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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Top 200 Big Board, TFC High-Stakes League
Preseason Matchup Analysis
8/29/17; Updated 9/1/17

Remember how I said last week my overall Big Boards were not going to change significantly over the remainder of the preseason barring injuries?

Yeah, so last weekend happened. (Yet another reminder as to why it is foolish to sink more than a few dollars into this hobby until after the third full week of the preseason has finished.) Three fairly high-profile fantasy players (Spencer Ware, Julian Edelman and Cameron Meredith) going down in a matter of a few days stirs the pot for a lot of big changes on the NFL teams they play for and a slew of minor changes in the overall rankings.

If you are somehow unfamiliar with my color-coding system, allow me to explain it before we start:

Red – A very difficult matchup. For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player, drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e. from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a RB2).

Yellow – Keep expectations fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White – Basically, this matchup is one that could go either way. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this defense. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.

Green – It doesn’t get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers.

Two other items require an explanation:

1) Success Score Index (SSI) - This score is an apples-to-oranges number I arrive at after meticulously grading and assigning certain weights to several unique attributes to each position that I feel are critical to fantasy success.

2) Please note the different colors to the “Pos” column below; I am taking this step to allow owners to delineate where one tier ends (regardless of position) and where another one begins, essentially using the same concept NFL teams do with a horizontal board during the NFL Draft. The fact each tier is a different color is merely to easily separate tiers.

Here is the scoring system that I used to rank the players in the TFC PPR format:

