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Final 2016 Fantasy Football Tiered Rankings

The Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott is now a Tier 1 Running Back in my rankings, despite Tony Romo's back injury.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hey everyone, these are my updated standard league Tiered Rankings following the conclusion of Preseason Week 3 and the fallout of the Tony Romo and Teddy Bridgewater injuries.  Hopefully this helps those of you going into the final weekend of fantasy drafts before the season starts!  Happy Drafting!


Tier 1 - The Elite

1. Cam Newton, CAR

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB

I'm not scared off by a poor performance by Newton and Carolina overall in the 3rd preseason game.  He's still going to win you games on a week-to-week basis.  Rodgers is still here as well, but keep an eye on how WR Jordy Nelson comes out of the gate to start the season.  His ability to do (or not do) everything on the field after returning from injury will matter for the overall efficiency and explosiveness for Green Bay's offense.

Tier 2 - Almost Elite

3. Russell Wilson, SEA

4. Drew Brees, NO

5. Andrew Luck, IND

No changes here either, but if you'd forgotten, the Colts' offensive line is truly horrendous.  You just have to hope that Luck can stay healthy back there, because they are going to throw the ball a ton.

Tier 3 - Starters

6. Philip Rivers, SD

7. Carson Palmer, ARI

8. Eli Manning, NYG

9. Matthew Stafford, DET

10. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

11. Tom Brady, NE

12. Blake Bortles, JAX

13. Andy Dalton, CIN

The obvious change here is the loss of Romo, who is reportedly going to miss somewhere between the wide range of 4-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back.  I also moved Rivers ahead of Palmer, who has been missing some weapons (Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown) and has had a preseason to forget.  I think Palmer will be fine when everyone is on the field, but I'm high on Rivers this year.  Roethlisberger didn't move, but he and the rest of the Steelers' offense was in mid-season form this weekend.

Tier 4 - Big Upside Here

14. Derek Carr, OAK

15. Jameis Winston, TB

16. Kirk Cousins, WAS

17. Tyrod Taylor, BUF

18. Marcus Mariota, TEN

19. Robert Griffin III, CLE

What do all of these guys have in common? They all played well in Week 3 except Taylor, who, along with the rest of Buffalo's starters, hardly saw the field.  You can't trust Griffin to stay healthy, but he's going to make some big plays this season with guys like Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon.

RGIII has looked better than expected in Cleveland so far. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

RGIII has looked better than expected in Cleveland so far.

Tier 5 - Snoozeville Plus Dak Prescott

20. Alex Smith, KC

21. Matt Ryan, ATL

22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ

23. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

24. Joe Flacco, BAL

25. Jay Cutler, CHI

26. Dak Prescott, DAL

27. Sam Bradford, MIN

28. Brock Osweiler, HOU

We've got some additions here!  Prescott is the new kid on the block now that Romo is out for some time.  He's got more upside than the guys below and has looked good in the preseason.  Bradford and Osweiler both looked good this week, but just enough to make me say they could serve as decent streaming options or bye week replacements at some point in the season like the rest of these guys.  Matt Ryan threw another red-zone INT this weekend and I'm becoming more and more underwhelmed by him by the day.  Cutler has looked bad as well.

Update: Bradford is now a Viking after being traded to Minnesota for a 2017 1st-Round pick and 2018 conditional 4th-rounder.  His overall fantasy value remains the same to me though, a possible bye-week replacement or 2 QB, deep-league starter.  I'm leaving the other Vikings right where I have them for now, but Bradford should make you feel a little better about guys like Stefon Diggs.

Tier 6 - Not Touching With A 39.5 Foot Pole

29. Trevor Siemian, DEN

30. Blaine Gabbert, SF

31. Case Keenum, LA

32. Carson Wentz, PHI

Everyone in this tier will be lucky to make it to streaming status this season, but both the Broncos' and 49ers' QB situations have at least become more clear, making Siemian and Gabbert what look like the easy choices.  Hill is the presumed starter now that Bridgewater dislocated his left knee and completely tore his ACL in a freak non-contact injury while dropping back for a pass in practice.

Update: Shaun Hill has been removed and Wentz added to this group since the Bradford trade.  Hill may still start Week 1 while Bradford learns the playbook, but he's not worth owning in any leagues.  Wentz and the rest of the Eagles' offense are going to have some growing pains and he's not a fantasy option at this point.  Like the Vikings' players, I'm not moving any Eagles based on this.  I think Zach Ertz will still see plenty of targets and Ryan Mathews will probably get even more opportunities from this, albeit likely less effective ones.  Jordan Matthews is probably affected most, but he's already dropping so far that I don't see any reason to move him down my board.

