Dominate Your League with the 2015 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide. Announcing The Fantasy Alarm $20,000 Championship from FanDuel.  Play against all your favorites like Jeff Mans, Ray Flowers, Ted Schuster, Howard Bender and Todd Zola.  Each week through week 10, play for just $5 with prizes ONLY for Fantasy Alarm players.  In week 11, we will hold the Championship and someone will walk away with $20,000.  Don't Miss Your Chance to Beat Fantasy Alarm & Win $20,000!


Being on top is truly better. That is my opinion anyway but I know many of you like to try out all different positions. It’s fine to change positions every now and then but the fact is everybody winds up coming back to the top eventually. You know the guys love it, no matter how much they say it doesn’t matter, women really love it, heck parents, grandparents, dogs, even kids doing it for the first time prefer to be on top or at least they should if they knew what they were doing. It’s just a better feeling being in control isn’t it?

Slow down your dirty minds here folks. You’re all a bunch of perverts aren’t you? I was talking about fantasy…football. The race for the first pick in every league is an interesting one. These days many leagues have come up with all sorts of ways of determining which team will have the top pick. Some leagues determine draft positioning by order of finish last season. Some leagues have random draws to determine draft order. Other leagues determine the draft order by holding some sort of competition like a trivia, bean bags or Madden Tournament. Whatever the factor is for determining draft order, the overwhelming fact here is that everybody wants to get that top pick. Even if it is just the right to choose another draft position, that is the ideal spot to be in.

Get dozens of articles like this, plus over 600 players ranked & projected, every offensive line & system broken down and tons of features in The FA Fantasy Football Draft Guide - Your Guide To The Championship.

The first overall pick in a fantasy football league draft holds a lot of power. You are the only one who can select a player without anybody else’s interference or say so. The rest of the draft you’ll have to live & die on the edge by hoping and praying that “your guy” will make it back to you without being snatched up by one of your filthy league mates. But for one brief shining moment, you can have any player you wish. It’s the equivalent to having a million dollar credit at the Bunny Ranch. Or I suppose I could have used an all you can eat rib joint but even then you wouldn’t be able to have ANY rib you wanted so I stand by the Bunny Ranch analogy.

So now that you have the first pick, what the hell are you going to do with it? Remember when you were a kid and wished to be President Of The United States (or whatever country you grew up in)? Well this is exactly like this except everybody still likes you. With that first pick you are as Abraham Lincoln once said, “clothed in immense power.”You have several options here:

1) You can trade the pick.

Depending on how early your league selects their draft order, this can set off a month long fest of you being wined and dined as if you were Kate Upton at a Tijuana donkey show. Always listen to trade offers. There are so many dumb people that play fantasy football that somebody could come at you with an offer you cannot refuse.

2) Choose to move down in the draft order.

As I mentioned, many leagues are now allowing you to select the draft spot that you want as opposed to having to remain at the top spot. I really like this philosophy because now you can assess what type of drafter you are and put yourself in the best spot for success. If you really want one of the top RBs but also have your eye on a WR that might not make it back to you in round two, you could move down a few slots to pick four. If you really like having back to back picks so that you can set the trends of the draft or whether you just like taking a lot of smoke/pee breaks, moving to the last spot is a good option. If you know that you’re teams always come out better when you have a middle pick so that you are always in the mix on trends or runs, then you can choose that option as well.

3) You can lie to the rest of your league about who you are going to take.

Let’s face it, nothing is more fun than playing mind games with your buddies. Telling them that you think that you “have to go with Peyton Manning” is all the better when you flip the script and grab Charles, Forte or AP. Priceless fun and could send them reeling because you just know that they they’ve all been talking about who they would get since you were going to take Manning.

4) Keep the pick and take the absolute surest thing in your mind this season.

This one comes with the most stress. Sure you can choose player you want but who is “the one” this year? Let’s be honest, there isn’t an overall #1 in this years draft. If you ask 100 fantasy football players who they would choose #1, I bet there would be about seven different names thrown out there and more if we’re talking dynasty and heavy IDP leagues.

