2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Eric Mack's Ultimate Blueprint

Eric Mack@@EricMackFantasyFantasy Football Lead WriterAugust 15, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Eric Mack's Ultimate Blueprint

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Somewhere Over the Dwayne Bowe (h/t to my Fantasy FatCast co-host David Gonos of About.com for that team-name gem), you are officially on the clock.

    "Uh, (panic) um, (lost bodily functions), I'll pick..."

    It doesn't have to be so stressful or complex. Bleacher Report has you prepared as well as anyone with the Ultimate Blueprint from our 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide. This slideshow breaks down every position comprehensively, and we present you with all the options and reasoning.

    All you need to do is read up now and push the buttons in a couple of weeks. Class is now in session...

Top 100 Overall: Jamaal Charles Still No. 1, but LeSean McCoy Is Closing Ground

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Fantasy owners tend to complicate things. It might be because of very meticulous fantasy analysts.

    When you are drafting, take just one tool with you. You don't want to be flipping through pages or a multitude of Internet links when you are making your decisions round by round.

    K.I.S.S.: Keep it simple, stupid.

    Most of the organization in Bleacher Report's Top 100 overall players for 2014 is explained in the following slides, but here is how everything comes together in one tidy package.

    You will notice, analysts and the public are united in thinking the first four picks should be running backs in a standard draft this season. We will examine it a bit deeper in the running backs slide, but Jamaal Charles is clinging to a lead on LeSean McCoy as the No. 1 overall pick.

    Bleacher Report Top 100

    2014 Overall Draft Rankings—Eric Mack
    RankOverall RankingsTeamECRvs. ECR
    1Jamaal CharlesKC10
    2 LeSean McCoyPhi20
    3Adrian PetersonMin30
    4Matt ForteChi40
    5Jimmy GrahamNO7+2
    6Calvin JohnsonDet60
    7Eddie LacyGB5-2
    8Peyton ManningDen20+12
    9DeMarco MurrayDal10+1
    10Marshawn LynchSea12+2
    11Doug MartinTB26+15
    12 Zac StacyStL21+9
    13A.J. GreenCin130
    14Demaryius ThomasDen8-6
    15Dez BryantDal9-6
    16Montee BallDen11-5
    17Aaron RodgersGB25+8
    18Drew BreesNO27+9
    19Brandon MarshallChi15-4
    20Alfred MorrisWas22+2
    21Julio JonesAtl14-7
    22 Alshon JefferyChi23+1
    23 Le'Veon BellPit16-7
    24 Giovani BernardCin17-7
    25Andre EllingtonAri28+3
    26Julius ThomasDen36+10
    27Antonio BrownPit24-3
    28Jordy NelsonGB19-9
    29Randall CobbGB290
    30C.J. SpillerBuf300
    31Pierre GarconWas38+7
    32Victor CruzNYG35+3
    33Arian FosterHou18-15
    34Reggie BushDet42+8
    35Rob GronkowskiNE34-1
    36Larry FitzgeraldAri40+4
    37DeSean JacksonWas55+18
    38Michael CrabtreeSF44+6
    39Chris JohnsonNYJ59+20
    40Andrew LuckInd54+14
    41Roddy WhiteAtl410
    42Frank GoreSF46+4
    43Ryan MathewsSD39-4
    44Keenan AllenSD32-12
    45Vernon DavisSF65+20
    46Vincent JacksonTB31-15
    47Torrey SmithBal52+5
    48Jeremy MaclinPhi75+27
    49 Rashad JenningsNYG43-6
    50Matthew StaffordDet45-5
    51T.Y. HiltonInd67+16
    52Michael FloydAri48-4
    53Ben TateCle57+4
    54Toby Gerhart Jac33-21
    55Bishop Sankey Ten51-4
    56Nick FolesPhi62+6
    57Cam NewtonCar72+15
    58Robert GriffinWas64+6
    59Julian Edelman NE78+19
    60Trent RichardsonInd68+8
    61Wes WelkerDen50-11
    62Eric DeckerNYJ77+15
    63Lamar MillerMia630
    64Matt RyanAtl66+2
    65Marques ColstonNO71+6
    66Percy HarvinSea53-13
    67Tom BradyNE73+6
    68Ray RiceBal61-7
    69Stevan RidleyNE70+1
    70Andre JohnsonHou37-33
    71 Cordarrelle PattersonMin49-22
    72Kendall WrightTen69-3
    73Jordan CameronCle58-15
    74Russell WilsonSea96+22
    75Tony RomoDal76+1
    76Shane Vereen NE56-20
    77Jason WittenDal84+7
    78Steven JacksonAtl74-4
    79Maurice Jones-DrewOak90+11
    80 Joique BellDet47-33
    81Greg OlsenCar82+1
    82Cecil ShortsJac97+15
    83Jordan ReedWas89+6
    84Sammy WatkinsBuf95+11
    85Mike WallaceMia60-25
    86Riley CooperPhi108+22
    87Terrance WilliamsDal79-8
    88Colin KaepernickSF81-7
    89Andy DaltonCin123+34
    90Dwayne BoweKC94+4
    91Jay CutlerChi87-4
    92Dennis PittaBal93+1
    93Mark IngramNO127+34
    94Bernard PierceBal100+6
    95Darren SprolesPhi111+16
    96Hakeem NicksInd121+25
    97Emmanuel SandersDen85-12
    98Kelvin BenjaminCar112+14
    99 Brandin CooksNO990
    100DeAngelo WilliamsCar103+3

