2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Rankings, Sleepers to Avoid and More

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2014

Aug 8, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) stands on the field prior to the start of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

We're going to go a bit negative on this article, folks. No, I'm not going to start complaining about how hard my life is (it isn't) or why the world is falling apart (it isn't) or start bemoaning "the kids these days" (they aren't any different from past generations; they just have better technology).

No, I'm going to go negative on some players you might be really tempted to target as your sleepers this year. I'm going to go a bit negative on some bold strategies or players who could make you look like a genius but could also make you look like a fool. 

It won't be all negative, of course. There will be my rankings of the top 150 players, for starters. There are a few players below who I think could really blow up and a few draft strategies I think are worth the risk. But in general, well, you can just imagine me shaking my fist as I write this. 

Well, you can imagine me shaking my fist after I wrote it. I'm still working on typing while I shake my fist at the darn kids these days.

 

Mock Draft Rankings

Timothy Rapp's Top 150 Players
RankPlayerTeamPosition
1LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesRB
2Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsRB
3Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsRB
4Matt ForteChicago BearsRB
5Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersRB
6Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsTE
7Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsWR
8Peyton ManningDenver BroncosQB
9Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksRB
10Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsQB
11Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersQB
12Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosWR
13Doug MartinTampa Bay BuccaneersWR
14A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsWR
15Arian FosterHouston TexansRB
16Zac StacySt. Louis RamsRB
17Dez BryantDallas CowboysWR
18Brandon MarshallChicago BearsWR
19DeMarco MurrayDallas CowboysRB
20Alfred MorrisWashingtonRB
21Julio JonesAtlanta FalconsWR
22Matt StaffordDetroit LionsQB
23Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersQB
24Le'Veon BellPittsburgh SteelersRB
25Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersWR
26Montee BallDenver BroncosRB
27Randall CobbGreen Bay PackersWR
28Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersWR
29Julius ThomasDenver BroncosTE
30Alshon JefferyChicago BearsWR
31Andre EllingtonArizona CardinalsRB
32Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsTE
33Andre JohnsonHouston TexansWR
34Vincent JacksonTampa Bay BuccaneersWR
35Giovani BernardCincinnati BengalsRB
36Victor CruzNew York GiantsWR
37Reggie BushDetroit LionsRB
38Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsQB
39Toby GerhartJacksonville JaguarsRB
40Keenan AllenSan Diego ChargersWR
41Ryan MathewsSan Diego ChargersRB
42Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersTE
43Wes WelkerDenver BroncosWR
44C.J. SpillerBuffalo BillsRB
45Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersRB
46Larry FitzgeraldArizona CardinalsWR
47Ray RiceBaltimore RavensRB
48Rashad JenningsNew York GiantsRB
49DeSean JacksonWashingtonWR
50Pierre GarconWashingtonWR
51Ben TateHouston TexansRB
52Torrey SmithBaltimore RavensWR
53Trent RichardsonIndianapolis ColtsRB
54Jeremy MaclinPhiladelphia EaglesWR
55Michael FloydArizona CardinalsWR
56Robert Griffin IIIWashingtonQB
57Nick FolesPhiladelphia EaglesQB
58Bishop SankeyTennessee TitansRB
59Roddy WhiteAtlanta FalconsWR
60Michael CrabtreeSan Francisco 49ersWR
61T.Y. HiltonIndianapolis ColtsWR
62Jason WittenDallas CowboysTE
63Kendall WrightTennessee TitansWR
64Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersRB
65Percy HarvinSeattle SeahawksWR
66Emmanuel SandersDenver BroncosWR
67Joique BellDetroit LionsRB
68Chris JohnsonNew York JetsRB
69Cordarrelle PattersonMinnesota VikingsWR
70Shane VereenNew England PatriotsRB
71Marques ColstonNew Orleans SaintsWR
72Eric DeckerNew York JetsWR
73Terrance WilliamsDallas CowboysWR
74Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsTE
75Matt RyanAtlanta FalconsQB
76Golden TateDetroit LionsWR
77Julian EdelmanNew England PatriotsWR
78Reggie WayneIndianapolis ColtsWR
79Stevan RidleyNew England PatriotsRB
80Sammy WatkinsBuffalo BillsWR
81Colin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ersQB
82Chris JohnsonNew York JetsRB
83Mike WallaceMiami DolphinsWR
84Cecil ShortsJacksonville JaguarsWR
85Lamar MillerMiami DolphinsRB
86Fred JacksonBuffalo BillsRB
87Steven JacksonAtlanta FalconsRB
88Anquan BoldinSan Francisco 49ersWR
89Pierre ThomasNew Orleans SaintsRB
90DeAndre HopkinsHouston TexansWR
91Darren McFaddenOakland RaidersRB
92Maurice Jones-DrewOakland RaidersRB
93Darren SprolesPhiladelphia EaglesRB
94DeAngelo WilliamsCarolina PanthersRB
95Knowshon MorenoMiami DolphinsRB
96Riley CooperPhiladelphia EaglesWR
97Russell WilsonSeattle SeahawksQB
98Khiry RobinsonNew Orleans SaintsRB
99Chris IvoryNew York JetsRB
100Danny WoodheadSan Diego ChargersRB
101Mark IngramNew Orleans Saints
102Danny AmendolaNew England PatriotsRB
103Seattle D/ST--
104Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersTE
105Jordan ReedWashingtonTE
106Dennis PittaBaltimore RavensTE
107Tom BradyNew England PatriotsQB
108Tony RomoDallas CowboysQB
109Philip RiversSan Diego ChargersQB
110Jay CutlerChicago BearsQB
111LeGarrette BlountPittsburgh SteelersRB
112Hakeem NicksIndianapolis ColtsWR
113Jeremy HillCincinnati BengalsRB
114Rueben RandleNew York GiantsWR
115Dwayne BoweKansas City ChiefsWR
116Steve SmithBaltimore RavensWR
117Bernard PierceBaltimore RavensRB
118Carlos HydeSan Francisco 49ersRB
119Greg JenningsMinnesota VikingsWR
120Shonn GreeneTennessee TitansRB
121Mike EvansTampa Bay BuccaneersWR
122Tavon AustinSt. Louis RamsWR
123Terrance WestCleveland BrownsRB
124Justin HunterTennessee TitansWR
125Devonta FreemanAtlanta FalconsRB
126Kelvin BenjaminCarolina PanthersWR
127Brandin CooksNew Orleans SaintsWR
128Carolina Panthers D/ST--
129San Francisco 49ers D/ST--
130Denver Broncos D/ST---
131Arizona Cardinals D/ST--
132Cincinnati Bengals D/ST--
133James StarksGreen Bay PackersRB
134Andy DaltonCincinnati BengalsQB
135Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh SteelersQB
136St. Louis Rams D/ST--
137Knile DavisKansas City ChiefsRB
138Andre WilliamsNew York GiantsRB
139Jarrett BoykinGreen Bay PackersWR
140Eli ManningNew York GiantsQB
141Markus WheatonPittsburgh SteelersWR
142Kyle RudolphMinnesota VikingsTE
143Kansas City Chiefs D/ST--
144New England Patriots D/ST--
145James JonesOakland RaidersWR
146Jordan TodmanJacksonville JaguarsRB
147Martellus BennettChicago BearsTE
148Charles ClayMiami DolphinsTE
149Jonathan GrimesHouston TexansRB
150Zach ErtzPhiladelphia EaglesTE

