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Top 175 Big Board, PPR: Version 1.0

Preseason Matchup Analysis

By Doug Orth | 8/9/22 |
PPR | Half-PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex | FFPC

Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to evaluate and analyze because 11 men are asked to work in harmony approximately 60 times per game, while 11 other men are being asked to disrupt that harmony. Pro football is not pro basketball in that a team can clear out one side of the court when things break down and the offense can still score. Pro football is not pro baseball in that one player can defeat a pitcher and eight fielders by timing his swing just right. Even as great as Barry Sanders was, he never beat a defense all by himself. In football, every player needs some help to accomplish his goal. That is part of what makes football so great and part of what makes it so highly unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer standards now - adds another element to the equation that is difficult to quantify.

Regardless, it does not mean we should not try. Over the last month, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players. Analyzing matchups alone requires me to make more than 8,000 "decisions". That is not a humble brag. Each year, my goal is to give those who put their faith in my evaluations the confidence they have the best draft-day tool at their disposal. Even if my grading process is only 70 percent accurate, that is still a significant advantage over any analyst that does not consider it at all. I like to believe that even if readers believe my process is flawed for whatever reason, they can appreciate how much thought has been put into that opinion.

Fantasy football is a stock market game, and the job of an analyst is to identify when stocks are poised to skyrocket or ready to tank. While last year's results help fantasy managers/analysts set the table for the following season, they are merely a starting point. Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not reactive. I have taken this approach for more than 15 years. While some of the processes have changed in that time, the main goal has not.

The Success Score Index (SSI) below is powered in large part by my target and carry predictions. As always, the matchup grades are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly, I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.).

For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain the color-coding system before we start:

Red – For lower-level players, a red matchup is the most difficult one a player can face. 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 an RB2).

Yellow – For lower-level players, he is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, the slight edge goes to the defense in what is essentially a toss-up. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White – This one can go either way, but I favor the player over the matchup. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable for all levels of players.

Green – For non-elite players, the stage is set for a player to have a productive day. For the elite player, this matchup could produce special numbers.

Note: Players with a next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout concern.

Over the next two weeks, I will release my first Big Boards for Half-PPR and standard leagues as well as Superflex and FFPC Big Boards. In the second and final round of Big Boards near the end of the preseason, I will rank at least 200 players and present my final rankings for kickers and defense/special teams.

