The new league year begins March 15, at 3 p.m., and with it, the start of NFL free agency and the frenzy of activity we're used to seeing around the league. This year figures to be just as wild as the past few offseasons – okay, maybe not as wild as last year, when seemingly half the elite wide receivers in the NFL got traded – but we've got a few housekeeping items to get in order before then.

Starting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, teams can officially place franchise or transition tags on players heading into free agency. That'll clarify some of the lingering questions we've got heading into the offseason, and the deadline to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents looms just before the start of the new league year. 

However, before that, teams will be able to begin reaching out to agents beginning at 11 a.m., March 13 to begin negotiations, and we'll likely start to hear about agreements and looming signing around then. We'll probably start to see some trades and some more notable releases in the next few weeks leading up to that as teams clear their books and get into position for the offseason bidding wars, too.

Which is to say, rosters are about to look a lot different across the NFL than they currently do. We've done a few mock drafts since the end of the season, including a PPR mock last week in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl, and one thing that has stood out to me is how shallow the player pool feels right now.

That's natural. We're still looking at the same rosters we ended the season with, and we haven't incorporated incoming rookies into our drafts, and that gives us a bit less to dream about, especially in the middle and later rounds. As rosters are shuffled and depth charts are shaken up, it'll be a lot easier to talk ourselves into guys like, say, Jahan Dotson or Kadarius Toney or Treylon Burks, all of whom went in the seventh round in that draft last week, but could see their values fluctuate wildly over the next few weeks and months as the 2023 rosters come into clearer focus. 

One thing I like to do before all that roster shuffling starts up is to set my baseline expectations heading into the offseason. So, it's time for another rankings update. This one won't look much like how we're actually drafting when the summer rolls around, but I like to have that baseline to build off. It helps me stay somewhat grounded when draft season starts and narratives threaten to push players up or down well above (or below) where they probably should go.

These initial rankings can help serve as a kind of reality check for later on. Here's where things stand heading into free agency for me, and you can check out Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings' latest rankings here. If you've got any disagreements or questions, hit me up at to be included in an upcoming newsletter. 

QB Rankings

When it comes to QB, I'm almost always prioritizing upside, which is why I'm still ranking Lamar Jackson as a top-five option at QB. The past few years have been pretty frustrating for him, between injuries and inconsistent performance as a passer, but there aren't five quarterbacks with more upside than Jackson. He's entering free agency for the first time, and while the Ravens are talking about bringing him back, there's uncertainty here until he signs somewhere. Hopefully, he returns to Baltimore and they add some more help because we saw a significant drop in his production when Rashod Bateman got hurt – Jackson averaged 26.6 points per game with Bateman active and just 17.0 when he was out.

The other noteworthy ranking here is Kyler Murray as my QB8. It's unlikely he actually finishes as the No. 8 QB this season since he'll be coming back from a torn ACL and may not even be ready for Week 1. However, I'm ranking him this high, again, because I'm shooting for upside. If I take him, I know I'm going to have to pair him with another QB, especially for the first few weeks. But, if Murray returns at full strength and plays like he's capable of, his rushing ability makes him a potentially dominant Fantasy option. We haven't seen that often enough from him to have full confidence, and as the offseason moves along, I could see dropping him as low as No. 13, but I'm pretty likely to take a flier on Murray if I can pair him with another high-upside QB in the later rounds. 

Like, say, Trey Lance! Now, there's a chance, potentially a very good one, that I won't even have a starting QB in Week 1 if I take that duo, but that's for Week 1 Chris to worry about. When I'm drafting and ranking this far out, I'm going to lean into the uncertainty and rank higher variance players higher.

