.

So that means he doesn't have much upside?

I think a lot of people are thinking about regression to the mean. Being that they just added a pass catching RB I don't really buy that theory. They are a passing 1st, passing 2nd team.

I know they are, but it seems they've forgotten about 2011. He threw the ball 64 fewer times than he did last season, but put up 100 or so more ff points. He can regress in terms of attempts and still have tons of upside.

He lead the league in passing attempts that season too.

If you can get him in the QB7-10 range it's good value.

In redraft I'd take him over someone like Russell Wilson. In dynasty I'd rather have a QB who isn't so reliant on his usage.

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Compared to Ryan, Wilson, and Kaerpernick, I think that Stafford is significantly less likely to develop into a perennial top 5 (70+ VBD) type of fantasy QB. Ryan is a better passer - I think he's the best passer under age 30 in the NFL. Wilson & Kaerpernick add a bunch of fantasy value with their legs, though it might take a couple years for their passing attempts to rise. I also suspect that Wilson is a better passer than Stafford, though it's a bit soon to say.

Stafford is around QB10 in terms of NFL talent in my eyes. I expect him to be a relatively high volume passer in a relatively QB-friendly offense going forward, but not to the same extent that he has been the past couple years. He doesn't get a bonus for his rushing value. 2011 was an amazing fantasy season for him, but I don't see strong reasons to expect more seasons like that going forward.

The past two years have been pretty much a perfect storm of situational factors in Stafford's favor (especially 2011). Calvin Johnson. An awful running game (especially in short yardage), but with RBs who were very good receivers (Best and Smith, then Bell). Good pass blocking. Near the top of the league in number of possessions. Stafford led the NFL in passing attempts both years, and was responsible for most of the Lions' goal line TDs (inside the 5: 67% in 2011 and 58% in 2012). In 2011 he somehow he managed to get a ton of other passing TDs, but that did not repeat in 2012. To a first approximation, Stafford's 2011-2012 average is roughly what we can expect of him going forward if his situation remains ridiculously amazing (for a fantasy QB), and most likely his situation will decline somewhat.

If you want to put him ahead of Brady & Manning that seems reasonable, but I would not put him any higher.

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Because Stafford has already been throwing the ball a million times per season.

So that means he doesn't have much upside?

I think a lot of people are thinking about regression to the mean. Being that they just added a pass catching RB I don't really buy that theory. They are a passing 1st, passing 2nd team.

I know they are, but it seems they've forgotten about 2011. He threw the ball 64 fewer times than he did last season, but put up 100 or so more ff points. He can regress in terms of attempts and still have tons of upside.

He lead the league in passing attempts that season too.

If you can get him in the QB7-10 range it's good value.

In redraft I'd take him over someone like Russell Wilson. In dynasty I'd rather have a QB who isn't so reliant on his usage.

Someone has to lead the league, and his passing attempts aren't predicated on how many the other QBs get. I was just pointing out that he could get fewer attempts than last season and still provide significant upside, which 2011 should prove.

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Detroit Lions-


2009 332 1st downs given up on defense. 585pa 409ra Culpepper played 6 games. 43 sacks. Staffords rookie year. Calvin had not quite broken out yet 67 catches 984yds.


2010 320 1st downs given up on defense. 633pa 404ra Hill played more than Stafford. 27 sacks. Slight improvement on defense leads to more passing plays.


2011 325 1st downs given up on defense. 666pa 356ra. 36 sacks. Main difference here is the Lions ran 50 less times increased pa by about as many plays.


2012 305 1st downs given up on defense.740pa 391ra. 29 sacks. Slight improvement by the defense of 20 less 1st downs. The passing attempts increased by 80 and the rushing attempts got back closer to the 400 mark.


The volume of pass attempts has been pretty amazing. They have increased passing attempts by 160 total attempts since 2009. The range of offense over the last 2 seasons seems what one should expect for plays from the Lions unless they start running the ball more frequently.


I do think that is possible because the Lions offensive line is in flux right now. I think Stafford is at higher risk of injury because of the Oline and the trend in passing attempts. The Lions line does not look good at any position really, but they may be slightly better run blockers than pass protectors. If Stafford starts off the season taking more than 2.5 sacks a game I would start to worry. I think he may get sacked and hit more frequently and if so the passing attempts could drop down to 2009 level and Stafford may miss time.