Running Backs

Tier 1 - The Elite

1. David Johnson, ARI

2. Todd Gurley, LA

3. Lamar Miller, HOU

4. Adrian Peterson, MIN

5. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL

I've given in! I know it seems strange that I moved Elliott up into Tier 1 after Tony Romo was injured, but I think it raises his floor because the running game will be featured even more heavily to protect Dak Prescott as much as possible.  He looked the part in his Week 3 debut and he has great upside behind that o-line as well, but I'm still taking him behind these other guys.  I think he should go somewhere at the end of Round 1.  I'm not really concerned about Peterson minus Teddy Bridgewater.  I mean, the guy ran for 2,097 yards in 2012 with Christian Ponder starting all 16 games...Christian Ponder! He may be older, but the dude is a cyborg.

Tier 2 - Elite...When They're On The Field

6. Le'Veon Bell, PIT

7. Jamaal Charles, KC

These two guys make up the smallest tier in these rankings, but I think it makes sense.  Bell is out for the first 3 games and injuries have ended his past two seasons.  He'll be great when he's on the field though.  Charles has been slated to play in Week 1, but I'm not comfortable believing he's going to get the full workload he was used to prior to tearing his ACL in Week 5 last season.  There has been a lot of talk in the past couple days about Charles possibly being slightly behind on his timetable to regain his starting role and therefore, a majority of the backfield touches (see ESPN's Adam Teicher's report here).  Even if he completely sits out Week 1 and is brought on slowly in the next few weeks, he will continue to be amazing on a per touch basis though and he always has great upside.  I still think he belongs here with Bell and the two should be drafted in mid-to-late Round 2 with the guys in Tier 3, in my opinion.

Tier 3 - Low-End #1s

8. LeSean McCoy, BUF

9. Eddie Lacy, GB

10. Mark Ingram, NO

11. Devonta Freeman, ATL

12. Doug Martin, TB

13. Latavius Murray, OAK

Same order, but one riser here in Murray.  I just really like his combination of guaranteed touches and upside in Oakland's young offense that continues to get stronger and grow together.  Lacy has looked good in the preseason and I think he could be a steal if he keeps falling to early in Round 3.

Tier 4 - The Upside 2s

14. C.J. Anderson, DEN

15. Thomas Rawls, SEA

16. Carlos Hyde, SF

Anderson has looked good and he moves up to the top of this tier, but I don't think he's as safe as the guys above due to injury concerns and unknown production from the QB spot.  According to reports, Rawls is set to play in Week 1, but I'm not sure to what degree.  He definitely has the upside to be a RB1 for his owners though.  I move Hyde here even after his concussion because he's looked pretty good when he's been on the field and I think the 49ers are going to run the ball a lot.  The guy is talented and there is a world where he becomes a RB1, but just be aware of the lack of talent around him.

Tier 5 - 2s All Day

17. DeMarco Murray, TEN

18. Jonathan Stewart, CAR

19. Melvin Gordon, SD

20. Ryan Mathews, PHI

21. Jeremy Hill, CIN

22. Jeremy Langford, CHI

I moved Murray ahead of Stewart because both he and the rest of the Titans' running game have looked amazing in the preseason.  Those two guys are definitely the safest of this group at this point (Jonathan Stewart safe? I know, weird right?).  I also moved Gordon ahead of Mathews because he's just looked different than he did in his rookie year and I like the rest of the Chargers' offense much better than that of Philly's.

Tier 6 - Low-End 2s or High-End Flexes

23. Giovani Bernard, CIN

24. Matt Forte, NYJ

25. Frank Gore, IND

26. Rashad Jennings, NYG

27. Arian Foster, MIA

We'll just refer to this as the Old Man Tier...and Giovani Bernard.  Besides Bernard, Foster is the youngest of this group at age 30, but I think all of these guys are going to give you pretty solid and steady numbers, even if they're not spectacular.  I'll continue to avoid Forte at his current ADP of 38 Overall according to FantasyPros, however.

Tier 7 - The Monster Tier

Matt Jones is moving down, as he's injured and has been unimpressive in the preseason. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Jones is trending down, as he's been unimpressive in the preseason and is nursing a shoulder injury.

28. Matt Jones, WAS

29. Isaiah Crowell, CLE

30. T.J. Yeldon, JAX

31. LeGarrette Blount, NE

32. Derrick Henry, TEN

33. Chris Ivory, JAX

34. Charles Sims, TB

35. Ameer Abdullah, DET

36. Duke Johnson, CLE

37. Danny Woodhead, SD

38. James White, NE

39. DeAngelo Williams, PIT

40. Justin Forsett, BAL

41. Jay Ajayi, MIA

42. Bilal Powell, NYJ

43. Terrance West, BAL

Called The Monster for a reason, this massive tier has a little bit of everything.  Jones drops down a tier for me due to the combination of his shoulder injury and just not playing very well in the preseason.  He'll probably be the lead back in Washington, but I'm just not sure he's any good.  I love Crowell at his ADP of 122 Overall and I think he has a chance to sneak into RB2 range.  Ivory is going 20 picks ahead of backfield mate Yeldon (78 to 98 Overall) and I like Yeldon better overall, as he'll be more involved in the passing game and the rushes will be split pretty evenly.  Henry, Blount and Sims should present good value at 104, 109 and 113 Overall, respectively.  West is basically my favorite guy to grab at the end of drafts, especially now that Kenneth Dixon went down with an injury.  West has looked great in training camp and the preseason and I think he'll have a role in that offense.  Also, I think Powell will split touches with Forte more evenly than a lot of people think.

