Week 5 ranks reactions: Browns RBs 

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1

TateCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsBen Tate is healthy enough to return, but how many carries will the Browns give him this week?
While much of the talk surrounding the Cleveland Browns in early September centered on a quarterback who has yet to complete a pass and a wide receiver who remains two months away from catching one, there is fantasy relevant news for this squad.

Running back Ben Tate has recovered enough from a right knee sprain suffered in Week 1 that he appears prepared for a large role Sunday in a road game at the suddenly terrible Tennessee Titans. The problem is that Tate, though experienced and with occasional periods of terrific play as a Houston Texans backup, might now be merely the third best running back on the team. Rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell weren't quite September superstars, but each is averaging more than 10 fantasy points per game. Is your first-round running back doing this?

Backfield breakdown entering Week 5 

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30

Sankey Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesBishop Sankey is still building his way up to being the Titans' primary running back.
Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey was the first at his position to be chosen in the NFL draft this summer and the first selected by fantasy owners in ESPN average live drafts, but he isn't owned in 100 percent of leagues and he isn't seeing anything close to a full assortment of touches. The Titans haven't implied anything other than general dissatisfaction overall during their three-game losing streak, but after the one-sided loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in which starting running back Shonn Greene was basically ignored, one would think Sankey's time is finally here.

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2014 ranks update: Brady, Brees tumble 

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30

BradyDilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesTom Brady probably belongs on fantasy benches, as he falls to No. 19 in the overall QB rankings.
With one month down and three more to go we have ample evidence at a few positions that changes are warranted at the very top. It doesn't mean that the players leaving the top spots at their respective positions are done helping us, but if they're not providing the significant numbers fantasy owners covet, it's tough to be considered No. 1. How far did we go in the latest version of the end-of-season rankings, as we focus solely on value for the rest of the schedule? Well, read on and see -- and remember, as always, these are not the Week 5 rankings. Those will be posted Wednesday.

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Four Downs: Old Man Smith gets it done 

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
SmithRob Carr/Getty ImagesSteve Smith has 59 fantasy points, 15 more than he had the entire second half of last season.
The two primary reasons so many fantasy owners and analysts didn't want to believe in new Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. this season were because he appeared to be joining a struggling offense that couldn't convert on deep plays last year, and also, to be painfully blunt, because Smith's skills seemed to have regressed to the point he was more bluster than fantasy-relevant. It took about half a game this season, however, to see that at least one of those points was no longer valid, as Smith, 35, looks rejuvenated and spry, and Sunday's performance, in which he scored two touchdowns in what had to be a satisfying rout against his former Carolina Panthers, only highlighted the point.

Smith caught seven of his 10 targets for 139 yards and two scores, his first multi-touchdown game since Week 1 of 2011, which was also the NFL debut for Cam Newton (more on him later). Smith looked terrific the first half of 2011, but not as much, well, since. Entering this season, in the 39 games since Week 9 of 2011, he had topped 100 receiving yards only six times and scored 11 touchdowns. Last season he averaged only 11.6 yards per reception, well below his career mark. For him to enter this Week 4 among the top-10 wide receivers in standard and point-per-reception formats was stunning for several reasons, a reflection not only on Smith's play but the opportunity that didn't figure to be there. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Smith's 429 receiving yards through his first four games with a new club are the most for a player 35 or older.

Most expected the top Flacco weapons to be exciting wide receiver Torrey Smith and steady (when healthy) tight end Dennis Pitta, along with a running back known for catching many passes out of the backfield, but he is currently and infamously unemployed.

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Week 4 flex rankings 

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25

DeMarco Murray, Derrick MorganDon McPeak/USA TODAY SportsDeMarco Murray has opened the season with three straight games of 100 yards and a TD.
The flex rankings look a tad different this Week 4 because so many players are on their bye week, so before you complain that we missed Marshawn Lynch, Michael Floyd and Julius Thomas, remember that the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams are on bye this week. Now, back to your regularly scheduled complaining! As always, we do our best with the standard flex rankings but urge you to use all the wonderful material available at ESPN Fantasy -- from blogs and articles to rankings, video and podcasts -- as a guide to your decision-making, not the ultimate answer. And try to have fun!

Best of luck to all in Week 4 and beyond!

1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Can't really argue with the numbers, as only one flex option has more season fantasy points (Seattle's Lynch) and he's on a bye.