So, who is the #1 pick this year? This is not an easy answer. A poll I did back in late June via social media (Twitter: @Jeff_Mans, Facebook: Jeff Mans) resulted in the following responses:

Granted this was not the most sophisticated of polls and does speak mostly to the hardcore Fantasy Alarm audience, but I do feel that this group represents the current mindset of most fantasy football players.

I suppose it is not that surprising that JaMaal Charles and Adrian Peterson account for 57% of the #1 overall picks, but it is a little surprising that Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning, Matt Forte or Jimmy Graham (represented here by only two votes in the “others” portion) didn’t capture more share. My biggest issue with the data collected is that only two of these choices really represent forward thinking, something I just discussed in the “Letter From The Editor” portion of this Draft Guide. Reacting to last year’s numbers is such a stale way of preparing for your draft. Yet you see it every year. The top producers from the previous season always seem to be atop next year’s wish lists.

What’s not talked about very often except by the more experienced and, hate to say it but, successful players is how those one year wonders rarely repeat. Last year’s top three consensus picks were Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin & Arian Foster. None of them finished in the top 20 in scoring last year. In fact, over the last 10 years there are just two names that have been a consensus top three pick that have returned consistent top 10 value. LaDanian Tomlinson was a consensus top three pick every year between 2004-2008 and returned top three value every year but in 2008 when he dropped to 13th. The other is Adrian Peterson who has been a consensus top three pick every year since 2008 except for 2012, which just so happened to be his best season ever. Since his rookie season of 2007, AP has been a top 10 fantasy producer five of those seven seasons.

Here is a little look at the top of the draft over the last 10 years. You will see the top three picks followed by their end of season finish.

What this data shows is that if you started out playing fantasy football in the early 2000s and regularly had LaDanian Tomlinson, you won a lot of titles. It also means that you are probably trained in the way of taking last years numbers and applying to the following years draft rankings. But what we’ve learned especially after the last three years is that you have to do better than that and actually learn the truth behind these numbers. That is exactly what we are going to do in this Draft Guide this year.

Let’s do a little test here. Let’s agree on who the top candidates for the #1 pick are and narrow them down from there. I think it is fair to say that the names in consideration at the time of this publication should be Adrian Peterson, JaMaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Calvin Johnson and Peyton Manning. At least that is what our poll we discussed earlier tells us, so it makes for a good starting point.

So right now we have:

Adrian Peterson
JaMaal Charles
LeSean McCoy
Matt Forte
Calvin Johnson
Peyton Manning

Right off of the top, I have to say that taking a QB in the first round let alone as #1 is absolutely foolish. As magical as Manning’s season was, he only averaged four points per game (PPG) over Drew Brees and only 8.7 PPG more than Alex Smith. If you take away the top two fantasy QB scorers last year (Manning & Brees), there are only 3 PPG separating the next 15 QBs. In today’s NFL the QB position is going to rack up major fantasy points no matter what. Considering that Peyton Manning is a 38-year-old QB with a very serious muscle issue in his neck that has required multiple surgeries and further clearance before the season, it is far too much of a risk to consider him at #1. He is out.

Next, we obviously need to decide if taking a WR is a viable possibility since that would clearly give us our winner. I contend that WR has quickly become a very deep position and with an outstanding draft class this year, is poised to be even deeper in 2014. So, skipping a WR in the first round wouldn’t be that bad of an idea considering how many quality guys you could get later on. But, the NFL is a passing league and with so many PPR formats nowadays WRs, especially bona fide ones like Calvin Johnson, are extremely valuable. He stays.

That leaves us with:

Adrian Peterson
JaMaal Charles
LeSean McCoy
Matt Forte
Calvin Johnson

With these next five candidates I will run them through my own personal combine. Throughout this Draft Guide you will see that there are a few overwhelming factors that I use in sculpting my fantasy football roster.

These factors include:

Age – Each position has a clear age bracket to which they peak and since we are trying to find the very best player, this is a very important category.

