Fantasy Football 2015: Latest 2-Round Mock Draft and RB Rankings

Fantasy Football
August 23, 2015

Fantasy football mock drafts around the globe continue to fire up, so now would be the perfect time for owners to brush up on all things about fake football.

Chief among the factors owners must master to stand a chance in any league? Strong drafting habits and the trickiest position of all, running back.

In a way, those two factors follow the same path. The NFL continues to alter how it thinks about and uses running backs, which forces owners to do the same. This is a large part of the reason mock draft strategy changes by the year, too.

To stem the tide in an owner’s favor, let’s take a look at a mock draft based on a 12-team standard league and take a deeper bite out of the running back slot.

2-Round Mock Draft

Notable Picks

2.08: Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens

It might be easy to forget, but Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett was fantasy football’s eighth-highest scorer at the position last year.

Forsett was the perfect emergency solution for both the Ravens and owners. He went for double-digit production in nine contests by way of 1,266 yards and eight scores on a 5.4 per-carry average with another 263 yards through the air.

He’s a viable every-down back, so the only thing standing in his way is health—but it’s a factor that applies to any and all backs given the nature of the position.

Expect Forsett to receive more than 200 carries again and more than 50 targets through the air, considering he’s breached it in three of his six seasons already, including last year. Touches equate to production, folks.

2.10: Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

There are two lines of thought about Chicago Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery. One says the departure of veteran Brandon Marshall helps his fantasy production. The other says the opposite.

With Marshall on the field last year, Jeffery wound up as the No. 12 scoring receiver with a team-high 145 targets for 1,133 yards and 10 scores. Remember, this came on a team with a stud receiving back (Matt Forte) and a stud pass-catching tight end (Martellus Bennett).

Not only is Marshall out of the picture, which opens up 105 targets from last year to go around, ESPN.com‘s analysis provides quite the interesting deep dive on a number owners should care about:

Jeffery is one of Cutler’s favorite weapons at the goal line — his 37 end zone targets since 2013 trails only ex-teammate Brandon Marshall (40). And with Marshall now in New York, Jeffery is locked in as the Bears’ top target in new offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s scheme, which proved to be fantasy-friendly to No. 1 wideouts during Gase’s stint in Denver.

In other words, it looks as if owners are actually underdrafting Jeffery right now considering his average draft position (ADP) of 3.02.

RB Rankings

Notable High-Value RBs

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Fantasy owners don’t seem in love with the idea of New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram.

It’s time to change, folks.

Look, it’s easy to get scared away from Ingram after the pass-happy Saints added pass-catching back C.J. Spiller this offseason. This isn’t a cause for concern, though, as a note by Mike Triplett of ESPN revealed:

It hasn’t taken long for this to show up on the field, either, per the NFL:

Ingram has the look of an every-down back. Even if he happens to leave the field on passing downs, he ran for 4.3 yards per carry last year to 964 yards and nine scores.

In the New Orleans offense, Ingram will see another 200-plus carries and perhaps a career high in targets. Given the pace of the offense, he’s going to see enough snaps to give owners their return on value—and perhaps quite a bit more.

Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

Again, touches equal production, so there isn’t much of a reason for owners to shy away from San Francisco 49ers lead back Carlos Hyde.

Hyde spent last season behind Frank Gore, but he still registered 333 yards and four scores with a 4.0 average. Gore now takes his handoffs from Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, which opens up a world of possibilities for Hyde.

Like Ingram, the addition of a pass-catching back such as Reggie Bush shouldn’t scare owners away from Hyde. It seems to play a factor in his 4.05 ADP, but there are no signs the former Ohio State star won’t be the workhorse.

Peter King provided his analysis on the situation:

If Hyde sits anywhere close to the 250-carry mark, he’s a lock to outplay his ADP and give owners a serious value.

When it comes to running backs, upside more often than not is the way to go. Hyde might be the best possible example this year and an option every owner should consider a gamble on before his ADP.

All ADP info courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator. All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as are points-against info and ownership stats as of August 23. Statistics courtesy of ESPN.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter

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Daily Fantasy Football 2015: Rookie and Sleeper TEs to Target Early This Season

Fantasy Football
August 23, 2015

Can you hear it?

Yes, that’s the sound of daily fantasy football returning to computers as the opening week of the 2015 NFL regular season rapidly approaches.

Although tight end isn’t a glamorous position, a thrifty choice can pay dividends—quite literally—in your Week 1 DraftKings tournaments.

Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett will be the most popular choices to fill the position, but keep an eye on a rookie and a handful of sleepers.

Remember that unless you choose a big-name tight end, the key element that defines success is whether or not your selection reaches the end zone. The following players are entering favorable matchups for scoring touchdowns early in 2015.

Begin Slideshow

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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