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Is it June already? Tune into the NBA Finals: check. Check out the World Cup: Done. Keep an eye on your favorite baseball team as they sweat through these long dog days of summer: Covered. But you’re forgetting something…oh yeah! You haven’t started preparing for the upcoming fantasy season yet, have you? Well, never fear. Here’s a quick overview of the most influential players that are certain to go in the first rounds of your draft (assuming those in your league have an ounce of insight as to what they are doing), whether they be familiar faces or newcomers.
First off: running backs. This position is being focused on first because, as most seasoned fantasy veterans know, it’s widely regarded as the most important position to address, and address quickly. According to ESPN.com, Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson stacks up as the best in the category for the second year in a row. Green Bay Packer Eddy Lacy is new to the fantasy relevance realm this year, clocking in at #6 after a solid rookie campaign in Wisconsin. St. Louis Ram, Zac Stacy, also cracks the top 10 after a breakout rookie season that, unlike Lacy, few expected.
Next we’ll take a look at quarterbacks, because owners usually look to nab them after they have had their fill of running backs. Denver Bronco Peyton Manning takes over the top spot after his record-breaking season, usurping Packer Aaron Rodgers, who although solid, was oft injured last year. Indianapolis Colt Andrew Luck sneaks into the top ten, after a sophomore campaign upon which he continued to prove that he is a star in the making for Indy.
Wide receivers are due up next, as they are a popular commodity as well. Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson has the longest run at the top spot of any position here, as this is the third year in a row that the experts advise that you if you’re thinking receivers, he should be the first off the board. Pittsburgh Steeler speedster Antonio Brown has made an immense jump from #23 last year to #8 this year after he nearly doubled his previous career highs in catches and touchdowns. Chicago Bears big man Alshon Jeffrey looked unstoppable at times last year, and it’s reflected in this year’s rankings, as he skyrockets from the 43rd position last year to the 9th this year.
Now for tight ends, which, except for the few gems that play more like receivers, are an afterthought on draft night. Much like Peterson, New Orleans Saint Jimmy Graham is atop the heap for the second straight time, after another productive season of terrorizing opposing secondary’s. This position, always in flux, has plenty of newcomers, from Bronco Julius Thomas, who became Manning’s favorite target right out of the gate during the league’s nationally televised prime time opening game to kick off the season, to Cleveland Brown Cameron Jordan, who lit up the league arguably more than any tight end to start the season, before cooling off as the Browns quarterback carousel took over to make their season difficult.
This next position is even more forgotten on draft night (but not without reason, mind you) than tight ends: kickers. Bronco Matt Prater is thought to be the best kicker when it comes to fantasy purposes after New England Patriot Stephen Gostowski held that honor for the past two years. No less than six kickers are new to this year’s top ten, the most noteworthy being the spike of San Diego Charger Nick Novak, who moved up 19 spots from #27 to #8 this year, and the return of Patriots hero and current Colt Adam Vinatieri, who had been absent for quite some time.
And last, but certainly...ok maybe least: Defenses. These are switched out as much as kickers, so we might just be subjected to a déjà vu-like experience right about now: Surprisingly, however, the Seattle Seahawks’s defensive unit is #1 for the second straight year on the backs of the legendary Legion of Boom, but the rest of the list stays true to form. Five defenses were switched out, the biggest being the Carolina Panthers, who climbed all the way to #2 from #22 after a fantastic season, and the Chiefs, who rose 17 places to #8 after riding their dominating defense to a 9-0 start before fizzling at the end, culminating in a wild-card loss to the Colts in a high scoring 45-44 affair.
Well, that should give you fantasy football nuts a solid base upon which to commence your preparations. Just remember that in the midst of all of the homework hoopla, preseason doesn’t even start for another two months!
Image via Facebook from Adrian Peterson