Fantasy Football Mock Draft 2014: Round-by-Round Expert Projections
We're a few days from the start of the season, in both the NFL and in fantasy football, but that won't stop anyone from taking the temperature of a 2014 fantasy football mock draft. Mocks tend to be the most referenced resource in preparing you for your late-August or early-September draft.
Using the FantasyPros.com latest average draft position (ADP) consensus as a guide, we take you through a draft round by round and provide analysis on what we project will happen along with some things you should expect by position.
We use a standard format here, which means a 12-team, 16-round draft where you start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense/special teams and a kicker. While points-per-reception (PPR) scoring systems are becoming more popular, fantasy analysts consider non-PPR to be a "standard" league. So, that's what we map out here.
After reading this 16-part slideshow, you will know how to gauge the runs on positions, where to pick your starting quarterback and how long to wait on the secondary positions of tight end, defense and kicker. Again, this is a generalization, so don't bother us by saying, "the first draft position took four quarterbacks."
We didn't bother with that minutia. We just want to be sure you know how many of what position are generally going in which rounds. Enjoy.
Round 1: Jamaal Charles vs. LeSean McCoy Coin Flip Goes To...
- RB LeSean McCoy, PHI, BYE: Week 7
- RB Jamaal Charles, KC, BYE: 6
- RB Adrian Peterson, MIN, BYE: 10
- RB Matt Forte, CHI, BYE: 9
- TE Jimmy Graham, NO, BYE: 6
- WR Calvin Johnson, DET, BYE: 9
- RB Eddie Lacy, GB, BYE: 9
- QB Peyton Manning, DEN, BYE: 4
- RB DeMarco Murray, DAL, BYE: 11
- RB Marshawn Lynch, SEA, BYE: 4
- RB Montee Ball, DEN, BYE: 4
- WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN, BYE: 4
McCoy's No. 1?
While the majority of fantasy analysts have Jamaal Charles No. 1 coming off his career year, per FantasyPros.com's consensus rankings, the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy is the people's champion, ranking No. 1 in FantasyPros.com's average draft position (ADP). You can make a case for both, as Charles' line is revamped in Kansas City, while McCoy is the key cog in the reigning No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL.
Graham Goes Top 5
Jimmy Graham, who is 27 years old and coming off a 16-touchdown season, can set a mythical fantasy football record for the earliest a tight end ever gets selected. Fantasy footballers are making him a top-five pick, and not only in leagues that reward bonuses for receptions by a tight end.
Manning Only Round 1 QB
Quarterbacks tend to go rounds later in analysts leagues, while those big-name passers still go sooner in fan leagues. We will side with current ADP data that suggests Petyon Manning is the first quarterback off the board and a top-eight pick. We will also stretch and say the public doesn't jump back on a second passer in the top 12.
2 Wide Receivers in Round 1
Honestly, there are likely to be more than that. Fantasy footballers love the passing game and wide receivers. In order to stress to you how you can get a comparable wideout in Round 2, we list Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas (in a contract year, as we outlined in Bleacher Report's WR blueprint) as the lone receivers to go in the first round.
Round 2: Wide Receivers Go Here More Than Ever
- WR A.J. Green, CIN, BYE: Week 4
- RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT, BYE: 12
- WR Dez Bryant, DAL, BYE: 11
- QB Drew Brees, NO, BYE: 6
- RB Zac Stacy, STL, BYE: 4
- WR Brandon Marshall, CHI, BYE: 9
- QB Aaron Rodgers, GB, BYE: 9
- WR Julio Jones, ATL, BYE: 9
- WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI, BYE: 9
- RB Doug Martin, TB, BYE: 7
- RB Alfred Morris, WAS, BYE: 10
- TE Julius Thomas, DEN, BYE: 4
Wide Receivers Pushing Up
The second round has tended to be one where the wideouts start going off the board in droves, but we are going to see a record number of pass-catchers off the board before Round 3. It will force you to pick one of the top eight at the position earlier than past years.