So it is possible if the Oline is bette suited to run blocking that they could increase rushing attempts somewhat but I would still expect the floor on passing attempts to be around 600 with the upside for 700 like last season. The rushing attempts 390-450 is what I would expect moving forward with Stafford to Johnson being the main show in town and the rest being built around that.


Reggie Bush should help Stafford a lot with some easy completions so I can see his completion percentage possibly going up a bit because of that. Even if the passing attempts are around 600 if they run a bit more and Staffords effectiveness is higher then it may be somewhat of a wash. I do not think 700pa is sustainable long term and would have an expectation more around 600pa for stafford each season with the Lions moving forward unless a really good RB younger than Bush emerges. Bush will get some rushing attempts too so a 2 150-200 carry Rb should have the Lions around 400ra unless LeShoure is better than I think he does, then perhaps they would run 450 with passing attempts possibly dipping a bit below 600.


I do not have enough evidence to rank Wilson or Kaepernick ahead of a QB such as Stafford who has more of a track record and I think stable situation. The Lions are not going to want to start over with a new QB 3 years from now and waste Calvins career waiting for another guy to maybe develop. I think they stick with Stafford longer term than that for better or worse. Although the rushing stats do even things out a bit compared to Stafford I do not see those QB ever getting the passing attempts that Stafford will to justify ranking them ahead of him right now. Perhaps after I have seen more of Wilson and Kaep I might be willing to do that and perhaps that means I am behind the curve, but that is 150-200 passing attempts a year we are talking about here. That is a lot of rushing yards and TD for those QB to match up to. Wilson has some good WR but none of the QB have Calvin like Stafford does.
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Compared to Ryan, Wilson, and Kaerpernick, I think that Stafford is significantly less likely to develop into a perennial top 5 (70+ VBD) type of fantasy QB. Ryan is a better passer - I think he's the best passer under age 30 in the NFL. Wilson & Kaerpernick add a bunch of fantasy value with their legs, though it might take a couple years for their passing attempts to rise. I also suspect that Wilson is a better passer than Stafford, though it's a bit soon to say.

Stafford is around QB10 in terms of NFL talent in my eyes. I expect him to be a relatively high volume passer in a relatively QB-friendly offense going forward, but not to the same extent that he has been the past couple years. He doesn't get a bonus for his rushing value. 2011 was an amazing fantasy season for him, but I don't see strong reasons to expect more seasons like that going forward.

The past two years have been pretty much a perfect storm of situational factors in Stafford's favor (especially 2011). Calvin Johnson. An awful running game (especially in short yardage), but with RBs who were very good receivers (Best and Smith, then Bell). Good pass blocking. Near the top of the league in number of possessions. Stafford led the NFL in passing attempts both years, and was responsible for most of the Lions' goal line TDs (inside the 5: 67% in 2011 and 58% in 2012). In 2011 he somehow he managed to get a ton of other passing TDs, but that did not repeat in 2012. To a first approximation, Stafford's 2011-2012 average is roughly what we can expect of him going forward if his situation remains ridiculously amazing (for a fantasy QB), and most likely his situation will decline somewhat.

If you want to put him ahead of Brady & Manning that seems reasonable, but I would not put him any higher.

I'm not talking about his ranking (although I would have him higher than you do), it's the "less upside than most" comment. No idea how you can come to that conclusion seeing how he's already has one huge season, and all of those things you are holding against him are the reasons why he has a lot of upside.

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Compared to Ryan, Wilson, and Kaerpernick, I think that Stafford is significantly less likely to develop into a perennial top 5 (70+ VBD) type of fantasy QB. Ryan is a better passer - I think he's the best passer under age 30 in the NFL. Wilson & Kaerpernick add a bunch of fantasy value with their legs, though it might take a couple years for their passing attempts to rise. I also suspect that Wilson is a better passer than Stafford, though it's a bit soon to say.

Stafford is around QB10 in terms of NFL talent in my eyes. I expect him to be a relatively high volume passer in a relatively QB-friendly offense going forward, but not to the same extent that he has been the past couple years. He doesn't get a bonus for his rushing value. 2011 was an amazing fantasy season for him, but I don't see strong reasons to expect more seasons like that going forward.

