Fantasy football final draft player rankings

The Texans' Arian Foster is tops among running backs in the fantasy draft rankings - and a possible fantasy MVP, as well.
The Texans' Arian Foster is tops among running backs in the fantasy draft rankings - and a possible fantasy MVP, as well. (Associated Press file)
Posted: September 03, 2012

RUNNING BACKS

1. Arian Foster, Texans

All he has to do is stay healthy, and the multitalented tailback will vie for fantasy MVP status. When he's on, there's nobody like him.

2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles

Just as deadly as a receiver as he is as a runner, Shady is the most important cog in the Eagles' offense. With Michael Vick vowing to take fewer chances this year to spare his body, McCoy should get even more red-zone looks.

3. Ray Rice, Ravens

It's easy to overlook the role he plays in the Ravens' passing attack because Rice is such a strong rusher. You could make a case for any of the top three running backs to be No. 1.

4. Darren McFadden, Raiders

The only knock on Run-DMC is his injury history, so I understand why some will avoid him. Though I would never draft him with the fourth overall pick, I fully expect McFadden to crack the top-five ranks this season. He offers huge upside as a second-rounder.

5. Chris Johnson, Titans

Last year's bust of the year shouldn't get off to as slow a start as he did in 2011 following his lengthy holdout. Still, many of us harbor trust issues with the back once known as CJ2K. He's looked as sharp as ever this preseason.

6. Matt Forte, Bears

With Brandon Marshall in the fold, Forte's running lanes should be a bit wider. He's one of the few remaining workhorses in the league and merits a late first-round pick.

7. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

It now appears that Beast Mode will avoid prosecution/suspension during the season for his June DUI arrest. That means he should pick up where he left off as the alpha back of the soft NFC West.

8. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

Before breaking his ankle, Murray was on track to earn rookie-of-the-year honors. The Cowboys expect him to return to the form that made him a threat to take it to the house on every run.

9. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

Nearly a year removed from anterior cruciate ligament surgery, Charles appears to be in fine form and has already survived a hard hit on his knee in the preseason. But his offense looks moribund. How much time will it spend in the red zone?

10. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars

I fully expected the diminutive back to wear down last year, then he went out and claimed the NFL rushing title. Can his body really keep taking that much pounding? He ended his 38-day holdout Sunday. Could he possibly miss a game or two? Is he this year's Chris Johnson?

QUARTERBACKS

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Not quite in a category by himself - but not far from it, either. He should be the first QB off the board in every league.

2. Tom Brady, Patriots

Another no-lose proposition, he arguably has the deepest receiving corps in the biz, with Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez. Gets a nod over Drew Brees because of a less-experienced RB corps.

3. Drew Brees, Saints

The only other fantasy QB consistently in Rodgers' and Brady's league, he should have little trouble moving on without suspended head coach Sean Payton.

4. Matthew Stafford, Lions

He joined the elite ranks last season, and should continue to be a fantasy force to be reckoned with, as long as Megatron (a.k.a., wide receiver Calvin Johnson) is on the same field. An injury to his nonthrowing hand shouldn't be a factor in the regular season.

5. Cam Newton, Panthers

His rushing TDs made him formidable in 2011. Can he keep up his amazing pace this season? Not sure I'd bet on it.

6. Tony Romo, Cowboys

If he can just get his receivers back on the field, Romo can approach elite status again. The problem is, they're dropping like flies, and there's still no solidified No. 3 wideout.

7. Michael Vick, Eagles

The Eagles (and Vick) finished 2011 strong, and they should again be formidable competitors this season. But you have to be worried after the QB was knocked out of two consecutive preseason games (finger, ribs).

8. Matt Schaub, Texans

Just as he appeared to put the "injury-prone" label behind him, he suffered another string of problems that kept him out of six games in 2011. Healthy again, he has a chance to return to lofty heights. Love him as a borderline No. 1 QB.

