Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: One last rankings update

Updated: August 30, 2008, 6:18 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

It changes.

By the year, by the month, by the week, the day, the hour, the second.

Value is always changing. In fantasy sports and in life.

Today is Aug. 29.

Five years ago, it was my wedding anniversary. Today? It's the Friday before the NFL regular season starts.

Two weeks ago, Paula Abdul was famous and secure. Now, with the addition of someone younger, hotter and most likely more coherent to the "American Idol" judging team? Paula's on "Celebrity Fit Club" and hawking stuff on QVC within two years.

Paula claims she's not worried, but they didn't bring in another English dude or big guy, ya dig? Take a hint, Paula. Take a hint.

Yesterday, Brandon Marshall was my 16th-ranked wide receiver overall. Today, with his three-game suspension reduced to just one game, he moves up to my seventh-ranked wide receiver and No. 29 overall.

The point is, the minute this ranking gets published, I am sure someone's value will change. It literally changes all the time. So what to do?

Well, I wrote about this topic in my "10 lists of 10" column, but it bears revisiting here.

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People get too hung up on where to draft a guy and someone's ranking. I got tons of "I have the No. 3 pick but I really want Brady. Is that too early?"-type questions. And my answer is … no. As you'll see, I have Brady at No. 6 overall. But if you have the third pick and want him, draft him. He won't come back to you in the second round, so this is your only chance to get him. It's not as if he's bad or anything.

It's your team, these are the guys you're rooting for this year, so dude, just take him. These rankings are just a listing of players in an order of projected value. They give you an idea of where players are in relative value to others. No matter whose rankings you choose to follow, the final rankings will be very different at the end of the year. Nature of the beast. So grab whom you want, when you want, as long as you can be reasonably certain he won't still be there next time it's your turn.

One last point before I get into some observations about my rankings. There are definitely some places where my rankings and my articles -- specifically my "You Heard Me" article -- don't seem to match up. As I have said, especially at the beginning, I am about minimizing risk. It's my bold prediction that LT will finish outside the top five in fantasy points, but I have him ranked No. 1 here. That's because he's the safest bet fantasywise, even if he finishes at six. The rankings are the "safe" version, if you will. But if you feel daring, then that's what the bold prediction article is about. The two pieces are designed for different purposes.

Some general observations about this set of rankings

I moved Marshawn Lynch down a few spots because of concerns about Langston Walker and Jason Peters' continued holdout.

I moved Tony Romo up a spot because of where I see other quarterbacks going and because I feel there is a significant difference between him and Peyton Manning.

Larry Johnson's terrible preseason (he's averaging 3.3 yards per carry compared with last year, when he averaged 4.0 yards per carry in the 2007 preseason) along with the fact that I continue to be enamored with Darren McFadden led me to move Run-DMC ahead of LJ. Remember, Larry's yards-per-carry average has gone down each of the past three years.

I was already high on Ricky Williams (insert your own joke here) and low on Ronnie Brown when I did my last rankings. Since then, the news has come out that Ricky is playing with the first team and, at worst for Williams, this is a time-share. New rankings for both running backs reflect this.

Jeff Saturday
Tom Hauck/Getty ImagesYou'll never draft Jeff Saturday, but you should be worried about the guy he protects on Sundays.

The loss of Colts center Jeff Saturday is enough for me to move Drew Brees just ahead of Peyton Manning. I have them at basically the same spot.

Is it possible to be proud of a call before a single game is played? If so, I'd like to point out that I had Chris Johnson of Tennessee as a guy I love on my pre-preseason "Love/Hate" list (published June 16). A great camp and Jeff Fisher's announcement that Johnson and LenDale White will split time later, and suddenly everyone's on the bandwagon. I've been on record as saying I feel Johnson wins this job outright, but in the meantime, his ranking is up and LenDale's is down.

Speaking of looking good, two wide receivers move up my board. Calvin Johnson is due for the breakout folks predicted last season and DeSean Jackson (thanks to the Kevin Curtis injury) moves up. Speaking of Curtis, he's no longer ranked. I don't feel he's worth drafting in an ESPN 10-team standard league. Same goes for Chris Brown of Houston, who is looking like he's not in the mix at all for the Texans, and when you hit the PUP list, you drop off mine. Sorry, Cadillac Williams. Same goes for Musa Smith, who couldn't make the Jets, which means he no longer makes my rankings.

