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Fantasy football cheat sheet: Top 100 player rankings for 2019 leagues

USATSI/NBC Sports Bay Area

Fantasy football cheat sheet: Top 100 player rankings for 2019 leagues

With August winding down, that can only mean one thing -- football season is here. And that means it's time to talk fantasy.

Were your fantasy teams just abysmal last year? Did you slink through the season getting bludgeoned by your friends, wondering all the while why you drafted David Johnson or Le'Veon Bell? Did your league try to make you wear a not-so-flattering undergarment on the street corner after you came in last? OK, maybe that last part was just me.

If a lot of that sounds familiar, then you've come to the right place. A new type of Top 100 list. A list that, of course, takes into account talent and situation, but also a list that highlights players and teams I'm much more bullish on than others "fantasy experts."

For example, I'm all in on Baker Mayfield and the Browns. I own a large plot of land on Kyler Murray/Kliff Kingsbury island, and another home on "the Raiders' offense will be electric" boulevard.

So, no, I wasn't in "Avengers: Endgame" like Matthew Berry, but my rankings are way more interesting, and since fantasy football is the ultimate dart throw, they just might be better. (Side note: These rankings are subject to change If Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon decide to show up and play, and/or Josh Gordon is suspended again.)

Without further ado, here are my top 100 players for this year's fantasy football season (player's positional ranking noted in parenthesis):

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants (1)
2. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints (2)
3. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals (3)
4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers (4)
5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans (1)
6. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns (2)
7. Antonio Brown, WR, Raiders (3)
8. Davante Adams, WR, Packers (4)
9. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons (5)
10. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints (6)
11. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams (5)
12. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers (7)
13. Nick Chubb, RB, Browns (6)
14. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (7)
15. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders (8)
16. Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs (8)
17. Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals (9)
18. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs (1)
19. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers (9)
20. George Kittle, TE, 49ers (2)
21. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings (10)
22. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (1)
23. James Conner, RB, Steelers (11)
24. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Jets (12)
25. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots (10)
26. Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings (11)
27. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles, (3)
28. Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs (13)
29. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers (12)
30. Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns (2)
31. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions (14)
32. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons (15)
33. Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks (16)
34. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (13)
35. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans (3)
36. Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys (14)
37. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts (4)
38. Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings (15)
39. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers (17)
40. David Montgomery, RB, Bears (18)
41. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (5)
42. Marlon Mack, RB, Colts (19)
43. Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams (16)
44. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars (20)
45. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers (21)
46. Robert Woods, WR, Rams (17)
47. Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles (22)
48. Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams (18)
49. Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens (23)
50. Kenny Golladay, WR. Lions (19)
51. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals (20)
52. Sony Michel, RB, Patriots (24)
53. Will Fuller, WR, Texans (21)
54. Mike Williams, WR, Chargers (22)
55. James White, RB, Patriots (25)
56. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles (6)
57, Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers (23)
58. Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns (24)
59. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (25)
60. Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Eagles (26)
61. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers (4)
62. Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons (27)
63. Robby Anderson, WR, Jets (28)
64. Tevin Coleman, RB, 49ers (26)
65. D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers (29)
66. Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals (30)
66. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (7)
68. Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals (31)
69. Derick Henry, RB, Titans (27)
70. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Broncos (28)
71. Evan Engram, TE, Giants (5)
72. Tyrell Williams, WR, Raiders (32)
73. O.J. Howard, TE, Bucaneers, (6)
74. Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs (33)
75. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans (29)
76. Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos (30)
77. Derrius Gice, RB, Redskins (31)
78. Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars (34)
79. Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs (35)
80. Jordan Howard, RB, Eagles (32)
81. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears (36)
82. Vance McDonald, TE, Steelers (7)
83. Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (8)
84. Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins (33)
85. Latavius Murray, RB, Saints (34)
86. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders (9)
87. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks (35)
88. Austin Ekler, RB, Chargers (36)
89. Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams (37)
90. Jared Cook, TE, Saints (8)
91. Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots (37)
92. Cam Newton, QB, Panters (10)
93. Corey Davis, WR, Titans (38)
94. Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears (38)
95. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans (9)
96. Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos (39)
97. Jared Goff, QB, Rams (11)
98. James Washington, WR, Steelers (40)
99. N'Keal Harry, WR, Patriots (41)
100. David Njoku, TE, Browns (10)