Tier 8 - Handcuffs and Fliers

44. DeAndre Washington, OAK

45. Devontae Booker, DEN

46. Jerick McKinnon, MIN

47. Spencer Ware, KC

48. Tevin Coleman, ATL

49. Chris Thompson, WAS

50. Alfred Morris, DAL

51. Shaun Draughn, SF

52. James Starks, GB

Thompson is going undrafted in most leagues right now and should definitely be getting more looks as the passing downs back in Washington.  He'll have solid value in PPR leagues.  Draughn is also a sneaky guy to get at the end of your drafts, as he'll be the primary backup to Hyde in San Francisco and will likely steal a good chunk of passing downs from him.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1 - That's No Moon!

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

2. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG

3. Julio Jones, ATL

Nothing to see here.  You can go about your business.  Move along.

Tier 2 - The Elite

4. A.J. Green, CIN

5. Allen Robinson, JAX

6. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

7. Dez Bryant, DAL

8. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

The group remains the same, but there's a little movement with Bryant because of the Romo injury.  I think Dez will be just fine with Prescott at QB and should be force-fed targets from the rookie.  He won't be exactly the same guy as he would be with Romo, just based on chemistry alone, but the guy is an elite player at his position.  He'll still get his.  I didn't move him behind Hopkins because I just haven't really seen him and Osweiler on the same page yet.  Even Prescott has thrown some TDs to Dez in the preseason.  Also, the Texans seem to have  few more weapons than they did last year in rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller and improved sophomore Jaelen Strong.  He'll still be good, I just like him the least of these guys when you have to nitpick.

Tier 3 - Upside Tier #1

9. Mike Evans, TB

10. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

11. Jordy Nelson, GB

12. Sammy Watkins, BUF

I'm a believer in Sammy Watkins this season. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

All of these guys have the potential to be Top-5 WRs, but Nelson moves down a few spots for me.  Why? Well, it's a combination of things.  I haven't heard any glowing things about how he's looked in practice while coming back from injury, he just started participating in full and didn't see any preseason action.  I'm just a little worried that he won't be the same guy before the injury, at least not immediately, which is why he drops behind the other two guys here.  Evans looked great in the Bucs' Week 3 preseason game.  Let's hope he and Winston keep it up going into Week 1 of the regular season.  I'm gonna be honest...Watkins moves up into this tier because I just really like him this season.  He was amazing at the end of last season and he's a big play waiting to happen.  He and Latavius Murray are my favorite guys to draft in the 3rd round.  Just stay healthy Sammy!

Tier 4 - High-End 2s

13. Keenan Allen, SD

14. Damaryius Thomas, DEN

15. Amari Cooper, OAK

16. Brandin Cooks, NO

17. T.Y. Hilton, IND

Haven't changed anything here besides moving Watkins up.  I love getting all of these guys in the right spot as my WR2, which for me is wherever I'm drafting in Round 3.

Tier 5 - Solid 2s and High-End Flexes

18. Randall Cobb, GB

19. Jeremy Maclin, KC

20. Donte Moncrief, IND

21. Eric Decker, NYJ

22. Michael Floyd, ARI

23. Julian Edelman, NE

24. Golden Tate, DET

25. Doug Baldwin, SEA

26. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR

None of my feelings on these guys have changed, they're all fine WR2s or great WR3s or flexes, depending on where you can get them.  I thought hard about moving Cobb up a tier, but I can't fully trust that the Packers' offense will be the same as it was pre-Jordy Nelson's injury.  Decker and Edelman (at least after Week 4) are perfect to pair with a slightly more boom-or-bust guys like Watkins or Hilton as your WR1.  I really like getting Moncrief or Floyd in the Round 5-6 range as my flex with huge upside.

Tier 6 - Silent But Lifesaving

27. Jarvis Landry, MIA

28. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

29. Allen Hurns, JAX

30. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

31. DeSean Jackson, WAS

32. Jordan Matthews, PHI

33. Michael Crabtree, OAK

I liked the tier name so much last time that I just decided to reuse it and all the same guys are still here as well, although the order changes slightly.  Nobody seems to want to draft these guys, which eventually makes them good values.  Jackson is more of a boom-or-bust guy and stands out a bit from everyone else, but he just keeps falling to Rounds 7 or 8, so he belongs with this group.

