News & Analysis

2018 fantasy football power rankings: Teams 16-13

October 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11, top) congratulates running back David Johnson (31) for scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 33-21. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After sorting through the bottom half of the league’s teams in terms of fantasy prowess, it’s time to begin going over teams that are above average for fantasy owners.

As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on how much fantasy value each team offers you for your 2018 fantasy draft; it has nothing to do with how good or bad we expected these teams to be on the real field.

The rankings are based on our 2018 player projections, which are accessible with a PFF Edge or PFF Elite membership.

(The information here was compiled from the stats and projections available to subscribers.)

July 23: 32-29 July 24: 28-25 July 25: 24-21 July 26: 20-17
No. 32 New York Jets No. 28 Oakland Raiders No. 24 Indianapolis Colts No. 20 Detroit Lions
No. 31 Buffalo Bills No. 27 Jacksonville Jaguars No. 23 Dallas Cowboys No. 19 Denver Broncos
No. 30 Miami Dolphins No. 26 Washington Redskins No. 22 Chicago Bears No. 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 29 Baltimore Ravens No. 25 San Francisco 49ers No. 21 Cleveland Browns No. 17 Seattle Seahawks
July 30: 16-13
No. 16 Tennessee Titans
No. 15 Carolina Panthers
No. 14 Cincinnati Bengals
No. 13 Arizona Cardinals

No. 16: Tennessee Titans

The Titans have many of the same pieces returning for 2018, but this offense has a “fresh” feel to it thanks to some changes in the coaching staff. The Titans check in at No. 16 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.

The Titans offer fantasy players 94 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have five fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:

Running back

The Titans have the No. 17 backfield from a fantasy perspective.

With DeMarco Murray no longer in Tennessee, Henry finally has a chance to see more work. Henry’s yards after contact average of 3.2 ranked tied for fifth among running backs, depicting just how tough Henry is to bring down.

The problem for Henry (and fantasy owners) is that the Titans signed Lewis this offseason. Lewis is just as tough to bring down as Henry, albeit in a completely different way. In fact, Lewis tied Henry with 3.2 YAC.

The Titans could very well be looking at a by-committee backfield, with Henry seeing more of the rushing work and Lewis seeing (way) more of the passing work. You can consider both players tail-end RB2s or elite flex options with upside.

Wide receiver

The Titans have the No. 24 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.

The Titans are led by second-year wideout Davis, who broke out in last year’s playoffs by posting a line of 9-98-2 in his two playoff games (most of that damage came against his now-teammate Malcolm Butler). When healthy last year, Davis out-targeted Matthews 79-to-60. Davis, a top-five overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, is primed for a breakout season in Year 2 and should be viewed as a tail-end WR2 with upside.

Matthews is always underrated, and while he’s unlikely to win your league for you, he should be a solid flex option most weeks. Matthews was the No. 19 wideout in 2016 and the No. 36 wideout in 2017. His 2016 season was his ceiling (aided by nine touchdowns), and his 2017 season could be considered his floor. Matthews doesn’t have a huge possible range of outcomes, but as a WR3 or flex option late in drafts, he does the trick.

Tight end

The Titans have the No. 4 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.

Walker is our projected No. 4 tight end in 2018, although it should be noted that he is a tier below the Big 3 (Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz). Walker has led the team in targets in three of the past four seasons, and he is averaging 100 targets per year over the last two seasons. Walker’s role in the offense will not change much, which means you can expect a line of 70-800-5 by the time the season comes to an end.

Quarterback

Marcus Mariota didn’t make the cut, but he has huge upside thanks to his rushing ability.

No. 15: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are returning all of their key players from 2017, and they have added a handful of new talent to their squad. Carolina checks in at No. 15 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.

The Panthers offer fantasy players 99 percent as much value as an average NFL team. They have six fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:

Running back

The Panthers have the No. 12 backfield from a fantasy perspective.

McCaffrey led all running backs in targets last year, with 106. He ranked second on the team (Funchess had 109). Only 21 players in the whole league were targeted more than the rookie running back last year. This year, the Panthers apparently want to give McCaffrey the ball a whole lot:

That’s probably not going to happen, but even if McCaffrey gets up to the 15- to 18-touch range, it will be huge for his fantasy value. McCaffrey was the No. 9 running back in PPR leagues last year after averaging 12 touches per game. Last season, McCaffrey ranked 15th in fantasy points per touch and the Panthers have the third-easiest schedule from a FP/T perspective in 2018. He’s going to be a tail-end RB1 again this year — at worst.

Anderson will likely take on the Jonathan Stewart role, which means he could see about 10-12 touches per game, but nearly all of them will be on the ground. You can tentatively think of Anderson as a weak flex option, but if he becomes the team’s goal-line back, he’ll become a solid weekly starter.

Wide receiver

The Panthers have the No. 29 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.

As previously noted, Funchess led the team in targets (109), and it wasn’t just because he was the only real outside target once Kelvin Benjamin was traded. Funchess was a top-20 PPR wideout last year after gaining 840 yards and, importantly, scoring eight touchdowns. He was playing at his ceiling giving the lack of a No. 2 wideout and Olsen’s injury last year, but Funchess’ ability to perform as the lead guy — and perform well in the red-zone — bodes well for his future. He can be viewed as a tail-end WR3 or flex option.