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Fantasy football first-round picks to skip in your league's 2019 draft

USATSI/NBC Sports Bay Area

Fantasy football first-round picks to skip in your league's 2019 draft

Your fantasy football league might not be won or lost in the first round, but you can’t exactly afford to screw it up. 

Missing on your first selection can set your draft back, and leave you with a not-so-sturdy foundation heading into the season. You don’t want to reach and pick someone you could have drafted in the later rounds, nor do you want to select someone with significant red flags. 

With those considerations in mind, here are the players you should avoid selecting with your first-round pick in your fantasy football draft. 

Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon

If there are three words you remember from this piece, those should be: Avoid. The. Holdouts. 

As of this writing, neither Elliott nor Gordon have reported to their respective teams’ training camps. Any Le’Veon Bell fantasy owner -- including this writer -- can tell you firsthand how wasting a high pick on a player in an uncertain contract situation can torpedo a season. Season-long holdouts no longer are unprecedented, and must be considered when contemplating picking one of the two. 

If Elliott and Gordon were in camp with the Cowboys and Chargers, respectively, you wouldn’t draw any side eyes drafting either player in the first round. Elliott would be much more of a lock than Gordon, but you could make a case for either at the very least.  

If you’re thinking about taking one of them in the first round, steer clear until they’re in camp. 

Any QB

Your quarterback undoubtedly will end up being your highest scorer, but picking one can wait until the second or third round (at the earliest). 

The skill positions are the ones to focus on in the first round, especially given the amount of talent available. Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey and David Johnson are primed for big years, and you’d be better off taking a flyer on Bell in the back-end of the first round than reaching for, say, Patrick Mahomes with your first pick. 

The drop-off between the first and second tier of quarterbacks isn’t as large as it is at running back or wide receiver, so you really want to make sure you nail that first pick. Missing at one of the skill positions is going to hurt more than missing at QB. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster

There’s a void to be filled out wide in Pittsburgh after the Steelers traded novice painter/star receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders in the offseason. Smith-Schuster stands to benefit, as he already was one of the better receivers in fantasy football playing with Brown and should be in line for more targets without him. 

The next-gen Steelers are going to air it out as long as Ben Roethlisberger is quarterback, but Roethlisberger turned 37 in March and is coming off of the worst year of his career in terms of yards-per-completion. With one fewer option for Roethlisberger to throw to, Smith-Schuster is going to receive a lot of attention from opposing defenses. 

Smith-Schuster is ready for a bigger role in his third NFL season, and would be a great pick early in the second round. You’ll have surer No. 1 options at receiver in the first, though. 

Travis Kelce

Now that Rob Gronkowski has retired from the NFL in order to party poolside/pursue an acting-and-wrestling career/do Gronk Things, Kelce has taken the reigns as Tight End Worthy Of First-Round Consideration. 

49ers tight end George Kittle just set the single-season receiving-yards record for the position, but his Chiefs counterpart has the benefit of catching passes from Mahomes. That understandably makes him tempting in the back end of the first round, but you’ll be better off waiting.

With so many strong running backs and a handful of dominant receivers to choose from in the first round, the previously-mentioned drop-off at those positions means you should not wait. Go ahead and make Kelce your second pick, especially if your second comes shortly after your first.

Your favorite player from your favorite team

The temptation is there. You’re sitting with your friends, wearing the jersey of your favorite player on your hometown team, and you have to make sure you pick him. You wouldn’t be a good fan otherwise, right? 