    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Quarterbacks: Pass on Peyton Manning? He'll Pass All over You

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Fantasy analysts pound the pavement repeatedly in saying "wait on the quarterback position." There is even a whole website (LateRoundQB.com) and book by JJ Zachariason devoted to the strategy.

    It was an effective strategy last year. Manning slipped into Round 5 of some drafts and wound up being the highest-scoring fantasy football player in history, as my former colleague Tristan Cockcroft wrote at ESPN.com.

    Waiting on a quarterback this year will mean passing on the most prolific single-season passer in NFL history.

    If you want options, strategies and the kitchen sink, we have it at B/R with our QB blueprint here.

    Here are the highlights:

    • Tiers: It is Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and then everybody else. If you don't get one of those elite three, you should wait until Round 6 to pick your starting passer in a standard, one-quarterback league.
    • Rookies: Blake Bortles has been impressive in the preseason, but as of preseason Week 2, there isn't a rookie starting quarterback on the board. Don't draft any of them...yet.
    • Breakout: The third time is a charm for Andrew Luck. He has the weapons set for a huge breakthrough into the fantasy elite.
    • Bust: Nick Foles hasn't been a full-year starter yet in the NFL, but he is being drafted like he is a megastar at a position full of them. Consider this a warning.
    • Sleeper: Every quarterback after that top trio above can fall to a position of great value in drafts.

    B/R's Top 40 QBs (Updated)

    2014 Quarterback Draft RankingsEric Mack
    RankQuarterbacksTeamECRvs. ECR
    1Peyton ManningDen10
    2Aaron RodgersGB20
    3Drew BreesNO30
    4Andrew LuckInd5+1
    5Matthew StaffordDet4-1
    6Nick Foles Phi60
    7Cam NewtonCar9+2
    8Robert GriffinWas7-1
    9Matt RyanAtl8-1
    10Tom BradyNE100
    11Russell WilsonSea14+3
    12Tony RomoDal11-1
    13Colin KaepernickSF12-1
    14Andy DaltonCin17+3
    15Jay CutlerChi13-2
    16Philip RiversSD15-1
    17Ben RoethlisbergerPit16-1
    18Eli ManningNYG21+3
    19Joe Flacco Bal24+5
    20Ryan Tannehill Mia18-2
    21Alex SmithKC20-1
    22Carson PalmerAri19-3
    23Brian Hoyer Cle31+8
    24Josh McCown TB23-1
    25Sam BradfordStL250
    26EJ ManuelBuf27+1
    27Johnny ManzielCle22-5
    28Jake LockerTen26-2
    29Geno SmithNYJ290
    30Chad Henne Jac34+4
    31Matt CasselMin32+1
    32Matt SchaubOak33+1
    33Ryan FitzpatrickHou28-5
    34Blake Bortles Jac39+5
    35Teddy Bridgewater Min30-5
    36Case Keenum Hou43+7
    37Michael VickNYJ35-2
    38Derek CarrOak37-1
    39Tom SavageHou41+2
    40Kirk CousinsWas38-2

