If you're a life-long sports fan like me, the calendar on the wall isn't as important as the sporting events going on at the time. With the MLB All-Star Game and British Open coming up, I know we are getting closer to the beginning of NFL training camps ... and the start of fantasy football season.
(Go ahead, jump up and down, scream and yell ... you know you want to!)
It also means that there's room for just two more editions of my one-man, five-round mock draft, the latest of which has some major changes ... including the exclusions of a few big names like Cam Newton and Ray Rice. If you want to know who else has moved down, up or out, well, you'll just have to read on.
This mock draft is based on NFL.com's standard 10-team leagues with a basic (non-PPR) scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns scored. Each numbered position represents an individual fantasy team, so no more than one quarterback, three running backs, three wide receivers or one tight end will be selected per roster.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson experienced a decline in production in 2013, but that was to be expected after the monstrous totals he recorded in the previous campaign. Still, he did finish eighth in fantasy points among running backs despite also missing time due to injuries. Peterson is no mere mortal, and the addition of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is huge.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: The NFL's leading rusher, McCoy piled up 1,607 yards with 11 total touchdowns and 278.60 fantasy points in the offense of Chip Kelly. The Pitt product has now finished second in fantasy points among backs in two of the last three seasons, and at 25 he's in the prime of his career. His value won't decline with Darren Sproles in the mix.
3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Charles is coming off the best season of his career, recording 70 receptions, 1,980 scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns and 308 fantasy points. Whether he can duplicate his top status among running backs remains to be seen, but at 27 he's still in his "salad days." Look for Charles to remain the focus of Andy Reid's offensive attack.
4. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte thrived in the offense of coach Marc Trestman, recording career-bests in rushing yards (1,339), rushing scores (9), receptions (74) and receiving yards (594). The 28-year-old runner also averaged 4.6 yards per carry, proving he can be explosive and versatile. Forte will be a top-five pick and could go top three in PPR formats.
5. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It seems like Lynch has been in the league forever, but he's just 28 and should still have one or two strong seasons left in the Great Northwest. He's ranked among the five-best running backs based on fantasy points in three straight seasons, and I'm not buying that Christine Michael is going to put a massive dent into his carries.
6. Eddie Lacy, RB. Green Bay Packers: Lacy started his rookie campaign with a combined 15 carries in his first three games, due in large part to a concussion that cost him some playing time. From Weeks 5-17, though, he averaged 20.7 carries per game. One of the NFL's best young running backs, Lacy is in line to see a true featured role in an explosive Packers offense.
7. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Foster has returned to the top-10 overall players after being cleared from last year's back procedure. There is some risk with him, but Foster will return to his featured role and has little competition behind him on the Houston depth chart. A versatile and talented running back, he should still have one more strong campaign left in him.
8. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray shook his prone-to-injuries label to start 14 games in 2013. Outside of Dez Bryant, he was the best statistical performer on the field for head coach Jason Garrett. Murray even caught 53 passes, which showed how versatile he can be out on the field. It also helps that he's 25 and playing in an offense that will suit his skill set.
9. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Even with the addition of LeGarrette Blount, I'm still excited about Bell's upside. In 13 games as a rookie, he averaged better than 13 fantasy points and was projected to record 211.57 fantasy points over a full season of work. That would have been more points than Lacy, Murray and Peterson. Bell has superstar written all over him.
10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: I am not a fan of taking wide receivers in Round 1, but grabbing Megatron makes sense. He is a safer bet than any of the running backs still on the board, and I won't lose much by waiting an extra pick or two to nab a runner. Johnson has finished no worse than third in fantasy points at wideout since 2011, so he's guaranteed to produce.
11. Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos: Some might think this is too high to draft the unproven Ball, but the departure of Knowshon Moreno (Dolphins) makes him a prime breakout candidate. Running backs have almost always had success playing alongside Peyton Manning, so there's oodles of potential here. Ball has the tools and upside to post similar numbers to Moreno this season.
12. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: How valuable is Graham? His 217.5 fantasy points would have ranked him as a super stud regardless of position ... he would have finished as the sixth-best running back, the top-ranked wide receiver and the top-ranked defensive unit. A potential contract holdout is cause for concern, but Graham won't make it out of Round 2 regardless.
13. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant is a fantasy monster, scoring a combined 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He's also a stud when it counts, scoring in each of his last five games of 2013. With new OC Scott Linehan and his pass-laden offense now in Big D, Bryant is a serious threat to push Megatron for the top spot among fantasy wide receivers in 2014.
14. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: Thomas has emerged into a stat-sheet stuffer, as his fantasy-point totals have risen in each of the last three seasons. He's finished with 90-plus catches, 1,400-plus yards and a combined 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons as the main threat in the pass attack for Manning, and at age 26 he's barely in the prime of his career.
15. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: One of the most talented young wide receivers in the NFL, Green has finished fourth in fantasy points at his position in each of the last two seasons. He has also seen his reception and yardage totals increase during that time. Like Thomas, Green is entering the prime of his career and should remain a fantasy star for years to come.
16. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears: In his first two seasons in Chicago (with Jay Cutler), Marshall has recorded a combined 218 catches, 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns. He's also finished no worse than fifth in fantasy points among wide receivers. Even with Alshon Jeffery emerging into a star, Marshall is still easily one of the top five players at his position.
17. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Jones missed most of the 2013 season due to injuries, but don't let his absence make you forget about him. He was on pace to average over 100 yards per game and would have ranked among the top 10 players at his position based on fantasy points. The Alabama product has what it takes to be a top-five fantasy wideout heading into 2014.
18. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: The addition of new OC Hue Jackson in Cincinnati will be massive for Bernard, who is a major candidate to move up in future mock drafts. Fantasy owners need to keep tabs on what happens with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Jeremy Hill in camp, but Bernard is the Bengals running back to target in all fantasy football formats.
19. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: Manning is coming off an historical season that saw him set new NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55), and he also led all players with over 400 fantasy points. That won't happen again in 2014, but Manning is still the top fantasy player at his position. He'll go higher in most drafts, but not in mine.
20. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Brown broke out in 2013, recording career bests almost across the board while finishing second among wide receivers in catches (110). He ranked among the top 10 wideouts in fantasy points in all standard leagues as well, and went third in PPR formats. Consider Brown a mid-tier No. 1 fantasy receiver and a top-25 overall player.
31. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson is too inconsistent to be considered a No. 1 fantasy wideout, but I'll take him at this point as a high-end No. 2.
32. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams: Stacy remains the top back in St. Louis, but the addition of rookie Tre Mason does hurt his value a bit. He's a viable RB2 in all drafts.
33. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins: Garcon lost some of his luster with the addition of DeSean Jackson, but he's still a surefire WR2 in standard and PPR leagues.
34. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: Mathews, who is entering a contract year, is coming off the best statistical year of his NFL career and is in the RB2 conversation.
35. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Will Gronkowski be ready for the start of 2014? That remains to be seen, but he's a risk worth taking once we get into Round 4.
36. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald has failed to record 1,000-plus yards in each of his last two seasons, but he did find the end zone 10 times in 2013.
37. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: Spiller was a major bust last season, but he'll be back at 100 percent health in 2014 and is well worth a roll of the dice in Round 4.
38. Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos: As long as Welker's concussion issues don't return, he's a good bet to post No. 2 fantasy wideout numbers in an offense led by Manning.
39. Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants: An underrated running back, Jennings will see a prominent role for the G-Men and could turn into a serious steal in all re-drafts.
40. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants: Cruz should rebound under new OC Ben McAdoo after what was a dreadful 2013 campaign. He'll turn into a nice WR2 for fantasy leaguers.
41. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers: Allen was by far the best rookie wide receiver in fantasy football this past season, not to mention the top option for Philip Rivers.
42. Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Crabtree has all the tools to record No. 1 wideout numbers, so landing him at this stage of the draft could be a massive steal.
43. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos: There aren't many tight ends who will warrant a draft pick in the first five rounds of 2014 drafts, but Thomas is clearly one of them.
44. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons: White, who is entering a contract year, should rebound after what was a injury-plagued and disappointing statistical campaign in 2013.
45. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Luck didn't put up a ton of monster stat lines in 2013, but he still ranked an impressive fourth in fantasy points among quarterbacks.
46. Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns: Tate has had some durability issues in the past, but he's the No. 1 back in an offense that will run the football a whole lot next season.
47. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings: If you're looking for a major sleeper/breakout wide receiver for next season, look no further than the talented Patterson.
48. Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans: The lone rookie worth a pick in the first five rounds, Sankey has a chance to earn a prominent role in the Titans offense next season.
49. Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Harvin is a risk due to his proneness to injuries in recent seasons, but he'll be worth a roll of the dice at this stage of the draft.
50. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars have a lot of faith in Gerhart, who could see 300-plus carries in an offense that will lean on the run quite a bit.