There have been some surprises on the list, but these were our rankings from much earlier in the offseason so that's to be expected. Each night I've analyzed the latest 10 players revealed on the list, giving my two cents as to their ranking, and if it's too high, too low, or juuuuuuuust right. Below is the final installment of this series. Hope you've enjoyed the ride. And don't worry, NFL Fantasy LIVE will be back on your TV screens on a daily basis before you know it.
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
- David Johnson, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
- Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
- Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rob Gronkowski is the unquestioned king of the tight ends, but handing him a first-round fantasy grade this year seems like a bit much. He'll officially be without Tom Brady for the first four games of the year, and the tight end position is deeper than it has been in years past. There's so much value to be had with guys like Ladarius Green, Coby Fleener, Zach Miller, and Antonio Gates going off the board anywhere from Round 7 to Round 15. I might be in the minority here, but I won't be taking Gronk in the first round of any fantasy drafts, which basically means I won't have Gronk on any fantasy teams this fall.
I'm still a bit surprised by how many people are against taking Ezekiel Elliott in the first round. He's an elite talent about to be running behind the league's best offensive line while inheriting a substantial workload. Over the last three years the featured back in Dallas has averaged 332.7 touches per year. Of course, that's skewed by DeMarco Murray's monstrous 2014 campaign, but even when we take that out the number only drops to 274.5. That total would have ranked in the top 10 in total touches among running backs in 2015. Elliott is more talented than Darren McFadden, who posted a career year in this offense in 2015 without a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to keep defenses honest. Everything is lining up for a massive rookie season for Zeke, so throw out your personal rookie bias and get on board with taking him in the first.
Adrian Peterson will continue to be a first-round pick in standard fantasy drafts until his super-human body actually shows signs of aging, or he retires. And that's all I have to say about that.
DeAndre Hopkins is a bit high on this list for my liking, but that's no slight against Nuk. I've been a passionate supporter of Hopkins since his rookie year, but a first-round pick in fantasy this season is simply too steep. The Texans made a concerted effort to add more dynamic pieces around Hopkins this offseason (Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller) who will all siphon some targets away, while they hope they have more consistent quarterback play under center from Brock Osweiler, that's merely a hope. In addition, the defense is likely to carry over its strong second half of the season, which will flip game scripts and reduce Nuk's crazy target volume. Last year in Weeks 1-8, the Texans allowed 25.6 points per game on defense allowing Nuk to rack up 14 targets per game in catch-up and garbage time. From Week 9-17, the Texans allowed 13.5 points per game, and Nuk's targets per game slipped down to a more normal pace of 10 per game. He's still a WR1, don't get me wrong, but if I'm taking a wide receiver in the first round I want a better path to insane volume or upside.
I know people have been burned by drafting a late-season surgery too highly the following year, but David Johnson looks set to buck that trend. He's an elite pass-catching back operating in one of the NFL's best offenses who is steadily improving as a between-the-tackles runner. Even if the team rotates in Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington, Johnson is a difference-maker who should have secure volume and a safe weekly fantasy floor thanks to his role in the passing game. He's a no-brainer first-round pick thanks to his dual-threat ability and insane upside if he receives a featured back's workload (which he should).
Todd Gurley won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award after amassing over 1,100 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns in essentially 12 games (he only had seven touches in his first game). One of the best backs to enter the NFL in years, Gurley will undoubtedly be the focal point of the Rams offense in 2016. He could suffer a bit if the team falls behind against better opponents, but they'll likely lean on him early and often which should mitigate those concerns of him losing work to the likes of Benny Cunningham in hurry-up or garbage time situations. He's certainly in the discussion for the first overall pick in standard, 10-team leagues.
Sure, there are injury concerns with Le'Veon Bell as he returns from another season-ending ailment, but the guy is the best fantasy back in the game when healthy. He averaged 18 fantasy points per game in 2014, and in the five games he played in full last year averaged a healthy 16.28 fantasy points. That's a slight tick above what Devonta Freeman averaged while leading the position in fantasy scoring in 2015. Bell is on track to be back for training camp, and if there are no setbacks during the lead up to Week 1 he is the only player who should really usurp the top spot from his teammate.
Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in football, the top target in one of the league's best offenses, and happens to play with one of the few elite quarterbacks in the NFL. No. 1 pick? You bet.
So there you have it. Now the wait begins until actual football graces our TVs once again, and fantasy football dominates our mobile screens. It won't be long. Trust me.
Until next time ...