Ranks reax: Lions-Bears has potential 

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17

Matthew Stafford, Calvin JohnsonLeon Halip/Getty ImagesMatthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson combined for 47 fantasy points against the Bears in Week 13.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was a first-round pick in many ESPN average live drafts, and first at his position. Matthew Stafford was the fifth quarterback chosen, a fourth-rounder overall. Running back Reggie Bush went before Stafford, with Joique Bell a few rounds later, which obviously was ill-advised. The Detroit Lions were supposed to carry fantasy owners this season, but as in many things in life, some plans get derailed. Stafford is the No. 15 QB. Johnson is barely top-20 among wide receivers. Perhaps the most valuable Lion has been the team’s defense/special teams, third overall after being undrafted. Regardless, it’s Week 16 now, hopefully you’re still playing for something and it’s time for Stafford, Megatron and yes, the outstanding Lions defense to help you out, because it’s Chicago Bears week again!

Backfield breakdown entering Week 16 

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
videoThe most prolific non-quarterback in fantasy football this season could be leaving us at the worst possible time. Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, No. 8 overall in fantasy points, broke a bone in his left hand in Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles and underwent surgery Monday. The team remains hopeful Murray, with nearly 1,700 rushing yards -- 400 more than anyone else's total -- can handle his normal workload in Sunday’s critical matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, but fantasy owners need to plan ahead.

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Four Downs: A Tale of Three Rookies 

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
Beckham/Hill/ManzielGetty ImagesOn a day that began with Johnny Manziel grabbing all the headlines, it was fellow rookies Odell Beckham Jr. and Jeremy Hill who made the biggest impressions.

The race for top rookie honors in fantasy football this season could come down to Sunday’s brightest statistical stars, as New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill dominated to the point they entered the Sunday night Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys tilt not only topping the list of fantasy performers among first-year players, but leading everyone. And no, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is definitely not in the conversation for top rookie honors, though we’ll get to his starting debut later.

As for Beckham, ridiculously quick, tough and blessed with large hands, he was the latest to toy with the brutal Washington Redskins defense, hauling in 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns for an NFL-leading 30 fantasy points. Since debuting in Week 5 -- he missed September with a hamstring injury -- he has outscored every wide receiver for fantasy scoring except the Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas, which is quite an achievement. As great and consistent as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown and Green Bay Packers’ Jordy Nelson are, among others, Beckham has been better since he began playing at the beginning of October, becoming the first receiver since the New Orleans Saints’ Marques Colston in 2006 -- and only the third since 1960 -- to reach 100 standard fantasy points after nine games. Then in his 10th game he scored 30! Let’s call Beckham a clear top-10 wide receiver, safe regardless of matchup, and it’s going to be tough to keep him from next year’s top 10 as well.

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Week 15 flex rankings 

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11

C.J. AndersonRon Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe red-hot C.J. Anderson has emerged as a must-start player every week.
For many in ESPN leagues, this is going to be the final week of the fantasy season, as it's the playoff semifinals and, well, someone's going to win each matchup and someone's going to lose. Hopefully you're on the winning side, and these rankings, along with the multitude of information provided by me and my far smarter colleagues at ESPN Fantasy, worked to inform and entertain you along the way. So, here is the latest compilation of the top running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all in one tidy list. Whether you're trailing or leading, pick the best options.

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 15 and beyond!

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: He's certainly on his way to finishing as fantasy's top non-quarterback. Matchups no longer matter with him.

2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Regularly torches the Colts, and this weekend shouldn't be any different. Nice to see him healthy again.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Like Foster, he's achieved great success against this week's foe, the Raiders. Well really, who hasn't?

4. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: He might end up with more than 100 receptions. I'd like to see that, actually.

5. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Still really, really good, and still really, really healthy. For those who thought it wasn't possible.

6. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles

7. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: Tough to be too concerned about a player with 22 or more fantasy points in four of five games.

8. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: There's literally nobody else we can count on for this many receptions and yards every week. Brown is amazing. Only two running backs have outscored him.

9. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens

10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: With more than 300 receiving yards the past two weeks, there are clearly no concerns here.

11. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Topped 100 rushing yards against the 49ers a few weeks ago, and now he's meeting them at home.

12. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: Peyton Manning is going to be just fine.

13. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

14. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

15. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: I think he would have played more had Monday's game been closer. Tough matchup this week, though.

16. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants

17. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Assuming the Bears aren't up 28 in the first half, Ingram should get his touches.

18. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Well, that was quite the Monday night performance. Could have been better without the hip injury. I think he'll play this week.

19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: No more Brandon Marshall, so expect better statistics. And they were already really strong.

20. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

21. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: We expected he'd struggle against the Rams. He shouldn't struggle against the Giants.

22. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos

23. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: Stop worrying about the other active Lions running backs! They don't matter!

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsJeremy Maclin's touchdown catch was one of the Eagles' few offensive bright spots on Sunday.
24. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: Perhaps not as valuable with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, but still a legit threat.

25. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

26. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Hey, Johnny Football has a strong arm. He's going to be throwing and running.

27. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Can't say it matters much to me that he "likes to snuggle," but good for him. Snuggle with the football twice in the end zone, OK?

28. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: He saw 20 of the team's 23 rushes last week. Forget about Jonas Gray. Blount's the guy.

29. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: Wonderful matchup this week, even if he shares the carries. If he scares you, because he hasn't topped six fantasy points since Week 8, I understand. But it's the Titans!

30. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Look, he's struggled statistically when Joe Haden covers him. It's a fact.

31. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: Did fine in Week 1 with Derek Anderson at quarterback. Will do fine again.

32. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

33. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants

34. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: From 35 fantasy points to 4. Welcome to fantasy football.

35. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

36. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

37. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: Double-digits for fantasy in five of six games. Are your starting running backs doing this?

38. Golden Tate, WR, Lions: Has predictably slowed down since Calvin Johnson returned.

39. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts: The boom and bust backfield. Herron is boom.

40. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns

41. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Would not go into Julio Jones' spot should Jones sit. But White would move up 10 spots or so.

42. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: Forget everything that happened to this offense in the Seattle loss. The Eagles can't beat elite teams. Dallas is not elite.

43. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Remember, he's done quite well in his career against the Broncos.

44. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: At least the Raiders figured out their other running backs aren't any good.

45. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: If he goes another four years before his next 100-yard rushing game, that's a really big problem.

46. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

47. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins

48. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: He has two 20-point games in his past five outings. But the next guy has been more consistent. I say use 'em both.

49. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots

50. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints: Drew Brees will be more successful this week. It's the Bears.

51. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

52. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

[+] EnlargeJeremy Hill
John Grieshop/Getty ImagesJeremy Hill has emerged as the Bengals' running back worth starting.
53. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Yep, I'd prefer Hill in the Bengals' backfield.

54. Tre Mason, RB, Rams

55. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets: Could be his second 100-yard rushing game of the disappointing season. But one shouldn't expect it.

56. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: No guarantee he plays this week, but his absence clearly affected the offense.

57. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

58. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: I'm worried about Andre Ellington for next season, and Bernard is similar. It's why teams are reluctant to give too many touches to players like this.

59. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: Was finally heard from in Week 14.

60. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

61. Terrance West, RB, Browns: Getting plenty of touches and isn't really the backup here. Of course, it's not about the running game this week.

62. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Odd season for him. Scored his most points in Week 14, but the two games in which he has touchdowns are his No. 3 and 4 games of the season. Bottom line is he's been disappointing.

63. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

64. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Yeah, enough is enough. And this is the highest-ranked 49er.

65. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

66. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: Got sweet revenge in his return to Cleveland by rushing for 30 yards. Yawn.

67. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Breakout performance or merely a result of facing the Titans? Giants fans probably don't want to know the answer.

68. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: Would have been better had he just not suited up for the game at all.

69. Marques Colston, WR, Saints

70. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers

71. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts: Reggie Wayne has not been shut down for the season due to his injury, so be careful in overrating Moncrief's chance.

72. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

73. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

74. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

[+] EnlargeMarquess Wilson
Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsCan Marquess Wilson come close to matching Brandon Marshall's production?
75. Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears: Figures to start and thrive with Marshall out, but he's no guarantee.

76. Eric Decker, WR, Jets: Value goes up assuming Percy Harvin sits, but then again, he's still No. 76. Didn't go up too much.

77. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

78. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: I'm not betting on a repeat performance against the Rams.

79. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans

80. Ben Tate, RB, Vikings: Someone has to run the ball, and the Vikings claim he'll get a chance.

81. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers

82. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

83. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: His name seems way out of place in this spot, but are you really sure he'll play and see enough targets? Didn't you think that last week?

84. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: Nice season for him. From starter to the bench to only relevant again because Denard Robinson is done for the season. Don't invest. Jordan Todman probably gets a chance, too.

85. Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings

86. Nate Washington, WR, Titans

87. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

88. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions: It doesn't matter what round you drafted him in. It's not happening.

89. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: Yeah, same with him. Still think he's the best rookie running back?

90. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

91. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

92. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

93. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants

94. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles: A few months ago, everyone loved him. But he doesn't get rushing attempts or targets anymore.

95. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Three touchdowns or bust. Take the bust side.

96. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: Sure, blame it all on Colin Kaepernick if it makes you feel better.

97. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

98. James Jones, WR, Raiders

99. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals

100. Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars

Others: Alfred Blue, RB, Texans; Larry Donnell, TE, Giants; Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs; Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens; Robert Woods, WR, Bills; James Starks, RB, Packers; Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs; Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens; Anthony Dixon, RB, Bills; Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars; Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos; Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers; Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets; Kenny Britt, WR, Rams

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Drew Brees and Jimmy GrahamEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesThinking of benching Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham in Week 15? Think again. They face the Bears.
The rampant complaining about Drew Brees and the underachieving New Orleans Saints seems a bit misplaced in the fantasy football world because, after all, this remains a productive group of fantasy football performers. What has happened recently is not unlike what happens to plenty of other options; when the team faces a favorable matchup, we get outstanding statistics. In tougher matchups, the team struggles. And then every so often something a bit unexplainable occurs, such as in Week 14 when the Saints’ offense, at home against a miserable Carolina Panthers defense, couldn’t do much with it.

This week, however, the Saints meet the Chicago Bears.

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 15 

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
Minnesota Vikings fullback -- let’s be fair, that’s kind of what he is -- Matt Asiata has been the clear choice in the team’s backfield the past few weeks since the unfortunate Jerick McKinnon season-ending injury, which seems a tad shortsighted. Asiata is a large, wide fellow who does several things well (block, catch passes, convert short touchdowns), but he’s not particularly quick or possessing what one would call the standard running back qualifications of hitting a hole, galloping through it and gaining many yards. So the fact that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Monday that he’d like to get Ben Tate and Joe Banyard more involved in the offense should be regarded as a positive, if it actually occurs; notably so for Tate owners

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ManningSteve Nehf/Getty ImagesOnly two times in non-Week 17 games has Peyton Manning scored fewer points than he did Sunday.

One of the quarterbacks in Sunday’s Buffalo Bills-Denver Broncos game scored 20 fantasy points, while the other provided only two. Knowing the options were the legendary Peyton Manning and the, well, not-so-great Kyle Orton, assigning these fantasy points seems obvious, right? Well, that’s why they play the games, and that’s how top seeds in the fantasy playoffs suffer premature exits. Peyton Manning, active in 97.2 percent of ESPN leagues, entering Week 14 tied for second in season scoring behind only Andrew Luck and on a streak of scoring double digits in fantasy every week since the Jimmy Carter administration (OK, since Week 2 of 2012), didn’t put on much of a statistical show Sunday.

