The Den returns!! Unfortunately, I don’t get an opportunity to put this together as often as I’d like, but with the season winding down it felt like the time was right. If nothing else it provides a nice “look back” on the 2005 season, with a “look ahead” to 2006 slant for all you dynasty and keeper league players. As always, there will probably be an update next week with the guys that I inadvertantly left off the list.
Just to recap the rules, this is a ranking of players strictly for this purpose of dynasty/keeper leagues. Taking into account only keeper/dynasty status, and a basic scoring system. We’ll count up from #50 to #1. The way it will work is that you would keep the #49 guy on the list over the #50 guy on the list, but not the #48 guy. You’d keep the #9 guy on the list over the #10 guy on the list, but not the #8 guy, etc. The #1 guy on the list is a player you would keep over any and everyone. A player’s ranking from the last posting (pre-season 2005) is listed in parenthesis. As is usually the case with these things, it’s subjective and many decisions should be based on your entire roster (among other factors) and not just this list.
If you think I’m way off base, sound off: email@example.com.
Falling off the list from last time:
RB Ahman Green, Green Bay – Perhaps harsh to remove him from the list, but I think his best days are way behind him.
RB Priest Holmes, Kansas City – It was a great ride while it lasted.
RB Travis Henry, Tennessee – Could not keep himself on the field in 2005.
WR Nate Burleson, Minnesota – Many a fantasy leaguer fell into the trap that he’d replace Moss.
WR Jerry Porter, Oakland – I didn’t see much from him in 2005 that convinces me he can take get to the next level.
RB Michael Bennett, Minnesota – Repeat after me: “I will not consider any RBs from the Vikings, I will not consider any RBs from the Vikings.”
WR Michael Clayton, Tampa Bay – The top fantasy dud of 2005.
RB Tatum Bell, Denver – Has shown short flashes of brilliance, but could not beat out Mike Anderson for the full time job.
Shark Food Chain December 2005
50 (unranked) TE Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City – Continues to produce like a WR. Normally I don’t put tight end’s on this list, but Gonzalez after some ups and downs in 2004, is once again producing at the highest level.
49 (unranked) TE Antonio Gates, San Diego – Top player at his position despite little help from his WRs. Like Gonzalez, if he isn’t the best, he’s 1A on the list. Chargers find a way to get him the ball no matter what.
48 (unranked) RB Reuben Droughns, Cleveland – Barely on the list, can he hold onto the job? Wore down greatly at the end of the season. I like RBs like anyone else, but this is Reuben Droughns we’re talking about here.
47 (unranked) QB Drew Brees, San Diego – Go ahead, laugh, the numbers don’t lie. Brees has now very quietly put together back to back above average fantasy seasons. Rivers who?
46 (49) RB Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia – I have my doubts that he can continue to be a fantasy force for much longer. Always seems to get hurt, not sure he’s big enough to carry the load for an entire season by himself.
45 (41) RB JJ Arrington, Arizona – Cardinal running game has to start somewhere. I mean, it can’t get any worse, can it? Arrington does have a lot of promise so don’t give up on him, at worst, he becomes a Thomas Jones where he scuffles for 2-3 years on his original team, then moved onto another team and excels.
44 (47) WR Roy Williams, Detroit – I still can’t move him much higher on this list until I see some improvement in the Lions offense. I’d like to rank him higher, but right now I just can’t.
43(45) RB TJ Duckett, Atlanta – There once was a man from Nantucket…whoa, wrong article. Duckett continues to share time in Atlanta, not sure he’s of the build to be the sole guy anyways.
42 (40) RB Cedric Benson, Chicago – Still has his work cut out for him to get onto the field, might be another year or so. See JJ Arrington above, I don’t know that Thomas Jones is ready to give up the job.
41 (43) QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle – Quietly continues to put up strong numbers year after year. He’s also very durable, and Seattle finds a way to give him weapons at WR. Not to mention that guy they have at RB.
So the first ten players consist of a couple of rookie RBs, the top fantasy TEs, and a couple QBs that very quietly have been putting up consistent fantasy numbers for the past couple of years. There are a pack of guys just outside the top 50, had to draw the line somewhere.
40 (unranked) TJ Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati – Seems to have settled in nicely for the Bengals. Chad Johnson will always draw the bulk of the coverage, as we’ve seen down the stretch this season, that leaves TJ open to get into the endzone. Bengals passing game one of the best right now.
39 (39) RB Ronnie Brown, Miami – A decent rookie campaign, should continue to improve. The Ricky Williams situation muddies things, but I think eventually the Dolphins would like to hand things over to Brown.
38 (unranked) K Neil Rackers, Arizona – Just kidding, wanted to make sure you were reading…although, tremendous 2005 fantasy season. Enters 2006 as the #1 kicker?
38 (35) WR Andre Johnson, Houston – Disappointing season for the entire Texans offense. I had hopes that Johnson would start moving up this list, and he still can if the Texans get their act together.