1st-Tier QBs Dry Up
We see a delineation of the top three quarterbacks from a mere collection of also-rans. Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are head and shoulders above the rest, so if you don't want to wait on a passer—the fantasy public just can't hold off from the common wait-on-quarterback strategy (as we outlined in B/R's QB blueprint)—you will want to pick from this trio before the end of this round.
2nd TE Goes in Top 25
Despite the common love for Rob Gronkowski (knee)—how injury stigma has not hurt this guy when it comes to the masses, we will never understand—Julius Thomas is the only tight end worth taking before the third round. Thomas is safer than Gronk, so he goes before the 13th running back or eighth receiver.
Round 3: Running Backs Fall Here More Than in Past Years
- WR Antonio Brown, PIT, BYE: Week 12
- RB Giovani Bernard, CIN, BYE: 4
- RB Andre Ellington, ARI, BYE: 4
- RB C.J. Spiller, BUF, BYE: 9
- WR Jordy Nelson, GB, BYE: 9
- WR Randall Cobb, GB, BYE: 9
- TE Rob Gronkowski, NE, BYE: 10
- RB Arian Foster, HOU, BYE: 10
- RB Ryan Mathews, SD, BYE: 10
- RB Reggie Bush, DET, BYE: 9
- WR Victor Cruz, NYG, BYE: 8
- RB Toby Gerhart, JAC, BYE: 11
WR Rush Pushes RBs Down
With wide receivers gaining steam as first- and second-round picks, and fantasy still telling you to wait on tight ends and quarterbacks, Round 3 becomes an important time to lock up a top-15 feature back. If you miss out on one of them, you are going to be picking through the scraps at the most important fantasy position.
The Gronk Round
As much as fantasy owners want to score a high-ceiling tight end like Gronk early, you shouldn't risk picking him until the middle of this group. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com cited a source that suggests Gronk playing in Week 1 is only a 50-50 proposition. After the Florio report, Gronk said he plans to play all 16 games, per Sports Illustrated. With Gronk, it's always a guessing game.
Notice No QBs Here
As we said in the previous slide, there's a group of three passers worthy of eschewing the wait-on-quarterbacks strategy. There isn't much to choose between among quarterbacks Nos. 4 through 12 or 13. You can get them later. Gobble up the remaining elite running backs and wideouts.
Round 4: We Begin to Crack the Next Tier of Quarterbacks
- RB Frank Gore, SF, BYE: Week 8
- QB Andrew Luck, IND, BYE: 10
- RB Chris Johnson, NYJ, BYE: 11
- RB Bishop Sankey, TEN, BYE: 9
- RB Rashad Jennings, NYG, BYE: 8
- WR Vincent Jackson, TB, BYE: 7
- WR Pierre Garcon, WAS, BYE: 10
- WR DeSean Jackson, WAS, BYE: 10
- WR Keenan Allen, SD, BYE: 10
- QB Matthew Stafford, DET, BYE: 9
- WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, BYE: 4
- TE Jordan Cameron, CLE, BYE: 4
QBs Start Going off Board Again
The fantasy public just cannot help itself when it comes to quarterbacks, in deference to fantasy analysts. You are justified picking from the next wave of starting passers if you have a real positive feeling on Andrew Luck in his third season or expect Matthew Stafford to rebound from his mediocre 2013.
The Cameron Round
We suggested in our B/R TE blueprint that you wait on tight ends like you do quarterbacks, but if you missed out on Graham, Thomas and Gronkowski, and just have to have Jordan Cameron, this is the round to have him by. Frankly, the Browns' quarterback situation is sketchy right now, but we might get more clarity on that in the coming weeks before draft day.
1st Rookie Gets Picked
While this 2014 NFL draft class is strong and deep, it lacks a true immediate-impact fantasy player. Bishop Sankey was the first running back drafted this May, and he will be the first rookie to be picked in fantasy this summer. We have a hunch he can provide second-round value, but you can score him with a mere fourth-round pick right now.
