You have read the magazines, studied the injury reports and analyzed all the offseason movement.
Perhaps you have participated in a couple of mock drafts or created your own war list. But the time for study is getting short. Your fantasy draft is coming up in the next few days—or perhaps the next few hours.
In years past, there was only one way to go. If you did not pick two running backs with your first two picks, you risked being ridiculed by your entire league.
But some forward-thinking fantasy players who didn’t care about the laughter of lessers made a break from that philosophy. Instead, they decided that the only thing that mattered was points. If Calvin Johnson was available with his boarding-house reach, immense size and strength along with his fantastic hands, he was a better choice than most running backs not named Adrian Peterson.
It still makes sense to go with quality running backs early, but there simply are not enough of them to warrant taking those players before anyone else.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) August 29, 2015
While daily leagues enable players to put their knowledge on display every week when it comes to filling out a roster, season-long fantasy leagues may be a greater test of all-around football knowledge. There will be opportunities to make roster fixes throughout the year, but the key to a successful season is always doing well on draft day.
While there is some luck involved—dreaded injuries have ruined many a sharp selection—knowing your players, the scheme they are involved in and understanding their position in a team’s hierarchy is vital to success.
For example, fantasy players knew LeSean McCoy was the man during his run in Philadelphia. His ability to dart quickly through the hole and produce nearly as much as a receiver made him a surefire fantasy stud. But now McCoy has hamstring issues in Buffalo, and while the Bills need more from him than the Eagles did, are they really going to get it from him with Tyrod Taylor or EJ Manuel at quarterback?
— syracuse.com (@syracusedotcom) August 23, 2015
McCoy’s mindset is undetermined at this point. It doesn’t matter what he says, either. It’s how he performs in his first few games that will give the true indication of his fantasy value.
The point is that players who change teams may or may not be in favorable position. While you may “think” or “feel” that a player is in a better situation with his new team, it’s just a guess. Our philosophy is to stick with a situation that has been successful in the past rather than hope a new situation works out.
The quarterback position is a big conundrum. After Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck, there are a lot of questions. Actually, there’s a pretty big question with Rodgers in that he has already lost his best receiver in Jordy Nelson. While there’s little doubt that the Packers will adjust and still find a way to play competitive and winning football, just how much will Rodgers’ stellar production be impacted by his loss?
In the past, you could always count on Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Manning’s game dipped dramatically when he played hurt at the end of the 2014 season, and it’s unlikely he’ll have an injury-free season at the age of 39. A decision on Brady’s suspension appeal is now in the hands of a federal judge, and nobody wants to use a high draft pick on a player who may or may not be there for the first few weeks of the season.
— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) August 26, 2015
When it comes to quarterbacks, tread carefully.
The wide receiver position is loaded with talent. However, there’s a difference between the top-tier elite receivers and the productive receivers who are fixtures in the second rank. Antonio Brown of the Steelers and Dez Bryant are about as sure as any players in the league when it comes to big-play productivity, but it could be a dangerous year for Calvin Johnson. He may not be the fantasy monster he was during his heyday.
Odell Beckham Jr. certainly looked like a surefire fantasy superstar in 2014, but how will he do in his second tour of duty? It’s not that we don’t love Eli Manning, but just how will he perform with a less-than-stellar offensive line blocking for him? It will be hard for Beckham to make plays if Eli is on his back.
The Falcons certainly believe Julio Jones, as they signed him to a contract extension Saturday, per NBC Sports. However, he was injured in 2013, and he was good but not great (104 catches, but just six for touchdowns) last year.
Randall Cobb was one of the best No. 2 receivers in the NFL last year. He appeared to have the opportunity to step up in light of Nelson’s injury, but now he may have a shoulder injury himself, per the Packers (h/t NFL on Twitter):
Packers announce WR Randall Cobb has a shoulder injury. No additional details at the moment. pic.twitter.com/lBGDMikVoq
— NFL (@NFL) August 30, 2015
On the tight end front, Rob Gronkowski is healthy and clearly the No. 1 player at his position. He had legitimate competition from Jimmy Graham when he was with the Saints, but will the Seahawks and Russell Wilson take advantage of his immense talent the way the Saints and Drew Brees did?
Greg Olsen of the Panthers, Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and Martellus Bennett should be quite productive, but after that tight ends are a mystery. Fantasy Sports Radio noted some of Kelce’s 2014 stats:
Travis Kelce caught 67 of 87 targets last season.
— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) August 29, 2015
In our mock draft, we are offering the first two rounds in a 12-man league. We use a basic scoring system that includes four points for a passing touchdown, six points for a rushing or receiving touchdown, one point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving and one point for every 30 yards passing.
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