37 (33) RB Warrick Dunn, Atlanta – He’s not getting any younger, and he’ll never be the sole RB. Still, Dunn will be a valuable fantasy starter for the next couple of years for sure.
36 (31) WR Darrell Jackson, Seattle – Previous to this year, had been able to avoid the injuries, hopefully he’s not becoming injury prone. A tremendous talent that when healthy can be one of the best at his position.
35 (28) WR Javon Walker, Green Bay – I’ll need to see him come back from injury before I can start moving him up this list again. I assume he won’t be holding out of training camp anymore.
34 (26) WR Terrell Owens, Philadelphia – Too much baggage for my liking.
33 (25) WR Joe Horn, New Orleans – 2005 was a lost season for the entire Saints roster. I think Horn has at least 2 or 3 more good seasons in him. Don’t give up on him yet though the Saints in the market for a new QB is troubling.
32 (24) RB De’Shawn Foster, Carolina – Every time I talk about Foster I mention that he should be moving up this list, but he isn’t. I’m beginning to wonder if he will ever become a fantasy stud.
31 (22) RB Corey Dillon, New England – Nothing flashy, just productive, should continue in 2006. Of course, missed a significant amount of time in 2005, which isn’t a good thing.
This is like the “moving” area of the list. Guys are either moving up through this portion of the ranking, or they are moving down. A pack of injured WRs that should be moving up in the rankings end up here, some of which may have seen their best days?
30a (46) WR Anquan Boldin, Arizona – Rebounded nicely from injury, now if he could only stay on the field. When healthy, one of the best fantasy producers.
30b (unranked) WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona – He and Boldin deserve to be ranked right next to each other on this list. Despite a non-existant running game, these guys regularly both put up 100 yards in the same game.
28 (38) RB Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay – Before the season, I tabbed him as the “best long term player of the 2005 rookie crop”, and that opinion hasn’t changed, in fact has been solidified. Tampa hasn’t been afraid to use him, if he could keep his health in order he skyrockets up this list.
27 (21) QB Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia – Bash him all you want (and many are), he should be healthy again next year and producing. This was the first time in his career that he’s been hurt, I don’t see that as being a trend. He’s doubly dangerous in that he can run the ball, which adds the TD run here and there. I wouldn’t be worried if he was your starting QB next year.
26 (34) RB Thomas Jones, Chicago – And people laughed when I kept him on this list last year, and laughed hard. His stock continues to rise. Never gave Benson a chance to take any of his playing time despite fighting through many injuries. Argument can be made that he should be ranked higher since he gets yards on the ground and in the air.
25 (20) WR Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis – A steady fall down this list continues. Seems to have traded in dominant fantasy stats for a shot at winning the Superbowl. I just wish he had told us fantasyleaguers that was his plan.
24 (19) WR Torry Holt, St.Louis – Injuries limited his production in 2005. And yet, he’s another WR that when healthy can be one of the best at his position.
23 (unranked) QB Eli Manning, NY Giants – Perhaps a bit of a reach way up here, but his numbers most weeks in 2005 were tremendous. Obviously very young and the Giants have no problem relying on him to win games. Pretty good pedigree, too.
22 (18) RB Clinton Portis, Washington – Finally there are other fantasy people out there questioning his abilities like I have been for over a year. You can count the times he got into the end zone this year on one hand, not good.
21 (17) RB Kevin Jones, Detroit – I’m starting to be concerned that he’ll ever be a fantasy stud. Then again, it could just be that the entire Lions offense is stuck in first gear. Keep an eye on this situation.
As we get closer to the top of the list, the harder it is to know where to place these guys. This ten includes a couple disappointing RBs that either belong here, or don’t belong on the list at all. Some of the best “if healthy” WRs reside here as well.
20 (13) QB Michael Vick, Atlanta – In order to stay healthy he’s limited his running, but at the same time, his passing numbers are not improving. Not a good combination for the fantasy owner.
19 (29) RB Steven Jackson, St.Louis – Not the explosive season that everyone was predicting, but he’s improving. Rams had a bit of a down tick on offense, that should change next year and I see Jackson as becoming a top ten RB.
18b (unranked) QB Carson Palmer, Cincinnati – Erased any doubts that he can be a fantasy star in 2005. Tremendous fantasy season. And he looks like he’s taken control of things in Cincinnati where he’s got a good RB behind him and 2 WRs to throw the ball to, nice nucleus.
18a (23) QB Tom Brady, New England – If Superbowl rings counted in fantasy, he’d be tops on the list. Continues to be in a pass first offense. And yes, I just realized that I’ve miscounted and there are 51 players on this list and no I’m not going back and re-doing things.
17 (12) WR Chad Johnson, Cincinnati – The emergence of TJ Houshmandzadeh diminishes his value slightly, but still CJ is one of the top WRs in the game.