2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Impressive performance in embarrassing the Panthers at their place. And he gets the Bucs this week.

3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Perhaps a tad too generous, but the running backs who follow have question marks, too.

4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Jets certainly look like they can be thrown on.

5. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: He's lit up the Packers before. Buy low on this guy.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

7. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

8. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Sounds like he came close to playing in Week 3, so I'll assume he's ready to put up numbers with a national audience watching.

9. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

10. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

11. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

12. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Another buy-low option. He's too talented to be this average, and last season he thrived versus Chicago.

13. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants: Seems a bit premature to get this ranking, but there really aren't enough options. And clearly he's not sharing with anyone else.

14. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

15. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: Really needs the bye week, but it's not coming for a while. Still, the three-touchdown game was proof you can't sit him.

16. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Boy, he and Tom Brady could use some help on the outside.

17. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: No lock to play, so make sure his backup is owned. His backup shows up later. It's a bad sign that Foster can't even get through September unscathed.

18. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears

19. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins

20. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Just when you feel like you can trust him … finish that sentence. Be consistent with this opportunity, fella!

21. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: Kind of a big game for his fantasy value. He's been quiet.

22. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

23. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: His owners are really enjoying this. This week will be a test.

24. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills

25. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

[+] EnlargeSteve Smith
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesSteve Smith has started his Ravens' career with a bang and seems very motivated to face his old Panthers mates this week.
26. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens: He circled this game when the Panthers let him walk. But how much better can Smith really play?

27. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Two words: Jacksonville Jaguars. There's a reason I made Philip Rivers my top QB for the week.

28. Donald Brown, RB, Chargers: He'll definitely get work, but he needs to do a bit more with the touches.

29. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: One more week, then you can worry. But you won't have to.

30. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers

31. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers

32. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

33. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts: Looks healthy so far, and productive.

34. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles: We told you not every week was going to be a party for him statistically. You'll just never know in advance.

35. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants

36. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

37. Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints

38. Marques Colston, WR, Saints: If he doesn't have a big game against the Cowboys, then I'll stop recommending him.

39. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Should play this week, and should play well.

40. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: Gets to show another country how great he is this week.

41. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

42. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: You probably don't care that he puts up numbers every season. And he will this season.

43. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings: Big sleeper isn't off to great start but again, three weeks and a quarterback change buys him more time.

44. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: He doesn't need more time. He's really good now.

45. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: Yes, I think he's the running back to own from this team. Man, the other guy was kind of overrated, no?

46. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: Clearly a key cog in the offense. Feel free to trade for him confidently.

47. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: That might have been his best game of the season. Yeah, sorry, I'm not really a fan.

48. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

49. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

50. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: He really looks good and he probably deserves more touches.

51. Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints

52. Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys

53. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: He gets plenty of touches but he really doesn't deserve more.

54. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Good luck with this guy. But the Bucs like him and if he's healthy, they clearly intend to use him. Perhaps I shouldn't be so dismissive. He has ability. The team is just a mess.

55. Golden Tate, WR, Lions

[+] EnlargeCecil Shorts
AP Photo/John RaouxCecil Shorts may be in a better position to shine now that he's healthy and has Blake Bortles at QB.
56. Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jaguars: I bet the Jaguars, with rookie Blake Bortles at quarterback, start scoring enough points to matter for fantasy starting this week.

57. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

58. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

59. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions

60. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

61. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Make sure he plays before you play him, and it's not one of the early games. Ladarius Green and Levine Toilolo are also in late games and likely available if you need protection.

62. Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings

63. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans: One of these weeks he'll get passed on the depth chart, but not yet.

64. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets: He appears to have been passed.

65. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: He really needs to be passed.

66. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

67. Joique Bell, RB, Lions

68. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans

69. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

70. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

71. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Not getting much attention from fantasy owners, but he hasn't looked so bad since getting opportunity. And Miami has struggled against the run.

72. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

73. Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens: I think if he's healthy he's the main guy. Teams are loyal.

74. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens: But he'll probably do better than Pierce.

75. Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers

[+] EnlargeBobby Rainey
Jeff Haynes/AP Images for PaniniBobby Rainey has gone from underrated handcuff to potentially overrated time-share guy.
76. Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers: Went from underrated, productive and beloved to largely overrated real fast last Thursday night.

77. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: I still think there's upside here if you can be patient.

78. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

79. Eric Decker, WR, Jets

80. James Jones, WR, Raiders

81. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Not too many running backs left for this team. But you really shouldn't be using him anyway.

82. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: Wow, who saw this happening? Averaging two receptions per game.

83. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans

84. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants

85. Justin Hunter, WR, Titans

86. Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers: If you think he's really good, look up what happened with his statistics last year.

87. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers

88. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles

89. Niles Paul, TE, Redskins

90. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Raiders

91. Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs: Moves into top-10 running back territory if Charles is deemed inactive. No, really.

92. Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: Wouldn't make my top 10, but top 20. Looks like a solid player.

93. Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles

94. Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers

95. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs

96. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Steelers

97. Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets

98. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars: The Jacksonville rookie WR you want.

99. Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars

100. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: Finished as the No. 5 tight end last season, and he doesn't look done to me. He's going to get better.

Others: Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers; James Starks, RB, Packers; Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens; Hakeem Nicks, WR, Colts; Roy Helu, RB, Redskins; Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars; Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins; Darrin Reaves, RB, Panthers; Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons; Andre Williams, RB, Giants; Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins

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KaepernickAP Photo/Tony AvelarColin Kaepernick is a clear top-10 option at quarterback this week, but how much longer?
The first reaction to the Week 4 rankings is an obvious one: There are a lot of really good players missing. Oh, there have been absent options the past few weeks because of injuries and suspensions, but now come the bye weeks and yes, some of the best players in the sport are sitting out. In September. It seems ridiculous to me that Peyton Manning needs a break after three weeks, but I didn't make the schedule. Enjoy the week off, fellows, and try not to get into trouble. Good luck.

As a result of the Super Bowl teams (Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos), Ohio teams (Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns) and current and former St. Louis teams (St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals) being on their bye, fantasy owners will need to scrape by this week, as well as in Week 9 when six more teams are off. After this week, it's two teams on bye for a month. Don't ask why. The NFL has bigger problems than how it decided its schedule. Fantasy owners will be making difficult choices on cutting previously believed reliable players just to fill starting lineups, and it should be interesting!

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 4 

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23

The San Diego Chargers enter Week 4 with their top two running backs on the shelf, which is why the Donald Brown signing this offseason doesn't look so silly or unnecessary any longer. The problem is, of course, that Donald Brown isn't exactly LeSean McCoy at this stage of his career and never really was. Brown was given 31 rushing attempts in Sunday's win at Buffalo, mostly out of necessity, and converted them into a meager 62 yards. Do the math, double your fun. In the second half he gained seven yards on his 15 carries. The guy I'm watching in the San Diego backfield is Branden Oliver, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Buffalo, who twice finished second in the Mid-American Conference in rushing, and has evoked comparisons to a young Darren Sproles in both size and skills.

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2014 ranks update: Buy-low players 

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23

We've now had three weeks to overanalyze our fantasy football options and that generally means more trades and add/drops than usual. Personally, I don't trade just to say I made a trade, but I've indeed looked to move players I view as sell-high options and acquire others than aren't off to such great starts. Hopefully the end-of-season rankings you see below can help in all respects. Remember, these are not the Week 4 rankings, as the staff/individual results will be posted Wednesday.

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Four Downs: Big day for NFC East QBs 

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
Nick Foles, Kirk CousinsGetty Images, AP PhotoNick Foles and Kirk Cousins combined for 752 passing yards and six touchdowns Sunday.
NFC East quarterbacks put on quite the statistical show Sunday afternoon, with an exciting shootout that wasn't decided until the final minutes in Philadelphia, a massive comeback by the Dallas Cowboys, and the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback who leads the New York Giants looking considerably better than he had in a while. On a day when several big-name quarterbacks either in the draft-day top 10 or close to it disappointed, perhaps it's time to rethink how this division's signal-callers changed their fantasy value.

Let's start with Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins, who provided two of the signature performances of the day. Foles leads a balanced Philadelphia Eagles attack, but for the second time in three weeks, backup Mark Sanchez was throwing on the sideline, ready to play, as Foles received punishment from opposing defenders and appeared too injured to continue. Alas, he continued, and now has produced three consecutive and significant comebacks, eclipsing 300 passing yards each time. Foles was historic and terrific last season -- only two interceptions -- and so far he has certainly been successful, but with the Eagles losing offensive linemen left and right, and Foles being thrown around like a rag doll, it begs the question of whether he'll be able to last all 16 games. The Eagles' defense looks awful, leading to early deficits.

