Way-too-early top 100 rankings for 2015 fantasy football season
You don’t think it’s too early for preliminary 2015 fantasy football rankings, do you? In case you forgot the big celebration last week, it’s already 2015. How could it possibly be too early? The next six months will pass quicker than you think. The sooner your start your preparation for the next fantasy football season, the better.
Many of 2014’s standout players are at the top of the list, though some might be lower than you expect. Running backs rule the roost at the top, but there are just as many receivers among the first-round picks in a 12-team league as backs. The ranks include one incoming rookie, 13 quarterbacks and four tight ends scattered among all the backs and receivers.
Get your cheat sheets ready. Just be sure to write them in pencil for now.
Bell, who topped 2,000 total yards this season, will be just 23 years old at the start of next season. He is the engine of the Pittsburgh offense.
After a slow start, Lacy finished as fantasy’s No. 6 running back in 2014. Next year could be even better.
Thomas has averaged 99 catches, 1,494.3 yards and 11.7 touchdowns per year in three seasons with Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver. So long as Manning holds up for another season, Thomas will be back up in the stratosphere.
The mileage concerns are real with Charles, but he was the top-scoring back in fantasy leagues from Week 4 through Week 14 this year. He’ll remain the Chiefs’ workhorse.
There may not be a player with a higher floor than Lynch. He has four straight seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards, 1,400 total yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s obviously better off remaining in Seattle.
Murray takes a bit of a tumble because he could be on a different team next season. As great as he was in 2014, the Dallas offensive line deserves its share of the credit.
Bryant set a career best with 16 touchdowns this year. He has three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 yards and 12 scores. At 26 years old, he’s just entering his prime.
This might seem somewhat high after not playing last season, but the bet here is that Peterson makes a very strong return in 2015, no matter where he’s playing.
The most consistent receiver on the planet, Brown’s worst game in 2014 saw him catch eight passes for 74 yards. In two seasons as Ben Roethlisberger’s top target, he’s averaging 119.5 receptions, 1,598.5 yards and 10.5 touchdowns.
Johnson is still a monster on a per-game basis, but he has missed five games over the last two seasons. That slides him behind Thomas, Bryant and Brown on the wide receiver board.
The rookie out of LSU was the top receiver in fantasy from the moment he was first activated in Week 5. Track record keeps a handful of veterans ahead of him, but Beckham is a worthy first-round pick.
There are perks to being Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 receiver, but Nelson is every bit the elite receiver you think he is. His penchant for the big play (five catches of 60-plus yards) can win weeks single-handedly.
Forte remains one of the most versatile backs in the league, but the loss of Marc Trestman is notable for him. Forte averaged 1,889.5 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns per season with Trestman on the sidelines for Chicago.
Gronk separated himself entirely from the pack at the tight end position this season and has been fantasy’s top tight end, on a per-game basis, in three of the last four years. Health is always going to be a concern, but he’s an elite fantasy player when he’s on the field.
Jones is always a threat to be the top receiver in the league, but his occasional inconsistency has him in the middle of the second round. If not for a late-season hip injury, he may have led the NFL in receiving yards.
He may not seem as exciting as the receivers ranked ahead of him, but Green is a safe bet to be a WR1 and a top-15 or 20 flex player.
McCoy was a huge bust in 2014, and he may never reclaim his 2013 swagger. He lost the touches at the goal line and in the passing game this season that he had in his monster year.
Hill took over as the primary back in Cincinnati this year, and that should carry over into 2015. Even with Giovani Bernard stealing touches, Hill can be a true workhorse.
Foster defied the critics this season, finishing third among running backs in fantasy points per game behind DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell. Having said that, he missed three games. Injuries will always loom over him.
Graham lost the tight end championship belt to Rob Gronkowski this year, but he’s still an easy second-round pick with his yardage and touchdown upside.
Rodgers proved himself the best quarterback, from both a real-life and fantasy standpoint, in the league this season. Keeping Randall Cobb would be huge for him.
We’d like to see more in the touchdown department (seven scores in 2014), but Hilton is unquestionably Andrew Luck’s top receiver. He has had at least 130 targets in each of the last two seasons and set a career high this year with 1,345 yards.
