The 2011 NFL season is now in the rearview mirror. Fans of the Giants are partying in the streets of Manhattan after their Super Bowl victory, while Patriots faithful will see that fourth quarter pass slipping through Wes Welker's hands in their nightmares for months. No matter what team you root for on the gridiron, your focus is now on the offseason -- and looking ahead to what your fantasy football draft might look like in 2012. That's where I come in, because it's never notfantasy football season for me.
In putting together my first one-man mock draft of the year, one thing became very apparent; the old philosophy of focusing on running backs throughout the first round is dead, due in large part to numerous injuries and the increase in backfield committees. It's the quarterbacks and wide receivers that now rule the NFL roost. Heck, even a few tight ends snuck into the first three rounds -- that almost never happens. One thing is for sure, we are seeing a brand-new age in fantasy football.
This mock 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. Each numbered position represents a team, so no more than one quarterback, three running backs, three wide receivers or one tight end will be selected per roster.
1. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Foster averaged more fantasy points per game than any running back last season, so there's no longer a question about whether his 2010 season was a fluke. The closest thing the current NFL has to Marshall Faulk, Foster is the top fantasy player on my board.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: McCoy has become one of the elite runners in fantasy land, and his 20-touchdown campaign in 2011 proved it. One of the few featured backs left in the league, the Pittsburgh product will no doubt continue to rack up the yards, touchdowns and fantasy points.
4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Unless you have a top-three pick, say good-bye to your strategy of drafting running backs in the first round. Rodgers has finished in the top two in fantasy points at his position in each of the last four years, and that trend is likely to continue in 2012.
5. Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Brees has finished in the top two in fantasy points among quarterbacks in three of the last four years -- the one season he missed it was when he was on the Madden cover. In a league that is so plentiful for quarterbacks, Brees is now a lock first-rounder.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Despite having no help on offense, Jones-Drew still rolled up a career-best 1,606 rushing yards and scored 11 total touchdowns last season. Whether he can duplicate that level of yardage remains to be seen, but Jones-Drew remains a solid No. 1 fantasy back.
8. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: In his first full season with Matthew Stafford under center, Megatron transformed into an even bigger statistical monster than he was in the past. In fact, he recorded career bests in receptions, yards, touchdowns and yards per catch. That's an impressive feat.
9. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Stafford stayed out of the trainer's room and thrived for the Lions and fantasy owners alike, throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2011. As long as he remains free of those worrisome injuries, there's no reason Stafford won't continue to roar in 2012.
10. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: Newton is coming off the best rookie season ever for a fantasy quarterback, so the bar has been set high for his sophomore campaign. While I doubt he'll be able to record 13 rushing touchdowns again, Newton's versatile skill set and potential are unquestionable.
11. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: Mathews has a real shot at having a breakout season in 2012, but he'll need to avoid the nagging injuries he's dealt with in the past to reach his full potential. He has first-round statistical upside in the offense for coach Norv Turner, which makes him valuable.
12. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Barring a contractual holdout, which would hurt his draft value, Forte is well worth a high second-round selection. New OC Mike Tice is going to lean on the run, and Forte is one of the league's most versatile featured backs. He'll have added value in PPR leagues.
13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: This is the highest I have ever had a tight end ranked, and I fear that Gronkowski will never duplicate his 2011 numbers in a second straight year. But it's hard to argue with his production -- Gronk outscored every wideout but Megatron last season.
14. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: You can argue that Johnson is still the best wide receiver in the NFL, but his proneness to injuries over the last two years has put a dent into his overall draft value. I still see him as an elite fantasy wideout, however. Consider him a risk-reward selection.
15. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Johnson is coming off the worst fantasy season of his career, but I can't see a player with his previous resume dropping any further than this in drafts. Yes, there is some risk with CJ2K. But he'll have a full offseason, training camp and preseason to prepare.
16. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: After a slow start, Lynch went into permanent beast mode with a ridiculous streak of scoring at least one touchdown in 11 straight games. I do have concerns about taking Lynch this high after posting one good season since 2008, but he has second-round value.
17. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Of the three big-name running backs to suffer ACL tears last season, Charles has the best chance to rebound in 2012. He injured himself in Week 2, so he has had plenty of recovery time. And at 25, he's still young enough to overcome what is a serious operation.
18. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: Welker was a beast in the stat sheets in 2011, posting career bests in yards, touchdowns and yards per catch. His stock could fall a bit if the Patriots add a legitimate deep threat to the offense (Brandon Lloyd?), but he'll be a No. 1 fantasy wideout regardless.
19. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Though he finished with his lowest reception total since 2006, Fitzgerald still ranked fifth in fantasy points among wide receivers last season. In the event that the Cardinals upgrade at quarterback (Peyton Manning?), Fitzgerald's stock will soar further.
20. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: White posted 100 receptions, finished in the top seven in fantasy points and led all wideouts in targets for the second straight season, so the presence of Julio Jones didn't have a huge effect on his value or production. He remains a top-end No. 1 receiver.
21. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: Graham would have finished fifth in fantasy points among wideouts last season, posting statistical career bests across the board. In an offense that features a pass-laden system and an elite quarterback like Brees, Graham is a good bet to succeed again.
23. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles Vick failed to live up to ridiculous expectations after an enormous 2010 season, but he still averaged a respectable 17.9 fantasy points per game last year. His proneness to injuries is a real cause for concern, but Vick will be tough to pass on at this point.
24. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: Jennings was on pace to record 183.2 fantasy points last season before a knee injury knocked him out for the final three games. That total would have ranked him seventh among wide receivers. Sure, Jordy Nelson was better in 2011, but I still like Jennings.
25. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: Anyone who saw Nicks in the postseason knows exactly why I have him ranked ahead of his teammate, Victor Cruz. The fourth-year veteran does tend to deal with some bumps and bruises, but he's too talented to be considered anything but a No. 1 fantasy wideout.
26. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: Wallace produced a career best 72 receptions last season, but he did still see small declines in yardage and touchdowns compared to 2010. Regardless, he's a serious playmaker with the tools to be a true No. 1 fantasy option in new OC Todd Haley's system.
27. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Murray showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but his season was cut short due to a broken ankle. If he can remain free of injuries, which has always been a problem for him, I can see Murray finishing in the top 10 in fantasy points among running backs.
28. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: If fantasy value were based on potential and talent alone, McFadden would be a first-round pick. But the fact that he just can't stay healthy makes him one of the true risk-reward runners in fantasy land. I can't see him being taken higher than Round 3.
29. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Green might not have the most attractive schedule in the world, but his statistical upside is enormous. With a full year of NFL experience under his belt, not to mention a great rapport with Andy Dalton, I can see Green finishing among fantasy's 10 best wideouts.
30. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson at No. 30 overall, after he finished second in fantasy points among wideouts? Yup. I think he'll have a good season, but I don't think he'll score 15 touchdowns again. I see him as a low-end No. 1 fantasy wide receiver, but he's not among the elite options.
31. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
32. Darren Sproles, RB, Saints
33. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
34. Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings
35. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
36. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
37. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
38. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
39. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
40. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
41. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
42. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
43. Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins
44. Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
45. Marques Colston, WR, Saints
46. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
47. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
48. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
49. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
50. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to **@Michael_Fabiano** or send a question via **Facebook**!