Fantasy Football 2014: First Round Mock Draft
Fantasy Football 2014 First Round Mock Draft
Sixteen weeks down, one week to go. The fantasy football season is almost over, and it was a great one. As with every other season, there were busts, surprises and devastating injuries. A lot of games were decided by a kicker making a long-distance field goal or a last-second touchdown. Many fantasy leagues ended as soon as Tramaine Brock intercepted Matt Ryan's Hail Mary pass on Monday night.
There are many other leagues, mostly on ESPN.com, that work with a two-week playoff system so Week 17 means a lot more than usual. If you made it to the championship, good luck. If not, like me, it's time to take an early look at the 2014 fantasy season.
In the 2013 preseason rankings, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin and Ray Rice were ranked in the top five and were drafted as such. Two of them are on the IR and one hasn't played like a first-round pick. Looking down the list there were even more running backs that played well below their draft value. The same goes for wide receivers and tight ends.
On the opposite end, there have been some surprising players who outplayed their draft value. Josh Gordon, Knowshon Moreno and Julius Thomas are three players who owners took a late-round pick on and have been rewarded handsomely from their big plays. There are also a couple of players ranked in the top 10 for 2013 who return for 2014, like Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson.
With that being said, here is an early look at a first-round mock draft for the 2014 fantasy football season.
1. Jamaal Charles
2013 stats: 259 carries, 1,287 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns
Jamaal Charles has a 50-plus fantasy point lead over the No. 2 running back. His 19 total touchdowns are the most among running backs, and he also has 693 receiving yards -- over 100 more than the No. 2 back.
Charles was drafted between the fourth and fifth pick in the first round, but he's outperformed every running back drafted before him. He is the No. 1 running back and wide receiver for Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid has used Jamaal Charles as well as he used LeSean McCoy in 2011.
If you have the No. 1 pick in your 2014 league, it's no longer about Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster. It's Jamaal Charles' time.
2. LeSean McCoy
2013 stats: 287 carries, 1,476 rushing yards, nine touchdowns
LeSean McCoy is well on his way to capturing the rushing title. He has almost 200 more yards than the next running back which is Charles. Most of McCoy's success has come with Nick Foles under center. Foles looks to McCoy as the second -- or even first -- option on many passing plays as he has 536 receiving yards.
As long as Foles remains the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, McCoy will be a top-five running back. He struggled in 2012, but so did the entire Eagles team. This year, with a new head coach and offensive scheme, McCoy has bounced back in a big way.
He was drafted around the 10th pick in most leagues. Next year, a case could be made for McCoy as the No. 1 overall pick, but Charles' receiving touchdowns put him in the top spot.
3. Adrian Peterson
2013 stats: 279 carries, 1,266 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns
Despite having six games with less than 10 fantasy points and missing the Week 15 game completely, Adrian Peterson is still the No. 3 fantasy back in ESPN.com standard leagues. There was no surprise that he was the No. 1 overall pick this year after the stats he put up in 2012.
However, Peterson has been banged up and struggling over the last few weeks. He has 18 carries for only 58 yards and no touchdowns in his last two games. For Peterson to be back as the No. 1 pick, the Minnesota Vikings need to either sign or draft offensive weapons and build around Peterson.
Even if they don't sign any top-tier players, Peterson is still Peterson and will plow through any defender in his way next year.
4. Marshawn Lynch
2013 stats: 278 carries, 1,160 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns
Marshawn Lynch continues to be a superstar with the Seattle Seahawks. He is once again a top-five fantasy running back.
There have been rumors that Lynch won't be with the Seahawks in 2014. If that's the case, Lynch's value rests on which team he signs with, but until that happens, Lynch is a great fit with the Seahawks. The young quarterback in Russell Wilson and the veteran power back in Lynch is a great pairing.
Lynch is a lock to get double-digit touchdowns and is a great player to draft in the first round next season.
5. Matt Forte
2013 stats: 267 carries, 1,229 rushing yards, seven touchdowns
For a player drafted in the middle of the second round, Forte has been a stud for anyone who has him. He is the No. 3 running back on both ESPN.com and NFL.com standard leagues. He has just three games with less than 10 fantasy points.
