When drafting a fantasy football team you usually want to take the highest ranked player available. But sometimes you are torn between choosing two different players because they are ranked very similarly. When faced with that situation I will always try to figure out who is the more durable and more reliable player. Football is a sport where you have a 100% chance of getting injured at some point, and it really sucks to have a whole fantasy season flushed down the toilet because of an injury to a key starter. So, for today I’ve compiled a list that has the most reliable players you really don’t want to miss at every single position. The players that I chose for this list were chosen based off of fantasy rankings, durability, and consistent play:

QUARTERBACK – Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)

Obviously there are a lot of high level quarterbacks in today’s NFL. I didn’t have to go very far down the rankings before I found an extremely reliable passer who is as tough as they come, and has always put up great fantast numbers. That player is Andrew Luck.

Luck is the most reliable quarterback that you could choose for your fantasy team. He is a consensus top two player in his position, and he has yet to miss any play time throughout his three year career. The other consensus top two quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, who misses at least some time nearly every season.  Rodgers has a solid chance at finishing first in fantasy quarterback points, but Luck has nearly a 100% chance of finishing in the top two.

RUNNING BACK – Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks)

Running back is probably the most difficult position to find a truly reliable starter. There are about five running backs on top of everyone’s rankings (Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and Marshawn Lynch), depending on who you are those five players are in different orders. Out of those top five guys I feel like only one of them stands out to me as really reliable. That player is Marshawn Lynch.

Sure, Lynch turned 29 this year, but Peterson turned 30, and Charles will be 29 before the seasons over as well. The only two guys who aren’t old by running back standards are Bell and Lacy, and Bell has suffered with injuries in each of his first two seasons. I’d say Lacy is definitely the number two most reliable running back, but Lynch has him just edged out for first. Ironically the reason why I think Lynch is more reliable than Lacy is also potentially the biggest reason why he might not be. Lynch since joining the Seahawks in 2010 has only missed one game. That track record, to me, tells me that Lynch is super reliable.  Lynch has also easily toppled 1,000 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Seahawks, and it should be easy for Lynch to do the same this season. Lacy’s track record is a little thinner as he has only been in the NFL for two seasons. Of course his lack of NFL experience is why I like Lynch more, but that very same lack of experience could translate to a lack of wear and tear, making Lacy more durable.

In the end I say Lynch is the most reliable running back to draft, but I’d call Lacy a close second.

WIDE RECEIVER – Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Figuring out who the most reliable receiver is a little easier than running back. Obviously durability is one of the main criteria I’m looking at to deem a player “reliable”. But for the wide receiver position it is also imperative that whoever I choose is not only a durable player, but also plays with a durable quarterback.

Like running back there were two standouts to me, unfortunately I am going to have pick between the two of them, so I have to say Antonio Brown. It was a tough choice between Brown and Dez Bryant. But ultimately I went with Brown because not only has he been very durable and reliable for the last two seasons, but he also has the most durable quarterback the NFL has known since Brett Favre, and the player who I think is the best fantasy football player in the NFL, Le’Veon Bell to take defensive pressures away from him.

Having a top level running back playing with him really puts Brown over the top of Bryant in my opinion. If the Cowboys still had Demarco Murray I very possibly may be singing a different tune right now but as it is Brown is just a little more reliable. Brown gets more touches than any receiver and has managed to play non-stop through the last two season, and I expect more of the same from the electric pass-catcher this season.

TIGHT END – Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)

Tight end rankings have been dominated by the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham for years now. While Gronkowski is known for not playing full seasons, Jimmy Graham has only missed two full games over his entire five year career. Having said that, Graham has played a lot of games while nursing injuries, and his fantasy production in certain weeks has been drastically lowered. So even though Graham rarely misses full games, his durability is still a bit of an issue.

So, my choice for most reliable pick at tight end is Greg Olsen. Olsen hasn’t missed any playtime since his rookie season in 2007. Just last year Olsen put up stats he hadn’t before in his career. I believe the offensive system in Carolina, mixed with Newton’s comfort with Olsen, and Benjamin’s ability to draw coverage away from the tight end, makes for very high potential for Olsen this fantasy season. Couple all of that with Olsen’s ironman like streak and play style, and I would have to say that Olsen is the most reliable guy you could pick at the tight end position this fantasy season.

DEFENSE – Seattle Seahawks

Even though defense is a team position and not a position occupied by a single player doesn’t mean that durability isn’t a factor when considering who is the most reliable pick. When considering which defense is the most reliable you want to make sure you stay clear of defenses who are dominated by one or two players. A defense like Houston’s with JJ Watt is a good example of this. If Watt gets injured pretty much all of the value of Houston’s defense is nullified.

That’s why you must pick a defense where if a star is injured the defense won’t fall apart. A defense like Seattle’s. It obviously isn’t much of a stretch for me to call Seattle the NFL’s most reliable fantasy defense. Seattle is on top of every ranking list I’ve seen, and they have so much talent at defense that even if a star player is hurt, it is just a next man up type situation. With the positional depth Seattle has defensively they could afford to lose a key player from every level of their defense and they would still be the best defense in the league.

KICKER – Stephen Gostkowski (New England Patriots)

Kicker, like defense, is an obvious choice. A team’s kicker should really never be at risk of injury. Of course kickers are still injured every season, but that’s not really something that can be predicted. So when evaluating a kicker’s reliability you are really just evaluating accuracy, the ability to be accurate at great lengths, and how reliable that kicker’s offense is to get him in good positions. There is one kicker who checks off all of those criteria emphatically, and that kicker is New England’s Stephen Gostkowski.

Once again this choice clearly isn’t a stretch as Gostkowski is on top of just about every analysts kicker rankings.

If you are worried about your fantasy seasons be screwed over by the injury bug, then strongly consider drafting these players. Of course it will be difficult to draft all of them, but it is plausible that you could get several of them.

Who do you consider to be the most reliable players at every position? Whether you agree or disagree with my choices let us know in the comments!

About The Author Joel Empey

Joel is a fantasy football champion and enthusiast who loves to analyze statistics and has an addiction to sports, film, and television. Joel can tame a lion with a single look and on 7 occasions Joel’s tried to read The Lord of the Rings, but has fallen asleep every time. Catch Joel on Twitter @EmpeyJoel