Ranking the “Elites” of Fantasy Football


Prognosticating a player’s outlook four months prior to the start of the season is hard enough. Add in the NFL lockout and making cheat sheets becomes merely guesswork at this point.

However, if you are a die hard fantasy football player, there is always homework that can be done. Although many players will move up and down draft boards over the summer, you probably know by now where the top six or seven guys stand.

No one is talking about fantasy football in May, which makes it a perfect time to rank the “elite” players before the annual off-season over-hyping begins.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

Despite the uncertainty regarding free agents due to the lockout, the following list indicates where the drop-off begins at each position. These are the “elite” players at their respective positions. Like everyone else, I will go back and tweak the rankings, moving people up and down, but no one enters or leaves this current list of top-tier players.


  1. Aaron Rodgers: Rushing stats are a huge luxury, but they have also led to two concussions so far in his career
  2. Peyton Manning: Consistency king, has yet to decline due to age
  3. Drew Brees: Career high in INTs (22) in ’10
  4. Tom Brady: More efficient than Brees but can’t match his attempts
  5. Philip Rivers: Could be even better with a full season of VJax
  6. Michael Vick: He’ll be a top-five pick this year, but I’m not sold yet on his pocket passing ability and his injury risk makes him overvalued

Running Backs

  1. Adrian Peterson: Risk of injury will always be a concern with his vicious style, but he’s only missed three games in four years
  2. Arian Foster: Hard to poke holes but he has to do it for more than one year to get the top spot
  3. Chris Johnson: We saw his floor last season, for heaven’s sake Rusty Smith was under center at one point for TEN last season
  4. Jamaal Charles: CJ2K clone on a team that led the league in rushing attempts last season
  5. Maurice Jones-Drew: Knee injury really hurts his value
  6. Ray Rice: Could be huge without McGahee vulturing goal line scores
  7. LeSean McCoy: Huge beneficiary of the defensive attention focused on Vick in the backfield

Wide Receivers

  1. Andre Johnson: There is no one better when healthy
  2. Roddy White: A loss of targets to Julio Jones is being over-hyped
  3. Calvin Johnson: Sky is the limit if Stafford can stay healthy, amazing what Megatron was able to do last season with three different QBs
  4. Hakeem Nicks: Missed five games in two years, but a budding star when healthy
  5. Greg Jennings: Have to think he loses targets with Finley’s return
  6. Reggie Wayne: Same as Manning, everyone talks about decline yet he just keeps producing and never misses a game (has played all 16 games the past nine seasons)

Tight Ends

  1. Antonio Gates: Never fails to produce when healthy
  2. Dallas Clark: A favorite target of Manning’s in the red zone
  3. Jermichael Finley: Says knee “feels brand new already”
  4. Jason Witten: Consistent as they come, bump him up in PPR leagues
  5. Vernon Davis: Arguably the most talented TE on the board, but QB issues separates him from the others

Did I leave someone out that you think is “elite?” Or did I include a player that you think doesn’t deserve the “elite” label? Let me know by commenting below.

Justin Mertes-Mistretta is the fantasy football senior writer for TheSportsBank.net. Follow him on Twitter at MertesMist_tsb or read his blog here.

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  1. Nick Grays says

    Love the article and the early rankings!

    I get to choose my draft spot this season and I’m thinking I’ll pick wherever I can get Jamaal Charles, I love him this upcoming season!

  2. Justin Mertes-Mistretta says

    Thanks man, it’s never too early to start talking fantasy. I agree, Charles is the man. I don’t think he’s as much of a one-dimensional home run hitter as people think.

    The one guy I was really having a hard time deciding on in terms of being “elite” was Miles Austin. The inconsistency and presence of Dez Bryant kept him just short, but I really like him.

  3. Nick Grays says

    Yeah, I remember you liking Miles Austin a lot. I think that all of the guys you listed are above Austin, but he’s definitely a legitimate option after those guys leaving him right outside of the elite receivers. I wouldn’t pick him in the first round unless it’s a super deep league.

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