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Fantasy football rankings 2014: Your Top 200 prior to NFL free agency

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

We all miss fantasy football. So let's start thinking about it now!

When I was 7 or 8, my parents got me this enormous pad of paper. It didn't occur to me until literally the moment I was writing that first sentence, that it was probably nothing more than a desk blotter. And yet my little kid brain just knew it was giant paper, and I could write, like, eight pages worth of stuff on each piece.

I used it to make lists.

The first one I did was my favorite songs. I could get to more than 100 on the page, but as a young'un, I could only name like 30 songs. After that, I was like "Dad? Is there a song called ‘Killing Time'? I think it's one of my favorites." It was sad, and I can't imagine the completed list last more than a day before becoming garbage.

Anyway, the point is that I, like so many of us, love lists. I once subjected my Facebook friends to a series of statuses chronicling my 50 favorite movies, my 50 favorite TV shows, my 50 favorite acting performances. I calculate the metrics on the apps on my iPhone home screen frequency of use, user-friendliness, closeness to thumb to regularly sort and resort my apps for greatest possible functionality. (I'm also a huge nerd. But I did just get an iPhone 5, so now I have a whole new row of app-availability to work on.)

As soon as the Super Bowl ended, I started my 2014 rankings of fantasy players, almost despite myself; I started by mentally sorting Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, then wondered where I'd put Peyton Manning, then all of a sudden I had worked out a top 10.

I decided to make a top 50. I ended up with a top 200. Anyway, here is a way-too-early top 200 for 2014 fantasy football. I haven't included any incoming rookies until we see who is on what team and in what situation, it's nigh-on impossible to come up with a reasonable ranking or defenses or kickers (because, who cares?), but have included situations where I think a player is unlikely to return to his 2013 team.

I'll present them in chunks, with my thoughts on that chunk afterward:

Rank Player Position
1 Jamaal Charles RB1
2 LeSean McCoy RB2
3 Adrian Peterson RB3
4 Matt Forte RB4
5 Eddie Lacy RB5
6 Peyton Manning QB1
7 Drew Brees QB2
8 Marshawn Lynch RB6
9 Calvin Johnson WR1
10 Demaryius Thomas WR2

Charles set a career-high in touches in 2013, but just barely, and he actually had fewer 2013 runs than in 2012. Andy Reid knows how to use his top running back. ... I flipped McCoy and Peterson several times, but settled here, if only because teams can't gang up on McCoy as well as Peterson. ... Manning and Brees are actually really close for me, but the Bronco keeps the lead for at least one more year. ... Thomas turns out to be my No. 2 wide receiver, in part because I wouldn't be at all shocked to see Eric Decker move on.

Rank Player Position
11 Josh Gordon WR3
12 Alfred Morris RB7
13 Le'Veon Bell RB8
14 Jimmy Graham TE1
15 Aaron Rodgers QB3
16 Zac Stacy RB9
17 A.J. Green WR4
18 Cam Newton QB4
19 Dez Bryant WR5
20 Montee Ball RB10
21 Arian Foster RB11
22 Brandon Marshall WR6
23 Ryan Mathews RB12
24 C.J. Spiller RB13
25 Jordy Nelson WR7

Gordon's upside is obviously as high as anyone's, but he'll have an entirely new situation in Cleveland, and who knows who his quarterback will be? It's scary. ... Rodgers could easily get back to top-QB territory, but he's not the clear choice he used to be. ... Ball skyrockets into the top 10 among running backs and top 20 overall, because I find it hard to imagine Knowshon Moreno is back in Denver. ... Foster's rank is kind of a throw-a-dart spot, as he's back from major surgery but also no longer has Ben Tate to fend off. Twenty-one feels right. ... Fred Jackson's a year older, and eventually he has to wear down. Bodes well for Spiller.

