With only eight days left until the first day of the NFL Draft, Fantasy Football is starting to get into full swing. Between regular drafts starting underway right now (Some owners just can’t wait) and Fantasy Football Mock Drafts going furiously, now is a good time to update my own mock and see whether the players from my first fantasy football mock draft moved up or down the list.
Standard 12-team PPR league with 6 points awarded for all touchdowns.
1.1 Arian Foster – RB – Houston Texans
Foster remains the No. 1 overall player on my big board. And unless he suffers an injury, he will remain there all the way up to Week One of the regular season. Foster did his business the right way, never griping about his contract situation in 2011. And for that, he was rewarded with a new 5yr/$43.5 million contract, including $20.75 million guaranteed. At only 25, I would have no problems taking Foster as the No. 1 overall pick in dynasty leagues as well.
1.2 Ray Rice – RB – Baltimore Ravens
Rice moves up from the No. 3 spot in my first mock draft mainly because, as of now, he has no one behind him to take carries after Ricky Williams announced his retirement. Slapped with the franchise tag, Rice has yet to sign his tender. There are also rumors that he could hold out for a good chunk of training camp. But unless his holdout goes into the regular season, I’m not scared off by Rice right now.
1.3 Aaron Rodgers – QB – Green Bay Packers
With this mock league rewarding six points for all touchdowns, it’s hard to pass up Rodgers, who goes down a spot from his previous No. 2 ranking. Averaging three touchdowns in just fifteen games last year, Rodgers and the offense aren’t going through much change heading into 2012. If anything, the offense could improve if the front office can draft a more reliable running back over James Starks. But even if Rodgers’ numbers dip just a little bit, he’d still put up more fantasy points than most running backs and receivers.
1.4 LeSean McCoy – RB – Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy stays at the No. 4 spot, but could have more value playing in a contract year. He reportedly showed up for voluntary practices. So unlike Rice, he doesn’t plan on holding out. At least not for now. I’d like to see his receptions improve after dropping from 78 in 2010 to 48 in 2011. But still, he is another running back who won’t lose many carries to whichever player winds up being his backup. And in PPR leagues, McCoy is still one of the best.
1.5 Calvin Johnson – WR – Detroit Lions
Megatron gets a big bump, moving up from the 1.7 spot. Recently signed to a humungous 8yr/$150.5 million contract that contains $60 million guaranteed, there is no reason to think we won’t see another double-digit touchdown season again this year. Many old-school owners will say this is way too early to take a receiver. But with so many offenses putting up high passing stats than the previous years, receivers are becoming a hotter fantasy commodity. The one thing I’d like to see CJ finally do is top triple-digit receptions after coming four receptions shy of the mark in 2011.
1.6 Drew Brees – QB – New Orleans Saints
Brees also gets a jump in fantasy value, going from the No. 8 pick to No. 6 overall. It helped immensely that the Saints were able to re-sign Marques Colston and bring in OG Ben Grubbs after losing Carl Nicks to the Buccaneers. Robert Meachem left for warmer waters in San Diego, but he won’t be missed that much. There was cause for alarm after Brees was reportedly upset about getting the exclusive-rights franchise tag. But with both sides rumored to be within $2 million per year of each other on a long-term contract, it sounds like Brees could be signed to a new deal before the opening of training camp. Like Rodgers, the lack of major offensive changes puts Brees up there in terms of fantasy value.
1.7 Maurice Jones-Drew – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD isn’t what bothers me. It’s the rest of the offense. The front office seems hellbent on giving Blaine Gabbert as many chances as possible, despite showing no progression as the 2011 season wore on. And with a receiving corps consisting of Laurent Robinson, Mike Thomas and newly-signed Lee Evans, Jacksonville is giving the Dolphins a run for their money as having the worst receiving unit in the league right now. Still, MJD’s 1980 total-yards-from-scrimmage in 2011 could easily be duplicated since he is the team’s only true weapon on offense. Lets hope he can stray away from the injury bug for at least another season.
1.8 Tom Brady – QB – New England Patriots
The third quarterback taken, Brady goes from the 11th overall pick in February to No. 8. Averaging 327.2 passing yards a game in 2011 without the help of Chad Ochocinco, I sometimes wonder if Brady could put up big numbers if he was surrounded by all rookies. I don’t see Brady’s numbers dwindling much. I think he could be more of an offensive force after BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed with Cincinnati. With Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski surrounding him, Brady could hit 40+ touchdown passes for the first time since his record-breaking 50 in 2007.
1.9 Cam Newton – QB – Carolina Panthers
This part of the draft is where it gets dicey. And in real fantasy drafts, it’s going to be hard choosing which player to take if quarterbacks get the same points for passing touchdowns as other players do for rushing and receiving scores. Dropping three spots, I’ll take Cam here for now just because of the room for improvement in the passing game and his rushing abilities near the goal-line. Add the fact that the team re-signed Steve Smith and the team believes that Brandon LaFell will have that magical third-year breakout season, Newton’s passing numbers could go up. Even if they are matched, those fourteen rushing touchdowns make me salivate. Newton could either carry a team to a championship, or wreck a roster at the same time if drafted this high.
1.10 Chris Johnson – RB – Tennessee Titans
Johnson cracks my first-round mock for the first time this offseason. Even after the lockout and the holdout, he still managed to put up over 91 yards of total offense per game last year. If he shows up in better shape than he did last year, which Mike Munchak fully believes, the owner picking at this spot could have the steal of the draft. Lets just hope getting that money doesn’t turn Johnson lazy, which he was accused of many times during the 2011 season.
1.11 Larry Fitzgerald – WR – Arizona Cardinals
How awesome would it have been to see Peyton Manning throwing to Fitz this year? Now that the dream is long gone, the Cardinals can go back to praying Kevin Kolb is worth the second rounder they forked over to the Eagles. Fitzgerald’s receptions (80) may have been the lowest since 2006, but his receiving yards (1411) made up for it. Todd Haley didn’t re-sign with the Cardinals, like I had hoped in my first mock, but that won’t have too much of a bearing on Fitzgerald’s 2012 numbers. And even if Kolb does miss a game or two, many think backup John Skelton is a better quarterback anyways.
1.12 Wes Welker – WR – New England Patriots
With 120+ receptions in two out of the last three seasons, I feel very comfortable putting Welker in the last spot of the first round. Some will argue that Andre Johnson, who was listed as the 1.8 pick previously, deserves this spot, but injuries to both Johnson and Matt Schaub give me concerns. Welker has yet to sign his franchise tag, but there have been no rumors that he plans on holding out. Welker is as gold as gold can get in PPR leagues, even if the tight ends hog up some of the end zone targets.
Make sure to check out Round Two Here.