Fantasy Football 2014: Positional Rankings and Top Sleepers to Target

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Fantasy Football 2014: Positional Rankings and Top Sleepers to Target
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It's almost hard to believe the 2014 NFL season's first meaningful game is only days away. With the preseason finally in the books, fantasy football drafts around the world are set to commence. Last-minute preparations are in order.

We've learned a good deal of information throughout all 65 of this year's exhibition games. We know which offenses are clicking, which running backs are primed to receive the bulk of the workload, and which wide receivers appear to be in line for the bulk of their respective teams' targets.

Taking all of this information into consideration, we can compile our final fantasy football rankings before Week 1 of the regular season rolls around. That said, let's take a look at the top 15 players at each position—sans defense and kickers—followed by some sleepers to target in the late rounds of this year's fantasy drafts.

 

Quarterbacks

Morry Gash/Associated Press

2014 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings
Rank Player Team
1 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos
2 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints
3 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
4 Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions
5 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts
6 Tom Brady New England Patriots
7 Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons
8 Jay Cutler Chicago Bears
9 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys
10 Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals
11 Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles
12 Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers
13 Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins
14 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers
15 Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks

Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

This year's quarterback rankings are pretty straightforward. Now that Aaron Rodgers is healthy again, the upper echelon of signal-callers has been restored for the coming season. There are a few surprises, though.

Some fantasy owners may think Andy Dalton's No. 10 ranking is a little high. Not so fast. Last season, Dalton ranked fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. With a bevy of young, talented weapons at his disposal, he should be poised for a top-10 performance again in 2014.

Scott Bischoff of New Era Scouting tweeted his take on the quarterback's fantasy value:

One quarterback to be wary of this season is Cam Newton. While he has impressive physical tools, he simply doesn't have enough weapons around him to warrant any kind of confidence this season. A couple of aging veterans and a rookie at the wide receiver positions simply won't do it.

 

Running Backs

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

2014 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
Rank Player Team
1 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles
2 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs
3 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
4 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers
5 Matt Forte Chicago Bears
6 Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks
7 Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals
8 Montee Ball Denver Broncos
9 DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys
10 Andre Ellington Arizona Cardinals
11 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12 Arian Foster Houston Texans
13 Zac Stacy St. Louis Rams
14 Alfred Morris Washington Redskins
15 Reggie Bush Detroit Lions

Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

The top three backs are set in stone this season—in one order or another. Chances are, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson will be the first three ball-carriers selected in your fantasy drafts, as all three reside on offenses that completely revolve around them.

One running back who has been left off the top 15 is Le'Veon Bell. The Pittsburgh Steelers' second-year ball-carrier didn't have an overwhelming rookie season—he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry—and now he's in line to lose touches—including goal-line carries—to LeGarrette Blount.

 

Wide Receivers

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

2014 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings
Rank Player Team
1 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions
2 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos
3 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys
4 A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals
5 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers
6 Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons
7 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears
8 Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers
9 Alshon Jeffery Chicago Bears
10 Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers
11 Vincent Jackson Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12 Roddy White Atlanta Falcons
13 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers
14 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals
15 Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings

Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

There are two receivers who specifically have tremendous value on this list.

Keenan Allen burst onto the scene last season, recording 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns as the focal point of Mike McCoy's offense led by a resurgent Philip Rivers. With a full season under his belt, the sky is the limit for this second-year receiver.

FantasyGuru.com is high on the receiver:

Don't sleep on Larry Fitzgerald this season. He hasn't reached 1,000 receiving yards in the past two seasons, but he was still able to produce 10 touchdowns last season with Carson Palmer at the helm. Expect more of the same from the veteran in 2014.

 

Tight Ends

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

2014 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
Rank Player Team
1 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints
2 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos
3 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots
4 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers
5 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns
6 Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
7 Dennis Pitta Baltimore Ravens
8 Jordan Reed Washington Redskins
9 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers
10 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys
11 Martellus Bennett Chicago Bears
12 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles
13 Charles Clay Miami Dolphins
14 Ladarius Green San Diego Chargers
15 Antonio Gates San Diego Chargers

Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

Jimmy Graham remains the one tight end worthy of a first-round selection. However, fantasy owners willing to gamble on Rob Gronkowski in the third round could be heavily rewarded, as he is capable of putting up Graham-like numbers if he can stay healthy.

For those owners who would rather wait on a tight end, there's plenty of talent available in the fifth through eighth rounds. Jordan Cameron figures to be the top target in Cleveland this season, and Greg Olsen figures to see plenty of work in Carolina.

 

Sleepers

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

2014 Fantasy Football Top Sleepers
Player Pos. Team
James White RB New England Patriots
Travis Kelce TE Kansas City Chiefs
Markus Wheaton WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Stills WR New Orleans Saints
Jordan Matthews WR Philadelphia Eagles
DeAndre Hopkins WR Houston Texans
Jarrett Boykin WR Green Bay Packers
Marqise Lee WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Miles Austin WR Cleveland Browns
Heath Miller TE Pittsburgh Steelers
Lance Dunbar RB Dallas Cowboys
John Brown WR Arizona Cardinals
Eric Ebron TE Detroit Lions
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Indianapolis Colts
Marvin Jones WR Cincinnati Bengals

Sean O'Donnell's Rankings

Each player on this list is certainly worthy of a flier in fantasy drafts; however, New England Patriots running back James White is a great option heading into the regular season. With Stevan Ridley's well-known ball-security issues and Shane Vereen's role as a change-of-pace back, White could potentially see the bulk of the work out of New England's backfield at some point this season.

Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus tweeted his thoughts on White:

Also, watch out for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills. As a rookie in 2013, Stills broke out, showcasing his speed to average 20 yards per reception. He can be expected to see more work this season in a pass-happy offense.

Cincinnati's Marvin Jones makes this list, but he's currently dealing with a foot injury that's likely to keep him out until Week 5. He could be poised for a big season as the team's No. 2 target behind A.J. Green, so snatch him from the waiver wire before he's back in action.

 

All rankings based on fantasy leagues in standard-scoring format.

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