2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Round 1Scoring: This mock draft is based on standard-scoring fantasy football leagues for the 2015 season only (i.e., not keeper or dynasty leagues). Passing touchdowns are worth four points while rushing and receiving touchdowns are worth six points. In addition, one point is earned per 25 passing yards, 10 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards.
Mock Draft Start Date: Saturday, February 7th
Mock Draft End Date: Sunday, February 15th
Four of our site's contributors — Kevin Hanson, Brendan Donahue, Sean Beazley and Dan Yanotchko — will make picks for three teams of this 12-team mock. The mock will go 10 rounds with no kickers or team defenses selected.
Although this is a slow draft, we will post picks as they occur, along with comments from Kevin Hanson, as opposed to waiting for the entire mock draft to be completed.
Here are Round 1 results:
1.01 - Sean Beazley (Team 1): Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Still only 22 years old (turns 23 later this month), Bell was named to the 2014 AP First-Team All-Pro Team as his production spiked across the board -- 1,361 rushing yards, 83 receptions for 854 yards and 11 total touchdowns. Bell finished second to only DeMarco Murray in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage (2,215) and the two backs were tied for the most games with at least 100 YFS (13).
Whether the Steelers have the lead (and want to use the clock) or trail and need to throw, Bell's versatility means that his performance won't vary too much based on game flow. If there is one concern heading into 2015, however, it's the 15 months of probation Bell received from his August arrest for DUI and marijuana. As Bell's attorney notes, "... the guidelines [under the NFL's substance-abuse program] would suggest maybe a one- or two-game suspension."
1.02 - Brendan Donahue (Team 1): Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
While it was a relatively disappointing season for Charles, selected first or second in most leagues last season, he still finished as the seventh-highest scoring fantasy running back in 2014. The 28-year-old back rushed for 1,033 yards, his fifth 1,000-yard season, and added 40 catches for 291 yards while scoring a total of 14 touchdowns.
Despite a year-over-year decline in all of those numbers, the biggest concern was the reduction in his workload. After 320 touches in 2012, Charles had 329 touches in Andy Reid's first season as head coach. Last year, however, Charles had just 246 touches -- 15 running backs had more. Perhaps we won't see Charles get in the 320-range ever again, but it would be a surprise to see him as low as 246 again this season.
1.03 - Kevin Hanson (Team 1): Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
Starting slowly and worrying those that did not heed the advice of Aaron Rodgers ("R-E-L-A-X"), Lacy carries plenty of positive momentum into Year 3. Lacy faced three elite rush defenses (SEA, NYJ and DET) in the first three weeks of the season, but only Murray and Bell scored more fantasy points than he did from Weeks 4 to 17. Over the final 13 games of the season, Lacy averaged 18.92 touches for 108.85 YFS per game and scored a total of 13 touchdowns.
The benefit of playing with the league's best quarterback means that defenses are less likely to stack the box to slow down Lacy. After averaging 4.15 yards per carry as a rookie, Lacy averaged 4.63 YPC last season (4.89 YPC over final 13 games).
1.04 - Kevin Hanson (Team 2): DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
This could turn out to be a huge reach -- or a decent value (even though only three players were selected ahead of him). A month prior to the start of free agency, there is plenty of risk that the Cowboys won't be able to re-sign Murray especially given that Dez Bryant should be a bigger priority for the team, albeit one with limited salary-cap flexibility. Not only would Murray's value potentially plunge depending upon his new team, but he carries more than his fair share of injury risk as he missed 11 games in his first three seasons before playing 16 games last year.
If the two sides are somehow able to work out a deal to bring him back in 2015, Murray would have one of the league's best offensive lines opening his holes. And again there is injury risk, but the Cowboys would certainly be committed to giving him an enormous workload. Murray's 449 regular-season touches last year were the sixth-most in the history of the NFL. Plus he had another 48 postseason touches as well.
1.05 - Dan Yanotchko (Team 1): LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The good news first -- McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards, third-most in the NFL behind Murray and Bell, and he was one of only two backs to get 300-plus carries. That said, McCoy barely finished as a top-12 fantasy running back as he scored only 0.5 fantasy points more than Washington's Alfred Morris (RB13). In addition, McCoy averaged nearly a yard per carry less in 2014 than 2013 while also seeing his receptions (52 in 2013) and touchdowns (11 in 2013) drop roughly in half to 28 and five, respectively.
