The following is a post from NFL.com fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano. He breaks down how he sees the first 5 rounds of the fantasy football draft breaking down, if it happened today.
The NFL Scouting Combine is in full force, the free agent-period begins in March and the 2014 NFL Draft will be here before you know it. That means this mock draft is the last one we'll see before player movement changes fantasy values across the board. There have already been several changes compared to the Version 1.0 I filed back in January, but you will notice one thing remains: A focus on younger players with what will be my favorite word this offseason -- "upside."
One other thing that hasn't changed (and won't change) is the lack of quarterbacks being drafted in the first five rounds. Heck, I had to force myself to put Peyton Manning in Round 2 despite the fact that he's coming off one of the best fantasy football seasons of all time!
This mock draft is based on NFL.com's standard 10-team leagues with a basic (non-PPR) scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns scored. Each numbered position represents an individual fantasy team, so no more than one quarterback, three running backs, three wide receivers or one tight end will be selected per roster.
1. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Charles is coming off the best season of his career, recording 70 receptions, 1,980 scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns and 308 fantasy points. Whether he can duplicate his top status among running backs remains to be seen, but at 27 he's in the prime of his career. Look for Charles to remain the focus of Andy Reid's offensive attack.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: The NFL's leading rusher, McCoy piled up 1,607 yards with 11 total touchdowns and 278.60 fantasy points in the offense of Chip Kelly. The Pittsburgh product has now finished second in fantasy points among backs in two of the last three seasons, and at 25 he's in the prime of his career. I wouldn't be shocked to see McCoy picked first.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson experienced a large decline in production in 2013, but that was to be expected after the monstrous totals he recorded in the previous campaign. Still, he did finish eighth in fantasy points among running backs despite also missing time due to injuries. Peterson is no mere mortal, and the addition of OC Norv Turner is an obvious positive.
4. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It seems like Lynch has been in the league forever, but he's just 27 and should still have one or two strong seasons left in the Great Northwest. He has ranked among the five-best running backs based on fantasy points in three straight seasons, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to find success. Consider "Beast Mode" a top-five pick.
5. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte thrived in the offense of coach Marc Trestman, recording career-bests in rushing yards (1,339), rushing scores (9), receptions (74) and receiving yards (594). The 28-year-old runner also averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry, proving he can be both explosive and versatile. Forte will be a top-five selection and could go in the top three in PPR formats.
6. Eddie Lacy, RB. Green Bay Packers: If you watched "NFL Fantasy LIVE," you know I love Lacy. He started the 2013 season with a combined 15 carries in his first three games, due in large part to a concussion that cost him some playing time. From Weeks 5-17, he averaged 20.7 carries per game. Lacy also scored more rushing touchdowns (seven) than any player from Week 10 on. He is the real deal.
7. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray shook his prone-to-injuries label to start 14 games in 2013. Outside of Dez Bryant, he was the best statistical performer on the field for coachJason Garrett. Murray even caught 53 passes, which showed how versatile he can be on the field. At 25 and with little wear-and-tear on his body, he's in the conversation as a top-10 fantasy running back.
8. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: If Lacy is my No. 1 fantasy man crush heading into the 2014 campaign, Bell is definitely No. 1A. In 13 games as a rookie, he averaged better than 13 fantasy points and was projected to record 211.57 fantasy points over a full season of work. That would have been more points than Lacy, Murray and Peterson scored. Bell has superstar written all over him.
9. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: I am not a fan of taking wide receivers in the first round, and chances are I wouldn't make this move before the ninth overall pick. But Megatron is a safer bet than any of the running backs still on the board, and I won't lose much at the position waiting a few more picks to nab a runner. Megatron has finished no worse than third in points at wideout since 2011.
10. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: How valuable is Graham? His 217.5 fantasy points would have ranked him as a super stud regardless of position -- he would have finished as the sixth-best running back, the top-ranked wide receiver and the top-ranked defensive unit. I wouldn't be a bit shocked to see him selected at the end of the first round in countless fantasy football drafts next season.
Michael Fabiano continues through Round 5. You can see the remainder of his mock draft here.
The above photo is an original and is courtesy of RantSports.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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