NFL Power Rankings, Fantasy Football Edition: Biggest risers and fallers halfway through season

Power Rankings are silly. Power Rankings are fun. I like silly and fun things. And you probably do, too.

Today’s assignment is to update how fantasy-useful the 32 NFL clubs are. It’s my list and sure, it’s subjective. I welcome your reasonable disagreement at any time: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

This is volume 3.0 of this list; we debuted in the preseason, then updated the list in October. We’ll keep doing quarterly check-ins.

32. Houston Texans (Previous rank 31)

Dameon Pierce is a weekly starter, and you might have to use Brandin Cooks in a medium and deeper league, but that’s it. Davis Mills has fallen off in most key efficiency metrics.

31. Tennessee Titans (27)

Mike Vrabel is a magician, but no slight of hand is going to find fantasy value in this passing game. You start Derrick Henry weekly, and ignore everyone else.

30. New York Giants (30)

Saquon Barkley has been excellent since Day 1, and Daniel Jones shows hope at quarterback. Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson aren’t exactly league winners on the outside, but we’ll take what we can get.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (23)

Travis Etienne is apparently going to the moon, but the rest of this offense can’t get off the ground. Make an exception for tight end Evan Engram, the latest at that position to thrive in a Doug Pederson offense. Trevor Lawrence is avoiding sacks and doesn’t have an interception problem, but the rest of his stat page is depressing.

[Week 9 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

28. New York Jets (17)

I can’t be the only one hoping Mike White gets a chance to play. Free Garrett Wilson! I assume the relationship between Elijah Moore and the Jets won’t be fixed this year, a frustrating development.

27. Carolina Panthers (28)

P.J. Walker has done the impossible, he’s jump-started D.J. Moore’s season. D'Onta Foreman is making an inspiring comeback from his torn achilles.

26. New England Patriots (26)

Damien Harris isn’t a bad player, but Rhamondre Stevenson has left him in the dust. Jakobi Meyers has improved in every measurable area, and he’s finally scoring touchdowns, too. Unfortunately, it’s hard to trust the Patriots quarterback room right now.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers (20)

Najee Harris is giving off all sorts of Trent Richardson vibes; a useful if overrated rookie year, and then a monster crash after that. How much better is Harris than Jaylen Warren, anyway? The Chase Claypool trade opens up theoretical targets for George Pickens, but it’s hard to bet on this offense’s infrastructure. Pat Freiermuth is interesting.

24. Chicago Bears (32)

In a year where so many quarterbacks have crashed, Justin Fields is here to make us happy. Maybe Darrell Mooney is back in the mix. Chicago also has two competent backs, though they get in each other’s way. How quickly can Claypool get up to speed? The Bears are finally off my restricted list.

Justin Fields and the Bears offense has been trending up from a fantasy perspective. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Justin Fields and the Bears offense has been trending up from a fantasy perspective. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) (Wesley Hitt via Getty Images)

23. New Orleans Saints (29)

Andy Dalton apparently is the elixir that Alvin Kamara needed, what a world. The cheese has gone bad with Michael Thomas; once the cheese goes bad, don’t bet on it going good. Chris Olave gets behind defenders every week, though connections aren’t always made. He’s obviously a future star. Taysom Hill does a lot with limited snaps.

22. Atlanta Falcons (25)

The running game is making a comeback this year — fighting back against the two-deep shells — and everyone Atlanta runs seems to play well. Unfortunately, Kyle Pitts is still stuck in fantasy purgatory (at least Week 8 was a step forward), and Drake London has disappeared after a fast start. Most of Marcus Mariota’s indexed metrics are above league average, but he’s struggling in the two areas that kill drives — interceptions and sacks.

21. Washington Commanders (24)

Just like Kamara needed Dalton and Moore needed Walker, apparently Taylor Heinicke is here to save Terry McLaurin’s season. Antonio Gibson has stepped into a sneaky-useful role, especially with J.D. McKissic getting phased out.

20. Indianapolis Colts (21)

We were concerned that Matt Ryan was on the back nine of his career; apparently he was putting out on 18. Somehow, the Colts have the worst running game in the league despite the presence of Jonathan Taylor, a nifty trick. Deon Jackson could be ready for a secondary role now that Nyheim Hines is out of town.

19. Arizona Cardinals (19)

Kliff Kingsbury is maddening. I’m thinking within two years, he’s off to Alabama as the latest failed offensive mastermind set on reviving his reputation. DeAndre Hopkins hit the ground running, posting a monster 22-262-2 line out of the box. Touchdown deodorant saved James Conner last season; maybe nothing can save him this year.

[Play in Yahoo’s Week 9 $250K Sunday Baller DFS contest]

18. Los Angeles Rams (15)

Super Bowl hangover season. The line is a mess, and Matthew Stafford doesn’t look healthy either. Hopefully Cooper Kupp avoided major injury last week, getting dinged in garbage time against the 49ers. Tyler Higbee dropped a long touchdown against San Francisco, and perhaps his moment has come and gone.