 TFC Big Board - Top 200
Rank Pos Player Tm Age SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 RB1 David Johnson ARI 25 1097.5
2 WR1 Antonio Brown PIT 29 1094.4
3 RB2 Le'Veon Bell PIT 25 1088.8
4 WR2 Julio Jones ATL 28 1078.1
5 WR3 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG 24 1077.5
6 RB3 Devonta Freeman ATL 25 1076.0
7 WR4 Jordy Nelson GB 32 1061.0
8 WR5 Mike Evans TB 24 1045.6
9 RB4 Melvin Gordon LAC 24 1041.3
10 RB5 DeMarco Murray TEN 29 1040.3
11 WR6 Michael Thomas NO 23 1039.6
12 WR7 A.J. Green CIN 29 1035.6
13 RB6 Jay Ajayi MIA 24 1033.0
14 RB7 LeSean McCoy BUF 29 1029.8
15 RB8 Todd Gurley LAR 23 1023.8
16 WR8 Doug Baldwin SEA 28 1018.3
17 RB9 Kareem Hunt KC 22 1005.8
18 RB10 Jordan Howard CHI 22 1004.5
19 WR9 Brandin Cooks NE 23 1001.0
20 TE1 Rob Gronkowski NE 28 981.3
21 WR10 Dez Bryant DAL 28 973.9
22 RB11 Dalvin Cook MIN 22 973.8
23 RB12 Isaiah Crowell CLE 24 972.8
24 WR11 Kelvin Benjamin CAR 26 966.9
25 RB13 Christian McCaffrey CAR 21 966.5
26 WR12 Michael Crabtree OAK 29 966.3
27 RB14 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 22 965.8
28 WR13 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 34 965.8
29 WR14 Amari Cooper OAK 23 965.6
30 WR15 Keenan Allen LAC 25 965.5
31 RB15 Lamar Miller HOU 26 965.0
32 RB16 Leonard Fournette JAC 22 964.8
33 WR16 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 25 961.5
34 WR17 Demaryius Thomas DEN 29 951.3
35 WR18 Martavis Bryant PIT 25 946.3
36 QB1 Tom Brady NE 40 943.5
37 QB2 Aaron Rodgers GB 33 943.5
38 RB17 Ty Montgomery GB 24 940.8
39 WR19 T.Y. Hilton IND 27 940.0
40 RB18 Carlos Hyde SF 25 939.3
41 WR20 Allen Robinson JAC 24 936.3
42 WR21 Tyreek Hill KC 23 935.0
43 RB19 Mark Ingram NO 27 931.5
44 RB20 Joe Mixon CIN 21 928.8
45 WR22 Davante Adams GB 24 928.8
46 TE2 Jimmy Graham SEA 30 925.0
47 WR23 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 30 922.5
48 TE3 Travis Kelce KC 27 922.5
49 WR24 Stefon Diggs MIN 23 921.8
50 RB21 Danny Woodhead BAL 32 921.8
51 RB22 Ameer Abdullah DET 24 921.5
52 RB23 Doug Martin TB 28 921.5
53 RB24 Marshawn Lynch OAK 31 921.5
54 WR25 DeVante Parker MIA 24 918.8
55 WR26 Jeremy Maclin BAL 29 917.5
56 RB25 Adrian Peterson NO 32 917.0
57 WR27 Terrelle Pryor WAS 28 916.9
58 WR28 Pierre Garcon SF 31 915.4
59 WR29 Golden Tate DET 29 915.0
60 WR30 Jamison Crowder WAS 24 912.9
61 RB26 Rob Kelley WAS 24 911.5
62 RB27 Tevin Coleman ATL 24 906.0
63 TE4 Greg Olsen CAR 32 900.0
64 TE5 Jordan Reed WAS 27 899.2
65 RB28 Bilal Powell NYJ 28 899.0
66 WR31 Willie Snead NO 24 897.5
67 WR32 Brandon Marshall NYG 33 896.6
68 QB3 Drew Brees NO 38 893.5
69 RB29 Mike Gillislee NE 26 893.0
70 RB30 Jonathan Stewart CAR 30 890.3
71 TE6 Kyle Rudolph MIN 27 888.8
72 WR33 Sammy Watkins LAR 24 886.3
73 QB4 Russell Wilson SEA 28 882.5
74 RB31 Duke Johnson CLE 23 882.3
75 TE7 Martellus Bennett GB 30 881.3
76 WR34 Alshon Jeffery PHI 27 880.4
77 TE8 Tyler Eifert CIN 26 880.4
78 RB32 Frank Gore IND 34 880.3
79 WR35 Jarvis Landry MIA 24 880.0
80 RB33 Theo Riddick DET 26 873.8
81 TE9 Hunter Henry LAC 22 867.5
82 RB34 Darren McFadden DAL 30 866.5
83 QB5 Matt Ryan ATL 32 865.5
84 WR36 Adam Thielen MIN 27 863.8
85 RB35 Derrick Henry TEN 23 862.3
86 WR37 John Brown ARI 27 861.8
87 WR38 Corey Coleman CLE 23 857.3
88 WR39 DeSean Jackson TB 30 856.5
89 WR40 Donte Moncrief IND 24 855.0
90 WR41 Tyrell Williams LAC 25 848.5
91 RB36 C.J. Anderson DEN 26 848.3
92 WR42 Randall Cobb GB 27 847.0
93 RB37 Terrance West BAL 26 846.8
94 QB6 Cam Newton CAR 28 845.5
95 WR43 Mike Wallace BAL 31 844.0
96 WR44 Chris Hogan NE 28 840.0
97 WR45 Kevin White CHI 25 840.0
98 QB7 Philip Rivers LAC 35 833.5
99 QB8 Jameis Winston TB 23 831.5
