Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2015: Latest Mock Draft, Analysis and Tips

Fantasy Football
August 26, 2015

There you go, incessantly scouring the Internet trying to find that perfect player who is going to finally put you over the top in your fantasy football league. After all, this is your year. Whether it’s dethroning your best friend who has not stopped talking about his title since December or letting your friends know that you do, in fact, know the difference between Charles Clay and Clay Matthews, you have a fantasy football league to win, and we are here to help.

So to get ready for your fantasy draft, let’s take a look at the first 10 rounds of my latest mock draft, as I randomly selected at the eighth position in a 10-team standard league. This mock draft is based off of a mixture of ESPN’s fantasy average draft positions, along with my own rankings. I willy solely focus on skill players, so don’t go asking for kickers and defenses because they’ll come in the later rounds of your draft anyway.

It isn’t the perfect situation to be drafting eighth, but it isn’t a death sentence for your team. If I can give you one piece of advice, let it be this: Stay on your course.

You’re the only one who knows what your team needs. So if all your friends are drafting kickers in the third round for some reason, don’t panic. Just build the team to your ideals.

Obviously, the first-round is an all-out scramble for the best possible talent, and it’s usually coming in the backfield. While the game’s top rushers might be off of the board by the eighth pick, the league is deep enough that you are going to get a stud at running back.

No Lynch, no Lacy, no Peterson, no Bell, no problem. Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray is going to be available, and he still is going to put up big-time numbers even if he isn’t getting 449 touches in 2015.

In fact, many fantasy owners are showing concern because Murray will give up carries to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. To’s Dustin Hockensmith, that won’t matter at all:

Stylistically, Murray is a superior fit in Kelly’s offense, which played a part in the coach jettisoning franchise rushing leader LeSean McCoy at the start of a busy offseason. Murray is the one-cut, north-south runner that Kelly prefers, more often avoiding negative-yardage plays while busting the second-most 20-plus yard rushing plays (15) in the NFL in 2014.

If Murray does not put up monster numbers, be sure to surround him on your team with backs that can. After getting my explosive No. 1 receiver in the second round with Odell Beckham Jr. at 13, Lamar Miller was waiting in the third round.

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Beller, Miller is worth it:

He has a reliably high floor for fantasy production, and you likely won’t have to use anything more than a late-third- or early-fourth-round pick to get him. That may not feel exciting in August, but it will September through December, and that’s what truly matters.

Make sure you have your top two wide receivers and running backs set early on. Don’t let the occasional early quarterback deter you from getting away from that strategy. If your heart is set on drafting Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck but you don’t want to take him in the first three rounds, I have bad news for you. One of your friends/peers is going to take them early.

This is where it gets tricky. In some leagues, when one quarterback goes off the shelf, they all do. In others, they are spread throughout. Follow the trends and look to get your quarterback in the fifth or sixth round.

I like a quarterback who has the wheels to run but stays in the pocket, which is why Cam Newton was a solid choice given the circumstances. He is a bit of a risky pick this year with his top receiver out in Kelvin Benjamin, but the presence of Greg Olsen and up-and-coming rookie Devin Funchess should allow him to further develop his game.

Heath Cummings of CBS Sports delves into Newton’s situation further and explains why it’s a safe bet to take him as your fantasy starter:

Newton has played 16 games three times in his career, and has been a top-six quarterback all three. He’s never had what we could consider to be a good WR corps. Yes, he had aging Steve Smith and raw Kelvin Benjamin, but it’s largely been Newton and Olsen. If anything I would guess the Benjamin news spells more runs for Newton, and he’s more efficient on the ground.

If you do pick Newton and you have a change of heart or want to solidify your options at the position in case he has a slow start, use that ninth- or 10th-round pick to take a very solid backup quarterback option.

There is an entire second tier of very good quarterbacks who can add depth to your roster. It was no question when I saw him available that Eli Manning was my pick. The true definition of a pocket passer, Manning is going to put up some big numbers in his second year with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the West Coast offense.