The past two years have been pretty much a perfect storm of situational factors in Stafford's favor (especially 2011). Calvin Johnson. An awful running game (especially in short yardage), but with RBs who were very good receivers (Best and Smith, then Bell). Good pass blocking. Near the top of the league in number of possessions. Stafford led the NFL in passing attempts both years, and was responsible for most of the Lions' goal line TDs (inside the 5: 67% in 2011 and 58% in 2012). In 2011 he somehow he managed to get a ton of other passing TDs, but that did not repeat in 2012. To a first approximation, Stafford's 2011-2012 average is roughly what we can expect of him going forward if his situation remains ridiculously amazing (for a fantasy QB), and most likely his situation will decline somewhat.

If you want to put him ahead of Brady & Manning that seems reasonable, but I would not put him any higher.

I'm not talking about his ranking (although I would have him higher than you do), it's the "less upside than most" comment. No idea how you can come to that conclusion seeing how he's already has one huge season, and all of those things you are holding against him are the reasons why he has a lot of upside.

Who will have a better fantasy season in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: That's a pretty close call; I lean slightly towards Wilson but it's 60/40 at best.

Who is more likely to be the #1 fantasy QB in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: Russell Wilson. And it's not that close. If I imagine how surprised I would be to see Stafford finish the season at #1, and I imagine how surprised I would be to see Wilson at #1, there is a very clear difference in my level of surprise. (Or, you could use the question "who is more likely to have at least 100 VBD in 2015?"; I'd give the same answer.)

In my eyes, the median career trajectories (in terms of fantasy value) for Wilson and Stafford aren't all that different, but Wilson has a noticeably larger chance of having a ton of fantasy value. That's what I mean when I say that I don't see much upside for Stafford, compared with Wilson (or Ryan, or Kaepernick). ("Less upside than the other youngish QBs who are near him in the rankings" is a clearer, more precise way of putting it than "less upside than most.")

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Compared to Ryan, Wilson, and Kaerpernick, I think that Stafford is significantly less likely to develop into a perennial top 5 (70+ VBD) type of fantasy QB. Ryan is a better passer - I think he's the best passer under age 30 in the NFL. Wilson & Kaerpernick add a bunch of fantasy value with their legs, though it might take a couple years for their passing attempts to rise. I also suspect that Wilson is a better passer than Stafford, though it's a bit soon to say.

Stafford is around QB10 in terms of NFL talent in my eyes. I expect him to be a relatively high volume passer in a relatively QB-friendly offense going forward, but not to the same extent that he has been the past couple years. He doesn't get a bonus for his rushing value. 2011 was an amazing fantasy season for him, but I don't see strong reasons to expect more seasons like that going forward.

The past two years have been pretty much a perfect storm of situational factors in Stafford's favor (especially 2011). Calvin Johnson. An awful running game (especially in short yardage), but with RBs who were very good receivers (Best and Smith, then Bell). Good pass blocking. Near the top of the league in number of possessions. Stafford led the NFL in passing attempts both years, and was responsible for most of the Lions' goal line TDs (inside the 5: 67% in 2011 and 58% in 2012). In 2011 he somehow he managed to get a ton of other passing TDs, but that did not repeat in 2012. To a first approximation, Stafford's 2011-2012 average is roughly what we can expect of him going forward if his situation remains ridiculously amazing (for a fantasy QB), and most likely his situation will decline somewhat.

If you want to put him ahead of Brady & Manning that seems reasonable, but I would not put him any higher.

I'm not talking about his ranking (although I would have him higher than you do), it's the "less upside than most" comment. No idea how you can come to that conclusion seeing how he's already has one huge season, and all of those things you are holding against him are the reasons why he has a lot of upside.

Who will have a better fantasy season in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: That's a pretty close call; I lean slightly towards Wilson but it's 60/40 at best.

Who is more likely to be the #1 fantasy QB in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: Russell Wilson. And it's not that close. If I imagine how surprised I would be to see Stafford finish the season at #1, and I imagine how surprised I would be to see Wilson at #1, there is a very clear difference in my level of surprise. (Or, you could use the question "who is more likely to have at least 100 VBD in 2015?"; I'd give the same answer.)