100 RB38 Darren Sproles PHI 34 830.5
101 QB9 Dak Prescott DAL 24 829.5
102 WR46 Kenny Britt CLE 28 826.0
103 WR47 Marvin Jones DET 27 823.1
104 WR48 Rishard Matthews TEN 27 822.5
105 QB10 Kirk Cousins WAS 29 819.5
106 WR49 Cole Beasley DAL 28 819.4
107 QB11 Marcus Mariota TEN 23 818.5
108 RB39 LeGarrette Blount PHI 30 817.0
109 TE10 Zach Ertz PHI 26 816.3
110 RB40 Jamaal Williams GB 22 815.8
111 WR50 Ted Ginn Jr. NO 32 814.8
112 WR51 Corey Davis TEN 22 814.8
113 QB12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 35 811.5
114 QB13 Andy Dalton CIN 29 811.5
115 RB41 Matt Forte NYJ 31 811.0
116 RB42 DeAndre Washington OAK 24 810.3
117 WR52 Travis Benjamin LAC 27 808.5
118 WR53 Robby Anderson NYJ 24 808.4
119 RB43 Jalen Richard OAK 23 808.3
120 RB44 Rex Burkhead NE 27 808.0
121 WR54 Eric Decker TEN 30 806.3
122 RB45 James White NE 25 805.3
123 RB46 Chris Thompson WAS 26 805.0
124 QB14 Matthew Stafford DET 29 804.5
125 QB15 Derek Carr OAK 26 804.0
126 QB16 Andrew Luck IND 27 802.5
127 RB47 Jonathan Williams BUF 23 798.5
128 WR55 Zay Jones BUF 22 793.5
129 WR56 Sterling Shepard NYG 24 791.3
130 RB48 Jeremy Hill CIN 24 790.8
131 QB17 Carson Palmer ARI 37 788.0
132 QB18 Eli Manning NYG 36 787.5
133 TE11 Austin Hooper ATL 22 785.0
134 TE12 Delanie Walker TEN 33 782.5
135 RB49 Charles Sims TB 26 781.3
136 QB19 Carson Wentz PHI 24 777.0
137 WR57 Cooper Kupp LAR 24 773.8
138 RB50 James Conner PIT 22 773.5
139 RB51 D'Onta Foreman HOU 21 772.5
140 RB52 C.J. Prosise SEA 23 772.3
141 RB53 Thomas Rawls SEA 24 770.5
142 TE13 Julius Thomas MIA 29 770.0
143 RB54 Devontae Booker DEN 25 767.8
144 RB55 Alvin Kamara NO 31 767.5
145 WR58 Jordan Matthews BUF 25 767.5
146 RB56 Latavius Murray MIN 27 767.0
147 TE14 Jack Doyle IND 27 765.0
148 RB57 Samaje Perine WAS 21 764.5
149 WR59 Kenny Golladay DET 23 764.4
150 RB58 Kyle Juszczyk SF 26 763.5
151 TE15 Eric Ebron DET 24 761.3
152 QB20 Tyrod Taylor BUF 28 760.5
153 WR60 Devin Funchess CAR 23 760.0
154 RB59 Tarik Cohen CHI 22 758.0
155 RB60 Jamaal Charles DEN 30 758.0
156 RB61 Shane Vereen NYG 28 757.3
157 RB62 Jacquizz Rodgers TB 27 757.3
158 RB63 Christopher Carson SEA 22 756.3
159 RB64 Marlon Mack IND 21 753.5
160 RB65 Eddie Lacy SEA 27 752.0
161 RB66 Giovani Bernard CIN 25 751.3
162 WR61 Kenny Stills MIA 25 750.6
163 TE16 Cameron Brate TB 26 745.0
164 RB67 T.J. Yeldon JAC 23 743.5
165 RB68 Robert Turbin IND 27 743.0
166 QB21 Sam Bradford MIN 29 740.5
167 RB69 Dion Lewis NE 26 740.3
168 RB70 Donnel Pumphrey PHI 22 740.0
169 RB71 Paul Perkins NYG 22 739.5
170 TE17 Evan Engram NYG 22 737.5
171 QB22 Jay Cutler MIA 34 736.0
172 WR62 Brandon LaFell CIN 30 733.8
173 WR63 Breshad Perriman BAL 23 733.1
174 WR64 Mohamed Sanu ATL 27 730.6
175 WR65 Curtis Samuel CAR 21 727.5
176 WR66 Marqise Lee JAC 25 725.0
177 TE18 Jason Witten DAL 35 725.0
178 RB72 Wayne Gallman NYG 22 724.3
179 RB73 De'Angelo Henderson DEN 24 724.0
180 RB74 Wendell Smallwood PHI 23 719.8
181 WR67 Marquise Goodwin SF 26 718.8
182 WR68 Kendall Wright CHI 27 717.5
183 RB75 Jerick McKinnon MIN 25 715.0
184 WR69 Josh Doctson WAS 24 713.1
185 TE19 Zach Miller CHI 32 710.4
186 WR70 Torrey Smith PHI 28 708.8
187 WR71 Nelson Agholor PHI 24 707.5
188 RB77 Matt Breida SF 22 707.3
189 TE20 Coby Fleener NO 28 703.8
190 TE21 Austin Seferian-Jenkins NYJ 24 701.3
191 WR72 Paul Richardson SEA 25 701.3
192 WR73 J.J. Nelson ARI 25 700.0
193 RB78 Branden Oliver LAC 26 699.0
194 RB79 Kenyan Drake MIA 23 698.8
195 QB23 Jared Goff LAR 22 697.5
196 TE22 Antonio Gates LAC 37 695.0
197 RB80 Charcandrick West KC 26 687.8
198 WR74 Terrance Williams DAL 27 683.1
199 QB24 Alex Smith KC 33 680.0
200 QB25 DeShone Kizer CLE 21 665.0