9. Peyton Manning, Broncos

The ultimate high-risk, high-reward candidate, Manning finally took (and survived) his first meaningful hit since his series of neck surgeries. He looked sharp in Week 3 of the preseason, so optimism reigns in Denver.

10. Eli Manning, Giants

The two-time Super Bowl champ never gets his due, but with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the wings, Eli should continue to be a strong fantasy QB.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions

The only WR worth a first-round pick this season, Megatron's biggest worry is having his picture on the cover of Madden '13.

2. Wes Welker, Patriots

He's not happy about his contract, but that won't keep him from remaining Brady's go-to target.

3. Greg Jennings, Packers

He suffered a concussion in a team scrimmage, so he didn't see much preseason action. He remains Rodgers' favorite weapon, though Jordy Nelson detracts from his value. Nelson is a better value one or two rounds later.

4. A.J. Green, Bengals

Last year's rookie sensation has a year under his belt with fellow sophomore Andy Dalton. They should build on their success this season.

5. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

Tell me Kurt Warner is returning, and Fitz shoots to No. 2 on this list. Since you can't tell me that, I won't be spending a first-round pick on him this year.

6. Andre Johnson, Texans

He's only suited up for 20 games over the last two seasons, so injuries are a real bugaboo. When healthy, there's no one better.

7. Victor Cruz, Giants

Cruz and Nicks are arguably the second most potent WR tandem in the league. I love Cruz's game-changing potential - and his salsa moves.

8. Jordy Nelson, Packers

As much as I love Jennings, I'm targeting Jordy in every draft this year. For starters, it's always nice to own a big piece of the Packers' offense. In addition, his big-play potential makes him a threat to be among the top five WRs again this season.

9. Julio Jones, Falcons

That's right, you heard it here first: Jones will surpass Roddy White in the Falcons' pecking order this season. Maybe not in reception count, but in yards and TDs. Bank on it.

10. Marques Colston, Saints

With Robert Meachem gone, Colston will have to share a little less of Drew Brees' attention this year. Barring injury, he should easily return to the top-10 ranks.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Last year's fantasy MVP is ready to defend his crown. I wouldn't bet against him.

2. Jimmy Graham, Saints

He suffered a back injury at training camp but is expected to return well before the opener. He will push Gronk for TE supremacy this season.

3. Antonio Gates, Chargers

Fully healthy, he'll be Rivers' go-to guy again, with V-Jax gone and less-than-elite talent to replace him.

4. Jermichael Finley, Packers

Any starting receiver in Green Bay gets an elite grade from me.

5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots

It's hard to believe two TE's on the same team can be fantasy studs, but New England is no ordinary offense. Hernandez is a versatile player who will get some carries, and possibly even some return opportunities, as well as being split out wide.

6. Vernon Davis, 49ers

He's slipped a bit since his 2009 season at the top of the TE heap, but he's still Alex Smith's most dangerous weapon.

7. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions

Stafford likes him, and he's arguably the second-best receiver on the team.

8. Jason Witten, Cowboys

Romo's BFF drops out of the elite camp, and could drop further, due to a worrisome spleen laceration that could cost him a game or more.

9. Fred Davis, Redskins

He has stolen the starting job from Chris Cooley. RG3 could help him finally fulfill his potential.

10. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

The grizzled veteran will get his catches - and his TDs - in the Falcons' high-octane offense.

DEFENSES/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Packers

2. 49ers

3. Eagles

4. Texans

5. Lions

6. Ravens

7. Steelers

8. Raiders

9. Redskins

10. Cowboys

KICKERS

1. Mason Crosby, Packers

2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

3. Jason Hanson, Lions

4. Garrett Hartley, Saints

5. Alex Henery, Eagles

6. Dan Bailey, Cowboys

7. David Akers, 49ers

8. Matt Bryant, Falcons

9. Nate Kaeding, Chargers

10. Matt Prater, Broncos

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