With a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, along with a backfield of Rashad Jennings and screen-man extraordinaire Shane Vereen, Manning is going to have options, which means you are going to get points.

Before worrying about backup quarterbacks, though, get that starting lineup all set before you go for bench depth. That means: Don’t wait too long on a tight end or that third or fourth wide receiver; they are going to be in your lineup every week. And getting burned by that one player on your roster that just can’t get you more than six points per week will get real irksome after three or four games.

Come selection day, don’t use your draft position as an excuse for why you couldn’t build a winner. A contender is right around the corner if you just play your own game and pick to the best of your ability. Don’t just blindly pick the next-best available player, and for everything that is righteous about football, please make sure the player is healthy before you choose him.

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Fantasy Football 2015: 2-Round Mock Draft and Top Players to Grab Early

Fantasy Football
August 25, 2015

Fantasy leagues around the globe continue to roll out mock drafts as the NFL‘s exhibition period continues.

One’s meaningless; the other is critical—fantasy owners know which is which without comment.

A mock draft makes or breaks a season before the real thing even kicks off. A major gaffe on draft day isn’t something even the best waiver-wire adds, handcuffs and trades can always fix, so going into a draft armed to the teeth with information is the best possible thing an owner could do.

Here’s a look at a two-round mock draft:

Like it or not, running backs still rule the roost. Last year proves to be a good example, as just six players scored above the 200-point mark. Scarcity creates demand, which means owners’ only choice is to grab them early and often.

As the mock shows, owners should be wary of quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was the hottest commodity around last year at the spot and went on to record just the fourth-most points there. Owners who took the first-round dive missed out on a top-scoring back and could have found similar production elsewhere. For instance, Ben Roethlisberger finished right behind him in scoring and came off the board many rounds later.

With such a lesson in mind, here’s a look at a few players worth grabbing earlier than usual based on projections.

Top Players to Grab Early

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Things are changing in a hurry in Tampa Bay.

The team still touts an elite wideout tandem with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, but the offense as a whole continues to look improved under the guidance of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.

This, in theory, will have a positive ripple effect on running back Doug Martin. He’s been underwhelming over the course of the past two seasons, to say the least, especially after acting as fantasy‘s No. 2 back in 2012 as a rookie:

The thing is, Martin looks healthy and explosive now, as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock commented in camp, per his colleague Chris Wesseling:

Martin has backed up the hype, too. In Tampa Bay’s second preseason game, he torched a tough Cincinnati Bengals defense for 59 yards on just six carries, shedding tackles in the process.

Right now, owners treat Martin to an average draft position (ADP) of 5.01 as the 23rd back off the board. He sits below iffy names such as Andre Ellington and Jonathan Stewart, as well as unproven ones such as Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon.

Martin might be a risk, but it’s a high-upside one, hinting at top-tier production with things on the upswing in Tampa Bay.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Thanks to sheer quantity, it looks like there are more than a few receivers who could jump forward and hit the 200-point mark for the first time at wideout this year.

None looks more attractive than Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews, though.

Matthews looked solid as a rookie last year, totaling 127 points by way of 67 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that he played second fiddle to Jeremy Maclin, who received a team-high 143 targets to Matthews’ 105.

By the sounds of it, more than a few of those 143 will go to Matthews, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

And then there’s Jordan Matthews. He’s the slot receiver, and last year he was third behind Jeremy Maclin and Cooper in snaps. But it has become increasingly clear in training camp that Matthews is the Eagles’ best receiving option and that the team plans on making him the focal point of the passing offense.

It’s also important to keep in mind the change under center. Sam Bradford will now direct coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane attack. If he can stay healthy, he isn’t far removed from a 2013 season in which he threw for career highs of 3,702 yards and 21 scores behind a shaky St. Louis line with few notable weapons.

