Aaron Rodgers tops "Too Soon" fantasy football rankings

What we're talking about:

  • Aaron Rodgers

No.1 of the Fantasy Illuminati

  • Bobby Meachem

Better than you think he is

  • "Justified"

Best show on T.V.

I got a tweet from Jake Roberts (like that's his real name) over the weekend, bashing me for not making with the "Too Soon" fantasy rankings. And Jake's right, I did let you down.

But I'm here right now to give you my first installment. Now if you want to check out the entire rankings, which include all of our experts, you can check those out right here.

Realize we did these a couple of weeks ago, so Marion Barber is still on the list, and there are some other happenings which will need to be corrected next time. But that's what these exercises are for, to get our minds working.

Oh, and what does Salma Hayek have to do with any of this? Nothing, really. But have you seen her new Burger King commercials? They're all over the MLB site and I find them fantastic.

And if you're new to Like/dislike, the style has been affectionately referred to "teenager on a Red Bull bender chic." And sometimes we get off topic, and those sections are shaded with icons. So if you don't want my take on James Van Der Beek in "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23" then skip right over it. Although, he's awesome in it. Pertinent names are bolded.

And without further ado ...

Let's start with the quarterbacks, and five guys headline my fantasy illuminati at the position (in order): Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Drew Brees. …

Rodgers is automatic with the Packers being the top challengers for the Super Bowl again this year. Plus the Packers haven't done anything to improve their running game, so expect another monster year from Rodgers. I might even consider him as the No. 1 overall pick. …

Brady should have no problem maintaining his lofty standards, thanks to a boost from Brandon Lloyd. Brady had 39 touchdown passes in 2011, but I'm thinking he beats that number this year. …

Part of me wants to be cautiously optimistic about Stafford, considering he's had one healthy season. Plus, it's the Lions, a team where you're waiting for the other shoe to drop all of the time. …

ImageAnd since we're on that subject, I'm so excited for the Kings, who took a commanding 3-0 lead over Vancouver on Sunday night in one of the most exciting hockey games I've seen in a quite some time. As Kings fan, I've never seen anything like it, even though it seemed like the Kings were on a 60-minute penalty kill the whole time. …

ImageBut like the Lions example, you're always waiting for the other shoe to drop with the Kings. Most sports fans would relish being up 3-0. Look at Flyers fans, who are having the time of their lives being up 3-0 on the Penguins. But me? My stomach is in knots. …

Excuse the intrusion; now back to the fantasy rankings. Cam Newton would have been my top QB, but he can't have 14 rushing touchdowns this season -- not with Mike Tolbert in the mix. As the recently extended Steve Smith has said on the "Dave Dameshek Football Program," there are other guys in the locker room who need to be taken care of. …

I already regret putting Brees this low. The Saints' defense being in disarray will actually mean Brees has more opportunity to throw the ball. But one thing to consider; Brees kept the team together during the lockout and look what happened. Now he's going to miss voluntary offseason programs? That I don't like. …

My next seven QBs in order: Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Josh Freeman. …

Rivers is going to be fine even with V. Jax leaving for Tampa Bay (find out why down in the receiver section). Eli over Peyton is the right call to make. And Cutler is an underrated fantasy quarterback. …

The great thing about fantasy is that you don't have to worry about how a guy performs in the fourth quarter or if his team makes the playoffs. So I'm really excited for Romo this season as a fantasy QB. Just imagining the way my drafts will go, I would bet I end up with Romo or Rivers as my QB in most of my leagues. …

We were one year too early for Josh Freeman. Look for him to bounce back this season. But the Bucs are going to run the ball, right? I hear you, but Tampa Bay should be trailing in enough games to make Freeman an exciting option. …

There should be no real surprises at running back (in order): Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson. …

Coach Norv Turner said Mathews could have a breakout year in 2012. And if you look at his numbers from last year, he did well, as he finished seventh in points for fantasy running backs. If he continues to improve as a receiver, he's in for a monster year. …

Talk down Johnson prior to your draft. I mean really talk him down, and just bury the guy. And then laugh when you steal him at the end of the first round or very early in the second. He's never going to get 2K again, but 1.5K will be just fine. …

Here is where running back values get interesting: DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, Jamaal Charles, Ahmad Bradshaw and Steven Jackson. …

The Cowboys have already explored trades for Felix Jones. Odds are there are no takers for an oft-injured guy at a devalued position. But even if he stays, Murray is going to be the guy until he gets hurt, which you know is coming. …

Yes, the Chiefs signed Peyton Hillis. But remember, Charles put up monster numbers when Tom Jones started for the Chiefs, so don't overthink the decision here. …

I already can tell I'm going to like Gore less and less as the offseason rolls on. Kendall Hunter is going to end up in the mix, and Brandon Jacobs is there. So expect some movement. …

I'm really high on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Coach Marvin Lewis already sees him as an every-down back because he's versatile at everything, including blitz pickup, which is key to staying on the field. And while the Bengals were once linked to Trent Richardson in the draft, there is no way that happens now. …

