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Fantasy Football Guide 2014

by Zach Gutierrez on Aug. 20, 2014
Zach's keys for a competitive fantasy team in 2014: -Wait to draft a QB -Forecast which 2nd year player will explode -Draft a defense? Lol -Jimmy Graham! -Avoid NFC West players Every year the landscape of the NFL changes. To be consistently competitive a savvy owner must understand the landscape. This is a passing league. Last year only 2 running backs ran for over 1,300 yards while 10 receivers gained over 1,300 yards. Only 5 running backs ran for at least 10 TD's last year while 13 receivers caught at least 10. Rule changes and the way the passing game is officiated will lead to even more inflated passing numbers. This being said, wait on drafting a QB! This is the deepest talent pool at the QB position I have ever seen. There are 20 solid fantasy QBs this year. The deviation from a Drew Brees to Andy Dalton is not worth 10 rounds. Why draft Brees or Rodgers in the 1st round when you can get Rivers or Cutler in the 8th round? Instead load up on elite receiving talent early. Here's my top 10 WR's for 2014 (Omitting Josh Gordon): 1.) Calvin Johnson 2.) Dez Braynt 3.) AJ Green 4.) Demaryius Thomas 5.) Antonio Brown 6.) Julio Jones 7.) Brandon Marshall 8.) Alshon Jeffery 9.) Larry Fitzgerald 10.) Vincent Jackson The NFL is ripe with 2nd year talent on the brink of super stardom, especially at the running back position. There are 6 backs from the 2013 draft class that should be drafted in the first 3 rounds of any draft. Crazy considering they come from the 1st draft class in history in which a running back was not taken in the 1st round. All 6 are oozing with upside and all are 3 down feature backs. I rank them like this: 1.) Le'veon Bell: Expect Bell to catch 50 balls this year. Surprisingly effective route runner with excellent hands. Pittsburgh's offensive line is exceptional as well. 2.) Montee Ball: Ball is far and away the Broncos best running back. Expect feature back numbers and 10+ TDs as Ball becomes another on a long list to benefit from playing with Peyton. 3.) Eddie Lacy: If he can match his production from last year he's worth it. Like Ball he is the beneficiary of an excellent passing game. Expect Lacy to get 300 carries especially with Jonathan Franklin retiring. 4.) Gio Bernard: I love everything about Gio's game but unlike Bell, Ball, and Lacy he is not a goal line back. Green-Ellis and 2nd round pick Jeremy Hill will probably steal goal line touches. 5.) Zac Stacy: A testament to the depth of this group when Stacy is ranked 5th. With Isiah Pead lost for the season Stacy again will be the Rams feature back. If he were not running against NFC West defenses he would be ranked higher. 6.) Andre Ellington: The sexiest pick of 6 but also the riskiest. On film Ellington is explosive but is a feature back? He only carried the ball 118 times last year and like Stacey, he will be facing NFC West defenses. As with the running back position there are several 2nd year receivers that you should anticipate big years from. The difference is many of these WR's can be drafted much later so it is just as important to guess right on these. So many value picks in this emerging group. Which 2nd year receivers should you draft? 1.) Keenan Allen 2.) Cordarrelle Patterson 3.) Kenny Sills 4.) Markus Wheaton 5.) Justin Hunter 6.) Tavon Austin -Why draft a defense? I can immediately tell who the fantasy fish is by waiting for the a-hole to draft the Seahawks D in the 5th round. Defense wins championships in real football, not fantasy. In leagues where you are permitted, pick a new defense every week based on match-up, (whoever is playing the Raiders, Jaguars, or Jets). -Last year I was laughed at for taking Jimmy Graham in the 2nd round. This year I'll take him in the 1st if I'm picking late. I take Jimmy Graham early for the same reason I take QB's late. The separation between Graham and the next echelon of TEs is huge. He is 300 yards, 5 TDs better then any other TE. -Don't take NFC West players! The defenses in that division are super human. Take players in the NFC North/East and AFC West.