 

Sleepers to Avoid

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 3:  Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at  AT&T Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Vikings 27-23.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

I'm not one of those people who is going to recommend waiting for a tight end and then selecting Kyle Rudolph. I'm not buying him, sorry.

For starters, I don't trust a player whose fantasy value is solely tied to touchdowns. It's too risky. In 2012, he had nine touchdowns, sure, but he had just 493 receiving yards. That meant he only had fantasy value in weeks he scored.

Before his season ended to injury last year, he had three weeks with nine fantasy points or more, and all of them came in weeks he scored a touchdown. Put another way, 34 of his fantasy points came in the three weeks he scored, while in the other five weeks he put up a meager 11 points.

Sorry, but I'm not interested in riding that roller coaster—certainly not when I can nab Jordan Reed, Dennis Pitta or Greg Olsen a round or two earlier. Just look at Olsen—he had three weeks of seven or more fantasy points without scoring a touchdown and five weeks with at least five fantasy points without a score. 

In total, nine times last year Olsen scored seven or more fantasy points. I'll take that consistency any day of the week over a one-trick pony like Rudolph. 

I truly believe Sammy Watkins is going way too high in drafts (which I wrote about in more depth here). Rookie wide receivers are always risky, as the transition between the college and pro game offers quite the steep learning curve. 

But the main reason I don't trust Watkins is that I don't trust his starting quarterback, EJ Manuel, or the Buffalo game plan.

Let's start with Manuel. Or more accurately, let's allow Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly to express his doubts about Manuel, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com:

'To be honest, I'm not happy with any of them. I would love to see EJ come on,' Kelly said. 'He's a great guy. He's a great leader. I've heard him to speak to the team; I've heard him speak to the receivers before they take the field. His leadership is there. Everything is there.

'But I have not yet seen what we all want to see. And I'm sure he feels the same way. It just hasn't happened, and hopefully that's just because of the preseason.'

Kelly said the Bills' success this season will hinge on Manuel's performance.

'I'm pulling for him, and I'll continue to pull for him,' Kelly said. 'But that is a position without a doubt that is going to determine how the Buffalo Bills do this year. We have a good defense, great receivers, good running backs. It's up to EJ. He'll take us as far as he can, and I just hope he starts playing better.'

As per the Buffalo game plan, well, you need look no further than how the team utilizes exciting talent C.J. Spiller to get an idea of the "unique" approach the Bills might have for Watkins. Time and time again, Spiller is sent crashing into the tackle box, which doesn't play to his skill set. He should be utilized on the edge or put into space, and yet the Bills rarely craft a plan of attack around his skill set.

Will the same happen with Watkins? I fear it might.

Finally, I'm seeing a lot of people drafting Jay Cutler over quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. Um, why?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field on August 14, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bears defeated the Jaguars 20-19.  (Photo by Jona
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yes, I know he has awesome weapons to work with and the quarterback whisperer in coach Marc Trestman. But he's also an injury-prone player who struggles with turning the ball over. Could he blow up this year?

Absolutely. 

Would I risk making him my QB1 without taking a player like Romo or Rivers right behind him in my draft?

Absolutely not. Cutler simply hasn't proved in his career that he's worth trusting completely to be a consistent fantasy option.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me, like Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports:

He can have Cutler—I want someone a bit safer to be my QB1.

 

Targets for the Boldest of Owners

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 22:  Maurice Jones Drew #21 of the Oakland Raiders looks back as he runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 22, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo
John Konstantaras/Getty Images

We can start this section by listing the veteran running backs who for a variety of reasons—they've lost a step, they're injury-prone, they are in a running-back-by-committee situation, etc.—are risky players who might produce and can be had for a decent value but might also flop.

These players include:

Some people might lump Frank Gore into this group, but he's consistently produced enough over the years that I think you can still justify selecting him. Yes, he could fall off the cliff this year, but wouldn't you rather take the chance on that as opposed to risking that any of the above players will be worthy RB2s?

If I can avoid the above players, I'm going to, though if a guy like Jackson is your RB4, you're good. 

Here's a player I think you need to be bold to select but one who could actually be a shock performer this season—Jake Locker. 

Yes, I know he has a hard time staying healthy. Yes, I know accuracy isn't a word he's familiar with. Yes, I know the Tennessee offense doesn't exactly make the network executives stand up and shout in excitement for the rush of ratings when they broadcast a Titans game.

But...Locker appeared in seven games last year. In three of them, he had very strong performances for fantasy owners in standard-scoring leagues (18 or more fantasy points). One contest was decent (14 points). One contest was a "disappointing but better than nothing" showing (10 points). And two were absolute duds (five points or less).

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 15:  Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans warms up on field before the start of the first preseason game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Loui
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Locker has a few things going for him. He has a big arm and enough athleticism to get out of the pocket and make plays. He has a reliable receiver (Kendall Wright), a young receiver with big-play potential (Justin Hunter) and a quick player who can make plays out of the backfield in the passing game (Dexter McCluster).

If he can stay healthy and avoid turning the ball over at an Eli Manning-like clip, he could have a breakout season for fantasy owners. You aren't drafting him to be your starter, obviously, and he's probably too risky as your QB2 if you wait until later in the draft to select your QB1. 

But if you nab a pretty safe starter, you can roll the dice on Locker. Who knowsmaybe he indeed breaks out and, shazam, you have yourself some nice trade bait for later in the season.

Yes, I just typed the word shazam

I think you need to be pretty bold if you are going with the RB/RB strategy in the first two rounds this year, as many people are. That strategy means you are likely going to have to pick at least one player from a group with plenty of potential to either hit it big or bust:

  • Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Arian Foster, Houston Texans
  • Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
  • Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
  • Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
  • Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

Keep in mind that I omitted Alfred Morris from this list because I think he's pretty safe, but his upside is limited compared to the more appealing players above. So if you end the first two rounds with Eddie Lacy and Morris, for example, I think you're pretty safe with those picks. 

On the other hand, if you end the first two rounds with Foster and Ball, I think you have two players with huge potential but also major downsides. Foster is one injury away from potentially retiring. Seriously. Ball has never consistently proved he can be a top fantasy back. But a healthy Foster is an RB1, and Denver's offense made Knowshon Moreno, of all people, a fantasy stud last year, so you can see the upside in Ball.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 23:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos hands off to Montee Ball #28 against the Houston Texans during a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 23, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

I think the RB/RB strategy this year is really bold because there are so many question marks at running back. If you nail your picks, it's a great approach. But you are taking a major risk by doing so.

Here are a few other things only the boldest among us should risk:

  • Taking offensive players from the New Orleans Saints not named Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham or Marques Colston.
  • Taking a running back from the New England Patriots or Carolina Panthers.
  • Assuming Cutler will be a consistent QB1 this year. 
  • Drafting Josh Gordon before his suspension is announced. This could be the pick of the draft if his suspension is either short or he isn't suspended at all. It's a wasted pick if he's done for the year, however. 
  • Assuming Ben Tate can stay healthy. If he can, boy, he could have a big year. But when has he ever stayed healthy?

How bold are you feeling?

 

Have fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer them and make some corny jokes, too. It's more fun than having Shaun Hill as your starting quarterback.

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