Maclin bounced back from an ACL tear in 2013 to have the best season of his career. The unrestricted free agent’s fantasy value would most likely take a hit if he left Philadelphia.
Luck was the No. 1 fantasy quarterback by a comfortable margin in 2014, outscoring Aaron Rodgers by nearly 10 points in standard-scoring leagues. His remarkable consistency was even better for his owners than his sheer point totals.
Despite the circus surrounding him in Chicago, Jeffery still had 85 catches for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. Even with Brandon Marshall in town, Jeffery is the team’s top receiver.
Cobb stayed healthy and put up a career season with 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. This ranking assumes he remains with the Packers.
Like Demaryius Thomas, his value would take an enormous hit if the Petyon Manning we saw in the last month of the 2014 season is around for all of 2015. For now, he deserves this lofty ranking.
Anderson starred in the second half of the season, but there’s no guarantee he enters 2015 as the starter. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman will almost certainly be in the mix.
Evans just put up a 68-catch, 1,024-yard, 12-touchdown season as a rookie with the combination of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon under center. He’s a slam-dunk WR2 with WR1 upside.
That Benjamin was the third-best rookie receiver in 2014 says all you need to know about this class. He caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine scores and is tied to a better quarterback situation than Mike Evans.
Brees was actually a bit of a disappointment this season, ranking fifth among quarterbacks after carrying the third-highest average draft position. The 17 interceptions were troubling, but he remains a top-tier quarterback.
Wilson rode his legs nearly all the way to the top of the quarterback rankings, as he ran for 849 yards and six scores. If the Seahawks get him a top-flight receiver, the sky is the limit.
Roethlisberger finished as fantasy’s No. 6 quarterback, but that standing was a bit inflated by his pair of six-touchdown games. He has one of the best collections of weapons in the league at his disposal.
Brady shook off a slow start to finish as fantasy’s seventh-best quarterback. As long as Gronkowski is healthy, he’ll be a surefire QB1 next season.
Might we have finally seen the beginning of the end for Manning in 2014? He seemed to show his age the last month of the regular season. This is a ranking we’ll undoubtedly revisit many times next summer.
This is a bit of a speculative ranking since we don’t know where the big back out of Wisconsin will land in the draft, but he looks ready to contribute in a big way from day one. He has drawn comparisons to Jamaal Charles while running all over the Big Ten.
Miller wasn’t the sexiest player in 2014, but he ended the season as the No. 9 running back in standard-scoring leagues. He ran for 1,099 yards and hit paydirt nine times.
Morris got it done again, despite less than ideal conditions in Washington. He has started his career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons and made fumbles less of a problem this season.
Fantasy owners have every reason to expect Bell to dominate the Detroit backfield again in 2015. He rode a big workload to his second straight season with at least 1,100 total yards and eight touchdowns.
Marshall seems like a safe bet to get back to 1,000 yards and 8-to-10 touchdowns, but the departure of Marc Trestman and his pass-happy scheme isn’t good news for the veteran receiver.
The Ohio State product should get more run next season, even if Frank Gore is still in San Francisco. There could be a lot of bang for your buck here.
Gordon was wildly disappointing in 2014 after returning from suspension. He’d probably be better off from a fantasy standpoint if he can get out of Cleveland, especially given the Browns’ shaky quarterback situation.
Watkins was a feast-or-famine player in 2014, but that was due more to the quarterback issues in Buffalo than any deficiency in Watkins’ ability. He was drafted at the top of a great wide receiver class with good reason.
It took Matthews a while to get going in his rookie year, but he ended up with 67 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. You have to love his presence in the Philadelphia offense.
Bernard ceded the starting gig to Jeremy Hill, and that isn’t likely to change in 2015. Still, he proved he can be a weapon even in a secondary role.
Murray will enter 2015 as the unquestioned starter in Oakland. He averaged 96.5 yards from scrimmage in the final six weeks of the season.
Jackson brought his big-play ability to Washington, racking up 1,169 yards on just 56 receptions. Consistency may not be a club in his bag, but he’ll put up WR2 numbers.
Hopkins would rate much higher with a better quarterback situation. Even with the combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Case Keenum, he had 76 catches for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns.