In my eyes, the median career trajectories (in terms of fantasy value) for Wilson and Stafford aren't all that different, but Wilson has a noticeably larger chance of having a ton of fantasy value. That's what I mean when I say that I don't see much upside for Stafford, compared with Wilson (or Ryan, or Kaepernick). ("Less upside than the other youngish QBs who are near him in the rankings" is a clearer, more precise way of putting it than "less upside than most.")

I think his point - correct me if I am wrong (and with which I agree with) - is that Stafford has a historic fantasy season under his belt already. Shouldn't his "upside" at least be something he has already done? He's shown he can do it. He has done it. His 2011 season would have placed him at QB1 in more seasons that not, even only looking back 10-15 years.

I'm not a Stafford fan, myself, but feel his fantasy upside is very high.

He has as many 400 FP seasons as Peyton Manning, for example (1).

Edited by Concept Coop
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I'm not sure if there's confusion here about what we mean when we talk about Stafford's upside, or if there is just disagreement. In case there is confusion: for each player, there is some probability distribution of what their future fantasy value will be. When I talk about "upside", I am talking about the right tail of that distribution. If we look at (say) the 10% of the possibilities where that player has the most fantasy value, how much fantasy value does he have in those scenarios?

I see the argument that a guy who has already had one huge season is more likely to have a huge season in the future. It's a pretty good argument. But in this case, comparing Stafford to Ryan, Kaepernick, and Wilson, I disagree with its conclusion. I think that the right tail of the distribution (the top 10% of possibilities) for Stafford is not as good as the right tail of the distribution for Ryan, Kaerpernick, or Wilson, for reasons that I sketched out in my previous comments.

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And now the position that we've all been waiting for, kicker

RUNNING BACKS

1 1 Trent Richardson CLE 22.2
1 2 Doug Martin TB 24.6
1 3 Jamaal Charles KC 26.7 **
1 4 LeSean McCoy PHI 25.1
2 5 C.J. Spiller BUF 26.1 **
2 6 Adrian Peterson MIN 28.4
2 7 Ray Rice BAL 26.6
3 8 Arian Foster HOU 27.0 --
3 9 Alfred Morris WAS 24.7
3 10 Matt Forte CHI 27.7
3 11 David Wilson NYG 22.2
4 12 Marshawn Lynch SEA 27.4
4 13 Stevan Ridley NE 24.6
4 14 DeMarco Murray DAL 25.5
4 15 Darren McFadden OAK 26.0
4 16 Eddie Lacy GB 23.3 **
4 17 Ryan Mathews SD 25.9
4 18 Giovani Bernard CIN 21.8
4 19 Maurice Jones-Drew JAX 28.4
5 20 Montee Ball DEN 22.8
5 21 Chris Johnson TEN 27.9 --
5 22 Steven Jackson ATL 30.1
5 23 Chris Ivory NYJ 25.4
5 24 Lamar Miller MIA 22.4
5 25 LeVeon Bell PIT 21.6
5 26 Reggie Bush DET 28.5
5 27 Rashard Mendenhall ARI 26.2
6 28 Frank Gore SF 30.3
6 29 Ben Tate HOU 25.0 **
6 30 Darren Sproles NO 30.2
6 31 Jonathan Stewart CAR 26.4
6 32 Christine Michael SEA 22.8 **
6 33 Ahmad Bradshaw IND 27.5 **
6 34 Bernard Pierce BAL 23.7
6 35 Mark Ingram NO 23.7
6 36 Shane Vereen NE 24.5
6 37 Marcus Lattimore SF 21.9
7 38 Robert Turbin SEA 23.7
7 39 Ryan Williams ARI 23.4
7 40 Pierre Thomas NO 28.7 **
7 41 Knile Davis KC 21.9 **
7 42 Zac Stacy STL 22.4
7 43 Johnathan Franklin GB 23.9 --
7 44 Andre Brown NYG 26.7
7 45 Isaiah Pead STL 23.7
7 46 Bryce Brown PHI 22.3 --
7 47 Mikel Leshoure DET 23.4 --
7 48 Daryl Richardson STL 23.4
7 49 Vick Ballard IND 23.1 --
7 50 DeAngelo Williams CAR 30.4
7 51 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN 28.2
8 52 LaMichael James SF 23.9
8 53 Kendall Hunter SF 24.0
8 54 Mike Goodson NYJ 26.3
8 55 Toby Gerhart MIN 26.4
8 56 Ronnie Hillman DEN 22.0 --
8 57 Knowshon Moreno DEN 26.1
8 58 Latavius Murray OAK 22.5 **
8 59 Denard Robinson JAX 23.0
8 60 Danny Woodhead SD 28.7
8 61 Isaac Redman PIT 28.8
8 62 Brandon Bolden NE 23.6
8 63 Beanie Wells FA 25.1
8 64 Fred Jackson BUF 32.5
9 65 Alex Green GB 24.2 **
9 66 Andre Ellington ARI 24.6
9 67 Roy Helu WAS 24.7
9 68 Jonathan Dwyer PIT 24.1
9 69 Stepfan Taylor ARI 22.2
9 70 Jahvid Best DET 24.6 **
9 71 Willis McGahee FA 31.9
9 72 Joseph Randle DAL 21.7 --
9 73 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 23.6 --
9 74 Shonn Greene TEN 28.0 --
9 75 Michael Bush CHI 29.2 --

