Now that the month of May is upon us, it is definitely time to start planning your Fantasy Football 2013 Mock Drafts. And for those of us who love fantasy football, and spend time creating and examining rankings because of it, this is definitely a welcome development. What you will discover in this particular Two-Round Mock Fantasy Football Draft, is a seismic shift in draft philosophy when compared to 2012. Running backs will thoroughly dominate the first round, and will also populate most slots within Round 2.
Running Backs Will Dominate The Top Of this Year's Drafts
Last season, Foster, Rice and McCoy were fixtures atop most fantasy drafts, but beyond that, at least one legitimate question existed regarding every other running back. Even those who could still be considered as first round options. As a result, rushers like C. Johnson, Lynch, DeMarco Murray, Forte and D. McFadden were selected in the lower region of Round 1, and many owners who made those choices, did so with some reservation.
These backs were joined by a trio of quarterbacks - Rodgers, Brady or Brees - who became mainstays in the initial round of nearly every draft. As did Calvin Johnson. Beyond that, you would discover the small collection of running backs that were previously discussed. Considering the concerns that existed with every running back beyond Foster, Rice and McCoy, I became a huge proponent of selecting Rodgers, Brady or Brees once Foster, Rice and McCoy had departed the draft board. Because there was a massive amount of statistical evidence to support the fact that any member of that trio would produce at a level that warranted that decision.
You Can Wait to Select Your Quarterback
However, this season is a vastly different story. There are several factors that combine to make the first round selection of QB less advisable in 2013. First, there will be a sizable increase in legitimate QB1 options when your next draft takes place. Because highly productive quarterbacks will be more prevalent than ever for fantasy owners this year, as the influx of exceptional new talent at the position during the 2012 season – Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and (if healthy) RG3 – will merge with the collection of prolific veterans to supply a massive number of enticing options at the position.
Also, there will be a much larger number of running backs who appear very likely to build up outstanding yardage and scoring totals this season, without also possessing reasons for hesitation in selecting them. As a result, you will discover more running backs comprising the slots in Round 1 this summer, and that is certainly true in the draft that you will see below.
With that, here is my updated mock draft for Rounds 1 and 2, as I assume the decision making process that each of 12 owners would undergo if the process were actually taking place.
1.1 Adrian Peterson – RB, Minnesota Vikings
Who else could it be? He accentuated his miraculous recovery from a torn ACL last season by bolting for a career best 2,097 yards. If not for that December 2011 injury, he would have run for over 1,000 yards in each of his six seasons, and he has always attained double digits with his touchdown total. If you are fortunate enough to possess the first pick in your fantasy draft, he should be your choice... All Day.
1.2 Arian Foster – RB, Houston Texans
He has averaged over 1,900 total yards in the past three seasons, which is commendable. But he has also accrued 1,115 touches during that span which is reason for concern. He will be supplied with a tremendous workload once again, and it is still wise to select him. Just make sure to protect yourself by grabbing Ben Tate before Round 8.
1.3 Marshawn Lynch – RB, Seattle Seahawks
By rambling for 1,590 yards last season, he steamrolled over all concerns that a huge contract would pacify his beast mode. The addition of Percy Harvin will not deter Seattle from placing their emphasis on Lynch and their rushing attack. He should easily exceed 1,200 yards and double digit touchdowns for the third consecutive season.
1.4 C. J. Spiller – RB, Buffalo Bills
Former HC Chan Gailey was hesitant to allow Spiller to perform as the every down back even though his eye-opening performances while Fred Jackson was sidelined made it clear that he could succeed in that role. Spiller finished eighth with 1,244 yards, even though his 207 attempts were exceeded by 21 other backs. His 6.0 YPC tied Peterson for the NFL lead among RBs, and deficiencies within the Bills offense are the only factor that will hinder a career best season.
1.5 Jamaal Charles – RB, Kansas City Chiefs
After being shackled by a woefully deficient workload by previous coaching staff, he utilized a career best 285 rushing attempts to ramble for 1,509 yards last season. While it is doubtful that he will replicate that number, he will remain the most critical component in Andy Reed’s offense, and should surpass his career high of 45 in Andy Reed’s offense.