1.06 - Dan Yanotchko (Team 2): Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Not only did Forte lead all running backs in receptions (102) last year, but only three players had more than him -- Antonio Brown (129), Demaryius Thomas (111) and Julio Jones (104) -- and that broke the record for receptions by a running back. With the coaching change, Forte isn't likely to see anywhere close to triple-digit receptions again, but he could certainly finish with around 70 catches.
While Forte averaged less than four yards per carry for the first time since 2009, he has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons and has at least 929 rushing yards in all seven of his NFL seasons. For me, Forte is still a top-seven fantasy running back heading into the 2015 season, but I'd take the next guy ahead of him ...
1.07 - Brendan Donahue (Team 2): Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Despite speculation last offseason that the Seahawks could part ways with Lynch this offseason, it's clear that won't be the case. Playing four full seasons in Seattle, Lynch has rushed for 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in all four seasons. During that four-year span, no running back has more rushing yards (5,357) or rushing touchdowns (48) and no player has more total touchdowns (56).
Beast Mode has shown no signs of slowing down, but his physical running style (granted, he seems to dish out more punishment than he receives), heavy workload (league-high 1,479 regular-season and playoff touches over that four-year span) and age (turns 29 in April) is at least somewhat concerning. That said, Lynch seems to be a lock for another 1,200 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns.
1.08 - Brendan Donahue (Team 3): Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
This is the point in mock drafts that I'd also go in a different direction than taking another running back. Based on what we know at this point of the year, I believe that the top-seven running backs -- not necessarily in the order they were selected -- should be the first seven picks selected in drafts.
When it comes to fantasy tight ends, Gronkowski is in a tier all by himself. Rested in Week 17, Gronkowski was named the 2014 AP Comeback Player of the Year as he posted an 82/1,124/12 stat line over 15 games. Gronk scored 184.4 fantasy points, 30.3 points more than Antonio Gates, who had the second-most among tight ends. In other words, Gronk had 19.66 percent more than the guy that had the second-most.
While he had some huge games, he was consistent on a weekly basis. Gronk finished as a top-five fantasy scorer at the position in eight of 15 games and a top-11 scorer in all but two games. (The two exceptions were TE25 in Week 2, only nine months post-ACL tear, and TE13 in Week 16.)
1.09 - Sean Beazley (Team 2): Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants
From Week 9 through the end of the season, Beckham was unstoppable. Not only was he consistent (90-plus yards in all nine of those games), but he had a nine-game stat line of 81/1,199/9 on 115 targets. As impressive as that sounds, he was especially dominant during that span over his final four games -- 43/606/7 on 63 targets.
While ODB is far from being the biggest receiver, his combination of hands, route-running ability, speed and elusiveness makes him nearly impossible to cover especially in today's age of offense-friendly rules. If there is any concern, it's the return of Victor Cruz, who missed the final 10 regular-season games. Personally, I'd take Antonio Brown first among all receivers, but I can certainly see the merits of going with ODB.
1.10 - Sean Beazley (Team 3): Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Even though he was targeted only 136 times, a three-year low, Bryant finished with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-high and league-leading 16 touchdowns. Even with the team's new-found commitment to the ground game, Dez has at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. And aside from Lynch, Bryant is the only other player with at least 50 touchdowns over the past four seasons.
1.11 - Kevin Hanson (Team 3): Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
In 16 games this season, Brown never finished as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in any given week. (In fact, that applies to both standard- and PPR-scoring formats.) That said, no wide receiver had more fantasy points over the course of the season -- in either format -- than Brown.
Over the past two seasons, Brown has a combined 239 receptions for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has 17 rushing yards and two return touchdowns. More impressive than his overall production, however, is his consistency. Brown had at least five receptions and 70 yards in all 17 games (counting their playoff loss) last season. Going back to 2013, Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in all 33 games.
One of the sayings that you'll often hear in fantasy football is that you can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. With Brown's production and consistency, there isn't a safer pick.
1.12 - Dan Yanotchko (Team 3): C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
Like with Murray, this pick could turn out to be a huge reach (or a relative value). If Anderson were assured a massive workload as the featured back, I'd be all-in on him this year. From Week 10 to 17 last year, Anderson finished as a top-five fantasy running back in six of eight games. In the other two games, he was still very productive as the RB10 and RB16 for those given weeks.
With a healthy backfield heading into the season, how will Gary Kubiak allocate the workload between Anderson, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball? The upside is enormous but so is the risk.
> Continue to Round 2 of our way-too-early fantasy football mock draft
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