As you can imagine, we get asked a lot of questions around these parts. A LOT of questions. In fact, so many it’s hard to keep up sometimes, but we love it nonetheless. Some of the most common questions we get are in regards to our rankings. One question in particular struck a chord with me the other day when someone asked me who I felt were the toughest players to rank in dynasty leagues this off-season.
Once I was asked that question, I immediately thought about writing this article and describing the players I felt were the toughest to rank. I then remembered something very important – the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. So, I asked our writing team at DLF the same question and I complied a scorecard based on their responses.
Each player was given one point each time their name was on a writer’s list. We had a total of 39 votes and the results were all across the board – that tells me that this year has a wide variety of players whose value is in flux. Even though we had a total of 30 players mentioned, there were some clear themes as well.
Here’s the list, with some commentary added to explain why they may be tough to rank this year:
The Leader in Clubhouse
Dez Bryant (4 votes)
It’s really no surprise to see Bryant on this list, nor is it shocking to see him at the top of it. There is no doubt that this season is a huge one for Dez in dynasty leagues. In fact, you could make a case that no other player has as much riding on this year than he does. Will he finally break through and become an elite WR1 or will he simply be a good WR2 or flex player? We ask that question now, but will probably have that answer by this time next season.
Matt Ryan (3 votes)
There’s no doubting the fact that Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback in reality and fantasy. He has a fantastic supporting cast and an offense that’s built to suit his talents.
That’s the problem.
Ryan is a very good quarterback, but not an elite one as of yet. The question with him is not if he’s going to be a bust because he obviously won’t be. The question with Ryan is if he can truly take the next step from being a low-end QB1 to a truly elite one in dynasty leagues.
The Two Vote Crew
Which CJ2K are we going to see this year? Is it the ultra-dynamic version we saw burst on to the scene as a rookie, or the relatively ordinary one we saw last year.
Let’s see, we’ve never really talked about him on this site, right? He may have the highest ceiling in relation to the lowest floor of any running back I can remember. His story is both frustrating and amazing all at once.
I actually thought Cruz would win this competition because it is incredibly difficult to rank him accurately. Was he a one year wonder? Can he really be that productive again as the WR2 on his own team? Will Rueben Randle be good enough to steal some targets? Will other teams begin game planning against him more after it was effective at times last year? Is he actually the WR1 on the Giants? Needless to say, there are more questions than answers with Cruz.
Spiller is another lightning rod for controversy when it comes to rankings. If you believe the last half of the season wasn’t a mirage, the kid is a huge gem in dynasty leagues. If you believe he can’t post that kind of production over the season because of his size and the presence of Fred Jackson (or another committee mate in the future), he’s really just a solid flex player at best. Feel lucky?
He had 21 catches, 335 yards and one touchdown in his last three games in 2011. The problem is he had a combined 28 catches, 424 yards and two touchdowns in all his other games last year. There’s no doubting his talent, but will the presence of Kendall Wright and return of Kenny Britt neutralize his potential?
Remember this time last year when Vick was a popular pick in some leagues in the first or second rounds? We never really bought into that hype too much, but there’s no doubting that when he’s spectacular, he’s spectacular. The injuries are a huge concern, but he has the ability and talent around him to still put up some serious numbers. How many games will he have the chance to do that, though?
The Rest of the Challengers (one vote each)
If he can put up those types of numbers and keep the point differential between his tier and the tier below him that large (a point made from our last podcast), he’s worth a look as early as the late first round in some leagues. Problem is, that was a historic season that you just can’t expect to be repeated. Can you?
From a can’t miss receiver to a player who some believe has a drinking problem. Super easy here!
Charles was one of the most dynamic athletes in the game. Is he one of the most dynamic athletes in the game after his torn ACL?
He’ll be 31 on July 11th and has his share of injuries piling up. He’s also never had a single season with double digit touchdowns. Problem is nobody would be shocked if he either missed part of the season or went for 120 catches, 1,500 yards and 12 scores. Johnson may be the ultimate short-term dice roll in dynasty leagues.
Fresh off the quietest 5,000 yard season in NFL history, Brady returns to wreak havoc on the rest of the league. With Brady, you know you get elite production – you just don’t know how long it will last. After all, he’ll be 35 when the season starts.
Manning is simply Tom Brady with more of an injury risk. That’s even tougher!
I honestly can’t recall a player being bailed on so quickly in a dynasty league. Expectations were just too high, but guessing exactly where he fits is still a challenge.
It sure would be nice if you knew he had a quarterback who could grow with him. It certainly doesn’t seem like Matt Cassel is going to be that guy.
Will he go from Beast mode to Feast mode after getting paid?
You could honestly see a scenario where he doesn’t play much at all (Sproles and Ingram stay healthy and effective) or one that sees him lead the Saints in rushing (they don’t).
What do you do with a talented receiver who walks out on practice and has Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow throwing him the ball. No, seriously. What do you do?
Will millions of dollars make the alligators go away?
The addition of John Carlson is an odd one, but the concern here is more on Ponder’s outlook and Rudolph’s long-term role in the offense.
He looks as advertised so far, but it’s tough to confidently put him over many established stars at the position without ever seeing him play a down in the league. After all, Boise State didn’t exactly play the Ravens every week.
See Charles, Jamaal
By all accounts, he’s finally looking healthy again. By the same accounts, he’s now 32 years old. How much time does he really have left? What are three or four elite seasons really worth?
Much like the dilemma with Jared Cook, it’s just very difficult to say how those passes are going to be distributed next year with Britt and Wright in the mix.
Where do you put a seemingly ordinary player on an extraordinary offense that runs the ball in an inordinate fashion. Yeah, I’m confused by that, too.
Brown has shown flashes of talent in the past and seems to have the inside track to the starting job in Indianapolis. However, would it really shock you if the Colts were in position to take a running back in the draft next year?
His contract situation is a mess. So is the presence of Michael Bush.
He’s a one trick pony, but that’s one heck of a trick. You can’t expect a DeSean Jackson-like contract pout-fest from Wallace, but Antonio Brown is destined to get a lot of looks this season. Who ends up as Roethlisberger’s favorite target?
Mike Williams (TB)
Much like Stewart, Williams has been the source of a lot of discussion here this off-season. Much like Dez Bryant, this year is huge for him in dynasty leagues. Will he ever regain the form we saw from him as a rookie?
So, there you have it. That’s the most lengthy answer to a simple question I can give. Who are the toughest players for YOU to rank?
Thanks to all the writers who contributed the names for the list. You can follow me on Twitter – @DLF_KenK.