    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Running Backs: You Still Have to Draft Them Early and Often

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    As the NFL continues to trend toward favoring the downfield passing games, fantasy football is following suit in passing up on running backs more and more. There should be only one way to attack the still-critical running back position: Take them early and often.

    Our comprehensive B/R RB blueprint has all the machinations at the position you cannot loosen your grip on in drafts. Here are the highlights:

    • Tiers: There is a clear top four that has developed, and you can make a case for any of them projecting to be the best running back in fantasy. We say it is either Charles or McCoy at No. 1, with Charles' slight lead dwindling by the day.
    • Rookies: Bishop Sankey might be the only Week 1 starter of this group, but he still hasn't won his position battle. There are a lot of viable rookie handcuffs who will fly off the board in the middle rounds.
    • Breakouts: While we cannot be sure of the rookies, we sure love a trio of second-year backs on the verge of fantasy stardom. Montee Ball, Andre Ellington and Giovani Bernard look ready to carry teams in 2014.
    • Busts: Fantasy's biggest busts always come from this position and from the players you least expect to fall apart. In order to be labeled a bust, you would have had to have early-round expectations that were unmet. Look out at running back; everyone is suspect.
    • Sleepers: It is impossible to see it now, but there are going to be late-rounders—and even waiver pickups—who wind up carrying you at this position. You cannot merely wait on them and pray, but drafting a slew of backs throughout can give you the best chance to snag one of those big-time surprises.

    B/R's Top 90 RBs (Updated)