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

 PPR Big Board - Top 175
Rk Pos Player Tm SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 RB1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 11.68
2 WR1 Justin Jefferson MIN 7.74
3 RB2 Jonathan Taylor IND 7.58
4 RB3 Dalvin Cook MIN 6.90
5 RB4 D'Andre Swift DET 6.54
6 RB5 Saquon Barkley NYG 6.48
7 WR2 Cooper Kupp LAR 5.76
8 RB6 Austin Ekeler LAC 5.51
9 WR3 CeeDee Lamb DAL 5.03
10 RB7 Joe Mixon CIN 4.63
11 RB8 Najee Harris PIT 3.35
12 RB9 Aaron Jones GB 3.31
13 WR4 Ja'Marr Chase CIN 3.30
14 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 3.29
15 WR5 Davante Adams LV 3.07
16 RB10 Derrick Henry TEN 3.00
17 WR6 Stefon Diggs BUF 2.07
18 WR7 Tyreek Hill MIA 1.78
19 WR8 Tee Higgins CIN 1.64
20 RB11 Nick Chubb CLE 1.54
21 RB12 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 1.44
22 TE2 Kyle Pitts ATL 1.38
23 RB13 Breece Hall NYJ 1.30
24 RB14 Travis Etienne JAC 1.19
25 RB15 Alvin Kamara NO 1.18
26 RB16 Javonte Williams DEN 1.17
27 WR9 Mike Evans TB 0.71
28 RB17 Leonard Fournette TB 0.50
29 WR10 Michael Pittman Jr. IND 0.50
30 TE3 Mark Andrews BAL 0.42
31 WR11 Courtland Sutton DEN 0.40
32 WR12 A.J. Brown PHI 0.40
33 QB1 Josh Allen BUF 0.38
34 WR13 Keenan Allen LAC 0.25
35 WR14 Deebo Samuel SF 0.21
36 WR15 Allen Robinson LAR 0.06
37 TE4 Darren Waller LV 0.00
38 WR16 Diontae Johnson PIT -0.04
39 RB18 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC -0.25
40 WR17 Jaylen Waddle MIA -0.27
41 WR18 D.J. Moore CAR -0.35
42 WR19 Brandin Cooks HOU -0.43
43 TE5 George Kittle SF -0.44
44 RB19 J.K. Dobbins BAL -0.56
45 WR20 Jerry Jeudy DEN -0.56
46 WR21 Terry McLaurin WAS -0.58
47 RB20 Elijah Mitchell SF -0.97
48 WR22 Mike Williams LAC -1.08
49 RB21 David Montgomery CHI -1.11
50 TE6 T.J. Hockenson DET -1.20
51 RB22 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL -1.31
52 WR23 DK Metcalf SEA -1.38
53 WR24 Elijah Moore NYJ -1.38
54 WR25 Amon-Ra St. Brown DET -1.38
55 WR26 Hunter Renfrow LV -1.64
56 QB2 Justin Herbert LAC -1.81
57 QB3 Patrick Mahomes KC -2.02
58 WR27 Kadarius Toney NYG -2.11
59 WR28 DeVonta Smith PHI -2.11
60 RB23 AJ Dillon GB -2.13
61 QB4 Lamar Jackson BAL -2.18
62 WR29 Michael Thomas NO -2.21
63 WR30 Rashod Bateman BAL -2.31
64 WR31 Marquise Brown ARI -2.34
65 QB5 Jalen Hurts PHI -2.34
66 RB24 Cam Akers LAR -2.43
67 RB25 Chase Edmonds MIA -2.43
68 TE7 Dallas Goedert PHI -2.49
69 RB26 James Conner ARI -2.51
70 RB27 Damien Harris NE -2.52
71 RB28 Antonio Gibson WAS -2.53
72 RB29 Tony Pollard DAL -2.61
73 WR32 Darnell Mooney CHI -2.68
74 RB30 Rhamondre Stevenson NE -2.72
75 WR33 Chris Godwin TB -2.74
76 WR34 Russell Gage TB -2.75
77 RB31 Melvin Gordon DEN -2.79
78 WR35 Adam Thielen MIN -2.90
79 TE8 Zach Ertz ARI -2.92
80 WR36 DeAndre Hopkins ARI -3.04
81 QB6 Kyler Murray ARI -3.07
82 TE9 Albert Okwuegbunam DEN -3.18
83 WR37 Treylon Burks TEN -3.19
84 RB32 Miles Sanders PHI -3.29
85 QB7 Joe Burrow CIN -3.32
