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Columns - Magazine

Top Five for Falcons' Freeman

by Brandon Funston
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the top 50 fantasy football players. Essentially, the Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for an owner who is planning to participate in a draft today. Standard industry default scoring settings are used as the baseline for Big Board valuations.


Rank Name Team Position Notes
1 Le'Veon Bell PIT RB Slow start following preseason holdout, but has come to life past 2 weeks w/ 3 TDs, 142 YFS per game - ROS schedule ranks 7th-easiest for RB
2 Kareem Hunt KC RB 2nd-most FAN PTS @ RB thru 1st 4 games of career - has 100+ YFS in every game - 7.4 YPC is 1.5 more YPC than any other RB (min. 30 carries)
3 Antonio Brown PIT WR Rare sub-par performance (4/34) in tough matchup in W4 (BAL), but as long as Big Ben is behind center, no real concerns for Brown
4 Ezekiel Elliott DAL RB Other than bump in road in W2@ DEN, he's been as expected, but we should find out w/in week (re: suspension) if he'll get to keep on keepin' on
5 Devonta Freeman ATL RB Tops at RB in YFS & FAN PTS from '15 to present- counting postseason, has 16 TDs in his past 13 games
6 Todd Gurley LAR RB Most touches thru 3 weeks (76), also tied (K. Hunt) for NFL lead w/ 6 TDs & has 2nd-most receiving FAN PTS @ RB (behind C. Thompson)
7 Mike Evans TB WR Scored TD in W4 v. NYG, but flirted w/ pulling off TD hat trick - has as much TD upside @ WR as anyone, esp. w/ avg. of 10.7 targets per game
8 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG WR 1 of 3 most prolific WRs (Moss, Rice) thru 1st 3 seasons - 2 TDs W3 helped answer questions about health of ankle - 6th-easiest ROS WR sched
9 Jordy Nelson GB WR Speaking of TD upside, with 5 TDs in 4 games, now has 2nd-most TDs since '11 (62, 1 behind Dez) - only knock is durability concerns
10 Melvin Gordon LAC RB After 0 TDs rookie season, has 15 TDs in past 15 games (Wk 14 of '16 excluded due to early exit for ankle/hip injury)
11 LeSean McCoy BUF RB Has at least 8.0 FAN PTS in 26 of past 31 games - perhaps no RB more important to team than Shady, nice given ROS sched ranks 4th-easiest @ RB
12 Julio Jones ATL WR W/ hip injury, perfect timing for W5 bye - returns to face easiest WR ROS sched - hopefully it helps TD #'s (4 in past 16 reg-season games)
13 Michael Thomas NO WR TD in each of past 2, 80+ rec. yds in 3 straight, & streak of games w/ 4+ catches now @ NFL-high 19 (every game of his young career)
14 A.J. Green CIN WR Only player w/ at least 5 catches, 60 yards in each of 4 games - has TD in each of past 2 - only concern is a ROS sched ranked 6th-toughest @ WR
15 Carlos Hyde SF RB Extra love in pass game (top 10 in RB catches - 17) has led to at least 77 YFS in each of 1st 4 weeks, something only RBs Hunt & Gurley can match
16 Leonard Fournette JAC RB RB in JAX has long dealt w/ environment headwinds & his 3.5 YPC speaks to that, but large volume, TD in 4 straight has offset those issues
17 Rob Gronkowski NE TE Despite a total of 24 DNPs, has 71 TDs since rookie '10 campaign, which is tied for most in NFL in that span
18 Jay Ajayi MIA RB Getting drug down by MIA offensive struggles, but once 'Fins find groove, few RBs can match Ajayi's workload-plus-ease of schedule set-up
19 Dez Bryant DAL WR Top 20 @ WR in FAN PTS thru 4 games despite running up against shutdown CBs Jenkins, Talib, Peterson - ROS sched 5th-toughest @ WR
20 DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR WR version of RB Gurley, w/ volume helping overcome somewhat shaky team environment - 1st in catches (31), 6th in rec. yards (311)
21 Jordan Howard CHI RB Top 10 RB in FAN PTS thru 4 weeks (w/ 3 weekly finishes in the top 17) - in CHI RB-centric offense, room for J-How & Cohen to coexist
22 Ty Montgomery GB RB Relinquished his RB snap count lead in W4 w/ just 5 snaps played due to rib injury - roll could be slowed for a few weeks as he works thru it
23 C.J. Anderson DEN RB 4th in rush yards (330), No. 11 RB in FAN PTS thru 4 weeks - peripheral #'s also very healthy (4.5 YPC, 3rd in Runs of 15+ yds, 2nd in YAC/Att)
24 Tyreek Hill KC WR #6 @ WR in FAN PTS, #2 in QB Rating on intended passes & #6 in Yards Per Route Run - inconsistency the rub, (2 games sub-5 FAN PTS, 2 w/ 15+)
