From cheat sheets to sleeper lists, here’s your fantasy football draft checklist

This weekend will be the biggest for fantasy football in terms of number of leagues holding their drafts. Make sure you’re ready by going over this checklist before you make your first pick.

1. Rankings/cheat sheets √

If you’ve been following this blog during the offseason, then you know we’ve got you covered right here. You’ll find fantasy rankings for over 250 players, including position rankings for standard and PPR scoring. If cheat sheets are more your speed, have a look here.

2. Note prominent bye week conflicts √

Our top-ranked player, David Johnson, is off in Week 8 of this season. In fact, a slew of pro bowlers are off that week. Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray and Odell Beckham Jr. are among those high-valued players off that week. Also off that week are Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette. Week 9 will also be a tough win for some fantasy owners, with Le’Veon Bell, Tom Brady, Jordan Howard, Isaiah Crowell, Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook all taking the week off.

3. Know prominent suspensions √

Most everyone knows Ezekiel Elliott is suspended for six games, but keep an eye on his situation since he would be allowed to play during his appeal. Another running back that will miss some time is Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of the season. Looking at wide receivers, Packers wideout Geronimo Allison is going to miss the first week while Jets No. 2 receiver Jalin Marshall will miss the first four weeks. Also on the Jets, tight end sleeper candidate Austin Seferian-Jenkins will miss the first two games. One player who is technically not cleared to play is Martavis Bryant, but all signs point to him being fully reinstated soon for the Steelers.

4. Know who won position battles √

The Saints backfield looks like a tough one to call, but it would be surprising if Mark Ingram wasn’t the lead back, at least to start the season. Another battle going on that is yet to be determined is between Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon. While I think Mixon takes over at some point, Hill will probably start the year getting more touches while Gio Bernard plays the third-down role. One more battle to check out is the one between Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt. While Ware has been getting most of the first-team work, Hunt has impressed. If you’re drafting this Saturday, make sure you know what happened in the Chiefs’ Friday night contest. Be sure to pay attention to the other backfield in that game as well, Seattle’s.

5. Sleepers list √

You must have a list of possible sleepers ready to snatch up late in your draft. Here are a few names to consider late:
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers—He’s a more traditional back compared to Ty Montgomery, who is actually a wide receiver.
De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Broncos—He’s looked great in the preseason and with rushers in front of him not really impressing, he could end up making an impact.
Joe Williams, RB, 49ers—He was handpicked by new Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan and with Carlos Hyde’s injury history, the rookie may be worth a flyer.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions—The rookie has looked good, but a lot needs to happen in front of him in order for him to have ample opportunity. He’s worth a late pickup, though.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins—Terrelle Pryor has been making one-handed catches in camp, causing people to forget that Crowder will be Kirk Cousins’ top target after Jordan Reed.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Saints—A speedster with Drew Brees tossing him the ball? Sounds good to me.
Julius Thomas, TE, Dolphins—I think Jay Cutler’s addition to Miami gives Thomas a chance at being a top-12 tight end. If you draft a backup TE, make it Thomas.

6. Do Not Draft list √

Make sure you have a list of players you just absolutely won’t draft and make sure you adhere to it. For me, it’s players with uncertainty hanging over their head, players like Elliott (looming suspension) and Rob Gronkowski (drafted too high with injury history). Players that don’t offer value are also on my do-not-draft list. Aaron Rodgers, for example, is being taken too high for a spot that can be filled easily. Also, be sure you are on top of preseason injuries. It’s feared that Julian Edelman tore his ACL Friday night. Spencer Ware also has a sprained knee, but it’s yet to be determined how severe it is.

7. Pronunciation guide √

You remember that fantasy commercial where the one owner tried to draft T.J. Who’s Your Mama, instead of Houshmandzadeh? Don’t be that owner. Here’s a list of names with pronunciations.

