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The 2014 Fantasy Football 100 Version 2.0

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With training camps under way and the first preseason game upon us Sunday night, Brad Coustan gives you his first revision on the Fantasy Football 100 - the 100 players that can win your league for you this year. This is the Fantasy Football 100 version 2.0!

Scott Cunningham

The volume is beginning to pick up at Fake Teams.  Our football analysts will be in high gear next week to bring you the best fantasy football coverage on the inter webs.  Starting Monday we will take a position by position approach to rankings, sleepers, busts and ADP analysis culminating Friday with our staff consensus rankings.  As a preview to that great coverage, I give you my second take on the Fantasy Football 100.  These are not necessarily "rankings" but rather the 100 guys that I believe will be difference makers in 2014.

Before I unveil version two for 2014 let me set some of the ground rules.  There are a lot of different ways to draft.  Most analysis I read tells you to load up on RBs early due to position scarcity.  With so many teams going to the running back by committee (RBBC) approach, if you can find an RB that will touch the ball 300+ times he should perform just based on sheer opportunity.  I have drafted that way in previous years.  BUT -  the NFL has become a pass first league.  Rules to protect QBs and WRs have evolved over the past few years such that being locked into a draft strategy by position is a sure fire disaster.  I am approaching my drafts this year as BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE.

The exception to BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE is the QB position.  I find it hard to believe that in a 4 point TD pass, 1 QB league I will draft a QB earlier than the middle of the draft.  The QB position is very deep.  Once the top 3 are off the board, the next tier is only marginally worse and the third tier is basically interchangeable.  Some of you would argue that Peyton Manning gave you a huge advantage in your league last year and while that is true it was an anomaly.  Fantasy football success is based on future performance not past results.  While Peyton is still a great QB there is every reason to believe that he will not repeat his domination of the position in 2014. I wrote about that previously here.

I based my picks on a 1 point PPR league, where QB TDs are worth 4 points because that is the scoring in my traditional "league of record" and my most favorite league I play in.  I also posted the ADPs from Fantasy Football Calculator and my commentary on the differences between my rankings and the ADPs are below.

Lastly, this is how I would draft.  There are safer methods.  I want to hit home runs.  I draft to win.  My draft theory, which I wrote about here, is to fill my rotation and then take shots later in drafts with big play potential guys.  So you won't see Ray Rice down below.  You won't see Knowshon.  You won't see Anquan and you won't see Vernon.  What you will get is the 100 players that I believe will help you win your fantasy leagues in 2014.

There are notes on the rankings on the bottom of the page.