Another guy who drops completely off the list? Matt Leinart. With the news that it looks as though Kurt Warner will be the starting quarterbacks for the Cardinals, I have upped Warner to the top 10 overall among quarterbacks. Remember, last year, in the final eight games, no quarterback threw more touchdowns than Warner. Not Tom Brady. Not Peyton Manning. No one. Injury is always a concern, but still. I think Warner takes this job and keeps it, at least long enough that Leinart will be on the waiver wire well before he gets back under center. I figure, if you're gonna drop him anyway, what's the point of drafting him, exactly?

I've also moved Derek Anderson down a little and Rudi Johnson down a lot based on their play (or lack thereof) in the preseason. Slight bumps for Jacob Hester -- I'm betting on him over Darren Sproles for LT's handcuff -- and Brandon Jackson, since the Packers announced they want to get him in the mix more.

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The rankings reflect the new situations in the Houston and Cincinnati backfields. I have Steve Slaton on top in Houston, but I've ranked Ahman Green. Don't be surprised to see Green out there -- he's worth a flier. In Cincinnati, it's worth mentioning that despite Chris Perry being named the starter, I like Kenny Watson more from a fantasy perspective.

Some new additions to the list include Josh Morgan (a rookie wideout they love in San Francisco), Tim Hightower (looking terrific so far and I've also moved Edge James down as well), Chris Henry (who will show up for the Bengals for Week 5) and Eddie Royal of the Broncos.

