Fantasy Football 2014 Cheatsheet: Roundup of Top Expert Rankings

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystAugust 28, 2014

Fantasy Football 2014 Cheatsheet: Roundup of Top Expert Rankings

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    In just one short week, the 2014 NFL season will begin with a rematch of the infamous "Fail Mary" game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

    That game also brings with it the beginning of another fantasy football campaign, as men and women around the globe attempt to guide their imaginary team to pretend glory.

    And possibly some very real money.

    However, before the season can get underway, there's still one last big weekend of fantasy drafts to go.

    As a service to those who have yet to assemble their squads, here's a look at some aggregate fantasy football rankings for the 2014 season from some of the biggest names in the industry.

    Note: These rankings are for standard scoring (non-PPR) fantasy football leagues.

Meet the Experts

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    Jason Merritt/Getty Images

    This rankings set is a composite of the rankings of 10 of the fantasy football industry's best minds.

    They are:

    1. Brandon Funston, Yahoo Sports
    2. Eric Mack, Bleacher Report
    3. Matthew Berry, ESPN
    4. Dave Richard, CBS Sports
    5. Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus (subscription required)
    6. David Dodds, Football Guys (subscription required)
    7. John Halpin, Fox Sports
    8. The Sablich Brothers, The New York Times
    9. Michael Fabiano,
    10. Walton Spurlin, Fantasy Sharks

    That's quite the murderer's row of fantasy experts.

Quarterback: Peyton's Place

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    You may not have heard, but Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a pretty good year in 2013.

    In fact, after setting NFL records for both passing yardage and touchdown passes last year en route to finishing as fantasy football's top quarterback by a huge margin, Manning is a first-round pick in many fantasy drafts this year.

    However, before you pull the trigger on Manning, it's worth bearing in mind that after throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004 (then a record), Manning threw only 28 the following season.

    After Tom Brady broke the record in 2007, he was injured in the season opener the following year.

    In fact, wise fantasy owners will bide their time behind center, taking advantage of the depth at the position by waiting to select a starter.

    Consider this: Both Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers posted top-five fantasy numbers last year.

    Neither is even ranked as a fantasy starter in 12-team leagues in 2014.

    (Bye week in parentheses)

    1. Peyton Manning, DEN (4)
    2. Drew Brees, NO (6)
    3. Aaron Rodgers, GB (9)
    4. Matthew Stafford, DET (9)
    5. Andrew Luck, IND (10)
    6. Matt Ryan, ATL (9)
    7. Tom Brady, NE (10)
    8. Nick Foles, PHI (7)
    9. Cam Newton, CAR (12)
    10. Robert Griffin, WAS (10)
    11. Tony Romo, DAL (11)
    12. Jay Cutler, CHI (9)
    13. Colin Kaepernick, SF (8)
    14. Russell Wilson, SEA (4)
    15. Philip Rivers, SD (10)
    16. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (12)
    17. Andy Dalton, CIN (4)
    18. Ryan Tannehill, MIA (5)
    19. Carson Palmer, ARI (4)
    20. Alex Smith, KC (6)
    21. Joe Flacco, BAL (11)
    22. Eli Manning, NYG (8)
    23. Jake Locker, TEN (9)
    24. Josh McCown, TB (7)
    25. Johnny Manziel, CLE (4)

Running Back: The Fantastic Four

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Look around at fantasy football rankings and you'll see quite a bit of variance as to who the No. 1 running back is in 2014.

    For some, it's Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs, who was fantasy football's top back a year ago. Others still prefer LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles or Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.

    There may be some question of who the top dog is, but there's almost universal agreement that Charles, McCoy, Peterson and Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears are the clear-cut top tier in the backfield in 2014.

    One thing's for certain. The number of "featured" backs in the NFL isn't getting any bigger, and fantasy football teams that are able to acquire one of those "bellcows" may find themselves with a decided edge at the position this year.

    (Bye week in parentheses)

    1. Jamaal Charles, KC (6)
    2. LeSean McCoy, PHI (7)
    3. Adrian Peterson, MIN (10)
    4. Matt Forte, CHI (9)
    5. Eddie Lacy, GB (9)
    6. Montee Ball, DEN (4)
    7. DeMarco Murray, DAL (11)
    8. Marshawn Lynch, SEA (4)
    9. Giovani Bernard, CIN (4)
    10. Doug Martin, TB (7)
    11. Arian Foster, HOU (10)
    12. Alfred Morris, WAS (10)
    13. Zac Stacy, STL (4)
    14. Andre Ellington, ARI (4)
    15. Le’Veon Bell, PIT (12)
    16. Ryan Mathews, SD (10)
    17. Reggie Bush, DET (9)
    18. C.J. Spiller, BUF (9)
    19. Toby Gerhart, JAX (11)
    20. Rashad Jennings, NYG (8)
    21. Frank Gore, SF (8)
    22. Joique Bell, DET (9)
    23. Shane Vereen, NE (10)
    24. Chris Johnson, NYJ (11)
    25. Ben Tate, CLE (4)
    26. Ray Rice, BAL (11)
    27. Bishop Sankey, TEN (9)
    28. Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK (5)
    29. Lamar Miller, MIA (5)
    30. Steven Jackson, ATL (9)
    31. Trent Richardson, IND (10)
    32. Stevan Ridley, NE (10)
    33. Pierre Thomas, NO (6)
    34. Fred Jackson, BUF (9)
    35. Bernard Pierce, BAL (11)
    36. Knowshon Moreno, MIA (5)
    37. Mark Ingram, NO (6)
    38. Darren Sproles, PHI (7)
    39. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (12)
    40. Jeremy Hill, CIN (4)
    41. Danny Woodhead, SD (10)
    42. Andre Williams, NYG (8)
    43. Terrance West, CLE (4)
    44. Shonn Greene, TEN (9)
    45. Carlos Hyde, SF (8)
    46. LeGarrette Blount, PIT (12)
    47. Devonta Freeman, ATL (9)
    48. Darren McFadden, OAK (5)
    49. Chris Ivory, NYJ (11)
    50. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (12)

Wide Receiver: More Than Meets the Eye

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    There's something for everyone at the wide receiver position in 2014.

    The group is headlined once again by Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, who was the No. 1 pick of nine of the 10 experts included here.

    Behind Johnson is a pack of elite fantasy options. In addition to Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos (who received the last first-place vote), Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons are all popular choices as this year's No. 2 at the position.

    There's youth and upside galore, whether it's in WR2 territory with the likes of Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals and Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings or deeper still with players such as Justin Hunter of the Tennessee Titans.

    Don't sleep on veterans such as Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts and Roddy White of the Falcons, who are sliding in many fantasy drafts after injury-marred seasons a year ago.

    Throw in the deepest rookie class in years, and there's a lot to like for fantasy owners.

    1. Calvin Johnson, DET (9)
    2. Demaryius Thomas, DEN (4)
    3. Dez Bryant, DAL (11)
    4. A.J. Green, CIN (4)
    5. Brandon Marshall, CHI (9)
    6. Julio Jones, ATL (9)
    7. Jordy Nelson, GB (9)
    8. Antonio Brown, PIT (12)
    9. Alshon Jeffery, CHI (9)
    10. Randall Cobb, GB (9)
    11. Vincent Jackson, TB (7)
    12. Keenan Allen, SD (10)
    13. Andre Johnson, HOU (10)
    14. Roddy White, ATL (9)
    15. Victor Cruz, NYG (8)
    16. Pierre Garcon, WAS (10)
    17. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (4)
    18. Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN (10)
    19. Michael Floyd, ARI (4)
    20. Michael Crabtree, SF (8)
    21. DeSean Jackson, PHI (10)
    22. Torrey Smith, BAL (11)
    23. Percy Harvin, SEA (4)
    24. Mike Wallace, MIA (5)
    25. Marques Colston, NO (6)
    26. T.Y. Hilton, IND (10)
    27. Julian Edelman, NE (10)
    28. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (4)
    29. Kendall Wright, TEN (9)
    30. Wes Welker, DEN (4)
    31. Eric Decker, NYJ (11)
    32. Terrance Williams, DAL (11)
    33. Jeremy Maclin, PHI (7)
    34. Golden Tate, DET (9)
    35. Brandin Cooks, NO (6)
    36. Reggie Wayne, IND (10)
    37. Sammy Watkins, BUF (9)
    38. Rueben Randle, NYG (8)
    39. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (12)
    40. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (10)
    41. Mike Evans, TB (7)
    42. Dwayne Bowe, KC (6)
    43. Riley Cooper, PHI (7)
    44. Cecil Shorts, JAX (11)
    45. Justin Hunter, TEN (9)
    46. Anquan Boldin, SF (8)
    47. Markus Wheaton, PIT (12)
    48. Brian Hartline, MIA (5)
    49. Greg Jennings, MIN (10)
    50. Hakeem Nicks, IND (10)

Tight End: King Jimmy the First

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    When it comes to the tight end position in fantasy football in 2014, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a tier unto himself.

    In fact, Graham's in his own world value-wise.

    Coming off a 2013 campaign where Graham outscored the second-place tight end by almost three fantasy points per game (while battling injuries, no less) Graham isn't just the first tight end being drafted.

    He's a legitimate first-round pick.

    Fantasy owners who feel brave can take aim at Graham-like upside for a slightly lower price. Of course, drafting New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a gamble in the truest sense given Gronk's recent problems staying on the field.

    Fantasy owners willing to sacrifice a bit of upside for a lower asking price can look to high-floor options like Jason Witten of the Cowboys and Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers.

    Or you can take the opposite route, rolling the dice on a breakout candidate like Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles or Ladarius Green of the San Diego Chargers.

    Decisions, decisions.

    (Bye week in parentheses)

    1. Jimmy Graham, NO (6)
    2. Rob Gronkowski, NE (10)
    3. Julius Thomas, DEN (4)
    4. Jordan Cameron, CLE (4)
    5. Vernon Davis, SF (8)
    6. Jason Witten, DAL (11)
    7. Greg Olsen, CAR (12)
    8. Dennis Pitta, BAL (11)
    9. Jordan Reed, WAS (10)
    10. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (10)
    11. Zach Ertz, PHI (7)
    12. Martellus Bennett, CHI (9)
    13. Ladarius Green, SD (10)
    14. Charles Clay, MIA (5)
    15. Antonio Gates, SD (10)
    16. Delanie Walker, TEN (9)
    17. Heath Miller, PIT (12)
    18. Dwayne Allen, IND (10)
    19. Tyler Eifert, CIN (4)
    20. Eric Ebron, DET (9)
    21. Travis Kelce, KC (6)
    22. Jared Cook, STL (4)
    23. Coby Fleener, IND (10)
    24. Garrett Graham, HOU (10)
    25. Richard Rodgers, GB (9)

Kickers and Team Defenses

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    What can you say about kickers and team defenses?

    Oh yeah! Now I remember!

    Don't draft them until the end of your draft!!!

    Even the best kickers and defenses can be wildly unpredictable from one season to the next. In 2013, coming off back-to-back AFC South titles, the Houston Texans were drafted as a top-five fantasy defense.

    Then the injuries hit, the Texans went 2-14 and the defense finished dead last in default fantasy scoring.

    In fact, even if that high-end kicker or defense you drafted does meet expectations, odds are the "edge" you get won't be worth the pick it took to get it.

    Last year in scoring, the difference between the top-ranked kicker (Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots) and the 12th-ranked kicker (Jay Feely) was all of two fantasy points per game.

    Wait, pick a defense with a couple of favorable matchups to start the year and a kicker on a good offense, and call it good.


    1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE (10)
    2. Steven Hauschka, SEA (4)
    3. Justin Tucker, BAL (11)
    4. Phil Dawson, SF (8)
    5. Dan Bailey, DAL (11)
    6. Mason Crosby, GB (9)
    7. Matt Bryant, ATL (9)
    8. Adam Vinatieri, IND (10)
    9. Blair Walsh, MIN (10)
    10. Nick Novak, SD (10)
    11. Shayne Graham, NO (6)
    12. Robbie Gould, CHI (9)
    13. Matt Prater, DEN (4)
    14. Alex Henery, PHI (7)
    15. Greg Zuerlein, STL (4)
    16. Nate Freese, DET (9)
    17. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK (5)
    18. Nick Folk, NYJ (11)
    19. Ryan Succop, KC (6)
    20. Caleb Sturgis, MIA (5)

    Defense/Special Teams

    1. Seattle Seahawks (4)
    2. San Francisco 49ers (8)
    3. Carolina Panthers (12)
    4. Cincinnati Bengals (4)
    5. St. Louis Rams (4)
    6. Denver Broncos (4)
    7. New England Patriots (10)
    8. Kansas City Chiefs (6)
    9. Cleveland Browns (4)
    10. Baltimore Ravens (11)
    11. Arizona Cardinals (4)
    12. Houston Texans (10)
    13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7)
    14. New Orleans Saints (6)
    15. Buffalo Bills (9)
    16. Pittsburgh Steelers (12)
    17. Green Bay Packers (9)
    18. Chicago Bears (9)
    19. New York Jets (11)
    20. Miami Dolphins (5)

Printable Cheatsheet

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    By now you've perused the rankings, and at least one of these thoughts has crossed your mind:

    • "These are so wrong."
    • "I can't believe they ranked (this guy) in (that spot)."
    • "I want a Hot Pocket."

    Admit it. It was that last one.

    You're likely also wondering when the "printable" part of this printable cheatsheet comes in.

    Well, wonder no more. Click here to view the cheatsheet in .PDF format.

    Gary Davenport is a Fantasy Football and NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America. Gary’s fantasy football work has been featured in a number of national print publications and on both satellite and terrestrial radio, and he was a finalist for the FSWA Web Article of the Year in 2013. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.