Le'Veon Bell leads early five-round fantasy mock draft

Fantasy football has become a 365-day-a-year passion for NFL fans, so it's never too soon to think about player rankings and how those rankings will equate in a mock draft. With that in mind, here's the first in what will be a series of one-man, five-round fantasy mock drafts over the next seven months. One of the most notable aspects of this draft is the rise in the number of wide receivers picked in Round 1 ... and the subsequent decline in the number of running backs taken in the first 10 picks. You'll also see a lack of quarterbacks in the top 50 overall, which should be considered the norm at a position that is now loaded with viable fantasy starters.

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.

Round 1

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: It's February, so Bell's status for the start of training camp is somewhat of a mystery after he injured the MCL and PCL in his right knee last November. If he's able to return without setbacks, he's the top player to draft in 2016. His rehab from these knee injuries will be a hot topic of conversation throughout the offseason.

2. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: Gurley didn't start his first NFL game until Week 4, which makes his 1,106 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and 187.4 fantasy points even more impressive during his rookie year. If Bell's status for camp comes into question, the Georgia product would become a popular choice at the top of all drafts. Gurley is a superstar in the making.

3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Peterson will be 31 in March, and he's had over 2,300 career regular-season carries at the NFL level. With that said, the typical rules of an older running back don't apply to one of the all-time greats at the position. It's difficult to envision a scenario where Peterson doesn't remain the centerpiece of Minnesota's offense.

4. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Brown has been the top-scoring wide receiver in fantasy football in each of the last two seasons, making him a virtual lock to be drafted in the top five next season. I could even see him picked No. 1 overall, especially in leagues that reward points for receptions. Brown has recorded 100-plus catches in three straight seasons.

5. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Jones busted out in the stat sheets in 2015, posting career bests in catches (136) and yards (1,871) to go along with eight touchdowns. He also recorded more fantasy points than every single running back in the league not named Devonta Freeman (also his teammate). At the age of 27, Jones is now entering the prime of his NFL career.

6. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: OBJ did see his fantasy points per game average dip in his sophomore season, but he still had a tremendous campaign with over 90 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 scores. He has also recorded the second-most fantasy points of any wideout in their first two NFL seasons (behind Randy Moss) ... and OBJ missed a combined five games.

7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Gronkowski is far and away the most valuable tight end in fantasy football, and he's the lone player at his position who's worth a top-40 selection. The veteran out of Arizona has put up 1,100-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in each of his last two seasons. Playing in an offense led by Tom Brady doesn't hurt, either.

8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: Nuk exploded in his third NFL season, posting career bests in catches (111), yards (1,521) and touchdowns (11) despite the fact that Houston lacked a stable quarterback situation. Hopkins has also seen his important fantasy statistics increase in each of his first three campaigns at the pro level. He's a virtual first-round lock.

9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons: Freeman came out of nowhere to lead all running backs in fantasy points last season. He also had an historic four-game stretch where he found the end zone a combined nine times and put up 25-plus points in each contest. There is some bust concern for 2016 as a result, but Freeman is still worth a look late in the first round.

10. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals: Johnson started a mere five games as a rookie, but he still finished seventh in fantasy points among running backs on the strength of his 12 total touchdowns. Whether he turns into the next Zac Stacy or Jeremy Hill remains to be seen, but Johnson will be a top-10 pick based on his upside and the lack of depth at his position.

Round 2

11. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: I have to admit to being a bit worried about Martin, who has not been the most durable or reliable fantasy running back in his four seasons at the NFL level. Still, he has produced 1,400-plus rushing yards twice in his career and should remain the featured runner in Tampa Bay ... or wherever else he might land as a free agent.

12. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Forget about what happened to Bryant last season, he was never 100 percent and had to catch passes from the likes of Kellen Moore. Heading into 2015, Bryant had put up 88 or more catches, 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in his previous three campaigns. With Tony Romo back under center, Bryant will rebound.

13. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Charles averaged more than five yards per attempt last season before suffering his second torn ACL in the last five years, so he didn't look like a back who was on the verge of a statistical decline. There's some risk in drafting him coming off the surgical procedure, but Charles is worth that risk at this point in the draft.

14. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: I like everything about Ingram from a statistical perspective, and I could see him moving up in future mock drafts throughout the offseason. The one concern is the fact that Ingram has never started more than 10 games in a season due to injuries. He's also missed at least three games in four of his five years at the pro level.

15. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: McCoy's first season in Buffalo was a modest one overall, as he averaged 12 fantasy points per game but missed four contests due to injuries. He also lost important work to Karlos Williams, who scored nine touchdowns compared to McCoy's five. Regardless, he's still a borderline No. 1 fantasy runner at what is a thin position.

16. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks: Rawls was a beast in the stat sheets in the absence of Marshawn Lynch last season, averaging almost 16 fantasy points per game. He also averaged 117.6 scrimmage yards with five touchdowns in his seven starts. Barring any setbacks in his return from an injured ankle, Rawls will have huge upside in a run-based Seattle offense.

17. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars: Robinson was one of last season's true breakout candidates in fantasy football, posting career bests across the board in what became quite a prolific Jacksonville pass attack. The Penn State product was also consistent in the stat sheets for owners, scoring 10-plus points in 12 games with at least one touchdown in 10 contests.

18. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Green had an up and down 2015 campaign, posting fewer than eight fantasy points seven times. Regardless, the veteran still finished with 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns ... that's the third time he's done that in his last four seasons. Green has also recorded 1,000-plus yards in each of his first five pro campaigns.

19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: Jeffery suffered through an injury-plagued 2015 campaign that saw him miss seven games and post disappointing numbers as a result. Still, he averaged 89.6 yards in the nine games he played and would have projected to score almost 190 fantasy points over a full season. A pending free agent, Jeffery could be a nice bargain pick.

20. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Forte won't be back in Chicago next season, and at the age of 30 he's no lock to produce monster numbers wherever he might land this offseason. The true testament to his value is in the team that signs him. If Forte lands in a positive situation (maybe Dallas or New England for example), he would no doubt move up on ranking lists.

Round 3

21. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: The statistical decline of Peyton Manning affected the production of Thomas, who finished 13th in fantasy points among wideouts in 2015. He had been no worse than fifth in the previous three seasons. A move to Brock Osweiler should help his value.

22. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets: Marshall went nuts in the stat sheets in his first season with Gang Green, posting 1,502 yards with 14 touchdowns while finishing third in fantasy points among wideouts. It will be tough to duplicate those totals, but Marshall will no doubt be a top-25 pick.

23. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Allen was on pace to put up 134 catches and 1,400-plus yards last season before he suffered a lacerated kidney and was forced to miss the final eight contests. Entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2016, however, Allen could be an elite wideout.

24. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: Watkins had a slow start to the 2015 campaign, but his numbers soared after he called for the football in the media. In fact, he averaged almost nine targets in the nine games after he made that statement. Watkins has No. 1 wideout potential next season.

25. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Miller finished sixth in fantasy points among runners last season, and he did it despite carrying the football fewer than 200 times. A pending free agent, he's still a young back and could move up in the rankings if he ends up in a favorable situation.

26. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Edelman was enjoying a monster 2015 season before suffering a busted foot that cost him the final seven games. A PPR machine, he would have projected to finish with 108 catches based on his final totals. Edelman is a borderline No. 1 wide receiver.

27. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: Cooper finished outside of the top 20 in fantasy points among wideouts as a rookie, but the sky is the limit for this uber-talented receiver out of Alabama. In fact, he'll be on the high-end No. 2 fantasy receiver radar in most leagues next season.

28. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson blew out his knee during the 2015 preseason, so he'll have had more than enough time to rehab and recover heading into training camp. Heading into his age-31 season and with Aaron Rodgers under center, Nelson could turn into a nice bargain.

29. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: The highest-scoring fantasy player from 2015 drafted in ... Round 3? Yessir. The quarterback position is deep, and chances are pretty good that Newton will see a 40-60 point decline in production in 2016. If he weren't such a productive runner, I'd pass on him here.

30. Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints: Cooks was a slow starter, but he did have the breakout season that countless analysts predicted in 2016. A speedster with the benefit of playing alongside Drew Brees, Cooks should once again finish as an attractive No. 2 fantasy wideout next season.

Round 4

31. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: A touchdown machine and athletic freak among wide receivers, Bryant has massive potential entering his third NFL campaign.

32. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Johnson is seriously considering retirement according to media reports, but at this point he's still a part of my mock drafts.

33. Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears: Langford's stock will soar once the Bears cut ties with Forte. He'll be a popular breakout candidate in fantasy land in 2016.

34. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Evans dropped too many passes in his sophomore season, but he's a good bet to improve on his 2015 fantasy totals next season.

35. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: Murray finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among runners, but he was widely inconsistent and tough to trust each week.

36. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins: Landry will be more valuable in PPR formats, but his speed and skills make him a no-brainer as a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver.

37. DeMarco Murray, RB, Eagles: Murray might not even be back with the Eagles next season, but for now he's no more than a mid-tier No. 2 fantasy running back.

38. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Stewart finished 16th in fantasy points among runners in 2015, and he's likely to remain the top running back in Carolina.

39. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Yeldon showed some flashes of potential as a rookie, and there's still more than enough potential for him to improve next season.

40. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: I have some concerns about Fitzgerald's chances to duplicate his 2015 totals, but he'll be tough to pass on at this point.

Round 5

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.