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.
Spencer Ware , RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Current RB Rank: Heath Cummings 39th, Dave Richard 41st, Jamey Eisenberg 38th
I’ve written plenty about Jamaal Charles and what I expect from him this season, but recent reports haven’t been near as positive. While that doesn’t concern me long-term for Charles, it has enhanced my view of Ware.
Ware was remarkably efficient in 2015, rivaling Charles with his 5.6 YPC. Ware is a powerful back with impressive athleticism that could easily be a top 12 running back if Charles were to miss time again. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is Ware’s expected role early in the year.
With everything that has been reported so far, I’m expecting somewhere in the range of 12-15 touches for Charles early in the year with a gradual increase to 15-20. That leaves plenty of work for Ware as long as he can maintain his efficiency. That shouldn’t be a problem in Week 1 against the Chargers, and for that reason Ware is a decent No. 2 RB and an excellent flex option.
Jared Cook , TE, Green Bay Packers
Current TE Rank: Heath Cummings 15th, Dave Richard 13th, Jamey Eisenberg 10th
I have moved Cook up my rankings as slow as humanly possible. We’ve seen flashes from Cook in the past, but he’s never delivered on his potential outside of a couple of good stretches. It might not be fair to judge Cook’s history when he’s caught passes from these quarterbacks:
- Nick Foles
- Case Keenum
- Austin Davis
- Shaun Hill
- Sam Bradford
- Kellen Clemens
- Jake Locker
- Matt Hasselbeck
- Kerry Collins
- Vince Young
- Rusty Smith
We’re going to add Aaron Rodgers to that list, and presumably Cook’s production will respond accordingly.
Tajae Sharpe , WR, Tennessee Titans
Current WR Rank: Heath Cummings 45th, Dave Richard 40th, Jamey Eisenberg 42nd
I’ve also been a late adapter on Sharpe, who made the footnotes section last week. It wasn’t so much what Sharpe did that changed his ranking as what Kendall Wright didn’t do. Wright returned to practice this week only to re-injure his hamstring and fall sick. There’s just no reason to doubt now that Sharpe is going to get a chance to be a major contributor in this offense.
I’m still the lowest on Sharpe because of concerns over how prolific the passing attack will be but I’m very happy to land him as my 4th wide receiver later in the draft. Sharpe is now my third favorite rookie wide receiver behind Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas .
Other Risers: Dak Prescott , Cameron Artis-Payne , Kenny Stills
Dez Bryant , WR, Dallas Cowboys
Current WR Rank: Heath Cummings 11th, Dave Richard 6th, Jamey Eisenberg 6th
Apparently I’m the only one that thinks this is a significant downgrade for Bryant. As I wrote earlier this week, I don’t think Prescott just slides into the starting role and the Cowboys continue with business as usual.
Dez Bryant has played 14 games in his career without Romo and posted a fairly pedestrian 53-692-7. So you’re counting on Prescott being considerably better in his first NFL action than the quarterbacks Bryant has played with in the past. That seems very unlikely to me. I would expect Bryant to perform more like a No. 2 WR until Romo returns.
Justin Forsett , RB, Baltimore Ravens
Current RB Rank: Heath Cummings 40th, Dave Richard 45th, Jamey Eisenberg 41st
It’s not you, Justin. It’s me.
Sometimes a player’s performance has nothing to do with his falling in my rankings. In this case, I had multiple drafts this week and I kept seeing Forsett’s name at the top of my draft board late in drafts. I also kept taking other running backs I had ranked lower instead. When that’s the case, it’s time to move him down. Forsett will be a part of an ineffective committee, probably the second worst RB situation in the league.
DeVante Parker , WR, Miami Dolphins
Current WR Rank: Heath Cummings 47th, Dave Richard 37th, Jamey Eisenberg 47th
Parker should have maybe just reserved a spot in this section and built a residence. He has plummeted down my rankings due to uninspiring play, injuries and the resurgence of Kenny Stills. To be clear, it’s never a good sign when you’re losing out to Stills. It’s even worse when your coach is calling out your toughness. I still think there’s upside for Parker, but the chance of him realizing it in 2016 has dropped significantly.
Other Fallers: Jamaal Charles, Ladarius Green , Kenneth Dixon
Alshon Jeffery , WR Chicago Bears
Current WR Rank: Heath Cummings 7th, Dave Richard 16th, Jamey Eisenberg 13th
Earlier in the preseason I wrote about Jeffery as a breakout candidate, and now I’m almost ranking him where I said his upside was. That’s more about the Dez Bryant situation I referenced above and the injury concerns surrounding Jordy Nelson . Yes, Alshon has his own injury concerns, but were talking about a guy that’s missed 16 games in four seasons in the league.
It’s also a guy that has consistently produced No. 1 WR numbers while competing with Brandon Marshall , Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett for targets. All of those guys are gone, replaced by worse versions. Jeffery should be a target monster for a team that will spend most of the season playing from behind. Think DeAndre Hopkins of 2015.
Source: CBS Sports / 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rankings Review 4.0