Fantasy Football Rankings Report

by Cory J. Bonini on September 5, 2009 @ 12:06:16 PDT's fantasy football rankings are fluid from week to week - and even on a daily basis if news dictates such. To keep you in the loop, our long-standing NFL Grapevine series has a new moniker and fresh look, but the flavor remains as tasty as ever. Track the changes in a snapshot approach by using KFFL's Fantasy Football Rankings Report, released each Friday throughout the draft season.

Players on the rise

Fred Taylor, running back, New England Patriots

Reason: As the preseason wears on, it has become clear that running back Laurence Maroney is not going to be the rebound candidate we thought he would be. We have docked Maroney roughly 30 carries and have transferred those attempts to Taylor, who appears to be the primary ball carrier for the Pats. Draft Taylor as a lackluster No. 4 fantasy back.

Correll Buckhalter, running back, Denver Broncos

Reason: The veteran back has locked up the No. 2 job in Denver. With Knowshon Moreno's injured knee likely to slow him early on, we injected some life into Buckhalter's previously pedestrian numbers. He should be handcuffed to Moreno and be a mediocre No. 4 or strong fifth back for your squad.

James Davis, running back, Cleveland Browns

Reason: The rookie continues his upward travels in our rankings due to his strong preseason and continued fears of Jamal Lewis' health. Davis is a certain handcuff to Lewis, and we like the rook as a fifth running back if overzealous league mates allow for such.

Mike Goodson, running back, Carolina Panthers

Reason: It appears increasingly likely that No. 2 back Jonathan Stewart (Achilles') won't be ready for Week 1, so we gave a game's worth of touches to the rookie Goodson. He isn't draft-worthy in standard formats but deserves a look in deep leagues.

St. Louis Rams WR Donnie Avery
Avery has regained his footing

Donnie Avery, wide receiver, St. Louis Rams

Reason: Avery bounced back quickly from a stress fracture in his foot and is now ready for Week 1. We returned him to his pre-injury ranking as a high-upside No. 3 receiver, but a few receptions were removed to account for him having to shake off the rust.

Malcolm Kelly, wide receiver, Washington Redskins

Reason: It appears as though Kelly may have won the No. 2 job in Washington, but the situation remains fluid. Still, given his lack of experience, his recovery from microfracture surgery and the other talented weapons around him, temper your expectations. Kelly is a No. 6 fantasy receiver with upside for now.

Maurice Stovall, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reason: The release of second-year wideout Dexter M. Jackson means Stovall is the third receiver for the Bucs. He is talented but has battled injuries much of his short career. Due to the likely ineptitude of this passing game, it is wise to avoid Stovall in your draft.

Troy Williamson, wide receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Reason: Yet another injury to Mike Sims-Walker (ankle) leaves him on the outside looking in for a starting position. The Jags promoted Williamson to the No. 2 job, but you shouldn't get too excited just yet. It's tough to ignore a lack of targets, Braylon Edwards-like hands and a history of disappointment. Avoid Williamson in standard formats, but he is a sixth receiver in leagues with 18-player rosters.

Todd Heap, tight end, Baltimore Ravens

Reason: The ultra-productive-when-healthy Heap is finally ... healthy. Yay! While it may be only a matter of time before he is on the trainer's table, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt as a strong No. 2 fantasy tight end. He could surprise after a few years of sinking into obscurity.

Martellus Bennett, tight end, Dallas Cowboys

Reason: Bennett has the faculties to be an elite tight end, but Jason Witten stands in his way. With a lack of inspiring play from the wide receiving corps this preseason, we expect a lot of Bennett in multiple-tight end sets. Still, he is best left for the waiver wire unless your league is deep enough that drafting a second tight end is the norm.

Chase Coffman, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals

Reason: After two veteran tight ends were placed on Injured Reserved - Reggie Kelly (Achilles') and Ben Utecht (concussion) - the rookie has been thrust into the pass-catching role for the Bengals. It's not like that is something important to fantasy owners since the position is practically ignored in coordinator Bob Bratkowski's system, but we have upped Coffman's numbers a tad.

Players on the decline

Matt Cassel, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

Reason: A sprained medial collateral ligament will likely sideline Cassel for Week 1. We reduced his projections by two games because of the amount of practice he will miss and the fact that he wasn't considered the best QB in camp prior to the injury. Draft him, if you must, as a low-end No. 2 behind a stalwart No. 1.

Jonathan Stewart, running back, Carolina Panthers

Reason: Stewart (Achilles') has battled a nagging heel injury for the better part of the offseason, and fantasy owners need to be worried. He will likely miss Week 1 at this point, and we lowered him in our rankings by removing a pair of games from Stewart's projected totals. He is still a handcuff option to DeAngelo Williams and is a weak third or strong fourth fantasy back in his own right.

Cleveland Browns RB Jamal Lewis
Give the ball to Jamal ... at all?

Jamal Lewis, running back, Cleveland Browns

Reason: Recent talk suggests Lewis could be outright released due to age (30), ineffectiveness (2.6 yards per carry in the preseason) and the emergence of James Davis. We're not sure what to make of it, since he would cost the team a reported $6.5 million against the cap in 2009. If you find yourself with no better choices, Lewis is a risky No. 4, if there is such a thing.

