Some of you may or may not know that I also do some weekly rankings for another fantasy football site known as Fantasy Victory. Our very own Paul Charchian is involved heavily with the site too, so check it out when you get a shot.
The reason I bring this up is that I’ve been using some form of the Super Rankings over the last two years to help rank players. The model I was using was much simpler though, taking into account current year statistics, defensive matchups and projections from a few reputable sites. Obviously, for forecasting an entire season of weekly matchups we needed to build in some additional points of data, but as the season wears on and things change around the league, the Super Rankings tend to morph back into a more simplistic ranking system. Think 15 data points rather than 40.
Since we’re working into the weekly matchups right now, but don’t have any current year data, I’ve scaled back some of the categories that we are using. For this week’s rankings I’m utilizing four inputs; opponent’s defense vs. position, last year’s points per game (since we don’t have this year to go on), our projection data, and a slight dusting of everyone’s favorite input, volatility. Rather than bore you with the mathematics, I’ll just cut to the chase. We’ve got a weekly rankings system that should be a great decision tool in setting your lineup.
We’ve included our top 25 QBs, top 40 RBs, top 40 WRs and the top 20 TEs. If you’re not seeing your guy on these lists, you probably shouldn’t be starting him this week. Below I’ve highlighted a few guys who have moved up or down based on the data that we have in our system.
Here’s the disclaimer. Some of the guys who have fallen out of the starting range will likely be in your lineup. While we’re not saying that you should drop everything and start Shonn Greene over Darren McFadden, we are saying that the matchup is favorable for Greene to have a better day than McFadden. Is Greene better than McFadden? No. Should you pull McFadden from your lineup in favor of Mean Shonn Greene? Probably not. Just be aware that the atmospheric conditions could swing some things in one way or the other.
So here are this week’s rankings and my observations on notable players at each position.
3. Philip Rivers at OAK
Philip Rivers is currently the #10 ADP QB, so you were likely starting him anyway. His matchup against Oakland is the gravy on top of the pudding. Oakland’s league-worst defense vs. opposing QBs is helping Rivers rise to the top of the rankings this week.
7. Aaron Rodgers vs. SF
No one in their right mind would bench Aaron Rodgers this weekend, even against the 49ers defense. We’re not telling you to do that either, unless maybe you’re in one of those six-team leagues. He’ll do just fine, there just may be a few guys who put up better numbers.
12. Matthew Stafford vs. STL
Matthew Stafford against the Rams seems like easy money right? The Rams were actually the eighth-toughest defense versus opposing QBs last season, and they added Cortland Finnegan to the mix. The running game may do more damage for the Lions in this contest.
14. Michael Vick at CLE
Joe Haden helped form the Browns into one of the toughest teams in the league to pass against last year. In fact, most teams just ran the ball. Cleveland was one of only four teams to allow 2,300 rushing yards or more last season but one of only two teams to allow less than 3,000 yards passing. No long balls in this game. Dink-and-dunk and hand-offs should rule this matchup.
3. Trent Richardson vs. PHI
It sounds more and more that Trent Richardson is going to get a hefty workload against Philly. It also sounds like there will be some stormy weather rolling in. So why not bulldoze your way through a bottom ten defense versus opposing RBs last season?
7. Doug Martin vs. CAR
The legend of Doug Martin begins with a legendary matchup against the brutal Panthers defense. Carolina allowed the most receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs in the league last season and Martin fancies himself as a pass-catching back.
10. Shonn Greene vs. BUF
Shonn Greene could be the most looked-down upon player in football this season, but a matchup with the Bills is a good one for him. The Bills allowed nearly 156 total yards per game to RBs last season. Besides Tim Tebow, there are no other RBs in New York.
