If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to take Peyton Manning at No. 1 overall in your fantasy football draft and still not fall a round behind your competitors, then the answer is yes. The 2014 NFL fantasy draft pool is rich with talent this year and the old method of securing two RBs after the first two rounds is still practical, but not pivotal to one’s success.
There are young running backs who will fall further in the draft because your competitors won’t trust them, but they’ll get a lot of touches. Nowadays, the competition is crazy about drafting all of the elite TEs and big-name WRs very high. Don’t worry though, this season will yield some pleasant surprises.
Here’s the breakdown of how you can draft Manning at No.1 this year and still strike fear in the heart’s of your opponents every week:
I’ve participated in an inordinate number of mock drafts so the draft availability of the players that you see just below, is based on the trends that I saw. My analysis is based on a standard draft format for a 12-team league with 15 rounds. However, in this discussion, I’ll only cover the “elite eight” rounds of fantasy football in which you should build your strongest starting lineup, with an additional RB3 and a WR3 for added depth.
If you draft first in a 12-team league, this is what your exact draft position will be for the first eight rounds: 1, 24, 25, 48, 49, 72, 73, 96. In a competitive league, your opponents will have no mercy on you especially if you take a QB within the first five picks, but let’s take a look at what options you’ll have going forward.
Round 1: Peyton Manning
Round 2 & 3 WR: Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery, Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen
Round 2 & 3 RB: Alfred Morris, Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy, LeVeon Bell, Reggie Bush
Round 4 & 5 WR: Pierre Garcon, Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, Emmanuel Sanders
Round 4 & 5 RB: Ray Rice, Joique Bell, Ben Tate, Bishop Sankey, Chris Johnson
Round 6 & 7 WR: Wes Welker, Brandin Cooks, Mike Wallace, Golden Tate
Round 6 & 7 RB: Pierre Thomas, Lamar Miller, Steven Jackson, Darren Sproles
Round 6 & 7 TE: Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph, Jordan Reed
Round 8 WR: Sammy Watkins, Riley Cooper, Rueben Randle, Justin Hunter, Mike Evans
Round 8 RB: Bernard Pierce, Danny Woodhead, Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram
Round 8 TE: Dennis Pitta, Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz
After drafting Manning at No. 1, if you decide to draft two RBs with picks 24 and 25, you can easily grab Morris and Ellington and not feel like you’ve missed out one of the big three (Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles). If you’re in a PPR league, you might even want to draft Bell and Bush or snatch up a semi-sleeper not listed above in Shane Vereen, because you won’t see him later – it’s up to you.
If you want to pick one WR and one RB with picks 24 and 25, you can do that safely as well. For example, you could take RB Stacy, who’s sure to be the focal point of the St. Louis Rams‘ offense after QB Sam Bradford has been officially ruled out for the season with another ACL injury. You could pair him with WR Jeffery, who came into his own last season and will probably finish in the top 10 of WRs.
I wouldn’t advise you to pick two WRs after drafting Manning in round one because then you’d have to rely on two questionable RBs as your RB1 and RB2 all season. Moreover, as you look at all of the options that you have for the rest of your rounds, it’s easy to see that the combinations can be lethal if you draft wisely.
The opportunity to use back-to-back picks after round one, allows for the selection of the most elite QB in the history of the regular season at the No. 1 spot, to be a safe move. Simply put, I’m buying.
Good luck with your draft and if you have the first pick, feel free to grab Manning and use this breakdown as your guide.