Round 5: Finishing Up the Starting Wide Receivers
- WR Michael Crabtree, SF, BYE: Week 8
- WR Roddy White, ATL, BYE: 9
- WR Torrey Smith, BAL, BYE: 11
- WR T.Y. Hilton, IND, BYE: 10
- TE Vernon Davis, SF, BYE: 8
- WR Julian Edelman, NE, BYE: 10
- RB Ben Tate, CLE, BYE: 4
- TE Jason Witten, DAL, BYE: 11
- RB Stevan Ridley, NE, BYE: 10
- WR Percy Harvin, SEA, BYE: 4
- WR Wes Welker, DEN, BYE: 4
- WR Michael Floyd, ARI, BYE: 4
This has historically been a receiver-heavy round, but it looks like this might be your last chance to score a top-25 wideout. If you play in a receiver-friendly league, you will want to have your starting wideouts picked by this point, waiting on quarterback and tight end if you have to.
Round 6: This Is a Good Place to Snatch Up Your Starting Quarterback
- QB Nick Foles, PHI, BYE: Week 7
- WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI, BYE: 7
- QB Cam Newton, CAR, BYE: 12
- QB Robert Griffin III, WAS, BYE: 10
- WR Marques Colston, NO, BYE: 6
- WR Eric Decker, NYJ, BYE: 11
- WR Andre Johnson, HOU, BYE: 10
- WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN, BYE: 10
- RB Trent Richardson, IND, BYE: 10
- RB Ray Rice, BAL, BYE: 11
- QB Tom Brady, NE, BYE: 10
- QB Matt Ryan, ATL, BYE: 9
This is the round to target to have your quarterback by, unless you're taking the strategy of waiting on the position to the extreme. There will be as many quarterbacks picked in this round (five) as have been picked in the first five rounds before it. If you don't want to wait to be stuck with the leftovers—there are still good ones out there, though—plan to have your starting quarterback in place.
This means, if you pick in the early half of Round 1, you might not want to wait until the sixth round, where you will be picking at the back half in the snake format. You can get stuck with the No. 10 passer vs. No. 6 at the highest-scoring position in fantasy.
Round 7: Starting Quarterbacks Completely Dry Up by Now
- RB Lamar Miller, MIA, BYE: Week 5
- RB Steven Jackson, ATL, BYE: 9
- WR Kendall Wright, TEN, BYE: 9
- RB Shane Vereen, NE, BYE: 10
- QB Colin Kaepernick, SF, BYE: 8
- QB Russell Wilson, SEA, BYE: 4
- WR Sammy Watkins, BUF, BYE: 9
- TE Greg Olsen, CAR, BYE: 12
- QB Tony Romo, DAL, BYE: 11
- TE Jordan Reed, WAS, BYE: 10
- WR Terrance Williams, DAL, BYE: 11
- RB Knowshon Moreno, MIA, BYE: 5
The last of the fantasy teams finally draft a starting quarterback. There might even be more than one team that picks up a second quarterback before some teams have their starter. If you like insurance at the position, Rounds 6 and 7 are the places to double-barrel quarterbacks back to back.
Also, the Buffalo Bills' Sammy Watkins is the first of the rookie wideouts to be picked and just the second rookie overall.
Round 8: Running Back Handcuffs and Wide Receiver Depth Start Now
- RB Bernard Pierce, BAL, BYE: Week 11
- RB Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK, BYE: 5
- RB Joique Bell, DET, BYE: 9
- TE Dennis Pitta, BAL, BYE: 11
- WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, BYE: 4
- WR Mike Wallace, MIA, BYE: 5
- RB Darren McFadden, OAK, BYE: 5
- WR Riley Cooper, PHI, BYE: 7
- RB Darren Sproles, PHI, BYE: 7
- WR Cecil Shorts, JAC, BYE: 11
- QB Philip Rivers, SD, BYE: 10
- WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, BYE: 10
This is where you begin picking your backups at all positions but tight end, kicker or defense/special teams. That tends to force fantasy footballers to penetrate those positions for the first time, but you're better off locking up depth at wide receiver or the elite handcuffs at running back.