Of course, the Broncos still won the game 24-17 -- which is all Manning and coach John Fox care about -- and running back C.J. Anderson continued his fantastic performance for many fantasy owners (he was active in 84.8 percent of leagues) by reaching 22 or more fantasy points for the fourth time in five weeks. Anderson limped around with a sprained ankle most of Sunday but found a way to score three short touchdowns and rush for 58 yards against a Bills defense that entered play permitting the second fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Anderson wasn’t great, but multiple touchdowns overcome things such as averaging fewer than three yards per rush. Anderson is a must-play each week, if that notion hadn’t been obvious previously.

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Week 14 flex rankings 

December, 4, 2014
Dec 4

Le'Veon BellAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarLe'Veon Bell has 57 fantasy points in his past two games.
It's often said that the roster decisions made during fantasy playoff time are the most difficult, but I'd disagree with that theme. There's just more on the line because a wrong decision could be the final one of a season, but the basic thinking doesn't change. When comparing two or more options, myriad factors enter the fray, but it comes down to doing the research and finally choosing one player over the others, and that's it. And don't look back. As we continue with the weekly flex rankings, take this information for what it is, one man's perspective. Use your best instincts, pick a roster, and hope for the best.

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 14 and beyond!

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Bell's quarterback appears concerned about his running back's overuse, but that shouldn't be a problem this month. Perhaps next year, though.

2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Expect him to light up the Jaguars, as usual.

3. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: No 20-point games for a while, but he remains productive no matter what else goes on around him. And honestly, don't bother with a handcuff option. You're never going to use Joseph Randle in December.

4. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers

5. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Should go back to plenty of touches this week, so no concerns here.

6. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Faces a Chicago defense that has been very kind to opposing wide receivers the past month.

7. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

8. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs

9. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos

10. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens: Don't laugh, he's fourth in the NFL in rushing. I keep pointing this out to some degree for its shock value, I suppose, but we still don't see him treated as a top-10 RB.

11. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: He's certainly in a happy place. Yes, he's a must-start. In other words, if you have him, start him.

12. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

13. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Looked special again on Thanksgiving, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking it was the Bears, and they are really, really bad at covering wide receivers.

14. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

15. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

16. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Has been running well of late, but now he faces the Seahawks. Yeah, there's some concern.

17. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Didja know he's fourth on his own team in fantasy points this season? Doesn't seem like it, right? Has scored double digits in 4-of-5, he'll end up No. 1.

18. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: Candidate for fantasy MVP honors when one considers his original value. Currently tied for 11th among all flex-spot eligible options. Wasn't drafted that way!

19. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Really doesn't matter who's slingin' the football his way. But Gordon is already showing signs of general indifference on route running, which is troubling.

20. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: Fantasy gold. G-O-L-D.

21. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

22. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

23. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: He has four 100-yard rushing games this season. The guy leading these flex rankings has three. Just pointing that out.

24. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Viewed as a disappointment, but he's already at 82 catches for 1,169 yards!

25. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants: Missed practice with a sore ankle, and the team signed running back depth, so yeah, it's no lock he suits up this week.

26. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: Limited in practice with a sore hamstring, but you'll know Thursday at dinner if he's playing.

27. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers

[+] EnlargeTre Mason
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonHow can Tre Mason follow up his huge 33-point game against the Raiders?
28. Tre Mason, RB, Rams: Oh, if only all our running backs could face the Raiders every week during the playoffs. If only.

29. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: I'm not particularly worried about any other Lions running backs, as this top 100 more than insinuates.

30. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Oh no, only 16 fantasy points in two weeks! Panic time! Sound the alarms! (Don't worry, he's safe. Perfectly safe.)

31. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

32. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: You can't convince me he all of a sudden stinks because he's simply too old. The entire offense is a mess. This week it gets the Raiders. I'm still buying.

33. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: Facing the Cowboys is easier than facing the Lions. Yep, that's what I think it's all about. Rinse. Repeat.

34. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Good thing Monday's game didn't end at halftime, when he had no yards!

35. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: If Mark Sanchez looks Maclin's way six times while Richard Sherman is defending, I'll be surprised. But we rank Maclin well in case the Eagles find ways to get him open, which they should.

36. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins

37. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

38. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: I'll set the over/under this week at 11.5 targets. You know he's gotta be angry about Week 13, and he probably let his coaches and teammates know it.

39. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

40. Golden Tate, WR, Lions

41. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: With double-digit fantasy points in 6-of-8 starts, you bet I find it odd he's not close to 100 percent owned in ESPN leagues. But hey, he's owned in my leagues.

42. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots: Another fellow who deserves more attention. He's really productive now.

43. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Ditto for him.

44. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: He just looks better than the smaller fellow with whom he's competing for time. I wouldn't recommend using both of them in the same lineup. I would prefer to avoid both.

45. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals

46. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots

47. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts: A fine Week 13 statistically, but don't expect him to do much better than that. He's still sharing touches in a pass-heavy offense.

48. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: He's slowing down statistically, and he faces the Lions.

49. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

50. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: The other guy in the backfield is having trouble holding onto the football, or else he'd be ranked in this spot. Big week for Crowell if he intends to keep the starting role. It's not just the quarterback situation on this franchise!

51. Roddy White, WR, Falcons

52. Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars: Sorry, but lately we're not impressed.

53. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

54. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints

55. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Tight end colleague Virgil Green is such an effective blocker that Thomas owners might not be pleased at how many snaps their guy plays.

56. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

57. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: Hey, if all they're gonna do is hand the football off to the running backs, we'll play along! Ivory is a high-upside play, in theory.

58. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

59. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsSammy Watkins has just nine fantasy points over the past four games.
60. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: Awfully quiet over the past month, and the Broncos really aren't a great matchup.

61. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

62. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Certainly more valuable in PPR formats, but he still has value.

63. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: Same as Edelman, really. Except eligible at the more scarce position.

64. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

65. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers

66. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: With the Colts playing in Cleveland this weekend, expect many Browns fans to recall the monster trade of last season. Or not.

67. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

68. Marques Colston, WR, Saints

69. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Sure, you can choose to believe that his solid Week 13 showing is the new normal. But this rank strongly suggests I don't.

70. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: The risk with Stewart is more about durability. Wouldn't you hate to see him leave a December game in the first quarter with injury if you activated him?

71. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: He's actually healthy.

72. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: Perhaps next season more fantasy owners will pass on the rookie running backs and look at wide receiver.

73. Robert Woods, WR, Bills

74. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Might play, but it's dangerous to invest.

75. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: Might also play, and it's also dangerous. He really hasn't done much statistically.

76. Terrance West, RB, Browns: If Crowell sits, West moves into his slot in these rankings.

77. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Perhaps we'd like to all believe that the 49ers will produce a bloated 30-point lead early, sit Gore, and let Hyde do his Tre Mason impression. But has that really happened in any other Raiders game this season?

78. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Regression is a pain in the you-know-what.

79. Marion Grice, RB, Cardinals: If we exalted him to top-30 status here, it would more than imply that Andre Ellington was the main problem. And he wasn't. The offense is the problem.

80. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

81. Stedman Bailey, WR, Rams

82. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

83. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: Sleeper pick in theory since the Eagles' secondary is generally a problem, but Russell Wilson just doesn't look his way much.

84. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Moves up if Jennings sits, but he doesn't look special, regardless of matchup.

85. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

86. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: Relying on most tight ends is problematic, even the better ones.

87. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

88. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets: He ran for 100 yards! Finally! Don't let that sway you into thinking all is well now.

89. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Disappointing performance in Week 13 but again, if McKinnon sits, this guy has proven he can score touchdowns.

90. Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings

91. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: Has been cleared to play, but not knowing the potential touches and seeing the schedule, it's tough to invest in him as an active player.

92. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals

93. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

94. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

95. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: If you ask me to name one tight end who could push one of the big three out, it's him.

96. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

97. Percy Harvin, WR, Jets: Still think he's a great player?

98. Eric Decker, WR, Jets

99. Alfred Blue, RB, Texans

100. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins

Others: Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders; Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys; Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts; Kenny Britt, WR, Rams; Roy Helu, RB, Redskins; James Starks, RB, Packers; Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars; Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers; Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns; Reggie Bush, RB, Lions; Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks; Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals

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Tony RomoTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsDespite Tony Romo's poor performance in Week 13, he should remain a fantasy starter.
The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears might have laid the proverbial eggs -- turkey eggs, of course -- on Thanksgiving, but this is not the week to start abandoning strong fantasy options. Rip on quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler all you like for their proclivity to throw footballs to the other team, for a lack of January success, off-field nonsense or whatever, but track record is important and these are top-10 quarterbacks. And perhaps most importantly on Thursday night these guys will be throwing plenty against each other’s weak defenses and piling up the fantasy points, bringing others along for the ride.

I’m certainly not the fantasy owner/analyst who recommends blindly sticking with the players who got you this far, because it implies that one ignores valuable information that doesn’t allow one’s top lineup to be represented. In other words, consider all possibilities, but don’t simply activate someone solely due to season numbers. In the case of Romo and Cutler, that’s not the overriding factor.

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 14 

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
Things suddenly don’t look so promising for the 9-3 Arizona Cardinals, and it’s not only because the defending champion Seattle Seahawks appear back on track and poised to catch them in the tough NFC West. The Cardinals can’t score points, and running back Andre Ellington has become a significant part of the problem. For weeks, Ellington -- likely hobbled by a season-long foot injury -- has struggled to find running room in a predictable offense with a limited quarterback, and now his availability for the Week 14 game against the Kansas City Chiefs is in question because of an even more troublesome hip injury. In some ways, fantasy owners get a gift here. Ellington owners continued to stubbornly play him despite performance that dictated he didn’t deserve it, with statistics paling in comparison to the first half of his season. Now it’s obvious this isn’t someone to rely on.

The question becomes what happens to the Arizona offensive game plan if Ellington sits out a week or more.

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Welcome to December and the fantasy football playoffs, and since there's no more trading and only a few more weeks left, we've come to the end of the road for the weekly blog entry that has been the end-of-season rankings. Hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have and you were informed and entertained along the way! Don't fret, the weekly rankings provided by the ESPN Fantasy Fearsome Foursome will continue to be posted on Wednesdays, and flex rankings will remain a Thursday fixture in this space. So thanks for tuning in all season and best of luck!

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Ryan FitzpatrickTroy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsRyan Fitzpatrick's 39 fantasy points Sunday currently top the Week 13 leaderboard.
Fantasy leagues aren't won solely thanks to the statistical goodness of quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers or top wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Antonio Brown. On occasion, fellows like Billy Volek and Drew Bennett do the damage. Wait, who? Longtime fantasy football owners remember this Tennessee Titans duo from 2004, the hot and then suddenly cold tandem that helped fantasy owners get to the playoffs before bringing the joy to an abrupt halt. Anyone can see who the most owned and productive quarterbacks are today, but who might be the next off-the-radar fantasy monsters like Volek and Bennett were a decade ago? Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins certainly made their case Sunday by combining for 74 fantasy points in a 45-21 romp over the Titans.

In his first start in a month (and only because of Ryan Mallett's season-ending injury), Fitzpatrick tossed six touchdown passes for a small segment of fantasy owners (0.5 percent of ESPN leagues) while Hopkins, who hadn't topped 17 fantasy points in a game this season, caught 238 yards worth of passes and two touchdowns for 35 fantasy points. He was active in 52.5 percent of leagues, 21st-most among wide receivers. It's certainly not one of the more well-known tandems in the NFL, but the schedule offers possibility for more success, with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the slate twice in December, bookending a road matchup with the Indianapolis Colts and a home game with the Baltimore Ravens. The Jaguars, Colts and Ravens aren't good against the pass and on Sunday permitted opposing quarterbacks to pass for more than 1,000 passing yards combined.

While nobody will aim to make a case for the bearded Fitzpatrick as a standard fantasy league starter, I have pointed out on occasion his relevance in deeper formats.