Be aware these rankings are for PPR leagues which award four points for passing touchdowns and start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end and two flexes.

If there was some good news to come out of this weekend, it might be none of the top 18 players coming off the board in most drafts were not affected negatively by the aforementioned injuries. The case could be made Rob Gronkowski might see a bit of a bump, but the risk-reward with him is already uncomfortable as it is. Gronk's dominance has and probably will continue to be well-chronicled, but even 12 games out of him the season probably makes him worth his ranking on this board. (I'm sure you'll be happy to know that is exactly what I have been projected for.) Anything less than that probably means he should be dropping to the Ezekiel Elliott portion of the board.

I am admittedly high on Brandin Cooks. I believe his presence brings the deep ball back to the New England offense, but I wasn't projecting him for a lot of volume before and I'm not sure I will now even with Edelman's injury. I think he has around 12-touchdown upside, but I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes with around 70 catches and 1,050-1,100 yards. Thus, where you choose to rank/value him is almost entirely dependent on whether or not he can reach his touchdown upside.

Now comes time for the elephant in the room. I've been aggressive with Kareem Hunt's projection (obviously pre-Ware injury) and ranking all summer long. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has likened him to Chester Taylor, while I gave him a high-end NFL comp of Ray Rice prior to the draft. Perhaps the best part of the rookie's game is that he doesn't fumble (one on 722 total touches over his last three years in college) and forces a lot of missed tackles with his surprising combination of power and agility. Obviously, it takes a special set of circumstances in order to bump up a player from No. 5 on my draft prospect list to No. 1 among rookie running backs, but I believe that is exactly what we have here. Kansas City has attempted no fewer than 411 rushes in any of HC Andy Reid's four seasons at the helm. In three of those seasons, one running back has seen at least 49 percent of the carries. It'd be stunning if Hunt doesn't beat that number by at least a few percentage points this season.)

Better yet, Reid has been a head coach for 18 seasons and placed a running back inside the top 16 in PPR scoring 14 times (including nine top-10 finishes and five top-fives). The four exceptions include Jamaal Charles' 2015 season in which he was lost for the season in Week 5, LeSean McCoy's rookie year in 2009 in which he shared touches with Brian Westbrook for half a season, a three-headed backfield in 2003 and, in 2000, when Duce Staley missed 11 games. It's a long way of saying if Reid's main back stays healthy and isn't in an obvious timeshare - which does not appear to be the case now - he is probably going to be a high-end RB2 at worst.

One player who made a fairly significant leap from my last submission is Keenan Allen. Jordy Nelson is one of the latest examples of a player performing well about a year after an ACL surgery (Allen's 2016 season-ending injury), while we can probably acknowledge kidney lacerations (Allen's season-ending 2015 injury) is probably not an injury we are likely to see again from him. (Let me be among the first to say the fantasy industry needs to do a better job at acknowledging and/or recognizing "injury-proneness" and probably stay within the realm of soft-tissue injuries and concussions when doing so.) Ultimately, when it is time to make a pick, what is a better option in the third-round area: a receiver we are confident will produce if/when healthy (like Allen) or one who is "luckier" with injuries and hope will produce (such as Allen Robinson and maybe even DeAndre Hopkins). Even with more weapons than he may have ever had at his disposal, Philip Rivers trusts Allen and will get him the ball.

There is an obvious danger in hoping older receivers can do it for one more year, but based on how late and how often I've been getting Larry Fitzgerald in the MFL25s I'm currently doing, it would appear most believe there is no way the 34-year-old receiver can do it again. I'm going to keep the analysis simple on this one: beyond David Johnson's likely 120 targets, where are the other 480 or so targets going to go in Arizona? There is no question Carson Palmer trusts Fitz more than any other Cardinal receiver, and it seems foolish to believe a wideout capable of 100 catches in his age-32 and age-33 season will "hit the wall" in his age-34 season. We know to expect a second-half fade from him at this point, so he's best viewed as a high-end WR2 or a low-end WR1 if you decided to go RB-heavy in the first three rounds.

T.Y. Hilton is undoubtedly a very good receiver, but the fact he continues to come off the board in the second and third round of drafts is shocking to me. Less than two weeks before the start of the season, we still have no idea when Andrew Luck will be ready. Would we continue to value Jordy Nelson as a first-round pick if Aaron Rodgers was hurt? Probably not. I suppose 12 games from Luck and Hilton together are better than 16 from whichever Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback will be throwing to Allen Robinson, but let's not pretend Hilton is a lock for 1,200 and eight scores with Scott Tolzien under center for anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the season.