Forte's value is not only in the rushing game, but he is a intricate part of the Chicago Bears' passing game. He has 70 receptions for 547 yards and two touchdowns. His seven rushing touchdowns are 12th in the league, but his 17.8 carries per game are seventh among active (non-injured) running backs this season.
No. 5 may be a bit of a stretch for Forte, but considering the other players who were in the top five last year, Forte is a safe pick next year.
6. Calvin Johnson
2013 stats: 84 receptions, 1,492 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns
Is Calvin Johnson still the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver? Right now, no. He's been hurt over the last few weeks and has fallen one point behind the No. 1 wide receiver. In the last three weeks, he has only 12 receptions for 193 yards and no touchdowns.
Heading into 2014, Megatron will still be drafted as the No. 1 wide receiver. There are players who are younger and have years of success ahead of them. Yet Johnson is the No. 1 guy for the Detroit Lions, and Matthew Stafford will be throwing to him early and often. With a full offseason to rest, Johnson should be ready to go next year.
Johnson's average draft position was 7.8, but with the large amount of running back questions he moves up one spot.
7. Peyton Manning
2013 stats: 5,211 passing yards, 51 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Does Peyton Manning have one more run left in him? I think so. In my opinion, this is the best group of receivers Manning's had over his career with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and even Knowshon Moreno. Any quarterback would be lucky to have two of those five receivers.
Manning threw four touchdowns in Week 16, the final one breaking Tom Brady's record in 2007. If Manning doesn't win the Super Bowl this year you can bet the house that he'll be back next year. He still has one more week to increase the touchdown record. Manning's 10 interceptions are his lowest since 2006.
Manning is very careful and deadly accurate when throwing the ball. With the group of players in his arsenal, he is no doubt the No. 1 quarterback to draft in 2014.
8. Josh Gordon
2013 stats: 80 receptions, 1,564 receiving yards, nine touchdowns
If every wide receiver can be suspended for the first two games and still put up the numbers Josh Gordon has these rankings would be a lot harder. He is the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver right now, leading by just one point. The combination of being on a bad team and facing some tough defenses has not stopped Gordon.
He scored 19 points against the Kansas City Chiefs and 29 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were rumors that the Cleveland Browns were thinking about trading Gordon, but nothing happened. If they are looking to rebuild they must build around him.
Gordon's average draft position was 103rd. I was able to draft him with the 111th pick in one league. Some may question why I have Gordon as the No. 2 wide receiver, but look at the other options. Dez Bryant's quarterback may need back surgery, and Brandon Marshall is competing with Alshon Jeffery. Running backs aren't the backbone of a fantasy team anymore. Draft Gordon if he falls to the late first round.
9. Knowshon Moreno
2013 stats: 235 carries, 1,015 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns
Knowshon Moreno has turned his career around. He was the backup to Willis McGahee last year and was almost cut in preseason this year. However, Moreno has carried (no pun intended) himself well and is back as the Denver Broncos' starting running back.
Even with Montee Ball taking some carries, Moreno is still able to keep fantasy owners happy with 208 fantasy points this season, fifth best in ESPN.com leagues. With all of the weapons the Broncos have it will be hard to take Moreno in the early first round. However, as the ninth pick, Moreno will provide a lot of scoring opportunities and you can still pick up a good wide receiver in the second round.
In preseason, Moreno's ADP was 161.7. That's right. The fifth-best running back was ranked behind Jacquizz Rodgers, Isaiah Pead, Michael Bush and Isaac Redman, all backups. Drafting him any later than the first round is a steal.
10. Eddie Lacy
2013 stats: 263 carries, 1,112 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns
Eddie Lacy is in serious consideration for Rookie of the Year. He has scored six touchdowns in his last six games and could have had more but was injured in Sunday's game. His production has been increased with the absence of Aaron Rodgers.
The rookie running back was taken in the fourth or fifth rounds in most drafts, which is early, but was a steal looking back. Owners were a little worried during the beginning of the season when he went down in Week 2 after one carry and missed Week 3, but he bounced back and dominated week after week.
The emergence of Lacy makes the Green Bay Packers a much more dangerous team. With Rodgers slinging the ball and Lacy carving up defenses, the Packers will be a lock for the 2014 playoffs. As for fantasy, Lacy will round out the first round for me. He complements the passing game so well, and with James Starks sitting quietly on the bench he will finish in the top five next year.