Season long fantasy football can be awesome, but we all know it can also be a beating. Extreme highs give to extreme lows, and if you don’t prepare yourself for the long haul, the fantasy playoffs can seem like a daunting task. Learning from our past mistakes is pretty key in licking our wounds and making a strong run the next season if this year’s team didn’t quite hack it.
One good way to try to get better is to retrace the steps of our initial fantasy drafts back in August and see where we went wrong. Even better is to see where we probably should have gone right. This little game isn’t completely accurate, but it’s more than a little interesting to see how things would play out in hindsight.
With that, let’s break down what the first 12 picks of a standard, 12-team league might be if we could re-do our 2014 fantasy drafts knowing what we know now:
1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
No one has been better to own in fantasy football than Murray, who has the Cowboys playing amazing football and has yet to rush for less than 100 yards in a game. That alone is remarkable, but he’s also carrying people who took him in fantasy drafts right now, too. Health was the main thing that pushed him to the middle or end of the first round of your initial fantasy football draft, but all owners who passed on him are regretting it now.
2. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Foster isn’t far behind Murray, as he’s missed just one game due to injury and has only one game with less than 100 rushing yards. He’s even matched Murray in rushing scores (seven). If it wasn’t for those two off weeks on his 2014 record, he’d be atop the fantasy world. It’s odd, since he was just as much of an injury risk as Murray entering fantasy drafts this year.
3. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
If we’re talking PPR fantasy football leagues, Forte is your guy right now. The guy isn’t just crushing it among running backs, either. He’s just two receptions behind Antonio Brown for the league lead, as well. Clearly a key cog in Chicago’s offense, Forte was already regarded as a top-four pick when fantasy football drafts got going in the summer. It’s nice to see he hasn’t disappointed.
4. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown leads the entire league in receptions and has managed to record at least five catches and 70+ yards in every single game this year. That’s crazy, to be sure, but what’s even crazier is how a guy that put up 1,499 yards on 110 receptions a year ago is on pace to do even better. Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas were all routinely taken ahead of Brown, but perhaps they shouldn’t have been.
5. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos
If we’re talking standard leagues, Thomas is easily one of the top guys to own. He has slowed down a tad and he doesn’t rack up loads of receptions, but for most of the year he’s been scoring touchdowns. Through Denver’s first seven games he has a gaudy nine scores, while he managed to score in all of his first five games. Jimmy Graham was easily the top tight end off the board first in fantasy drafts, but Thomas has been the most reliable option so far at the position.
6. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
If you value running backs, perhaps you’d slide Bell a little higher. He hasn’t been destroying opponents as a scorer (just two total touchdowns), but he’s been a total yardage fiend. With over 1,000 total yards over the first half of the season, Bell is paying off in a big way if you took him at any point in round one this year.
7. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Made a top-five pick by many a bold fantasy owner, DT hasn’t disappointed in the least. He had a somewhat slow start in his first four games, but has responded with a ridiculous tear. Now half-way through the year, he’s well on his way to matching the same elite numbers we’ve grown accustomed to.
8. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
After finishing inside the top five in each of the last two seasons, everyone thought it was possible Luck could take a major leap in his third NFL season. We didn’t know it’d be this big, this fast. Luck has taken the fantasy world by storm, putting up seven 300+ yard games in eight tries and leading one of the league’s top scoring offenses. It’s tough to say he should have been a first round pick given how deep the quarterback position is, but the stats speak for themselves.
9. Jordy Nelson, QB, Green Bay Packers
Nelson still doesn’t get the respect he deserves as an elite NFL and fantasy football wide receiver, but in 2014 he’s making sure that slowly changes. On pace for over 100 catches and 12 touchdowns, Nelson is proving to everyone he should have been considered for the first round of fantasy drafts.
10. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Again, quarterback is deep so we don’t need to reach for it in fantasy football drafts like we used to, but along with Luck, Manning is showing yet again in 2014 that sometimes you just have to draft the elite passers, anyways. Crushing it, as always, the ageless phenom has had less than three touchdowns in a game just once all year.
11. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton is one of the odder hits, as he has soared among the his fantasy brethren despite having just two touchdowns to his name. He’s dominated everywhere else, though, catching 53 balls for well over 800 yards. It doesn’t look like he’s about to slow down anytime soon, either.
12. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
The Gronk had major injury questions, and at least initially, he didn’t seem to be himself. He was still providing value with touchdowns, though, and has truly returned to form over the past several weeks. That inconsistency is the only reason he’s the second tight end in the first round of our fantasy draft do-over.