Fantasy Football 2015: First-Round Mock Draft, Projections and Top Team Names

Fantasy Football
August 23, 2015

The first round is an extremely important part of any fantasy draft. The later rounds are key, too, but your top pick needs to be a guy who you can rely on for elite production week in and week out. A bad pick early on can doom a season before it starts.

So if you haven’t had your draft yet, let’s go through a possible first-round order for a 12-team, standard scoring league.

Statistical projections will also be listed, so you can have some realistic expectations for what each player can provide. At the end, we’ll look at some humorous options for team names.

First-Round Mock Draft

No. 1: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings Running Back

This first pick could go a few ways, but the best choice is Peterson, who’ll be the clear focal point of the Vikings offense. He basically got 2014 off because of his suspension, which could mean some initial rust, but the rest he got could also give him the fresh legs needed to run wild in 2015.

Statistical projections: 1,390 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 450 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

No. 2: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back

The clear-cut No. 1 in PPR leagues, Bell falls just short of that lofty position in standard formats. He’s a valuable dual-threat halfback who’ll pile up the points, but a prolific Steelers passing attack led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant should leave him just below Peterson.

Statistical projections: 1,240 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 580 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns

No. 3: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs Running Back

Don’t be too scared by Knile Davis’ 134 carries that cut into Charles’ workload last year. Yes, Davis is a rising running back in the league, but Charles makes too much of his opportunities (at least five yards per carry in each of his NFL seasons) to fall off the fantasy map. The fact that game manager Alex Smith is still under center also helps the veteran’s cause.

Statistical projections: 1,220 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 400 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns

No. 4: Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers Running Back

Lacy is a special talent, so special that not even the best quarterback in the NFL (Aaron Rodgers) can spoil his status as one of the top fantasy running backs. The 25-year-old’s punishing running style is fun to watch and should lead him to another statistically great season.

Statistical projections: 1,260 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 390 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

No. 5: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks Running Back

Lynch is 29 years old, has four straight seasons of at least 280 carries and now has to compete with new tight end Jimmy Graham for red-zone touches. Those are the points of concern, but we also have to consider his remarkable skil set and consistency (four consecutive 12-plus touchdown seasons) before dropping him too far.

Statistical projections: 1,210 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

No. 6: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears Running Back

Like Lynch, Forte is 29 years old and has been a bell cow for the past few years. He’s accumulated 3,779 yards from scrimmage in the past two years, but his workload may be slightly reduced under new head coach John Fox.

Statistical projections: 1,130 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, 670 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns

No. 7: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver

You can call Brown “Mr. Reliable,” as he’s been a model of consistency over the past couple of seasons.

His rapport with Roethlisberger is amazing, and that should continue as the Steelers continue to put pressure on their opponents with an amazing offensive attack.

Statistical projections: 1,680 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 20 rushing yards

No. 8: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots Tight End

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see Tom Brady’s four-game suspension as a huge factor in Gronkowski‘s fantasy value. When second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lines up as Brady’s replacement for a month, he’ll be looking to Gronk, far and away the Pats’ best receiver, as his security blanket. And, of course, we all know Gronk will kill it when Brady returns.

Statistical projections: 1,140 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns

No. 9: C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos Running Back

Anderson answered the bell at the end of 2014 when Peyton Manning struggled passing the ball, rushing for 648 yards and eight touchdowns over the Broncos’ final six regular-season games. That production won’t hold up during 2015 as Manning returns to form and Denver continues to utilize its backups, but Anderson will still rack up nice point totals.

Statistical projections: 1,130 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 390 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns

No. 10: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills Running Back

If you’re someone who likes living on the edge, McCoy is your guy. The Bills’ below-average offensive line is a cause for concern, as is Buffalo’s quarterback situation. Shady should see several eight-man boxes this season in his inaugural Bills campaign, but he’ll also get a heavy workload; it’s up to you to decide which of those factors matters more.

Statistical projections: 1,310 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 220 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

No. 11: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver

Bryant is one of the safer options at this point in the draft—he’s nearly a lock for double-digit receiving touchdowns as Tony Romo’s favorite target, plus the Cowboys’ running game is worse than it was last year with DeMarco Murray gone.

Statistical projections: 1,400 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns

No. 12: DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles Running Back

Murray, like McCoy, is entering a totally different situation and should be seen as a boom-or-bust candidate. The 2014 rushing leader has an injury-riddled history in the NFL and his breakout campaign included much better stats than he’d ever produced before. He’ll also have Ryan Mathews breathing down his neck for carries.

