TMR's early Top 200: Why Michael Turner is Numero Uno

It is, as exercises go, fairly futile.

A Top 200 ranking for the 2009 fantasy football season … in February? Make no mistake about it, I am all about futile pursuits. See "Hathaway, Anne," my obsession. But I initially resisted when I was asked to do this by the ESPN Fantasy editorial team.

It'll be without rookies, I said. It'll be done before free agency, before all the coaching changes are in place, before we know who Terrell Owens will be driving crazy this season. Will my rankings really be any help to anyone, I asked. That's never stopped you before, they shot back.

Good point. So here's a look at my Top 200 rankings. I now have updated them to reflect the free-agency moves through Monday, March 3.

If you haven't read this before, some things to note:

I did this with an ESPN standard 10-team league in mind. That means one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end and a flex player (running back, wide receiver or tight end) on each team. It is standard scoring, which means no points per reception and four points for a touchdown pass.

I also did this with my own personal biases in mind. At various points, I'll interject with reasons for why I ranked certain players where. But in general:

• I believe you should have just one kicker and one defense on a team roster at all times. When it's a bye week, you drop them and pick up replacements. If you have a particularly good defense, you can drop someone else to grab a bye-week defense, but certainly when drafting, you should draft just one kicker and one defense. As a result, I have ranked only 10 of each in the Top 200.

• In just about every draft I've done, my last two picks have been a team defense and a kicker, in that order. Read last year's Draft Day Manifesto or the one I'll write for this upcoming season for more background, but the difference between team defenses is statistically insignificant. And that's even if you could predict the order of finish, which you can't. Where did last year's consensus No. 1 defense, the Chargers, finish? Exactly. (With Shawne Merriman expected back, I did rank them below, however). Anyway, my bottom 20 consists of defenses and then kickers, because that is how I would draft.

• I would draft two quarterbacks and two tight ends in a league this shallow, and otherwise fill up on running backs and wide receivers. And so I have ranked 20 quarterbacks and 20 tight ends.

• If you have read my work before, you know my theory on kickers. (If you haven't, here's the short version: They're useless, and they're all the same.) When I was doing this, one of the suits here at ESPN, Raphael Poplock, wandered into my office. I let him rank the kickers. And yeah, it took him less than a minute -- and that's still more time than I would have spent on it. Seriously, throw a dart.

• Players who have moved up or down in the pecking order since the last update appear in italics.

And with that, away we go:

1. Michael Turner
2. Adrian Peterson: Here's my thinking on Turner being ranked No. 1 over Peterson. First, in ESPN standard scoring, Turner outscored Peterson by 32 points in 2008. So it not only can happen, it has happened. Second, Chester Taylor started vulturing scores in the second half from Peterson, who once again faded down the stretch (not as badly as he faded in the second half of his rookie season, but he had 11 fantasy points or fewer in three of the six games from Week 11 to Week 16). Plus, the Vikings still don't have a competent quarterback to keep teams from stacking the line. In Turner's case, the development of Matt Ryan and the emergence of Michael Jenkins as a decent No. 2 receiver behind Roddy White mean teams must respect the pass, giving Turner more room to run. And finally, Turner has been in the league for five years, Peterson only two … and yet Peterson has 20 more career touches.
3. Brian Westbrook
4. Matt Forte
5. Maurice Jones-Drew: Now that Fred Taylor is gone and the Jaguars have an offseason to get the offensive line healthy, the sky's the limit for MJD.
6. Clinton Portis
7. Chris Johnson
8. Steven Jackson
9. Brandon Jacobs