86 QB8 Tom Brady TB -3.32
87 RB33 James Cook BUF -3.37
88 QB9 Russell Wilson DEN -3.40
89 QB10 Dak Prescott DAL -3.40
90 WR38 Brandon Aiyuk SF -3.43
91 RB34 Nyheim Hines IND -3.45
92 WR39 Gabriel Davis BUF -3.47
93 WR40 Tyler Lockett SEA -3.50
94 WR41 Allen Lazard GB -3.53
95 QB11 Aaron Rodgers GB -3.53
96 RB35 Kareem Hunt CLE -3.54
97 WR42 Christian Kirk JAC -3.56
98 WR43 JuJu Smith-Schuster KC -3.56
99 WR44 Tyler Boyd CIN -3.57
100 TE10 Dalton Schultz DAL -3.67
101 WR45 Marvin Jones JAC -3.73
102 TE11 Noah Fant SEA -3.83
103 TE12 Pat Freiermuth PIT -3.85
104 TE13 Irv Smith MIN -3.85
105 TE14 Cole Kmet CHI -3.97
106 RB36 Kenneth Gainwell PHI -4.03
107 TE15 David Njoku CLE -4.03
108 RB37 Josh Jacobs LV -4.17
109 QB12 Matthew Stafford LAR -4.17
110 WR46 Robert Woods TEN -4.19
111 WR47 Garrett Wilson NYJ -4.20
112 WR48 Chris Olave NO -4.30
113 QB13 Trey Lance SF -4.30
114 WR49 Chase Claypool PIT -4.31
115 RB38 Isaiah Spiller LAC -4.35
116 TE16 Evan Engram JAC -4.48
117 WR50 DeVante Parker NE -4.50
118 WR51 Amari Cooper CLE -4.52
119 TE17 Tyler Higbee LAR -4.53
120 RB39 Tyler Allgeier ATL -4.60
121 QB14 Kirk Cousins MIN -4.65
122 TE18 Dawson Knox BUF -4.75
123 RB40 Rachaad White TB -4.81
124 WR52 Drake London ATL -4.81
125 WR53 Nico Collins HOU -4.85
126 TE19 Brevin Jordan HOU -4.86
127 WR54 Romeo Doubs GB -4.97
128 RB41 James Robinson JAC -5.13
129 WR55 Skyy Moore KC -5.14
130 RB42 Kenneth Walker SEA -5.19
131 TE20 Austin Hooper TEN -5.22
132 WR56 Isaiah McKenzie BUF -5.26
133 RB43 Devin Singletary BUF -5.40
134 TE21 Gerald Everett LAC -5.43
135 RB44 Eno Benjamin ARI -5.55
136 TE22 Hunter Henry NE -5.58
137 RB45 Jamaal Williams DET -5.64
138 WR57 Jahan Dotson WAS -5.69
139 RB46 Michael Carter NYJ -5.78
140 WR58 Wan'Dale Robinson NYG -6.02
141 QB15 Derek Carr LV -6.06
142 RB47 Dameon Pierce HOU -6.12
143 WR59 Rondale Moore ARI -6.25
144 WR60 Jarvis Landry NO -6.37
145 QB16 Trevor Lawrence JAC -6.48
146 WR61 Jakobi Meyers NE -6.50
147 WR62 Parris Campbell IND -6.58
148 WR63 K.J. Osborn MIN -6.62
149 QB17 Daniel Jones NYG -6.64
150 WR64 M. Valdes-Scantling KC -6.65
151 WR65 D.J. Chark DET -6.73
152 TE23 Jonnu Smith NE -6.75
153 TE24 Mike Gesicki MIA -6.76
154 WR66 George Pickens PIT -6.83
155 WR67 Kendrick Bourne NE -6.86
156 WR68 Curtis Samuel WAS -6.88
157 QB18 Tua Tagovailoa MIA -6.92
158 WR69 Josh Palmer LAC -6.95
159 QB19 Justin Fields CHI -6.98
160 QB20 Matt Ryan IND -7.03
161 RB48 J.D. McKissic WAS -7.04
162 WR70 D. Peoples-Jones CLE -7.09
163 WR71 Jameson Williams DET -7.09
164 TE25 Tyler Conklin NYJ -7.30
165 RB49 Chris Evans CIN -7.34
166 QB21 Ryan Tannehill TEN -7.35
167 RB50 Darrell Henderson LAR -7.36
168 WR72 Robby Anderson CAR -7.38
169 RB51 Alexander Mattison MIN -7.47
170 QB22 Mitchell Trubisky PIT -7.59
171 RB52 Ronald Jones KC -7.75
172 QB23 Mac Jones NE -7.78
173 RB53 Brian Robinson Jr. WAS -7.78
174 WR73 Velus Jones Jr. CHI -7.87
175 RB54 Khalil Herbert CHI -8.20

