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Pre-Free Agency Rankings

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: February 13, 2020, 5:31 pm ET

These ranks are what the title says — a pre-free agency snapshot. The entire league landscape will look different in six weeks, to say nothing of April’s draft. This is simply my first draft of the offseason. The number of players ranked is admittedly arbitrary. I simply went with what I felt comfortable with at each position. Anything more would have been a complete dart throw.  

Top 24 Quarterbacks 

1. Lamar Jackson — Averaged 5.8 more points per game than any other QB in 2019.
2. Patrick Mahomes — Best player in the NFL was QB7 by average points in “down” season.
3. Deshaun Watson — Legitimate threat for QB1 overall status if Will Fuller stays healthy. 
4. Russell Wilson — Campaigning for a more aggressive O like he’s in Iowa or New Hampshire. 
5. Dak Prescott — From one underachieving, stale coach to another. Amari FA looms large. 

6. Kyler Murray — Whether it’s volume, supporting cast or Murray’s own play, OROY has nowhere to go but up.  
7. Jameis Winston — The year 2020 in football form, Winston’s value will plummet if he leaves TB.  
8. Carson Wentz — What Wentz did with “WR1 Greg Ward.” Get this man a healthy WR corps.  
9. Matt Ryan — Was shell of self following high-ankle sprain. Volume, strong supporting cast remain. 
10. Matthew Stafford — Absent another change in offensive philosophy, Stafford will be undervalued. 
11. Aaron Rodgers — Is Rodgers succumbing to his supporting cast or late-career frailty? 
12. Cam Newton — One of 2020’s great unknowns has never not been a QB1. 
13. Daniel Jones — The real Josh Allen? Jones had four 30-point games, zero others above 20. 
14. Drew Brees — Despite WC disaster, Brees was more consistent with higher upside than 2018. 
15. Ben Roethlisberger — QB2 by average points in 2018, but that was one elbow surgery and Antonio Brown ago. 
16. Kirk Cousins — Vikes will remain established, but Gary Kubiak springs QBs.  
17. Jared GoffDo I Wanna Know?
18. Josh Allen — Surprisingly more of a steady Eddie than spiked weeker in 2019. Still volatile. 
19. Tom Brady — 2019 might have been more supporting cast than age, but that’s a dangerous game to play at 42. 
20. Jimmy Garoppolo — I, for one, would like to know if Jimmy Garoppolo is good. 
21. Ryan Tannehill — I fear a Ponzi scheme, but poor man’s Kirk Cousins is a real possibility. 
22. Baker Mayfield — Conservative ranking for a player whose situation should be better. 
23. Sam Darnold — Promising second half. Supporting cast in dire need of improvement. 
24. Derek Carr — Efficiency keeps increasing. Explosiveness doesn’t. 

 