Laurence Maroney, running back, New England Patriots

Reason: We were really high on Maroney coming into training camp. In exhibition games, with a lame effort on the ground despite looking sharp catching the ball, Maroney continues to be hesitant and appears to shy away from contact. He could improve as the season wears on because he may be reluctant in his first major game action since breaking a bone in his shoulder last year. However, we still don't want to take that chance unless we can land him as a fifth back in the late rounds.

Kevin Jones, running back, Chicago Bears

Reason: Is ANYONE unluckier than Kevin Jones? Anyone? Ever? He tore a ligament in his ankle and will miss the entire 2009 season after having a great camp. Jones has been removed from our rankings.

Michael Crabtree, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Reason: Crabtree's holdout continues to make him freefall in our rankings. Unless you can take him in the final two rounds of standard drafts, don't bother with him.

Javon Walker, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders

Reason: Walker (knee) is expected to be the slot receiver for the Raiders. There is too much uncertainty with his knee and the Oakland passing game to bank on anything notable from Walker. Avoid him in all formats.

Davone Bess, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins

Reason: Rookie wide receiver Brian Hartline seemingly has won the No. 2 gig in Miami, which means Bess is the No. 3 receiver and will probably share reps with Greg Camarillo (knee) as the year wears on. Bess has No. 6 receiver value in point-per-reception leagues, but he is likely to go earlier to of uninformed owners.

Mike Sims-Walker, wide receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Reason: In his own words, Sims-Walker (ankle) is cursed. Another season, another injury ... the talented receiver has lost his No. 2 job to underachieving Troy Williamson. MSW isn't draftable at this stage of the game.

Brad Smith, wide receiver, New York Jets

Reason: The materialization of David Clowney's game has posted Smith back to the fourth receiver position, rendering him useless to fantasy owners.

Johnnie Lee Higgins, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders

Reason: Higgins lost the slot job to Javon Walker, so you can wave farewell to the receiver you were dying to pick in the 83rd round of your fantasy draft.

Devin Thomas, wide receiver, Washington Redskins

Reason: Thomas' value is unclear at this point since his role is unclear, but it seems like he is indeed the fourth receiver. If that winds up being the case, avoid him in fantasy leagues.

Early Doucet, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals

Reason: A set of fractured ribs has demoted Doucet to the fifth receiver position in the desert, which robs him of any meager fantasy value he could have had coming into training camp.

Dexter M. Jackson, wide receiver, Free Agent

Reason: Jackson was waived this week and doesn't have fantasy value in any format.

Benjamin Watson, tight end, New England Patriots

Reason: The oft-injured veteran was demoted to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart in favor of Chris Baker. Watson couldn't put it together as a starting tight end, so fantasy owners can expect another lackluster season from him.

Ben Utecht, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals

Reason: Utecht suffered a concussion in training camp that will force him to miss the 2009 season. He has been placed on Injured Reserve and has no fantasy worth.

Entering rankings/unchanged newsmaker

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte
Injuries are Kevin Jones' Forte

Matt Forte, running back, Chicago Bears

Reason: Forte's numbers increase ever so slightly with the season-ending ankle injury to Kevin Jones, but it wasn't enough to increase his position in our standard rankings. He will remain Chicago's workhorse and is a strong No. 1 fantasy back.

Adrian N. Peterson, running back, Chicago Bears

Reason: The eighth-year rusher doesn't figure to take much away from Forte, but we have added him to our rankings with token numbers. Avoid him on draft day.

Garrett Wolfe, running back, Chicago Bears

Reason: Wolfe has no fantasy value and isn't likely to touch the ball enough to matter to fantasy leaguers. He was on the bubble before Kevin Jones' injury, which should be an indictment of his worth.

Josh Cribbs, wide receiver, Cleveland Browns

Reason: The versatile Cribbs enters our rankings with minimal numbers since he doesn't have a defined role on offense. We advise staying away from him in typical setups.

Arnaz Battle, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Reason: The veteran went from being on the bubble to likely winning the slot job for the Niners. A lot could change if Michael Crabtree is signed soon. Either way, Battle shouldn't be on your fantasy radar.

Louis Murphy, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders

Reason: Murphy may start Week 1 opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey if Javon Walker (knee) can't make a final push for the job, but the former Florida Gator probably loses his job upon the return of Chaz Schilens (foot). Avoid Murphy in all single-year leagues.

Jerheme Urban, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals

Reason: Coming off a career year, the injury to Early Doucet (ribs) solidifies Urban's hold on the No. 4 job. Even in Arizona's high-flying passing attack, their fourth receiver isn't a draftable player.

David Clowney, wide receiver, New York Jets

Reason: It appears as though Clowney has secured the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, but you should ignore the deep threat in fantasy drafts.

Sammie Stroughter, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reason: The release of Dexter M. Jackson vaults the rookie Stroughter into our rankings. It's fair to wipe that name from your short-term fantasy memory bank, though.

Chad Jackson, wide receiver, Denver Broncos

Reason: Healthy, Jackson has a chance to compete due to the situation with Brandon Marshall and the fractured thumb of Jabar Gaffney. Still, the speedy receiver isn't a fantasy option on draft day.

Chris Baker, tight end, New England Patriots

Reason: We'll spare you the touchdown rhyme; Baker is a starter for the Patriots, replacing Benjamin Watson. Make no mistake about it, the former New York Jet will score several times this year and frustrate the heck out of Randy Moss owners, but Baker can't be counted on in fantasy leagues due to his inconsistency and lack of targets.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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