The focus of this weeks column is on the Quarteback and Tight End. There were some truly epic QB performances this week, highlighted by the Brees/Manning duel in New Orleans. On the flip side, there were also a few massive duds. Roethlisberger disappointed in his return game, as did Matthew Stafford in London. Much has happened over the last two weeks, so the ranks will look a little different. Some of the struggling stars have been bumped down the list as players like Brees make large moves up.
How to Use this Column
Players from each position will be ranked along with a quick comment regarding their most recent news. Rankings will reflect rest of season value, not just the current week. The players’ track record, most recent production and overall health will all be factored in to the ranking.
In theory, players ranked side by side should be relatively equal in value. Owners can use these lists when trying to figure out whether to drop an underperforming player for a hot waiver add or use it as a tool to evaluate a potential trade.
Lastly, this column assumes standard scoring (4 point pass TDs, 1 point for 25 passing yards, 1 point for 10 pass/receiving yards, no PPR). If your league uses another scoring type, you may need to adjust for differences.
Super Elite Tier: This guy is in a class by himself in terms of value.
1. Tom Brady – Is there anything this guy can’t do? Maybe he will run for President after his playing career ends in 2025. I am not sure you can even make a case for any other QB at #1.
High End QB1 Tier: These players all make strong weekly starting options, but may not be matchup proof. The players in this tier are more or less interchangeable in terms of value. One could easily make a case for the 7th ranked player at 2nd or 3rd.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers was abysmal against Denver after three consecutive outings that were just okay. Cobb is playing hurt and Jones can’t get separation. Rodgers gets bumped down from the super elite tier, but retains the 2nd rank based on name brand value. If he fails to post elite numbers over the next three weeks, this may be the last time you see him here.
3. Drew Brees – Brees surges up the list with his record-breaking performance – 511 yards and 7 TDs is enough to almost single-handedly win fantasy weeks. He is looking healthy and the Saints have a relatively friendly schedule down the stretch.
4. Philip Rivers – Rivers is incredibly efficient and averaging 52 attempts per week over his last four games. A significant injury to Allen, along with minor ones to Green and most of the offensive line could affect him moving forward, however. I actually had Rivers ranked third before the Keenan Allen news broke.
5. Andrew Luck – Luck is surviving right now based on volume and name brand value. He simply does not look like an elite QB. Stats from his game against the Panthers do not tell the entire story. Luck was terrible for about 50 minutes before a late rally salvaged his fantasy week and almost won the game for the Colts.
6. Cam Newton – Cam’s multi-threat ability provides his owners with a very high floor. His Monday night performance is about the worst you will see from him. Overtime production made the overall stat line look a lot better.
7. Carson Palmer – Palmer may not have the same high floor that the others on this list do, but Arians’ aggressive offensive philosophy has helped Palmer ascend to new heights. He is the 3rd ranked fantasy QB for the season.
Low End QB1 Tier: These players are all worth starting most weeks. They all have serious question marks that keep them out of the tier above.
8. Ben Roethlisberger – It pains me to rank Big Ben this low, but he looked very rusty in his return game. Losing Le’Veon Bell for the season is yet another crushing blow to the offense. Ben’s volume will surely rise at the expense of his efficiency without their superstar runningback.
9. Andy Dalton – Dalton salvaged an otherwise forgettable fantasy performance with a late TD against the Steelers. His YTD numbers are still outstanding, but he will need to bounce back against the Browns to keep his value from sliding more. Fantasy owners don’t fully trust Dalton because of his history.
10. Eli Manning – Manning’s 350 yards and six touchdowns in week 8 were absolutely awesome. We still can’t forget the massive duds in weeks 6 and 7, however, where he posted a combined total of 14 fantasy points.
Fringe QB1/Low End QB2 Tier: There is a substantial value drop after the top 10, but all of these players are in the weekly QB1 discussion.
11. Tyrod Taylor – Taylor has produced like a QB1 and is expected to play without limitation in week 9. Hopefully the Bills’ offense can get back on track with Taylor under center.
12. Derek Carr – Carr’s production has been somewhat up and down, but he has been awesome the past two weeks. His week 8 demolition of the Jets is his best work yet.
13. Blake Bortles – Bortles has been surprisingly good this season despite struggles with efficiency. He has plenty of talented receiving options, so he should continue to flirt with QB1 value moving forward,
14. Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill really struggled against the Pats on Thursday as the whole team seemingly took the night off. The coaching change certainly appears to have helped his efficiency, but the AFC East is no easy division to navigate. Tannehill is a matchup dependent starting option.
15. Matt Ryan – Since week 5, Matt Ryan has 5 TDs and 8 TOs. The yardage has been there, but that level of production won’t cut it for a QB1 when so many others are performing at a high level. Perhaps a healthy Julio will help him get back to QB1 territory.
16. Russell Wilson – Wilson has yet to record a rushing TD on the season, and it is really difficult to post QB1 numbers on fewer than 30 attempts.
Low End QB 2 Tier: These players are startable when they have good matchups. Don’t try to get cute here though. Starting one of these players at the wrong time could cripple your team.
17. Jay Cutler – The Bears’ passing attack is trending up with Alshon Jeffery back in the fold. Cutler matches high upside with a very low floor.
18. Alex Smith – Kansas City seems to be putting more on Alex Smith’s plate with Charles out. His upside is limited, but he is a capable bye week fill in if the matchups are right.
