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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 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.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com


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