Funchess will be joined by rookie Moore. The Panthers selected Moore in the first round of this year’s draft as the first wideout off the board. Moore will have to contend with McCaffrey, Olsen, and Funchess for targets, so given the lack of immediate opportunity, you can’t project him as anything more than a benchwarmer who could emerge as a flex option if he’s able to work his way up the target totem pole in Carolina.

Tight end

The Panthers have the No. 5 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.

Olsen returns from injury, and as I noted a few weeks ago, he’s the most obvious bounceback candidate among tight ends this season. His PPR points per game plummeted to 6.0 last year, but his targets per snap (9.5) was actually on par with his typical usage rate in Carolina.

Olsen is getting older (he’s 33) but his established rapport with Newton — and the general “meh”-ness of this year’s fantasy tight ends — makes him a safe bet to finish as a high-end TE1 in fantasy again this year.

Quarterback

The Panthers have the No. 3 group of quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective.

Newton has been the poster-child of the “yo-yo players” crowd over the past five years, as he has produced fantasy finishes of QB4, QB16, QB1, QB16, and QB2. All PFF rankers (available with PFF Edge or PFF Elite subscriptions) have Newton as a top-five player in 2018.

No. 14: Cincinnati Bengals

It may be a surprise to see the Bengals rank in the top half of the league, but they actually have a decent group of fantasy assets. Cincinnati ranks No. 14 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.

The Bengals offer fantasy players 2 percent more value than an average NFL team. They have five fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:

Running back

The Bengals have the No. 13 backfield from a fantasy perspective.

Mixon is one of my top breakout running back candidates this year. Here’s what I wrote about him in early June: “Mixon flashed workhorse-like usage last year, with four games of 18-plus rushing attempts to his name last year — including three over the final five weeks of the season. He popped off 114 yards in Week 12 and 96 yards in Week 17, and he averaged over 4.0 YPC in his final four games of the year. In other words, Mixon finished the year on a bit of a hot streak.” Consider Mixon one of the safer RB2s in this year’s group.

Bernard returns as Cincinnati’s pass-catching back, although he isn’t among the league’s elite in terms of passing work. Bernard’s 53 targets ranked 16th among running backs last year, but he did add a healthy 105 rushing attempts, which helped provide him with a floor. Bernard, last year’s No. 28 running back, should again be viewed as a flex option in PPR leagues.

Wide receiver

The Bengals have the No. 10 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.

Green has always seemed like one of the most underrated big-named wideouts in today’s NFL. He was a top-10 wideout last year despite what felt like a “down” year. Green is locked in as a WR1 in fantasy.

LaFell is an extremely boring player that could be serviceable as a flex option depending on his weekly matchup. He was the No. 53 wideout last year after garnering 86 targets.

John Ross is the unknown equation in this group of receivers. The Bengals invested high draft capital in him in 2017, so they’ll likely want him to get on the field this year. He’s worth a flier based on talent, but don’t feel like you have to draft him.

Tight end

The Bengals have the No. 13 group of tight ends from a fantasy perspective.

One of the Tylers in Cincinaati – either Eifert or Kroft — is going to be fantasy-relevant in 2017. Eifert is supposedly still injured (something he denies), but it’s unfortunately still a guessing game at this point. Whichever Tyler is healthy and is the team’s starting tight end can be viewed as a tail-end TE1 in fantasy.

Quarterback

You don’t have to think about Andy Dalton during your 2018 fantasy draft.

No. 13: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are one of the most interesting teams in fantasy because they rank in the top-half of the league despite offering fantasy players only two relevant players. Those two players just happen to be extremely good. Arizona checks in at No. 13 on the 2018 fantasy football team power rankings.

The Cardinals offer fantasy players 2 percent more value than an average NFL team. They have two fantasy-relevant players you need to know about for your 2018 draft:

Running back

The Cardinals have the No. 5 backfield from a fantasy perspective.

Johnson returns from injury and he’ll look to regain his historic 2016 form. Johnson led all PPR running backs in 2016 with 407 points. Next closest was Ezekiel Elliott, who had 322 points.

That season, Johnson legitimately flirted with the 1,000-1,000 club after gaining 1,243 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards. He also racked up 20 total touchdowns, which is not something you see very often in today’s NFL.

Johnson is locked in as Arizona’s best offensive weapon — especially in the red zone. He probably won’t reach 20 touchdowns again, but a 400-touch season (25 per game) is within the realm of possibilities. Johnson is without a doubt among the top four fantasy players this year, and I have no real problem with you taking him first overall.

Wide receiver

The Cardinals have the No. 21 wide receiver corps from a fantasy perspective.

Larry the Legend may never slow down. Fitzgerald, who turns 35 before the season begins, is coming off three straight 100-plus reception campaigns. He had two such seasons from 2004 to 2014. The Cardinals did draft Christian Kirk, but that won’t impede Fitzgerald’s ability to rack up the receptions and yards out of the slot this year. Fitzgerald is a strong WR2 option in PPR leagues.

Tight end

There are no fantasy-relevant tight ends on the Cardinals that you need to know about for 2018 drafts.

Quarterback

There are no fantasy-relevant quarterbacks on the Cardinals that you need to know about for 2018 drafts.

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