An ascension to No. 1 on a wideout depth chart always does a player, as well as owners, good. In Philadelphia, this gets amplified for owners, especially with a talent such as Matthews. He looks like a lock to outplay his ADP of 3.07.

Honorable Mentions

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 25. Statistics courtesy of ESPN.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter

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Fantasy Football 2015: Updated Rankings and Advice for Team Names

Fantasy Football
August 25, 2015

Procrastination pays off for fantasy football players who receive the benefit of new information when waiting to draft.

Many drafters eager to start the season are already stuck with injuries sustained in preseason games. They’ll also helplessly read a treasure trove of tidbits that could have greatly helped the selection process.

More than two weeks remain until the 2015 NFL season begins, leaving plenty of time to hone rankings and develop a draft plan. Let’s update position-by-position rankings before tackling some pertinent preseason scoops.


Preseason Notes

Jordy Nelson‘s ACL Tear

Everyone’s worst nightmare unfolded last weekend, when Jordy Nelson fell and grabbed his leg on a non-contact play. The Green Bay Packers, per’s Rob Demovsky, confirmed their greatest fears Monday:

For those who already drafted Nelson, grab Davante Adams if it’s not too late. (It’s probably too late.) Everyone else must alter their rankings in light of this unfortunate news.

Previously pegged as the No. 6 wide receiver, Nelson now disappears from cheat sheets. Already a popular target, teammate Randall Cobb slides up a spot to No. 8. Point-per-reception (PPR) participants may want Aaron Rodgers‘ new go-to wideout even higher, as he’s a prime candidate to record 100 receptions.

As for the reigning MVP, he’s too good to move down. At most, Nelson’s absence tips the No. 1 quarterback scale in Andrew Luck‘s favor. ESPN Stats & Info noted Rodgers’ success when working with Nelson:

Adams was a hyped commodity for this exact doomsday scenario. The 22-year-old wide receiver will now start with Rodgers throwing him the football. CBS Sports’ Jamey Eisenberg tracked his encouraging results when given regular targets last season:

Just don’t call him a sleeper; he’ll get taken as a top-25 wideout or higher during ensuing drafts.

Jeff Janis is now a possible bench stash, and it will be interesting to see how much, if any, sleeper buzz gets directed toward tight end Richard Rodgers.

LeSean McCoy’s Hamstring Woes

Running backs are notoriously corrosive players with short shelf lives. So when LeSean McCoy injured his hamstring last week, everybody panicked. Is the Buffalo Bills’ new acquisition the latest in the long line of broken backs?

Maybe not. ESPN’s Adam Schefter quelled some worries with a positive diagnosis:

Crisis averted for a perennial fantasy stud who will cost a second-round pick in most leagues. As NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah pointed out, a healthy McCoy would receive plenty of touches from run-first head coach Rex Ryan:

Before jumping back on the bandwagon, he’s not out of the clear just yet. Even if he plays the opening weekend, there’s no guarantee he’s 100 percent. No other rusher received 300-plus carries in each of the last two seasons, and the heavy usage showed last year:

Considering these risks, McCoy is barely preserving his spot among the top 10 running backs. The chance for another 300 carries keeps him there for now, but the fear of all that work wearing him out places the 27-year-old on thin ice.

C.J. Anderson Facing Competition?

Ronnie Hillman has opened eyes with a preseason-high 120 rushing yards on 16 carries. According to 9News’ Mike Klis, he has surpassed Montee Ball as the Denver Broncos’ “1B runner” behind C.J. Anderson.

“I’m not worried about 1B and all that because that’ll drive you crazy,” Hillman told Kilis.

Anyone who has already invested a first-round pick on Anderson, however, will fret the development. Once upon a time, Ball was a top fantasy pick before the Broncos quickly grew bored of him. Hillman nearly seized the spotlight last October, compiling 347 rushing yards through four games.

