- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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No kickers. No defenses.
Those were my only hard and fast rules when I sat down (seriously, it's impossible to do standing up) to rank 200 players for the upcoming fantasy football season.
In every draft I have ever done, my last two picks are always, in order, a defense and a kicker. It's been proved over the course of many seasons that they are statistically insignificant in terms of their total points. Yes, there are those years in which one defense dominates. But they are the exception, not the rule, and it's rarely the defense you expected that turns into a fantasy juggernaut.
Just did a 10-team draft with all my ESPN Fantasy cohorts, a league we will be playing out. All of us are experienced fantasy players. I had the ninth pick. In the second-to-last round, I had my choice of Chicago or Carolina. I took the Bears. They'll be just fine. In an auction, I will spend $1 (or the minimum allowed) on a kicker and a defense. Often, I'll do the same for tight end as well, since tight end is so deep this season.
The only thing more useless in fantasy than defenses is kickers. And the only thing more useless than kickers is kicker rankings.
If I were to rank defenses or kickers, I'd spend less than a minute on it and, for kickers, probably do it alphabetically. If you insist on grabbing one of them early, you're better served using our ESPN staff defense and kicker rankings, so I refuse, on principle, to rank them.
I did these rankings with ESPN standard scoring in mind. That is to say, four points for a quarterback touchdown pass, no points per reception, nonkeeper and so forth. (For you PPR fiends, check out our
12-team PPR mock draft with three wide receivers. We got you covered.)
The TMR's ranking philosophy
I've said this a million times, but I'll say it once more. Rankings are not the be-all, end-all. They are merely a guide to help you gauge value and a way for you to gauge how others in your draft might look at certain players. I have Tom Brady at No. 12 overall. But if you want him and have the fourth pick, take him. Chances are he's not going to fall back to you in the second round, and it's your team. You never want to make too much of a leap, but generally speaking, the rankings at the end of the season are going to look completely different from any set you read right now, so get whom you want. You're going to have to live with these guys all season. Make it count.
So here are my rankings, with all my personal biases incorporated. This is done as of Aug. 27 at 3:05 p.m. ET. Before any of the Week 3 preseason games have been played. Value changes all the time. The health (or lack thereof) of Jonathan Stewart has caused me to rank DeAngelo Williams in my top five now. Reports I am hearing of Baltimore, San Diego, Denver and Seattle have caused me to be a lot higher on Ray Rice, Antonio Gates, Knowshon Moreno and Nate Burleson, among others.
I tend to draft running backs and wide receivers in bulk, and after the starters, go for guys who have upside and/or are one injury away from fantasy value. Guys like James Davis, Chris Brown and Glen Coffee over someone like Kevin Faulk, who is exactly what you know he will be. Not bad, but no upside.
If you've read any of my work this preseason (or, in the case of Eli Manning, ever) you know I am down on Terrell Owens, Jay Cutler, Jeremy Shockey (not ranked!) and Chad Ochocinco, among others. That and much more are reflected below, and you can see the difference between my rankings and ESPN's rankings (as of Thursday) in the Difference column. For the record, No. 201 was BenJarvus Green-Ellis. And away we go.
Matthew Berry presents his personal fantasy football rankings for the 2009 NFL season.