Top 33 Running Backs 

1. Christian McCaffrey — CMC’s 223 receptions over past two seasons 61 more than any other RB. 
2. Saquon Barkley — Averaged 163 yards from scrimmage for the five games he was at full health. 
3. Dalvin Cook — Diminishing returns down the stretch, but three-down back for Kubiak nice place to be. 
4. Ezekiel Elliott — Has cleared 1,300 yards rushing in 3-of-3 non-shortened seasons.  
5. Derrick Henry — Negative: Doesn’t catch passes. Positive: Unstoppable force with 30 TDs in past 31 games. 
6. Aaron Jones — A special talent who keeps rendering committees obsolete. 
7. Joe Mixon — Mixon averaged 124 YFS as focal point of offense in second half of the season.  
8. Alvin Kamara — Zero 100-yard rushing efforts in 2019 but 10 five-catch days. Ankle wreaked havoc. 
9. Josh Jacobs — Bruising/elusive Jacobs’ huge rookie year came despite debilitating shoulder issue. 
10. Nick Chubb — Riser or faller based on RFA Kareem Hunt’s status.  
11. Miles Sanders — As advertised, Sanders’ three-down skill-set destined for fantasy glory. 
12. Austin Ekeler — RFA who is probably about to graduate from 1B to 1A status for the Bolts. 
13. Chris Carson — Addicted to out-playing Rashaad Penny. Both have injuries. Carson’s less serious. 
14. Leonard Fournette — Three TDs on 341 touches is unfathomable scoring failure. 
15. Kenyan Drake — This is probably conservative if Drake re-ups in Arizona.  
16. Kareem Hunt — Will be RB1 if he gets away from Cleveland. RB3 if not. Splitting difference. 
17. Devin Singletary — Bills quickly fell in love with greater than sum of his parts tackle breaker.
18. Melvin Gordon — Gordon’s final resting place will be all about where he ends up. (duh)  
19. Mark Ingram — Slid right into his Saints role in BAL. Age is creeping (30) and Justice Hill awaits. 
20. Todd Gurley — Knee reports were more than just innuendo. Trade rumors next to prove true?
21. Marlon Mack — Not-particularly-elusive two-down backs are usually sensitive to outside forces. 
22. Le'Veon Bell — As big of a Jets disaster as feared, Bell’s fortunes probably tied to OL upgrades. 
23. James Conner — Conner did not quell Steelers’ durability concerns in 2019. 
24. Phillip Lindsay — Maxing out as a 2.5-down back. 
25. David Montgomery — Wasn’t the Kareem Hunt the Bears were hoping for. Second chance likely. 
26. Kerryon Johnson — Now 2-for-2 on injury-shortened seasons, justifying Lions’ durability ?s. 
27. James White — Will tumble from RB3 ranks if Tom Brads heads to West Coast. 
28. Raheem Mostert — Anything from No. 1 to No. 4 back is a realistic possibility. 
29. Damien Williams — Similar outlook to Mostert’s in a backfield ripe for an overhaul. 
30. David Johnson — Uncertain future after 28-year-old Johnson looked like old man in Kliff’s O. 
31. Sony Michel — Patriots have to be close to cutting their losses after brutal 2019. 
32. Derrius Guice — Upside remains, but the downside has become pervasive.  
33. Devonta Freeman — Used up 27-year-old is a candidate for release. 

 

Top 48 Receivers 

1. Michael Thomas — Avatar of the modern game functions in gray area between Antonio Brown and Percy Harvin. 
2. Davante Adams — Has become of Edelman-ian importance to Aaron Rodgers.  
3. Tyreek Hill — Especially with Sammy Watkins likely to be cut, Tyreek poised to come roaring back. 
4. DeAndre HopkinsWill Fuller curbs his style. Will Fuller also only plays 7-8 games. 
5. Kenny Golladay — Finished as WR3 in standard and WR9 in PPR even with Stafford hurt. 
6. Julio Jones — Held below 1,400 yards for first time in six years … at 1,394. TDs still an issue. 
7. Chris Godwin — An Antonio Brown in the making?
8. Mike Evans — Evans and Godwin will be rankings interchangeable if Jameis re-signs. 
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Maintains immense upside despite everything-went-wrong 2019.  
10. Odell Beckham — WR1 overall is always in the range of OBJ outcomes.  
11. D.J. Moore — We’ve seen the damage 22-year-old Moore can do with a backup QB. Tantalizing.
12. Courtland Sutton — Has shown Hopkins-ian ability to dominate with any quarterback.  
13. Allen Robinson — Counting on someone to beat the Trubisky system is risky, but A-Rob did so with gusto in ‘19. 
14. Cooper Kupp — Posted just 369 yards over Rams’ final eight games. 792 over first eight.  
15. Amari Cooper — Don't know where he will be playing. Do know he will post between 1-1.2K yards. 
16. D.J. Chark — Exploded modest 2019 expectations. Freak athlete who has now put it on NFL film. 
17. DeVante Parker — Was fifth in yards, fourth in scores and ninth in YPC. New OC, maybe QB. 
18. Julian Edelman — This rank will be reassessed if/when TB12 re-signs. All floor, no upside. 
19. Adam Thielen — 69/866/9 over past 18 games after he went 96/925/6 over first eight in 2018.
20. Stefon Diggs — Diggs’ escalating subtweets highlight a player who wants a new home.  
21. Keenan Allen — Has kicked early-career injury issues, but must now adjust to new QB. 
22. Terry McLaurin — Chaos curbed what could have been an OROY 2019.  
23. Robert Woods — Unfortunately for Woods, he’s not even the best Edelman clone on his own team. 
24. A.J. Brown — YAC monster had third fewest receptions (52) of any player to reach 1,000 yards in the decade.
25. Michael Gallup — Quietly 20th in receiving. Would Amari leaving help or hurt?   
26. DK Metcalf — Old-fashioned soul reaver down the field has top-eight potential. 
27. Calvin Ridley — Sixth in receiving touchdowns (17) over the past two seasons. 
28. Deebo Samuel — Needs more production on non-manufactured touches, but could open year as SF’s No. 1. 
29. T.Y. Hilton — 0-for-2 on 1,000-yard seasons without Andrew Luck. 
30. Tyler Boyd — 18th in receiving (2,074 yards) since 2018. No more A.J. Green. Rookie QB, though. 
31. Jarvis Landry — Browns O uncertain. Is Kevin Stefanski actually as run crazed as Mike Zimmer made him appear?
32. Tyler Lockett — Weird injuries played a part, but Lockett seems to have been Wally Pipp’d as SEA’s No. 1. 
33. A.J. Green — Going on 32, Green has played 35-of-64 games over the past four seasons.  
34. Darius Slayton — Only 11 wide receivers had more yards after Week 10. Big-play upside. 
35. John Brown — Only so high to fly with Josh Allen at the controls. 
36. Robby Anderson — Would look good as the Packers’ No. 2 receiver. 
37. Mike Williams — Averaged whopping 20.4 yards per catch, but Bolts headed for new identity.  
38. Marquise Brown — Healthy offseason should do wonders for player who was ahead of schedule as a rookie. 
39. Jamison Crowder — His Edelman/Landry energy could be off the charts. Will depend on Jets’ offseason. 
40. Christian Kirk — Baffling 2019. Was less explosive with Kyler Murray than Josh Rosen
41. Will Fuller — 11 games last season were second most of his career. 
42. Mecole Hardman — Averaged 11.5 YAC as a rookie. Lol. Sammy Watkins on the way out. 
43. Marvin Jones — Decent amount of undead zombie to Jones’ game, but now on wrong side of 30. 
44. Curtis SamuelLiterally broke the air yards model. 
45. Tyrell Williams — Xeroxed 2018 numbers as he played injured all year. 
46. Brandin Cooks — Cooks is still only 26, but that was as concerning as a campaign gets. 
47. Hunter Renfrow — All the hallmarks of the next great fantasy homewrecker. 
48. Mohamed Sanu — Ankle ruined Pats debut for player who should fit system well.  

