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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Talented Mr. Roto: Fantasy Football Top 200

By Matthew Berry

These are my rankings.

Sorry, let me rephrase.

These are my rankings. As in mine.

As in, they have all my biases and thoughts. Read my "Love/Hate" and "Draft Day Manifesto" pieces for deeper reasoning on specific players and the theories that shaped these rankings, but allow me to highlight a few I noticed as I was doing these.

• I'm much lower on Frank Gore than most folks. He has played all 16 games only once in three years. He has never scored double-digit touchdowns. In the past five years, the lead running back in a Mike Martz offense has averaged 1,265 total yards. That includes years with Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson, by the way. That yardage total would have been 21st in terms of total yards from scrimmage among all players (running backs and wide receivers) in 2007. Sorry; maybe I will be wrong. But I don't think Gore is Faulk circa 1999 this year.

• I'm not worried about Willis McGahee's injury. Yet.

• I also am way down on Larry Johnson and Ronnie Brown. LJ is discussed in "Love/Hate," and Nate Ravitz and I discussed Brown on Tuesday's podcast . Also, here's a link to the scientific study I referenced about players coming back from ACL injuries.

• Nate and I discussed Steve Smith and Brandon Marshall on Monday's podcast , but I like Marshall more and my rankings reflect that. I moved both guys down a bit, since neither is a legit No. 1 in my mind. Marshall outperformed Smith in 2007, he's less of an injury risk, there's more competition for the ball in Carolina and Jake Delhomme's health is no sure thing.

• Overall, as I stated in my "Manifesto," I am much higher on wide receivers this year and down on running backs.

• My rankings reflect the fact that a contrite, motivated Chad Johnson is going way too low these days.

• Considering the Seahawks tied for the sixth-most passing touchdowns in 2007 and still don't have a real running game, I'm high on Matt Hasselbeck and both Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson.

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• These rankings reflect where I'm falling on a number of teammates with questionable playing time to start. I like Kenny Watson over Rudi Johnson, regardless of what anyone else says. I like Anthony Gonzalez over Marvin Harrison, Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart and Matt Forte over the field in Chicago. And I like Donald Driver over Greg Jennings, whose value was very touchdown-dependent in 2007. I got to interview Greg when we shot the ESPN Fantasy commercials (You can play for free this year! With free live scoring!), and I asked him about that, whether there was more of an effort put on trying to find him in the end zone, etc. Greg was very candid, and the answer was no. Brett Favre was just looking around, and Greg happened to be open at the right times. In other words, it was nothing designed, just the luck of the coverage and the play. Favre and Driver remain very close, and remember, it was Driver, not Jennings, who was the Packers' leader in receptions and receiving yards in 2007.

• Speaking of his Brett-ness, I'm fairly certain it's a company priority that I mention him at every possible opportunity, so I'll take this moment to tell you I ranked him based on the idea that this is where he should be taken if you are drafting this week. If we know for sure he is staying in Green Bay and is the starter, his ranking goes up. Depending on where he actually ends up, it very well could go down.

• I'm high on David Garrard and down on Jay Cutler from a fantasy perspective. I think Cutler is a terrific talent and I'm thrilled he's got his diabetes under control, but the fact remains that he has a run-first team and only two legit weapons to pass to, one of whom will miss the first two or three weeks of the season.

• I did a Fantasy Football Now segment for "SportsCenter" in which Erik Kuselias and I argued over tight ends. I took Tony Gonzalez as my No. 1 in that segment, but I am changing to Dallas Clark here because of the news that the Colts plan to use Clark in the slot a lot more this year. Still like Gonzalez and Jason Witten, and count me among the folks who are very nervous about Antonio Gates' toe injury. Also remember that Gates had six fantasy points or fewer in four of his last five games of 2007.

• By the way, if you want to jump on the Vernon Davis bandwagon, feel free. You won't step on my toes. Forget the fact that he has yet to do anything. A Martz offense does not feature the tight end much, and tight end is deep this year.

• I like Marc Bulger as a sleeper this year, but you'll see him with a bunch of other guys below. Anytime you see players of the same position bunched together like that, it's my way of saying those guys are basically the same level and it's a question of personal preference.

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• I want to make sure Reggie Williams is healthy, and if he is, he'll move up considerably from where I have him.

• I am not a Vince Young fan. And there are a number of quarterbacks I did not rank. If they aren't listed, it's my way of saying, "They are a dime a dozen and not worth drafting. Pick him up during the season if you have a bye-week need."

• I ranked 200 players. An ESPN standard league is 10 teams with 16 roster slots, so 160 players deep. A 12-team league goes 192 deep, and a 14-team league with 14 slots goes 196 deep, so this list is designed to work for multiple formats. To wit, I spent my last 14 slots on kicker rankings to make a few points. First, you take your kicker with your last pick and not before. If it's a 10-team league, that's picks 151 through 160. To further underscore my point, I spent exactly 28 seconds ranking those 14 kickers. I timed it. It would have been 24, but it took me a few seconds to find Josh Scobee on the list. Seriously, kicker rankings don't matter.

• These rankings are based on ESPN standard scoring, which means, among other things, no points per reception and only four points for a passing touchdown.

Enjoy. Debate is healthy. You don't agree with a ranking? That's fine. I'm fairly sure there will be some here you won't. But argue with some analysis and reasoning, not just, "Bills rule -- you suck!"

Matthew Berry's Top 200 Fantasy Football Rankings
1LaDainian TomlinsonChargersRB1
2Brian WestbrookEaglesRB2
3Joseph AddaiColtsRB3
4Adrian PetersonVikingsRB4
5Steven JacksonRamsRB5
6Tom BradyPatriotsQB1
7Clinton PortisRedskinsRB6
8Randy MossPatriotsWR1
9Marshawn LynchBillsRB7
10Marion BarberCowboysRB8
11Ryan GrantPackersRB9
12Frank Gore49ersRB10
13Willis McGaheeRavensRB11
14Terrell OwensCowboysWR2
15Maurice Jones-DrewJaguarsRB12
16Tony RomoCowboysQB2
17Jamal LewisBrownsRB13
18Reggie WayneColtsWR3
19Willie ParkerSteelersRB14
20Brandon JacobsGiantsRB15
21Larry JohnsonChiefsRB16
22Braylon EdwardsBrownsWR4
23Marques ColstonSaintsWR5
24Laurence MaroneyPatriotsRB17
25Torry HoltRamsWR6
26Darren McFaddenRaidersRB18
27Thomas JonesJetsRB19
28Edgerrin JamesCardinalsRB20
29Reggie BushSaintsRB21
30Peyton ManningColtsQB3
31T.J. HoushmandzadehBengalsWR7
32Andre JohnsonTexansWR8
33Chad JohnsonBengalsWR9
34Drew BreesSaintsQB4
35Larry FitzgeraldCardinalsWR10
36Earnest GrahamBuccaneersRB22
37Michael TurnerFalconsRB23
38Ronnie BrownDolphinsRB24
39Santonio HolmesSteelersWR11
40Fred TaylorJaguarsRB25
41Plaxico BurressGiantsWR12
42Ben RoethlisbergerSteelersQB5
43Wes WelkerPatriotsWR13
44Anquan BoldinCardinalsWR14
45Roy WilliamsLionsWR15
46Brandon MarshallBroncosWR16
47Steve SmithPanthersWR17
48Dallas ClarkColtsTE1
49Donald DriverPackersWR18
50Roddy WhiteFalconsWR19
51Jonathan StewartPanthersRB26
52Kevin SmithLionsRB27
53Selvin YoungBroncosRB28
54Greg JenningsPackersWR20
55Tony GonzalezChiefsTE2
56Jason WittenCowboysTE3
57LenDale WhiteTitansRB29
58Matt HasselbeckSeahawksQB6
59Matt ForteBearsRB30
60Antonio GatesChargersTE4
61Hines WardSteelersWR21
62Carson PalmerBengalsQB7
63Dwayne BoweChiefsWR22
64Santana MossRedskinsWR23
65Calvin JohnsonLionsWR24
66Jerricho CotcheryJetsWR25
67Julius JonesSeahawksRB31
68Ryan TorainBroncosRB32
69Justin FargasRaidersRB33
70Joey GallowayBuccaneersWR26
71Laveranues ColesJetsWR27
72San Diego Chargers D/ST D1
73Brett FavrePackersQB8
74Derek AndersonBrownsQB9
75Kenny WatsonBengalsRB34
76Kellen WinslowBrownsTE5
77Ahman GreenTexansRB35
78Ahmad BradshawGiantsRB36
79Bobby EngramSeahawksWR28
80Nate BurlesonSeahawksWR29
81DeAngelo WilliamsPanthersRB37
82Anthony GonzalezColtsWR30
83Jerious NorwoodFalconsRB38
84Rudi JohnsonBengalsRB39
85Devin HesterBearsWR31
86Lee EvansBillsWR32
87Patrick CraytonCowboysWR33
88David GarrardJaguarsQB10