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Week 13 flex rankings 

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

BrownAP Photo/Wade PayneFantasy owners will be happy to have Antonio Brown back from his bye week.
For those who enjoy football and lots and lots of good food, it's tough to do much better than Thanksgiving. It's simply an awesome day, and we've got loads of fantasy relevant players performing in what should be competitive, fun games. As for the food, well, I'm just hoping to stay awake when Russell Wilson reaches 15 fantasy points. Here are the latest flex rankings, and I'm guessing by Week 13 you're aware of what comprises them, certain trends I stick to and, well, try not to each too much!

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 13 and beyond!

1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Still getting questions about his handcuff option and I'm thinking, it really isn't going to matter. This guy's playing all 16 games. But he won't make it to 2,000 rushing yards.

2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: The Saints can be run on, passed on, you name it. As if anyone were worried.

3. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Worry about his availability, but this rank is a sign of my trust in his ability to perform like a champ if he's active. If not, Alfred Blue would be in my top 30 here in flex, but he's not Foster. And as of Wednesday, I just don't know whether Foster will play.

4. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Broncos generally don't get run on, but how many guys like Charles have they faced? Exactly.

5. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Not as bad as his owners think. Still elite.

6. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Remember when people gave up on him in September? Yeah, that was funny.

7. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: You really miss this guy when he's on bye. Nobody is more reliable.

8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos

9. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: The mind boggles at what he could do with 15 targets against Philly.

10. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Tough matchup for sure, but the receptions and volume separate him from concern.

11. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: Doesn't matter who the quarterback is for this guy. I'm serious. What a dysfunctional mess around Morris. Their fans do deserve better.

12. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

[+] EnlargeJustin Forsett
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesJustin Forsett's Monday night outburst further proves how legitimate of a fantasy threat he is.
13. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens: Don't laugh, he's third in the league in rushing. He probably deserves a better rank here, and it's already a rank nobody could have imagined back in September.

14. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

15. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos

16. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Pretty difficult for defenses to keep him in check. Imagine if he was on Denver!

17. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Facing the Bears tends to fix struggling offenses.

18. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: It's a week-to-week league, so while he was awesome in Week 12, if he's not in Week 13, it opens the door for Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball. But who knows.

19. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: The Patriots just seem to get it. Whatever it is.

20. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

21. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: A bit hurt, a bit crazy and the schedule is more than a bit challenging.

22. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

23. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: Fabulous player, hard to have concerns at this point.

24. Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars: He should bounce back nicely in a better matchup.

25. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: This is not the normal Lions defense he's feasted on in the past.

26. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears

27. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants: Seems to me like next week he'll either be close to top 10 or in the 30s. And the Jaguars really aren't that bad.

28. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

29. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

30. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinIs Jeremy Maclin still a slam dunk option with Mark Sanchez at quarterback?
31. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: Would be nice if Mark Sanchez could throw a decent deep pass. And, well, you know, stop throwing the ball to the other team, too.

32. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

33. Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Playing so miserably the past three weeks, for whatever reason (health, schedule, Drew Stanton), I don't know how you can feel great about him, even in a tasty matchup. Something's clearly amiss.

34. Golden Tate, WR, Lions

35. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Yep, we've all pretty much decided if you have room for one Bengals running back, he's the one.

36. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals

37. Tre Mason, RB, Rams

38. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: Not so easy to throw on the Vikings, but it's not like the Panthers are going to run wild.

39. Roddy White, WR, Falcons

40. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: Has looked pretty good of late, actually. It's not a time share. His quarterback is a problem, though, and defenses have noticed.

41. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

42. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

43. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins

44. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: Is he safe? I wouldn't say that. But there is upside and he does find the end zone.

45. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: Better or worse with Colt McCoy? Sadly, this is better for all the Redskins weapons. And that's saying a lot because McCoy is not good, either.

46. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

47. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Had his chance against Washington last week. Now it's Seattle. Watch him run for 110 yards and a score. That's the NFL.

48. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: Destroyed the Philly defense, though he wasn't the first fellow to do so. But Zach Mettenberger does look legit.

49. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Amazing how a simple bye week can make fantasy owners forget about a guy. He's really good!

50. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

51. Joique Bell, RB, Lions

52. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

53. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: Still not a good player but can score on occasion and the team will keep using him. Even if the other guy clearly looks better.

54. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

55. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

56. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: May we all get booted without warning, wind up in a better place 48 hours later and score two touchdowns with seemingly minimal effort. I feel like we should've seen this coming since it's Bill Belichick.

57. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

58. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

[+] EnlargeJulius Thomas
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsJulius Thomas' injury concerns make him a less desirable option this week.
59. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Not the normal rank for him, but he's neither healthy nor a high-volume catcher.

60. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Just. Score. A. Touchdown.

61. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts: Not that anyone should believe this would be a top-10 running back if he got the opportunity. He's kinda ordinary.

62. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: Kinda like this guy.

63. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: We want to believe so badly.

64. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens

65. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots

66. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets

67. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: Clearly the team's top receiving weapon, but it doesn't matter much this week. And stop using Vernon Davis! Seriously, check his season. One point per week since Week 2!

68. Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Got more attention with Brandin Cooks out of the lineup.

69. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: I feel like he'll be forgotten in a week, but not in a Jonas Gray way. Tough matchup, dysfunctional team.

70. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals

71. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys

72. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

73. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants

74. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins: Pretty productive lately, deserves more fantasy attention.

75. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: Pretty unproductive all season, deserves less attention.

76. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans

77. Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys

78. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

79. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

80. Percy Harvin, WR, Jets: Why not just play him at quarterback? Would it really matter?

81. Eric Decker, WR, Jets

82. Terrance West, RB, Browns

83. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: And just that quickly he became irrelevant again. And it had nothing to do with the absent Larry Fitzgerald, who is probably absent again.

84. Kenny Britt, WR, Rams

85. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: His owners have probably given up by now. McCoy's ascension should help though, since the other guy was throwing everything short.

86. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

87. Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots: Comedian was dealt some unfunny news Sunday, as he didn't see a snap. Should see some this week.

88. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers

89. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers

90. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Has anyone seen an indication that he's a future star?

91. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: We still rank him well, but that's three consecutive duds.

92. John Brown, WR, Cardinals

93. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints: I think this could be a top-20 WR if the team gave it a chance.

94. Robert Woods, WR, Bills: Could say the same thing here, though the Bills already have such a fellow.

95. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: The next guy starts. This guy still does better. But at No. 95, neither does well enough.

96. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Maybe the team needs 50 more carries to see he's average, at best.

97. Justin Hunter, WR, Titans: Time for Mettenberger to give him a 14-target game.

98. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

99. Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns

100. Anthony Dixon, RB, Bills

Others: Alfred Blue, RB, Texans; Kendall Wright, WR, Titans; Larry Donnell, TE, Giants; Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs; Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs; Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs; Chris Johnson, RB, Jets; Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings; Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings; DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers; Reggie Bush, RB, Lions; Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers; Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers; Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 13 

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray isn’t a sure thing to play in Week 13, as he recovers from a concussion suffered in the Week 12 Thursday night game, but even if he is deemed playable, my advice to fantasy owners is to keep expectations in check. Murray -- the Central Florida product many of us have been begging the Raiders to use the past two months while Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew plodded their way to irrelevant statistics -- burst out against the Kansas City Chiefs with touchdowns on two of his four carries, including an electric 90-yard jaunt. Then he was hurt. Now fantasy owners are conflicted.

While I acknowledge Murray is worth adding in pretty much any league in case he’s a future star, there are several reasons why relying on him is dangerous, and why the fact he was moved into the starter’s role on our ESPN Fantasy running back depth chart doesn’t tell enough of the story.

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2014 rankings update: Gordon top-10 WR 

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25

First of all, let's wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all. Second, remember that there is a trio of sure-to-be-exciting football games Thursday, so get your lineups in early! Here is the latest edition of the end-of-season rankings, as we aim to define value for future weeks and, for many of you, the playoff ones. Most of you can no longer make trades, but hopefully this still helps in decision-making. And remember, the Week 13 rankings will be posted Wednesday.

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