PPR | Half-PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex | FFPC

Top 10

There is only one question fantasy managers need to ask on draft day when it comes to Christian McCaffrey: Do you believe certain players are injury-prone or just unlucky? Football is a violent sport, so just about every player will get hurt and miss games at some point. So, how many injuries does one player need to suffer before he is considered "injury-prone"? Or is "injury-prone" such an established (and easy) narrative that people are willing to attribute a player's injury "proneness" to his body being unable to handle the rigors of playing the game?

Regular readers of my work probably already know where I stand on the questions posed above. I recently made a comparison that I think helps put the "injury-prone" narrative into some perspective. When children get sick (and they will), we do not call them illness-prone. However, when players get hurt (and they will) more than once, are they injury-prone? McCaffrey played in 25 of his final 27 college games (averaging 26.8 touches) and 48 of his first 48 games in the NFL (averaging 19.3 touches) before his injuries finally caught up to him in 2020 and 2021. McCaffrey is the single-biggest cheat code in fantasy football at our game's most important position. That is why I am willing to put a player who has played only 10 of his team's last 33 games atop the Big Board.

That same sentiment holds for three of the next five players (Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift and Saquon Barkley). As odd as it might sound at first blush, I am more concerned about Cook's durability than McCaffrey's. Dating back to 2013, Cook has sustained at least five injuries to his shoulders (hat tip to Dr. Jesse Morse of The Fantasy Doctors for his research on that subject matter). Each shoulder injury increases the likelihood that he will suffer another injury to his shoulder, so there is definite risk. With that said, new HC Kevin O'Connell is bringing an outside zone-running scheme with him from the Rams to the Vikings. In theory, this should be a great thing for Cook's durability as it should reduce the number of times he has to lower his shoulder running in between the tackles. It should also allow Cook the luxury of breaking long runs more often. O'Connell has also talked up the likelihood of getting the running backs more involved in the passing game, which should further reduce Cook's odds of taking unnecessary punishment. Is there still risk with Cook? Of course there is. However, he may be the one running back capable of competing with McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor and Barkley capable for overall RB1 honors.

In much the same way that I reject the notion that McCaffrey is "injury-prone," I also reject the notion when it comes to Barkley. Just about any running back would have suffered a torn ACL on the play that ended his 2020 season. Anyone who wants to suggest that his ankle injury in Week 5 last season was anything more than a fluke needs to watch the play again. Barkley also has not had the luxury of much help from his line or his coaches in recent years either. New HC Brian Daboll is unquestionably the best play-caller the Giants have had since Barkley turned pro. The addition of OT Evan Neal also gives New York bookend tackles for the first time in what seems like 10-plus years. The Giants may not be able to maul many defenses in the running game yet, but they now can feel reasonably good about giving Barkley a chance to succeed. Much like Cook in Minnesota, the plan for Barkley is to feature him more often as a receiver. While using backs in the passing game more often is not a foolproof way for them to avoid injuries, it is a smart way to increase the odds of keeping him healthy. If Barkley stays on the field this year, Barkley should finish as a top-five back. Fantasy managers will also be reminded of just how important good play-calling and offensive line play matters are running backs, which is something Barkley has not had very often.


It is hard to recall the last season in which fantasy managers have allowed so much running back value to slip into the third and fourth rounds. Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott and Breece Hall are all regularly available in the third (Zeke and Hall occasionally slip into the fourth). All three are almost certain to get at least 200 carries - if healthy for a full season - and two of them are very good bets to top 40 receptions. In a game where volume tends to be king, that kind of profile looks royal.

Especially over the last two seasons, Chubb's fantasy upside has been capped in the passing game by Kareem Hunt despite the fact the former caught 36 of his 43 targets. With Deshaun Watson likely looking at a longer suspension than the six-game ban announced last week, it means Jacoby Brissett will be leading the offense. The Browns were already a run-heavy team even when Baker Mayfield was playing well, so it makes sense they will only lean more on Chubb for however long Watson must sit with Brissett running the show. Expect Stefanski to keep the game plan as conservative as possible for Brissett, who may struggle to keep Amari Cooper's value afloat. In two seasons under HC Kevin Stefanski, Chubb has averaged 16.1 carries per game. That number seems likely to increase now. While Chubb's lack of usage in the passing game makes him a better RB2 than RB1 option, it is almost unfair that a player with his fantasy ceiling can be drafted after a fantasy manager locks up Jonathan Taylor and a high-upside WR1 (or Kyle Pitts). (For those that may not recall, Chubb scored over 20 fantasy points in five of 14 games in 2021 and five of 12 in 2020.)

There will come a time in the near future when passing on Elliott in fantasy drafts is the right call. It may happen as soon as next year. It will probably not be this season. The fantasy industry's desire to kick Elliott to the curb (or at least fade him) in favor of Tony Pollard may be one of the more egregious errors in the last 10 years. Elliott has yet to finish lower than RB12 in any of his six NFL seasons, yet he is already being drafted as if he is in danger of losing his job. Last season's decline was almost certainly caused by the PCL injury he suffered in Week 4. Assuming that is a true statement, it makes it even harder to understand how managers can fade a player that has never handled fewer than 268 touches or scored fewer than eight touchdowns in a season. Perhaps Elliott's biggest issue is that he is not overly flashy. Flash does not score fantasy points, kids. While Zeke's rushing crown days are probably in the rearview mirror, his track record of consistent production and ability to take the field each week is as good as any back's. Sometimes fantasy football is not that hard; draft Elliott with confidence in the third round and feel good about the likelihood he will reward you with at least 1,200 total yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hall is less of a no-brainer than either Chubb or Elliott, but one could argue his upside is the greatest of the three. The Jets should boast a much-improved offense in 2022, if only because they added OG Laken Tomlinson to the line and gave Zach Wilson two more weapons to play with in Garrett Wilson and Tyler Conklin. While Michael Carter is no slouch and should be considered a lock for at least a third of the work in this backfield, the Jets also made it clear with their selection of Hall that they see Carter as a complementary back. New York notably tried (and failed) to trade into the first round for Hall only to have him fall in their lap on Day 2.