1.6 Doug Martin – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin was utilized extensively as a rookie last season, which enabled him to become the NFL's fifth leading rusher with 1,454 yards, and supplement them with 472 more as a receiver. Greg Schiano will remain comfortable with giving Martin a massive workload once again. And any fantasy owner who is selecting at this point of Round 1 should possess the same level of confidence that is worthy of selection here.
1.7 Calvin Johnson - WR, Detroit Lions
He had certainly established himself as the premier wide receiver prior to last season, yet underscored that fact by generating career highs with 122 receptions, and 1,964 yards. While fantasy owners would like to see a massive upsurge in the five TDs that he managed last season, that will almost assuredly occur. Because Megatron also paced the NFL with 205 targets, and will be the most prolific wideout once again.
1.8 Ray Rice – RB, Baltimore Ravens
He would be placed higher if it were not for the Bernard Pierce factor, as Rice's capable backup possesses enough talent to pilfer some carries on a weekly basis. Still, OC Jim Caldwell will not force owners to suffer through games in which Rice is the victim of exasperating neglect, as opposed to predecessor Cam Cameron. As a result, Rice should deliver at least 1,200 yards and nine TDs.
1.9 Trent Richardson – RB, Cleveland Browns
Troublesome knee and rib injuries conspired to cap his yard per carry average at just 3.6 last season. Now, he is healthy, and his numbers should improve within the creative offense that will be designed by Rob Chudzinski, and implemented by Norv Turner. Plus, there is no discernible threat to siphon off his carries, particularly near the goal line.
1.10 LeSean McCoy – RB, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy drops down from last season's status as a top three draft selection primarily due to the emergence of Bryce Brown, who displayed explosiveness and the propensity to fumble when he filled in for McCoy last season. McCoy will be sharing the ball with Brown. But should still garner bountiful opportunities in a Chip Kelly offense that should operate at a frenetic pace, and keep McCoy’s value at a lofty level.
1.11 Alfred Morris – RB, Washington Redskins
He finished a stellar rookie season by finishing second in rushing with 1,613 yards. But that was accomplished with a mammoth 335 carries, and logic should dictate that he will be the Redskins' workhorse once again. Just remember the always essential disclaimer that Mike Shanahan's dreaded chicanery could ensue when least expected or warranted.
1.12 Aaron Rodgers – QB, Green Bay Packers
As Round 1 reaches a close, any owner in this slot will have two consecutive picks. That will enable you to snare a running back, then address either the wide receiver or quarterback position. It is too early to draft another wide receiver, but why not secure a proven point producer, who has averaged 4,266 yards and 34 TDs over the past five seasons? He assembled those numbers without the threat of a potent running game, but the collective presence of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin should force opponents to respect Green Bay's rushing attack, without creating a decline in Rodgers' output. That is sufficient reason to make Rodgers the only QB to be taken before the initial round is concluded.
2.1 Steven Jackson – RB, Atlanta Falcons
He was an ultimate warrior for nine seasons with the Rams, while generating over 10,000 yards and 56 rushing touchdowns. And he managed to accomplish that even though he was often the predominant weapon in an otherwise underwhelming offense. But he has placed himself in a position to succeed, since he will be the primary rusher in Atlanta’s high octane attack. Not only will Jackson attain another 1,000 yard season, but could generate the most TDs since he collected 13 in 2006. Resulting in an excellent RB for this owner to pair with Rodgers.
2.2 Brandon Marshall – WR, Chicago Bears
As long as Jay Cutler is under center, you can be assured that Marshall will be heavily utilized. First, the tandem combined for 2,590 yards and 13 TDs as Broncos in 2007-2008. Then upon being reunited with Chicago last season, Marshall garnered the NFL’s second highest number of targets (194), and accumulated the third best yardage total (1,508). He will continue to stockpile numbers in Marc Trestman’s offense, and is the perfect complement after the selection of an RB in round 1.
2.3 Dez Bryant- WR, Dallas Cowboys
After snatching an elite back in Round 1, securing an explosive wide receiver in this round is very sensible. His production soared to a new level over the Cowboys’ last eight contests in 2012, as he averaged a whopping 110 YPG and scored 10 times. That includes a career best 224 yards that he amassed in Week 16, despite having to perform with a fractured index finger. He also assembled the league’s sixth highest yardage total (1,382), scored 12 times, and could surpass those numbers this year.
