This will be the last rankings column of the season! The focus today is on Quarterback and Tight End positions. Since the last time I analyzed these two positions, much has happened. Andrew Luck is out for at least a couple more weeks; Flacco is out for the season; Ben Roethlisberger narrowly avoided a second lengthy absence, and Tony Romo finally made his return. Needless to say, the rankings look a lot different than they did three weeks ago.
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 (for those of you that are still allowed to trade).
Standard scoring applies here: 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: The one and only. Brady is in a class by himself.
1. Tom Brady – Brady lost two of his main passing game weapons in consecutive weeks, and may be without Amendola for a while now. He is still the best, but Cam is closing in.
High End QB1 Tier: These players are every week starters and the value of players within this tier is very comparable.
2. Cam Newton – Newton is second in total fantasy points after torching the Redskins for 5 touchdowns. He has a knack for finding the endzone and he continues to thrive despite a weak receiver core.
3. Ben Roethlisberger – Of the 6 games he has appeared in, Big Ben left two early due to injury, and entered week 10 in relief after Landry Jones got hurt. He is still averaging almost 20 fantasy points per game; just imagine if he had been healthy all season.
4. Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers’ raw numbers have been better the last three weeks. He continues to struggle with his efficiency as his receivers struggle to separate. The 2015 version of Rodgers is a good fantasy option, not a great one.
5. Drew Brees – Brees is the number one quarterback over the past month based on point averages. His volume has been high enough to keep him near the top of the ranks.
6. Carson Palmer – Palmer has been fantastic all season long. There is no reason to think he will be anything but a top QB1 the rest of the way.
Low End QB1 Tier: These players are a cut below those listed above, but still worth starting most weeks.
7. Andy Dalton – There have been a couple of duds for Dalton in November. He looked fantastic against the Cardinals on Monday night, however. The Bengals offense is very good most weeks.
8. Tony Romo – Romo threw 2 picks in his return game and looked pretty rusty at times. Still, the Cowboys managed to get a win and better times are ahead for their offense as a whole. Romo will be in the QB1 conversation against the Panthers on Thanksgiving.
9. Eli Manning – Manning has been a boom or bust quarterback this season. Manning’s stretch schedule is not all that great, but at least he has the two most difficult at home.
10. Philip Rivers – Rivers isn’t a good quarterback, he is great. The problem is that he is running out of players to throw the ball to. He has one touchdown in his last two games.
11. Andrew Luck – I know, I know. Luck is out at least the next two games. All of the players listed below are matchup plays. Luck deserves to be owned universally because he will be a fantasy playoff difference maker if he is able to return in time.
High End QB2 Tier: None of these players are every week starters, but mixing and matching weekly within this tier should yield QB1 results.
12. Derek Carr – Just when we were ready to call Carr a QB1, he goes and posts a massive dud in what appeared to be a friendly matchup. He is on the QB1 fringe right now.
13. Jay Cutler – Cutler struggled against the mighty Broncos without Jeffery and Forte. If Jeffery can make it back, Cutler enters the QB1 conversation on a weekly basis. Without Jeffery, Cutler would be really tough to trust.
14. Russell Wilson – Wilson posted his second multi touchdown game of the season against the 49ers in week 11. Lack of volume limits Wilson’s upside, but he has a decent schedule over the last few weeks.
15. Jameis Winston – Fresh off a 5 touchdown breakout and with a tantalizing schedule down the stretch, Winston has seen a tremendous jump in value.
16. Matt Ryan – Ryan’s yardage totals remain high, and he finally had his first 3 touchdown game of the season. He has only thrown 1 more touchdown than interceptions in his last five games despite having one of the game’s best wide receivers on his side.
17. Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill is what he is: a midrange QB2. There simply is not enough upside to use him outside of a perfect matchup.
Low End QB2 Tier: These players are firmly entrenched in the QB2 tier, but they offer streamer appeal when they face weak pass defenses.
18. Brock Osweiler – Osweiler should have a secure hold on the Broncos’ starting job, but the reality is that Peyton could be back for week 13. Given the premium weapons in Denver, Osweiler has low-end QB1 upside.
19. Brian Hoyer – Hoyer has cleared the concussion protocol and appears to be on track to play in week 12. Given his awesome matchup, he will be a popular streamer this week.
20. Blake Bortles – Bortles continues to post nice TD totals and get plenty of volume. Struggles with efficiency prevent him from being an every week player. In the right matchup, he is a solid play.
21. Matthew Stafford – Volume and Calvin Johnson are on Stafford’s side. The Lions offense has some serious issues though, so Stafford is nothing more than a low-end QB2.
