THE Z REPORT

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 losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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