The shape of RB value: I see a relatively steady dropoff in value from RB1 (tier 1) through RB 37 (tier 6), and then the bottom falls out. From tier 7 onward, if you can find anyone who will bit then I'd be looking to trade guys away for receivers, or draft picks, or top 37 RBs. Some of the guys in tier 7+ are worth owning as fairly reliable but low-upside RB3s, if you're thin at RB. Some of them have a shot at a starting RB job in the next few years, but not a great shot, and they probably won't be great starters. Basically, I see them as stopgaps and not-so-great lottery tickets. It's fine to use a few roster spots on them, but I wouldn't get too attached to anyone.

Some brief player capsules, mostly for guys where I'm somewhat out-of-line from the consensus (I shared more thoughts on the rookie RBs here):

Charles is my #2 in redraft, even in non-PPR. I'm a big believer in what he'll do in Reid's offense.

Ray Rice is elite as a receiver but merely good as a runner. Pierce could win a pretty big chunk of the workload.

Arian Foster showed hints of decline last year which have me worried (including a huge drop in YPR). Sometimes the cliff comes before 30.

Lynch is gold as the workhorse in the Seahawks' offense, but he now has 2 much cheaper guys chomping at his heels on a team that could be looking to find cap space in the coming years.

I like Lacy's talent, and am willing to take the injury risk.

In my mind I group Montee Ball with the older RBs more than the other young prospects, because I suspect that most of his career fantasy value will come while Manning is his QB. If the workload is there, he could have a few Addai-like years as a fantasy RB1 (look at what McGahee & Moreno did last year). The rest of his career is just a bit of a bonus over guys like Chris Johnson & Steven Jackson.

Chris Johnson is starting to get up there in years and he just hasn't been that good a RB the past few seasons.

Ben Tate and Christine Michael both look like they could have the talent to be a starting RB, if you wait a year or three. Both have the athleticism and draft pedigree, and Tate has at least had one NFL season where he looked the part.

Bradshaw could easily be a high-end RB2, if his feet will carry him.

Pierre Thomas seems like the safest of the solid, low-upside RB3s.

I liked Knile Davis as a boom-or-bust prospect and his draft position matched that evaluation, but KC is an awful landing spot. Could he be the next Correll Buckhalter?

Zac Stacy Zac Stacy Zac Stacy Zac Stacy Zac Stacy Zac Stacy Zac Stacy.

Johnathan Franklin is down in tier 7 for much the same reasons as Stacy.

Toby Gerhart is second to Ben Tate among the contract year backups vying for a starting job next season.

I don't like handcuffs, but I'll make an exception for Darren McFadden. Latavius Murray has a similar running style and a good shot at winning that role.

Alex Green was coming off an ACL last year, so I'm not ready to give up on him entirely.

Jacquizz Rodgers doesn't have Danny Woodhead's raw athleticism, but he could win that type of role in the right situation.

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Compared to Ryan, Wilson, and Kaerpernick, I think that Stafford is significantly less likely to develop into a perennial top 5 (70+ VBD) type of fantasy QB. Ryan is a better passer - I think he's the best passer under age 30 in the NFL. Wilson & Kaerpernick add a bunch of fantasy value with their legs, though it might take a couple years for their passing attempts to rise. I also suspect that Wilson is a better passer than Stafford, though it's a bit soon to say.

