Mock draft: Steven Jackson, Matt Forte on the rise

We are a mere three weeks away from the start of the 2013 NFL season - and the start of your quest for a fantasy football championship! The start of training camp and the preseason has brought with it a lot of unfortunate injuries, but we're also getting a closer look at how some of the more important position battles are playing out. That's the reason for a lot of the changes to this mock, though one thing hasn't changed - I'm not taking a quarterback too soon because of the depth at the position.

That will be obvious as you continue to read below...

This mock draft is based on'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. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson, the 2012 Fantasy Player of the Year, showed that he is no mere mortal on the gridiron last year. Despite having major knee surgery, he put up 2,097 rushing yards and led his position in fantasy points. I had him ranked second below Arian Foster earlier in the offseason, but Foster's calf and back ailments make Peterson a safer selection at this point. Just don't expect him to produce another season with 2,000 rushing yards.

2. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Foster was once again a superstar for owners last season, scoring 262.10 fantasy points (third among runners). He had been dealing with an injured calf since May, but coach Gary Kubiak saud Foster's calf is now "fine." While he's still being held out of work due to a back ailment, it's not considered serious. Unless he has some sort of setback, there is no reason whatsoever to pass on Foster with one of the first two overall selections this season.

4. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Rice finished sixth in fantasy points at the position in 2012 and has a nice track record of success as the main running back in Baltimore. At 26, he's also still in his prime between the white lines. Some fantasy owners might be worried about the presence of Bernard Pierce, who showed flashes of real potential during his rookie season. And if word comes down that Rice will lose significant carries, he'll slide a few spots. Right now, he's a top-five pick.

5. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Martin, a rookie standout in the stat sheets, finished second to Peterson based on fantasy points among running backs in 2012. While there is always that threat of a dreaded sophomore slump, Martin is still going to be a very tough runner to pass on in Round 1 - especially with LeGarrette Blount now in New England. The "Muscle Hamster" will be off the board with one of the first five overall choices in a good majority of fantasy football drafts.

6. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Charles rushed for over 1,500 yards in his first year back from a major knee reconstruction, recorded 220-plus rushing yards twice and finishing eighth at his position based on fantasy points. The addition of coach Andy Reid should mean even more of a featured role for Charles, who figures to also be more prominent in the pass attack. Charles, who appears to avoid serious injury when he hurt his foot in practice, is also in the prime of his career.

7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: A top-five overall pick last season, McCoy missed several games with a concussion and didn't finish among the top 20 players at his position. Regardless, I think he'll have a major rebound in the stat sheets in the offense of coach Chip Kelly. Runners thrived in Kelly's system at Oregon, and McCoy is versatile enough to be a serious contributor. At 24, he's still a very young runner who will be a surefire first-rounder across the board in 2013.

8. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: One of the most explosive playmakers at his position, Spiller averaged six yards per carry, put up better than 1,700 scrimmage yards and found the end zone eight times last season. While the return of Fred Jackson from an injured knee could be seen as a cause for at least some concern, I can't see new coach Doug Marrone not utilizing Spiller in a prominent role in the offense. In fact, OC Nathaniel Hackett also said he'll feed Spiller "until he throws up."

9. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Richardson finished among the 10 best players at his position last season, despite missing time due to injuries. The bruising back should be at 100 percent in time for the start of training camp, and I think he can improve on the 203.70 fantasy points he scored in 2012. With no threats to his backfield workload, including goal-line chances, Richardson will be a very valuable asset and could break out in the stat sheets under new OC Norv Turner.

10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: The top fantasy wide receiver in each of the last two seasons, Johnson will be one of the first 12 players selected in 2013 fantasy drafts. Not only did he break Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a single season with 1,964 in 2012, but he has now recorded 220-plus fantasy points in each of his last two campaigns. That's huge production. While a drop in yardage should be expected, Johnson's touchdown totals should rise without question.

Round 2

11. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: One of the best draft bargains (or waiver wire pickups) of last season, Morris came out of nowhere to rank second in rushing yards and fifth in fantasy points among backs. The Florida Atlantic product could be hard-pressed to duplicate the 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, though, and the spector of Shanahanigans looms in Washington. Still, Morris has to be seen as a legitimate No. 1 fantasy runner across the board.

12. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte had his typical season in the stat sheets in 2012, posting better than 40 catches, over 1,400 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns. His value is on the rise with an offensive-minded coach in coach Marc Trestman at the helm, though, as Forte will see an increase in touches both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. A high-end No. 2 fantasy runner, he'll push No. 1 numbers in all PPR formats. Forte won't make it out of the second round.

13. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Despite a slow start to last season, Bryant finished hot and recorded career bests across the board in Big D. The third-ranked player at his position, he put up 1,382 yards with 12 touchdowns and scored no fewer than 9.90 fantasy points in each of his last seven games during the fantasy season. The top option in the offense for Tony Romo, Bryant is a fantasy star in the making and well worth a second-round selection in all standard and PPR formats.

14. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears: Reunited with Jay Cutler, Marshall put up career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2012. In fact, Megatron was the lone wide receiver to score more fantasy points - and the difference between the two was fewer than four. Assuming he has no setbacks in his return from an offseason surgical procedure on his hip, Marshall should continue to produce great totals under Trestman. He'll be a lock second-round selection in most leagues.

15. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Once Megatron comes off the board, Green won't be far behind. The breakout star put up career bests in the stat sheets in his second pro season, recording 1,350 yards with 11 visits to the end zone. Green was also a consistent and reliable contributor for fantasy leaguers, scoring double-digit points on 10 different occassions. The top option in the offense for coach Marvin Lewis, Green is a clear superstar and worth a second-round selection.

16. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Jones had a bit of an inconsistent start to the 2012 campaign, but he finished strong and helped a lot of owners win a championship. He had 79 catches, 1,198 yards and found the end zone a total of 10 times as he emerged into one of Matt Ryan's most reliable options. At 23, Jones has a huge ceiling and should only get better with age of experience. In fact, I can easily see him improving on the 182.80 fantasy points he recorded this past season.

17. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: Thomas put up career totals across the board and emerged as one of Peyton Manning's top options in the pass attack last season. A talented and physical specimen, the Georgia Tech product is tough for defenders to cover and should continue to produce impressive totals as long as he has the future Hall of Fame quarterback under center. His opportunities in the pass attack are not likely to decline after the signing of Wes Welker this offseason.

18. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: Johnson's 2012 statistical season resembled a roller coaster ride in fantasy land, as he put up several huge games to go along with a bunch of stinkers in the stat sheets. The additions of OGs Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack to what was a porous offensive line will help his appeal, though, and he still has some gas left in the tank at the age of 27. I will say this, though - you want him as a No. 2 fantasy runner, not your No. 1 at the position.

19. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: With the status of Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back surgeries) in doubt for the start of the season, Graham is now the clear-cut No. 1 tight end in fantasy football. He's finished no worse than second in fantasy points at his position in each of the last two seasons, and there's no doubt that he'll continue to be one of the top options in the pass attack for Drew Brees. Graham is much like having an extra wide receiver in your starting lineup.

20. Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots: Ridley is a one-dimensional back, as he caught just six passes in the 2012 season. However, his role as the top runner out of the backfield for coach Bill Belichick turned him into a top-12 player at his position. With some question marks in the pass attack, I expect the P-Men to run the ball much like last season - that means another nice workload for Ridley and sleeper Shane Vereen. The former is well worth a second-round selection.

Round 3

21. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: He's back! At least it looks like Fitzgerald will be back to the form that made him an elite wide receiver for so many years. With coach Bruce Arians calling the offense and Carson Palmer under center, his chances for success are solid.

22. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Cobb showed flashes of brilliance in his second pro season, and I think he'll break out in 2013. Now that the Packers have severed ties with Greg Jennings, Cobb will see more targets, more playing time and more chances to record fantasy points.

23. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson was considered a bust during the first half of last season, but he finished with 100-plus yards in five of his last nine starts. In all, Johnson ranked among the top 10 wide receivers based on fantasy points - he's still a No. 1 option

24. Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Jackson's stock is on the rise as a member of the Falcons, who have one of the league's premier offenses and should allowed him to score far more often than he did in St. Louis. In fact, he's now a very solid No. 2 runner despite his age (30).

25. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Barring any setbacks in his return from a surgical procedure to repair the foot, "Pocket Hercules" could end up being a steal in Round 3. He does have some miles at the pro level, but MJD should also be motivated in a contract year.

26. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson has had 1,000-plus yards and at least seven scores in each of his last four full seasons, culminating in a monster first campaign with the Buccaneers. He has plenty left in his tank and should remain a low-end No. 1 receiver.

27. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Even with a young superstar in Jones on the other side of the offensive attack, White is still a virtual lock to catch 80-plus passes with 1,000-plus yards in Atlanta's pass attack. Consider him a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout this season.

28. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: The top-scoring fantasy football quarterback last season, Brees is the first player at his position to put up 5,000-plus passing yards and 40-plus passing touchdowns in consecutive seasons. He's consistent, reliable and a truly elite option.

29. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: I know Rodgers is not going to be available at this stage of most 2013 drafts, but I simply refuse to take a quarterback in the earlier rounds. Waiting on the position, which is ridiculously deep in 2013, is very advisable in standard leagues.

30. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Gore will be 30 this season which is cause for at least some concern, but he just seems to get better with age in terms of the stat sheets. In fact, he'll go in the top three to four rounds as a No. 2 fantasy running back in most 2013 drafts.

Round 4

31. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants: Cruz saw his yardage totals decline in 2012, but he has a nice nose for the end zone and will be motivated to produce in a contract year.

32. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: The veteran out of Hofstra is worth a look at this stage of all fantasy drafts, just as long as Brees is throwing him the football.

33. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: A risk-reward selection, McFadden is worth a roll of the dice here - just make sure to also draft his eventual backup as insurance.

34. Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: Bush will have a chance to catch 60-70 passes in the Lions' explosive offense, making him even more valuable in all PPR leagues this year.

35. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: Manning posted huge fantasy numbers in his first season with the Broncos, and the addition of Welker makes him even more attractive.

36. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts: The veteran has been statistically resurrected with Andrew Luck under center. Wayne will have more value in PPR leagues this season.

37. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Newton went off in his final eight games of 2013 and finished as a top-five overall fantasy player for the second consecutive campaign.

38. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Nicks is a big risk-reward selection, but he's also in a contract year and could be a draft bargain if he meets his statistical potential.

39. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: Brady ... picked in the fourth round? I still have faith in the future Hall of Famer, but there are questions about his offensive cast.

  1. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Gronkowski's status for the start of the 2013 season is in question, but he's worth a roll of the dice at this point in the draft.

Round 5

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on 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 _**@MichaelFabiano**_ or send a question via **Facebook**!

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