System – The offensive system and specifically the coaching style is vital to fantasy performance. I know that most of you don’t realize this, but after reading this guide you will.

Size/Speed/Mechanics – I lumped all three together because it is different for each position. WRs you want size, RBs you need speed and QBs have to have proper mechanics.

Offensive Line – The O-line is the key that unlocks the offense. The better it performs, the better fantasy numbers players on that team will have.

Consistency – Fantasy football is a game of winning every single week. Scoring a ton of point here and very few over there won’t result in a title and thus we have to uncover players who perform at elite levels every single week.

Injuries – Is a player coming off of an injury, has a history of injuries or is in a situation in which he is prone to suffering an injury.

For each category, I have a formula that takes into account each players career information as well as team info, game logs and injury history. This will be my fourth season using this formula for myself and the first time sharing it in publication. The top of this years grid is not only as close as the top of any chart before, but also these five players are as close as ANY five players I have graded over this stretch.

Here is how they graded out as of this publication:

PLAYER

AGE

SYSTEM

SIZE/SPEED

CONSISTENCY

O-LINE

INJURY

RATING

Matt FORTE

7.5

9.7

7.6

8.6

7.5

8.4

49.3

JaMaal CHARLES

6.8

9.1

8.5

8.3

7.4

7.9

49.2

Adrian PETERSON

8

8.5

8.8

9

8.1

7.8

49

LeSean McCOY

8.3

7.9

8

8.5

8.2

8

48.9

Calvin JOHNSON

8

8.2

10

6.7

7.9

7.5

48.3

 

For comparison’s sake let’s look at my top five heading into 2013.

PLAYER

AGE

SYSTEM

SIZE/SPEED

CONSISTENCY

O-LINE

INJURY

RATING

Adrian PETERSON

7.5

8.2

9.1

9

8.3

8.2

50.3

Doug MARTIN

9

9.1

7.6

7.4

7.9

8.5

49.5

JaMaal CHARLES

8.3

8.6

8.3

6.8

7.7

7.9

47.6

Calvin JOHNSON

8.1

8

10

6.4

7.2

7.5

47.2

Arian FOSTER

7.9

9.3

6.6

7.9

8

6.9

46.6

Let me beat you to the punch by saying I am astonished that Matt Forte has graded out so highly this year. The dramatic improvements to the Chicago offensive line and the implementation of Marc Trestman’s offense have been great for Forte and the Bears offense. This year he gets another bump since he will now be receiving goal line touches, something that was handled by the now departed Michael Bush the last two seasons. Before I finalized my formulas, I would have certainly said that Adrian Peterson was the #1 pick followed by Charles and then Calvin Johnson. But that is why we do our research isn’t it?

With ratings this close it sure is hard to go ahead and anoint Matt Forte as the no brainer #1 pick. I am sure that many of you will finish reading this and go back to following the sheep by taking JaMaal Charles or Adrian Peterson #1. I love both of those guys again this year but am upgrading Forte quite a bit.

As we’ve learned, the preseason consensus is rarely correct these days. It makes a lot of sense that Forte emerge from the background to become a true fantasy superstar in 2014. He is in the prime of his career, running behind a now very good offensive line, is in one of if not the most RB focused systems in the NFL and facing a bunch of really marginal defenses again this season. Guys like Forte never get the love or superstar status that the super fast, super strong running backs seem to acquire quite easily. All he does is grind out yardage, play through injuries and outperform every expectation we put on him.

Maybe it’s time that we start to recognize the background singers just a little bit. Maybe it’s time that we start thinking just outside the box. With the first pick in this years fantasy football league draft…The Traveling Hillbillies select…Matt Forte, RB Chicago Bears. Now that will create some waves. That will show people that you’ve done your homework this offseason. That will separate you from the rest of the sheep. Matt Forte…has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Hell, I may just put him on the cover of this magazine ;)

Get dozens of articles like this, plus over 600 players ranked & projected, every offensive line & system broken down and tons of features in The FA Fantasy Football Draft Guide - Your Guide To The Championship.