While their situations are not the same, Hall gives me a Jonathan Taylor 2020 vibe as a player who has the requisite size and athleticism to be a featured back that is available in the third or fourth round of fantasy drafts. He will play on an offense desperate for someone to handle about 55-60 percent of the workload. While Taylor had to prove he was a capable receiver, the Jets already know Hall has that in his toolbox. Even if we do nothing more than use New York's backfield totals from last year (311 carries and 125 targets to estimate what is reasonable for Hall if he handles 60 percent of the backfield work, Hall's floor should be somewhere around 187 carries and 75 targets. (That is about the same workload Leonard Fournette had in 2021.) The Jets should find themselves in scoring territory much more often this year, meaning Hall should be a fair bet for at least eight touchdowns.


There is one glaring omission from the top 12 receivers on my Big Board. (Congratulations if you said Deebo Samuel. …Oh, the disrespect!) This has nothing to do with my respect for Samuel, which only grew last season. This has a lot more to do with the transition from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance as his quarterback and the reemergence of Brandon Aiyuk. Samuel's receiving alone would have made him the overall WR12, but it was the 59 attempts and eight touchdowns on the ground last season that catapulted him into the WR3 seat. My relatively low ranking of him is based mostly on the likelihood that San Francisco will probably run him half as much as it did last year AND the overall lack of volume I expect from the San Francisco passing game. Samuel is such a monster after the catch that he will maximize his opportunities, but there comes a point where even a receiver with his run-after-catch ability cannot compete with other receivers around the league getting 30-50 more targets.

Wide receivers get exceptionally hard to rank after about the first 20 or so. Look no further than the cluster that begins with DK Metcalf at 52 and ends with Marquise Brown at 64. Why is this group so difficult? Metcalf is stuck with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock as his quarterback. Elijah Moore has significant target competition now with Garrett Wilson. Amon-Ra St. Brown does too. Hunter Renfrow probably will not come close to 128 targets in a season again as long as Davante Adams is wearing a silver and black uniform. Kadarius Toney showed brief flashes of his potential last year but couldn't stay healthy. DeVonta Smith will play a secondary role to A.J. Brown most weeks. Michael Thomas has played very little over the last two seasons and must battle Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry for Jameis Winston's affection. Rashod Bateman is the clear top receiver in Baltimore, but he does not catch many breaks with his projected matchups this year and figures to fall behind Mark Andrews in the pecking order once again on a run-heavy team. Brown is no lock to be Kyler Murray's favorite target during DeAndre Hopkins' six-game suspension and it seems unlikely his fortunes will turn for the better once Hopkins returns.

It is a shame that two of the league's best offenses (and quarterbacks) in recent years have very little clarity in terms of who their top targets will be at receiver. I am referring to the Chiefs and Packers, of course. Skyy Moore is becoming a more popular mid-round selection by the day, but early reports suggest Kansas City is more interested in him as an all-purpose weapon in 2022 than as a potential Tyreek Hill replacement. Will JuJu Smith-Schuster make all of his long-time supporters proud after leaving Roethlisberger behind for Patrick Mahomes? Or will Kansas City be a pick-your-poison-by-the-week offense with only Travis Kelce as a constant? I still think Moore leads this receiver group at the end of the year, but I am not as confident in that as I was a week ago.

Green Bay's decision to rely on Allen Lazard as the top receiver figures to test Aaron Rodgers' ability to make Day 2 or later picks into stars. (Lazard was an undrafted free agent.) From Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb to Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams, Rodgers has made them all stars at some point in their careers. Will Lazard be the next? His strong finish to last season offers hope (13-plus fantasy points in four of the team's last five games), but can fantasy managers pin their hopes on a 26-year-old who has yet to eclipse 40 catches or 513 receiving yards in a season? They may not have to, especially if Romeo Doubs has anything to say about it. The rookie fourth-round selection has been the talk of Packers' camp this summer and appears destined to take the starting spot opposite Lazard that was supposed to be reserved for Christian Watson. The interesting part about a potential Lazard-Doubs pairing is that both players are known primarily for their ability to win 50/50 balls and get downfield. However, if you listened to Rodgers talk about Doubs last week, you likely came away from it believing the quarterback thinks he has his next star receiver.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.