Starting with free agency and going through the NFL Draft and training camps, you spent time reading and researching everything you could in order to put together the best possible fantasy football roster for the 2014 season. Then the regular season began and you quickly learned that all of your studying meant nothing when Chip Kelly's offense suddenly can't get LeSean McCoy the football. If only you knew then what you know now.
Unfortunately there's no way for you to go back in time and do it all again. But we have the luxury of going back and taking our new knowledge and putting it toward a new fantasy mock draft. Pay no attention to those mock drafts you read in August. Here's how our fantasy draft would go if we had a chance to do it all again today.
1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: We entered the season believing the Cowboys were going to be a pass-happy outfit. Yet they currently boast the leading rusher in the NFL. Murray has still dealt with fumbling issues, but his ability to pick up yardage in chunks and find his way into the end zone has made many of those fears moot. Right now, Murray's success has mirrored Dallas'. As long as that continues, the Cowboys runner will see plenty of work.
2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Rumors of Lynch's demise were greatly exaggerated. While the Seahawks have sprinkled in a little more Robert Turbin early in the season, BeastMode has still been strong through the start of the season. What's more is that he's on pace for 42 receptions, which would be second-most in his career. As long as Seattle continues to use Lynch judiciously, he should remain strong for the bulk of the season.
3. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Bernard has been the perfect fit for offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's scheme, thanks to his dual-threat ability as a rusher and receiver. Through his first three games, Bernard is averaging better than 110 scrimmage yards and has scored three touchdowns. Even the addition of Jeremy Hill as a short-yardage hammer hasn't stopped the second-year back from excelling. Thoughts of a sophomore slump for Bernard have been mostly erased by his hot start.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Most people certainly expected good things from Luck heading into 2014, but few would have imagined the Colts' signal-caller being this outstanding. Luck has accounted for three or more touchdowns in each of his first four games this season and is leading one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses. With a full complement of weapons surrounding him, Luck is poised to make a serious run at a top three finish among all fantasy players.
5. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: It's amazing the difference that having healthy receivers can make. With Julio Jones back in action and Roddy White looking healthier, Matty Ice has been on fire. Even the loss of Tony Gonzalez to retirement has been mitigated by the addition of Devin Hester as a productive third receiving option. A multi-pronged rushing attack might not be ideal for fantasy owners, but it should be enough to keep defenses honest and allow Ryan and the Falcons' passing game to rise up and produce.
6. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: Manning hasn't quite posted the video game numbers we saw from him in 2013. Then again, that was to be expected. Nonetheless, the reigning fantasy MVP is still pretty darn good. The scary part is that the Broncos offense still hasn't begun hitting on all cylinders. Now that Wes Welker is back in the fold, Manning has one more option to incorporate into the attack. Who knows? Those video game numbers could be in the offing after all.
7. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: When it comes to the top receivers in the NFL, Brown often gets slept on. That's probably not the case anymore after the Steelers wideout's quick start to the new season. Brown has had 90-plus receiving yards in each game to start the campaign and has scored five touchdowns in his first four games. Even more than Heath Miller, Brown has become Ben Roethlisberger's security blanket and his ability to run every route on the tree means Pittsburgh can find a variety of ways to get him the football.
8. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers: Last year was not a fluke. The duo of Rivers and head coach Mike McCoy have combined to breathe new life into the veteran quarterback. Even in spite of (or maybe because of?) a sudden dearth of running backs in San Diego, Rivers has been über productive yet again in 2014. He also has a wider range of targets to connect with thanks to the return of Malcom Floyd and the expanded role of Ladarius Green. So far, 2014 has been a good season to go YOLO for the bolo.
9. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Similar to Gio Bernard, Bell hasn't seen much of a slowdown at the start of his second NFL season. Talk that Bell could lose goal line touches to LeGarrette Blount scared plenty of fantasy owners and caused the young running back to fall down draft boards. But so far, Bell's on-field performance has made a big noise. Along with Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh has a pair of dangerous fantasy weapons and Bell's ability as a both a runner and receiver is sure to help him continue to produce all season long.
10. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: When it came to top 10 fantasy quarterbacks in 2014, there was serious discussion about whether Wilson belonged among that group. Through his first three games in 2014, all doubt has been erased with the Seahawks' field leader averaging 19.48 fantasy points per game. In his each of his three starts this season, Wilson has thrown a pair of touchdown passes with just one interception overall. Wilson might not have high profile receivers like Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, but if we've learned anything from watching him in his young career, it's that he makes the most of the guys around him.
11. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: There might have been some talk that Randall Cobb could eclipse Nelson as the go-to receiver in the Packers' offense. So far, that talk has been scuttled. Aaron Rodgers continues to have eyes for Nelson and the veteran Green Bay receiver continues to produce in a big way. In a division chock full of playmaking receivers, Nelson is easily among the best of them.
12. Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens: Remember how we all thought Steve Smith was done after a couple of down seasons in Carolina? Boy were we wrong. The veteran wideout has found a fountain of youth in Baltimore and has quickly become one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets. The elder Smith has reminded us that he can do everything asked of a wide receiver and has pushed Torrey Smith to the brink of fantasy irrelevance. Whether he can maintain this for a full season remains to be seen, but at this point it's hard to count Smith out.
13. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Welcome back, Julio Jones! After missing the majority of 2013 with a foot injury, the talented Falcons wideout has rebounded in a big way in 2014. Atlanta's passing game has been flying along in the first month of the season with Jones being a big part of its statistical success. Jones appears to be back to full health and should resume his place atop the fantasy wide receiver rankings.
14. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: A tough schedule to start the season contributed to slightly lower numbers for Rodgers. But the R-E-L-A-X-E-D Packers quarterback got things going against the rival Bears and appears poised to regain his status as a fantasy stud. Grabbing him as the sixth quarterback off the board could turn out to be a steal.
15. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: A change in the Bengals' offensive philosophy to feature the running back hasn't hurt Green's production. Even though he missed a week with an injury, the playmaker is still averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game through the first quarter of the season. When Andy Dalton puts the ball in the air, it's generally going in the direction of Green. He will remain one of the NFL's (and fantasy's) true featured receivers until further notice.
16. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos: Surprise! The first tight end off the board isn't Jimmy Graham. Instead, it's the man who is becoming one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets. Ever since he burst on the scene in last season's opener, Thomas has become a fantasy commodity at a position that has been increasingly difficult to figure out. Regardless of who else is on the field for the Broncos offense, Julius Thomas will continue to be a big part of what they do.
17. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts: This was supposed to be the season that Trent Richardson returned to the glory of his rookie season. And while Richardson has been better, Bradshaw has stolen the spotlight in the Colts backfield. The veteran back has by far been the better of Indy's two rushers and could threaten to eventually take over the starting job. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be one of Andrew Luck's favorite red zone targets.
18. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Cobb might not surpass Jordy Nelson as the top receiver in Green Bay, but when you consider the productivity of that team's passing game, being second banana ain't so bad. The Packers will continue to find ways to get Cobb the football and his athletic ability means he's always a threat to break a big play. As far as WR2s go, Cobb is on his way up.
19. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears: Cutler still has a disturbing tendency to throw the ball to the wrong-colored jersey, but he also connects with his own guys enough that he could finish the year as a top 10 fantasy option. With Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on the outside, Martellus Bennett on the verge of having a career season at tight end and Matt Forte remaining steady in the backfield, Cutler's array of weapons is as good as anyone in the National Football League.
20. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: It's amazing that one of the most consistent quarterbacks in fantasy football fell this far in the re-draft. But his struggles on the road have become even more pronounced this season and there are some questions about the overall effectiveness of the New Orleans offense. Still, the Saints will throw the ball in volume and Brees remains one of the league's top quarterbacks. There are reasons to be concerned, but not enough to keep him out of the first two rounds.
21. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Maybe it was because he missed last season with an injury. Or maybe it was fear of that injury flaring up again. Whatever the reason, fantasy owners were afraid of Maclin heading into the season. So far, he has rewarded the ones who took a mid-round chance on him. It's been a reminder of how productive he was before the knee injury -- when he was the best receiver on a roster that also boasted DeSean Jackson. The old days look to be back.
22. Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants: After posting good numbers last season in Oakland, Jennings has moved to the opposite coast and settled in nicely as the workhorse in Tom Coughlin's offense. For the first couple of weeks, Jennings was easily the best thing going in Big Blue's attack. Now that the passing game appears to be taking off, defenses won't be able to focus as much on stopping the run. There could be more big days to come for Jennings.
23. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: When it comes to volume passers in the NFL, few can hold a candle to Stafford. The Lions have continued to be the pass-happiest outfit in the league and Stafford owners have reaped the results. You'll still have to take the bad (interceptions) with the good (touchdowns), but with Golden Tate as a secondary receiving option, there should be many more positives than negatives.
24. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: Morris took a step back last season after a breakout rookie campaign and the change to Jay Gruden's more pass-friendly offense gave fantasy owners reason for concern. However, Morris continues to be a productive fantasy running back. Now if only we could do something about all these other running backs who keep snaking his touchdowns.
25. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: The one big concern about Foster -- injuries -- has reared its ugly head early in the season, but when he's right, the continues to be one of the NFL's most productive backs. Plus with the Texans still struggling to find consistency at quarterback, the team is likely to continue to lean on the running game. If Foster can return to some semblance of full health, it's hard to keep him out of your lineup.
26. Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings: No one considered Matt Asiata for much of anything at the start of the season. But an unexpected change in the Vikings backfield has put the former Utah Ute in the spotlight. Asiata isn't the most explosive back in the world, but he has had a number of big plays and has been helped greatly by Norv Turner's offensive scheme. Jerick McKinnon might be breathing down Asiata's neck, but as long as he's the starter, he should be on fantasy rosters.
27. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: In actual pre-season drafts, Forte was a near-unanimous top four pick. So far this season, he has posted far from top-four totals. Some of his struggles come from a tough early season schedule. Some of it has to do with a surprising lack of touches. That seemed to change in Week 4 with a big game against the Packers. With a fairly forgiving schedule to come in the weeks ahead, there's hope that Forte can return to being the back he was forecast to be before the season.
28. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers: In a class of rookie receivers with high expectations, Benjamin was never forecast to be the best of the bunch. However, through the first month of the campaign, the big-bodied man from Florida State has already established himself as a favorite target of Cam Newton. As a large target near the goal line and a player who has already shown he can use his large frame to shield the ball from defenders, Benjamin's learning curve in the NFL might be shorter than we anticipated.
29. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots: New England's offense has been a mess through the first four weeks, but Edelman has been fairly consistent. He established himself as Tom Brady's go-to wideout last season and has continued along in that role this season. Tom Brady's fantasy star is fading fast, but even with the quarterback struggling, Edelman should still see plenty of targets in 2014.
30. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were supposed to throw the ball a lot this year. They were supposed to have a terrible defense that forced them to play catch-up each and every week. Instead, the defense has been stout and the running game led by DeMarco Murray has more than done its job. That has downgraded Bryant a little bit this season. Nonetheless, Dallas' No. 1 wideout is too talented to ignore and Tony Romo will make sure that Bryant continues to be a big part of the passing game all season.