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Week 3 flex rankings 

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Well, this has been another fun week so far, eh? Injuries and suspensions and, oh my, all that depth you once had after the draft is suddenly not so special anymore. And here's some more good news: Bye weeks start in Week 4! So that's right, the decisions might become easier because you'll have fewer options at your disposal, but ultimately the bye weeks make roster decisions less satisfying, especially in the flex position, because there aren't enough strong options. Regardless, welcome to Week 3 as we combine the top running backs, wide receivers and tight ends and try to make sense of things. That might be the toughest part.

Best of luck to all in Week 3 and beyond!

1. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Some believe the emergence of his backup is hurting McCoy's value, but he's actually seeing more touches per game than he was last year. It's early. You certainly can't trust the other top-three running backs from draft day right now!

2. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Surprise! Hey, nobody said he wasn't good at football. He's really good. We just worried about health and some foolishly believed this franchise's dreadful defense would mean no running game. Silly people!

3. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: So far, so good, but he's also seeing a ton of touches, so look for that to be kept in check in the coming weeks.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesMarshawn Lynch hopes to put up big numbers against a Broncos defense that allowed 133 yards rushing to the Chiefs in Week 2.
4. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Don’t fret about the measly six rushing attempts in Week 2. The back problem doesn't appear to be a big deal.

5. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: Yep, this is a list for standard formats. He's pretty good in PPR, too.

6. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Still dominant after all these years.

7. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Slow start, but a good time to trade for him.

8. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Also a slow start and a good time to acquire. Remember, last year Lacy did little the first two weeks, and he ended up fine.

9. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: Doesn't matter to him who's playing quarterback.

10. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: People are whining I haven't ranked him well enough. He's 10th!

11. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: Too many people missed out on his three-touchdown game, but blame the Bears, not analysts. It was risky because it was a night game.

12. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Nobody said he couldn't thrive on returns. We're just worried it gets him hurt.

13. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

14. Zac Stacy, RB, Rams

15. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

16. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Picking up where he left off last season. Who covers him is largely irrelevant.

17. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

18. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

19. Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: Has 40 touches in two weeks. No worries here. Not a great matchup this week, but you can't sit him.

20. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos

21. Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs: This obviously presumes Jamaal Charles can't suit up, which seemed a given a few days ago, but apparently isn't. Just make sure, because if Charles plays, you won't play Davis.

22. Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Has a new backup running back thanks to Jonathan Dwyer getting deactivated by the team, but it doesn't really matter to Ellington.

23. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: I think another 100-reception season is pending.

24. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

25. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: I think a 1,000-yard season is pending.

[+] EnlargeDarren Sproles
AP Photo/Michael PerezDarren Sproles' 37 standard fantasy points are the most he's ever scored in consecutive games in his career.
26. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles: Love the guy, but it's not a bad time to float his name out there in trade talks. He can't keep things up to this level.

27. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

28. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears

29. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants: Will he be the lone bright spot on this offense? I think there's upside.

30. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Don't give up on this talented guy. Big games coming.

31. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers

32. Roddy White, WR, Falcons

33. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos

34. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: Still healthy and on pace for big enough numbers.

35. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets

36. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: Neither Lions running back did much last week. That should change.

37. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: There's little question this guy has game. Dolphins are enjoying this.

38. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins

39. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

40. Marques Colston, WR, Saints: I'm surprised how people are giving up on him. Saints are headed home. It will get a lot better.

41. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

42. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

43. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings

44. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions

45. Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks: One target in Week 2. One. I still think people are overrating him some.

46. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos

47. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: No Knowshon Moreno for a while, but something tells me Miller won't really emerge as special.

48. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: The key for trusting rookies in fantasy is if they're consistent. It's still possible with Watkins.

49. Golden Tate, WR, Lions

50. Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens: His many carries and yards in Week 2 changed his narrative quickly.

51. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: He needs a game like Pierce had in Week 2. I'm skeptical.

[+] EnlargeBradshaw
AP Photo/AJ MastAhmad Bradshaw not only has 10 catches already, but has more yards receiving (96) than rushing (85) thus far.
52. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts: OK, I trust he can keep playing well more than I do his colleague, you know, the one the Colts traded a first-round pick for.

