Top 50 Keepers
50. Dez Bryant
, Cowboys: A top-five physical talent at wide receiver and already emerging as the Cowboys' best offensive player before his season-ending leg fracture. The breakout is coming.
49. Vernon Davis
, 49ers (44): After two straight top-three fantasy finishes, the only question is quarterback. Davis is one of just a handful of weekly advantages at the tight-end position.
48. Felix Jones
, Cowboys (50): Finally entrenched as the starter, but will he be good for 15-20 touches per game after shedding the extra bulk he added last year? Still among the biggest injury-risks going.
47. Kenny Britt
, Titans: Britt isn't without risk considering his immaturity and murky QB situation, but his top-tier fantasy ceiling is well worth a roll of the dice.
46. Jermichael Finley
, Packers: Even after a lost season, Finley is a fine keeper with a shot to be the NFL's top tight end over the next decade.
45. Jeremy Maclin
, Eagles: Maclin has 1,726 yards and 14 TDs through two seasons compared to Hakeem Nicks
' 1,842 yards and 17 TDs. Maclin doesn't carry nearly the same injury risk, either.
44. Dwayne Bowe
, Chiefs (NR, 44): We're reaching broken-record status on the Chiefs' mid-season hot streak, but it's important to note that Bowe's seven-game streak that produced 13 TDs came against the absolute dregs of NFL pass defenses. He's not going to come close to 15 scores next season.
43. Marques Colston
, Saints (32, 32): Colston has been a picture of borderline WR1 consistency, but he's also coming off his fifth and sixth known surgeries since March of 2008.
42. LeGarrette Blount
, Buccaneers: A top-12 fantasy back over the final five weeks, Blount will rise on this list if he can nail down goal-like work and occasional passing-down duty.
41. Shonn Greene
, Jets (48): The fantasy world handed Greene the starting job prematurely last offseason. After LaDainian Tomlinson
's second-half fade, there should be no doubt this time around. I don't see elite talent from Greene, but he should be a solid RB2 as the Jets' early-down back.
40. Peyton Hillis
, Browns: New coach Pat Shurmur is already talking up a "tandem" backfield with Montario Hardesty
returning from ACL surgery. Hillis won't sniff 13 TDs, 61 receptions, and 1,500+ yards again.
39. Antonio Gates
, Chargers (41, 46): Before a painful plantar fascia injury, Gates had been the first-half fantasy MVP, averaging 5.0 more points per week than the next closest tight end. The injury will heal with rest, so Gates should be
38. Vincent Jackson
, Chargers (20): Ranked 12th in fantasy points in 2008 and 10th in 2009 before contract squabbles laid waste to his 2010 season. As the Bolts' franchise player, he should bounce back to the top-ten this year.
37. Jahvid Best
, Lions: If you don't believe turf toes can savage a back's effectiveness, Darren McFadden
's early career is instructive. Don't let the twin turf-toe injuries throw you off the scent on Best. He's still the same back who dropped 232 yards and three TDs on the Eagles in Week 2.
36. Ryan Mathews
, Chargers: A great young back to own in the Chargers' high-scoring offense, Mathews is a breakout candidate with a greater share of the backfield pie in 2011. Mike Tolbert
looms as a touchdown vulture or even a committee partner should Mathews stumble.
35. Knowshon Moreno
, Broncos (28): John Fox has so many holes to fill that DeAngelo Williams
is a luxury he can't afford. It's clear, however, that Moreno will have company in the backfield after a second straight season of nagging injuries.
34. Mike Wallace
, Steelers: Leap-frogged Hines Ward
as Ben Roethlisberger
's go-to receiver, leading the NFL in receiving yards in the second half of the season.
33. Ahmad Bradshaw
, Giants: The ongoing foot/ankle injuries aren't a great sign for long-term RB1 value, nor is Tom Coughlin's proclamation that Brandon Jacobs
needs more carries in 2011.
32. Tom Brady
, Patriots (34, 36): In the second-best season of his career, Brady finished "only" sixth in fantasy points among QBs.
31. DeSean Jackson
, Eagles (26): Jackson is an ideal keeper due to his unique talent, but he can't go a week without hitting the injury report.
Keepers 1-29 coming Tuesday.