Evan Silva

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Silva's July Rankings, 101-200

Saturday, July 05, 2014

This is the second portion of my two-part Fantasy Football Top 200 Rankings for the month of July. For an explanation of how I rank and full writeups on all players ranked 1-100, bang it here.

101. Russell Wilson -- Wilson has ranked 11th and 10th in seasonal quarterback scoring through his first two NFL seasons, but Seattle's run-heavy offense caps his weekly impact, as does an impenetrable defense that consistently allows the Seahawks to feature the run as well as blow out opponents. There are no indications Seattle's defense and run game are poised for 2014 steps back. Coach Pete Carroll confirmed in June the Seahawks have no plans to open up their offense. "We want to run the football whenever we want to," he said. "We are an absolutely committed running football team." Wilson plays fantasy's most replaceable position and isn't an every-week starter.

102. Ray Rice -- Rice's early sixth-round ADP is awfully aggressive for a running back coming off a 3.08 YPC season and now facing a multi-game suspension. Leave out Week 11 against the Bears' historically sieve-ish run defense, and Rice managed 529 yards and three touchdowns on 189 carries (2.80 YPC) in his other 14 appearances last year. Rice allegedly played most of the season through a painful hip injury, and has shed weight in an effort to regain burst and change of direction. It's still entirely possible past workloads have simply caught up with him. Greg Schiano ran Rice 910 times in three seasons as a college player, and including playoffs Rice has amassed 1,621 more across six years in the NFL. I'm just going to let someone else draft him.

103. Christine Michael -- Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell's "running back committee" spring vow may ring hollow, but C-Mike still oozes prospective value, and enough of it to begin considering in the ninth and tenth rounds. It isn't a stretch to call 23-year-old Michael's sheer running ability top ten in the NFL right now, while both coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have pinpointed him as a 2014 breakout player. Michael may need a Lynch injury to fully break out from a fantasy perspective, of course. Lynch, 28, has amassed a league-high 1,002 carries over the past three years, including playoffs. Some may view the fact that Lynch has missed just one game over the past four seasons as proof of his durability. Others may see him as primed for injury regression.

104. Julian Edelman -- Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, Shane Vereen, and Danny Amendola combined to miss 37 games last season, creating a perfect storm for Edelman, whose 151 targets ranked tenth among NFL wideouts. While Edelman deserves a butt-slap for admirably filling Tom Brady's go-to receiver role, I don't believe New England wants him doing that heavy lifting going forward. Look for the Pats to scale back Edelman's snaps and usage while Dobson, Gronk, Brandon LaFell, Vereen, and Amendola siphon targets. At 5-foot-10, 195 with a career 10.2 yards-per-reception average, Edelman is dependent on volume, and now virtually certain to lose a ton of it. I see him as a WR4 in standard leagues and dicey WR3 in PPR.

105. Pierre Thomas -- Darren Sproles missed four games over the past two seasons. Thomas' per-game average in those contests is just over nine touches for 68 scoreless yards. Sproles' exit creates opportunity in New Orleans, but much of it is likely to go to Khiry Robinson, and Mark Ingram also returns. I see Thomas as a scoring-specific fantasy back. He could offer every-week flex value in PPR, but is a tougher sell as a starter in standard settings. The Saints are going to give Thomas a lot of snaps, but the 29-year-old has no real chance to become a bellcow.

106. Khiry Robinson -- Whereas Thomas is the Saints back to target in PPR leagues, 24-year-old Robinson offers the highest standard-league ceiling. The Sproles trade speaks to Sean Payton's desire to employ a more traditional under-center run game, while Payton mentor Bill Parcells allegedly compared Robinson to Curtis Martin in private conversations with Payton late last year. Robinson promptly led the Saints in carries (13-57-1) during their final playoff game. Also no stranger to the passing game, Robinson piled up 60 receptions in just two college seasons. He's a sneaky RB2/flex breakout candidate who's acquirable at an RB4 cost.

