We’ve gone over my way-too-early rankings for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end this week, so today feels like a good time to mash ’em all together and see what I think the first two rounds of next year’s should look like.
Of course, it’s not what they will look like. I can’t see the future, and I certainly don’t align 100% with every other Fantasy football player or analyst out there. We can give our early rankings now, but we know things will change between now and then when next year’s draft season really begins – we’ve got NFL free agency coming up in March, followed by the draft, and then the inevitable injuries in camps throughout the spring and summer. By July, any ranking list will look considerably different.
But this sets the baseline, and it’s always helpful to know what things look like to start out, so we can compare that to where they end up. It can serve as a reality check throughout the year, or it can serve as a reminder of the recency bias we’re living through right now.
The Fantasy Football Today team will have our full rankings for 2022 ready after the Super Bowl, and we’ll keep those updates throughout the offseason, but my first crack at the top 24 is here. I’ve also got the results of the 2021 FFT Awards survey that you all voted on this week.
For next week and beyond, we’ll be moving to one or two newsletters per week, and you’ll be hearing from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, and Adam Aizer and hopefully some other special guests too in the offseason too, as we try to bring different perspectives and voices to keep you up to date and hopefully make you a better Fantasy player in time for next season.
And, with the NFL regular season coming to a close Sunday, I just want to thank every single person who subscribed and read the newsletter and who wrote in throughout the season. I put in a ton of work on this newsletter every single day, and I love hearing from you all every day. Your questions and comments help make this newsletter better every single day, and I truly do love hearing from everyone who reaches out. So, thank you for letting me into your inbox every day.
Now, here’s one more look behind us and one more look ahead.
All week, you all have been voting in our year-end survey and we got over 800 responses. Here are the winners as chosen by you:
The correct answer. As good as Taylor was, you almost certainly had to spend a top-15 pick to get him. Kupp might not have cost a top-50 pick. He ended up putting together one of the best wide receiver seasons ever, and he did it while 16 other wide receivers went ahead of him. Teams that had Kupp on their rosters won 61.8% of the time in CBS Fantasy leagues in 2021, the highest of any player – Taylor wasn’t far behind in third place at 59.9%. Having Kupp gave you such a massive advantage this season.
The most obvious choice on the board. Harris was good, maybe even great, but he also more or less lived up to expectations. He was a must-start Fantasy RB, but often not a significant difference maker. Chase had a few more down weeks than Harris, but his big weeks were week-winning types. He broke multiple rookie records for a wide receiver, and might be a borderline first-round pick in 2022. He was massive.
I’ll say this is kind of the wrong choice because you got five excellent weeks from McCaffrey and the rest of the time, you had a replacement in his spot in the lineup. Whereas Barkley had more usable weeks, but also only topped 12 PPR points five times in 12 games. But you probably just kept on starting Barkley over and over again. I would argue Barkley harmed your team more as a borderline first-round pick than McCaffrey did as the No. 1.
Again, it’s hard to argue with this one, though I will note that nominations for this category concluded before Chase’s 11-catch, 266-yard, three-touchdown game in Week 17. It was the second-best game ever in a Fantasy championship week and likely played a huge role in countless Fantasy championships – teams with Chase had the 14th-highest winning percentage in CBS Fantasy leagues, and that’s despite his one-catch, 3-yard game in Week 15 likely contributing to many losses. Doing that in a championship game matters more to me, and I imagine it would have won here, too.
Oh, and there was one other question in that poll:
If you read my RB preview Tuesday, you know that I don’t have it ranked this way. In fact, my No. 1 RB and No. 1 overall pick is Christian McCaffrey, who you all ranked in a tie for fourth.
Look, I get it. I’m less cautious about injuries – especially minor injuries for players in their mid-20s – than most. But I can certainly see the case for Taylor as the No. 1 overall pick. He’s been the best RB in Fantasy this season, he has no real injury history dating back to a massive workload in college, and he’s been better than his season-long numbers for much of the season – his 16-game pace since Week 6 – the first time he topped the 60% snap share mark – is 2,258 total yards and 25 touchdowns. That’s that 400-point mark McCaffrey has been at when healthy since 2019.
So, I could see wanting to prioritize Taylor over McCaffrey. Perhaps he has a bit less upside, but he’s got less injury risk, surely. The one I cannot get behind at all is Henry ahead of McCaffrey. Henry doesn’t have the same upside as McCaffrey and I’d argue that, at his size, entering his age-28 season, and coming off foot surgery, Henry carries significantly more risk than McCaffrey does entering 2022.
So, Henry isn’t even in my top-five for 2022 right now. It’s not a knock on him, in my eyes, but I just think he’s likely to see some regression and carries enough injury risk to knock him down to No. 6 – which is still the highest I’ve ever ranked him.
The toughest players to rank here, in my opinion, are the tight ends. Kelce is entering his age-33 season, and while I think his regression this season was as much about the Chiefs‘ weird mid-season swoon collectively, it could portend the sign of the start of his decline. Andrews was better than Kelce this season, but Kelce’s track record obviously dwarfs Andrews, and that’s enough to push Andrews down a tier alongside George Kittle. But I’m planting my flag on Kyle Pitts as the next potential difference maker at tight end. I wrote about that in Thursday’s newsletter, and I think I’d be willing to reach into the second round to grab a guy who might be a historic producer at tight end. He already is.
Here’s my way-too-early top-24 for 2022. Let me know what you think at Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com. Tell me what I got wrong and who you would include instead!
The Combate Global schedule will continue Friday on Paramount+ with five fights from La Jaula in Miami. Ivan Tena is a 23-year-old featherweight who looks like one of the best prospects in the promotion after earning three knockout victories and one submission win in his first four fights. He’ll take on Mexican fighter Roberto Romero in a USA vs. Mexico showdown in the 145-pound division. You can stream the action live on Paramount+.
The co-main event will feature Chile’s Valentina Escobar (1-0) against Mexico’s Yazmin Najera in a fight at 120 pounds. Another bout on the Combate Global fight card will feature a pair of veteran featherweights as Carlos Rivera (14-6) takes on Landry Ward (5-1). The Combate Global fight card begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action live on Paramount+.
Paramount+ now has two levels of membership so you can watch Combate and much more. The Premium Plan is $9.99 per month and you can watch your local CBS live stream, including plenty of sports like Champions League, Italian Serie A, college hoops, and the PGA Tour, with no ads, on-demand and the ability to download episodes for offline viewing. Plus, watch the highly-anticipated series Halo, Picard, 1883, and more. Both plans come with a free week to start. Paramount+ will even give you a free week to start, so sign up now here.
Before tuning in to Friday’s Combate Global fight card, you need to see the picks from SportsLine’s MMA insider Andrew Gombas. With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
For Friday’s card, Gombas is picking Tena to defeat Romero to stay unbeaten and continue his rise up the featherweight ranks. Tena is a recent Arizona State graduate who trains out of MMA Lab and has finished all four of his professional fights in the first or second round. Romero is coming off a draw against Zed Montanez in his last fight.
“This is a fantastic main event for the Combate USA vs. Mexico card. Ivan Tena is one of the prospects in Combate who I hold in high regard. Roberto Romero is known for an exciting fighting style and has a bright future as well. I have to side with Tena. He is a slick finisher who punishes his opponents for making mistakes. I think he gets another finish,” Gombas told SportsLine. Stream the card on Paramount+ now.
Quarterback Danny Etling scored a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Friday’s preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, yet the highlight of the play wasn’t the touchdown run itself — but who was on air when the play occurred. Etling took the snap and ran to his right untouched for the touchdown with Aaron Rodgers being interviewed mid-game.
Needless to say, Rodgers was pretty excited when Etling — the third-string quarterback — had the big play for the score.
“What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya,” Rodgers said as he clapped his hands and smiled. “Yeah baby, I love it. I love it.”
This isn’t the first time Etling ran a naked bootleg and scored on a long touchdown run. Etling scored on an 86-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to his right during his time with the New England Patriots in 2018 — and this touchdown looked eerily similar. In fact, Rodgers was complimenting Etling’s athleticism and reminiscing about that very run minutes before he took off for the score Friday night.
Etling has bounced around the league, being waived and signed by the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks several times. Etling also was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, the Denver Broncos practice squad, the Packers practice squad and the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He actually was assigned to the Packers practice squad and later signed by the Jaguars and assigned to their practice squad last December.
Overall, Etling has been involved in 27 transactions since entering the league in 2018 — yet has never played a regular season snap in the NFL.
For one night, the former seventh-round quarterback from LSU recaptured his rookie year magic. No one at Lambeau Field may have been happier than Rodgers.
Current Records: Nottingham Forest 1-1; Everton 0-2
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What to Know
Everton will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Nottingham Forest at 10 a.m. ET.
This past Saturday, Everton fell a goal shy of Aston Villa, losing 2-1. That was Everton’s second consecutive one-goal defeat against Villa.
Speaking of close games: Nottingham Forest won by a goal, slipping past West Ham United 1-0. The Nottingham Forest offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the contest anyway.
Nottingham Forest’s victory lifted them to 1-1 (10th place with three points) while Everton’s loss dropped them down to 0-2 (18th place with zero points). We’ll see if Nottingham Forest can repeat their recent success or if Everton bounces back and reverse their fortune.
Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.