25 Brandin Cooks NE WR Might be leader in "shoulda/coulda/woulda" plays, but still netting out nicely as #9 WR in FAN PTS
26 Lamar Miller HOU RB Up to #12 among RBs in FAN PTS after 131 YFS, 2 TDs in W4 - even w/ rookie RB Foreman in mix, has workload, ease of sched to remain top 12 RB
27 Stefon Diggs MIN WR Top WR in FAN PTS thru 4 weeks is savvy route runner who might be even better after the catch - leads all WRs in QB Rating on intended passes
28 Aaron Rodgers GB QB No. 2 fantasy QB has 300+ pass yards in 3 of 4 games & is tied for TD pass lead (10)
29 Keenan Allen LAC WR Solid #'s thru 3 weeks (top 5 in WR targets, top 7 rec. yards) - 2 issues going forward will be staying healthy & dealing w/ daunting sched
30 Doug Martin TB RB Looked impressive in the preseason, & his ROS schedule offers plenty of cupcakes, starting w/ New England in W5
31 Tom Brady NE QB Most accomplished QB of all-time is top QB in FAN PTS thru 4 weeks, on pace for 5.6K pass yards, 40 TD passes
32 DeMarco Murray TEN RB Healthy 5.1 YPC, but work down as TEN run game hurt by game flow - TEN 4th in RB carries in '16, but just 20th in '17 - ROS sched 6th-easiest @ RB
33 Travis Kelce KC TE Production yo-yo this season (2 bad, 2 good), but 2 100-yard efforts this season gives him 8 in the past 14 regular-season games
34 Doug Baldwin SEA WR 17 breakout game in W3 (10/105/1) but also breakdown (groin) - just3/35 vs. Indy in W4, & production could continue to lag until groin heals fully
35 Davante Adams GB WR Concussion on vicious hit in W4 could lead to a DNP, but long-term prognosis still all god - counting postseason, 17 TDs in past 24 games
36 Larry Fitzgerald ARI WR Only teammate QB C Palmer has played more snaps among skill position players - 3rd @ WR in targets, catches
37 T.Y. Hilton IND WR Could get QB Luck back in a few weeks, which is obvious major boost for TY's stock - may be just fine sans Luck for next 2 games (SF, TEN)
38 Alshon Jeffery PHI WR In ripe situation as go-to WR in what should be pass-heavy attack, but the rub is a schedule that is littered w/ shutdown corners
39 Zach Ertz PHI TE 36 targets is 6 more than any other TE - past 12 reg-season games (122 targets, 89 rec, 992 yds, 5 TDs) highlights chemistry w/ QB Wentz
40 Drew Brees NO QB Old 5K-yard/mid-30 TD faithful is gathering steam w/ 7 TDS in past 3 games (0 INTs thru 4 games) - return of WR Snead after bye only helps cause
41 Demaryius Thomas DEN WR He's a pretty safe bet for 90+ catches, 1000+ yards, but like Julio Jones, TDs have been tough to come by (10-game scoreless streak)
42 Mike Gillislee NE RB Failed to convert goal-line carry in W4 & has just 1 TD since W1 hat trick - still a good bet for double digit TDs, but yardage returns offer low upside
43 Marshawn Lynch OAK RB Between being eased back into action & game flow issues, '17 start spotty, but long run still looks good as his YAC skills still evident
44 Michael Crabtree OAK WR Has been OAK's best fantasy WR past couple seasons, but currently dealing w/ chest injury, QB issues (EJ Manuel replacing injured D. Carr)
45 Amari Cooper OAK WR Talent tease w/ major consistency issues - 6 TDs in past 22 games, sub-5 FAN PTS in 15 of 36 career games - QB Carr out multiple weeks is no help
46 Christian McCaffrey CAR RB Yet to score 1st NFL TD, but seeing plenty of snaps/touches - 2nd in RB catches (22), 4th in RB rec. yards (206)
47 Kelvin Benjamin CAR WR Like teammate Run-CMC, still hasn't found end zone in '17, but given soft ROS sched, go-2-guy status in pass game, visits to end zone coming soon
48 Devante Parker MIA WR Despite MIA's offensive woes, Parker no worse than 69 yards in any of 3 games - has enviable ROS sched (4th-easiest @ WR)
49 Tevin Coleman ATL RB Leader in FAN PTS per touch in '16, finishing top 20 @ RB in FAN PTS despite missing 3 games - back in top 20 @ RB in '17
50 Ameer Abdullah DET RB Top 15 RB in FAN PTS over past 3 weeks - at least 17 touches in each of his 4 games - top 4 RB in YAC/Att - goal line TD in W4 encouraging
Brandon Funston
Brandon Funston has been dispensing solid gold fantasy advice (with some fool's gold mixed in from time to time) for the past 20 years, formerly with ESPN, and Yahoo. You can send him questions/comments on Twitter @brandonfunston.