For the past 18 years I’ve been competing in fantasy football leagues, and I’ve been a sports writer for the past seven years. I think that gives me enough of a resume to try and put out some pre-draft guidelines to helping fantasy footballers prepare for the 2014 season.
My strategy, which did not work the greatest last year, at least not in my main league, is going to change this year once again. I’ve done several mock drafts to try and foresee what fellow drafters are planning, and thus far I think I’ve developed a strong strategy.
My favored method of drafting, and what I’ll try and do when it comes time to draft in my leagues (of course all of this varies based on league rules, type of draft and draft order) is thus: In round one try and take an elite receiver. The best case scenario is that you get a pick between 4-9 and can get Calvin Johnson. Otherwise if you were between 9-12 a selection of A.J Green, Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant wouldn’t be a terrible idea. In round two, nab yet another receiver. Hopefully you can get one of the aforementioned receivers. If not, Alshon Jeffrey, or another strong wide out option should be available. In round three I recommend yet another receiver, as elite receiver depth runs out quick, especially if you start three receivers instead of a flex in your league. Of course if there is a strong running back who slipped, or someone that is high on your board is still available at running back, take them. Then in rounds four and five take whomever is remaining of running backs who are likely to start, or have a shot at starting. Guys like Reggie Bush, Knowshon Moreno, Shane Vereen and C.J. Spiller should be available. Possibly even Zac Stacy or Arian Foster could be hanging around in this range. After the fifth pick I’d take yet another back or receiver, whichever has a better option available. Not until round seven would I even think of taking a QB. From then on fill up on depth and grab a middle-ranked tight end. In the final two rounds take one kicker and one defense (they don’t matter much).
With all that aside, this week I am going to rank my top quarterbacks. This year, I wouldn’t worry about getting a top tier quarterback, because often the guys that are in the 11-20 range score within a decent amount of points as them anyway. It’s a passing league. Without further adieu:
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): I project a big year from A-Rod after being injured last season. He has a lot of strong weapons, and a good solid run game. He is smart and talented and I expect an average of around 23 points per game from him with standard QB scoring (four points td pass, one point every 25 yards).
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans): He has been a stat hog for the past several years, and this year shouldn’t be any different despite an aging Marques Colston anchoring the wide out spot. He does still have Jimmy Graham and rookie Brandin Cooks looks to be another good weapon. He was second last year, and expect him to hold this spot by averaging 22 points or so.
3. Nick Foles (Philadelphia): How the heck do you have Foles this high you wonder? Especially after Desean Jackson is gone you say? I think he is a supreme talent. He still has plenty of weapons with Jeremy Maclin returning and the tight end duo of Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. And then of course there is Shady McCoy, who is a strong pass catcher. Foles will have no problem racking up the points in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense over a full season. Watch out for about 21 points a week.
4. Peyton Manning (Denver): Though I think Manning will slip a bit from last year’s historic season, he has to right? I do still think he will be near the top, and that with the talent surrounding him, despite losing Eric Decker, he should succeed. Just don’t expect him to be supernova like in 2013. He will likely average about 20 points a week.
5. Matt Ryan (Atlanta): Another signal-caller that I expect to make a big comeback is Ryan. He should have healthy receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, as well as an improved offensive line. This should help not only him, but the whole team turn around from a dismal 4-12 season in 2013. Again about 20 points a week expected from Matty Ice.
6. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis): If there is a quarterback that any team in the league would trade for, it would be Luck. He has had a couple years in the league, and he is only going to get better. He still has strong, though aging, talent around him. Not that he would need it. I would still love to have Luck if he played for the most talent less team. Expect Luck to average around 19 points a week.
7. Jay Cutler (Chicago): It’s impossible not to pick a quarterback who gets to throw to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Tack on the fact that Matt Forte is a great receiving back and that Cutler is plenty capable, it’s a great choice to see him up this high. Most people will sleep on him. I won’t. I think he will average around 19 points a week
8. Tony Romo (Dallas): Though Romo’s back injury is a concern. He has toughed out season’s with injuries before, and he always puts up stats. He may not be the most clutch quarterback, but that doesn’t matter in fantasy. Plus he gets to lob passes to Dez Bryant, and has a safety valve in Jason Witten. I’d say that he averages more than 18 points per game.
9. Cam Newton (Carolina): I’d like to say that Cam Newton’s talent would supersede his predicament, but I don’t think it will. He has nobody and I mean nobody to through the ball to. Steve Smith. Gone. Brandon LaFell. Gone. Ted Ginn Jr. Gone. I guess he has aging veteran Greg Olsen. That’s about it. He should maybe get to about 18 points a game, but only because he can run.
10. Matt Stafford (Detroit): He gets to throw to Megatron, and he throws a lot. Still he is inconsistent and a possible injury risk. Proceed with caution. Assuming he stays healthy I would think he could average a hair under 18 points a week.
The rest of the top 20, who I believe will score between 16-18 points per week:
11. Russell Wilson
12. Andy Dalton
13. Philip Rivers
14. Ben Roethlisberger
15. Tom Brady
16. Collin Kaepernick
17. Carson Palmer
18. Josh McCown
19. Eli Manning
20. Robert Griffin III
I hope that this helps in your upcoming drafts, and stay tuned next week as I rank running backs.