Crainer’s Top 5 Top 5’s

by Brad Crainer

For me, Fall is synonymous with football. Football is synonymous with fantasy football. And Fantasy Football is synonymous with lists. Top 300 players, Top 10 Quarterbacks, Top 15 Sleepers, and the list of lists goes on and on and on. So why not a few more?

So with that, here are the Top 5.

You’re right, 5 really isn’t enough. Let’s make this more interesting.

So with that, here are the Top 5, Top 5’s –

Top 5 Players To Change Teams and Improve Their Fantasy Value:

  1. Andre Johnson – This guy is a freak. And Andre the giant has been wallowing down in Houston for too many years, most of which were spent without a quarterback. Now, in the twilight of his career, he is lining up opposite a speed receiver and with the best young QB in the league throwing him the ball.
  2. CJ Spiller – New Orleans hasn’t employed a legitimate thunder and lightning combination since Deuce McCallister and Reggie Bush. Is CJ the next Reggie Bush? Well, I sure hope so because I’m banking on him as a RB3 option.
  3. Jeremy Maclin – I will never say that Alex Smith is going to be a better QB option than the crew Maclin had throwing to him last season. However… there’s no one else to throw to outside of Jamaal Charles. Maclin may get targeted more this season than in the last two seasons combined. That’s got to be worth something.
  4. Shane Vereen – He was never going to be the number one back in New England, and he’s probably not the number one back in New York. Still, the new Giants’ offense loves to dump down to backs, and there isn’t a much more accomplished pass catcher out of the backfield.
  5. Eddie Royal – I mean, he’s still Eddie Royal, but he’s also basically the number 2 for the Bears this season with Marshall gone and first round pick Kevin White out with an injury, Royal should expect to see some heavy targets early in the 2015 campaign.

Top 5 Handcuff Players to Own:

  1. Fred Jackson – It’s two weeks until the season begins and no one knows for sure how healthy Shady McCoy’s leg is. He may not even be able to start the season. For the past few years, Jackson was the one who needed a handcuff, but now perhaps the tables have turned and Ole Number 22 may be the handcuff you need this season. (While Jackson has since been released by the Bills, he is still a name to watch as a handcuff wherever he gets signed)
  2. Jeremy Langford – I know, two running backs in a row, and this one is an untested rookie. However, Matt Forte is one of the most oft-used RBs in the league and there just seems to be something about this kid. He’s got top end speed (fastest RB in last year’s combine) and he’s coming out of a University that just recently produced LeVeon Bell.
  3. Davante Adams – Hopefully by now you know that Jordy Nelson is out for the year. This is barely a handcuff pick, but maybe you’re in a league where Nelson is still getting picked up. If so, man you better win that league. Adams is slated for a great season.
  4. Jimmy Garoppolo – I’ll be honest, I probably didn’t even spell his name correctly. But the dude is probably going to start the season for the Patriots and as we learned with Matt Cassell, the Patriots can make any QB look good. (Brady has had his suspension overturned, but the NFL is going to appeal the decision)
  5. Brock Osweiler – This is more of a gamble than anything, but if you’ve got a possibility for a deep bench, then make sure you pick up Osweiler. Why? It’s simple. Peyton Manning is old. He has a messed up neck. Osweiler would be stepping into an excellent group of receivers.

Top 5 Rookies to Draft:

  1. Ameer Abdullah – The Lions RB is going to start out leading this team if Joique Bell misses any time, and he is also likely to get most of the carries and receptions out of the backfield, as he is clearly the most talented RB on the roster.
  2. Amari Cooper –His size is underwhelming, but he has all of the requisite skills to be the greatest of the group of WRs that were drafted early in this spring’s draft. He’s also one of the only receivers that is healthy going into the regular season.
  3. Melvin Gordon – the running back out of Wisconsin is coming off an incredible college career, and stepping into a position where he may be leaned on to be the starting running back for a team that has been searching for that true number one back ever since the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson.
  4. Jameis Winston – say what you want about the former Florida State signal caller, but Winston is stepping into a position where he has incredible talent on the outside in the form of Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He may be a knucklehead, but he’s a knucklehead who seems to understand how to play the game. I expect a better than average fantasy season from Winston.
  5. Todd Gurley – so nobody really knows what is happening with this guy’s knee, but everybody knows that he is an incredible running back. The St. Louis Rams have often been a running team and will likely utilize Gurley as a feature back before the midway point of the year.

Top 5 Deep Sleepers:

  1. Kyle Rudolph – the Vikings tight end has had an up-and-down career, plagued by injuries, and mediocre quarterback play. This season, Rudolph heads into the year with sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a clean bill of health. Look for Rudolph to have a career year as the anchor of this Vikings’ pass offense.
  2. Theo Riddick – This third string running back on the Detroit Lions demonstrated his value as both a ball-carrier and a pass receiver out of the backfield. If rookie back Abdullah has ball control issues and the lingering health concerns of Joique Bell continue, look for Riddick to be a big contributor in the Lions’ offense.
  3. Tyrod Taylor – the Buffalo Bills don’t have a quarterback. However, they have plenty of wide receivers, and running backs were great catching the ball in the flat. Therefore, Tyrod Taylor. If this young quarterback gets a chance, he may be able to make some waves in the AFC East, particularly with the offensive weapons at his disposal.
  4. Tevin Coleman – I know he’s a rookie running back, and I know he hasn’t had any success thus far in the NFL, but he plays on a team that desperately needs to find a running game. Coleman could end up being the feature back for the Falcons before the end of the year.
  5. Kenny Britt – there once was a time when Kenny Britt was borderline elite. But since then, things of gone south for Kenny. I believe, given the state of the Rams’ offense, that Kenny Britt could have a surprisingly good season. However, I understand if you don’t feel that way and I won’t say “I told you so” at the end of the year if it does happen.

Top 5 Early Round Busts:

  1. Matt Forte – the Chicago Bears have had one steadfast player on their offense for the past few seasons, and that player is Matt Forte. This guy gets the ball in his hands so often that he is an unmistakably easy choice for an early round running back. However, wear and tear definitely play a part in this generation’s NFL. I don’t expect Matt Forte to achieve more than 75% of his output from last season.
  2. Julio Jones – The Falcons have a great combination at quarterback and wide receiver with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. However, Julio can’t stay healthy. He’s absolutely worth a gamble because if he does stay healthy, he’s an easy number one wide receiver.
  3. Dez Bryant – This young man is an exceptional wide receiver, and he’s also an exceptional buffoon. Expect that Dez Bryant will do something stupid and get himself either injured or suspended at some point this season. It should also be noted that, now that Dez is getting paid, he doesn’t really have much to work for. Just sayin’.
  4. LeSean McCoy – Shady is old. Well, he’s not really old, but he’s getting to be “running back old” and that’s not usually the type of player you want to draft early in 2015. Given the fact that he is one of the most over-used RBs of the past few seasons and his preseason injury, McCoy could be expected to miss some games. When you couple that with the squad of capable back-ups, McCoy may be someone to pass on in his first season with the Bills.
  5. Peyton Manning – He’s not going to be the first QB taken off the board, at least I hope he isn’t, but going into 2015 I have my doubts as to whether or not he should be taken at all. Manning is coming off a Jekyll and Hyde type of season and he’s lost one of his talented receivers in TE Julius Thomas. If I had to pick a Manning brother for this season, I guess it would have to be Cooper. (Because Eli stinks.)

Do you disagree with any of these? Good. That’s the joy of fantasy football! I’d love to hear your Top 5’s. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @word_bubbles


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