Statistical projections: 1,180 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 240 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

Top Team Names

A creative, witty team name sends a message to the other team owners in the league: You mean business, but you also know that fantasy football is, first and foremost, supposed to be fun. Here are some options to consider, if you haven’t already come up with your moniker:

You Sankeyed My Battleship
Calvin and Cobbs
You Winston, You Lose Some
For Whom Odell Tolls
ABC, Easy as RGIII
Cruz Control

Feel free to list your favorite team names in the comment section below.

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What Is Johnny Manziels Fantasy Value After Preseason Success?

Fantasy Football
August 22, 2015

“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.”

I’m sure that was often said during the Cleveland Browns‘ loss to the Buffalo Bills, 11-10, on Thursday night.

So, as the title says, Johnny Manziel is having preseason success, but does that equal positive fantasy value?

Let me take you on a Manziel fantasy value journey, starting with the “good.”

Good

  1. No more “money” sign. How the heck does that translate to fantasy value? Well, it certainly shows a new Manziel, and anything other than what we saw last year is an upgrade. Staying away from using the “money sign” seems to me that Johnny Football has turned over a new leaf, which is a good sign. I have to give him props for that.
  2. The game has appeared to slow down for him. You often hear that phrase coined, but it’s true. From watching the games, Johnny is more poised in the pocket. He’s taking time to go through his progressions and knowing when and when not to run. He just looks like an NFL starting quarterback.
  3. In his limited action on Thursday, Manziel completed 10 of 18 passes for 118 yards and a passing touchdown and hauled the rock three times for 19 yards.
  4. Josh McCown got his “showing” before Manziel and performed terribly, throwing two interceptions (here’s one of them), thus making a potential case that Manziel is leading the quarterback battle in Cleveland.
  5. Not only was Manziel solid in the second preseason game, he was in the first as well. Throughout this preseason, he’s gone 17-of-20 for 160 passing yards and a touchdown. He’s also had five carries for 33 yards and another touchdown.
  6. We love running quarterbacks in fantasy, and that’s what makes Manziel so exciting and gives him upside.
  7. Cleveland has a solid run game with Isaiah Crowell, Terrence West and 2015 draft choice Duke Johnson.

Bad

  1. He’s not guaranteed the starting job. Head coach Mike Pettine recently reiterated that Josh McCown is the starting quarterback. “We feel good about Manziel as No. 2 and McCown as No. 1,” he said, according to the team website.
  2. He’s not projected well, and by that, I mean that I personally have him as my QB26, behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota but ahead of Robert Griffin III. I don’t know if he’ll be the starter or for how long.
  3. The supporting cast is not great. Cleveland brought in Dwayne Bowe, who has been productive in the league in the past. The rest of the pass-catching corps consists of Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, newly converted receiver Terrelle Pryor, rookie wideout Vince Mayle and tight end Rob Housler. Though some of these guys have talent and value, the Browns don’t boast a high-powered offense.

Verdict: Manziel is a backup/low-end quarterback for a league of 14 or more teams. He’s a late-round pick with upside due to his rushing ability.

Follow me on Twitter @RichardJanvrin

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Rob Gronkowski Doesnt Like Being Dropped from Fantasy Teams

Fantasy Football
August 22, 2015

If you’re lucky enough to get Rob Gronkowski on your fantasy team, don’t drop him. Just don’t.

For starters, the New England Patriots star is far and away the top tight end in football. Tom Brady loves him, so Gronk will rack up a ton of touchdowns once his quarterback comes back.

Secondly, though, he might find you. And Gronk-spike your phone.

If you drop Gronk, you deserve whatever comes to you.

[Vine]

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Fantasy Football 2015: Positional Rankings, Team Names and More for Your Draft

Fantasy Football
August 22, 2015

The fantasy football picture continues to get clearer as the NFL’s preseason progresses, and with most drafts likely to occur within the next few weeks, there is no better time to start preparing.

Significant injuries to star players like Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin make talent even scarcer, while the ongoing suspension saga involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves some question marks with regard to the QB rankings.

There is still time for those situations to get sorted out, but they will lead to some guesswork in terms of determining the value of backups who will now be elevated to more prominent positions.

Although there is a certain amount of luck involved with fantasy football, skill plays a part as well when it comes to picking out the players who are least likely to get injured or bust and the players who are most likely to break out.

With the 2015 regular season coming up fast, here is a look at the latest fantasy rankings for each and every position.

Quarterback

On the heels of a career season that saw him throw for 4,761 yards and score 43 total touchdowns, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will undoubtedly be a hot commodity in fantasy circles, but not everyone is convinced that he’s the No. 1 signal-caller.

He is locked in a tight battle with Green Bay Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers for that honor, and rightfully so. Rodgers threw from 4,381 yards and scored 40 total touchdowns in 2014, and while his numbers weren’t quite as good as Luck’s, he has been playing at a high level in the NFL for longer.

