Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pre-Free Agency Look at First Round of 2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

By Jason Fletcher
@jfletch38

Thought I'd write something up for those of us that are already going through fantasy football withdrawals. Next season, running backs will be as important as they've ever been as teams start to trend more and more to tandems as opposed to a bell cow. If you want to have success you better take one of the elite RB's early. If you take the risk of going receiver-receiver, receiver-qb, receiver tight end, or qb-tight end you probably will not be happy with what is staring at you at running back in the middle rounds. There is so much depth at receiver and quarterback that you can wait on those positions. You could take Gronk in the 1st round, but I think that's an unnecessary risk. With that in mind, this is how I think the 1st round will go:

1.RB Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers-What a year Bell had last season. He finished the year with 290 carries for 1,361 yards and 8 td's rushing while accumulating 83 receptions for 854 yards and 3 td's receiving. You can't pass up a guy that gets this many opportunities to touch the ball. He is the focal point of one of the top offenses in the league. He may end up sliding down a little in drafts if he ends up getting suspended for his marijuana DUI last season, but even so I would still consider him in the top 3 if he only receives say a 2 game suspension.

2.RB DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys-This placement is assuming he stays in Dallas behind that nasty offensive line. If he ends up heading somewhere else I will have to reevaluate. Last season, he was the fantasy MVP in my opinion and led the league in rushing with 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 td's while also contributing 57 receptions for 416 yards. Again, you don't pass up on a player that receives that many touches. I don't believe there is a better situation out there for him. He is in the perfect offense in Dallas so if he decides to go elsewhere he will drop down my draft board.

3.RB LeSean McCoy Buffalo Bills-As long as McCoy embraces being in Buffalo I believe this move will be good for his career. Rex Ryan has always been a run-first coach and he will finally have a dynamic running back to deploy in his run heavy offense. McCoy should get numerous opportunities with the Bills which we know normally leads to huge numbers for him. Last season, he racked up 312 carries for 1,319 yards and 5 td's rushing while splitting carries in Chip Kelly's offense with Darren Sproles and Chris Polk. In Buffalo, he should be the #1, #2, and #3 options in the offense especially with Buffalo's questions at QB.

4.RB Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs-Charles had a down year last year while fighting nagging injuries almost the entire season. He still managed to post another 1,000 yard season and score 14 total td's. History shows you want to own the running back in Andy Reid's offense and when that running back has the talent and speed of Charles it's a no-brainer. The only question is whether he can stay healthy through a whole season with his slender frame.

5.RB Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers-If we've learned anything from Lacy's first 2 seasons in the league it's that you can bank on over 1,100 yards and 10-15 total td's. Last year, he also doubled his receiving numbers from his rookie year which is a great sign for fantasy owners. You want either running backs that get 350 carries or running backs in prolific offenses and that is certainly true with Lacy. He may not get the same amount of touches as the guys ahead of him on this list, but he plays with Aaron Rodgers so you know he is going to score touchdowns.

6.RB Matt Forte Chicago Bears-Matt Forte is old reliable. He never puts up gaudy rushing numbers, but he is always near the top of the most fantasy points scored by running backs list because of his ability as a receiver. Last year, he finished with 102 receptions and had over 1,800 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns. You can't ignore that amount of production. The only possible area of concern could be the fact that Marc Trestman is no longer calling plays. I don't think that will effect Forte too much as John Fox brought Adam Gase with him from Denver. We all know what Gase has done with running backs in the Mile High City. C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman were all extremely effective in Gase's offense so I expect the same from Forte.

7.RB Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks-We still are not entirely sure if Beast Mode will come back next year or retire, but if is wearing a Seahawk jersey come September count me as someone interested in drafting him. I shied away from him last season thinking that he would have a rough year after holding out in training camp and talk of Seattle limiting his touches. After 1,300 yards rushing and 17 total td's I was kicking myself for drafting Montee Ball in the 1st round in multiple drafts over Lynch. You may not like the way he treats the media, but you have to love the way he treats defenses that try to stop him.

8.RB Arian Foster Houston Texans-Foster only played in 13 games last year which will always be the knock on him, but in those 13 games he ran for 1,246 yards, had 327 yards receiving, and scored 13 td's. If you can stomach not knowing if he will play every week then he could be worth the risk because he always seems to produce when he is on the field. I would probably pass on him here because I'm a more conservative drafter. I don't take many risks I want guaranteed production and I want a guy in the 1st round that I can plug in every week. That doesn't mean he doesn't deserve this spot.

9.TE Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots-I have never believed in taking a tight end in the 1st round again. You may end up with a year like Gronk had last season where he is basically your 3rd or 4th receiver. It's also entirely possible you will end up with a season like Jimmy Graham had last year like me and be at a disadvantage every week. At the same time, you can't ignore the production that Gronk put up and how much Brady loves to throw the ball his way.

10.RB Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings-Peterson is the wild card of this entire 1st round. He is going to come into next season a very pissed off man. I don't think anyone wants to face a pissed off Peterson. If he stays with the Vikings, I believe it will limit his production. If he goes to Dallas or Indianapolis, he could end up being the top producer at his position in this draft. Right now, there is too much unknown to put him at the top of the 1st round, but I could very easily see him finishing there by the time draft season rolls around.

11.WR Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys-Assuming nothing comes out concerning this mystery surveillance footage, I think Dez should be the first wide receiver off the board. Romo thinks Dez is always open and will force the ball to him just like Matthew Stafford does with Calvin Johnson. All you can ask for with a receiver is targets, give him the chance to make a play and Romo does that repeatedly. It also helps out a lot that the Cowboys have such a powerful running game because it makes it harder to double Dez because your safeties have to play closer to the line of scrimmage to defend the run.

12.WR Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers-I was able to draft Brown in the 3rd round in multiple drafts last year and he was a huge piece in getting me to the playoffs in those leagues. Ben Roethlisberger no matter what will get Brown at least 50 yards a game and almost every game throws him the ball double digit times. He finished the year with 129 receptions on 182 targets and 1,698 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. I will take that from my number 1 receiver every single year.

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