Matthew Berry's Top 250 updated fantasy football rankings
RankNameTeamPositional
1LaDainian TomlinsonChargersRB1
2Brian WestbrookEaglesRB2
3Joseph AddaiColtsRB3
4Adrian PetersonVikingsRB4
5Steven JacksonRamsRB5
6Tom BradyPatriotsQB1
7Clinton PortisRedskinsRB6
8Randy MossPatriotsWR1
9Marion BarberCowboysRB7
10Ryan GrantPackersRB8
11Marshawn LynchBillsRB9
12Frank Gore49ersRB10
13Terrell OwensCowboysWR2
14Tony RomoCowboysQB2
15Reggie WayneColtsWR3
16Maurice Jones-DrewJaguarsRB11
17Braylon EdwardsBrownsWR4
18Marques ColstonSaintsWR5
19Jamal LewisBrownsRB12
20Willis McGaheeRavensRB13
21Thomas JonesJetsRB14
22Willie ParkerSteelersRB15
23Brandon JacobsGiantsRB16
24T.J. HoushmandzadehBengalsWR6
25Darren McFaddenRaidersRB17
26Larry JohnsonChiefsRB18
27Earnest GrahamBuccaneersRB19
28Laurence MaroneyPatriotsRB20
29Brandon MarshallBroncosWR7
30Torry HoltRamsWR8
31Andre JohnsonTexansWR9
32Drew BreesSaintsQB3
33Peyton ManningColtsQB4
34Edgerrin JamesCardinalsRB21
35Reggie BushSaintsRB22
36Larry FitzgeraldCardinalsWR10
37Santonio HolmesSteelersWR11
38Michael TurnerFalconsRB23
39Fred TaylorJaguarsRB24
40Chad JohnsonBengalsWR12
41Plaxico BurressGiantsWR13
42Ben RoethlisbergerSteelersQB5
43Wes WelkerPatriotsWR14
44Anquan BoldinCardinalsWR15
45Roy WilliamsLionsWR16
46Selvin YoungBroncosRB25
47Steve SmithPanthersWR17
48Dallas ClarkColtsTE1
49Jerricho CotcheryJetsWR18
50Donald DriverPackersWR19
51Calvin JohnsonLionsWR20
52Roddy WhiteFalconsWR21
53Laveranues ColesJetsWR22
54Jonathan StewartPanthersRB26
55Kevin SmithLionsRB27
56Ricky WilliamsDolphinsRB28
57Marvin HarrisonColtsWR23
58Greg JenningsPackersWR24
59Tony GonzalezChiefsTE2
60Jason WittenCowboysTE3
61Ronnie BrownDolphinsRB29
62Chris JohnsonTitansRB30
63Matt ForteBearsRB31
64Antonio GatesChargersTE4
65Hines WardSteelersWR25
66Matt HasselbeckSeahawksQB6
67Carson PalmerBengalsQB7
68Dwayne BoweChiefsWR26
69Santana MossRedskinsWR27
70LenDale WhiteTitansRB32
71DeAngelo WilliamsPanthersRB33
72Steve SlatonTexansRB34
73Andre HallBroncosRB35
74Justin FargasRaidersRB36
75Joey GallowayBuccaneersWR28
76Kenny WatsonBengalsRB37
77Kellen WinslowBrownsTE5
78Ahmad BradshawGiantsRB38
79Nate BurlesonSeahawksWR29
80Anthony GonzalezColtsWR30
81Maurice MorrisSeahawksRB39
82Jerious NorwoodFalconsRB40
83Chris PerryBengalsRB41
84Patrick CraytonCowboysWR31
85Ted Ginn Jr.DolphinsWR32
86Lee EvansBillsWR33
87David GarrardJaguarsQB8
88Chris CooleyRedskinsTE6
89Jeremy ShockeySaintsTE7
90Kurt WarnerCardinalsQB9
91Brett FavreJetsQB10
92Julius JonesSeahawksRB42
93Chester TaylorVikingsRB43
94Rashard MendenhallSteelersRB44
95Donovan McNabbEaglesQB11
96Marc BulgerRamsQB12
97Matt SchaubTexansQB13
98Derek AndersonBrownsQB14
99Antwaan Randle ElRedskinsWR34
100D.J. HackettPanthersWR35
101Devin HesterBearsWR36
102Deuce McAllisterSaintsRB45
103Felix JonesCowboysRB46
104Heath MillerSteelersTE8
105Ronald CurryRaidersWR37
106San Diego Chargers D/ST D1
107Drew BennettRamsWR38
108Minnesota Vikings D/ST D2
109Isaac Bruce49ersWR39
110Reggie WilliamsJaguarsWR40
111James JonesPackersWR41
112Chris ChambersChargersWR42
113Bernard BerrianVikingsWR43
114Tony SchefflerBroncosTE9
115Ray RiceRavensRB47
116Ben ObomanuSeahawksWR44
117Donte' StallworthBrownsWR45
118Sammy MorrisPatriotsRB48
119Kolby SmithChiefsRB49
120Ahman GreenTexansRB50
121Jay CutlerBroncosQB15
122Jason CampbellRedskinsQB16
123DeSean JacksonEaglesWR46
124Tim HightowerCardinalsRB51
125Derrick WardGiantsRB52
126Fred JacksonBillsRB53
127Chicago Bears D/ST D3
128Sidney RiceVikingsWR47
129Jerry PorterJaguarsWR48
130Reggie BrownEaglesWR49
131Amani ToomerGiantsWR50
132Seattle Seahawks D/ST D4
133Green Bay Packers D/ST D5
134Indianapolis Colts D/ST D6
135Aaron SteckerSaintsRB54
136Adrian Peterson BearsRB55
137Jake DelhommePanthersQB17
138Jon KitnaLionsQB18
139Philip RiversChargersQB19
140Eli ManningGiantsQB20
141Bobby EngramSeahawksWR51
142Aaron RodgersPackersQB21
143Mike HartColtsRB56
144Justin GageTitansWR52
145Courtney TaylorSeahawksWR53
