THE Z REPORT

Lance Zierlein: Fantasy football ratings version 1.0

Lance Zierlein: Fantasy football ratings version 1.0
Where does Deshaun Watson rank in Zierlein's initial fantasy rankings? Bob Levey/Getty Images

It’s time to pass along some of my fantasy football ratings, but keep in mind that we are still in the early stages and I will be including some point projections as well as tier for each position down the road. These ratings are for PPR leagues and future ratings will have more information.

Quarterbacks

  1. Aaron Rodgers, GB

  2. Deshaun Watson, HOU

  3. Russell Wilson, SEA

  4. Tom Brady, NE

  5. Cam Newton, CAR

  6. Drew Brees, NO

  7. Carson Wentz, PHI

  8. Kirk Cousins, MIN

  9. Matthew Stafford, DET

  10. Matt Ryan, ATL

Overview: Aaron Rodgers is without Jordy Nelson and his wide receiving corps looks fairly average, but his rushing attack isn’t great and he’ll be forced to carry a heavy percentage of the offensive load. Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson should be able to pile up numbers in the air and on the ground and could threaten for the top spot at QB. Kirk Cousins won’t be able to add anything on the ground which limits his potential, but I’m higher on him than most considering the weapons he has to work with.

Running backs

  1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT

  2. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL

  3. Todd Gurley, LAR

  4. David Johnson, AZ

  5. Kareem Hunt, KC

  6. Alvin Kamara, NO

  7. Melvin Gordon, LAC

  8. Saquon Barkley, NYG

  9. Leonard Fournette, JAX

  10. LeSean McCoy, BUF

Overview: I’m assuming that Ben Roethlisberger won’t stay healthy and when you combine that with Le’Veon Bell playing for a new contract - well let’s just say the numbers should be substantial. The same goes for Ezekiel Elliott who is playing behind a monster offensive line and who is looking for a bounce-back season after his off-field issues last year. Alvin Kamara should benefit from having Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games. I see all 10 runners on this list as players with huge potential with McCoy’s legal concerns as the one caveat.

Wide receivers

  1. Antonio Brown, PIT

  2. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

  3. Odell Beckham, NYG

  4. Davante Adams, GB

  5. Michael Thomas, NO

  6. Julio Jones, ATL

  7. A.J. Green, CIN

  8. Mike Evans, TB

  9. Adam Thielen, MIN

  10. Keenan Allen, SD

Overview: If I project Deshaun Watson as the second most prolific fantasy quarterback this season, I have to project Hopkins up there as well. I’m a little higher on Beckham and Adams than some fantasy pundits, but that’s because Beckham’s talent almost always jumps off the field when he’s healthy and Adams should see a bulk of the targets from my top-rated fantasy QB. I’ve got Julio Jones a little further back than some since rookie Calvin Ridley could eat into some of his production. I see Thielen jumping into the top 10 with Kirk Cousins at the helm in Minnesota.

Tight end

  1. Rob Gronkowski, NE

  2. Travis Kelce, KC

  3. Zach Ertz, PHI

  4. Jimmy Graham, GB

  5. Evan Engram, NYG

  6. Greg Olsen, CAR

  7. David Njoku, CLE

  8. Delanie Walker, TEN

  9. Trey Burton, CHI

  10. Jack Doyle, IND

Overview: It’s sacrilege to have Gronkowski anywhere but the top spot, but I do see Kelce as a legitimate threat to the top spot based on concern for Gronk’s healthy. Ertz may very well be in the top tier of tight ends this year and feels like a really safe option after the first two tight ends go early. Evan Engram and David Njoku are the two, young wildcards who could wildly outplay their draft spots or potentially disappoint just a little bit. Trey Burton in Chicago could end up a sneaky option who becomes a safety blanket for Mitch Trubisky.



 

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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