Stafford is around QB10 in terms of NFL talent in my eyes. I expect him to be a relatively high volume passer in a relatively QB-friendly offense going forward, but not to the same extent that he has been the past couple years. He doesn't get a bonus for his rushing value. 2011 was an amazing fantasy season for him, but I don't see strong reasons to expect more seasons like that going forward.

The past two years have been pretty much a perfect storm of situational factors in Stafford's favor (especially 2011). Calvin Johnson. An awful running game (especially in short yardage), but with RBs who were very good receivers (Best and Smith, then Bell). Good pass blocking. Near the top of the league in number of possessions. Stafford led the NFL in passing attempts both years, and was responsible for most of the Lions' goal line TDs (inside the 5: 67% in 2011 and 58% in 2012). In 2011 he somehow he managed to get a ton of other passing TDs, but that did not repeat in 2012. To a first approximation, Stafford's 2011-2012 average is roughly what we can expect of him going forward if his situation remains ridiculously amazing (for a fantasy QB), and most likely his situation will decline somewhat.

If you want to put him ahead of Brady & Manning that seems reasonable, but I would not put him any higher.

I'm not talking about his ranking (although I would have him higher than you do), it's the "less upside than most" comment. No idea how you can come to that conclusion seeing how he's already has one huge season, and all of those things you are holding against him are the reasons why he has a lot of upside.

Who will have a better fantasy season in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: That's a pretty close call; I lean slightly towards Wilson but it's 60/40 at best.

Who is more likely to be the #1 fantasy QB in 2015, Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford? My answer: Russell Wilson. And it's not that close. If I imagine how surprised I would be to see Stafford finish the season at #1, and I imagine how surprised I would be to see Wilson at #1, there is a very clear difference in my level of surprise. (Or, you could use the question "who is more likely to have at least 100 VBD in 2015?"; I'd give the same answer.)

In my eyes, the median career trajectories (in terms of fantasy value) for Wilson and Stafford aren't all that different, but Wilson has a noticeably larger chance of having a ton of fantasy value. That's what I mean when I say that I don't see much upside for Stafford, compared with Wilson (or Ryan, or Kaepernick). ("Less upside than the other youngish QBs who are near him in the rankings" is a clearer, more precise way of putting it than "less upside than most.")

I think his point - correct me if I am wrong (and with which I agree with) - is that Stafford has a historic fantasy season under his belt already. Shouldn't his "upside" at least be something he has already done? He's shown he can do it. He has done it. His 2011 season would have placed him at QB1 in more seasons that not, even only looking back 10-15 years.

I'm not a Stafford fan, myself, but feel his fantasy upside is very high.

He has as many 400 FP seasons as Peyton Manning, for example (1).

Yes, this is what I'm saying. The OP said he doesn't see much upside for Stafford, and that he has less than most. That just doesn't jibe with his track record, which includes one of the best ff seasons ever.

Edited by humpback
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I have thought about the Gronk vs Graham argument a lot and the fact is, Gronk is simply a lot more effective on the field than Graham. His PPG is about 2 points better per game. That's important. That's concrete. The rest is speculation as to career length and injuries. Lots of guys get hurt. Graham isn't superhuman. He could miss more games over the next 5 years than Gronk, we just don't know.

I think Gronk is simply just a better player.

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I could be wrong but I took the limited upside comment on Stafford to be that Stafford has already maximized his value. It is going to be very difficult for him or any QB to get 727 passing attempts. That number is still boggling my mind.

Meanwhile Wilson was only a rookie and had 393 passing attempts.

Attempts for Wilson's career going up, Stafford's attempts not likely to go up from 727.

Wilson has stronger rushing numbers and will likely do better as a runner than Stafford will. This mitigates some of the difference in passing attempts and yardage as long as Wilson continues to be an effective runner.

If someone offered me Wilson for Stafford straight up I would likely decline just because Stafford has a track record, Wilson only has a season. With both players in similar tier I don't think the expected difference is much.

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  • ZWK changed the title to ZWK's Dynasty Rankings (WR updated April 2021)

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