Rank Player Position
26 Antonio Brown WR8
27 Keenan Allen WR9
28 Wes Welker WR10
29 Alshon Jeffery WR11
30 Doug Martin RB14
31 Jordan Todman RB15
32 DeSean Jackson WR12
33 Andre Johnson WR13
34 Pierre Garcon WR14
35 Vernon Davis TE2
36 Julius Thomas TE3
37 Larry Fitzgerald WR15
38 Anquan Boldin WR16
39 Andre Brown RB16
40 DeMarco Murray RB17

I loved Jeffery on my fantasy roster last year, and he's still a high-end receiver, but 2013 might end up his career year, or at least his first-half-of-career year. ... Could it really be possible that Martin was just overrated? I don't see how, and rank him accordingly, but I'll admit I'm scared. ... Todman inherits the Jacksonville RB job almost by default, but enough touches can make any running back viable. ...  Davis and Thomas are near equals, and they're kind of a tight-end tier all to themselves; well below Graham, but more trustworthy than Rob Gronkowski. ... If Brown can put together a full healthy season in New York, he'll be valuable.

Rank Player Position
41 Giovani Bernard RB18
42 Reggie Bush RB19
43 Andre Ellington RB20
44 Matthew Stafford QB5
45 T.Y. Hilton WR17
46 Roddy White WR18
47 Frank Gore RB21
48 Vincent Jackson WR19
49 Julio Jones WR20
50 Victor Cruz WR21
51 Torrey Smith WR22
52 Tom Brady QB6
53 Andrew Luck QB7
54 Rob Gronkowski TE4
55 Reggie Wayne WR23
56 Eric Decker WR24
57 Julian Edelman WR25
58 Chris Johnson RB22
59 Colin Kaepernick QB8
60 Shane Vereen RB23

Can Bush stay healthy? Who friggin' news. ... It certainly sounds promising for Ellington to be Arizona's solo No. 1 option next year, which makes him intriguing. ... Jones should be back to health, but this is a guy who has been less than we might have hoped so far in his career. Can you trust him to stay healthy? ... I really didn't plan to have Brady and Luck back-to-back, but it's funny that they ended up there. Sort of line graphs crossing paths. ... I don't know where Decker or Johnson will play next year, so these rankings could slide ten places in either direction.

Rank Player Position
61 Randall Cobb WR26
62 Percy Harvin WR27
63 DeAngelo Williams RB24
64 Michael Crabtree WR28
65 Tony Romo QB8
66 Steven Jackson RB25
67 Jason Witten TE5
68 Jordan Cameron TE6
69 Cordarrelle Patterson WR29
70 Nick Foles QB9
71 Russell Wilson QB10
72 Rashad Jennings RB26
73 Michael Floyd WR30
74 Mike Wallace WR31
75 Cecil Shorts III WR32
76 Knowshon Moreno RB27
77 Jerrel Jernigan WR33
78 Chris Ivory RB28
79 Pierre Thomas RB29
80 Fred Jackson RB30

If this were some imaginary no-one-gets-hurt world, Harvin could be a top-five receiver. But man, dude is snakebit. ... Health is the big thing for Crabtree, too; a full offseason of Achilles recovery should have him stronger. ... Romo's still a top-10 quarterback, and I have him ahead of Foles despite Foles' great 2013. He's good; he's not doing that again. ... I'm hitching my wagon for 2014 to Jernigan, who I think will have a big year in New York with Hakeem Nicks likely gone.

Rank Player Position
81 LeGarrette Blount RB31
82 Darren McFadden RB32
83 Philip Rivers QB11
84 Ben Roethlisberger WB12
85 Greg Olsen TE7
86 Dennis Pitta TE8
87 Marques Colston WR34
88 Kendall Wright WR35
89 Owen Daniels TE9
90 Charles Clay TE10
91 Antonio Gates TE11
92 BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB33
93 Vick Ballard RB34
94 Coby Fleener TE12
95 Ladarius Green TE13
96 Alex Smith QB13
97 Joique Bell RB35
98 Donald Brown RB36
99 Jordan Reed TE14
100 Matt Ryan QB14

Blount was good enough down the stretch that I think he gets a shot next year, in New England or otherwise. ... I'm not sure what to make of Rivers who wasn't actually as good in fantasy as the hype says he was this past season. ... This is a tight-end-heavy section, with guys like Pitta, Daniels, and Fleener all having pros and cons. If you don't get one of the top few tight ends, you can probably feel okay with any in here. ... With Trent Richardson's awfulness, Ahmad Bradshaw's injuries, Donald Brown's lack of a track record, might Ballard get the Indianapolis starting job back?

