Fantasy Football 2014: Top Players, PPR Draft Strategy and Mock Draft

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Fantasy Football 2014: Top Players, PPR Draft Strategy and Mock Draft
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Everybody plays fantasy a little differently. Some people swear by PPR, while others will never stray from standard-scoring leagues. Some people dip their toes into IDP leagues. Some love keepers and dynasty leagues.

In my main league, my seven friends and I play a standard-scoring keeper league and start two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, two tight ends, a defense, a kicker and two RB/WR/TE flexes while carrying a bench of nine players. It's our little twist on a tried-and-true formula. 

However you play, we all need advice. So below, I'll try to offer a little bit for both standard-scoring traditionalists and PPR lovers, including my top 50 players in standard leagues but also an entire section on PPR strategy. 

See, we can all get along. 

Fantasy Rankings

Fantasy Top 50
Draft Slot Player Team Position
1 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles RB
2 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings RB
3 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs RB
4 Matt Forte Chicago Bears RB
5 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos QB
6 Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks RB
7 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints TE
8 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions WR
9 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers RB
10 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
11 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
12 Arian Foster Houston Texans RB
13 A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals WR
14 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos WR
15 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB
16 Zac Stacy St. Louis Rams RB
17 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys WR
18 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears WR
19 DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys RB
20 Alfred Morris Washington RB
21 Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons WR
22 Matt Stafford Detroit Lions QB
23 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers QB
24 Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers RB
25 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers WR
26 Montee Ball Denver Broncos RB
27 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers WR
28 Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers WR
29 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos TE
30 Alshon Jeffery Chicago Bears WR
31 Andre Ellington Arizona Cardinals RB
32 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots TE
33 Andre Johnson Houston Texans WR
34 Vincent Jackson Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
35 Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals RB
36 Victor Cruz New York Giants WR
37 Reggie Bush Detroit Lions RB
38 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts QB
39 Toby Gerhart Jacksonville Jaguars RB
40 Pierre Garcon Washington WR
41 Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers WR
42 Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers RB
43 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers TE
44 Wes Welker Denver Broncos WR
45 C.J. Spiller Buffalo Bills RB
46 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers RB
47 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals WR
48 Ray Rice Baltimore Ravens RB
49 Rashad Jennings New York Giants RB
50 DeSean Jackson Washington WR

PPR Strategy

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Generally speaking, you shouldn't dramatically change your draft strategy in a PPR league. While I'll outline certain players who should get a bump up your draft board in PPR leagues, the first thing to address is the one position that is less valuable in this format. 

The quarterbacks.

Because quarterback is the only offensive position that gains no value in PPR leagues, QBs logically account for a smaller proportion of the overall points scored. Thus, while they can still contribute big points for you on a weekly basis, it's less likely that a stud at the position is going to have anywhere near the impact he would in a standard-scoring league.

In other words, I wouldn't recommend selecting a quarterback with your first-round pick unless you are in a 12-man league or bigger, and even then you should only be going quarterback at the very end of the round. 

It is at the running back position that you see the biggest potential leap in value. While wide receivers take a leap as a positional group because of the added points from receptions, you don't see a ton of difference in value within the position since most top receivers nab a ton of passes. Last year, for instance, 22 receivers had 75 receptions or more. 

Yes, certain players tend toward being reception machines. More on them in a bit. But in general, your receiver rankings shouldn't be too much different.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

But at running back, players who make a living catching passes out of the backfield come at a premium. Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte should be the first two players off the board, for example (with Darren Sproles now in Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy drops to No. 3 overall in PPR leagues). Several running backs are far more valuable in PPR leagues.

Let's take a look at the players who have the greatest potential value increase, in no particular order, in this format:

  • Running Back: Danny Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen, Andre Ellington, Dexter McCluster, Giovani Bernard
  • Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Kendall Wright, Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson, Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall
  • Tight End: Jason Witten, Jordan Cameron (especially if Josh Gordon is out for the year)

Of course, certain players see their values dip in PPR leagues, namely at running back. Alfred Morris is the biggest culprit here, but Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Mathews, Frank Gore and Zac Stacy all have to be devalued in the format (Eddie Lacy was hurt somewhat by a mediocre 35 receptions a year ago, but he'll be a much bigger part of the passing game this season).

If you want an example of how PPR can change a player's value in a surprising way, consider this tweet from Pro Football Focus:

In standard-scoring leagues, Lynch had 70 more points. In PPR leagues, Garcon had seven more points. Lynch still holds value because talented running backs are harder to come by in any format than solid receivers, but there's no question that players like Lynch should be selected later in PPR drafts than they would be in standard ones.

But other players will see a huge jump in value this year in PPR leagues. There's Ellington, for example, who according to Arizona Cardinals game analyst Ron Wolfley will be the team's own version of Charles. That should have PPR owners licking their lips (or doing something slightly less creepy).

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

And Sproles could actually see an uptick in usage in Philadelphia's uptempo offense. He seems excited about his role, telling Zach Berman of the The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The stuff we've been doing in practice, I think it's kind of dangerous."

One would guess the rest of the league will eventually, and begrudgingly, agree. Versatile players like Sproles live for the PPR format. Make sure you value them appropriately. 

Have fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer them and make some corny jokes, too. It's more fun than a Mo'Ne Davis shutout (but not as impressive). 

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