  1. Josh Allen, BUF
  2. Patrick Mahomes, KC
  3. Jalen Hurts, PHI
  4. Lamar Jackson, BAL
  5. Joe Burrow, CIN
  6. Justin Herbert, LAC
  7. Justin Fields, CHI
  8. Kyler Murray, ARI
  9. Trevor Lawrence, JAC
  10. Deshaun Watson, CLE
  11. Dak Prescott, DAL
  12. Tua Tagovailoa, MIA
  13. Daniel Jones, NYG
  14. Kirk Cousins, MIN
  15. Trey Lance, SF
  16. Geno Smith, SEA
  17. Matthew Stafford, LAR
  18. Aaron Rodgers, GB
  19. Russell Wilson, DEN
  20. Jared Goff, DET
  21. Derek Carr, LV
  22. Ryan Tannehill, TEN
  23. Kenny Pickett, PIT
  24. Brock Purdy, SF
  25. Mac Jones, NE

RB Rankings

This is the position most likely to see seismic changes between now and the summer. Opportunity isn't everything at running back, but it's incredibly important. You could make an argument that anywhere from half to one-third of the league enter the offseason with uncertainty at the RB position, with big names like Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard among those heading into free agency – not to mention potential top-12 options Jahmyr Gibbs and Bijan Robinson set to join the rankings after the NFL Draft.

Which makes a lot of these players really, really hard to rank. Does Pollard belong in the top 12? Probably, though if he returns to Dallas alongside Ezekiel Elliott, that could be in doubt. Of course, it's possible the Cowboys opt to let Pollard walk, or even bring him back but let Elliott go to save some cap space, in which case Pollard could have a case for a top-five ranking. 

Breece Hall is another tough player to rank. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 last season, putting him about 10.5 months removed from the injury by Week 1. Based on what he showed as a rookie, Hall looks like a legitimate star. He's a big-play rusher with a strong receiving skill set who looks likely to be an every-down, go-to back at his best. But can you trust him to be not only ready for Week 1, but at full strength? The latter is less likely than the former, and it might be tough to rank him as an RB1 if he might not play like one at the start of the season.

Javonte Williams is in a similar spot. His injury came a little bit earlier in the season, so he'll be a few weeks ahead of Hall, though not enough that it should dramatically alter your perception. The difference between the two of them in my eyes is that I thought Hall was just a better player. Williams is a solid playmaker with the ball in his hands, but he doesn't have near the top-end speed Hall does – Williams ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, while Hall had clocked in at 4.39 at the combine. I think they're likely to be in somewhat similar offensive situations next season, though Williams does have a nice bonus of playing with Sean Payton, who routinely created tons of PPR points for running backs even before Alvin Kamara got to New Orleans. I could see Williams leaping into the top-12 by the summer. 

  1. Austin Ekeler, LAC
  2. Christian McCaffrey, SF
  3. Jonathan Taylor, IND
  4. Saquon Barkley, NYG
  5. Josh Jacobs, LV
  6. Derrick Henry, TEN
  7. Breece Hall, NYJ
  8. Tony Pollard, DAL
  9. Dalvin Cook, MIN
  10. Rhamondre Stevenson, NE
  11. Nick Chubb, CLE
  12. Najee Harris, PIT
  13. Aaron Jones, GB
  14. Kenneth Walker III, SEA
  15. Travis Etienne Jr., JAC
  16. D'Andre Swift, DET
  17. Alvin Kamara, NO
  18. Dameon Pierce, HOU
  19. Javonte Williams, DEN
  20. Joe Mixon, CIN
  21. James Conner, ARI
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
  23. J.K. Dobbins, BAL
  24. David Montgomery, CHI
  25. James Cook, BUF
  26. Miles Sanders, PHI
  27. Cam Akers, LAR
  28. Kareem Hunt, CLE
  29. Rachaad White, TB
  30. Isiah Pacheco, KC
  31. Tyler Allgeier, ATL
  32. AJ Dillon, GB
  33. Brian Robinson Jr., WAS
  34. Leonard Fournette, TB
  35. Khalil Herbert, CHI
  36. Devin Singletary, BUF
  37. Antonio Gibson, WAS
  38. Elijah Mitchell, SF
  39. Alexander Mattison, MIN
  40. Jamaal Williams, DET

WR Rankings

We're on the verge of a changing of the guards at wide receiver, and how deep the position will look in 2023 and 2024 will depend heavily on how long it takes for the old(er) guys at the position to hand things over. 

Justin Jefferson has, of course, already taken the position over, though the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cooper Kupp is still in the conversation – he actually led the position per-game scoring at 22.6 despite scoring just 2.9 points in his final game. He's old enough to justify dropping behind Jefferson, especially coming off an injury, but I think there's a bigger gap between Kupp and Ja'Marr Chase at No. 3 than Kupp and Jefferson. 