107. Darren Sproles -- The first things that stand out about Sproles are his age (31) and declining role, usage, and playmaking ability under offensive mastermind Sean Payton, on top of the savvy Saints' willingness to trade him away. Chip Kelly is a genius in his own right and traded for Sproles, of course, but I'm skeptical how much of an impact he's still capable of from a fantasy standpoint. I do think Sproles could be a PPR asset, and will be part of a committee approach to replace DeSean Jackson. At his seventh-round ADP, I'll be avoiding him in standard leagues.

108. Emmanuel Sanders -- Sanders' sixth-round Average Draft Position feels like a trap. NFL coaches admire players with Sanders' versatility and efficiency, but he's never transferred on-field effectiveness into big box-score stats. While entering Peyton Manning's offense is nice, Sanders played with an awfully good quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger the last four seasons, and never finished above fantasy WR33. From 5-foot-11, 186-pound Sanders, don't expect a repeat of 6-foot-3, 217-pound Eric Decker's numbers. I'm fine grabbing Sanders as a WR3/4 option, but I'll avoid him when the cost is on par with borderline WR2s. At current ADPs, I'd much rather take sixth- and seventh-round stabs on Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, and Golden Tate.

Round Ten

109. Marvin Jones -- Cincinnati's No. 3 playmaker behind A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard, Jones overcame an inexplicable No. 2 receiver rotation with vastly inferior Mohamed Sanu to register a 51-712-10 line as an NFL sophomore. He only played 50% of the offensive snaps. Unfortunately, 24-year-old Jones' TD rate is unsustainable, and new OC Hue Jackson intends to scale back passing. Even if Jones' playing time spikes, his targets probably won't. I see Jones as a steady WR4 who should have some WR3 weeks, but may never be a truly trustworthy fantasy starter.

110. Mike Evans -- I think Evans has the best shot of all this year's rookie receivers to become a long-term top-five WR1. I'm skeptical he'll offer much consistency in year one. The odds are against rookie wideouts from the get-go, while Lovie Smith's run-first philosophy combined with Vincent Jackson's target-commanding presence will likely render Evans touchdown dependent a la the man he's replacing in Tampa Bay, Mike Williams. I do like Evans as a WR4 in TD-heavy leagues. But I don't think there's a strong chance he becomes an immediate fantasy starter.

111. Fred Jackson -- Jackson deserves credit for last year's unforeseeable top-ten fantasy back finish, and all signs point to him maintaining a meaningful role in Buffalo's high-volume backfield. To put the improbability of last year's stats into perspective, however, Jackson had never been a top-12 fantasy runner before in his career. As F-Jax will be 33 1/2 years old when this season starts, the Bills have prepared to turn the keys elsewhere, trading a fourth-round pick for Bryce Brown. C.J. Spiller returns as the team's most talented back. The end is near for Jackson, and the Bills know it. I'd rather write off Jackson a year too early than a year too late.

112. Chris Ivory -- Leave out Ivory's 69-yard run from Week 11, and last year's "4.6" YPC dips to 4.22. That per-carry clip signals the kind of grinding, Lynchian runner Ivory is, though, and he'll serve in that capacity between the tackles while changing the pace behind Chris Johnson. As long as Johnson is healthy, expect 26-year-old Ivory's weekly fantasy production to be inconsistent and dependent upon goal-line scores. He's losing carries and has never been effective in the pass game.

113. Colin Kaepernick -- Kap's ranking is low because his track record is replacement-level in a standard fantasy league. In most weeks, you can find waiver-wire quarterbacks capable of turning in similar or superior stats. From a projection standpoint, what makes Kap's outlook interesting is his obvious dual-threat talent, San Francisco's improved weapons, and the 49ers' All-Pro defensive losses of Navorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Kaepernick's box-score results could soar if the 49ers have more competitive games and get involved in some shootouts.

