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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ASTROS FREE AGENCY

Astros set to bring back a familiar face

Castro is back! Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

MLB.com's Brian McTaggart is reporting that Jason Castro will rejoin the Astros after agreeing to a two-year deal with Houston for $7 million which also includes 2 million in incentives. Martín Maldonado and Castro will split the catching duties, which gives the Astros lineup flexibility by having a right-handed and left-handed hitting option at catcher.

Castro was drafted by the Astros 10th overall in 2008 and left in free agency after the 2016 season. Last year, Castro hit .188 and is a career .230 hitter. Keep in mind, Maldonado's contract will be up after this season and Castro could be the main catching option for the Astros in 2022 if they don't bring him back. Plus, the Astros drafted catcher Korey Lee with the 32nd overall pick in 2019 and Castro is a nice safety net if Lee is not ready for the majors next season, which seems likely.

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