For the first 12 weeks of the fantasy season, you’ve dutifully followed every inch of player movement in this weekly post. Either that, or you’ve done the exact opposite, and you’ve probably been much better off doing the latter than the former.
Since the mental matter inside four skulls is far better than just one, we’re tweaking this post again and trying something different for the rest of the season. Instead of giving you just one perspective (umm, me) as you do research to set your weekly lineups, you’ve going to get four, with a little editorializing from me sprinkled in.
We’ve made composite rankings, which is an intelligent-sounding word that’s defined as “a thing made up of several parts or elements.” I googled that myself, and I also spent far too long looking at far too many numbers to assemble the rankings you see below.
The four fantasy pundits used are ESPN’s Matthew Berry, Michael Fabiano and Dave Dameshek from NFL.com, and Dave Richard of CBSSports.com. The players’ opponents are shown in brackets, and the average ranking for each player is tallied in the far right column.
Don’t worry, change is good, and the risk takers out there will quickly befriend Richard, who’s never seen an against the grain ranking he doesn’t like. Just look at his wide receivers…
|1. Aaron Rodgers (@NYG)||1||1||1||2||1.3|
|2. Tom Brady (vs. IND)||2||2||2||1||1.8|
|3. Drew Brees (vs. DET)||3||3||3||3||3|
|4. Tony Romo (@ARI)||5||6||4||4||4.75|
|5. Cam Newton (@TB)||4||4||5||7||5|
|6. Eli Manning (vs. GB)||6||5||7||6||6|
|7. Matthew Stafford (@NO)||7||7||8||5||6.75|
|8. Matt Ryan (@HOU)||10||9||9||8||9|
|9. Tim Tebow (@MIN)||8||8||11||10||9.25|
|10. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CIN)||11||11||6||13||10.25|
|11. Vince Young (@SEA)||9||13||10||11||10.75|
|12. Philip Rivers (@JAC)||12||12||13||9||11.50|
|13. Matt Moore (vs. OAK)||14||10||14||12||12.50|
|14. Josh Freeman (vs. CAR)||17||14||15||17||15.75|
|15. Carson Palmer (@MIA)||18||16||12||18||16|
Philip Rivers’ plunge continues. Three months ago I would have wagered at least four paychecks on the Chargers quarterback if I was asked to bet on who would have the better fantasy season between him and Tim Tebow.
Now, with the fantasy playoffs a few weeks away, Rivers is on the same level as Matt Moore and Vince Young. The only pain worse than a high draft investment in the man who makes the best Philip Rivers face is a high August price paid for Chris Johnson.
|1. Ray Rice (@CLE)||1||1||2||1||1.25|
|2. Arian Foster (vs. ATL)||4||3||1||5||3.25|
|3. Frank Gore (vs. STL)||2||6||3||9||4.25|
|4. DeMarco Murray (@ARI)||5||5||4||7||5.25|
|5. LeSean McCoy (@SEA)||6||2||5||8||5.25|
|6. Matt Forte (vs. KC)||7||4||6||10||6.75|
|7. Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. SD)||3||11||11||2||6.75|
|8. LeGarrette Blount (vs. CAR)||8||7||8||6||7.25|
|9. Chris Johnson (@BUF)||10||10||7||3||7.50|
|10. Marshawn Lynch (vs. PHI)||11||9||10||4||8.50|
|11. Michael Bush (@MIA)||9||8||9||11||9.25|
|12. Michael Turner (@HOU)||12||12||13||13||12.50|
|13. Reggie Bush (vs. OAK)||13||13||15||17||14.50|
|14. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. IND)||15||14||19||14||15.75|
|15. Rashard Mendenhall (vs. CIN)||19||18||14||14||16.25|
|16. Willis McGahee (@MIN)||14||15||12||22||17.25|
|17. Ryan Mathews (@JAC)||23||19||16||12||17.50|
|18. Beanie Wells (vs. DAL)||14||16||18||20||18|
|19. Darren Sproles (vs. DET)||20||20||17||21||19.50|
|20. DeAngelo Williams||25||17||20||16||19.50|
The widest split here is on Ryan Mathews, and we can blame that on several factors. First and foremost, there’s Mathews’ simple inability to stay healthy, which has led to massive fluctuations in production. Sure, last week he exploded for 137 rushing yards, but combined over his previous three games he had just 128.