16 (10) QB Duante Culpepper, Minnesota – Obviously a disappointing 2005, and there are doubts that he’ll be ready for the start of 2006. That said, I just couldn’t drop him any lower than this.
15 (9) RB Duece McAllister, New Orleans – Should be able to bounce back from injury, but he falls down the list as a result. Low numbers prior to the injury all around in New Orleans.
14 (8) WR Randy Moss, Oakland – What in the world happened to him in 2005? I can’t think of anything else to add. Wow.
13 (6) RB Jamal Lewis, Baltimore – Probably the hardest player to figure where he belongs right now. Reportedly has been at odds with his coach all season, yet these last few games have been his best fantasy weeks of the season. I still think the time he spent in the big house had an adverse affect on his preparation coming into the season. Don’t forget, this guy ran for 2000 yards a couple seasons ago.
12 (30) RB Tiki Barber, NY Giants – I just can’t see another repeat performance of 2005 (and yes, I said this about his 2004 performance). Not only has he cured his fumblitis, but he has kept himself healthy as well. Gets it done both on the ground and in the air.
11 (3) RB Julius Jones, Dallas – A tremendously disappointing 2005 season to say the least. If he can’t keep himself on the field in 2006, then Parcells will quickly find someone else that can.
Obviously, we’re starting to talk about some very good fantasy players here. McAllister, Moss and Lewis were probably three of the most difficult players I had in placing a ranking on. Should the Duece be punished for being in New Orleans then getting hurt? Can anyone figure out Jamal Lewis this year? Every week I hear the coach is going to bench him, yet he cranks out 100 yard games? And Randy Moss, where have ye gone? I’m not sure how it happened, but while proofreading I realized that I have too many players, thus there are 2 #18s on the list. Whaddyagonnado?
10 (24) RB Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati – Ok, ok, settle down all you Rudi lovers, he’s moving up my list. I still think he’s on a short leash and isn’t quite the fantasy stud that others think he will be moving forward. That said, hard to argue with his 2005 season.
9 (11) RB Domanick Davis, Houston – I still feel like I’m the only fantasy writer out there in his corner, but his numbers speak for themselves. Year after year, and on a bad team year after year. He will be a starter somewhere in 2006 if he’s not in Houston. Could be one of the best RBs as far as yards in the air is concerned.
8 (16) RB Lamont Jordan, Oakland – Seems to have erased any doubts that he can carry the load. Had a very good season on a team that often struggled on offense. Proved that if the yards weren’t there on the ground, he got them in the air. A prime example of why it can sometimes take 4 years before a rookie RB is a top fantasy producer. Patience is the key!
7 (50) WR Steve Smith, Carolina – The last time we put together this list, I wrote: “Tough break in 2004…comeback player of the year candidate.” Those of you that are faithful readers know that I don’t pull back any punches. So here goes: Smith might just be the top fantasy WR. To say that he’s come back from injury and returned to form would not do him justice, he’s come back better, strong, and faster. An incredible season, producing week after week without much help on the other side of the field. No reason that can’t continue.
6 (7) RB Edgerrin James, Indianapolis – Keeps “Edging” up the list, not too many are better than he and he no longer seems like an injury risk. Valuable both on the ground and in the air, and obviously he’s in an offense that is one of the best in the league.
5 (4) QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis – Pains me to put a QB this high, but Manning deserves it. Numbers down slightly from 2004, but still very, very good. Extremely durable and the leader of one of the most prolific offenses in the league.
4 (2) RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo – Hopefully 2005 was a sophmore slump. I know, this ranking may be a little high for him right now, but I still think that over the long haul he will be a tremendous fantasy back. Don’t forget, he was scoring 2 and 3 TDs a week the last half of last season. The Bills will get their act together…I think.
3 (5) RB Shawn Alexander, Seattle – The contract dispute before last season had me a little worried about his production, I’m no longer worried. Tremendous season. He’s once again in a position to win the rushing title, and I don’t think that he wants to lose out by a yard this year, he’s going for it. His 4 TD games are a joy to the fantasy owner.
2 (32) RB Larry Johnson Kansas City – With Holmes out of the way, Johnson skyrockets near the top. In fact, right now, I think he’s the top fantasy producer bar none. Those owners that have been patiently waiting for him to be a stud are likely in the fantasy championship game this year.
1 (1) RB LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego – The more things change, the more they stay the same. I came really close to having Larry Johnson at the top of this list, but Tomlinson has been doing what he’s been doing for a little longer amount of time. I would forsee the two of them being drafted in the top 3 of redraft leagues next year. As usual, Tomlinson gets his yards no matter what the defense throws at him.
So there you have it, the creme de la creme, best of the best. Perhaps a bit of a reach on Steve Smith, but the guy has been awesome and that should continue. Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Alexander, stud, stud, stud. Hard to go wrong with any of the guys near the top of this list, hopefully you have a few on your teams!