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

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2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Rankings, Sleepers to Avoid and More
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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
Rank 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 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers RB
6 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints TE
7 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions WR
8 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos QB
9 Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks RB
10 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
11 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
12 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos WR
13 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
14 A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals WR
15 Arian Foster Houston Texans 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 Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers WR
41 Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers RB
42 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers TE
43 Wes Welker Denver Broncos WR
44 C.J. Spiller Buffalo Bills RB
45 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers RB
46 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals WR
47 Ray Rice Baltimore Ravens RB
48 Rashad Jennings New York Giants RB
49 DeSean Jackson Washington WR
50 Pierre Garcon Washington WR
51 Ben Tate Houston Texans RB
52 Torrey Smith Baltimore Ravens WR
53 Trent Richardson Indianapolis Colts RB
54 Jeremy Maclin Philadelphia Eagles WR
55 Michael Floyd Arizona Cardinals WR
56 Robert Griffin III Washington QB
57 Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles QB
58 Bishop Sankey Tennessee Titans RB
59 Roddy White Atlanta Falcons WR
60 Michael Crabtree San Francisco 49ers WR
61 T.Y. Hilton Indianapolis Colts WR
62 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys TE
63 Kendall Wright Tennessee Titans WR
64 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers RB
65 Percy Harvin Seattle Seahawks WR
66 Emmanuel Sanders Denver Broncos WR
67 Joique Bell Detroit Lions RB
68 Chris Johnson New York Jets RB
69 Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings WR
70 Shane Vereen New England Patriots RB
71 Marques Colston New Orleans Saints WR
72 Eric Decker New York Jets WR
73 Terrance Williams Dallas Cowboys WR
74 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns TE
75 Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
76 Golden Tate Detroit Lions WR
77 Julian Edelman New England Patriots WR
78 Reggie Wayne Indianapolis Colts WR
79 Stevan Ridley New England Patriots RB
80 Sammy Watkins Buffalo Bills WR
81 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers QB
82 Chris Johnson New York Jets RB
83 Mike Wallace Miami Dolphins WR
84 Cecil Shorts Jacksonville Jaguars WR
85 Lamar Miller Miami Dolphins RB
86 Fred Jackson Buffalo Bills RB
87 Steven Jackson Atlanta Falcons RB
88 Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers WR
89 Pierre Thomas New Orleans Saints RB
90 DeAndre Hopkins Houston Texans WR
91 Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders RB
92 Maurice Jones-Drew Oakland Raiders RB
93 Darren Sproles Philadelphia Eagles RB
94 DeAngelo Williams Carolina Panthers RB
95 Knowshon Moreno Miami Dolphins RB
96 Riley Cooper Philadelphia Eagles WR
97 Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
98 Khiry Robinson New Orleans Saints RB
99 Chris Ivory New York Jets RB
100 Danny Woodhead San Diego Chargers RB
101 Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints
102 Danny Amendola New England Patriots RB
103 Seattle D/ST - -
104 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers TE
105 Jordan Reed Washington TE
106 Dennis Pitta Baltimore Ravens TE
107 Tom Brady New England Patriots QB
108 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys QB
109 Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers QB
110 Jay Cutler Chicago Bears QB
111 LeGarrette Blount Pittsburgh Steelers RB
112 Hakeem Nicks Indianapolis Colts WR
113 Jeremy Hill Cincinnati Bengals RB
114 Rueben Randle New York Giants WR
115 Dwayne Bowe Kansas City Chiefs WR
116 Steve Smith Baltimore Ravens WR
117 Bernard Pierce Baltimore Ravens RB
118 Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers RB
119 Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings WR
120 Shonn Greene Tennessee Titans RB
121 Mike Evans Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
122 Tavon Austin St. Louis Rams WR
123 Terrance West Cleveland Browns RB
124 Justin Hunter Tennessee Titans WR
125 Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons RB
126 Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers WR
127 Brandin Cooks New Orleans Saints WR
128 Carolina Panthers D/ST - -
129 San Francisco 49ers D/ST - -
130 Denver Broncos D/ST -- -
131 Arizona Cardinals D/ST - -
132 Cincinnati Bengals D/ST - -
133 James Starks Green Bay Packers RB
134 Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
135 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers QB
136 St. Louis Rams D/ST - -
137 Knile Davis Kansas City Chiefs RB
138 Andre Williams New York Giants RB
139 Jarrett Boykin Green Bay Packers WR
140 Eli Manning New York Giants QB
141 Markus Wheaton Pittsburgh Steelers WR
142 Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings TE
143 Kansas City Chiefs D/ST - -
144 New England Patriots D/ST - -
145 James Jones Oakland Raiders WR
146 Jordan Todman Jacksonville Jaguars RB
147 Martellus Bennett Chicago Bears TE
148 Charles Clay Miami Dolphins TE
149 Jonathan Grimes Houston Texans RB
150 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles TE

 

Sleepers to Avoid

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?

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

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:

  • Chris Johnson, New York Jets
  • Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
  • Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
  • Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

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).

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.

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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