Ellington couldn’t dodge the injury bug in 2014, and Arizona could look for a running back in the draft, which would limit his ceiling in 2015.
Allen’s sophomore campaign was a disappointment, as he had just 77 catches for 783 yards and four touchdowns. Realistically, his average season may be somewhere between his first and second seasons.
Tate played like a true WR1 for the Lions and his owners when Calvin Johnson was out with an ankle injury this year. He set career highs with 99 receptions and 1,331 yards.
Ingram finally had the breakout season many have been predicting since he entered the league, running for 964 yards and nine touchdowns on 226 carries. The New Orleans offense played better when he was an important piece, but it will always be risky to invest in a New Orleans running back.
The journeyman back had a career year in 2014, running for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns on 235 carries. However, there’s no guarantee he returns as Baltimore’s starter next season.
Edelman caught 92 passes in 2014, bringing his total up to 197 in the last two seasons. Give him a boost in PPR leagues.
Ryan’s performance stalled in the middle of the season, but his final numbers were strong. He threw for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions while completing two-thirds of his passes.
Mason flashed some RB2 potential in his rookie year, running for 765 yards and four touchdowns on 179 carries. He should head into next season as the Rams’ starting running back.
Bryant burst on the scene with seven touchdowns in his first four games. He of course slowed after that, but he has WR2 upside in the high-powered Pittsburgh offense. He’s a true burner, and his size makes him a threat in the red zone.
A torn patellar tendon ended Cruz’s season, but he expects to be healthy for training camp in 2015. With Odell Beckham on the opposite side of the field, Cruz could be in for a big year.
Smith lived on touchdowns in 2014, scoring a career-high 11 times. His 767 yards were the fewest of his career, but he still landed as a WR2, as he now has in all four of his seasons in the league.
Jackson had just two touchdowns in 2014, which really killed his fantasy value. He still had 143 targets, but he’s clearly the No. 2 receiver in Tampa Bay behind Mike Evans.
Robinson took over as the starter in Jacksonville in the second half of the season and was a revelation for the Jaguars. He ended up running for 582 yards and four scores on 135 carries before suffering a season-ending foot injury.
Jennings had a decent first season in New York, though knee and ankle injuries limited him to 11 games. He ran for 639 yards, caught 30 passes for 226 yards and found the end zone four times. Expect Andre Williams to steal away more touches next season.
White remained productive in his 10th season in the league, catching 80 balls for 921 yards and seven touchdowns. His days as a WR1 are in the past, but he’s a strong second option in an offense that loves to throw the ball.
Crowell should begin 2015 as the starting running back for the Browns after running for 607 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. Terrance West will be in the mix, as well.
Wallace may have worn out his welcome in Miami, but he still had a nice season for his owners. He caught 67 passes for 862 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Bradshaw was one of the brightest surprises this season, totaling 725 yards and eight touchdowns on just 128 touches. You’ll have to budget for him missing games, but he’s a key piece for the Colts.
Stewart missed three games due to injury, but he still had his best season since 2009. He ran for 809 yards and three touchdowns on 175 carries and should be Carolina’s unquestioned starter next year, when he’ll be just 28 years old.
Floyd was a colossal disappointment this season, but he’s still a very talented wide receiver, a big-time deep threat and just 25 years old. There’s plenty of reason to buy in again next year.
Robinson’s rookie year was cut short by a broken foot, but he still impressed in Jacksonville. He caught 48 balls for 548 yards and two touchdowns and had a late start to the season due to injury, as well.
Cooks was the rookie in vogue during the 2014 draft season after landing in New Orleans. He had a decent year, catching 53 balls for 550 yards and three scores before suffering a season-ending thumb injury. He could be the team’s No. 1 receiver in '15.
Landry could be a PPR star, as he caught 84 passes in his rookie year. They went for just 758 yards and five touchdowns, but he could get a boost if Mike Wallace is out of Miami.
Stafford entered 2014 as the fourth-ranked quarterback by average draft position and finished it as fantasy’s No. 15 signal caller. He’s not worthy of consideration any earlier than this stage of the draft.