Jay Ajayi—uh-JYE-ee.
Tyler Eifert—Eye-furt.
D’Onta Foreman—Dee-on-tay, and for the love of all things holy, it’s Foreman, not Freeman.
Kenny Golladay—Rhymes with holiday.
Alvin Kamara—Kuh-mare-uh.
Martavis
Bryant—Heard this often as Mar-tay-vious, but that’s wrong. Mar-tay-vis is correct.
David Njoku—nJOE-koo.
Trevor Siemian—Like the first name of Simeon Rice, Super Bowl champ and former Buc.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy sleepers and lottery tickets

These next two weekends are the busiest in terms of fantasy drafts. It’s time to talk sleepers and lottery tickets.

Sleepers are those players that aren’t really on anyone’s radar, but can come through for you in the late rounds of your draft. Sleepers are all about finding that player who has the potential to significantly out-perform his draft position. You’re not drafting them to be your starters, but you can hope they’ll work their way into your lineup sooner rather than later.

Lottery tickets are players who, frankly, need the starter in front of them to go down with an injury or demotion in order to be productive.

Here’s a look at some of the potentially most productive sleepers and lottery tickets.

Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bill quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.
Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.

SLEEPERS

Kevin White, WR, Bears: He had high expectations before a stress fracture caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He’ll be Chicago’s No. 2 receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, who many fear might not hold up due to his soft tissue injury history. White’s been going around the eighth round in mock drafts, so he could be a WR3/WR4 that produces like a WR2 if things pan out.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: There are quality receivers in New Orleans, but Thomas could end up being worth a later-round pick if he continues to impress like he did in his first preseason game — four catches for 67 yards, though just one catch for five yards in his second game. He’s being drafted in the middle of the 10th round, so if he’s around at that point, you might as well snag him.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: I’m opening myself up for ridicule with this one, but he totaled over 900 yards of offense and had nine touchdowns last season. He’ll be nobody’s first, second or even third option, but it looks like he finally started to find ways to contribute last year. The Rams will need to lean heavy on Todd Gurley and find ways to continue to get the ball into Austin’s hands in a variety of ways. Going typically in the 11th round, you can afford to take a flyer on this guy.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati: Another rookie that could end up contributing meaningful numbers. He’s had three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown so far this preseason. With little reason to believe in Brandon LaFell as a solid No. 2, Boyd could end up being A.J. Green’s lightly covered counterpart. He could be a steal in the 12th round.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers: He could end up filling the role vacated by Martavis Bryant, who’s suspended this season. Markus Wheaton has had ample opportunity to be the second option behind Antonio Brown, but has been passed up multiple times. Coates has been getting drafted around the 11th round, but you might even be able to get him in the 14th.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: With an ADP around the 10th round, he could be a nice insurance policy for whichever starter you pick before that. He accounted for 24 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards last season while missing two games.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: He’s been pretty consistent his entire career, gaining at least 700 yards every year after his rookie season. If you want to carry a second tight end, he could be had in later rounds. It could be one final solid season from the tight end and a healthy Tony Romo.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: Even with Doug Martin’s resurgent season, Sims had more than 1,000 yards of total offense. He’s getting drafted early in the ninth round and could be a nice flex player even with Martin as the lead back.

LOTTERY TICKETS

Tim Hightower, RB, Saints: He was one of the best running backs at the end of last year, gaining 456 total yards and scoring four touchdowns in the final four games. A pick in the 14th round could end up winning you the lottery.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: Thomas Rawls was impressive last season, but 583 of his 803 rushing yards came in just four games. Michael has looked good in the preseason and might just need an opportunity. He’s going in the 10th round, but might be around in the 12th.

Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders: Latavius Murray should be used heavily in Oakland, but Washington has shown flashes in the preseason. He could carve out a nice role for himself, but if Murray goes down, then he could really shine. His ADP is in the 11th, so it shouldn’t be too tough landing this potential lottery ticket.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: It was odd that Atlanta drafted him a year after taking Devonta Freeman. Freeman then went on to have a great year. I’m not sold on Freeman duplicating his early success last season. He rushed for more than 80 yards just twice in the final eight games. He scored just four touchdowns in that span. Coleman should be available in the middle of the ninth round.