10. LaDainian Tomlinson: I'm betting that LT gets healthy, and that he runs behind a viable blocking fullback and better offensive line next season. LaDainian is a prideful guy, and he has a long offseason to think about his struggles this past season.
11. Marion Barber: He'd be higher if not for Felix Jones and Tashard Choice being so effective.
12. Drew Brees
13. DeAngelo Williams: He's by far the most debated early-round option, and perhaps the toughest to rank. I put him here because I don't see him getting 20 touchdowns again this year, especially with a healthy Jonathan Stewart (who I like a lot, as you'll see below) around.
14. Steve Slaton
15. Thomas Jones
16. Frank Gore
17. Randy Moss: I'm assuming Tom Brady is healthy here. Also note that questions about Kurt Warner coming back and Anquan Boldin's contract status was enough to drop Larry Fitzgerald to No. 3 among receivers.
18. Calvin Johnson
19. Tom Brady
20. Larry Fitzgerald
21. Andre Johnson
22. Ryan Grant
23. Marshawn Lynch
24. Kurt Warner
25. Steve Smith
26. Roddy White
27. Reggie Wayne
28. Joseph Addai
29. Pierre Thomas: This is me saying I don't care if Reggie Bush is healthy or not.
30. Peyton Manning
31. Aaron Rodgers
32. Marques Colston
33. T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Moving to a pass-friendly offense as the clear No. 1 receiver and facing a much weaker division push Housh into my top 10 wide receivers .
34. Terrell Owens
35. Kevin Smith
36. Anquan Boldin: Again, this is a result of the questions about Warner's status for next season.
37. Tony Romo
38. Jonathan Stewart
39. Greg Jennings
40. Brandon Marshall
41. Reggie Bush
42. Wes Welker
43. Philip Rivers: This is my second change from the original Top 200 published in February. I've moved up Rivers and dropped Cutler a few spots based on the dust-up in Denver. Even if they work out everything and Cutler isn't traded, he still has a new offense to learn and a guy calling the plays whom he might not trust. He drops to No. 46.
44. Le'Ron McClain: Clearly, McClain is the Ravens runner I'm choosing.
45. Ronnie Brown
46. Jay Cutler
47. Antonio Bryant
48. Tony Gonzalez
49. Willie Parker
50. Sammy Morris: Allow me to officially declare Laurence Maroney dead. From a fantasy perspective, anyway. Save your hate mail for the regular season.
51. Willis McGahee: But I don't think McGahee's done by any means.
52. Jason Witten