Then an untimely foot injury took him out of commission in November, and Anderson ran away with the job. Now he’s ranked as this year’s No. 6 running back and No. 9 overall player on FantasyPros.

Few backs receive all of his team’s touches anymore, so don’t panic. Over the final six weeks of the season, Anderson amassed 648 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 140 carries. No matter who placed behind him in the depth chart, he was never likely to receive such a treacherous workload for 16 games.

Then again, the situation has made him a top-10 option way more than his individual skills. If Hillman significantly eats into his carries, gamers are looking at a frustrating season. Anderson carries a far wider range of outcomes than other Round 1 options, so beware the risk along with the possible monumental reward.

Team Name Advice

Be Original

Sure, I could toss out a bunch of commonly used names like “Turn Down for Watt” for readers to lift. Sorry to say, but the rest of the league won’t think you’re cool for searching “Fantasy Football Team Names” on Google and grabbing the first decent suggestion, which everyone else also sees.

Slate’s Ben Blatt examined 2014’s most popular team names in public leagues. Don’t view that assortment as suggestions, but rather a list of names to avoid going further.

And seriously, 168 people actually called their teams the “Dallas Cowboys”? It’s not humanly possible to put any less thought or effort into a moniker they’re stuck with for months. And what happened when those uncreative guys and gals saw rival Odell Beckham Jr. floating on the waiver wire in October? Did they besmirch their name or miss a massive opportunity?

Don’t Think Too Hard

Research is the hallmark of fantasy football success, but a good team name shouldn’t require hours of studying several sources. Let a name come to you.

You can concoct some decent puns if you apply yourself, but most of them will feel forced. Instead, just go about your normal day and let one come naturally.

Inspiration can come anywhere, including TV shows, movies or maybe even an inside joke among leaguemates. As long as it has some semblance of personal meaning and isn’t just an actual NFL team name.

Have Some Class

Blatt‘s study revealed “Show Me Your TDs” as the most popular name by a wide margin. On the bright side, it shouldn’t be too tough to out-draft a bunch of eight-year-olds. Unfortunately, these immature children make the entire fantasy community look stupid, allowing outsiders to perceive fantasy sports as a juvenile activity for dummies.

Which is a shame, because many bright minds meticulously study this game about a game. Yes, it’s supposed to be fun, but it’s tough to shake the dumb jock stereotype when so many contestants are happy to oblige. Have a little dignity.

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When Should Fantasy Football Owners Draft Davante Adams After Nelson Injury?

Fantasy Football
August 24, 2015

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will reportedly miss the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (h/t’s Chris Wesseling).

How does Nelson’s absence impact the fantasy value of second-year WR Davante Adams? Will the injury have a major effect on any other Packers player’s fantasy outlook?

Watch as Nerdy Football Fantasy Football Analyst Matt Camp discusses Adams’ updated fantasy stock in the video above.

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NFL Daily Fantasy Football 2015: DFS Sleeper D/ST’s to Target Early This Season

Fantasy Football
August 24, 2015

It’s almost that time of the year. The 2015 NFL season is approaching rapidly, so the sleeper conversation is at an all-time high currently. For season-long fantasy players, the drafts are underway, but what about for those daily fantasy players?

It’s time to look at the sleepers at multiple positions for the early part of the 2015 season. With that said, there’s no tougher position to make those tough calls on than defensive/special teams units. Should you spend the extra couple of hundred dollars on a team like the Seattle Seahawks ($3,400), or look for a sleeper?

Whichever way you choose to go, we’re going to cover a few of the top picks for the defensive sleeper teams that you can draft early in 2015.

While the Seahawks are the most expensive defensive unit in Week 1 on DraftKings, we’ll start off by looking at defenses who cost $2,800 or less in the opening week of action.

So, let’s not waste anymore time. Who’s ready to battle for the $2 million grand prize in the DraftKings $10 million Millionaire Maker?

Begin Slideshow