Round 9: 1st Round for the Defense/Special Teams
- WR Brandin Cooks, NO, BYE: Week 6
- D/ST Seattle Seahawks, SEA, BYE: 4
- TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN, BYE: 10
- QB Jay Cutler, CHI, BYE: 9
- WR Dwayne Bowe, KC, BYE: 6
- RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR, BYE: 12
- RB Mark Ingram, NO, BYE: 6
- RB Carlos Hyde, SF, BYE: 8
- WR Hakeem Nicks, IND, BYE: 10
- D/ST San Francisco 49ers, SF, BYE: 8
- D/ST Carolina Panthers, CAR, BYE: 12
- RB Fred Jackson, BUF, BYE: 9
We wouldn't advise you to be the first to pick your defense/special teams, but if you want the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom, this round is likely to be too late. Also, more rookies are likely to go as fantasy owners grow tired of staring at the names of has-beens and start taking the overhyped first-year talents.
Round 10: Last of the Starters at Tight End Will Be Gone by Now
- TE Zach Ertz, PHI, BYE: Week 7
- QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, BYE: 12
- WR Golden Tate, DET, BYE: 9
- WR Reggie Wayne, IND, BYE: 10
- RB Pierre Thomas, NO, BYE: 6
- TE Martellus Bennett, CHI, BYE: 9
- WR Rueben Randle, NYG, BYE: 8
- RB Khiry Robinson, NO, BYE: 6
- WR Anquan Boldin, SF, BYE: 8
- QB Andy Dalton, CIN, BYE: 4
- WR Danny Amendola, NE, BYE: 10
- WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR, BYE: 12
Unless you are planning to merely take the best of the rest at tight end—you should—you will have your starter in place by now. There really isn't much to choose from among the tight end options after the top eight, which dried up off the board a couple of rounds earlier. You don't have much competition for tight ends here, but if you want the pick of the remaining litter, this is your last chance to get it.
Round 11: This Figures to Be Most Popular Round for Defense/Special Teams
- RB Jeremy Hill, CIN, BYE: Week 4
- D/ST Denver Broncos, DEN, BYE: 4
- WR Tavon Austin, STL, BYE: 4
- RB Christine Michael, SEA, BYE: 4
- RB Chris Ivory, NYJ, BYE: 11
- D/ST Cincinnati Bengals, CIN, BYE: 4
- TE Antonio Gates, SD, BYE: 10
- D/ST St. Louis Rams, STL, BYE: 4
- RB Terrance West, CLE, BYE: 4
- D/ST Arizona Cardinals, ARI, BYE: 4
- WR Mike Evans, TB, BYE: 7
- RB Andre Williams, NYG, BYE: 8
If you are looking for a round to beat the rush for the top defensive units, this is it. A majority of teams in a standard league will now have their primary defenses now. There will also be some high-upside running back handcuffs to be gobbled up.
Round 12: It Is Time to Pick a Potential 'Next Julius Thomas'—Ladarius Green
- D/ST New England Patriots, NE, BYE: Week 10
- RB Shonn Greene, TEN, BYE: 9
- RB Devonta Freeman, ATL, BYE: 9
- RB Tre Mason, STL, BYE: 4
- TE Ladarius Green, SD, BYE: 10
- D/ST Tampa Bay Buccaneers, TB, BYE: 7
- TE Charles Clay, MIA, BYE: 5
- WR Steve Smith, BAL, BYE: 11
- QB Joe Flacco, BAL, BYE: 11
- QB Eli Manning, NYG, BYE: 8
- WR Greg Jennings, MIN, BYE: 10
- TE Coby Fleener, IND, BYE: 10
The San Diego Chargers' Ladarius Green is a freakish tight end talent playing behind a future Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates in a Rivers-led offense that loves to feature the tight end. He could be this year's Thomas or Cameron-like fantasy breakout. If you put your tight end egg in Green's basket, he is sure to be off the board by the middle of this round. That is something to keep in mind.
