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We’re constantly updating out Fantasy Football rankings here at CBS Sports, but it’s not often we take the time in this space to explain why (beyond the obvious).
Throughout the preseason, I’ll update you on the risers and fallers in our rankings as well as one outlier per week. The outlier will be a player I like (or dislike) more than Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg.
James White , RB, New England Patriots
Current PPR RB Rank: Heath Cummings 41st/Dave Richard 34th/Jamey Eisenberg 29th
|REC: 40||REC YDS: 410||TOTAL TD: 6|
As you can see, I’m not moving White up as high as Dave and Jamey are, but there’s not doubt I’m moving him up. White finished 2015 with a bang, placing as the No. 8 running back in PPR scoring over the last six weeks. I don’t expect White to come anywhere close to that type of production in 2016, but it does show you the upside is there.
I do still have many concerns with elevating White too high. We don’t really know how long Dion Lewis is out, and six games of production, especially at the beginning of the season, doesn’t have a whole lot of value.
I also don’t have a firm grip on White’s role. Yes, I think he’ll be the pass-catching back, but will he get a little more work in the running game? Down the stretch White only had 12 carries in that spectacular six-game stretch.
Finally, how valuable is the pass-catching back in this offense with Jimmy Garoppolo under center? We certainly don’t expect it to be business as usual for the Patrtios the first four weeks of the season. Those four weeks could be up to 67 percent of White’s time as a featured player.
Tyrod Taylor , QB, Buffalo Bills
Current QB Rank: Heath Cummings 12th/Dave Richard 15th/Jamey Eisenberg 12th
|PASS YDS: 3,035||RUSH YDS: 568||TOTAL TD: 24|
Taylor continues to climb up my draft board and is now ranked as a No. 1 QB by both Jamey and me. This puts us in line with industry average on Fantasy Pros, but Taylor is still being drafted far lower (No. 16 QB). In other words, if you’re committed to the late round QB approach, Taylor is your guy. How good could he be?
Last season, Taylor was a top 12 QB on a per game basis despite low volume and bad game scripts. This season I believe both of those could change. The Bills defense has taken several hits over the offseason so they may not be in a position to run the ball as often as Rex Ryan would like to. Even a 10 percent bump in volume would put Taylor in a position to challenge the top eight at the position.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins , TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current TE Rank: Heath Cummings 14th/Dave Richard 18th/Jamey Eisenberg 15th
Fantasy Football is mostly an equation based on talent and opportunity. We have never doubted the talent of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but for a while it looked like he may not get the opportunity. Dirk Koetter’s tone has changed over the last week and not surprisingly it looks like the most talented tight end in Tampa Bay has a very good chance to be the starter.
Seferian-Jenkins has far more upside than several of the tight ends I have listed above him, but you can’t really draft him as a starter because of his injury history. Instead, he’s a perfect streaming option who should produce as a starter whenever he’s on the field. If he actually plays 16 games and lives up to his potential, he’ll be one of the steals of your draft.
Other Risers: Tajae Sharpe , Robert Griffin III , Isaiah Crowell
John Brown , WR, Arizona Cardinals
Current WR Rank: Heath Cummings 29th/Dave Richard 21st/Jamey Eisenberg 30th
|REC: 65||YDS: 1,003||TD: 7|
I’ve been the high man on Brown all summer, and if all three Cardinals receivers are healthy I still think he’s the best. Unfortunately, it’s becoming really hard to believe that Brown is going to be healthy. After missing more than two weeks in the concussion protocol, Brown returned to practice this week. Then he left practice. Then he returned. Then he left again with a trainer on Thursday.
Obviously, the primary concern is that John Brown is OK. He has a promising career ahead of him and concussions are scary, especially when effects linger this long. I hope he and the Cardinals doctors are able to figure this out for his sake.
From a Fantasy Football perspective it’s nearly impossible to know how to rank Brown right now. What I do know is I couldn’t leave him in my top 20. I currently have Brown ranked as a mid-range No. 3 WR. That takes into account the fact that he may play 16 games and post borderline No. 1 numbers or he may battle concussion issues throughout the season.
Matt Jones , RB, Washington Redskins
Current RB Rank: Heath Cummings 31st/Dave Richard 23rd/Jamey Eisenberg 29th
|ATT: 144||YDS: 490||TD: 3|
I never really believed in Jones’ talent, but it was difficult not to rank him as a No. 2 RB with the dearth of talent around him in the Washington RB stable. Now that he’s suffered an injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the preseason I have an excuse to rank him where I think he belongs.
If Jones returns for Week 1 and the Redskins haven’t added anyone else (highly unlikely in my opinion), this ranking may be too low. That’s a risk I’m willing to take with a player I just don’t think is that special talent wise.
Matt Ryan , QB, Atlanta Falcons
Current QB Rank: Heath Cummings 14th/Dave Richard 20th/Jamey Eisenberg 19th
|COMP %: 48.6%||TD: 0||INT: 1|
I try really hard not to overreact to how veterans look in the preseason. But, man, has Matt Ryan looked awful. I was on an island earlier this summer, thinking Ryan should bounce back to have another top-10 season. While I’m still the highest on him, I can no longer muster that level of optimism.
I still believe that Ryan is an above-average quarterback with one of the best wide receivers in the league. But it’s pretty evident there’s something going on in the red zone that Ryan is not currently able to overcome. I’m fine with drafting Ryan as your backup or in a 2QB league, but I no longer think he’s a great later-round option as a starter.
Other Fallers: Thomas Rawls , DeAngelo Williams , Justin Forsett
Giovani Bernard , RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Current PPR RB Rank: Heath Cummings 15th/Dave Richard 23rd/Jamey Eisenberg 21st
|RUSH YARDS: 730||REC YARDS: 472||TOTAL TD: 2|
Yes, I think Bernard is a better running back than Jeremy Hill . No, I don’t think the Bengals fully agree. Their opinion is what matters, but it’s still no excuse for how Bernard is being ranked/drafted.
In three years in the NFL, Bernard has never finished worse that 18th in PPR scoring. He has averaged 1,146 total yards, 49 receptions and 6 touchdowns over those three years. The only time he’s had less than 1,100 yards or 49 catches was 2014 when he missed three games. So Bernard has been a remarkably consistent mid-range No. 2 RB in PPR and everyone is drafting him like he’s a borderline No. 2. What am I missing?
I think it must be the touchdowns.
Bernard only scored two touchdowns in 2015 after scoring 15 in his first two seasons in the league. At the same time, Jeremy Hill had a miserable year that was salvaged by the 12 touchdowns he scored. Apparently everyone decided that Hill will be the only back to score touchdowns for the Bengals now. That’s ridiculous.
If anything, I like Bernard more knowing that he can finish that high in PPR without scoring touchdowns. As you know, I don’t think touchdowns are all that predictable. So if his numbers bounce back, we may really see something special. If Bernard is really going to be available in the 5th round of PPR drafts, I’m going to have him on every team that I can.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rankings Review 3.0