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Fantasy football: Steelers WR Antonio Brown tops 2016 rankings

I can’t ever recall stumping for a wide receiver to be drafted first overall. Even after Randy Moss took the NFL by storm in 1998 with a league-high 17 touchdown catches, running back Terrell Davis led the league with 23 total touchdowns. And after Moss had 23 touchdown catches in 2007, running back LaDainian Tomlinson (1,949 total yards, 18 total touchdowns) was too valuable to pass up at No. 1.

Clearly, times have changed. The running back position has been fragmented by injuries and committees, and the pass has become many teams’ preferred method of travel. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before a wide receiver earned top billing on draft boards.

The Steelers’ Antonio Brown is the top-scoring non-quarterback with 221 points (14.7 per game). Though his nine touchdown catches are five off the league lead, he has made up for it with 1,647 receiving yards, ranking second. He also is second in receptions with 123 and is the third-most targeted wideout (178). And he could be better.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed Weeks 4-7. In those four games, Brown scored only 22 points (12 came in Week 7 with the more capable Landry Jones replacing an injured and awful Michael Vick). With a full season of Big Ben in 2014, Brown ranked fourth among flex players and first among wide receivers with 251 points (15.7 per game). In the 11 games Roethlisberger has started this season, Brown has averaged 18.1 points.

Brown will be 28 next season, still in his prime. Roethlisberger will be 34, hardly over the hill. There is more to come, which is why Brown should be No. 1.

2016 POSITION RANKINGS

Top 20 overall in parentheses

QUARTERBACKS

1. Cam Newton, Panthers (11)

2. Tom Brady, Patriots (12)

3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (15)

4. Carson Palmer, Cardinals (16)

5. Andrew Luck, Colts (17)

6. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (20)

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

8. Drew Brees, Saints

9. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

10. Eli Manning, Giants

RUNNING BACKS

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (3)

2. Todd Gurley, Rams (4)

3. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers (7)

4. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (8)

5. David Johnson, Cardinals (10)

6. Doug Martin, Buccaneers* (18)

7. Devonta Freeman, Falcons (19)

8. Mark Ingram, Saints

9. LeSean McCoy, Bills

10. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers (1)

2. Julio Jones, Falcons (2)

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (5)

4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (6)

5. Dez Bryant, Cowboys (13)

6. Allen Robinson, Jaguars (14)

7. Brandon Marshall, Jets

8. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

9. A.J. Green, Bengals

10. Jordy Nelson, Packers

TIGHT ENDS

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (9)

2. Greg Olsen, Panthers

3. Jordan Reed, Redskins

4. Tyler Eifert, Bengals

5. Gary Barnidge, Browns

*free agent