89Marvin HarrisonColtsWR34
90Chris CooleyRedskinsTE6
91Jeremy ShockeySaintsTE7
92Chester TaylorVikingsRB40
93Rashard MendenhallSteelersRB41
94Donovan McNabbEaglesQB11
95Marc BulgerRamsQB12
96Matt SchaubTexansQB13
97Kevin CurtisEaglesWR35
98Antwaan Randle ElRedskinsWR36
99D.J. HackettPanthersWR37
100Deuce McAllisterSaintsRB42
101Chris BrownTexansRB43
102Felix JonesCowboysRB44
103Heath MillerSteelersTE8
104Ronald CurryRaidersWR38
105Drew BennettRamsWR39
106Minnesota Vikings D/ST D2
107Isaac Bruce49ersWR40
108Chris ChambersChargersWR41
109Bernard BerrianVikingsWR42
110Tony SchefflerBroncosTE9
111Donte' StallworthBrownsWR43
112Sammy MorrisPatriotsRB45
113Ricky WilliamsDolphinsRB46
114Kolby SmithChiefsRB47
115Jay CutlerBroncosQB14
116Jason CampbellRedskinsQB15
117Chris JohnsonTitansRB48
118Derrick WardGiantsRB49
119Aaron SteckerSaintsRB50
120Fred JacksonBillsRB51
121Chicago Bears D/ST D3
122Sidney RiceVikingsWR44
123Jerry PorterJaguarsWR45
124Reggie BrownEaglesWR46
125Seattle Seahawks D/ST D4
126Green Bay Packers D/ST D5
127James JonesPackersWR47
128Indianapolis Colts D/ST D6
129Adrian Peterson (Chi)BearsRB52
130Jake DelhommePanthersQB16
131Jon KitnaLionsQB17
132Philip RiversChargersQB18
133Eli ManningGiantsQB19
134Kurt WarnerCardinalsQB20
135Mike HartColtsRB53
136Ray RiceRavensRB54
137Derrick MasonRavensWR48
138Amani ToomerGiantsWR49
139Donald LeePackersTE10
140Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST D7
141Jeff GarciaBuccaneersQB21
142Matt LeinartCardinalsQB22
143JaMarcus RussellRaidersQB23
144Shaun Hill49ersQB24
145Todd HeapRavensTE11
146Marty BookerBearsWR50
147Owen DanielsTexansTE12
148Muhsin MuhammadPanthersWR51
149Deion BranchSeahawksWR52
150Chris RedmanFalconsQB25
151Vince YoungTitansQB26
152Arnaz Battle49ersWR53
153Kevin WalterTexansWR54
154Tatum BellLionsRB55
155Vernon Davis49ersTE13
156T.J. DuckettSeahawksRB56
157Alge CrumplerTitansTE14
158Benjamin WatsonPatriotsTE15
159Greg OlsenBearsTE16
160Warrick DunnBuccaneersRB57
161Maurice MorrisSeahawksRB58
162Vincent JacksonChargersWR55
163Ted Ginn Jr.DolphinsWR56
164Reggie WilliamsJaguarsWR57
165Javon WalkerRaidersWR58
166Leon WashingtonJetsRB59
167Ladell BettsRedskinsRB60
168Brandon JacksonPackersRB61
169Andre HallBroncosRB62
170Justin GageTitansWR59
171Correll BuckhalterEaglesRB63
172Darrell JacksonBroncosWR60
173Dominic RhodesColtsRB64
174Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST D8
175Ben ObomanuSeahawksWR61
176David PattenSaintsWR62
177New York Giants D/ST D9
178Dallas Cowboys D/ST D10
179Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST D11
180LaMont JordanPatriotsRB65
181DeShaun Foster49ersRB66
182New England Patriots D/ST D12
183Kevin JonesBearsRB67
184Jabar GaffneyPatriotsWR63
185Michael PittmanBroncosRB68
186Kevin BossGiantsTE17
187Shayne GrahamBengalsK1
188Nick FolkCowboysK2
189Stephen GostkowskiPatriotsK3
190Nate KaedingChargersK4
191Adam VinatieriColtsK5
192Phil DawsonBrownsK6
193Mason CrosbyPackersK7
194Robbie GouldBearsK8
195Jeff ReedSteelersK9
196Rob BironasTitansK10
197Josh BrownRamsK11
198Josh ScobeeJaguarsK12
199Kris BrownTexansK13
200Matt StoverRavensK14

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 Sports Emmy Award winner for his work on Fantasy Football Now and a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of, 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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