17. Denver Broncos (18)

You had to squint, but they were better in London. Russell Wilson had a competent game. Greg Dulcich has been good every week. Is it time to start ranking Jerry Jeudy ahead of Courtland Sutton?

16. Green Bay Packers (10)

Aaron Jones has justifiably taken control of the backfield, but this offense is always playing a receiver or two short. Aaron Rodgers has never been outside QB9 in any full season; as we go to press, he’s sitting at QB17.

15. Cleveland Browns (14)

Every Nick Chubb run is a gift, smooth jazz to improve any mood. Amari Cooper is currently WR8 in standard, the second-best charting of his career. Jacoby Brissett has a modest upside but he plays within his limitations. I don’t understand why Kareem Hunt wasn’t traded, given his age and the team’s depth at the position (D’Ernest Johnson is pretty good, too, and rarely sees the field).

14. Las Vegas Raiders (13)

Josh McDaniels could be the Nick Saban Fellowship winner, if Kingsbury doesn’t beat him there first. As frustrating as Davante Adams has been, he’s still a Top 10 receiver in any format, which shows you how messy the position has been this year. Between spotty quarterback play and splintered usage trees, fantasy football is freaking hard in 2022.

13. Miami Dolphins (16)

I’m still not sure how good Tua Tagovailoa is, this is a recording. But he peppers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle off the bus, and that pair is uncoverable. Jeff Wilson was a perfect depth add for the Miami backfield.

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Miami Dolphins wide receivers Tyreek Hill (10) and Jaylen Waddle (17) line up next to each other on the line of scrimmage during the Miami Dolphins versus Baltimore Ravens NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Baltimore, MD (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8)

The running game is stuck in mud and the passing game lacks explosive plays. Tom Brady’s age and career arc is an ongoing story, but the receiver room could also use some young blood.

11. Detroit Lions (9)

This group still should be more fun than the average offense, but injuries and a trade have broken up the expected trio of D'Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson. Jamaal Williams gets Circle of Trust privileges on his goal-line equity alone.

10. Baltimore Ravens (6)

A shame they didn’t add to their receiver room at the deadline. Kenyan Drake became a cheap punchline after Week 7, but the Ravens probably need him in some role. Baltimore also might want to consider Isaiah Likely a hybrid receiver, as opposed to a tight end.

9. Minnesota Vikings (7)

The winning record obscures it, but Kirk Cousins is having his worst year since becoming a starter. Still, you want to bet on the talent around him, and the Hockenson move was a sharp one. Justin Jefferson smash games are inevitable, but he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1.

8. Seattle Seahawks (22)

Geno Smith has been a delight, and Kenneth Walker III has that league-winner tint. Smith also prioritizes his best receivers, always a fantasy boon. The Seattle defense has started to play well, blunting possible carnival talk. But I enjoy watching Seattle play weekly, and you can’t say that about half the league right now.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (4)

Ja’Marr Chase is one of two guys the offense couldn’t afford to lose, and I’m not sure Zac Taylor is the man to fix this group. Volume and increased passing-game work have bailed out Joe Mixon, who’s going nowhere (3.3 YPC) on the ground.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (3)

Here’s another troublesome wide-receiver room that desperately needed a makeover at the trade deadline. It’s possible Justin Herbert is still playing hurt.

5. Dallas Cowboys (11)

The Pokes have a full-blown Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones situation in their hands, where the understudy is the explosive back but the established player gets most of the volume. In cases like this, you worry the team thinks Tony Pollard is thriving because of his usage, not in spite of it. Dak Prescott looked terrific in Week 8.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5)

The backfield might not have a right answer, as three runners split work and no one is electric in the passing game. But even without Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes continues to play pinball. JuJu Smith-Schuster looks comfortable in the offense and deserves no-doubt WR2 status forward.

3. San Francisco 49ers (12)

Christian McCaffrey with a fun offensive scheme is everything we wanted it to be. Jimmy Garoppolo was the NFL’s most overrated quarterback a few years back; now, he’s actually underrated.

2. Buffalo Bills (2)

Take a bow, Ken Dorsey — the Buffalo offense has actually gotten better on your watch. Wide receiver is forever the boom and bust position, but Gabriel Davis takes it to extremes. His weekly finishes: WR14, WR66, WR87, WR1, WR18, WR61. To be fair, Davis wasn’t fully healthy in some of those lean weeks, but we also have to mind that he’s averaging just 5.5 targets per game (with a modest high of just seven).

1. Philadelphia Eagles (1)

Jalen Hurts was a Garbage Time Hero last year, often balling out in the fourth period after playing poorly for the first hour or two. This year, the script is much different; he’s crushing in the first halves of games, then taking a rest after intermission. Consider his pass attempts by quarter: 69, 77, 45, 21. The Eagles offense is loaded with fantasy right answers, but imagine how much fun this group could be if opponents actually pushed them. Alas, Philly’s schedule — which has been easy to begin with — is the NFL’s easiest going forward.