2.4 Maurice Jones-Drew – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
He averaged 1,795 total yards as the Jaguars' feature back from 2009-2011, but a holdout and an subsequent Lisfranc fracture limited him to six games last season. While his progress should be monitored as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired foot, it appears that he will be ready when training camp commences. If that is ultimately the case, then his talent will combine with another heavy workload to propel him toward sizable production.
2.5 Stevan Ridley - RB, New England Patriots
When you initially think about the New England offense, it is understandable for your first image to be of Brady spearheading a prolific passing attack. However, the Patriots also finished seventh in rushing last season, in great part due to Ridley’s exceptional output. He generated 12 TDs, which was a number that was exceeded by just two other backs. Plus, he finished with the league’s seventh highest yardage total (1,263). Shane Vereen appears to have carved out a role within the offense, but Ridley will be the preeminent back. And he will operate on a unit that will move the ball, and score TDs with great propensity.
2.6 Matt Forte - RB, Chicago Bears
He should benefit greatly by lining up in a new offense that is not only far more creative, but should be designed to maximize his abilities as both a rusher and receiver. Last season, Forte did manage to produce 1,000 yards for the third time in his career even though he missed one contest due to an ankle injury. But despite his proven track record as an impactful weapon when collecting passes, he was targeted a career low 60 times in 2012, which resulted in a career worst 44 receptions for 340 yards. Those numbers should be significantly enhanced, and owners will be generously rewarded if he can avoid injury.
2.7 A. J. Green – WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Since the owner in this slot has selected Martin in Round 1, the astute move now is to seize an indisputable WR1 in Green. He was targeted 164 times last season, which represented over 30% of the passes that were thrown to all Bengals. It was also the NFL’s fifth highest total, and enabled him to make 97 receptions for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs. He will remain the focal point of Cincinnati’s offense, and in his third season should only get better.
2.8 Julio Jones – WR, Atlanta Falcons
Investing in this dynamic difference maker to pair with first round selection Rice begins to plant a prolific foundation on this team's roster. He improved as the 2012 season progressed, accumulating 822 of his 1,198 yards in the final 10 contests. Plus, he left a lasting impression regarding just how unstoppable he can be, during his two-TD, 182-yard masterpiece in the NFC Championship Game. We have still not witnessed his best production, although his chances of providing it are imminent as he enters his third season.
2.9 Demaryius Thomas – WR, Denver Broncos
After amassing 1,434 yards and 10 scores last season, he has proven to be virtually unstoppable for most defensive backfields. But now, opponents must account for Eric Decker and Wes Welker, allowing Thomas to exploit more single coverage. That should enable the dangerous fourth-year wideout to get open on frequent occasions, for a quarterback who has located an open receiver or two during his career.
2.10 Chris Johnson – RB, Tennessee Titans
If you were to associate the words frustration, aggravation, and disappointment with a running back… which rusher would come to mind? Anyone who has drafted Johnson in 2012 or 2011 has experienced those emotions during certain contests, when there appears to be a significant drop-off in his effort and execution. So why select him in Round 2? Because he still generates sizable yardage, and remains a legitimate threat to supply big plays. Last season, he finished ninth among all backs with 1,243 yards, and his 4.5 YPC average was his best since 2009. Even if newly signed Shonn Greene pilfers a chunk of his carries, Johnson should still produce a number of explosive runs.
2.11 Drew Brees
It is difficult to eschew the opportunity of having Brees as your signal caller at this point of Round 2. Not only has he manufactured at least 34 scoring passes in five consecutive seasons, and surpassed 5,000 yards in three of the past five years, but there is no evidence that his numbers will diminish anytime soon. He led the NFL in both yardage and TDs during both the 2012 and 2011 seasons, while averaging 5,327 yards and 45.5 TDs during that span. Brees should continue to torch opposing defenses once again, with Sean Payton back to help him exploit their prevailing weaknesses.
2.12 DeMarco Murray – RB, Dallas Cowboys
Murray is an enticing option, because he will be the feature back in an offense that can move the ball with regularity. The concern is that lingering injuries have already sidelined him for nine contests in just his first two seasons, and could continue to prohibit him from being the fantasy point producer that many will project him to be. Still, it is worthwhile to secure a back in this slot, and he is the best remaining option.