114. Maurice Jones-Drew -- I expect to form a stronger opinion on Oakland's backfield in camp, but going in the coaching staff seems to be planning on a near-even timeshare between Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden. While I wouldn't be willing to spend much draft capital on either -- late-round measurables freak Latavius Murray may actually prove the best cost-based gamble -- I do believe MJD will assert himself as the top lead-back option with superior between-the-tackles ability to DMC. There is also some reason to believe the Raiders' line could be decent under OL coach Tony Sparano. They signed LT Donald Penn and RG Austin Howard in March, drafted LG Gabe Jackson, return C Stefen Wisniewski, and have inserted Menelik Watson at right tackle.

115. Lance Dunbar -- New Cowboys OC Scott Linehan has used both one- and two-back systems before. His most recent experience came with the latter, involving Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Bush accounted for 277 touches last year, Bell 219. Linehan will skew more heavily to DeMarco Murray, but Dunbar is ticketed for a significant role in the offense. 24-year-old Dunbar averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 30 totes in 2013, and the Cowboys are smitten with his passing-game skills. Also a worthwhile handcuff, Dunbar could be an every-week starter if Murray went down. People who caught last year's Raiders-Cowboys Thanksgiving game probably remember Dunbar. He turned 13 touches into 94 yards. I like him as an RB4 with an outside chance at flex value.

116. Ladarius Green -- Question marks surrounding 24-year-old Green don't concern his talent. He's 6-foot-6, 240 and runs like a deer, clocking 4.53 at the 2012 Combine with a highly explosive 10-foot-4 broad jump. For comparison, Jimmy Graham's pre-draft measurables were 4.56 and 10-foot-0 at 6'6/260. The question is whether San Diego will commit to Green as a featured weapon, scheming him the ball. Utilized as a one-trick-pony deep threat and jump-ball specialist last year, Green could be freed up to run more short and intermediate routes this season with lanky sideline threat Malcom Floyd returning. A promising 2013 stat was Green's snap-rate climb from 21.2% over San Diego's initial 11 games, to 59.7% over the final seven, including playoffs. The coaching staff obviously knows Green has a ton of on-field value. Fantasy owners securing him as a TE2 will hope that translates to spikes in targets and usage. If Green can establish himself as Philip Rivers' No. 2 passing-game option to Keenan Allen's No. 1, he'll offer a top-five TE1 ceiling.

117. James Jones -- The Raiders have all the makings of a dysfunctional offense, particularly in the passing game. But, hey, someone's got to catch Matt Schaub's passes. (I'm talking about the ones that aren't returned for touchdowns by the other team.) Easily Oakland's most accomplished pass catcher, 30-year-old Jones is a sneaky bet for 70-plus receptions, and has long been a useful red-zone weapon. The Raiders have clearly soured on Denarius Moore, leaving Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Mychal Rivera, and David Ausberry as Jones' competition for targets.

118. Martellus Bennett -- A relatively steady performer, albeit one who puts owners at a weekly disadvantage versus top-tier tight ends, Bennett finished as last season's TE10 overall, ranking eighth at his position in targets. He's quite clearly behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte on Chicago's passing-game totem pole, however, and sophomore Marquess Wilson is a much higher-ceiling No. 3 wideout than outgoing Earl Bennett. As Martellus' upside is already capped, I'd be concerned about any step back whatsoever in 2014 usage. I still think he's very much roster worthy in 12-team leagues as a trustworthy TE2 and lower-end starter.

119. Charles Clay -- Clay is a very useful real-life player whose 2013 fantasy output benefited from ex-OC Mike Sherman's scheme, which frequently utilized Mike Wallace as a clear-out guy and fed targets to slot receivers and H-back Clay underneath. New OC Bill Lazor is emphasizing getting Wallace the ball this year, and will scale back overall team pass attempts. Those factors don't bode particularly well for Clay's chances of continuing to play a high-volume role in Miami's offense. I'd much rather own Clay as a TE2 than rely on him as a TE1, even in a two-tight end fantasy rotation. It's worth noting Lazor spent 2013 in Philadelphia, where neither Zach Ertz nor Brent Celek was consistently involved in the passing game. Ertz managed 469 yards, Celek 502.