Tier 7 - Upside Tier #2

34. Marvin Jones, DET

35. Tyler Lockett, SEA

36. Josh Gordon, CLE

37. John Brown, ARI

38. Sterling Shepard, NYG

39. DeVante Parker, MIA

40. Kevin White, CHI

Same guys, same upside.  Jones, Lockett and Gordon are separating from the others for me, but the rest still provide a shot at great numbers down the road a bit.  Brown's headaches following an extended absence with a concussion are very concerning, which is why he's way down here.  Both Parker and White were favorite middle-round upside picks earlier in the summer, but they've failed to separate themselves through training camp and the preseason.  I'd still take them ahead of safer guys in the next tier just on their potential, but that's my draft philosophy at this point in drafts.

Tier 8 - Late Round Values

41. Tavon Austin, LA

42. Willie Snead, NO

43. Markus Wheaton, PIT

44. Vincent Jackson, TB

45. Stefon Diggs, MIN

46. Kamar Aiken, BAL

This tier shrinks a bit with Torrey Smith and Rishard Matthews moving down.  Diggs and Aiken move down a little, Diggs because of Bridgewater's injury and Aiken because both Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman are both back from injury (for now).  I think both will still be o.k., but neither will get quite as many looks now.

Tier 9 - Fliers

47. Corey Coleman, CLE

48. Travis Benjamin, SD

49. Michael Thomas, NO

50. Tajae Sharpe, TEN

51. Devin Funchess, CAR

52. Torrey Smith, SF

53. Phillip Dorsett, IND

54. Tyler Boyd, CIN

55. Chris Hogan, NE

56. Will Fuller, HOU

57. Terrelle Pryor, CLE

58. Laquon Treadwell, MIN

59. Sammie Coates, PIT

Everyone's favorite end-of-draft sleeper is here somewhere!  Sharpe is the guy I like most right now, which is why Rishard Matthews disappeared from the previous tier and doesn't show up in this one.  Smith moves down into this tier due to poor play (one target in the preseason Torrey, one?!).  Hogan looked great in Preseason Week 3, but you'll have to wait 4 games for Brady to come back, so I'm not sure he's worth stashing for that long.

Tight End

Tier 1 - Gronk

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE

He belongs here by himself, even without Brady for 4 games.

Tier 2 - The Elite

2. Jordan Reed, WAS

3. Greg Olsen, CAR

Same two guys here.  They're both the focal point of their respective team's passing offense.  Reed is more risky, but also has more upside, while Olsen is as steady as they come.

Tier 3 - The Upside Duo

4. Travis Kelce, KC

5. Coby Fleener, NO

Another group with no changes from last time.  These two both have huge upside and a decent floor in their offensive situations.  I'd be happy to get them in the Round 6-7 range, but I've rarely been able to in mocks.

Tier 4 - Solid Starters

Jared Cook could finally somewhat live up to expectations in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Cook could finally somewhat live up to expectations in Green Bay.

6. Antonio Gates, SD

7. Gary Barnidge, CLE

8. Delanie Walker, TEN

9. Zach Ertz, PHI

10. Dwayne Allen, IND

11. Julius Thomas, JAX

12. Jared Cook, GB

13. Tyler Eifert, CIN

We've actually got some changes here, with Cook joining this group and Ebron dropping out.  Cook started in Green Bay's 3rd preseason game and looked like he was in sync with Aaron Rodgers, catching 4-of-5 targets for 54 yards.  I know Cook has fooled us several times in the past, but he's never been with a QB like Rodgers or in an offense like this.  At this point, why not take a chance on a guy that could be a starter and has some upside?  Eifert drops to the bottom of this group and I considered putting him in Tier 5.  The reports are that he'll be out the first 4-to-6 weeks of the season, but a lot of leagues won't have enough room on their bench to hold 2 TEs for that long and those who can may not want to.  He should be a lock as a TE1 when he returns though.

Tier 5 - Everyone Else

14. Eric Ebron, DET

15. Martellus Bennett, NE

16. Zach Miller, CHI

17. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB

18. Jason Witten, DAL

19. Charles Clay, BUF

20. Vance McDonald, SF

21. Clive Walford, OAK

22. Virgil Green, DEN

23. Jesse James, PIT

24. Jordan Cameron, MIA

Ebron drops down here due to concerns that he may not be able to play in Week 1 due to his ankle injury.  I was really all aboard the Ebron hype-train before he got hurt and I still think he could play well when he gets on the field.  Jason Witten drops a little because of Romo's injury, but Prescott should target him short a fair amount and he's always better in PPR.  Ladarius Green dropped off my draft board completely after being placed on the PUP list, ruling him out for the first 6 weeks of the season.  His replacement, Jesse James (yep, that's his name), should get some nice opportunities and shows up late in this tier.