Fantasy draft season is upon us, and things are about to get fun.
After waiting several months and contemplating how to win the championship this season, it's go time for nearly every league around the country. While some leagues have drafted already, the intrigue is teeming before compiling dream rosters.
Preparation is a huge key before the actual day arrives. Rather than stalling and worrying when the draft comes, knowing exactly who to take and when to take them makes the process much more pain-free.
Before your fantasy draft takes place, here's a look at the skill positions cheat sheet and mock draft strategy for the 2014 season.
|2014 Top Skill Position Players|
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||1.09|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||2.05|
|3||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||2.07|
|4||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||4.06|
|5||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||5.03|
|6||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||7.09|
|7||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||7.01|
|8||Robert Griffin III||Washington Redskins||7.05|
|9||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||10.01|
|10||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||8.07|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||1.03|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||1.02|
|3||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||1.02|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||1.05|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||1.06|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||1.09|
|7||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.02|
|8||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||2.01|
|9||Le'Veon Bell||Pittsburgh Steelers||2.05|
|10||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||2.02|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||1.05|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||1.11|
|3||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||1.09|
|4||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||2.01|
|5||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||2.03|
|6||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||2.09|
|7||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||2.12|
|8||Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||2.05|
|9||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||3.01|
|10||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.11|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||1.08|
|2||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||3.06|
|3||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||5.07|
|4||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||3.04|
|5||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||5.11|
|6||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||7.12|
|7||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||6.10|
|8||Jordan Reed||Washington Redskins||7.04|
|9||Dennis Pitta||Baltimore Ravens||8.07|
|10||Kyle Rudolph||Minnesota Vikings||8.10|
|R. Cory Smith's Fantasy Rankings|
*Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Know the Value in Sleepers
Not every sleeper is created equal. Some players are designed to stash away for later, while others can make an immediate impact.
For example, Bishop Sankey, Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin will be rookies relied upon immediately by their offenses. Johnny Manziel and Carlos Hyde, on the other hand, might be on the other end of the spectrum with battles to win.
While Sankey might be a high pick thanks to his position, Watkins and others can be had much later. Hyde is a player on the rise after injuries to other backs in camp, as Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee notes:
The battle royale among Kendall Hunter, rookie Carlos Hyde, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore ended almost as soon as it started. Everyone but Hyde is injured, and Hyde has looked every bit the heir to Frank Gore the 49ers were hoping he would when they took him in the second round.
Rookies aren't the only sleepers, though. With players like Bernard Pierce and DeAndre Hopkins likely earning an increased role, both can be had in later rounds and used as flex options.
Needless to say, know the sleepers and where to take them. Don't jump on a sleeper too early, but don't wait to watch another owner steal your glory.
Stick to the Big Board
Whether it's yours, mine or anyone else's list, believe in the big board.
Heading into a real or mock draft, know exactly which players you're comfortable selecting in fantasy. While the idea of big boards seems foolproof in theory, coming in with an idea of the players you want makes the process easier.
Nearly every site has a big board, with Yahoo Sports putting quite a few surprising names at the top:
That's not to say that any owner will find a perfect list that matches their ideals for a fantasy team. Therefore, some modifications are typically in order.
Another aspect to pay attention to is which players are already on your roster. Loading up with Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson and T.Y. Hilton will instantly lead to regret because, as you'll soon find out, they all have Week 10 byes.
Don't settle for someone else's opinion for your team because it typically leads to skepticism for owners. Lastly, and probably most importantly, always take the best player available rather than drafting for position—a practice that can ruin rosters.
Draft with Your Head, Not Your Heart
Here's the thing about fantasy football: It's not just about picking players you have a rooting interest for.
Denver Broncos fans are allowed to cheer on Jamaal Charles. Carolina Panthers faithful can hope Jimmy Graham scores multiple touchdowns. And, even though it seems like blasphemy, Dallas Cowboys fans can pull for Robert Griffin III.
Regardless of who owners support, the best fantasy players have diverse teams filled with talent that complements their roster. If every owner picked with their heart, teams would live and die by each individual team's performance.
Not to mention, picking several players from one team also leaves owners in bye week hell. In fantasy football, be diverse and rely on what will eventually win a championship—what's upstairs.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.
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