Two rookies to watch: Richardson (please go to Cleveland) and Lamar Miller, if he finds the right situation. …

The fantasy illuminati at receiver is what you would expect: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks and Dre Johnson. …

Nicks had back-to-back multiple-touchdown games in the playoffs, and then led the Giants with 10 receptions in the Super Bowl. He's just now hitting his stride. …

I might be putting too much faith in Dre's return, but I can't help but mark out for a good comeback, much like Brock Lesnar's return to the WWE in recent weeks. My only question is if Dre will be unwilling to take his shirt off, much like Lesnar has been. …

ImageSpeaking of the WWE, in case you missed it, here's the Gridiron Breakdown between John Cena and Tim Tebow. One reader had a great suggestion -- the two should battle in a steel cage match during next year's Super Bowl, but only if the Jets don't make it. Yeah, I don't think we need to worry about that. …

I will lose a little patience with Wallace if he doesn't report to camp. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders could easily do that job. No wonder he's so hyper to get a big-money deal. …

I have Eric Decker ahead of Demaryius Thomas right now. I like them both, but Manning loves route runners. And the biggest knock against Thomas when he came into the NFL was his route running. That's why he worked great with Tebow, who would get out of the pocket and extend plays. He's going to need to work on that skill during the offseason. …

Bonus note: Decker is already working out with Manning, too. This is huge, don't overlook this. …

I like Eddie Royal and Bobby Meachem a lot for the Chargers this season. In an era where teams are looking to get bigger at receiver, the Chargers actually need a little guy to stretch the field. And realize the Chargers have watched film on Royal twice a year for the past four seasons. They know exactly what they are getting. …

When we look back, the Chargers will be justified in letting go of Jackson in exchange for Royal and Meachem. …

Image"Justified" is the best show on television. I can't remember a time when a TV show had so many "holy (expletive)" moments in a season finale. "Sons of Anarchy" is close. "Dexter" might have early on, but I always found it predictable, even with the Ice Truck Killer. But "Justified" is the new king. …

ImageI know HBO gets a lot of the love, but is it better than FX? I put "Justified," "Sons of Anarchy" and "The Shield" up against the top three of HBO. And if you want to go comedy, "Louie" and "Archer" are there with "Curb." It's not automatic for HBO as your first through, right? …

The tight ends are going to be simple: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis and Jacob Tamme. Told you it was easy. …

Again, Manning is going to look for guys he's most comfortable with. Tamme is that guy. If you whiff on the first four, don't worry about being saddled with Tamme. …

Can you be ready to go this year, Miles Austin? Thank you. …

Nothing personal guys, but you're going to start down my board just a little bit here: Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, and Sam Bradford (a guy I really like as a QB2 this season). …

I was putting together the list and thought I had Roethlisberger way too low, but his numbers haven't been great over the past couple of years. He had 4,077 passing yards last year, but where were the touchdown passes? Only 21? And he doesn't run, either. Nope, this is accurate. …

Schaub is another guy who seems like he's ranked way too low, but when you look at it, the Texans are going to have another monster season rushing the ball. Schaub just won't have the chance. …

Red Dalton and Carson Palmer are nice QB2 options, but not starters. I like the potential of Dalton. Palmer has a full offseason with the Raiders' playbook, but does that increase his arm strength? …

And it looks like Joe Flacco is borrowing from the Eli playbook by making an outlandish comment about being the best quarterback in the league in the hopes it will translate into a Super Bowl season. It won't. And Flacco was a disaster as a fantasy QB last year. I had him paired with Eli on multiple teams for me and I ended up waiving him. …

I do appreciate how players need to believe they are good players, because who would want to play with a quarterback who thinks he's not good enough? But come on, this is Joe Flacco. I'm trying to think of a good WWE equivalent, and I say Drew McIntyre. …

The more I think about it, that's rather apt, right? Flacco's career has been one of disappointment, especially if you go back to Pittsburgh when he had to flee to Delaware after he lost out to Tyler Palko. But like Roethlisberger, where are the passing touchdowns? He had only 20 in 2011, and I'm not expecting much more this year. …

Matt Forte is already looking like the biggest disappointment of 2011. He's not going to report to voluntary offseason programs. He's going to likely hold out well into the summer. And then he's going to yield some to Michael Bush. Look, the Bears didn't sign the guy to just have him sit the bench. …

I don't get the fantasy admiration for Darren McFadden, either. He's had one good season during his four-year career. And yet, some fantasy enthusiasts consider him a top-10 running back. Let them overspend for McFadden, while you sit back and pick up an extra receiver or somebody who can play. …

Taiwan Jones will be the hot handcuff for McFadden, too. But don't sleep on Mike Goodson. You can thank me for the tip later. …

Reggie Bush is another guy I'm not excited about. Especially if the Dolphins end up with Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins seemed so close defensively. But the offense is going to need a lot of work. …

