Early 2014 Fantasy Football 4-Round Mock Draft: Round 1
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Over the next day or so, I will post an early look at how a 2014 fantasy football draft would shake out if I were drafting against 11 me's.
(Fortunately, the world only has to deal with just one of me ... and some of you may think that one (me) is one too many.)
That said, I will post an early round-by-round mock draft for four rounds. Later in the offseason, we will conduct mock drafts that go many more rounds.
Without further ado, here is how I see Round 1 in leagues that use standard scoring:
1.01 - LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
In a situation that will likely come down to a two-man debate, Jamaal Charles is my 1(b) to McCoy's 1(a). It really is a no-lose situation, but if you have the No. 1 pick, you have to pick somebody and I'd go with McCoy. To be clear, I'd be happy to settle for whichever one I drafted at pick 1.02 in a real draft.
McCoy led the NFL in rushing yards (1,607), yards from scrimmage (2,146) and touches (366). One of the benefits of McCoy over Charles is that the Eagles have a much better supporting cast, which puts a little less focus on McCoy, than Charles, from opposing defenses. To be fair, however, any opposing defensive coordinator will make it their priority to stop (or contain) these two guys.
1.02 - Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles led the league in total touchdowns with 19 — 12 rushing and seven receiving scores. As great as that was for his fantasy owners in 2013, it will be unlikely for Charles to repeat.
If you remember back to 2011, McCoy scored a league-high 20 touchdowns and then followed that up with just five total touchdowns in 2012. I'm not saying he'll score only five times in 2014, but not repeating a 19-TD season is no knock on Charles.
Playing one less game than McCoy as the Chiefs rested their starters in Week 17, Charles set a career high in YFS (1,980) and ranked second only to McCoy. In addition, no other player had as many games with 100-plus YFS than Charles (13) this season.
1.03 - Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
While Peterson may never rush for 2,000 yards again, he rushed for 1,266 yards in only 14 games despite poor quarterback play and facing eight (or more) men in the box. While it's difficult to rely on touchdowns from most players, Purple Jesus has rushed for double-digit touchdowns in all seven years of his career.
1.04 - Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Forte rushed for 1,339 yards and caught 74 passes for 594 yards, all of which are career highs, and tied his previous career high of 12 total touchdowns this season. One of the league's most complete backs, Forte also benefits from having one of league's best tandem of wide receivers on the outside in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, both of whom are also good blockers at receiver.
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1.05 - Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
Despite slipping to late in the second round, Lacy had a monster rookie season: 1,178 rushing yards and 11 TDs plus 35 receptions for 257 yards. From Week 5 through their playoff loss, Lacy had 11 games with 20-plus carries as the Packers were committed to the run with or without Aaron Rodgers under center. Provided Rodgers stays healthy for a full 2014 season, I think Lacy's numbers can be even better in Year 2.
1.06 - Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Lynch rushed for more than 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns for a third consecutive season. During that stretch, he has 901 carries for 4,051 yards, 87 catches for 724 yards and a total of 39 touchdowns.
1.07 - Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Without question, wide receiver is extremely deep and you can certainly wait on drafting one. And truth be told, I much rather use my first-round pick on a running back than a receiver. But at this point, I'd start to consider Megatron, who is arguably the most dominant wide receiver ever.
Even though he missed two games this season (and Josh Gordon led the league in receiving), Johnson had 84 receptions for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. In his record-setting campaign in 2012, he had only five touchdowns, but he now was 12-plus receiving touchdowns in three of the past four seasons. Over the past three seasons, Megatron has averaged an absurd line of 101/1,712/11.
1.08 - Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
Graham became the 19th player in the history of the NFL to catch at least 16 touchdown passes and just the second tight end to ever do so. If the first to do so, Rob Gronkowski, was not returning from a torn ACL and an injury-plagued season, Graham might be the No. 2 tight end on my board. That said, an offseason of uncertainty about Gronk's health once again boosts Graham's value a bit further.
Since his breakout season in 2011, Graham has averaged a line of 90/1,169/12 in those three seasons. Graham is scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason, but there is absolutely no way that the Saints will let him hit the open market.
* For a look ahead to the real 2014 NFL Draft, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft. As we get closer to draft, I will add rounds and eventually include all seven rounds.
1.09 - Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Muscle Hamster had a disappointing sophomore campaign as a season-ending injury ended his season after just six games. Even before the injury, however, Martin was not running the ball well as he averaged a yard less per carry (3.6) than he did as a rookie (4.6 YPC).
That said, Peterson was the only running back to have more YFS than Martin in 2012. Assuming good health in 2014, I expect a bounce-back year (on a per-touch and overall basis) for Martin.
1.10 - DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The biggest knock on Murray has been the concerns about his durability, but he played a career-high 14 games in 2013 and has top-five upside if he can stay healthy for a full season. That said, the second biggest concern about Murray is the poor play-calling by the Cowboys coaching staff as they inexplicably called few second-half runs in games down the stretch where Murray dominated on the ground in the first half.
With a career average of 4.95 YPC, Murray established new career highs of 1,121 rushing yards, 53 receptions for 350 yards and 10 total touchdowns. In the final eight games of the season, Murray had 879 YFS, seven TDs and a 5.5 YPC average.
1.11 - A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green is sort of a 2(a) in a four-man race to be the No. 2 receiver spot in my rankings behind Megatron. While he may not have the most upside out of the group, Green is the safest among that next tier of stud receivers and he has the ability to dominate opposing defensive backs on any given Sunday.
Through his first three seasons, Green has 260 receptions for 3,833 yards and 29 touchdowns. In a three-year span to start a career, no player has had more receptions than Green (260) and only Randy Moss has more receiving yards (4,163) than Green (3,833). In each of his three seasons, Green's numbers have improved — 65/1,057/7 (2011), 97/1,350/11 (2012) and 98/1,426/11 (2013).
1.12 - Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Although he saw a year-over-year drop in yardage from 1,382 to 1,233 yards, Bryant set career highs (barely, by one in each case) in receptions (93) and touchdowns (13). Battling a back injury, Bryant still played in all 16 games this season although he left the field a minute or so early against the Packers. Despite some (im)maturity concerns, Bryant is one of the most physically-gifted players in the league and should be a lock for another 1,200-yard seasons with double-digit touchdowns.
Over the next 24 hours, I will post the other three rounds of this four-round, one-man mock draft. In addition, my initial 2014 fantasy football rankings will be released later this week ... and then frequently revised for the next nine months.