The loss of Edelman will likely hurt New England less than a similar injury would affect most teams, but that doesn't mean we can just assume Tom Brady won't see his production drop off at least a little bit. It's the very reason I now have Brady and Aaron Rodgers neck-and-neck for the top quarterback in fantasy. I still believe Brady has the edge based on what should be a ridiculously easy schedule from Weeks 11-16. However, I believe there are now enough solid third-round options at running back and receiver - assuming you follow this board and not ADP - to probably push both players back a bit and into the fourth round, at least in this format where passing touchdowns are worth four points.

I'm still not sure if I can fathom the notion of counting on Carlos Hyde as anything more than a flex option given his injury history, the quality of his offensive line and his brutal second-half slate, but he is easily in the best shape I've ever seen him. If anyone could promise me 13 or 14 games from Hyde this year, I'd be willing to bet will live up to this ranking.

Staying in San Francisco, I needed to find a way to bump up Pierre Garcon as well. Considering I have consistently had him pegged in the neighborhood of 140 targets since I wrote my Opportunity Knocks - NFC article a few weeks ago, I needed to see verification of the 49ers backing up that optimistic projection and I feel like I got that in the dress rehearsal against the Minnesota Vikings. Garcon is a poor bet to score more than five or six touchdowns and his second-half schedule is a bear, but HC Kyle Shanahan can scheme offense about as well as anyone in the league. Owners should be thrilled if they can land a potential 90-100 catch player such as Garcon as a WR3 in the sixth-round area, and owners shouldn't hesitate viewing or drafting him in the same way they do Golden Tate as a high-floor WR2.

What if I told you there was a player being drafted by some as a top-20 running back who played for a team that has very little hope of winning more than two games, sports a porous offensive line, may not have a viable threat at receiver and is stuck in a potential timeshare with an older teammate with a more proven track record and similar skill set? Our mystery man is Bilal Powell, in case you hadn't already figured it out. Opportunity is often king in fantasy football and it appears as if Powell has some, but there seems to be an assumption he's: a) he's locked into the starting job and b) Matt Forte is little more than a handcuff. Let me first point out 62.6 percent of Powell's carries and 56.9 percent of his rushing yards in 2016 came in the final four weeks of the season after Forte was essentially shut down. It also bears mentioning 48.1 percent of his fantasy points came over that stretch. Three of the defenses - New England being the exception - ranked somewhere between the most charitable defenses against PPR running backs (San Francisco) and 14th (Miami). Along with Buffalo, those three teams ranked among the five worst against PPR running backs over the final five weeks of 2017.

In theory, I understand why Powell could succeed and live up to a potential fifth-round fantasy draft choice. But let's look at it from another perspective: do we know for sure he will start and see 180 carries? I'd say no. Can we assume he'll average 5.5 yards per carry again with little to no threat in the passing game to take defenders out of the box? I'd say no. Can we assume he'll get goal-line work? I'd say no. Can we trust a first-time play-caller to feature the running backs in the passing game? I'm not sure. Can we assume a potential one- or two-win team like the Jets won't just play the kids in December, especially considering their front office has already essentially thrown in the towel for this season? I'm not sure. I'm sure I could ask more questions, but the point is this: a fifth-round draft choice spent on Powell is basically a hope that every game will be "garbage time" and/or an acknowledgment his owners know the answers to all of these questions and can them answer in a way that benefits Powell. Give me someone like Rob Kelley two rounds later who actually has a shot to score touchdowns on a semi-regular basis, runs behind a good offensive line and is situated in an offense that can run against light boxes. And while it didn't factor into my overall grade at all, I would be somewhat concerned Powell was playing well into the third quarter of the team's dress rehearsal against the New York Giants, as Forte received the bulk of the work in the first half. Even if that was an intentional move by the Jets' coaching staff to see were Forte was from a fitness standpoint, "starting" running backs in the NFL do not play deep into the third quarter in any preseason game. All I'm saying is I'm not buying a Jet - much less any one player dealing with this much uncertainty - in the first five or six rounds if I don't have to.