11. Roy Helu at NO
Ahh, to be the Super Rankings and be blissfully unaware of the nightmare that is the Redskins backfield. Out system assumes, incorrectly, that Mike Shanahan would simply play his best RB most of the time against a bad Saints run defense this week. Sadly, we have no clue if it will be Helu, Evan Royster, or Alfred Morris taking most of the handoffs in Week 1. We like someone in the Washington backfield to have a nice game against New Orleans this week, but it’s impossible to say who.
15. Jonathan Stewart at TB
The Bucs are awful, but our system knows Stewart and Williams will likely split the load. It also believes in Stewart more than Williams, but it doesn’t know that Stewart is currently nursing an ankle injury that has his status for Week 1 in doubt. If Stewart can’t play or is limited, flip-flop he and Williams.
17. Darren McFadden vs. SD
While we significantly decreased the weight that volatility has in the weekly rankings, the system still hates Darren McFadden for missing all of those games due to injury. The Chargers only allowed nine RB touchdowns all of last season too, so that sinks his ranking even lower.
19. Michael Bush vs. IND
You may have also noticed that Matt Forte is ranked at No. 6 in this week’s rankings. The Colts are so feeble at stopping the run, that two Bears RBs can legitimately crack your starting lineup. The Colts allowed nearly 2,700 total yards to RBs last season, and OC Mike Tice said that he wants to have two 1,000-yard rushers this year.
4. Jordy Nelson vs. SF
The reputation that the 49ers have some sort of fantastic pass defense has been wildly exaggerated. While I wouldn’t feel great about starting Arian Foster against the Niners, both Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings (third ranked) come in as a part of the top four this week. The Niners were a middle-of-the-road fantasy defense against wideouts in the regular season and way below average when they faced some tough competition in the post season.
10. Roddy White at KC
We’re noting that Roddy White is a bit lower this week, in fact his teammate Julio Jones comes in at 19, but it’s not as alarming as it sounds. The Chiefs gave up the second-fewest receptions to WRs last season, but lost their best cornerback, Brandon Carr, in the offseason. The Falcons are supposedly pass-happier now too, so I’m still starting both White and Jones.
11. Percy Harvin vs. JAX
With Christian Ponder behind center and Adrian Peterson still easing back to a full workload (which, let’s face it, could never happen again), Percy Harvin is the best weapon on the Vikings offense. It’s possible that Harvin could get more touches than either Peterson or Toby Gerhart. The Jaguars defense allowed eight WRs to have 70 or more yards in the final five weeks of 2011.
16. Andre Johnson vs. MIA
The volatility rank and last year’s poor performance when he was not healthy are significantly weighing down Andre Johnson’s weekly rank. At number 16 he’s still a starter in all leagues, but there is still the fear that the Texans won’t allow Schaub to take the deep drops (and subsequent hits) that are required to connect on long passes to Johnson.
26. Laurent Robinson at MIN
While it has been said that Laurent Robinson has had a bit of a tough time picking up the offense in Jacksonville, he won’t need to pick up much to have success against the porous Vikings secondary. The Vikings allowed more touchdowns to WRs last season than any other team in the league. Touchdowns happen to be Robinson’s specialty.
4. Dustin Keller vs. BUF
Dustin Keller led the Jets with 115 targets last season and this year he has no Braylon Edwards or Plaxico Burress to compete with. The Bills allowed four more TE touchdowns than any other team in the league. Yikes!
6. Brent Celek at CLE
While the Cleveland pass defense is great, if there is one chink in the armor it’s their ability to cover good TEs. Tight ends scored seven times against the Browns last year, the same amount of touchdowns scored by the WR position. Over the final five games of last season, Brent Celek’s numbers mirrored Jimmy Graham’s. What? It’s true, look it up.
12. Coby Fleener at CHI
While I can’t say with any degree of certainty that Coby Fleener will imitate Jermichael Finley’s Week 3 game against the Bears (7 catches, 85 yards, three touchdowns), I can say that
it will happen… no, it’s possible. Fleener is the security blanket for rookie Andrew Luck as he faces a Bears team that was the seventh-easiest for TEs to exploit last season.