Fantasy Football Analysis: Cumulative Player Rankings for 2012

What follows is my secret cheat sheet for fantasy football, which I am sharing with all of you. Every year I compile a cumulative ranking, because I never know which ranking list to use. So rather than make a decision, I just average together 6 of the most popular, freely available rankings and use that instead. The sites I have used for this cumulative ranking include ESPN, Yahoo,, CBSsports, FFtoolbox, and Fantasy Café. By averaging together all of these rankings, I’m able to get more of a consensus about what the “experts” say. In this one I’ll give you the top 20 QB, Top 25 RB and WR and top 20 TE. I’m ignoring Defense/Special Teams and Kickers because, well, they don’t really matter. Standard leagues require 7 starters from the positions I’m looking at, so I will also give you a cumulative overall Top 70 from these sources to help with the starting positions. As always, these rankings assume standard scoring 10-team leagues. So, check out how our favorite Vikings players fare on these detailed rankings, after the jump.

Top 20 QBs
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Matthew Stafford
5. Cam Newton
6. Michael Vick
7. Eli Manning
8. Tony Romo
9. Philip Rivers
10. Peyton Manning
11. Matt Ryan
12. Ben Roethlisberger
13. Jay Cutler
14. Matt Schaub
15. Robert Griffin III
16. Andy Dalton
17. Josh Freeman
18. Carson Palmer
19. Joe Flacco
20. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Christian Ponder doesn’t make the top 20, unfortunately, and the further down the list you go, the less of a consensus there is about the players. But there were three QBs on this ranking that had an unusually high standard deviation. A high standard deviation (for those non-math junkies) means that the rankings didn’t really agree on their placement. Matt Ryan was ranked as high as 6th and as low as 14th on the various sources I used, which is highly variable. The cumulative ranking has Matt Ryan at 11th, which isn’t too bad, although I would be tempted to swap him and Peyton Manning. RGIII was ranked as high as 12th and as low as 17th. That makes him a #2 QB regardless, but at opposite ends of the #2 spectrum. As a rookie, he’s maybe the most difficult to evaluate, but I wouldn’t draft him any higher than as a #2. Josh Freeman was ranked as high as 15th but as low as 22nd, making him either a solid #2 or not even worth drafting in 10 team leagues. He had a great and promising 2010, but followed it up with a pretty mediocre season last year. I like the new weapons Tampa Bay acquired through free agency and the draft, but it may take a few weeks for that team to gel with so many new players and a new coaching staff. I think Freeman is draft-able, and I like his #17 ranking.

Top 25 RB
1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. LeSean McCoy
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Ryan Mathews
6. Chris Johnson
7. Matt Forte
8. Darren McFadden
9. DeMarco Murray
10. Trent Richardson
11. Marshawn Lynch
12. Adrian Peterson
13. Steven Jackson
14. Jamaal Charles
15. Michael Turner
16. Ahmad Bradshaw
17. Fred Jackson
18. Darren Sproles
19. Frank Gore
20. Reggie Bush
21. Doug Martin
22. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
23. Beanie Wells
24. Shonn Greene
25. Roy Helu

Adrian Peterson slides out of the Top 10, making him (technically) a high-end #2 running back ranked #12. I have a hard time disagreeing with that, as there is at least a chance he doesn’t start week 1. Otherwise, the top 4 RB are almost unanimous, and are no-brainers. There were 2 RB on the list that had an extremely high standard deviation: Doug Martin and Roy Helu. Both are young running backs with opportunity, but their prospects are very much unknown. Martin was ranked as high as 13th and as low as 35th. He’s either a high-end #2 or a backup. He’ll have to compete with LeGarrette Blount in Tampa Bay for touches, but that’s not saying much. It’s anyone’s guess as to how he’ll get used, but I like his ranking at 21. It’s a similar story with Roy Helu. He was ranked as high as 21st, and as low as 36th. It’s not as much variance as Martin, but he’s a low-end #2/flex play, or bench fodder. He’s in the unfortunate coaching stable of Mike Shanahan in Washington and will have to compete for touches with Tim Hightower and Evan Royster.