120. Andrew Hawkins -- "Baby Hawk" caught 51 passes in 14 games with the 2012 Bengals, showing some ability to handle a reasonably heavy workload in spite of his 5-foot-7, 180-pound frame. Although his ceiling is limited by size, explosive jitterbug Hawkins has a chance to pile up catches as Cleveland's top wide receiver, working in tandem with Jordan Cameron. Now coaching Johnny Manziel, new Browns OC Kyle Shanahan will run an offense similar to Washington's two years ago, when Skins slot man Santana Moss (5'10/189) caught eight TDs. There are reasons to believe Hawkins could be a WR3 asset, particularly in PPR leagues. He has a lot of opportunity.

Round Eleven

121. Hakeem Nicks -- I documented Nicks' NFL injury history in last August's Shy-Away 40 column, and it's jaw dropping. He's experienced a steady decline since being diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his right leg in 2010. Including playoffs, Nicks has three touchdowns over his last 29 games. Is he a good bet to rebound? General managers around the league don't seem to believe so, as Nicks generated scant interest on the 2014 free agent market before settling on a one-year, $4 million offer from Indianapolis. Nicks will contend with a deep cast of pass catchers to earn consistent targets from Andrew Luck. I'm willing to gamble a tenth- or eleventh-round pick on Nicks, but would comfortably balk at his current ninth-round ADP.

122. Justin Hunter -- Hunter flashed WR1 talent down the stretch of his rookie season, parlaying increased snaps into 6-109-1 and 4-114-1 lines in Weeks 12 and 14. Only 23, Hunter's time is coming, even if there are reasons to think it won't happen this year. Tennessee's QB situation is shaky. New coach Ken Whisenhunt may be planning on a run-based offense. It's unclear whether Hunter will start over Nate Washington. Kendall Wright may continue to ballhog in the middle of the field. Hunter is still growing into his body. I expect unpredictable 2014 blowups surrounded by bouts of inconsistency. Hunter remains a high-ceiling WR4 with a dirt-cheap 14th-round ADP.

123. Jordan Matthews -- Matthews starred at OTAs, but his outlook was intriguing long before reporting to non-contact practices. Entering a top-five NFL offense losing (easily) its most productive receiver, Matthews is ticketed for Marques Colston duties in the slot between role player Riley Cooper and a wideout coming off an ACL tear in Jeremy Maclin. At 6-foot-3, 212, Matthews should be an immediate red-zone threat whose targets and usage could grow by the week. Although there are probably too many mouths to feed in Chip Kelly's run-first offense for Matthews to turn in Colston rookie stats (70-1,038-8), I like him as a WR4 sleeper.

124. Cecil Shorts -- Fantasy owners have long been able to bank on garbage-time production from Shorts in a largely unchallenged No. 1 wideout role. I think Jacksonville will be much more competitive this season than in years past, and Shorts' competition for targets is far stiffer after the Jaguars used second-round picks on Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, who are both better talents than Shorts. Marcedes Lewis is healthy after missing five games last season, and being hobbled in many others. Not only is Shorts' upside diminishing, his consistency is in doubt.

125. Carlos Hyde -- Hyde has a lot of similarities to Eddie Lacy, albeit without the proven passing-game chops. The second-round pick struggled in blitz pickup at Ohio State and managed 16 receptions last season. Still, Hyde is in a great spot as the likely No. 2 to 31-year-old Frank Gore's No. 1, with Kendall Hunter in the change-of-pace role. I'm not sold on Marcus Lattimore making any 2014 impact. If Gore goes down or tails off -- and there are many reasons to believe the latter has already happened -- Hyde will be the favorite for early-down and goal-line work, with Hunter playing on passing downs. Hyde would likely become an every-week RB2 if Gore missed time.

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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
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