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.
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