No, you would. If your favorite player feels like a reach in the first round, they probably are! Unless that player is one of the top running backs, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., DaVante Adams or Julio Jones, they surely will be available after the first round. 

This rule also applies if you’ve already named your team after a player. You don’t have to draft Jimmy Garoppolo with the fifth overall pick just because your pre-draft team name is “Jimmy GQ.” 

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NFL rumors: Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch have demoralized 49ers' scouts

NFL rumors: Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch have demoralized 49ers' scouts

The 49ers begin training camp Friday, bringing the team together for the start of what will be a critical season for the franchise and the two people at the head of it.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are entering the third year of their six-year contracts, and after posting a combined record of 10-22 over the first two seasons, the pressure is mounting.

Some people thrive under pressure. Some wilt under it. While it remains to be seen which category the two men in charge of leading San Francisco back to its former lofty heights fall into, we know for certain that they'll face plenty of it this coming season.

And, according to Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne, that pressure already is being felt within the front office.

Dunne references an anonymous former team staffer who conveys there's an ongoing rift between the 49ers' scouting and coaching staffs, due to the fact that the former reportedly is frequently being overruled by the latter. While it isn't unusual for a head coach or a GM to have the final say in an NFL franchise, the former staffer suggests what's occurred in San Francisco has gone over that line.

Specifically, the staffer mentions the NFL draft process, and certain selections that have been made under the Shanahan-Lynch regime that have either gone against scouts' recommendations, or made those scouts feel increasingly marginalized.

"Where Lynch sees 'synergy,' " Dunne wrote, "others see an imbalance. With Shanahan wielding so much control, coaches are far, far more empowered on draft day. As the staffer puts it, it is literally the scouts' jobs to study prospects two years at a time, so 'to see your work not valued as highly is demoralizing.'

"Voices are being heard," the staffer added, "but they're not the right voices."

To illustrate this disconnect, Dunne points to three specific draft selections made by Shanahan and Lynch: Solomon Thomas, Joe Williams and 2019 No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa.

First, Thomas. The defensive lineman was the first draft pick of the new regime, selected No. 3 overall in 2017, ahead of future Pro Bowl quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson. However, Dunne suggests that selection went against the scouts' recommendations.

"A handful of 49ers scouts who watched Thomas in person several times never viewed him as a top-five pick," Dunne wrote, "and the former staffer cannot recall one serious conversation about taking a quarterback."

As for Williams, the 49ers selected the running back in the fourth round of that same 2017 draft, despite the fact that he wasn't even on their draft board. That Shanahan pushed for his selection nonetheless -- and ultimately got his way -- reportedly was not received well among the scouts.

"Elsewhere, running back Joe Williams wasn't even on the draft board that same year, and scouts ripped him to shreds for quitting on his team in college,” Dunne writes. “But Shanahan loved him, so the 49ers picked him in the fourth round."

When San Francisco went on the clock with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, some scouts reportedly wanted the team to consider Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (who ultimately went No. 3 overall), "but the choice was Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa all the way."

Now, to be fair, Dunne also points to some successful picks made by Lynch and Shanahan's regime, in which they or another coach made the ultimate determination. For instance, he mentions how Shanahan pinpointed tight end George Kittle early in the 2017 draft process, and how linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans identified Fred Warner’s robust promise at the scouting combine.

[RELATED: Why 49ers players have Super Bowl-or-bust expectations]

Still, though, the collective tendency of Lynch, Shanahan and the coaching staff to overrule the scouts reportedly has had a cumulative effect, large enough to cause them to sour on their current positions.

"Some scouts, feeling powerless," Dunne stated, "are considering leaving when their contracts expire."

If the 49ers have the kind of season that Lynch and Shanahan hope, the seats will cool and the pressure will subside. But if it goes the other way, and they fail to take a step or two forward, expect plenty of heads to roll, coaches and scouts alike.