That is likely why he is a slight favorite to win the league’s MVP award ahead of the Colts gunslinger, according to Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle:

Both quarterbacks have a ton of great weapons, but Luck may have pulled ahead during the offseason thanks to Indy’s big-time additions. The fourth-year passer is well aware of how fortunate he is to have so many options, per Nerdy Football’s Jason Cole:

You look around and we have Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, Frank Gore, Boom Herron, Donte Moncrief, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen … all these guys who have had multi-touchdown games, big years, been No. 1 receivers, No. 2 receivers, who are used to getting the ball, which is great. It means they know how to get the ball and what to do with the ball.

In addition to that, Luck has never missed an NFL game and looks to be a more durable player than Rodgers, who had to sit out seven games in 2013.

They are even in many ways, and when two players are on equal footing, it is usually best to go with the guy who is less likely to get hurt. At this point, Luck is that player.

Running Back

The running back position has plenty of elite talent near the top this season, but it becomes a crapshoot outside the top 10. Because of that, it is extremely important to get a reliable rusher early in your draft this year.

Despite his two-game suspension, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is a legitimate option to be taken No. 1 overall. The same goes for Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings veteran Adrian Peterson, but the safest and most logical choice may be Kansas City Chiefs speedster Jamaal Charles.

The 28-year-old Charles is as consistent as they come, having topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his past five full seasons. He has also scored a total of 33 touchdowns over the past two campaigns combined, which is what sets him apart from many of his counterparts.

Charles is often overlooked, but he is considered one of the top candidates to take home the MVP award in 2015, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star:

Although Charles only rushed for 1,033 yards last season, his workload was lightened due partially to injuries, and he still averaged an impressive five yards per carry.

Along with being much healthier, Charles is confident entering the season because he believes KC’s offensive line has taken a big step forward when compared to 2014, per Paylor:

“It makes me feel good—I feel so comfortable and I’m happy,” Charles said. “I’m so excited to have a line. When you have a line, that gets you excited. That gets you wanting to play. (You) want to stay on the field. You want to give your all.”

Perhaps the most underrated factor working in Charles’ favor is the fact that the Chiefs finally have an outside threat on offense in the form of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Maclin should keep opposing defenses honest and prevent them from stacking the box, which will create even more opportunities for Charles to thrive.

Wide Receiver

In terms of overall talent and depth, wide receiver may be the most stacked position in fantasy this season. As many as 10 different wideouts could realistically be the top scorer in 2015, but Pittsburgh Steelers superstar Antonio Brown stands out above the crowd currently.

The former sixth-round pick was dominant in 2014 to the tune of 129 catches on 182 targets for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. His overall numbers were great, but his consistency is what truly put him over the top. He posted at least 74 yards in every game and topped 100 yards eight times.

Brown already seems like a supremely motivated player since so many teams passed him over in the 2010 draft, but he has even further motivation in 2015. He is attempting to push the Steelers toward upgrading his contract, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:

The Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger boast a dynamic offense with a high volume of passing, so it wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see Brown approach numbers similar to what he put up in 2014.

Fantasy owners shouldn’t fret if they don’t get Brown since Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant and New York Giants sensation Odell Beckham Jr. are all poised for huge years as well. But Brown is the benchmark all others are looking to live up to.

Tight End

There are few sure things at the tight end position this season, which is why those who are able to secure New England Patriots standout Rob Gronkowski will have a huge advantage over the competition.

Gronk has been an injury risk over the course of his career, as he missed 14 games between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. But he was healthy in 2014, and it showed. Gronkowski dominated from the tight end position to the tune of 82 grabs for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, which are numbers no other tight end came close to matching.

That should be the case once again in 2015 provided Gronkowski remains healthy, which is why fantasy owners will very likely have to invest a first-round pick in order to get him.

For those who are unable to come away with Gronk, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a great consolation prize since he promises to be quarterback Cam Newton’s No. 1 target with Benjamin out for the season. Also, even though Jimmy Graham no longer has the benefit of being part of the New Orleans Saints offense, he should still be productive with the Seattle Seahawks.

There is a lot of uncertainty beyond those players, which is why targeting Gronk in your draft may turn out to be an extremely fruitful plan this year.

Kicker

Defense/Special Teams

Potential Team Names

Bevell‘s Advocate: Does your team boast Seahawks stars like quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch or Graham? Show your support for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Suh-Plex City: Do you have the Miami Dolphins defense and special teams? Are you a fan of WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar? Then why not pay homage to The Beast Incarnate’s latest catchphrase?’

Straight Outta Gronk-ton: Pop culturally relevant names are always a crowd pleaser, and with the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” in theaters, pairing that with the dominant Rob Gronkowski is a winning combination.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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