Round 13: Running Back Handcuffs and Backup Quarterbacks Dry Up
- RB Knile Davis, KC, BYE: Week 6
- WR Kenny Stills, NO, BYE: 6
- WR James Jones, OAK, BYE: 5
- RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT, BYE: 12
- RB Danny Woodhead, SD, BYE: 10
- QB Johnny Manziel, CLE, BYE: 4
- QB Alex Smith, KC, BYE: 6
- QB Carson Palmer, ARI, BYE: 4
- WR Jordan Matthews, PHI, BYE: 7
- QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA, BYE: 5
- RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND, BYE: 10
- RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN, BYE: 4
If you like securing your favorite handcuff running back or backup quarterback, you will have to make sure to do it by now. The last few rounds will be dominated by kickers, defense/special teams and reserve tight ends.
Round 14: Picking Through the Wide Receiver Leftovers
- K Stephen Gostkowski, NE, BYE: Week 10
- WR Miles Austin, CLE, BYE: 4
- WR Steve Johnson, SF, BYE: 8
- WR Aaron Dobson, NE, BYE: 10
- WR Doug Baldwin, SEA, BYE: 4
- D/ST Kansas City Chiefs, KC, BYE: 6
- TE Eric Ebron, DET, BYE: 9
- QB Sam Bradford, STL, BYE: 4
- WR Justin Hunter, TEN, BYE: 9
- WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, BYE: 8
- WR Kenny Britt, STL, BYE: 4
- WR Brian Hartline, MIA, BYE: 5
If you didn't save your kicker, defense/special teams—and maybe even your tight end—for this point, this is your last chance to round out your wide receiving corps. The final two rounds will be a crapshoot at wide receiver. You will be better off using the Week 1 waiver wire at that point.
Also, someone will have picked the first kicker by now. Laugh at that person. That position is waiver fodder.
Round 15: Finishing Up the Useful Defense/Special Teams
- D/ST New Orleans Saints, NO, BYE: Week 6
- RB Roy Helu, WAS, BYE: 10
- D/ST Baltimore Ravens, BAL, BYE: 11
- K Matt Prater, DEN, BYE: 4
- D/ST Houston Texans, HOU, BYE: 10
- K Justin Tucker, BAL, BYE: 11
- K Steven Hauschka, SEA, BYE: 4
- D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT, BYE: 12
- D/ST Green Bay Packers, GB, BYE: 9
- QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN, BYE: 10
- D/ST New York Giants, NYG, BYE: 8
- TE Brent Celek, PHI, BYE: 7
Unless you want to beat the rush on the top kickers before the last round, this is your last chance to secure a viable backup defense, if not your starting unit. If you are still picking running backs or wide receivers, your team is going to need some good fortune.
Round 16: Finishing Up with Kickers, Like Always
- WR Harry Douglas, ATL, BYE: Week 9
- K Phil Dawson, SF, BYE: 8
- K Mason Crosby, GB, BYE: 9
- K Blair Walsh, MIN, BYE: 10
- K Matt Bryant, ATL, BYE: 9
- RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR, BYE: 12
- RB Charles Sims, TB, BYE: 7
- K Greg Zuerlein, STL, BYE: 4
- K Dan Bailey, DAL, BYE: 11
- WR Marqise Lee, JAC, BYE: 11
- K Shayne Graham, NO, BYE: 6
- K Alex Henery, PHI, BYE: 7
It is a kicker, who cares? Pick one with a good offense, one who kicks indoors or one with a late bye week. The criteria really doesn't even matter. Odds are anything you pick in the last round is going to wind up on the waiver wire anyway.
We will note in our mock draft here, the following players did not get picked amid pending news:
- WR Josh Gordon, CLE, BYE: 4 (facing yearlong suspension)
- WR Marvin Jones (foot), CIN, BYE: 4 (ESPN's Adam Schefter reports he is out until Week 5)
- RB Andre Brown, FA, BYE: 10 (released by the Houston Texans)
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.