Early 2014 Fantasy Football 4-Round Mock Draft: Round 3
The good news, I guess, about doing a one-man fantasy football mock draft is that I'm always on the clock. No waiting around for my pick.
Then again, the bad news is that there is no waiting around for others to do some of the work. That said, here are the results of Round 3:
3.01 - Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
As a change-of-pace back for the Bengals, Bernard had a productive rookie season and he finished inside the top 20 fantasy running backs for the full season in standard-scoring formats.
Averaging just shy of 15 touches per game on the season, his carries increased each month — 8.0 per game (Sept.), 9.8 (Oct.), 12.0 (Nov.) and 13.0 (Dec.). Finishing eighth among all running backs in receptions (56), he is an even better option in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
3.02 - Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
The second-year receiver had a breakout season with 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to 16 rush attempts for another 105 yards. He finished sixth among wideouts in receiving yards, but if you add his 105 rushing yards to that total, only Cleveland's Josh Gordon had more yards from scrimmage than Jeffery.
3.03 - Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
A model of consistency, Brown had at least five catches and at least 50 yards in every single game this season. In the end, he posted career highs across the board with 110 receptions for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns.
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3.04 - Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
Vereen missed half of the season with a wrist injury, but he managed to haul in 47 receptions for 427 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. Excluding his rushing stats, that is a full-season pace of 94/854/6 on receiving alone.
Even though the Patriots have recently focused on a 1-2 rushing attack of LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley, Vereen is the Patriots running back that I would prefer to own in 2014. In addition, Blount, who has eight rush TDs in the past three games, is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
3.05 - Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
The loss of Aaron Rodgers for a huge chunk of the season had an adverse affect on Nelson's season, but he still managed to finish as the 11th-highest scoring fantasy receiver this year. Nelson had 85 receptions for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns, but he had a line of 49/810/7 in the nine games that Rodgers started and finished. In other words, his yardage and touchdown totals would have likely been higher if Rodgers never broke his collarbone.
3.06 - Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Sidelined for much of the season by injury, Cobb is one of the most versatile and dynamic receivers in the league. Before the season began, Rodgers projected that Cobb would be the team's first 100-catch receiver since the 1990s.
In Cobb's breakout season in 2012, he finished with 80 catches for 954 yards and eight touchdowns plus 10 rush attempts for 132 yards. Provided he stays healthy, there is no reason Cobb can't exceed those numbers in 2014.
3.07 - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
What a bargain Moreno was in fantasy football drafts last summer! Based on consensus ADP data from FantasyPros.com, Moreno was the 46th running back off the board, on average, in fantasy drafts as of early September in between Isaac Redman (ADP of RB45) and Isaiah Pead (RB47).
Despite his low ADP, Moreno finished as the fifth-highest scoring fantasy RB with 1,038 rushing yards, 60 receptions, 548 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.
That said, it's unclear whether Moreno will be back with the Broncos in 2014 as he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. More than likely, he will get paid more elsewhere, but his landing spot could lead to a major adjustment in ADP from this spot. Stay tuned ...
3.08 - Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
As much as Moreno was a bargain, Rice was a disappointment.
After four straight seasons of rushing for more than 1,100 yards, Rice gained only 660 yards on his 214 carries, which averaged out to a career-low 3.1 yards per carry. He added 58 receptions for 321 yards, but both of those are lows during his time as a starter.
3.09 - Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Despite leading the league in receptions (113), Garcon was a bit inconsistent when it came to fantasy production last year. While Garcon had five huge games of 17 or more fantasy points including Weeks 15 and 16, he also had six fantasy points or less in nine games. Obviously, that means he had only two games with 7-16 fantasy points.
* 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.
3.10 - Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Aside from games missed by Arian Foster, Tate had a secondary role in the Texans backfield and he's likely see his role within an offense expand in 2014 as he enters free agency in a couple of months. Tate has been productive when given the opportunity (and healthy), but his value really depends on where he ends up.
3.11 - Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
At some point, he has to slow down, right? While he averaged a career-low 4.1 YPC, he once again rushed for more than 1,100 yards despite turning 30 before the year started.
With any running back that is Gore's age, the likelihood of gaining 1,000 yards will diminish each year. Further adding to the uncertainty is the fact that Marcus Lattimore will be fully healed from the gruesome injury that ended his collegiate career in 2012.
That said, I expect Gore to at least enter the season as the team's featured back and he has one of the best offensive lines in the league opening his holes.
3.12 - Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
Like with Moreno himself, Ball's fantasy value is tied to Moreno's destination in free agency. This spot in the mock assumes that Moreno will most likely end up elsewhere and Moreno takes over the lead role. But there is at least a possibility that the Broncos re-sign Moreno considering how productive he's been for them.
As I noted in a tweet earlier in the week, Ball has been running the ball extremely well recently and much better than he was at the beginning of the season. Over his past seven games through the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Ball has averaged 6.27 YPC (62 carries for 389 yards). In his first 10 games of the season, he averaged just 3.26 YPC (68 carries for 222 yards).
My initial 2014 fantasy football rankings will be released later this week ... and then frequently revised for the next nine months.
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