Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football 2014: Mock Draft Strategy Guide and Flex Rankings Cheat Sheet

Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press
Sean ODonnellContributor IIIAugust 16, 2014

It's the middle of August, and while every NFL fan is gearing up for the start of the regular season, fantasy football enthusiasts have another big affair forthcoming—their fantasy league drafts.

Preparation for fantasy drafts is of the utmost importance. After all, would you rather be the owner toting a current sheet of each player's average draft position or the one carrying an outdated fantasy magazine from a year ago?

Hopefully you chose the former.

Winning your fantasy draft entails much more than simply selecting your favorite analyst's highest-ranked available player when your turn rolls around. There's much more strategy involved.

To ensure you are as well prepared as possible for your league's draft, let's go over some of the most important draft strategies and overview a cheat sheet for this year's top flex rankings.

 

2014 Fantasy Football Top 50 Flex Rankings

2014 Fantasy Football Top 50 Flex Rankings
RankPlayerPos.TeamADP*
1Adrian PetersonRBVikings1.02
2LeSean McCoyRBEagles1.02
3Jamaal CharlesRBChiefs1.03
4Matt ForteRBBears1.05
5Calvin JohnsonWRLions1.05
6Demaryius ThomasWRBroncos1.09
7Jimmy GrahamTESaints1.08
8Eddie LacyRBPackers1.06
9Dez BryantWRCowboys1.11
10A.J. GreenWRBengals2.01
11Marshawn LynchRBSeahawks1.09
12Brandon MarshallWRBears2.03
13Montee BallRBBroncos2.02
14Giovani BernardRBBengals2.06
15DeMarco MurrayRBCowboys2.01
16Julio JonesWRFalcons2.05
17Arian FosterRBTexans2.09
18Andre EllingtonRBCardinals3.05
19Jordy NelsonWRPackers2.09
20Antonio BrownWRSteelers2.12
21Alshon JeffreyWRBears3.01
22Alfred MorrisRBRedskins3.03
23Doug MartinRBBuccaneers3.03
24Rob GronkowskiTEPatriots3.03
25Le'Veon BellRBSteelers2.04
26Zac StacyRBRams3.03
27Keenan AllenWRChargers3.08
28Randall CobbWRPackers3.05
29Julius ThomasTEBroncos3.06
30Reggie BushRBLions3.09
31C.J. SpillerRBBills3.10
32Vincent JacksonWRBuccaneers3.12
33Victor CruzWRGiants4.02
34Pierre GarconWRRedskins4.04
35Roddy WhiteWRFalcons4.04
36Larry FitzgeraldWRCardinals4.06
37Frank GoreRB49ers4.06
38Wes WelkerWRBroncos4.08
39Andre JohnsonWRTexans4.10
40Ryan MatthewsRBChargers4.06
41Cordarrelle PattersonWRVikings4.09
42Bishop SankeyRBTitans4.10
43DeSean JacksonWRRedskins5.03
44Percy HarvinWRSeahawks5.06
45T.Y. HiltonWRColts5.08
46Michael CrabtreeWR49ers4.12
47Ray RiceRBRavens5.03
48Rashad JenningsRBGiants3.11
49Toby GerhartRBJaguars4.02
50Shane VereenRBPatriots5.02
Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

*Average draft position (ADP) based on 12-team leagues in standard format, via FantasyFootballCalculator.com.

 

Obey the ADP

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Chances are you'll be carrying a list—much like the one above—to your fantasy draft this year. Here's the question: Are players' average draft positions listed?

ADP is one of the most useful tools for fantasy drafts. Without knowing where each player is generally being selected, you run the risk of severely reaching or, even worse, missing out on your target entirely.

Experts such as NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Rotoworld's Evan Silva are already entrenched in ADP analysis:

So, here's the tip: When you finalize your list of rankings, be sure to accompany each player with his corresponding ADP. That way, you'll have a much clearer strategy and a big step up on your competition.

 

Take Your Best Player Available

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Keenan Allen #13 of the San Diego Chargers tries to avoid the tackle of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie #45 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in De
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

You have your rankings for a reason. It's an organized list of each player at every position from top to bottom. But for some reason, many fantasy owners deviate from these lists over the course of the draft.

Some owners believe taking two running backs early in the draft is a must because of the lack of depth at the position. While there is certainly truth to that, why pass up on Brandon Marshall in Round 2 only to reach for Alfred Morris in an attempt to fill that running back quota?

Another cause for this phenomenon is the dreaded positional run. In the fifth round, two fantasy owners suddenly take tight ends in back-to-back picks. This scares other owners into reaching for a tight end of their own—often with disastrous results. Don't take Greg Olsen in Round 5 due to a run on tight ends when DeSean Jackson is ripe for the picking.

A big-board approach is already being adapted by expert fantasy analysts: 

Stick with your list.

 

Take a Kicker Last

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Matt Prater #5 of the Denver Broncos kicks a second quarter field goal against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It seems as though this wouldn't need to be mentioned; however, each year, many fantasy owners elect to take a "top-tier" kicker such as Stephen Gostkowski well before the draft's final round.

Please, don't do that.

While you may average an extra 1.5 points per week by reaching for a kicker early, you're passing on some very intriguing sleepers. Players with huge upsides could make or break a fantasy owner's season. This year, Markus Wheaton, Odell Beckham Jr. and Justin Hunter have strong potential to break out. Why take a kicker instead?

Do yourself a favor and wait to select a kicker in your draft's final round. Pick one with a favorable Week 1 matchup and hit the waiver wire over the course of the season to continue that trend. You won't regret it.

 

Practice

Al Behrman/Associated Press

This final tip is simple: Practice your strategy by utilizing mock drafts in the days leading up to your league's live draft. This gives you a much better idea of which players are being selected far too early and which ones may be huge steals.

Make a note of these occurrences on your draft rankings guide, and you're ready to go crush your league's fantasy draft.

Good luck.

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