Early 2014 Fantasy Football 4-Round Mock Draft: Round 2
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With only three games to go to determine which team will hoist the Lombardi Trophy, I have started a way-too-early mock draft that will run four rounds.
That said, I'm not sure it's ever "too early" to look ahead as you seek to gain a competitive edge over your competition.
Of course, plenty will change from now until the point when most people will complete their drafts, but here are the results for Round 2:
2.01 - Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Beginning with plenty of uncertainty last offseason and into training camp, Foster was a risky selection for fantasy owners, but he was getting into a groove before his season was ultimately cut short. In the final three full games that he played, Foster had 82 touches (68 carries and 14 receptions) for 487 yards from scrimmage (341 rushing and 146 receiving).
In the previous three seasons, Foster rushed for 4,264 yards, added 159 receptions for 1,438 yards and scored a total of 47 touchdowns in 45 games. With better health (knock on wood) in 2014, Foster could turn out to be a bargain here.
2.02 - C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
After his breakout season in 2012, Spiller was a huge disappointment in 2013. Despite getting roughly the same amount of carries (202 vs. 207), Spiller rushed for more than 300 yards less than he had in 2012 as he averaged only 4.6 yards per carry (compared to 6.0 YPC in 2012). In addition, he averaged only 5.6 yards per reception (compared to 10.7 Y/R in 2012).
Perhaps it's a bit of a leap of faith on my part that he bounces back, but Spiller has more upside than any other running back still available in this mock although they are several that most would view as safer picks.
2.03 - Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
Despite being suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon broke out (like I expected) and led the NFL in receiving (like nobody expected). As the first player to ever go over 200 receiving yards in back-to-back games, Gordon set the club's single-game receiving record (as Buggin' Out once said, "two times") and ultimately broke the franchise's single-season record as well.
There is no uncertainty about Gordon's talents, but the Browns will have a new head coach and new quarterback in 2014. In addition, Gordon needs to keep his nose clean as another violation of the league's substance-abuse policy would lead to a full-year suspension. To a certain degree, I'll worry less about that risk once training camp is here, but we've seen that rich and famous athletes don't always do the right thing (no pun intended) in the offseason(s).
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2.04 - Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
While he won't add much at all as a receiver and his numbers overall dropped last season, Alf has averaged 1,444 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns over his first two seasons in the NFL.
2.05 - Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Before his foot injury landed him on injured reserve, Jones had really taken a huge step forward in 2013. After averaging 73.8 and 74.9 yards per game in his first two seasons, respectively, Jones was averaging a league-high (at the time) 116.0 yards per game in the five games he had played.
At this point, it appears that Jones will be ready for the start of the 2014 season, but Jones' injury was breaking a screw that had already been inserted into his foot from a previous injury so there is some reason to be a little cautious.
2.06 - Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
For the second time in three years, Bush exceeded 1,000 rushing yards, but he also exceeded 50 receptions for the first time since 2008. Even though he missed two games, Bush set a career high in yards from scrimmage (1,512).
2.07 - Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
With only one carry in the team's first four games, Stacy was the team's workhorse back in its final 12 games. Even though he averaged less than four yards per carry (3.89) since becoming the starter, he averaged 20.75 carries per game and added 2.17 receptions per game. If he maintains that level of a workload in 2014, you can argue that he should be selected sooner than this.
2.08 - Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsubrgh Steelers
In 13 games, Bell got nearly 300 touches (244 carries and 45 receptions) and had 20-plus touches in all but two games as a rookie. That said, Bell averaged only 3.52 yards per carry on the season. On a positive note, he averaged at least 4.0 YPC in four of his final five games after doing so only twice in his first eight games.
2.09 - Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
In his second season with Peyton Manning, DT's numbers were nearly identical to his first season. Thomas had 92 receptions (94 in 2012), 1,430 yards (1,434) and 14 touchdowns (10). With Eric Decker scheduled to become a free agent, it's possible that Thomas improves upon those numbers in 2014.
* For a look ahead to the real 2014 NFL Draft, here is my latest 2014 NFL Mock Draft. As we get closer to draft, I will add rounds and eventually include all seven rounds.
2.10 - Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
In dynasty leagues, I'd prefer Alshon Jeffery over Marshall, but the opposite is true (slightly) when it comes to redraft leagues for the 2014 season. Considering his chemistry with Jay Cutler, Marshall is likely to lead the team in targets in 2014, but both are excellent options.
2.11 - Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Although he was on the sidelines for part of the team's two playoff games, Mathews played a full 16-game season for the first time in his career. In the process, he rushed for a career-high 1,255 yards on 285 carries.
With six 100-yard games (and one 99-yard game) in an 11-game stretch starting in Week 6, Mathews was one of three running backs to gain over 1,000 yards on the ground during that stretch along with LeSean McCoy and Eddie Lacy.
2.12 - Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Likely to win his league-record fifth MVP (see my award projections), Manning broke the record for most passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55) while throwing only 10 interceptions. Not only did he throw multiple touchdowns in all but one game, Manning threw four or more TDs in nine games. (As a comparison, Hall-of-Famer John Elway did that 10 times ... in his whole career.)
- Go back to Round 1 (Rest of mock will be posted later today)
My initial 2014 fantasy football rankings will be released later this week ... and then frequently revised for the next nine months.