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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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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