Fantasy football owners everywhere are on the cusp of the best time of the year. With drafts taking place all over the country this weekend and over the next few days, being prepared going in is crucial.
As the draft approaches, owners need to know about the top players, where to take them and—most importantly—what to name their team. With so many decisions to make, we're here to help with nearly everything.
When it comes to strategies, there are several questions to be answered for owners. Should you wait on a quarterback? What about the old RB-RB system that has worked well in the past? Which position has the most depth this season?
Prior to sitting down for your fantasy draft—or all 10 of them—here's a look at the latest positional rankings, top team names and strategy for mock drafts.
|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||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||2.02|
|10||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals||2.04|
|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.
|2014 Top Fantasy Team Names|
|Do the Sankey Leg||Bishop Sankey is a potential top rookie. Also, this is awesome.|
|Weeden Wayne Bowe||Read it all together. Funny and family friendly.|
|Hyde Ya Kids, Hyde Ya Wife||Carlos Hyde has sleeper potential, hide him away and go with this team name.|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles||You might not win any leagues with Blake Bortles, but revealing this name on draft day will win some laughs.|
|Team (Last Name)||Do you like trolling people who take team names way too seriously? This is the name for you.|
|You Sankeyd My Battleship||Don't like the "Stanky Leg" any more but drafted the rookie RB? Here's your name. The possibilities are endless.|
|Phil Dawson's Creek||Because you don't want to wait for your life to be over, right?|
|Final Dez-tination||For Dez Bryant, this is also known as the end zone.|
|Gotta Catch Jamaal||Lucky enough to get a top-three pick? Take Jamaal Charles and make other owners envious of this name.|
|Pardon Me Eiferted||Not the most mature name on the board, but certainly a winner on my list.|
|R. Cory Smith's 2014 List|
Personal Favorite New Team Names
Do the Sankey Leg
With the new crop of incoming rookies, there are several emerging team names with promise.
One of those is Bishop Sankey, who has a first and last name simply perfect for future fantasy teams. Sure, the "Stanky Leg" is far from popular anymore, but your owners will all get the reference.
Sankey is emerging as one of the top rookies in fantasy and has a chance to get several snaps for the Tennessee Titans this season. In fact, Michael Fabiano of NFL Network has him as 2014's top rookie:
He shows promise for the future, so this might not be a name that has to be changed anytime soon. For owners who can lock up the potential breakout running back, going with this name seems perfect—along with providing a sweet dance move when he scores touchdowns.
Hyde Ya Kids, Hyde Ya Wife
From one future running back to another, this slightly played-out reference might also be making a comeback.
Antoine Dodson's 15 minutes of fame have run out, but Carlos Hyde's chance is just getting started. The San Francisco 49ers rookie tailback has already been tabbed the team's "running back of the future" by Rana L. Cash of Sporting News:
In an age in which running backs are devalued, the 49ers still rely heavily on the ground game. Hyde was the 57th player taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was the third running back drafted. Yet, he could be critical for the 49ers in the NFC West, the toughest division in football.
Much like naming a team after Sankey, this one could stick for years to come. Unlike Sankey, Hyde has an average draft position of 8.08 in 12-team standard leagues, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Therefore, he can be drafted as a backup. You have a great team name and potential keeper. That's a win-win-win for fantasy owners and a great plan for the future of your franchise—because fantasy is that serious.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles
This one is strictly for personal reasons. No, I'm not in love with Blake Bortles as a quarterback yet, but this team name is priceless.
Much like the previous two rookies, Bortles has already shown flashes of greatness in the preseason. The first-round pick has turned some heads thus far, as Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke about, per the Associated Press (via Fox Sports):
We're excited about how he has progressed. I think it's a situation now where each day we are just looking for improvement, and he has challenged himself to get better every day. So, really I'm not exactly sure where I expect him to be, so he is doing well for where he is at.
As of now, Bortles has as much fantasy value as any other backup quarterback, which frankly isn't very much. But using a timeless classic like TMNT makes for a fun—and family friendly—team name for the 2014 season.
Not everyone is in a league composed entirely of adults, so this one is a safe pick while also remaining humorous. And if Bortles does take over the starting duties sometime in the future, he might also make a great waiver-wire pickup down the road.
Mock Draft Strategy
RB-RB No Longer a Successful System
In years past, going after running backs in the first and second rounds was a system that might win a league championship. For 2014, depth at the position makes this a costly mistake.
Those who have a top-five pick will almost definitely go after a running back. But after Eddie Lacy at No. 5 on most draft boards, the selection gets slightly more dicey. That's where this season differentiates from past seasons.
While players such as Doug Martin and Arian Foster are back on the field, they have plenty of question marks. Marshawn Lynch will be a workhorse again, but most owners are taking top players at other positions early to bolster their roster.
Jimmy Graham, Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson are all going in the first round and appear more reliable. As several franchises switch over to a two- or three-back system, counting on any tailback doesn't have as much promise.
Emerging stars like Zac Stacy and Andre Ellington are both falling to the third round in their ADP, so waiting on one of them might pay off. Don't jump on a running back just because the position is vital, be smart and lock up the top players.
Wait On Receivers
But with the overwhelming depth at the position this season, myriad receivers are ripe for late rounds. How loaded is the crop this season? Alshon Jeffery is falling to the third round in ADP while Vincent Jackson can be had just behind him.
With last year's breakouts like Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson and T.Y. Hilton being taken between the third and fifth rounds, all three have WR1 potential in deep leagues. No, they aren't on Megatron or Bryant's level yet, but they put up huge numbers.
Rookies like Brandin Cooks and Mike Evans also show promise for later in the year. But with Kelvin Benjamin likely the No. 1 receiver for the Carolina Panthers, his 8.09 ADP makes him a lock for a flex starter early on.
Thanks to a deep class of receivers this year, expect several to put up notable numbers. From top to bottom, fantasy owners have loads of wideouts to choose from this year.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.