 

Top 20 Tight Ends 

1. Travis Kelce — Fifth in receiving over past two seasons. Hasn’t missed game with injury since 2013. 
2. George Kittle — Injury curbed Kittle’s explosiveness, but he still eased to top-two finish.  
3. Mark Andrews — 15.6 percent of Andrews’ 64 grabs found end zone. Was rarely 100 percent. 
4. Zach ErtzDallas Goedert is rising, but no other Eagles pass catcher is. 
5. Evan Engram — Injuries have sapped Engram’s overall production, but rate stats remain elite. 
6. Hunter Henry — Still only 25 years old. Landing place won’t matter much for this sort of talent.
7. Austin Hooper — 2019 likely career year, but it would have been even bigger without three missed games. 
8. Darren WallerHunter Renfrow rising, and Raiders sure to add another target hog or two. 
9. Mike Gesicki — Ranking Gesicki over Higbee because of less crowded skill corps. 
10. Tyler Higbee — 83 more yards than any other TE over final five games, but what to make of him in crowded O? 
11. Jared Cook — Safe floor after you miss out on the more exciting ceiling bets.  
12. Noah Fant — Even with new OC and young QB, Fant has top-five upside.  
13. Dallas Goedert — Will have difficult time rising above low-end TE1 status. 
14. Jack Doyle — With Eric Ebron likely moving on, Doyle should return to ancestral low-end TE1 range. 
15. T.J. Hockenson — Took his rookie lumps. FA Danny Amendola’s departure would help. 
16. Jacob Hollister — RFA. Seahawks clearly want a pass-catching tight end in the offense. 
17. Jonnu Smith — Has looked ready for more during his two cups of coffee. 
18. Dawson Knox — The Bills forced Knox’s rookie development. Will be needed in the red zone. 
19. Eric Ebron — Ready for a Rudolph-ian — Cook-ian? — role somewhere in free agency. 
20. Irv Smith — Simply offers more upside than Kyle Rudolph at this stage. 

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Patrick Daugherty
Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .