The fantasy football clock is ticking.
Rankings and sleepers are in a constant flux as the dawn of training camps around the league unearth new details, injuries and more—all of which can drastically alter both categories in the blink of an eye.
Something as little as, say, a pass-first team a year ago committing to the run next season has a drastic ripple effect not just on quarterback rankings and sleepers, but the same impact on running backs, wideouts and even defenses.
In short, a go-to, one-stop shop is a must to keep up with the whirlwind pace of the NFL during the summer as fantasy drafts kick into serious gear. Below, the latest is outlined to act as a guide.
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|3||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions|
|4||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers|
|5||Robert Griffin III||Washington Redskins|
|6||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles|
|7||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons|
|8||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts|
|9||Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|10||Jay Cutler||Chicago Bears|
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Pass-happy offensive coordinator Jay Gruden may have moved on to take the head gig in Washington, but the next man up, Hue Jackson, has years of experience with the franchise and won't alter things too drastically.
Besides, coaching changes can tend to mean very little when elite pass-catching options such as A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and two freakishly athletic tight ends remain.
Owners can be forgiven for letting it slip their minds that Dalton was the No. 5 overall scorer at the position a season ago, reaching double digits in 12 contests. Even in the playoff loss to San Diego that has butchered the TCU product's reputation, the Bengals racked up 439 yards of total offense.
But there Dalton sits with an average draft position of 11.06 as the No. 17 QB. Yikes. Not only is Dalton a capable producer going into his fourth year, he's playing for a new contract, as is a motivated Green and Jermaine Gresham. Young players such as Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu will only continue to develop.
Don't think with emotions. Just pull the trigger.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Two spots above Dalton overall and one spot on the current quarterback hierarchy is AFC North rival Ben Roethlisberger.
Like Dalton, it's easy to forget that Big Ben was quite a hot commodity last season despite the stigma floating around him that he resides in a run-first offense.
That's fair, but don't dismiss the fact No. 1 wideout Antonio Brown led the NFL is receiving last year (Josh Gordon doesn't count at this point), reliable deep threat Lance Moore has joined the fray, and Markus Wheaton will only take another step in development.
Even better, offensive coordinator Todd Haley promises more no-huddle next season, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
We’ve been working hard at it. That’s going to be part of what we do. We don’t want to just give it lip service. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it and we’ll continue that in minicamp. You can kind of see the guys getting comfortable and making progress. [Ben Roethlisberger’s] comfort level with them is coming along.
Fans with great memories will understand the tussle between Big Ben and his staff last season, which saw him finally get his wish over the last nine games as more no-huddle was implemented.
He was the No. 4 scoring quarterback in that time. Fully committed to the approach, 2014 is going to be huge.
|1||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles|
|2||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|5||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys|
|6||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers|
|7||Arian Foster||Houston Texans|
|8||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|9||Andre Ellington||Arizona Cardinals|
|10||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks|
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Last season's No. 5 scoring back, Knowshon Moreno, is gone. In other words, there is a 242-carry void in Denver next season while teams refuse to stack the box thanks to Peyton Manning and his vast array of aerial weapons.
Which sophomore Montee Ball is quickly becoming as well, if ESPN's Jeff Legwold is to be believed:
Ball earned that optimism by how he played down the stretch last season. He was the most effective runner with the ball in his hands over the last six weeks of the season/postseason. He’s smart and has the requisite work ethic, and the Broncos have seen vast improvements in his work as both a receiver and blocker in the passing game. That gives him the gotta-have-it, every-down potential in their offense.
As noted, Ball came on late last season and has the full attention of the coaching staff. Owners should pay attention as well, as pretty much any back can come in and find success in Denver as long as Manning resides under center.
A pure runner who notched more than 5,000 yards on a 5.6 average in college certainly can too.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
How the mighty have fallen.
Spiller's third-round ADP has him as the No. 16 overall back, and rightfully so after he hardly took more than 200 totes last season and didn't crack 1,000 yards rushing, nor did he breach double-digit points in more than five games.
There is a lot to create pause with Spiller, especially with Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon on the roster.
But look at it another way—Spiller won't be horribly used inside the tackles like he was last season. Instead, he'll be given optimal touches that can get him back to 2012 form—six yards per carry on 207 totes.
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions|
|2||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears|
|3||Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons|
|4||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys|
|5||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|6||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals|
|7||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|8||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers|
|9||Keenan Allen||San Diego Chargers|
|10||Victor Cruz||New York Giants|
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
As a rookie, Kenny Stills led the league in yards-per-catch average at 20. In 2014, there's a new rookie in town thanks to Brandin Cooks, but there are also notable losses in Darren Sproles and the aforementioned Moore.
That's 108 receptions and 143 targets that have to go somewhere, and the safe money is on Stills, who may very well become the No. 1 receiver with Marques Colston on the wrong side of 30 and undergoing a clear downswing.
It helps that the Oklahoma product is Drew Brees' favorite target, as noted by Pro Football Focus:
The best QB rating when aiming at a single WR last season was 139.3. Drew Brees to Kenny Stills. #Saints 10+ points higher than any other— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 1, 2014
That 10.09 ADP and No. 48 rank Stills touts at the moment? It's a fraud.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Wideouts are always a major gamble, so recommending a rookie is always worth serious hesitation.
But hear it out.
Owners are cautious, sure. The LSU product is being taken in the 13th round and is No. 59 at the position. Fine. Eli Manning threw the most picks a season ago (blame the line in front of him) and Victor Cruz is still around, but understand that the Giants are committed to three-wide sets next yer, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com:
They're installing a spread-'em-out offense that includes three wide receivers on almost every play. They ran a ton of screen passes (most unsuccessfully), quick-timing horizontal pass patterns and three-step drops. It appeared dissimilar to (Tom) Coughlin and former coordinator Kevin Gilbride's vertical attack.
Boom. Beckham doesn't have to compete for snaps. He'll be yet another vertical threat to take the tops off defense, plus he's a major player on kick returns—something he'll be allowed to simulate in the regular offense on screen passes.
Manning loves to spread the wealth, and Beckham Jr. is going to get his in a big way.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots|
|3||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns|
|4||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|5||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers|
|6||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys|
|7||Kyle Rudolph||Minnesota Vikings|
|8||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers|
|10||Ladarius Green||San Diego Chargers|
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Quiz time—which tight end quietly ranked as the No. 7 scorer at the position last year but has an ADP in the 12th round?
Clay caught four or more passes in 12 games last season as a safety valve for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who wound up being the most-sacked a season ago.
The line figures to be about as bad, meaning more opportunities for Clay. At 6'3" and 255 pounds, he's a matchup nightmare, a notion ESPN's Field Yates (subscription required) agrees with:
He's nearly 260 pounds, plays from the backfield as a short-yardage ball carrier and lead blocker, can play on the end of the line as a tight end, can flex out into the slot and has terrific catching skills. Any player who can align from so many spots leaves a defensive coordinator wondering how best to slow him down.
A versatile piece always deserves a close look, especially on an offense without a ton of weapons.
|1||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos|
|2||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots|
|3||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers|
|4||Nick Novak||San Diego Chargers|
|5||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys|
|6||Adam Vinatieri||Indianapolis Colts|
|7||Phil Dawson||San Francisco 49ers|
|8||Steven Hauschka||Seattle Seahawks|
|9||Robbie Gould||Chicago Bears|
|10||Shayne Graham||New Orleans Saints|
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
It's all about opportunities at kicker.
For Matt Bryant, injuries and a miserable offense butchered any chance he had at a productive fantasy season a year ago—his attempts fell from 38 in 2012 to 27. Still, he managed to post five outings in the double digits.
Bryant connects on better than 84 percent of his tries and he'll obviously be getting back into the normal range in regards to extra-point tries as the offense around him gets healthy. Expect nothing but top-10 production.
|3||San Francisco 49ers|
|5||New Orleans Saints|
|6||St. Louis Rams|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Here's a pick owners are surely tired of seeing each year. Last year, Cleveland was the hot choice, but the unit wound up No. 13 overall in scoring.
But the perfect combination of development and experience is set to push the Browns over the edge in 2014.
The unit ranked in the top 10 with just 3.9 yards allowed per carry and 5.9 through the air a season ago. This year, the secondary gets an infusion of talent across from Joe Haden with rookie Justin Gilbert.
Even better, linebacker Barkevious Mingo is only going to improve, nose tackle Phil Taylor is still elite and additions such as Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner shore up key spots that were issues after departures. Really, it's one of the most talented units in the league on paper, a notion that will finally translate to the field.