Let's talk about Kevin White. (Do we have to?) At this point, White is a do-not-draft player for most owners, and that is an understandable response. With Cameron Meredith done for the foreseeable future, however, White will have a grand opportunity now to realize the potential and talent that had evaluators ranking him favorably to Amari Cooper and DeVante Parker three drafts ago. One tibia (2015) and one fibula (2016) stress fracture later, and we have a player who is running out of chances to live up to the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. I suppose the odds are just as good Kendall Wright ends up as the featured target in Chicago - he did enjoy his best season as a pro under OC Dowell Loggains with Tennessee in 2013 after all - but the Bears' front office is going to want to see White at least have a chance to realize his potential if he is healthy enough to do so in 2017. Before you dismiss him for whatever reason, remember he drew some Andre Johnson comps coming out of West Virginia. I realize I have him listed a lot higher than most people are going to draft him, so just keep him in mind when your draft board begins to look light on potential high-upside options.

Philip Rivers has led three offensive drives this preseason. The result: three touchdowns. Again, I think we all know better than to put too much weight on such small-sample occurrences in what are otherwise meaningless games, but that is about as good as it gets regardless. Having said that, I didn't need to see Rivers do his thing this summer. His recent history plus a healthy supporting cast (especially Keenan Allen) has me believing he could be a top-five fantasy signal-caller this season. The defense should be good enough this season that Rivers doesn't need to go into shootout mode all that often, but what he has done over the last two years with backup receivers and constant upheaval on the offensive line is nothing short of amazing. What's even more impressive is the fact he hasn't missed a game since becoming the starter in 2006 or thrown for fewer than 29 touchdowns in any of the last four years. Speaking of Chargers who will likely outperform their draft position, take a late-round stab at Travis Benjamin. He alone may be the reason - assuming all of Los Angeles' other receivers stay healthy - why Rivers makes a run to be the No. 3 or No. 4 overall fantasy quarterback. He's going to be a cheaper option than someone like Ted Ginn Jr., who I also like, and possesses a similar skill set with better hands. He will be a target of mine in each of my aforementioned MFL25s.

More Patriots: Chris Hogan is the most likely receiver to "benefit" from Edelman's absence, but let's get something straight right now: no one Patriot is going to absorb 159 targets or even come close to it. Hogan, Danny Amendola and Cooks will all get their turns in the slot, but New England also has three pass-catching backs - one of which has even played slot in an emergency during a playoff game (Rex Burkhead). I'm not sure I can buy Hogan as a WR3 yet with everyone else healthy, but if Gronk needs time off at some point, then I could see it. If Malcolm Mitchell wasn't consistently dealing with knee problems, he would stand to benefit too, but he and Amendola have not shown enough durability to justify a fantasy draft choice in most normal-sized leagues. So if you are asking where Edelman's targets go, my best guess is they will be get split into five or six different directions.

Speaking of Burkhead, go ahead and take a 12th-round plunge on him. Why? (Why not?) Because he has the best combination of size and skill set in New England's backfield. He's definitely worth a shot in that range in best-ball leagues, and I'd be willing to bet he'll flirt with flex value a time or two (or more) this season.

I don't plan on investing in multiple tight ends in most of my leagues this year, but if I land on an "injury-prone" one such as Jordan Reed or Tyler Eifert, I will be following it up with a pick of Austin Hooper a few rounds later. The subject of "missing targets" (those a team has to replace the season before) is worth discussing in this case, as Matt Ryan - under Shanahan - targeted the tight end position 98 times in 2015 and 83 in 2016. Levine Toilolo and possibly Josh Perkins will probably soak up a few of those in Year 1 under new OC Steve Sarkisian, but the bulk will go to Hooper. About the only reason I'm not willing to go much higher with Hooper than I already have him is because the consistency may be a bit lacking, especially with a heavy emphasis being placed on getting the ball in the red zone to Julio Jones and three or four other players vying for looks near the goal line. A 50-catch, six-score season is probably within reason for the second-year tight end if everyone stays healthy. And if injury strikes either Jones or Mohamed Sanu, that might be a bit on the low end.

Do yourself a favor and spend a late pick in the 12th or 13th round on Christopher Carson. There really isn't much question who the best back in Seattle has been this preseason, and it's not as if any of the supposed top three options in Seattle have proven to be all that durable. I know I have him ranked low, primarily because I don't pretend to know how committed HC Pete Carroll is to Eddie Lacy or how much more patience he has with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise continually in the trainer's room. I think a strong case can be made for Carson to go as early as Round 11 in 12-team leagues.

In closing, I'd like to share a few of the other late-round players I will be targeting over the next 1 1/2 weeks:

Next: FFPC

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.