If we’re 94 days away from football, we’re even closer to those fantasy football drafts you’ve all been waiting for since your season ended in dread and defeat. Maybe it ended in jubilation and a championship, but that doesn’t matter now. The past is the past.
New season, new set of offseason rankings to comb over.
ESPN’s fantasy gurus Matthew Berry, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Eric Karabell and Field Yates came together to put together a list of the top 200 players available in point-per-reception (PPR) leagues for the upcoming season.
Lions who made the list
It would take you a little bit of cursor scrolling to find the first Lions player on this list: Golden Tate at No. 33. He sneaks his way into the top 20 wide receivers according to ESPN’s fantasy braintrust after finishing last season as WR17, posting totals of 91 receptions, 1,077 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016.
Running backs Theo Riddick (No. 62) and Ameer Abdullah (No. 81), the next set of Lions you’ll spot on the list, find their fantasy draft stock to be positioned somewhere between the fifth and eighth rounds. Riddick is obviously the more attractive option in PPR formats due to his pass-catching ability and opportunities, but should Abdullah be fully recovered and ready to go, nabbing him in the middle rounds presents itself as a great value. Riddick and Abdullah are valued as RB26 and RB31 respectively.
Marvin Jones Jr. finds his way onto the list as WR53 after bursting onto the fantasy scene a year ago. Over his first three games with Detroit, Jones averaged 23.6 fantasy points per game, placing him among the top options at wideout. His production would take a steep decline as injuries and fewer targets would put a damper on his promising start. This season, Jones looks to bounce back and remain more consistent throughout 2017.
Everyone’s favorite quarterback—Matthew Stafford, of course—is outside of the top 10 quarterbacks according to ESPN’s fantasy rankings. Here’s a list of the signal callers ranked ahead of the Lions quarterback heading into next season:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Tom Brady
- Drew Brees
- Matt Ryan
- Andrew Luck
- Russell Wilson
- Cam Newton
- Dak Prescott
- Kirk Cousins
- Derek Carr
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Jameis Winston
I don’t have much of a problem with No. 1-4 on this list, but that’s an awful lot of faith ESPN’s fantasy writers are putting into Wilson. After a massively disappointing and inconsistent showing last season, especially without much of an upgrade to their offense this offseason, it’s hard for me to put Wilson near the top five.
For what it’s worth, Stafford finished as QB7 in 2016, even with damaged ligaments in the final four games and Zach Zenner as his be-all, end-all option out of the backfield. In other words, him not being higher on this list is a good thing for those of you looking to get a player more valuable than his average draft position bears out.
The last two additions to ESPN’s top-200 PPR rankings are tight end Eric Ebron—TE12 and No. 133 overall—and Matt Prater, K6 and valued ahead of any other kicker in the NFC North. Remember, kids, always wait to grab your kicker. And when you do, get one that plays at least eight games under a roof. Conditions are perfect.