McKinnon should have a decent role in Minnesota’s offense next year, but his value would be significantly limited if Adrian Peterson returns to the Vikings.
Olsen had a career year in 2014, catching 84 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. He’ll once again be a go-to receiver for Cam Newton, and that will make him a top-level tight end.
A knee injury limited Mathews to six games. He was effective when healthy, running for 4.5 yards per carry. It remains to be seen where he’ll end up next season.
Oliver notched 853 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns on 196 touches, playing largely in place of the injured Ryan Mathews. He could be in for a bigger role in San Diego’s offense next season.
Sankey’s rookie year was a flop, though in his defense, he didn’t really get a significant chance to do damage until halfway through the year. You won’t want him to be more than your third running back, unless you’re employing the zero-running back strategy.
In three starts for the injured Arian Foster, Blue proved he has the bona fides to be a starter himself. He’s a necessary handcuff for any Foster owner.
Stills had 63 grabs for 931 yards in 2014, but was still running third on the depth chart until Brandin Cooks suffered a season-ending thumb injury.
Jackson finally started to show some age in 2014, missing a pair of games due to injury and running for just 3.7 yards per carry.
Blount could very well be the primary runner in new England next season, but you can never be sure what Bill Belichick is going to do with his backfield.
Newton was a minor disappointment in 2014, but he finished the season as the No. 8 quarterback in points per game. His budding connection with Kelvin Benjamin could have him back near the top five in 2015.
Taliaferro had a brief run of fantasy relevance in 2014. Chances are he has a bigger role in Baltimore’s offense next season.
The Chiefs finally started using Kelce properly toward the end of the season, and he quickly started scoring like a top-tier fantasy tight end. There’s top-three upside here.
The always-underappreciated Romo was 12th in fantasy points and ninth in points per game among quarterbacks. He’ll again be one of the better bargains in one-quarterback leagues.
Foles was having a solid season before suffering a broken collarbone, opening the door for Mark Sanchez. After Sanchez’s play down the stretch, Foles will definitely be back as the Eagles’ starter in 2015.
West bounced up and down the Cleveland depth chart in 2014, but he’ll likely enter the 2015 season as the 1B running back to Isaiah Crowell, who's the No. 1A.
With new superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and the returning Victor Cruz at his disposal, Manning could be a sneaky value pick in 2015.
Fitzgerald had his third straight season with fewer than 1,000 receiving yards. At this stage of his career, he’s nothing special when it comes to fantasy.
Tom Brady made LaFell a fantasy-relevant player in 2014, as the veteran receiver set career bests in receptions (74), yards (953) and touchdowns (seven).
Adams never really made his presence felt as the third receiver in Green Bay, catching 38 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns. At this point, though, it’s worth taking a shot on him simply because he’s part of the Packers’ passing game.
Freeman spent much of his rookie year as no more than a change of pace back, but that should change next season. The Florida State product could be a breakout player in his second year.
Johnson came on strong at the end of the season, forging a connection with Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings should be in the market for a receiver this offseason, but Johnson will be a primary weapon in their passing game.
Ivory couldn’t quite leave Chris Johnson in his dust in 2014, but he did have the better year, running for 821 yards and six scores on 198 carries. He should be the man in the Jets’ backfield next season.
Fantasy owners were understandably excited about Sims this season, but he never really got it going after an injury cost him the first 10 weeks of the season.
Turbin ran for 310 yards on 74 carries in 2014. He could very well get more work in 2015, and would rocket up the rankings if Marshawn Lynch left Seattle.
Moncrief caught 32 passes for 444 yards and three scores in his rookie season. He could be the No. 2 receiver in the Colts’ offense next year, depending on what happens with Reggie Wayne.
After a huge 2013 season, Wright had just 57 receptions for 715 yards this year, though he did hit paydirt six times. Hopefully for his sake, the Titans have more stability at quarterback next season.
Johnson will be 34 at the start of next season, and the end zone has always been elusive, but he remained productive in 2014. He caught 85 of his 147 targets for 936 yards.
Davis is worthy of being a starter in his own right, but that’s not going to happen as long as he and Jamaal Charles are on the same team. He rounds out the list as one of the most important handcuffs in fantasy football.