5 Things You Should Know about Our 2014 Fantasy Football Projections

It's time to start thinking about fantasy football. Here are five things you should know before you start planning your draft strategy.

The United States is out of the World Cup, it's too late to fix your fantasy baseball team, and CFL football isn't going to be able to fully tide you over until the NFL season kicks off. That's okay, though. Because it's never too early to think about fantasy football.

The math wizards behind the scenes at numberFire have put together the fantasy football rankings and projections for the upcoming season, and there are five things you should know about the rankings before you make poor decisions during your fantasy drafts.

1. Don't Give Up on Marshawn Lynch

If you've started preparing for your draft at all, you've probably figured out who you're going to take with the first pick, should you get it. Some people (myself included) prefer LeSean McCoy, while others are partial to Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, or the old standard, Adrian Peterson.

But past those guys, who is the next running back on the board? Who are you taking with the fifth, sixth, or seventh pick? According to our rankings, it should be Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch isn't going to get 60 to 80 catches like a few of the other top backs, but if you like touchdowns (and I know you do!), numberFire's rankings say Lynch is the man for the job. Coming in as the fifth-ranked back, Marshawn is projected for 12 touchdowns on the ground and another two through the air, which makes sense considering he's had either 11 or 12 rushing scores each of the past three seasons, to go along with one or two receiving touchdowns.

He might be old, and you might worry about him off-the-field, but don't quit on Beast Mode quite yet. Lynch is currently sliding out of the first round in MyFantasyLeague's ADP, while just barely hanging on to the first round according to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP data for PPR leagues. Even though he's not a prolific pass catcher, it would be foolish to pass on Lynch for that long just because of PPR scoring in your league.

2. Stop Sleeping on Rashad Jennings

According to his ADP on the aforementioned sites, the fantasy football community is sleeping on Rashad Jennings. But it's not too late. You can still jump on the bandwagon.

Jennings figures to be the starter for the Giants with the departure of Andre Brown, the uncertain health of David Wilson, and the "not very good" of Peyton Hillis. Jennings will render most of the backups in New York obsolete, as he's a fully capable, do-it-all back.

Jennings isn't only capable of catching the football (setting him apart from Giants rookie Andre Williams of Boston College, who literally cannot catch), but he's been consistently targeted in his career. Jennings was thrown to 47 times last season in Oakland, while seeing a healthy amount of looks for a part-time player in Jacksonville before his move west.

This means Jennings will stay on the field, and will be see a fair share of work as a runner and a receiver, and he's done well in the past when given that opportunity. Last season, he finished sixth in our Rushing Net Expected Points metric among backs with 150 or more carries, well ahead of Ben Tate and Trent Richardson, both of whom Jennings is being drafted behind at the moment.

3. If You Don't Get an Elite Passer, You Need to Wait

Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are the top three quarterbacks according to our rankings, and they're ahead of the pack by a solid margin. But what happens if you miss out on the elite players at the position?

Past the top-three, the quarterback position is going to look very similar, according to our projections. The gap from Rodgers to the QB4 (Cam Newton) is just under 50 points. That's nearly the same margin that separates Newton from QB17, Andy Dalton.

So even if you play in a moderately sized two-quarterback league, you're safe to wait on a signal caller for a while, as there are quite a few options that should be within swinging distance of QB1 status.

That means don't pull the trigger on Matt Stafford or Andrew Luck in the fifth or sixth round when you can have Jay Cutler or Tony Romo in the 10th or later, considering that not even two points per game separate these signal-callers.

4. Jump Off of the Cordarrelle Patterson Hype Train.

On the two main average draft position sites, Cordarrelle Patterson is being selected as a top-20 receiver and a top-50 player. Our projections would say that's a very, very optimistic look at the Vikings' wideout.

Our rankings have Patterson 34th among receivers, with even the most optimistic outcome within his "Confidence Interval" finding him outside of the top-20 at his position. Confidence Interval determines the most likely range of outcomes for a player, and for Patterson, even his wide range of possible stat lines falls short of his current draft position.

Patterson is in an awful passing offense (bottom 10 last year according to our numbers), and has yet to prove that he's more "wide receiver" than he is "athlete." So before you go getting your hopes up, consider that Patterson was seen as a very raw prospect coming out of college, and one year of being an offensive weapon on a crappy offense didn't change that.

Our projections don't see Patterson finding the end zone often enough to merit his current draft status, so unless you think Minnesota has a few dozen trick plays up their sleeves to get Patterson into the end zone, you should probably consider Roddy White, Kendall Wright or Marques Colston as a low-end WR2 option instead.

5. Marc Trestman is a Wizard. Don't Forget This.

Matt Forte is a top-five running back. Brandon Marshall is a top-five wide receiver. Martellus Bennett is a top-10 tight end.

Nearly every Bears skill position player meets or exceeds his ADP, with Bennett being the best example. Currently being drafted as a TE2 in both of the aforementioned formats, we have Bennett as the eighth-best tight end, just ahead of a trendy pick a couple rounds earlier, Jordan Reed.

The Chicago offense is a well-oiled machine under Trestman, and that means any skill position player in his schemes should be picked to produce and exceed expectations. Bennett is certainly no exception, as he should be heavily targeted as teams try to stop the dynamic duo at receiver of Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.