Mock drafts actually serve a purpose in the fantasy football realm.
Whereas mocks that lead up to the actual NFL draft can at least give fans an idea of how things will shake out, fake football mocks are actually useful as owners can utilize them as a guide. They just so happen to be a heck of a lot more accurate, too.
Below, let's map out the first round of a 12-team standard league in which owners start one quarterback, two running backs, three wideouts, one tight end, a kicker and defense/special teams. Other formats such as points per reception and dynasty continue to swell in popularity, but standard remains king.
Fantasy Football 1st-Round Mock
|1||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||RB|
|2||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||RB|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||RB|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||RB|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||RB|
|6||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||WR|
|7||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||TE|
|8||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||RB|
|9||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||WR|
|10||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||WR|
|11||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||QB|
|12||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||RB|
The top is rather simple to understand for those who do a bit of homework. In layman's terms, LeSean McCoy is the downright king of fantasy thanks not only to his elite ability but his pairing with offensive innovator Chip Kelly.
Just look at the increase in numbers across the board last season:
There is an injury narrative in there somewhere, yes, but better to take that risk on McCoy with the reward so much higher than any other back.
If one back is going to flirt with 2,000 rushing yards this year, it's McCoy, even with the arrival of Darren Sproles. Kelly's system not only figures to get even faster next season and add new wrinkles, but it also seems to keep backs healthy as they take less big hits as back-pedaling, winded defenders rarely come up and deliver major blows.
Jamaal Charles is next, and owners simply cannot go wrong with him. He led all backs in scoring last year. While his rushing numbers were down, his receptions were way up in Andy Reid's offense. The only slight blemish is the presence of Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas.
The same can be said for Adrian Peterson, although his drop to No. 3 is rather easy to explain. He is now 29 years old and has a ton of wear and tear on his body. The presence of Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater under center, paired with weapons such as Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph, suggest the aerial attack could see a bigger focus next season.
Coincidentally, Matt Forte is yet another back who benefited in a big way from a new offensive mind at the helm of the offense last year. Even better, he happens to be the safest in terms of durability, as Rotoworld.com's Evan Silva points out:
Forte shouldn't be entirely left out of the top-three discussion, although he turns 29 late in the season and isn't quite on McCoy, Peterson, or Charles' level in terms of sheer running ability. He certainly could wind up a top-three PPR scorer as a versatile, slashing bellcow whom coach Marc Trestman fed the third most carries and second most targets among running backs last year. Forte is a "safe" top-five pick who's lasted 16 games in four of his six NFL seasons.
Pop quiz time—which running back as a rookie scored the sixth-most points at the position despite facing a stacked box in seven games because his elite quarterback was on the sideline with an injury?
Last year at that, as he reeled in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award while rattling off 11 double-digit outputs, 10 of which came after Week 5. The Packers did not do anything to upgrade behind Lacy, so the carries remain his. Word on the street—from ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, actually—is the staff will keep him on the field all three downs next year, too.
Calvin Johnson will continue to be the first wideout off the board, but it might raise a few eyebrows to see tight end Jimmy Graham follow so closely behind in standard leagues.
The slot is a rather interesting one in this particular mock. An owner has to be confident that the rest of the names in the round are no sure thing, and that he or she has the ability to make up for the lack of a running back or wideout effectively in the next few rounds.
But there is a peace of mind that comes with Graham. He was the top scorer at the position by 55 points last year and outscored all running backs except five so, really, it is near impossible to argue the selection. Owners would be wise to remember, though, that when it comes to tight end they want to be the first to nab one or one of the last.
Montee Ball follows next, not just because of his immense talent but because of the opportunity that has presented itself.
Gone is Knowshon Moreno, who last year was the fifth-best scorer at the position and tallied 11 games in double figures, with four of those coming in at more than 20 points. That production now goes to the second-year back out of Wisconsin.
Dez Bryant is the next surest thing at wideout and an easy choice with the running back well drying up. He has caught more than 90 receptions and double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two seasons.
Owners would be wise to remember two things about Bryant. One is we have truly yet to see his ceiling, which is scary. Two is he is playing for a new contract, which may only multiply the production by an unknown amount.
After Bryant is Demaryius Thomas, the main recipient of attention from Peyton Manning, who coincidentally comes next. Both may see a decrease in usage as the coaching staff looks to run more in order to preserve the signal-caller's health, but they benefit from one another regardless.
A note that should catch owners' eyes comes from ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold: "Manning, and his receivers have said as much, has shown a little more pop in his arm through offseason workouts and camp and has pushed the ball down the field with ease."
So much for that age argument that dissuades some from taking him in the first round.
To round out the first 12 picks, owners can no longer ignore Marshawn Lynch, despite a bevy of negative factors. There was the contract holdout. There are also two talented backs in Robert Turbin and Christine Michael who can certainly steal carries.
Still, 11 contests in double figures a year ago and more than than 1,200 yards and 11 scores in each of the past three years is impossible to ignore.
Things are still in flux as camps and the preseason rage onward, but for now owners certainly have guidelines to follow on the path to success given a summary of all the circumstances around the league.
Now go out and win that thing.
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