53. Vincent Jackson: Look at his numbers before you scratch your head (or anything else, for that matter).
54. Dwayne Bowe
55. Santonio Holmes
56. Plaxico Burress
57. Darren McFadden: I think he gets healthy, gets the starting gig and shows why he was such a high draft pick.
58. Santana Moss
59. Larry Johnson: Wherever he winds up, it won't involve him being an every-down back. At best, he's in for a timeshare. Or if he stays in KC, he's in for blocking for Tyler Thigpen.
60. LenDale White
61. Eddie Royal
62. DeSean Jackson
63. Braylon Edwards: Surprised at how far he dropped? Get it? Dropped? Whatever. Some of these jokes are just for me.
64. Bernard Berrian
65. Hines Ward
66. Dallas Clark
67. Antonio Gates
68. Kevin Walter: See note about "Jackson, Vincent."
69. Donald Driver
70. Donovan McNabb
71. Laveranues Coles
72. Derrick Ward: Finally gets to be a feature back. I figure Earnest Graham still will get the goal-line carries, but Ward will get the bulk of the work.
73. Jamal Lewis
74. Derrick Mason
75. Matt Ryan
76. Matt Cassel: I like him, and the Chiefs have some nice weapons. But it's a new system, and he doesn't have Randy Moss, so he's atop the second tier for now.
77. David Garrard: He was better down the stretch than you think.
78. Correll Buckhalter: The most upside of any of the Denver backs.
79. Lance Moore
80. Ted Ginn Jr.
81. Matt Schaub
82. Ben Roethlisberger
83. Lee Evans
84. Cedric Benson
85. Edgerrin James: Obviously I'm buyin' "regular-season Edge," not "postseason Edge."
86. Dominic Rhodes
87. Matt Hasselbeck: T.J. Houshmandzadeh's signing helps his value, too.
88. Owen Daniels
89. Joe Flacco
90. Chester Taylor
91. Kellen Winslow: Trade to Tampa Bay helps Winslow's career but hurts his fantasy value.
92. Justin Fargas
93. Jerricho Cotchery
94. Anthony Gonzalez: Now that Marvin Harrison is gone …
95. Steve Breaston: And if Boldin goes elsewhere, Breaston goes way up.
96. Visanthe Shiancoe: I have nothing to hide here.
97. Carson Palmer
98. Chris Henry: And with T.J. Houshmandzadeh now in Seattle …
99. Deion Branch
100. Matt Jones
101. Earnest Graham
102. Fred Taylor
103. Maurice Morris
104. Bobby Engram
105. Torry Holt
106. Justin Gage
107. Kevin Curtis
108. Chris Chambers
109. Ahmad Bradshaw: And with Derrick Ward in Tampa Bay …
110. Ricky Williams
111. Felix Jones
112. Eli Manning
113. Chris Cooley
114. Tim Hightower: I initially thought J.J. Arrington was coming back. Apparently not, so Hightower gets a bump up.
115. Darren Sproles: With this ranking, I'm assuming he remains a backup, in San Diego or somewhere else.
116. Leon Washington
117. Chad Pennington
118. Julius Jones
119. Johnnie Lee Higgins
120. Peyton Hillis
121. Roy E. Williams
122. John Carlson
123. Tony Scheffler
124. Sidney Rice
125. Devin Hester
126. Antwaan Randle El
127. Domenik Hixon
128. Jamaal Charles
129. Michael Bush: This ranking is about playing time, not talent. As long as he is still third on the Raiders' depth chart, he belongs down here.
130. Selvin Young
131. Kyle Orton: When healthy, he was among the hottest quarterbacks in the league.
132. Mewelde Moore
133. Dustin Keller
134. Isaac Bruce
135. Amani Toomer
136. Rashard Mendenhall
137. Laurence Maroney
138. J.J. Arrington
139. Chad Johnson
140. Zach Miller
141. Muhsin Muhammad
142. Greg Olsen
143. Greg Camarillo
144. Jerious Norwood
145. Donnie Avery
146. Fred Jackson
147. Michael Pittman
148. Davone Bess
149. Nate Washington
150. Devery Henderson
151. Sinorice Moss
152. Justin McCareins
153. Patrick Crayton: If Owens doesn't return to Dallas, this number goes up, as does Roy Williams'.
154. Anthony Fasano
155. Kolby Smith
156. Ryan Torain
157. Kevin Boss
158. Donald Lee
159. Tashard Choice
160. Heath Miller
161. Dennis Northcutt

162. Malcolm Kelly: Bit of a sleeper surprise here considering he was injured as a rookie. But the Redskins absolutely love him, and at this point you're just drafting upside anyway. He has a lot of that.
163. Mark Clayton
164. Chaz Schilens
165. Jerome Harrison
166. Deuce McAllister
167. Josh Morgan
168. Brandon Lloyd
169. James Jones
170. Ray Rice
171. Jason Hill
172. DeShaun Foster
173. Lorenzo Booker
174. Bo Scaife
175. Ryan Moats: The answer to the question, "If Steve Slaton goes down, then who …"?
176. Ladell Betts
177. Donte' Stallworth
178. Brent Celek
179. David Martin
180. Todd Heap
181. Tennessee defense/special teams
182. Pittsburgh defense/special teams
183. Baltimore defense/special teams
184. Philadelphia defense/special teams
185. Tampa Bay defense/special teams
186. Chicago defense/special teams
187. New York Giants defense/special teams
188. Minnesota defense/special teams
189. San Diego defense/special teams
190. New York Jets defense/special teams
191. Rob Bironas
192. Nate Kaeding
193. Jason Elam
194. David Akers
195. Nick Folk
196. Stephen Gostkowski
197. Mason Crosby
198. Ryan Longwell
199. Josh Brown
200. Jeff Reed

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is now on Twitter.com as "TheRealTMR." He may or may not be interesting on it. He is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend