Fantasy Football 2014: Updated Top-50 Player Rankings and Mock Draft Trends

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIAugust 29, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy rushes during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Week 4 of the preseason is set to commence in short order, and for fantasy football enthusiasts, that means impending drafts are just days away. Despite the benefit of heavy amounts of research over the offseason, a lack of understanding regarding current fantasy draft trends could doom even the best of owners.

No, this doesn't simply mean that you must keep up on the latest NFL news—we all know Josh Gordon has been suspended for the year—it means extra attention must be paid to average draft positions and other telling trends in recent fantasy drafts.

Taking the most current player and positional trends into consideration, here's a look at the updated top-50 player rankings for the 2014 fantasy football season, followed by an overview of a few recent mock draft trends to keep an eye on.

Updated 2014 Fantasy Football Top-50 Rankings
RankPlayerTeamPos.ADP*
1LeSean McCoyEaglesRB1.02
2Jamaal CharlesChiefsRB1.03
3Adrian PetersonVikingsRB1.04
4Eddie LacyPackersRB1.05
5Matt ForteBearsRB1.06
6Calvin JohnsonLionsWR1.06
7Jimmy GrahamSaintsTE1.08
8Demaryius ThomasBroncosWR1.08
9Peyton ManningBroncosQB1.07
10Dez BryantCowboysWR1.11
11Marshawn LynchSeahawksRB1.12
12A.J. GreenBengalsWR2.01
13Montee BallBroncosRB1.12
14DeMarco MurrayCowboysRB2.02
15Drew BreesSaintsQB2.04
16Brandon MarshallBearsWR2.05
17Giovani BernardBengalsRB2.06
18Aaron RodgersPackersQB2.06
19Julio JonesFalconsWR2.03
20Jordy NelsonPackersWR2.08
21Antonio BrownSteelersWR2.10
22Doug MartinBuccaneersRB2.09
23Alfred MorrisRedskinsRB2.12
24Arian FosterTexansRB2.08
25Alshon JefferyBearsWR2.12
26Andre EllingtonCardinalsRB3.02
27Julius ThomasBroncosTE3.04
28Zac StacyRamsRB3.05
29Rob GronkowskiPatriotsTE3.06
30Le'Veon BellSteelersRB3.06
31Keenan AllenChargersWR3.07
32Reggie BushLionsRB3.08
33Vincent JacksonBuccaneersWR3.10
34Randall CobbPackersWR3.04
35Larry FitzgeraldCardinalsWR4.04
36Roddy WhiteFalconsWR4.02
37Victor CruzGiantsWR4.04
38Cordarrelle PattersonVikingsWR4.04
39Rashad JenningsGiantsRB3.11
40Toby GerhartJaguarsRB4.02
41Shane VereenPatriotsRB4.05
42Ryan MathewsChargersRB4.05
43Matthew StaffordLionsQB4.06
44Andre JohnsonTexansWR4.08
45Frank Gore49ersRB4.08
46Pierre GarconRedskinsWR4.09
47Michael Crabtree49ersWR4.12
48Michael FloydCardinalsWR5.01
49Percy HarvinSeahawksWR5.01
50C.J. SpillerBillsRB4.01
Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

*Average draft position (ADP) based on 12-team leagues with standard scoring, via FantasyFootballCalculator.com, and up to date as of Aug. 28.

 

Trends

Risers and Fallers

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

One bit of trouble some fantasy owners run into this time of year is working off a rankings system that isn't exactly up to date. While rankings that were written in July were most certainly accurate at one point in time, they aren't anymore.

This is due to players quickly jumping up the fantasy football ranks—and others severely plummeting—for a multitude of reasons.

Let's take Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington for example.

Ellington's role was small in 2013; however, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry and proved to be a threat in the passing game as well. With the second-year back now atop Arizona's depth chart, fantasy owners were excited about a potential breakout season.

The hype surrounding Ellington was real earlier in the offseason, as Rotoworld's Adam Levitan tweeted about the running back's ADP in late May:

Now, Ellington's ADP has almost a full round differential at 3.02. If this running back is one of your coveted targets, don't hesitate too long.

 

Running Back/Wide Receiver Strategy

Aug 15, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) makes the touchdown grab against Seattle Seahawks defensive back Steven Terrell (26) during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Spo
USA TODAY Sports

Many fantasy owners want to know exactly when to draft their running backs and wide receivers. Well, the best possible advice here is to stick to your big board and select the highest-ranked player when you're on the clock.

Although, if we are going to put some sort of chronological order on this process, here's a strategy to follow.

If you're selecting early in the first round, you have the option of drafting one of the league's best ball-carriers. Don't hesitate to do so. In snake-draft formats, there will be plenty of RB2 options remaining at the end of the second round to complete a dynamic duo of ball-carriers.

Wide receivers can be had throughout the draft. Players like Keenan Allen, Roddy White, Victor Cruz, Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson are heralded as fourth-round selections this season.

JJ Zachariason of LateRoundQB.com employed this strategy in a recent draft. Here's his haul:

If you're selecting late in the first round, you could opt for an elite wide receiver first. However, coupling a second-round running back is necessary in this situation. Grabbing DeMarco Murray or Giovani Bernard as your RB1 is crucial, as running back depth will begin to deteriorate quickly.

 

Beware of Injuries

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts to the cheers of fan as he leaves the field with an injury in the 3rd quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This is a trend that's easy to follow. Be sure you're completely up to date on all injuries before the draft, as a recent incident could send a player into a free-fall down draft boards. Don't be the owner who takes this player early due to a lack of vital information.

History is also very helpful in these situations. Knowing which players are currently injured is a big part of the process, but also paying attention to a player's injury history should weigh heavily on your draft decisions as well.

Note the rankings of Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. Both of these players have proved to be among the most dangerous in the league; however, due to their inability to stay healthy, their ranking don't come close to reflecting on their talent.

Chad Parsons of Footballguys.com tweeted his thoughts on drafting Foster:

Selecting a player with a checkered injury history is always a risk. Fantasy owners must decide if that risk is worth the potential reward. Will Doug Martin have a big comeback year? Will Adrian Peterson remain healthy through all 16 games?

Ask yourself similar questions before gambling with an early-round pick.