Fantasy football is right around the corner, and you don't want to be the one who misses out on that extra bit of knowledge entering draft night.
Did you jump at the wrong picks last year, leading to a season of losses as playoff contenders beat up on your roster? Better read up to avoid a repeat performance.Were you just so good last year that you didn't even have to update your lineup from week to week, and still won the title? Well, things have changed drastically across the league since last year and failing to educate yourself may be the difference between first place and last place.
Put your feet up, sit back and relax as we dive into some serious fantasy football analysis.
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||1.09|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||2.05|
|3||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||2.07|
|4||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||5.03|
|5||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||4.06|
|6||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||7.09|
|7||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||7.01|
|8||Robert Griffin III||Washington Redskins||7.05|
|9||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||10.01|
|10||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||8.07|
|1||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||1.02|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||1.02|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||1.03|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||1.05|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||1.06|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||1.09|
|7||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||2.01|
|8||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.02|
|9||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||2.02|
|10||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals||2.04|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||1.05|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||1.11|
|3||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||1.09|
|4||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||2.01|
|5||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||2.03|
|6||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||2.12|
|7||Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||2.05|
|8||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||3.01|
|9||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||2.09|
|10||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3.11|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||1.08|
|2||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||3.06|
|3||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||3.04|
|4||Vernon Davis||San Francisco Giants||5.07|
|5||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||6.10|
|6||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||5.11|
|7||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||7.12|
|8||Jordan Reed||Washington Redskins||7.04|
|9||Dennis Pitta||Baltimore Ravens||8.07|
|10||Kyle Rudolph||Minnesota Vikings||8.10|
Steven Cook's rankings
Note: Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Best Team Names
|InstaGraham||Instant—just like Jimmy Graham's fantasy output|
|Taste The Dwayne Bowe||For any Skittles fans out there|
|The Big Gronkowski||Pay homage to one of the greatest movies ever (and a star TE) with this one|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles||Blake Bortles might be worth stashing on your bench just to validate using this name|
|Hyde Your Kids, Hyde Your Wife||Carlos Hyde's running style will literally make you want to run and hide|
|Do The Sankey Leg||This could become a household team name if the Titans rookie breaks out|
|Henne Given Sunday||This doesn't necessarily mean you have to draft Chad Henne|
|Weeden Wayne Bowe||Read it aloud|
|Final Dez-tination||Dez Bryant should be in for a "drop-dead" fantasy performance in 2014 (get it?)|
|What Would Jones-Drew?||New Raiders RB is a fantasy sleeper, as is this team name|
|Clowney Question, Bro||Bryce Harper's trademarked saying meets No. 1 overall pick|
Steven Cook's names
Mock Draft Tips
Draft Wideouts Early and Often
It used to be conventional wisdom to select any elite running back with your first fantasy pick. Those days are now long gone.
Whether it's Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning or even Jimmy Graham available late in the opening round, there are options that could be better than the best running back on the board. Sure, LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson would be wonderful, but it's more likely that you'll be selecting between running backs that won't fulfill the value of the top overall player on the board.
For instance, it might be tempting to select Marshawn Lynch or DeMarco Murray with that late first-rounder, but in most cases it's safer to go with Johnson or Graham. Both have defined, invaluable roles in potent offenses that consistently put up numbers.
The notion that it's better to use a running back at the flex isn't without merit, but it also isn't the only way to go about business. Last year, 18 running backs scored north of 150 fantasy points, while 16 pass-catchers managed to reach that same plateau. If your options in the middle rounds are a number of backs trapped in a committee, or someone in the vein of Cordarrelle Patterson or T.Y. Hilton, for the love of the fantasy gods take the wide receiver!
More touches and an affinity for goal-line opportunities makes running backs easy money in fantasy, but it's a gamble to assume some of the mid-tier backs will put up a starter's numbers. It's also harder for backs to gain the favor of hesitant coaches who stress ball security, so breakouts are less likely for backs than they are for receivers.
The NFL is loaded with star quarterbacks, and their targets go down and change from week to week. Having more wideouts on your roster—even down to deep in your bench—will up the chance of you owning that one player who breaks out for three touchdowns.
Second-Year Players Ready to Shine
Saying it takes time to get adjusted to an NFL system for rookie playmakers would be an understatement.
The growing pains are obvious in making the transition from college to the NFL, and although some players make immediate impacts, most develop slowly as a rookie before making big strides in year two. Keep your eye on a few studs who are entering their second year and are already on the verge of a breakout.
First and foremost? Justin Hunter. The 6'4", 200-pound Titans wideout came on slowly as a rookie but caught four touchdowns and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. The former University of Tennessee star makes his mark on big plays, so it will only take a few good looks a game for him to get his points.
Around the NFL noted how much Hunter has been impressing over the preseason, as he finished the preseason second in the NFL in yards:
Another week … another highlight reel play from Justin Hunter.— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 29, 2014
Terrance Williams is another solid name. He's not quite a sleeper, as FantasyFootballCalculator.com has his ADP at 82, but entering his second year he will be a serious threat as the Cowboys' No. 2 receiver in a potent offense.
At tight end, there are two solid options to consider. Jordan Reed is emerging as Washington's star athletic tight end, and strong performances late last year suggest he might be on course for a breakout. Zach Ertz came on slowly in Philadelphia last season, but he's looking like the guy at tight end in Chip Kelly's offense.
Good Offenses > Bad Offenses
The Jaguars scored a total of 247 points last season. The Broncos surpassed that mark on Week 7, coincidentally against Jacksonville.
Why does this matter for fantasy football? Well, do I really need to explain it?
High-scoring teams like the Broncos, Saints and Eagles are worth circling during your fantasy draft because skill-position players from those teams are going to be relevant past just the top few options. Even the third or fourth offensive option there can be worth starting over a No. 1 option in another location, just based on the higher potential for yards and scores.
Of course, players will break out for huge seasons on terrible teams. There are yard-guzzling stars on every team, and less talent around them can make their value soar even higher.
But once you're in the middle rounds of the draft, those players won't be there, and you'll simply be left selecting between the No. 2 wideout on a team fighting for the top draft pick and the fourth option on a high-caliber offense.
Pick the latter.