22. Marcus Mariota – Mariota disappointed in a plum matchup Thursday night. His schedule is not great toward the end of the season, so Mariota will be difficult to use.
23. Tyrod Taylor – Taylor has been pretty bad since returning from injury three weeks ago. He is not running the ball very efficiently and he does not get enough pass attempts to produce for fantasy owners. Taylor also sustained a shoulder injury against the Patriots Monday night.
24. Alex Smith – Smith is a solid fantasy quarterback, nothing more. If you are using him, it likely means that you have run out of better ideas.
25. Kirk Cousins – Cousins has cut back on the interceptions, although he did lose two fumbles last week. Desean Jackson’s reinsertion into the lineup greatly enhances Cousins’ upside.
Super Elite (Gronkowski) Tier: I don’t need to explain this one.
1. Rob Gronkowski – Gronk has posted two duds in his last three games. Opposing defenses are going to shift more and more attention to Gronk as Brady continues to lose more passing game weapons. Gronk is good enough to overcome it.
High End TE1 Tier: These guys will give owners a weekly advantage most of the time. Their values are more or less interchangeable.
2. Greg Olsen – Olsen is the most consistent performer at the position due to a high target volume. He does not have as much weekly upside as Eifert though.
3. Tyler Eifert – Eifert is more or less a touchdown dependent fantasy option, but he is clearly Dalton’s favorite red zone target. Eifert is tied for the NFL lead with 11 TDs.
4. Gary Barnidge – Barnidge has slowed down a little in recent weeks. He remains the best red zone threat in Cleveland and will receive a boost with McCown poised to take over again.
Mid Range TE1 Tier: These players are must starts on a weekly basis, but are a clear step down from the top four.
5. Travis Kelce – Kelce’s usage has been disappointing. He is as talented as any tight end in the league. His role in KC is holding him back.
6. Delanie Walker – After a relatively slow start to the season, Walker has emerged as Mariota’s favorite target. He leads all tight ends in receptions and is 5th in yards despite missing a game earlier in the season.
7. Jordan Reed – Reed’s production has been closer to the players in the tier above, but he will be on the injury report yet again with an MCL issue. His status for week 12 is uncertain.
Low End TE1 Tier: These players are worth starting most weeks. The have the upside to produce like the high-end options, albeit with a much lower floor.
8. Antonio Gates – Gates struggled along with Rivers in week 11. His injury history, advanced age and the Chargers’ poor record may lead to a shut down before the season ends.
9. Jimmy Graham – Graham is nothing more than an ordinary pass catching tight end in the Seahawks’ offense. He was only targeted three times against the 9ers in week 11.
10. Benjamin Watson – Watson had a bad game last time out. He has been a focal point of the Saints revitalized passing attack, so he maintains his status as a top 10 options.
11. Crockett Gillmore – Gillmore had his first 100 yard game on the heels of back to back weeks with a touchdown. His value is on the rise, and he appears to be a focal point in the new look Ravens’ offense.
12. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – ASJ is finally expected to return in week 12. He was on track for a breakout year before getting hurt in week two. Make sure he is not on the free agent list if you need TE help.
TE2 Tier: These players could make decent streamer plays when the matchups are right.
13. Vernon Davis – Davis was heavily involved in the offensive game plan for the first time since his move to Denver. If the Broncos continue to go with a two tight end set, he still has some talent left.
14. Jacob Tamme – Tamme has emerged as one of the more reliable passing game weapons for Matt Ryan despite a slow week 11.
15. Jason Witten – Witten’s value should be on the rise with Romo back in the lineup. He did not do much in week 11, however, and does not have a very high ceiling. If you are looking for 40-60 scoreless yards from your TE, Witten is your man.
16. Martellus Bennett – Bennett continues to underperform, and he is now dealing with a rib injury. I would not feel very good if he was the best tight end on my roster.
17. Ladarius Green – Given all the injuries to the Chargers receivers, Green should be heavily involved moving forward. He was only targeted three times in his return game, however.
18. Brent Celek – Celek has posted big games in back to back weeks as the Eagles have been using more two tight end sets. He is worth an add for desperate owners and makes a very intriguing week 12 play with Ertz likely out.
19. Zach Ertz – Ertz’s role appeared to be growing before sustaining a concussion in week 11. He will almost certainly miss at least one game.
20. Zach Miller – Miller backed up his breakout performance in week 10 with 47 yards on 6 targets. He is worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
21. Richard Rodgers – It is TD or bust for Rodgers. If the Packers offense gets rolling again, he could be a decent play down the stretch.
22. Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph broke out with six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. I need to see a lot more before I actually consider using him.
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