Then there’s the Jaguars’ run defense, which has been one of the few bright spots in Jacksonville this year. It’s a unit that allowed 4.7 yards per carry last year, and has that number down to an even four in 2011.
Lastly, there’s the Rivers factor. Mathews was given the opportunity to run often last week because San Diego remained close with Denver before losing 16-13. But prior to last week Rivers turned the ball over seven times over his last five games (five interceptions, two lost fumbles). That leads to points going the other way, and more of Mathews either watching or blocking as San Diego tries to play catch up.
|1. Calvin Johnson (@NO)||1||1||1||2||1.25|
|2. Wes Welker (vs. IND)||2||2||4||5||3.25|
|3. Roddy White (@HOU)||12||3||3||3||5|
|4. Greg Jennings (@NYG)||7||5||2||6||5|
|5. Victor Cruz (vs. GB)||10||4||10||1||6.25|
|6. Steve Smith (@TB)||3||10||5||8||6.50|
|7. Brandon Marshall (vs. OAK)||5||6||12||4||6.75|
|8. Jordy Nelson (@NYG)||6||8||8||18||9.50|
|9. Hakeem Nicks (vs. GB)||9||9||11||11||10|
|10. Mike Wallace (vs. CIN)||11||7||6||17||10.25|
|11. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. DAL)||4||11||15||13||10.25|
|12. A.J. Green (@PIT)||16||12||9||12||12.25|
|13. Laurent Robinson (@ ARI)||8||15||21||7||12.75|
|14. Vincent Jackson (@JAC)||19||13||14||13||14|
|15. Brandon Lloyd (@SF)||13||17||17||9||14.25|
|16. Andre Johnson (vs. ATL)||15||21||7||13||16.50|
|17. Dez Bryant (@ARI)||14||14||13||26||16.75|
|18. Marques Colston (vs. DET)||17||16||16||27||19|
|19. Antonio Brown (vs. CIN)||17||19||22||22||20|
|20. Percy Harvin (vs. DEN)||28||22||23||10||20.75|
The differences in opinion here are glaring, but the most notable fluctuations involve Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald. With Fitz I’ll side with Berry, who’s high on a fantasy stud that will face Mike Jenkins as he returns from a hamstring injury that’s kept him out since Week 8.
I’m not sure how it’s possible to rank Cruz much lower than third, and even that may be too low. He’s set to feast on the 31st ranked secondary after racking up 285 receiving yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks.
|1. Rob Gronkowski (vs. IND)||1||2||1||1||1.25|
|2. Jimmy Graham (vs. DET)||2||1||2||2||1.75|
|3. Jason Witten (@ARI)||3||3||5||5||4|
|4. Antonio Gates (@JAC)||4||4||6||3||4.25|
|5. Jermicheal Finley (@NYG)||8||6||3||8||6.25|
|6. Tony Gonzalez (@HOU)||9||5||8||6||7.25|
|7. Aaron Hernandez (vs. IND)||5||8||10||6||7.50|
|8. Brent Celek (@SEA)||6||9||12||4||7.75|
|9. Fred Davis (vs. NYJ)||6||7||9||9||8|
|10. Vernon Davis (vs. STL)||13||10||4||10||9.25|
|11. Kellen Winslow (vs. CAR)||11||11||13||11||11.5|
|12. Owen Daniels (vs. ATL)||10||15||7||14||12.50|
|13. Dustin Keller (@WAS)||17||12||11||13||13.25|
|14. Jermaine Gresham (@PIT)||16||14||14||12||13.25|
|15. Brandon Pettigrew||19||13||15||17||16|
This was the closest to a consensus, with Vernon Davis causing the most trouble. That’s understandable, because while he is getting into the end zone (two touchdowns over his last three games), Davis’ yards per game is down a bit this year, and just enough that it’s noticeable.
He’s averaging 44 yards per game, and in 2010 he finished at 57.1.