The anticipation continues to build for the 2014 NFL season, and fantasy owners everywhere are scurrying to prepare themselves for a successful draft that will build a championship roster.
So much goes into fantasy football. It's nearly impossible to keep up with all 32 teams and how various offseason changes will impact certain players' stocks. Star players drop off from year to year, and young, emerging studs take their place.
Even more crucial to a fantasy owner's success is how he navigates the draft. Picking the right player at the wrong time can set off a chain of events that may put your chances of playoff contention in jeopardy.
Before submerging yourself in your many fantasy drafts, take a look below at everything you'll need to know—from player rankings to tips to creative team names—to have a successful fantasy season.
|2014 Fantasy Football Skill-Position Rankings|
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||1.09|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||2.05|
|3||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||2.07|
|4||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||5.03|
|5||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||4.06|
|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||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||1.02|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||1.02|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||1.03|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||1.05|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||1.06|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||1.09|
|7||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||2.01|
|8||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.02|
|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||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||2.12|
|7||Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||2.05|
|8||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||3.01|
|9||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||2.09|
|10||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.11|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||1.08|
|2||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||3.06|
|3||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||3.04|
|4||Vernon Davis||San Francisco Giants||5.07|
|5||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||6.10|
|6||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||5.11|
|7||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||7.12|
|8||Jordan Reed||Washington Redskins||7.04|
|9||Dennis Pitta||Baltimore Ravens||8.07|
|10||Kyle Rudolph||Minnesota Vikings||8.10|
|Steven Cook's Rankings|
Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
|Best Fantasy Team Names|
|InstaGraham||Because Jimmy Graham's fantasy output is just that—instant|
|Taste The Dwayne Bowe||If you like to eat Skittles while watching the Chiefs, this one is for you|
|The Big Gronkowski||Pay homage to one of the greatest movies ever (and a star TE) with this one|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles||Blake Bortles might be worth stashing on your bench just to validate using this name|
|Hyde Your Kids, Hyde Your Wife||Partly because of the viral video, partly because Carlos Hyde's running style is legitimately scary|
|Do The Sankey Leg||This could become a household team name if the Titans rookie breaks out|
|Henne Given Sunday||Great movie. But if Chad Henne is your starter, you have problems|
|Weeden Wayne Bowe||The team name opportunities with Bowe's name are just endless|
|Geno 911||Lieutenant Dangle approves|
|What Would Jones-Drew?||New Raiders RB is a fantasy sleeper, as is this team name|
|Clowney Question, Bro||Bryce Harper's trademarked saying meets No. 1 overall pick|
|Steven Cook's List|
Don't Force First-Round RB Selection if it's Not There
In an ideal world, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy or Matt Forte will be available when it's time for your first-round selection. But if that's not the case, don't panic to take a running back in Round 1.
Nothing has really changed in that running backs are still—by far—the most valued players in fantasy football. A back like Peterson, Charles or even Eddie Lacy or Marshawn Lynch are more than worthy of being selected with the first few picks.
But after that, it might be wiser to look to another position. Whether it's Peyton Manning possibly breaking more records, Jimmy Graham's constant breakout ability or even consistent big games from Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson, other options might prove to be more successful than the fifth or sixth running back in the league.
In the first round, take the best player on the board. And don't be afraid if said player doesn't line up in the backfield.
Stack Up on WRs Early
Any seasoned fantasy owner knows that having two consistent receivers sometimes just isn't enough.
But in 2014, getting some of the top wideouts in the league in the opening rounds can put you ahead, even if it means missing out on the top running backs and quarterbacks.
For instance, the top eight fantasy receivers as rated by FantasyFootballCalculator.com's ADP rankings all come off the board before the third round. Wait too long, and you could be out of star-caliber options.
Should you find yourself able to land any pair of the top few receivers, don't hesitate to do so. There are always high-value running backs with breakout ability available in the middle rounds, and a big strength in wideouts can help you fill your flex spot week in and week out.
Just as well, grabbing receivers early can allow owners to wait on a QB and take a player like Tony Romo or Philip Rivers—someone capable of being one of your top scorers despite taking him after most of your starters.
Wait—And I Mean Wait—To Draft Kickers/Defenses
After filling out the starting lineup, it's commonplace for inexperienced fantasy owners to go ahead and grab the top kickers and defenses in order to build the best list of starters possible.
Don't be that guy.
Defenses typically start to fly off the board starting in, Round 8 according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, but waiting three or four rounds will still allow you to land a top-five defense that will put up big points.
Broncos kicker Matt Prater's stock was huge with an ADP of 12.10 after emerging as one of the NFL's best kickers last season, but The Denver Post's Mike Klis reported Sunday that he'll be suspended for the first four games of the season. Meanwhile, whoever replaces him for those four games will more than likely be available on waivers along with many other formidable options.
With the waiver wire serving as such a good source for defenses and kickers, picking one too early in the draft can keep you from landing that key sleeper that might emerge. Don't jump at either position in your draft if there are better bench options available.