Adrian Peterson has fallen all the way down to No. 17 for me. But the good news is the Vikings' coaches were impressed with his most recent workout, and he's on track to return to the team for the opener. But expect him to be on a pitch count, so to speak. I have a feeling he'll climb the ranks as the offseason goes on. …

ImageAnd speaking of pitch counts, this seems like an appropriate time to bring this up: The Angels are terrible right now. All of the hype of spring training has evaporated, thanks in no small part to the worst bullpen in baseball. The only good thing is the Angels started 6-14 during their World Series run in 2002. …

ImageI had my predictions for 2012, and even though a few weeks in, I'll stand by them. AL division winners: Angels, Tigers, Yankees, with the Rangers and Rays as the wild cards. NL division winners: Giants, Brewers, Phillies with the Marlins and Diamondbacks as wild cards. World Series: Angels over Giants. Yeah, I don't feel great about it with Brian Wilson out for the year. …

And it would have been easy for me to switch the Giants for Dodgers, but I'll stick with my original prediction because that's the kind of guy I am. …

The acquisition of Hillis was a great football move for the Chiefs, but I don't see it translating into fantasy. He's going to vulture some touchdowns. I see him being good in his role, but not enough him to make a big fantasy impact. …

Speaking of Hillis, please vote for Patrick Willis in the Madden cover contest. Yes, I feel a little silly for believing in such a thing as the Madden cover jinx. But like Verbal Kint said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well, I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze." That's how I feel about the Madden curse. …

Getting Brandon Lloyd was a great football move by the Patriots. I caution fantasy enthusiasts, though, in expecting a huge season from him. Lloyd is going to have his weeks where he does monster numbers, but there are too many guys in the offense for him to be dominant. He could be a good value if he doesn't have to carry your squad. …

I really want to like Dez Bryant. But he's one of those guys who goes way too early in your fantasy draft. Don't be that guy. He's another guy who you need to really talk down on draft day. And if he's available at the right price, then pounce. But he's going to be drafted in the second round. Trust me, it happens every year. …

Laurent Robinson got his deal, and I can't blame him. I'm the guy who often talks of the Yasmine Bleeth Principle (cash in while you can). He's going to do nothing with the Jaguars, though. Going from Romo to Blaine Gabbert is quite a downgrade. It's like performing "Sweet Child o' Mine" without Axl Rose. …

ImageSeriously, replaced Guns N' Roses guys. Do you have no shame? I like Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy as much as the next guy (Edge's WWE entrance is the greatest of all time), but it came off like a really great cover band. Nice, but not Guns N' Roses. …

ImageThat performance was akin to Shaq, Glen Rice, Rick Fox and Robert Horry playing in a pickup game as the Los Angeles Lakers. It's not the same. It bums me out more people aren't outraged by this. …

ImageI mean, it's not Sammy Hagar singing "Panama" on the outrage scale, but it's still pretty bad. …

I do like Victor Cruz, but there are going to be people who want to take him over Nicks. Don't be one of those people. The league will catch up to him a little bit this year. He's a nice WR2 option, but he's not going to be the anchor of your fantasy team. …

I have Cruz one spot ahead of Vincent Jackson. This is a great football move for the Bucs. They needed a legit No. 1 receiver and Jackson is perfect. But he's going from a heavy pass offense to a run-based offense. His numbers are going to fall. …

And Jackson's numbers weren't that impressive when you look closely. Jackson has never reached double digits in touchdown receptions, with 21 over the last three years. Compare it with Meachem, who had 20 over the same stretch. Sure, Jackson missed 11 games in 2010, but Meachem played limited snaps with the Saints. …

Somebody is going to take Jackson as a No. 1 receiver, but the former Charger would be miscast in that fantasy role. …

Stevie Johnson got his deal with the Bills, but he's still no more than a WR3 until he can consistently hold on to the ball. …

Jeremy Maclin is the Eagles receiver to have over DeSean Jackson. The one thing I do like about Jackson is his upside. Most guys play really well during a contract season. But Jackson went the other way. The optimistic view is Jackson will excel with the pressure of playing for a new deal behind him. …

I make it a policy of not drafting Redskins (#occupyredskinspark), but if you have to take one of the Redskins receivers, I would go with Pierre Garcon over Santana Moss. Both are WR3 types. …

I also don't like taking Raiders players, either. But if you have to take one Raiders receiver, make it Denarius Moore over Darrius Heyward-Bey. Again, both of these guys are WR3, at best. …

Torrey Smith is intriguing because he has so much potential and he did have seven touchdowns during his rookie season. But I can't see him as a WR2 yet, but he's getting closer. If you grab him as a WR3, you've got a pretty good guy. …

Again, this is all just a launching point for the coming season. We'll have the schedule release on Tuesday and then the draft the following week, which will have an impact. If you have any individual questions, you know you can reach me on Twitter or Facebook.

For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 45,000 followers, and Fabiano has 50,000. Me? Just 13. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."

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