53. Eric Decker, WR, Jets

54. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

55. Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints: Mark Ingram is out a month and Robinson should get the touches. I think he's a must-own in this offense.

56. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

57. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers

58. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

59. Wes Welker, WR, Broncos: Welcome back! Now go face the Seahawks.

60. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: Way too much preseason love for him.

61. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

62. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

63. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

64. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: Couldn't have more motivation for this game. But the Eagles will be prepared for him.

65. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Well, it's his job now. I don't own Adrian Peterson in any leagues but man, what a drag, eh? Asiata isn't going to replace his numbers.

66. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets

67. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

68. Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints

69. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: I dropped my laptop while typing his analysis.

70. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: His owners want to cut him, but he's not struggling. He's just not getting a ton of touches. Be patient.

71. Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers: I like him better than Martin, but not sure the Bucs agree.

72. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

73. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts

74. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers

75. Donald Brown, RB, Chargers: Ryan Mathews is out a while and Brown should get 15 touches, at least.

76. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: Hasn't shown much so far, but the Jaguars can't be this bad every game.

77. Terrance West, RB, Browns

78. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens

79. Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers

80. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Yes, he's still in the league. And he's the highest-ranking Raider, though I thought about putting Mark van Eeghen in.

81. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

82. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

83. Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys

84. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans: OK, so he will not get the football when the Titans trail. We get it.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Hill
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJeremy Hill's touches may fluctuate each week, but he's shown he can be productive.
85. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Can't be assured the Bengals will have a big lead every week, but what if Hill splits the touches in close games? Bernard owners won't be pleased.

86. Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens

87. Justin Hunter, WR, Titans: Everything you thought about him being a sleeper can still come true, so try to be patient.

88. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs

89. Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings

90. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles

91. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Might not play again this week, but if you're relying on him, wow.

92. James Jones, WR, Raiders

93. Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns: Still think the Browns’ offense is a joke?

94. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals: I did not rank A.J. Green because I think he will not play, but if he does, he'd be among my top-10 wide receivers. Just so you know.

95. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

96. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

97. Brian Quick, WR, Rams

98. Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles

99. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

100. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens

Others: Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans; Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers; Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers; Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals; Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns; Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings; Miles Austin, WR, Browns; Rueben Randle, WR, Giants; Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers; Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Raiders; Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers; LeGarrette Blount, RB, Steelers.

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Week 3 ranks reactions: Believe in Brady? 

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17

Tom BradyAP Photo/Lynne SladkyTom Brady has two single-digit fantasy performances to open the season.
The Tom Brady fans/apologists swore that the New England Patriots quarterback was far from done after a disappointing 2013 season, that all he needed was better pass protection and his full corps of weapons at his disposal. I'm neither a fan nor apologist, just objective analyst, and I agreed that Brady was a tad underrated in drafts. The skills remain. Patriots management felt so confident about the offensive line that Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins was shipped off to Tampa Bay for a reserve tight end Brady has targeted four times so far, while starting tight end Rob Gronkowski has certainly been at Brady's disposal for roughly half the snaps and leads the team in targets so far. No excuses, right?

Well, Brady has delivered a pair of uninspiring nine-point fantasy efforts the first two weeks, and there's no need to rehash the metrics, for he's played every bit as poorly as it appears. For perspective, 100 players/defenses have more points so far, including 28 quarterbacks. Derek Anderson and Kirk Cousins achieved 18 points in one game each. It's pretty clear that this Sunday, Brady's performance at home against the lowly Oakland Raiders will be a significant turning point for his value. Rock Oakland's world for 25 fantasy points and Brady looks reliable again, trustworthy, capable of supplying top-10 numbers. Disappoint with another single-digit effort and, well, many are going to wonder whether he's even worth owning anymore.

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2014 rankings update: Peterson situation 

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17

Adrian PetersonJeff Curry/USA TODAY SportsIt is still unknown when or if Adrian Peterson will play again this season.
The obvious risk in cutting Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in a fantasy league at this point is that he does suit up and play again this season, and based on the ridiculousness I've seen in the past few weeks, with constant altering of decisions based on reacting to external reactions, I say it's 50-50 he does play again. Fantasy owners need to separate their views on off-field situations -- real-life things that really matter -- and think about value and potential playing time and upside. On Monday, I was pretty skeptical that Peterson would play in Week 3. When I awoke Wednesday, that decision was seemingly clarified. Would it surprise me if Peterson plays in a month? Not one bit.