Top 25 WR
1. Calvin Johnson
2. Larry Fitzgerald
3. Andre Johnson
4. Roddy White
5. Greg Jennings
6. Wes Welker
7. A.J. Green
8. Hakeem Nicks
9. Victor Cruz
10. Julio Jones
11. Brandon Marshall
12. Mike Wallace
13. Jordy Nelson
14. Steve Smith
15. Marques Colston
16. Dez Bryant
17. Percy Harvin
18. Demaryius Thomas
19. Miles Austin
20. Jeremy Maclin
21. Dwayne Bowe
22. Brandon Lloyd
23. Vincent Jackson
24. Steve Johnson
25. Antonio Brown

Percy Harvin finds his way onto list as a #2 WR ranked 17th. I am surely biased, but I like him as a low-end #1. There were three WR that the experts couldn’t agree on though as Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Lloyd all had high standard deviations. Nelson was ranked as high as 5th and as low as 18th. He had a monster season last year, largely due to his high TD total. Green Bay likes to spread the ball around, so his opportunity will be limited, but he always makes the most of his opportunities. I'm high on Jordy Nelson and see him as a top 10 play. Demaryius Thomas was ranked as high as 12th and as low as 24th. He certainly has the skill set to be a dominating WR in the NFL, especially in the red zone. He also has Peyton Manning as his QB now. But what about Eric Decker? And is Manning going to be the same Manning we’re used to seeing? I don’t have the answers to those questions…and neither does anyone else, but his cumulative #18 ranking makes him a #2 WR and I agree with that assessment. Brandon Lloyd is following Josh McDaniels all over the NFL and now has Brady throwing him the ball. He was ranked as high as 14th and as low as 27th. Will he be Randy Moss circa 2007, or Deion Branch circa 2010/2011? I think his cumulative ranking of 22nd is a little low. He was productive in fantasy the past 2 years no matter where he went, including with some pretty bad QBs. So re-teaming up with McDaniels and having Brady as his QB is surely a good thing. I see him as a high-end #2.

Top 20 TE
1. Rob Gronkowski
2. Jimmy Graham
3. Antonio Gates
4. Aaron Hernandez
5. Vernon Davis
6. Jason Witten
7. Jermichael Finley
8. Fred Davis
9. Tony Gonzalez
10. Jacob Tamme
11. Brandon Pettigrew
12. Brent Celek
13. Owen Daniels
14. Jared Cook
15. Dustin Keller
16. Jermaine Gresham
17. Coby Fleener
18. Kyle Rudolph
19. Greg Olsen
20. Kellen Winslow

Well look at that: Kyle Rudolph squeaks his way onto the ranking coming in at #18 as a backup TE. Based on the brief look of him in training camp so far, I think he has good odds of realizing the potential he showed in his rookie season. Our whole offense is something of a question mark, but if things start clicking early, Rudolph has a chance to out-perform his #18 ranking IMO. There were two tight ends the experts couldn’t agree on though: Brent Celek and Kellen Winslow, and with good reason. Celek has been maddening in fantasy. He has all the physical tools to be a beast in fantasy, and with the right QB and scheme, he would be a top 5 play. But with Vick as his QB it stifles his opportunity somewhat. He was ranked as high as 8th and as low as 16th in the various sources. I like him right where he is on the list at #13 though. Kellen Winslow finds himself on a new team as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. They’re going through a little QB competition right now, so who knows how that turns out. He was ranked as high as 16th, and as low as 30th. His last 3 years in TB were pretty productive, although he had a dip in fantasy production last year due to a low TD total. At age 29 he’s only got a few more years left on the tires, but more importantly, he’ll have to compete with Zach Miller for touches in a weak aerial attack. I’d don’t know that I’d take Winslow over Miller, and even 20th might be too high.