146Pierre ThomasSaintsRB57
147Rudi JohnsonBengalsRB58
148Derrick MasonRavensWR54
149Donald LeePackersTE10
150Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST D7
151J.T. O'Sullivan49ersQB22
152Chad PenningtonDolphinsQB23
153Jeff GarciaBuccaneersQB24
154Josh Morgan49ersWR55
155Dominik HixonGiantsWR56
156James HardyBillsWR57
157JaMarcus RussellRaidersQB25
158Todd HeapRavensTE11
159Marty BookerBearsWR58
160Owen DanielsTexansTE12
161Muhsin MuhammadPanthersWR59
162Deion BranchSeahawksWR60
163Shaun McDonaldLionsWR61
164Matt RyanFalconsQB26
165Vince YoungTitansQB27
166Arnaz Battle49ersWR62
167Eddie RoyalBroncosWR63
168Bryant Johnson49ersWR64
169Kevin WalterTexansWR65
170Tatum BellLionsRB59
171Vernon Davis49ersTE13
172Alge CrumplerTitansTE14
173Benjamin WatsonPatriotsTE15
174Greg OlsenBearsTE16
175Warrick DunnBuccaneersRB60
176Vincent JacksonChargersWR66
177Javon WalkerRaidersWR67
178Leon WashingtonJetsRB61
179Ladell BettsRedskinsRB62
180Brandon JacksonPackersRB63
181Ryan TorainBroncosRB64
182Correll BuckhalterEaglesRB65
183Brad SmithJetsWR68
184Tarvaris JacksonVikingsQB28
185Brodie CroyleChiefsQB29
186Darrell JacksonBroncosWR69
187Dominic RhodesColtsRB66
188Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST D8
189David PattenSaintsWR70
190New York Giants D/ST D9
191Dallas Cowboys D/ST D10
192Mark ClaytonRavensWR71
193LaMont JordanPatriotsRB67
194DeShaun Foster49ersRB68
195Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST D11
196New England Patriots D/ST D12
197Kevin JonesBearsRB69
198Jacob HesterChargersRB70
199Garrett WolfeBearsRB71
200Robert MeachemSaintsWR72
201Jabar GaffneyPatriotsWR73
202Michael BushRaidersRB72
203Roydell WilliamsTitansWR74
204Andre' DavisTexansWR75
205Ike HilliardBuccaneersWR76
206Chris HenryBengalsWR77
207Anthony AlridgeBroncosRB73
208Michael PittmanBroncosRB74
209Darren SprolesChargersRB75
210Kevin BossGiantsTE17
211Steve Smith GiantsWR78
212Ben UtechtBengalsTE18
213Dustin KellerJetsTE19
214Zach MillerRaidersTE20
215Marcedes LewisJaguarsTE21
216Anthony FasanoDolphinsTE22
217Troy SmithRavensQB30
218Trent EdwardsBillsQB31
219Leonard PopeCardinalsTE23
220Kenton KeithColtsRB76
221Chris HenryTitansRB77
222J.J. ArringtonCardinalsRB78
223Devery HendersonSaintsWR79
224Philadelphia Eagles D/ST D13
225Washington Redskins D/ST D14
226Baltimore Ravens D/ST D15
227Tennessee Titans D/ST D16
228Denver Broncos D/ST D17
229Miami Dolphins D/ST D18
230Carolina Panthers D/ST D19
231San Francisco 49ers D/ST D20
232Houston Texans D/ST D21
233Atlanta Falcons D/ST D22
234Shayne GrahamBengalsK1
235Nick FolkCowboysK2
236Stephen GostkowskiPatriotsK3
237Nate KaedingChargersK4
238Adam VinatieriColtsK5
239Phil DawsonBrownsK6
240Mason CrosbyPackersK7
241Robbie GouldBearsK8
242Jeff ReedSteelersK9
243Rob BironasTitansK10
244Josh BrownRamsK11
245Josh ScobeeJaguarsK12
246Kris BrownTexansK13
247Jason HansonLionsK14
248Neil RackersCardinalsK15
249David AkersEaglesK16
250Matt StoverRavensK17

Thanks to everyone who came out to all the Fantasy Football events we held, especially the ones in New York and Chicago. It was great to meet everyone.

Be sure to check out our daily Fantasy Focus Football podcast. And remember, not only can you sign up for ESPN Fantasy Football, we have office pool-type Pick 'em games, for both college and the NFL, plus our salary-cap game (Gridiron Challenge), our Eliminator game (some call it "survivor"), and, last but not least, we're giving away $1 million -- you heard me, 1 million dollars -- to the first person to get 25 wins in a row in our Streak for the Cash game. Just pick who will win a game or prop bet 25 times in a row. Super simple.

Have a great holiday. Or don't. It honestly doesn't affect me either way.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off.

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• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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