So it is that Tuesday's end-of-season rankings get the rare Wednesday update because Peterson's situation is so critical in every fantasy league, it warrants attention. Again, don't confuse matters. Separate all the legal and moral issues and focus on one thing: Will this person play again this season? Will it be soon? We know he's a special player on the field. I originally dropped Peterson from No. 3 overall to No. 13 for the Tuesday blog entry, a weekly staple, because I was concerned he would miss more time than the Vikings -- or the NFL, I suppose -- was originally letting on. These are hot button issues and everyone seems to have an opinion now, and as we've seen those external opinions drove the change in decision. There's a court hearing in early October and you bet this situation could change again by then.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was originally a top-three overall pick just like Peterson, and brings similar upside. And he has a high ankle sprain. My feeling is that Charles misses roughly a month of playing time, so I dropped him in the rankings to barely RB2 status. I was going to do this with Peterson. I'm not remotely comparing the reasons they are missing games, but to the point at hand for a fantasy column, I could see each playing in a month. However, I do think the situation with Peterson is more dire, and public perception and demand will force him to miss more time, perhaps all of it. I dropped Peterson to No. 40 for running backs. I suppose this is similar for ranking purposes to what's going on with Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. He should be playing in the second half of the season and he's an obvious difference-maker. For now I'm hedging on Peterson because as we've seen, no decision is really final, and this player could play at any point.

I did rank Peterson better than his teammates Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, though, again not by much. I don't think Asiata is a great option and he's shown this, really. Sure, he caught a touchdown pass and if the Vikings get a goal-line run, he's the man, but his yards per carry show he's not special. McKinnon could be but at this time -- and I doubt anything changed for him this week -- the Vikings appear willing to go nearly exclusively with Asiata as the running back, mixing in McKinnon and awesome wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson as well. I don't think Patterson becomes the main running back. I agree with most people that McKinnon has far more upside than Asiata should one of them get 20 touches per game, but there's little evidence that's pending. So add Asiata for this week, but he didn't approach my top-20 running backs. Good luck with your teams and more important with your lives.

Here are all of this week's end-of-season rankings, including the rest of the positions and their analysis from Tuesday.

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 3 

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram enters Week 3 fourth at his position in standard scoring with 34 points and alone at the top of the NFL with three rushing touchdowns, yet he won't be adding to those totals for a month after breaking a hand Sunday.

All injuries are a shame and we saw more impactful ones than this in recent days, but for the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick, the first three seasons of his NFL career weren't exactly filled with stardom and he was finally showing major promise. I would have assuredly sold high, for both durability and performance-based reasons -- hey, let's be realistic -- and while the latter hasn't shown up yet, the former clearly has. Still, even with bench space at a premium, try to keep Ingram owned in standard formats.

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There was limited movement in the end-of-season rankings after Week 1, because little had changed. It was, after all, only one game. There weren't many major performances or injuries, but of course, that was anything but the case in Week 2. As a result of the many injuries, you'll see some of the top names from draft day slipped in the rankings, because while all players are risks to some degree, when you know a player is hurting, it has to change perceptions and value. We'll discuss the risers and fallers by position, but let this be a reminder that average draft position is meaningless at this point, even if you drafted a week ago. You've already acquired the players, but now it's about winning games.

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Four Downs: Injuries dominate Week 2 

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14

Robert Griffin III, A.J. Green, Jamaal Charles Getty Images, AP PhotosRobert Griffin III, A.J. Green, Jamaal Charles were among the big names injured Sunday.
The unfortunate NFL stories leading up to Sunday's game were basically about anything but the action on the field -- Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy -- so it wasn't surprising the theme of Sunday afternoon was again barely about the players regaling us with gaudy statistics. This time, it's about important injuries. The most valuable fantasy option to leave early was surely Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, bolting with a toe injury and a big, costly zero for fantasy owners. Miami Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno, one of the surprise stars of Week 1, and suddenly trusted for a road tilt in Buffalo, suffered a dislocated elbow after one rushing attempt for 4 measly yards. And then there is the Washington football team, or what's left of it.

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