19. Joe Flacco – Flacco’s production has been solid, but Steve Smith’s season ending injury takes away Flacco’s only reliable receiving threat.
20. Tony Romo – Romo is getting closer, so it is time to think about stashing him. The latest reports are questioning whether he will be ready to return by week 11, so adding him is not a must unless you are struggling at the QB position.
21. Peyton Manning – Manning looked a lot better on Sunday night, but he still had more interceptions (1) than TDs (0). I need to see more performances like this one before I can call him anything more than a streamer.
22. Josh McCown – McCown has faced three consecutive brutal matchups and has a couple more tough ones down the stretch. His upside remains high due to a lack of a running game. He is a sneaky fantasy option when the matchups are right.
23. Brian Hoyer – The combination of a bad defense, a bad run game and DeAndre Hopkins makes Hoyer worth streamer consideration.
24. Sam Bradford – Bradford has been bad. The only thing keeping him ranked this high is the theoretical upside of the Eagles’ offense.
25. Matthew Stafford – Stafford scored over 25% of his season point total in week 6. The Lions entire team is in disarray right now and I would be hard pressed to start him until they show signs of improvement.
Bottom of the Barrell Tier: Outside of 2 QB leagues, these guys are best left for the desperate.
26. Jameis Winston – Winston has done much better limiting the turnovers lately and Mike Evans has awakened. Owners can do worse, but they can also do a lot better.
27. Marcus Mariota – Mariota is likely to return for week 9 against the Saints. While it is difficult to recommend starting him, this would be the time to at least consider it.
Super Elite (Gronkowski) Tier: We might as well name the tier after the player who defines it.
1. Rob Gronkowski – Gronk had another big game with 113 yards and a TD on Thursday night. He has 106 fantasy points in 7 games. Tight Ends simply are not supposed to score that well.
High End TE1 Tier: These guys will give owners a weekly advantage most of the time.
2. Gary Barnidge – Barnidge is the number 2 fantasy tight end at the moment and it is not particularly close. He has totaled at least 10 fantasy points in six straight games and has emerged as the most reliable option in a volume heavy pass attack.
3. Greg Olsen – Olsen gets a ton of targets every week. He offers a great mix of weekly safety with a fair amount of upside.
4. Tyler Eifert – I like Eifert’s skills and his situation. He is a high upside player, but he is more susceptible to duds than the other high-end options.
5. Travis Kelce – Kelce is extremely talented and his yardage totals are higher than the other top performers. He probably should be the #2 option, but Kansas City does not target him as often as they should.
Mid Range TE1 Tier: These players offer substantial weekly upside, but they are not nearly as safe as those listed above.
6. Antonio Gates – Gates’ injury risk is extremely high, but he is the primary option in an elite passing attack. He is capable of approaching Gronk’s upside on a weekly basis when he is healthy.
7. Jimmy Graham – Graham has been more heavily featured lately with 27 targets over the last three weeks. He has totaled three fantasy points or fewer in 4 of 8 games, however.
8. Jordan Reed – Reed is a target monster with 47 targets in 5 games. Injury risk is substantial, but so is his potential for fantasy point production. He is one of six tight ends averaging more than 10 points per game.
9. Benjamin Watson – Watson has totaled 27 targets over the last three weeks and has emerged as one of Brees’ favorite targets. We all know how much Brees loves his tight ends.
10. Martellus Bennett – Bennett continues to be targeted heavily, but he and Cutler just are not connecting like they did last season. With Forte out, however, his value could spike again soon.
Low End TE1 Tier: These players have the upside to produce like low-end TE1s. There is a substantial drop off between 10 and 11 though.
11. Austin Seferian Jenkins – Jenkins had a huge week 1, and then got hurt week 2. He has a chance to return against the Giants in week 9 and will be on the TE1 radar when he does.
12. Ladarius Green – Green is a strong TE1 when Gates is inactive, and he is talented enough to consider starting him even when Gates plays. He left week 8 with an ankle issue, so owners will have to monitor that moving forward.
13. Jason Witten – Witten will give owners a few points each week, but his upside is severely limited. Now with Bryant back, Witten is more TE2 than TE1.
14. Eric Ebron – Ebron has had some nice games, but is clearly the third option on a lousy team. He is really just a matchup play.
Low End TE2 Tier: These players are worth considering as bye week replacements.
15. Jacob Tamme – Tamme has had a couple big games. His 10 catches for 102 yards and a TD against the Bucs is the latest example. Good luck predicting when the next one will come.
16. Crockett Gillmore – Gillmore’s value could be on the rise again with Smith out. He is worth a speculative add for owners in need of a TE.
17. Charles Clay – Clay is a boom or bust option in a low volume passing attack. Owners can do a lot worse, but the dud potential is very real here.
18. Delanie Walker – Walker has been heavily targeted lately. He offers a relatively high floor, but the Titans’ quarterback issues severely limit his upside.
19. Coby Fleener – Fleener had a nice game Monday night with 7 caches for 44 yards and a TD. The issue affecting Fleener’s fantasy value has always been his role within the offense. If he continues to see anywhere near as many targets weekly, he has TE1 upside.
20. Richard Rodgers – Rodgers is a touchdown dependent matchup play. His season high yardage total is just 45.
21. Zach Ertz – Ertz has been targeted 22 times over his past three games. Still, his value remains theoretical until he starts finding the end zone.
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