The 2013 NFL season is approaching fast, and fantasy football owners everywhere are getting ready for draft day by using mock drafts to practice how they will handle the pressure of picking on the clock.
It’s easy to get caught up in the madness that is a fantasy football draft, but if players stick to a basic game plan and execute the first few rounds of selections perfectly, it will be a season filled with bliss.
Here’s the full first-round breakdown for all standard-scoring, 12-team leagues (top 10 also applies to 10-team standard leagues).
Now a season removed from knee surgery and an MVP campaign that featured Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson running for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns, there is little doubt that he will be the No. 1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts.
Not only is he one of the most consistent fantasy players in the league, but the fact that he is also a bona fide points machine and one of the most likeable guys in the game makes him one of the easiest picks in history to take No. 1.
Just behind Peterson on the big board is Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.
While many players have the talent to be the No. 2 overall pick in the fantasy draft, the Texans’ run-first mindset offers Foster the ability to put up huge numbers consistently.
With 1424 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 351 carries, taking Foster at No. 2 should be a safe pick that pays huge dividends.
The Kansas City Chiefs have undergone a major regime change this offseason, and the biggest benefactor from the signing of head coach Andy Reid will be running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles is now a year removed from his own knee injury and will be looking to prove to the franchise and Reid that he deserves to be featured in the offense.
After amassing 1,509 yards on the ground and 236 yards in the air last season, the pass-happy coaching staff will make him a fantasy juggernaut in the same vein as Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy.
The Seattle Seahawks showed a commitment to the rushing attack last season that is sure to carry over into 2013, and that means plenty of action for running back Marshawn Lynch this year.
Lynch has blossomed in Seattle, amassing 1,590 yards rushing on 315 carries while adding 11 touchdowns in 2012.
While the defenses in the NFC West are only getting tougher, the Seahawks RB should have no problem matching last year’s numbers.
There were many fantasy owners who jumped on Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back Doug Martin early in the 2012 fantasy football drafts, and they were rewarded handsomely with a 1,454-yard rushing performance.
Add in his 11 touchdowns on the ground and 49 receptions, 472 yards and a touchdown through the air, and there is a fair argument that the Buccaneers’ second-year RB should be selected higher than Lynch or Charles.
As a second-year player, though, the risk of a sophomore slump makes this pick a slight risk.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ offense will be unpredictable this season with the addition of new head coach Chip Kelly, but one player who will see a hefty workload no matter what formation the team is in will be running back LeSean McCoy.
McCoy was beaten down behind the putrid offensive line last year, and while that has left a bad taste in many fantasy owners’ mouths, now is the chance to buy low for a potential top points producer.
In only 12 games, McCoy managed 840 rushing yards and 373 receiving yards. If he stays healthy in the new offense, fantasy owners should expect the numbers owners were treated to from McCoy in 2010 and 2011.
There is no better wide receiver in the NFL than the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson, and his 122 receptions for 1964 yards and five touchdowns last season made him a fantasy legend.
As much as Johnson and his owners would love to top those numbers, a slight decline in yards should be expected. While the total receiving yards may drop, the Lions will get the ball to Johnson in the red zone more often, and he’ll catch more than five touchdowns.
Either way, the tall wide receiver is as valuable as any running back taken around No. 7 overall.
As much as fantasy owners are backing off Ray Rice because of a lackluster 2012 campaign and the Baltimore Ravens' commitment to the passing game in the postseason, there is no mistaking that the talented running back will put up huge numbers this year.
Some owners are also scared about the increased role of Bernard Pierce in the Ravens’ offense, but Rice has been too good in both the passing game and the ground attack to abandon now.
Fantasy owners should expect 10 or more touchdowns this season once again.
The biggest risk of the top-12 selections will come at No. 9 when Buffalo Bills running back C. J. Spiller should be selected. While Spiller looked like a top fantasy player with Fred Jackson sidelined, the veteran is still on the roster and is likely to vulture touchdowns.
Even with Jackson still taking carries from the fourth-year player, fantasy owners looking to make a championship move in the first round should select Spiller and expect him to top the 1,244 yards with six touchdowns he amassed last season.
The Washington Redskins have made no attempt to hide the fact that they are now a run-first offense led by the zone-blocking scheme of Mike Shanahan and the elite rushing of second-year back Alfred Morris.
While there weren’t many fantasy owners sold on Morris last year at draft time, his 1,613 rushing yards on 335 attempts and 13 touchdowns make him a great selection at No. 10.
Some owners will pass on sophomore players fearing the slump, but Morris is a risk worth taking.
While the combination of injuries and the Cleveland Browns’ putrid offense should have fantasy owners slightly concerned about Trent Richardson’s production in 2013, the way the rookie performed last year warrants the risk.
Richardson only managed 950 yards on 267 attempts, but the good news for fantasy owners is that the Browns’ top running back will see even more action if he stays healthy.
Add in the 11 touchdowns he scored last season, and T-Rich has proven he is the kind of late first-round target owners should be looking to select.
If you have the No. 12 overall selection in the first round, that means you also have the 13th pick in back-to-back fashion. While waiting this long to make a pick is tough, two straight selections make it worth it.
Whether you take Saints’ Drew Brees 12th or 13th, the New Orleans QB must be on your roster.
Most of the top running backs will be off the board here, so fantasy owners must be looking for certainties at this point of the first round. With few left, Brees is a fantasy stud who will help your team each week.
Taking Brees also allows the fantasy owner to grab a second-tier running back like Chicago’s Matt Forte or New England’s Stevan Ridley at the same time without feeling any guilt.
Aaron Rodgers is also acceptable here in place of Brees.