    2014 Running Back Draft RankingsEric Mack
    RankRunning BacksTeamECRvs. ECR
    1Jamaal CharlesKC10
    2 LeSean McCoyPhi20
    3Adrian PetersonMin30
    4Matt ForteChi40
    5Eddie LacyGB50
    6DeMarco MurrayDal60
    7Marshawn LynchSea8+1
    8Doug MartinTB14+6
    9 Zac StacyStL12+3
    10 Montee BallDen7-3
    11Alfred MorrisWas13+2
    12 Le'Veon BellPit9-3
    13 Giovani BernardCin10-3
    14Andre EllingtonAri15+1
    15C.J. SpillerBuf16+1
    16Arian FosterHou11-5
    17Reggie BushDet19+2
    18Chris JohnsonNYJ26+8
    19Frank GoreSF21+2
    20Ryan MathewsSD18-2
    21 Rashad JenningsNYG20-1
    22Ben TateCle25+3
    23Toby Gerhart Jac17-6
    24Bishop Sankey Ten23-1
    25Trent RichardsonInd29+4
    26Lamar MillerMia28+2
    27Ray RiceBal270
    28Stevan RidleyNE30+2
    29Shane Vereen NE24-5
    30Steven JacksonAtl31+1
    31Maurice Jones-DrewOak34+3
    32 Joique BellDet22-10
    33Mark IngramNO46+13
    34Bernard PierceBal35+1
    35Darren SprolesPhi40+5
    36DeAngelo WilliamsCar37+1
    37Jeremy HillCin38+1
    38Pierre ThomasNO32-6
    39 Knowshon MorenoMia43+4
    40Darren McFaddenOak41+1
    41Christine MichaelSea49+8
    42Andre WilliamsNYG47+5
    43Carlos HydeSF44+1
    44 Khiry RobinsonNO48+4
    45Fred JacksonBuf33-12
    46 LeGarrette Blount Pit55+9
    47Terrance WestCle39-8
    48 Devonta FreemanAtl45-3
    49 Tre MasonStL64+15
    50Danny Woodhead SD36-14
    51Chris IvoryNYJ42-9
    52 Knile DavisKC57+5
    53 Shonn GreeneTen51-2
    54Jonathan StewartCar52-2
    55Ahmad BradshawInd50-5
    56Ronnie Hillman Den59+3
    57Charles SimsTB61+4
    58Bryce BrownBuf71+13
    59 BenJarvus Green-EllisCin68+9
    60 Jacquizz RodgersAtl74+14
    61Robert Turbin Sea69+8
    62 Ka'Deem CareyChi77+15
    63Donald BrownSD56-7
    64 Bilal PowellNYJ76+12
    65Roy Helu Was650
    66Jonathan GrimesHou63-3
    67Daniel ThomasMia82+15
    68James WhiteNE54-14
    69Brandon Bolden NE99+30
    70Lorenzo Taliaferro Bal90+20
    71James StarksGB58-13
    72 Stepfan TaylorAri66-6
    73Storm JohnsonJac730
    74 Latavius MurrayOak67-7
    75Dexter McCluster Ten72-3
    76Alfred BlueHou89+13
    77 Jerick McKinnon Min95+18
    78 Lache Seastrunk Was94+16
    79Isaiah Crowell Cle87+8
    80Chris PolkPhi70-10
    81Dion LewisCle105+24
    82Lance DunbarDal53-29
    83 Denard RobinsonJac92+9
    84Joseph RandleDal96+12
    85C.J. AndersonDen78-7
    86Mikel Leshoure Det108+22
    87Marcel ReeceOak81-6
    88Peyton Hillis NYG98+10
    89 Dri ArcherPit80-9
    90Marcus Lattimore SF86-4

    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Wide Receivers: They Are Sneaking Up into the 1st Round More Than Ever

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Round 1 of fantasy drafts has tended to have one, maybe two, wide receivers getting picked. It has been Calvin Johnson for years. The 28-year-old Megatron looks like he has plenty of company now. Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and perhaps even Brandon Marshall are candidates to go among the top 12 picks in fantasy.

    We break it all down in B/R's WR blueprint, but here are the bullet points:

    • Tiers: Everyone is unanimous in thinking Megatron is No. 1 here, but those four first-round candidates above have closed the gap. It should be noted that Megatron was merely the third-highest-scoring fantasy wideout a year ago, per FFToday.com.
    • Rookies: They tend to be overhyped at this position, because receiving can be more art than skill and takes time to develop. Sammy Watkins is the No. 1 rookie wideout, but Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks are also getting a lot of love this preseason.
    • Breakouts: Get ready for Jeremy Maclin to smash his modest WR3 expectation/draft position. Also, Michael Crabtree is not a sorry receiver, and Randall Cobb is in that famed "contract-year" category.
    • Busts: We all know to avoid running backs over the age of 30, but wide receivers are equally likely to decline at that advanced age. In fact, the fantasy statistical decline begins after the age of 27. Are you listening, Megatron owners?
    • Sleepers: Dozens of late-round picks can emerge to be useful fantasy starters at this very deep position. So, while you keep plucking receivers off the board early, there will be some fantasy owners finding legit starters late.

    B/R's Top 120 WRs (Updated)

    2014 Wide Receiver Draft Rankings—Eric Mack
    RankWide ReceiversTeamECRvs. ECR
    1Calvin JohnsonDet10
    2A.J. GreenCin4+2
    3 Demaryius ThomasDen2-1
    4 Dez BryantDal3-1
    5Brandon MarshallChi6