Rank Player Position
101 Robert Griffin III QB15
102 Danny Amendola WR36
103 Andy Dalton QB16
104 Brian Hartline WR37
105 Jeremy Maclin WR38
106 Danny Woodhead RB37
107 Stevan Ridley RB38
108 Jay Cutler QB17
109 Ray Rice RB39
110 Joseph Fauria TE15
111 Lamar Miller RB40
112 Martellus Bennett TE16
113 Marvin Jones WR39
114 James Jones WR40
115 Rueben Randle WR41
116 Tim Wright TE17
117 Dwayne Bowe WR42
118 Golden Tate WR43
119 Steve Smith WR44
120 Denarius Moore WR45
121 James Starks RB41
122 Mike Tolbert RB42
123 Darren Sproles RB43
124 Jarrett Boykin WR46
125 Emmanuel Sanders WR47
126 Aaron Dobson WR48
127 Mark Ingram RB44
128 Nate Burleson WR49
129 Steve Johnson WR50
130 Carson Palmer QB18
131 Tavon Austin WR51
132 Ace Sanders WR52
133 Riley Cooper WR53
134 Justin Hunter WR54
135 Bilal Powell RB45
136 Daniel Thomas RB46
137 Roy Helu RB47
138 Tyler Eifert TE18
139 Mike Williams WR55
140 Eddie Royal WR56
141 Ahmad Bradshaw RB48
142 Knile Davis RB49
143 Trent Richardson RB50
144 Kyle Rudolph TE19
145 Delanie Walker TE20
146 Maurice Jones-Drew RB51
147 Edwin Baker RB52
148 Ben Tate RB53
149 Rod Streater WR57
150 Marcedes Lewis TE21

Dalton finishes high among fantasy quarterbacks in 2013, but it was woefully unreliable, with huge games and disasters coming with no rhyme or reason. You can't trust him. ... I don't know where Ridley plays in 2014, but he's got talent; it will depend on the situation. ... I had to knock Rice a whole boatload of spots after the recent news. With no way to know what happened or what impact it will have on him, I choose a conservative approach. ... Fauria very well could be the sole Detroit tight end, and we know he's an end-zone target. ... Jones-Drew will not finish 51st among running backs if he gets the right gig, he'll be way higher; if not, he'll be way lower. Split the difference. ... I guess Baker did enough to get the Cleveland RB job. Good for him if so.

Rank Player Position
151 Rashard Mendenhall RB54
152 Mike James RB55
153 Jonathan Grimes RB56
154 Greg Jennings WR58
155 Terrance Williams WR59
156 Ryan Tannehill QB19
157 Hakeem Nicks WR60
158 Robert Woods WR61
159 Kenbrell Thompkins WR62
160 Lance Dunbar RB57
161 Austin Pettis WR63
162 Santonio Holmes WR64
163 Jeremy Kerley WR65
164 Shonn Greene RB57
165 Eli Manning QB20
166 Joe Flacco QB21
167 Jared Cook TE22
168 Griff Whalen WR66
169 Kenny Stills WR67
170 Kendall Hunter RB58
171 Bobby Rainey RB59
172 Benny Cunningham RB60
173 Khiry Robinson RB61
174 Jonathan Stewart RB62
175 Ronnie Hillman RB63
176 Zach Ertz TE23
177 Kris Durham WR68
178 Lance Moore WR69
179 Zach Miller TE24
180 Robert Turbin RB64
181 Leonard Hankerson WR70
182 Doug Baldwin WR71
183 Brandon Myers TE24
184 Toby Gerhart RB65
185 Da'Rick Rogers WR72
186 Jerome Simpson WR73
187 Geno Smith QB22
188 Mike Glennon QB23
189 Marcel Reece RB66
190 Sidney Rice WR74
191 Jerricho Cotchery WR75
192 Bernard Pierce RB67
193 Andre Roberts WR76
194 Aldrick Robinson WR77
195 Bryce Brown RB68
196 Malcom Floyd WR78
197 DeAndre Hopkins WR79
198 Brian Hoyer QB24
199 Marcus Lattimore RB69
200 Joseph Randle RB70

I assume Grimes comes into the year as Foster's backup in Houston, which could bode well for him. ... Williams got overrated a bit last year, and should regress in 2014. ... This entire end section is the land of undefined roles. Will James and/or Rainey be the Tampa Bay starter/backup? ... Will Hillman work his way back into Denver's good graces? ... Where will Stewart and Gerhart end up?

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