Fantasy Football: Complete Guide to Draft Dominance in 2014

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2014

Fantasy Football: Complete Guide to Draft Dominance in 2014

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    Fantasy football season is just beginning, but it's never too early to start looking ahead and planning for your draft.

    It's all about the preparation, which enables you to find the best values in the draft. Every pick is like a lottery ticket, and you need to make the most of them. 

    Take these six tips and dominate your draft in 2014. 

Rookies Can Be Bargains

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    A lot of people are wary of drafting rookies, and for good reason. Plenty of them don't make any impact in their first season and become wasted fantasy picks.

    But because of that, some very talented players end up falling way towards the end of the draft, and that's where smart fantasy owners find the best value.

    You can't rely on those guys to carry your team, but as fill-in RB3s or WR4s and flex players, they can end up saving your season. And you don't need the very biggest names. Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans will probably be drafted and have young, unreliable quarterbacks throwing them the ball.

    But other receivers like Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Paul Richardson all have opportunity to make an impact. Running backs like Jeremy Hill and Terrance West could also provide excellent value.

Jimmy Graham or Wait

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    The tight end position is a reliable one in fantasy—in the sense that most tight ends can be reliably average throughout an entire season.

    Jimmy Graham is obviously the exception here, as he put up a monster 2013 year and is poised for another big season in 2014. Rob Gronkowski is such a big injury risk that he's clearly way behind Graham at this point.

    If you're not in position to take Graham early, do yourself a favor and wait awhile before grabbing your tight end. Taking a solid veteran and young flier in the mid-to-late rounds is a perfectly fine strategy. Save your earlier picks for running backs and receivers.

Be Safe Early

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    Don't try to get fancy if you end up with an early draft pick. Guys like Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson might be tempting, but running back is the way to go.

    LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson have to be the top three picks, while Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch are solid selections to round out the top five.

    If you overthink it and attempt to "outsmart" everyone as far as running backs go, you might look at someone like Eddie Lacy, Ryan Mathews or DeMarco Murray, but they are just too risky for that high of a pick.

Defense and Kicker Last

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    I say this pretty much every year, but I feel the need to repeat it again: Please, whatever you do, just do not waste a pick on a kicker or defense.

    Use your second-to-last and last picks for them. There is no kicker or defense which is going to be so much better than the others that they are worth anything higher.

    It's just way too hard to predict the success of a kicker or a defense. Wait on them and use the picks on other players.

Be Wary of Last Season's Breakouts

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    The whole point of fantasy football is finding value. You want to draft a guy who surprises everyone and outperforms expectations. That's where the value is.

    Too often people overpay after players break out and are therefore, by definition, rarely getting good value for them. 

    For instance, this year Eddie Lacy will be highly coveted after a very good rookie season. But now that he's firmly on defense's radars, how likely is it that he'll surpass last year's production (1,178 yards and 11 TDs) and be the fourth or fifth-highest scoring running back in the league?

    Knowshon Moreno, Alshon Jeffery, Zac Stacy and Antonio Brown are other examples of guys who will likely be overdrafted due to having an outstanding 2013. Don't reach for them based solely on last year's merits.

Wait on Quarterbacks

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    Peyton Manning will be overdrafted this year. Yes, he had a historic season last year, and he will go down as one of the greatest of all time.

    He's also 38 years old, lost Eric Decker and Wes Welker looks more mortal all the time. He could very well still be the best fantasy quarterback this year, but it won't be by enough to justify how high he'll get taken.

    The point? Don't worry about grabbing a passer high in the draft. There's plenty of talent that will be available later. If you're one of the last guys in your draft to take a quarterback, that's a good thing.

    Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Russell Wilson would all be very good quarterbacks and be available in the middle rounds of the draft.