In fact, there might not be much of a gap between Chase and the next three or four (or five) guys at the position. It depends on whether you think Chase takes another step forward this season, and whether Tyreek Hill (29 by Week 1), Stefon Diggs (29), and Davante Adams (30) take a step back. 

Last year's rookie class, led by Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave has plenty of promise, but both have pretty significant QB question marks that make it hard to project a big step forward yet. Both have a lot of room to move up with a QB upgrade, but there are too many sure things at this position to need to be that aggressive yet. 

  1. Justin Jefferson, MIN
  2. Cooper Kupp, LAR
  3. Ja'Marr Chase, CIN
  4. Tyreek Hill, MIA
  5. Stefon Diggs, BUF
  6. Davante Adams, LV
  7. A.J. Brown, PHI
  8. CeeDee Lamb, DAL
  9. Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET
  10. Jaylen Waddle, MIA
  11. DeVonta Smith, PHI
  12. DeAndre Hopkins, ARI
  13. Chris Godwin, TB
  14. DK Metcalf, SEA
  15. Tee Higgins, CIN
  16. Garrett Wilson, NYJ
  17. Deebo Samuel, SF
  18. Amari Cooper, CLE
  19. Tyler Lockett, SEA
  20. Keenan Allen, LAC
  21. Mike Evans, TB
  22. Chris Olave, NO
  23. Terry McLaurin, WAS
  24. Michael Pittman Jr., IND
  25. Jerry Jeudy, DEN
  26. Diontae Johnson, PIT
  27. DJ Moore, CAR
  28. Calvin Ridley, JAC
  29. Christian Kirk, JAC
  30. Mike Williams, LAC
  31. Brandon Aiyuk, SF
  32. Drake London, ATL
  33. Christian Watson, GB
  34. Marquise Brown, ARI
  35. Treylon Burks, TEN
  36. Jameson Williams, DET
  37. George Pickens, PIT
  38. Jahan Dotson, WAS
  39. Courtland Sutton, DEN
  40. Brandin Cooks, HOU

TE Rankings

There are, realistically, only a few names that matter at tight end, and you know them. Whether you rank Kyle Pitts in the top three like I do or rank him outside of the top six like I expect most Fantasy analysts will, he's definitely one of the guys who matters. The question is, does he matter because he'll be good enough to leave in your lineup and never have to worry about the position, or because he's going to be a waste of a pick?

There aren't many players at the position who carry so much risk. Mark Andrews was a pretty big disappointment this season, though I think that was more due to injuries than anything else – both to him and Lamar Jackson. I could see T.J. Hockenson being pushed high enough in drafts – say, the fourth round or so – to where he ends up disappointing, though his near-150-target pace after the trade to Minnesota makes me hesitant to call him a bust.

The question is whether any of the young guys are likely to take enough of a step forward to matter. Pat Freiermuth is probably the best bet, though I really like what Chigoziem Okonwko showed us late, and I'm pushing him up a few spots higher than I otherwise might so I can highlight that. He, Greg Dulcich, and Trey McBride are all probably my favorite of the second-year tight ends to take a leap, though I wouldn't plan on going into the season with any of them as my starter at this point. 

  1. Travis Kelce, KC
  2. Mark Andrews, BAL
  3. Kyle Pitts, ATL
  4. T.J. Hockenson, MIN
  5. Dallas Goedert, PHI
  6. George Kittle, SF
  7. Dalton Schultz, DAL
  8. Pat Freiermuth, PIT
  9. Darren Waller, LV
  10. Evan Engram, JAC
  11. David Njoku, CLE
  12. Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN
  13. Greg Dulcich, DEN
  14. Cole Kmet, CHI
  15. Dawson Knox, BUF
  16. Logan Thomas, WAS
  17. Gerald Everett, LAC
  18. Tyler Higbee, LAR
  19. Zach Ertz, ARI
  20. Noah Fant, SEA
  21. Isaiah Likely, BAL
  22. Trey McBride, ARI
  23. Cade Otton, TB
  24. Mike Gesicki, MIA