Early fantasy football rankings: highly volatile

After several weeks of due diligence, running the numbers and situations through our exhaustive forecasting process, our initial 2011 fantasy football materials are live. This includes our time-proven Cheat Sheets, full stat projections, PPR rankings, Keeper League rankings, Auction Values & our full suite of Full Impact Custom Scoring Tools (our stats, your league rules).

Check out initial 2011 Player rankings: QB RB WR TE K D

The landscape of this year's off-season is different than that of any past off-season. Because the NFL players & owners currently do not have a collective bargaining agreement in place, we find ourselves in June with no free agency period to date. Players with 4, 5 and even 6 years of accrued service remain in limbo as to what their status will be. 

From a technical standpoint at 4for4, we have kept all players on their 2010 NFL teams until we know the terms of free agency. In nearly all cases, especially as the labor dispute drags out, the majority of free agents will be as likely to stick with their 2010 team as move to any other. There are a few special cases (Kevin Kolb, Mike Sims-Walker etc), but until we know the 2011 rules players stay on 2010 teams.

Our yearly rankings process starts with a detailed assessment of the fantasy depth charts for each team. With extremely limited player movement to date, we have far more speculative situations than we would normally have when initial rankings are released. As such, the rankings and projections are sure to change much more in 2011 as the pre-season continues than in a normal work year.

Below I will highlight several unique depth chart situations heading into 2011, and dig into how things shook out in the initial rankings.

NOTE: the lists below are far from complete, but are intended to lend some insights into the initial rankings process & the fantasy football landscape.



  • QBs likely on new teams: Matt Moore, Tarvaris Jackson, Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger & possibly Kyle Orton
  • QBs likely to return: Matt Hasselbeck, Alex Smith, Rex Grossman
  • Teams Likely to add QBs: Cardinals, Vikings, Bengals, Titans
  • Michael Vick outscores Aaron Rodgers in total points, even after assuming Vick will miss a couple of games. While Vick will likely outscore Rodgers on a per game basis, Rodgers is a much safer pick to get through 16 games.
  • Matthew Stafford is a health risk after playing only 3 games last season but has a very high ceiling in a pass-first system with a lot of weapons.
  • We gave the early season nod to Tim Tebow over Kyle Orton. We may not know how this will shake out until the start of the season, but we think at the end of the day the Broncos need to find out what they have in Tim Tebow. Tebow has tremendous fantasy upside due to his legs and would likely crack the top 10 if Orton gets moved.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is a big winner in this year's NFL draft as the Bills failed to draft a QB. Fitzpatrick is a very safe QB2 with no real competition on the roster. Like the Broncos & Tebow, we believe the Bills are committed to seeing what they have in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
  • The rookies rankings are highly speculative and have everything to do with how many games we can expect each rookie to play. Christian Ponder appears to have the most organizational support as a week 1 starter and will be in a relatively good position.
  • Andy Dalton may end up a week 1 starter due to Carson Palmer being serious about retirement. But he could also lose Chad Ochocinco (wants trade), Terrell Owens (not expected back), and Cedric Benson (likely FA).
  • McNabb should get a starting gig, but no one knows where. It could even be in Washington. We aren't convinced that John Beck will be a starting quarterback this year. We expect Rex Grossman to resign and could see a bigger move made. No Washington QB is desirable from a fantasy perspective.
  • Arizona's QB is most likely not on their roster. Kevin Kolb & Kyle Orton are the hotly linked teams, but both could fall through leaving Arizona with Max Hall, John Skelton & Derek Anderson (not pretty).
  • QBs who could unretire: Brett Favre (unlikely)







  • Antonio Gates is the clear cut #1 and is expected to be fully recovered from his plantar fasciitis.
  • Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark slot in behind Gates as the next tier. After these 4, the position is extremely deep.
  • Jeremy Shockey could benefit from a move to a less crowded Carolina offense with OC Rob Chudzinski known for getting his TEs involved, but don't consider him a fantasy option (age, health, bad offense etc).
  • Jimmy Graham will be given every opportunity to emerge as a top fantasy TE this season with the departure of Shockey.



  • Eagles rookie Alex Henery has a great leg and is expected to replace David Akers. Henery is a top option on the league's most explosive offense but will likely be overlooked on draft day. Akers value will be highly dependent on his eventual landing spot.

  • Nnamdi Asomugha's eventual landing spot will get a significant boost while the Raiders drop in the defensive power rankings.
  • Detroit looks to be a young defense on the rise under 3rd year HC Jim Swartz, building on 2nd year DT Ndamukong Suh and rookie Nick Fairly.


Feel free to send over any comments or questions on the rankings to feedback@4for4.com. Please refrain from drunken tirades (you know who you are).

Filed Under: Preseason, 2011

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