Overall Top 70
1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. LeSean McCoy
4. Aaron Rodgers
5. Maurice Jones-Drew
6. Calvin Johnson
7. Tom Brady
8. Drew Brees
9. Ryan Mathews
10. Chris Johnson
11. Larry Fitzgerald
12. Matthew Stafford
13. Darren McFadden
14. Matt Forte
15. Rob Gronkowski
16. Jimmy Graham
17. Trent Richardson
18. DeMarco Murray
19. Cam Newton
20. Andre Johnson
21. Roddy White
22. Greg Jennings
23. Adrian Peterson
24. Wes Welker
25. A.J. Green
26. Jamaal Charles
27. Julio Jones
28. Marshawn Lynch
29. Steven Jackson
30. Hakeem Nicks
31. Mike Wallace
32. Victor Cruz
33. Brandon Marshall
34. Michael Turner
35. Steve Smith
36. Jordy Nelson
37. Fred Jackson
38. Ahmad Bradshaw
39. Darren Sproles
40. Marques Colston
41. Dez Bryant
42. Michael Vick
43. Demaryius Thomas
44. Percy Harvin
45. Miles Austin
46. Doug Martin
47. Tony Romo
48. Jeremy Maclin
49. Reggie Bush
50. Frank Gore
51. Eli Manning
52. Dwayne Bowe
53. Brandon lloyd
54. Vincent Jackson
55. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
56. Shonn Greene
57. Philip Rivers
58. Antonio Gates
59. Beanie Wells
60. Peyton Manning
61. Roy Helu
62. Aaron Hernandez
63. Steve Johnson
64. Matt Ryan
65. Eric Decker
66. Vernon Davis
67. Jonathan Stewart
68. Willis McGahee
69. Antonio Brown
70. Jason Witten

Only 2 Vikings make the overall list as starters in fantasy football: Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. The standard deviation on the Top 70 was MUCH more variable. I also found it interesting that the order by position on the overall list didn’t follow the positional order at all, and some players found their way into the Top 70 that weren’t even on any of the positional Top 20/25 lists like WR Eric Decker and RB Jonathan Stewart. But there were a handful of players that had extremely high variance from one ranking to the next, including some of the same names I've already mentioned. But some new names include: Aaron Hernandez, Willis McGahee and Jamaal Charles. Aaron Hernandez was quietly the 3rd highest scoring TE in fantasy last year, and he comes in ranked as high as 49th and as low as 93rd. Unlike Gronkowski, Hernandez didn’t have to rely on a ridiculous number of TDs to score fantasy points, so I actually wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hernandez was able to put up similar numbers as last year. His cumulative ranking of 62nd would make him a 7th round pick, and I think he’ll likely go as high as the 4th or 5th round. Willis McGahee was ranked as high as 44th and as low as 85th. Yes, Peyton Manning is in town, which may shift their focus from a run-first mentality to a throw-first mentality, and yes, he is 30 years old and last year was his first 1,000 yard season since 2007. But, he’s still the starting RB in Denver and he strikes me as a #2/Flex play that deserves to be drafted before the 9th round. McGahee's cumulative ranking of 68th feels pretty good to me, but I might even be tempted to draft him sooner. Lastly, Jamaal Charles was ranked as high as 16th and as low as 54th, making him either a 2nd round pick or a 6th round pick. The disagreement is all due to his ACL injury last year. Running backs typically don’t do well the year immediately after an ACL tear, so I can certainly understand the hesitation. Add in the fact that Peyton Hillis is now a Chief (replacing Thomas Jones), and that leads me to think that the #16 ranking is a little overzealous. I will be exercising caution with all players recovering from a major injury, including Jamaal Charles, and I have him as a risky #2 play for 2012, likely being drafted in the 3rd or 4th round. So his cumulative ranking of #26 is probably close, if not a little high.

Some of these sources will change their rankings as the pre-season continues to unfold. As players are injured or cut from teams, and depth charts are adjusted, these rankings are not set in stone. But, this took an incredibly long time to compile, so I won’t be sharing any edits or updates. But, hopefully some of you find these helpful. I know they are helpful for me (which is why I do them in the first place!). Good luck to everyone in fantasy football this year, and look for my final fantasy football fanpost of the summer soon: Draft Sleepers.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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