Position Rank Overall Rank Player Team Bye vs. FFC ADPs
RB1 1 LeSean McCoy PHI 7 1
RB2 2 Jamaal Charles KC 6 2
RB3 3 Adrian Peterson MIN 10 4
RB4 4 Matt Forte CHI 9 3
RB5 5 Eddie Lacy GB 9 6
WR1 6 Dez Bryant DAL 11 9
WR2 7 Calvin Johnson DET 9 5
WR3 8 Demaryius Thomas DEN 4 8
WR4 9 Julio Jones ATL 9 15
RB6 10 DeMarco Murray DAL 11 14
TE1 11 Jimmy Graham NO 6 7
WR5 12 Jordy Nelson GB 9 21
RB7 13 Le'Veon Bell PIT 12 18
WR6 14 Brandon Marshall CHI 9 12
WR7 15 A.J. Green CIN 4 10
RB8 17 Marshawn Lynch SEA 4 17
RB9 18 Montee Ball DEN 4 11
RB10 16 Arian Foster HOU 10 16
RB11 19 Zac Stacy STL 4 35
WR8 20 Randall Cobb GB 9 26
WR9 21 Alshon Jeffery CHI 9 23
WR10 22 Antonio Brown PIT 12 20
WR11 23 Keenan Allen SD 10 34
RB12 24 Giovani Bernard CIN 4 19
WR12 25 Victor Cruz NYG 8 37
WR13 26 Roddy White ATL 9 42
WR14 27 Andre Johnson HOU 10 35
RB13 28 Toby Gerhart JAC 11 41
RB14 29 Alfred Morris WAS 10 32
TE2 30 Julius Thomas DEN 4 29
TE3 31 Rob Gronkowski NE 10 25
QB1 32 Aaron Rodgers GB 9 24
QB2 33 Drew Brees NO 6 22
QB3 34 Peyton Manning DEN 4 13
WR15 35 Larry Fitzgerald ARZ 4 43
WR16 36 Marques Colston NO 6 75
WR17 37 Rueben Randle NYG 8 99
WR18 38 Vincent Jackson TB 7 36
WR19 39 Pierre Garcon WAS 10 31
TE4 40 Jordan Cameron CLE 4 51
RB15 41 Reggie Bush DET 9 30
RB16 42 Joique Bell DET 9 57
RB17 43 C.J. Spiller BUF 9 33
RB18 44 Bishop Sankey TEN 9 45
RB19 45 Doug Martin TB 7 27
RB20 46 Rashad Jennings NYG 8 52
QB4 47 Matthew Stafford DET 9 48
WR20 48 Torrey Smith BAL 11 70
WR21 49 Michael Crabtree SF 8 47
RB21 50 Shane Vereen NE 10 38
RB22 51 Andre Ellington ARZ 4 28
RB23 52 Bernard Pierce BAL 11 98
RB24 53 Ryan Mathews SD 10 49
WR22 54 Mike Wallace MIA 5 71
WR23 55 Percy Harvin SEA 4 46
QB5 56 Cam Newton CAR 12 90
TE5 57 Jordan Reed WAS 10 78
RB25 58 Stevan Ridley NE 10 74
RB26 59 Frank Gore SF 8 63
WR24 60 DeSean Jackson WAS 10 50
WR25 61 Jeremy Maclin PHI 7 62
RB27 62 Lamar Miller MIA 5 83
RB28 63 Pierre Thomas NO 6 53
WR26 64 Michael Floyd ARZ 4 54
WR27 65 Steve Smith BAL 11 146
WR28 66 Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 10 44
QB6 67 Andrew Luck IND 10 56
RB29 68 Ben Tate CLE 4 68
WR29 69 Wes Welker DEN 4 40
RB30 70 Trent Richardson IND 10 55
RB31 71 Darren McFadden OAK 5 106
RB32 72 Maurice Jones-Drew OAK 5 87
QB7 73 Tony Romo DAL 11 93
QB8 74 Matt Ryan ATL 9 82
QB9 75 Jay Cutler CHI 9 103
QB10 76 Nick Foles PHI 7 69
QB11 77 Robert Griffin III WAS 10 73
QB12 78 Russell Wilson SEA 4 119
WR30 79 T.Y. Hilton IND 10 60
WR31 80 Golden Tate DET 9 79
WR32 81 Hakeem Nicks IND 10 UND
RB33 82 Fred Jackson BUF 9 101
RB34 83 Jeremy Hill CIN 4 115
RB35 84 Devonta Freeman ATL 9 107
WR33 85 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 10 110
WR34 86 Jordan Matthews PHI 7 138
WR35 87 Cody Latimer DEN 4 UND
WR36 88 Miles Austin CLE 4 160
RB36 89 Khiry Robinson NO 6 109
RB37 90 Bryce Brown BUF 9 UND
RB38 91 Terrance West CLE 4 91
TE6 92 Dennis Pitta BAL 11 92
TE7 93 Kyle Rudolph MIN 10 97
RB39 94 Ahmad Bradshaw IND 10 144
RB40 95 James White NE 10 UND
RB41 96 Isiah Crowell CLE 4 UND
RB42 97 Andre Williams NYG 8 UND
WR37 98 Kendall Wright TEN 9 65
WR38 99 Sammy Watkins BUF 9 84
WR39 100 Tavon Austin STL 4 108

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, WR (My Rank 9 vs. FFC ADP 15) - I am higher on Julio than most because he is a touchdown scorer.  I want to pick guys who are going to score TDs.  If you can score points 6 at a time instead of through yardage it gives you a big weekly advantage.  Without Tony Gonzalez, Julio becomes Matt Ryan's primary red zone target.  He's a good bet to score double digit TDs this year.

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers, WR (My Rank 12 vs. FFC ADP 21) - Lordy, lordy I have NO IDEA why Jordy is being drafted so low.

Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams, RB (My Rank 19 vs. FFC ADP 35) - I don't see Tre Mason as a threat until he proves he can pass block at the NFL level.  The Rams priority is to keep Sam Bradford on the field.  Stacy carries over his 2013 high volume usage into 2014.

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers, WR (My Rank 23 vs. FFC ADP 34) - Was the 10th best fantasy WR over the last 13 games of the season.  He scored 5 of his 8 TDs in the last four games of the season and then added a 6/142/2 line in a playoff loss to the Broncos to put a cherry on top of a great season.  He thrives underneath which is exactly where his QB, Philip Rivers, likes to throw.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants, WR (My Rank 25 vs. FFC ADP 37), Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, WR (My Rank 26 vs. FFC ADP 42), Rueben Randle, New York Giants, WR (My Rank 37 vs. FFC ADP 99) - If you believe in comebacks these are your guys.  The Giants have a new offensive coordinator which will feature short passes.  Cruz will flourish in that system from the slot, while the reports on Randle out of Giant training camp have been really positive.  If Randle puts his head together with his hands he can be a TD machine for the G Men this year.  Atlanta invested heavily in the offensive line in an attempt to keep Matt Ryan upright.  I already spoke about Julio earlier but there may not be a more reliable WR than Roddy over the last five years.  He had six straight 1,000 yard seasons until last year's injuries slowed him down.  For PPR leagues, he wasn't below 83 catches in any of those years as well.  Throw in 49 TD catches over that span with two double digit TD years.  I smell a comeback!

Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars, RB (My Rank 28 vs. FFC ADP 41) - If Gerhart fails it won't be for a lack of opportunity.  Jacksonville will grind out games and Gerhart is a true 3 down back.  Did you know that in his 36 carries with Minnesota last year he averaged 7.6 yards?  The only question is whether or not he can carry the load full time but even if he can't nobody is pushing him for playing time in Jacksonville anyway.  Gerhart is a true volume draft pick.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, WR (My Rank 36 vs. FFC ADP 75) - No Lance Moore and no Darren Sproles means there are 143 targets to absorb in the Big Easy this year.  Although Colston showed signs of breaking down the first half of last season he came on strong in the final eight games posting a 48/601/3 line and then adding 11/141/1 against Seattle in the playoffs.  He says his foot injuries are behind him.  The lack of TDs is worrisome but I'm betting the additional targets will result in more red zone looks as well.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, RB (My Rank 45 vs. FFC ADP 27) - Lots of fantasy players are betting on a Dougie Fresh comeback this year but I am not sure what that means.  In his 2012 campaign in which he was the number three ranked RB much of the damage came in one game against the Raiders.  In that game he put up 25/251/4.  He only had three more games that entire season in which he rushed for 100 yards.  Throw in the fact that Charles Sims, a third round draft pick this year, will be the third down back and Dougie doesn't figure to contribute in the passing game either.  I prefer to let others draft him.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, RB (My Rank 43 vs. FFC ADP 27), Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills, RB (My Rank 82 vs. FFC ADP 101), Bryce Brown, Buffalo Bills (My Rank 90 vs. FFC ADP Undrafted) - I will be keeping a close eye on the Buffalo running back corps this preseason.  My belief right now is that they view Spiller as a change of pace back.  I like him to bounce back this year but not at the cost of a second round ADP.  Fred Jackson just keeps on rolling.  He finished last year as ESPN's number 10 RB.  Although I don't think he will repeat that, I am not counting him out.  Who is the RB I want to own in Buffalo?  The Bills spent a fourth round draft pick this year to acquire Bryce Brown.  With the injury history of Spiller and Jackson and the high price Buffalo paid for Brown I am willing to take a shot in the late rounds that Bryce gets the RB1 opportunity for the Bills in the second half of the season.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots, RB (My Rank 58 vs. FFC ADP 74) - In my best Dana Carvey imitating George Bush impression:  "Not gonna do it.  Nah...guh....doit" Admittedly, after reading the reports on James White out of New England training camp I have Ridley ranked too high.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, RB (My Rank 51 vs. FFC ADP 28), Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings, WR (My Rank 66 vs. FFC ADP 44) - Love the players, hate the hype.

Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens, RB (My Rank 52 vs. FFC ADP 98), Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, RB (My Rank Undrafted vs. FFC ADP 64) - If I am taking a chance on a Baltimore RB it is going to be Pierce not Rice.  Neither one looked very good last year.  I am willing to chalk that up to both being injured and the Raven offensive line being a mess.  My thought process here is that Rice is older, has more wear and tear on his body and almost 20% of his yards last year came in one game against a horrific Bears run defense.  I will take a risk on over drafting Pierce knowing that he will at least start the first two games of the season due to Rice's suspension and hope that he runs away with the job.  If not?  I will drop him after two weeks and find a waiver wire replacement.

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons, RB (My Rank 84 vs. FFC ADP 107), Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons, RB (My Rank Undrafted vs. FFC ADP 80) - Interesting that Jackson's ADP is right around where my rank for Freeman lands.  I just don't see Steven Jackson being able to carry the load anymore.  He has already injured a hamstring and although he is supposedly going to be back for week one I would rather invest the draft pick on Freeman who will fit the high flying Falcon offense better and in my opinion will be the feature back by the second half of the season.

Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos, WR (My Rank 87 vs. FFC ADP Undrafted), Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos, WR (My Rank Undrafted vs. FFC ADP 66) - I keep seeing Sanders go early in mock drafts and I can't understand why since he is no better than the fourth option in Denver.  I see more targets for Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker in addition to whichever RB is on the field for passing downs.  On the other hand, I would rather spend a draft pick on Cody Latimer whose consistency (only one dropped pass in 119 targets his senior season at Indiana) is sure to make Peyton Manning a happy QB.  He has more talent than Sanders and will pass him on the depth chart quickly which means that he is only a Welker injury away from WR2 status in the most high powered offense in the NFL.

So there is my second pass at 2014 ranks.  You can view version 1.0 here. These are sure to change as we get through training camp and preseason but we've got our first preseason game this Sunday so it is time to rev the engines and get serious.

As always...please leave a comment below in the comment section.  I will answer them personally.  Also hit me up on Twitter (@iambradstrong) or email me at iambradstrong@gmail.com.  I am putting together my first mailbag column of the year as well so looking to tackle all of your fantasy football related questions.