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.

Rankings

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 ESPN.com’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 ESPN.com 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 NFL.com’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.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

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

Fantasy Football 2015: 7th-Round Values to Target and Reaches to Avoid

Fantasy Football
August 24, 2015

Preseason injuries are hazing up outlooks as fantasy football owners sift through seventh-round values to target and reaches to avoid. Julius Thomas’ projections downgrade as he misses time working with a less potent offense, while C.J. Spiller’s prospects remain optimistic as he joins a traditional juggernaut.

Championship rosters are fortified in the late-middle rounds while the other guy is worrying about filling out his starting lineup. Avoid reaching on team defenses until at least the 12th or 13th, and save kickers for the last round of your draft (see the Honorable Mention slide).

Last season’s seventh round delivered pleasant surprises like Russell Wilson (ADP No. 76) and Sammy Watkins (No. 80), according to My Fantasy League. But disappointments loomed as well from the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew (No. 78) and Robert Griffin III (No. 82).

Use the following list as a guide to make sure you’re not taking someone too early or waiting too long as your fantasy draft grinds through the middle rounds.

Guidelines

  • Players listed are currently being drafted in the seventh round on average—the 73rd through 84th positions overall.
  • Only the standard-scoring, season-long, redraft format was considered when compiling this list.
  • Reach simply indicates the player’s average draft position (ADP) is well ahead of his expert consensus ranking (ECR), according to FantasyPros.
  • Value means the opposite: said player is dropping well below his ranking in ADP and should be targeted in between those two positions.

Begin Slideshow

Fantasy Football 2015: Highlighting Top Team Names and WR Rankings

Fantasy Football
August 24, 2015

It’s exhibition time in the world of real football, but it may be the most important time of year for fantasy football owners.

Team names and mock drafts reign supreme as summer cools to let fall enter. A misstep at either spot could lead to months of losses and embarrassment no waiver-wire add, trade or handcuff could fix.

So get ahead of the game as soon as possible. In this day and age, an overwhelming amount of information presents itself on a daily basis, so there’s no excuse to hit the blank team-name space or mock draft unprepared.

Below, let’s take a look at some solid team names and dial in on one of the most difficult draft positions of all: wide receiver.

Top Team Names

Magic Mike Evans

Some of the best team names around incorporate a solid amount of pop culture, and no, nobody could knock this name if the wins pile up.

Magic is an apt way to describe Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans, too. As a rookie last season, he posted the 11th-most points at the position with 68 grabs for 1,051 yards and 12 scores.

This year, Evans gets a potential upgrade under center with rookie Jameis Winston, so this name might hit home in a big way.

Le’Veon on a Prayer

Call this the perfect name for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

Owners brave enough to draft Bell have to hope his two-game suspension to start the season doesn’t hurt his form. They also have to hope 534 carries and 171 targets combined over the past two seasons don’t wear him down.

It’s a gamble. Maybe a prayer. No matter how the draft goes for an owner, this name will treat them right.

May the Forsett Be With You

This name fits as quality advice for any owner wanting to land a high-upside option in the second round of fantasy drafts.

It concerns Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett, who is a pretty easy back to overlook. Last year was his breakout season with his 1,266 yards and eight scores on the ground as an every-down back who catches passes well out of the backfield (263 yards last season).

Drafting Forsett and rolling with this name works. It can adapt to any scenario, though, just like the versatile back from which it draws inspiration.

Honorable Mentions

  • Discount Belichick
  • You Sankeyd my Battleship
  • It’s Always Runny in Philadelphia
  • The Walking Dez
  • Forgetting Brandon Marshall
  • You Kaepernick the Future
  • Manziel in Distress

WR Rankings

Notable Wideouts

Brandin Cooks, NO

As things stand, fantasy owners are taking New Orleans Saints wideout Brandin Cooks off the board at 3.09 as the 13th receiver.

In other words, owners willing to roll the dice a tad earlier might have quite the steal on their hands.

Granted, Cooks only caught 53 of his 70 targets for 550 yards and three scores as a rookie. He also dabbled in the running game with seven totes for 73 yards and a score, but appeared in just 10 games.

Now for the good news—Cooks has been healthy all offseason and just went off against New England with four catches for 117 yards and a score. As Pro Football Talk captured, he even grabbed the attention of Patriots coach Bill Belichick:

It’s just the preseason, sure, but what Cooks’ average draft position (ADP) doesn’t seem to take into account is the offseason departures of Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham. Those two combined for 209 targets last year.

Cooks is explosive and about to see a major uptick in usage as the No. 1 option, meaning he’s going to outplay his ADP with ease, health permitting.

Jordan Matthews, PHI

Sometimes all a wideout needs is more opportunities and better play under center.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews gets both of those this season. Gone is former runningmate Jeremy Maclin, as is quarterback Nick Foles.

As ESPN.com‘s fantasy analysis notes, Matthews exploded last year and was the No. 11 fantasy receiver from Week 9 and beyond as his role increased out of the slot. Keep in mind Maclin is gone, who saw a team-high 143 targets.

Replacing Foles under center is Sam Bradford, who has a better arm and accuracy than any player the Eagles rostered at the position last year. Matthews seems a lock to act as the No. 1 wideout and won’t have a limited rookie beginning to his season, so outplaying an ADP of 3.10 as the 15th receiver taken in drafts shouldn’t be much of an issue.

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.

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