Fantasy Football 2014: Mock Draft Tips, Position Rankings and Best Team Names

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 1, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 28:  Mike Brown #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled by  Pat Angerer #44 of the Atlanta Falcons and  Jonathan Massaquoi #94 during the preseason NFL game at EverBank Field on August 28, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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.

 

Position Rankings

2014 Fantasy Football Position Rankings
Quarterback
RankPlayerTeamADP
1Peyton ManningDenver Broncos1.09
2Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints2.05
3Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers2.07
4Andrew LuckIndianapolis Colts5.03
5Matthew StaffordDetroit Lions4.06
6Cam NewtonCarolina Panthers7.09
7Nick FolesPhiladelphia Eagles7.01
8Robert Griffin IIIWashington Redskins7.05
9Philip RiversSan Diego Chargers10.01
10Colin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ers8.07
Running Back
RankPlayerTeamADP
1Jamaal CharlesKansas City Chiefs1.02
2LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia Eagles1.02
3Adrian PetersonMinnesota Vikings1.03
4Matt ForteChicago Bears1.05
5Eddie LacyGreen Bay Packers1.06
6Marshawn LynchSeattle Seahawks1.09
7DeMarco MurrayDallas Cowboys2.01
8Doug MartinTampa Bay Buccaneers3.02
9Montee BallDenver Broncos2.02
10Giovani BernardCincinnati Bengals2.04
Wide Receiver
RankPlayerTeamADP
1Calvin JohnsonDetroit Lions1.05
2Dez BryantDallas Cowboys1.11
3Demaryius ThomasDenver Broncos1.09
4A.J. GreenCincinnati Bengals2.01
5Brandon MarshallChicago Bears2.03
6Antonio BrownPittsburgh Steelers2.12
7Julio JonesAtlanta Falcons2.05
8Alshon JefferyChicago Bears3.01
9Jordy NelsonGreen Bay Packers2.09
10Vincent JacksonTampa Bay Buccaneers3.11
Tight End
RankPlayerTeamADP
1Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans Saints1.08
2Julius ThomasDenver Broncos3.06
3Rob GronkowskiNew England Patriots3.04
4Vernon DavisSan Francisco Giants5.07
5Jason WittenDallas Cowboys6.10
6Jordan CameronCleveland Browns5.11
7Greg OlsenCarolina Panthers7.12
8Jordan ReedWashington Redskins7.04
9Dennis PittaBaltimore Ravens8.07
10Kyle RudolphMinnesota Vikings8.10
Steven Cook's rankings

Note: Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com.

 

Best Team Names

Top Fantasy Football Team Names
NameWhy?
InstaGrahamInstant—just like Jimmy Graham's fantasy output
Taste The Dwayne BoweFor any Skittles fans out there
The Big GronkowskiPay homage to one of the greatest movies ever (and a star TE) with this one
Teenage Mutant Ninja BortlesBlake Bortles might be worth stashing on your bench just to validate using this name
Hyde Your Kids, Hyde Your WifeCarlos Hyde's running style will literally make you want to run and hide
Do The Sankey LegThis could become a household team name if the Titans rookie breaks out
Henne Given SundayThis doesn't necessarily mean you have to draft Chad Henne
Weeden Wayne BoweRead it aloud
Final Dez-tinationDez 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, BroBryce Harper's trademarked saying meets No. 1 overall pick
Steven Cook's names

 

 

Mock Draft Tips

Draft Wideouts Early and Often

Brandon Wade/Associated Press

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.

Most think that it's wise to go with more running backs rather than receivers, but that's not always the case, as NFL.com's Alex Gelhar explains: 

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

Bill Haber/Associated Press

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:

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

LM Otero/Associated Press

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.