It might be January on the calendar, but it's not too soon to look ahead to the 2011 fantasy campaign. I've put together the first NFL.com mock draft of the year -- it's a two-round mock, based on our standard scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns. Each numbered position represents an individual team, so no more than one quarterback, two running backs or two wide receivers will be selected per team.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Peterson finished second in fantasy points among running backs behind Arian Foster in 2010, but he's still the safest back to draft. He's been a consistent option for owners during his career, and new coach Leslie Frazier will no doubt use Peterson as his bell cow. The schedule is also favorable for A.D. to succeed.
2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Foster is coming off a breakout season, posting 2,028 scrimmage yards and 16 total touchdowns as the Texans featured back. Can he do it again in 2011? Probably not, especially with Ben Tate back in the mix. But there's still no reason Foster can't post terrific overall numbers.
3. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: If you ask some fantasy owners, Johnson had a bad season in 2010 -- he finished with only the fifth-most points among running backs. But if I can get better than 1,300 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns, it's hard to complain. He should improve on his latest totals in 2011.
4. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: Before I get into Vick, let me say that I will not draft a quarterback until Round 4 or 5 next season at the earliest -- there is just too much depth at the position to take one sooner. But based on his ridiculous 2010 numbers in what was an amazing season, Vick is destined to be a top-five pick in fantasy drafts.
5. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Charles is coming off another terrific season, finishing third in fantasy points among backs despite losing touches to Thomas Jones. The one factor that concerns me about Charles is his schedule -- he'll face the Chargers (2), Steelers, Jets, Bears, Packers and Vikings in 2011. That's a brutal slate of games.
6. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Again, there is no way I'm taking a quarterback in the first round next season -- but Rodgers is worth a top-six pick in drafts. He was third in fantasy points among all players on NFL.com, throwing for close to 4,000 yards and scoring 32 total touchdowns despite missing time due to a concussion.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Pocket Hercules was inactive for the final two games of the season with a bum knee, but he still totaled better than 1,600 scrimmage yards for the Jaguars. While he will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus damage in the knee, Jones-Drew is expected to be fine for the start of the 2011 campaign.
8. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Despite the fact that he missed three games due to injuries, McFadden still finished with career highs in all statistical categories and was sixth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com. If not for his well-documented lack of durability, I'd have him ranked ahead of Jones-Drew and Charles at his position.
9. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: McCoy hasn't reached the same level of value as Brian Westbrook in his salad days, but he's getting close. The versatile runner wound up seventh in fantasy points at his position, posting better than 1,600 scrimmage yards and nine total touchdowns. He's certainly earned the right to be a first rounder in all formats.
10. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: Turner would have more value if he were more versatile, but his skills as a runner alone make him a legitimate first rouner. He's rushed for better than 1,300 yards in two of his first three season with the Falcons and has scored a combined 39 touchdowns in that time. Turner also has a favorable schedule ahead.
11. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: Mendenhall wasn't the most consistent fantasy back in the world in 2010, but he did finish eighth in points at his position on NFL.com. He's also one of the few featured backs in the league, which just adds to his value. Look for Mendenhall to be no more than a late first-round pick in most fantasy leagues.
12. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore was on pace to finish with 67 receptions and close to 1,900 scrimmage yards before an injured hip landed him on the sidelines. While his talent is unquestioned, he's proneness to injuries is a concern -- Gore hasn't played more than 15 games since 2007. Still, he'll be hard to pass on late in the first round.
13. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: Rice wasn't worth the top-five pick he cost many owners in 2010 drafts, but he still finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. In the event that the Ravens decide not to retain Willis McGahee moving forward, Rice's stock is certain to soar. But for now, I see the Rutgers product as an early-second round selection.
14. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: A total of seven wide receivers (including Brandon Lloyd) scored more fantasy points than Johnson in 2010, but remember that he was dealing with a bad ankle and was forced to miss the last two weeks. Sure, he has had his share of injuries at the NFL level, but Johnson is still the most talented player at his position.
15. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Can you see my strategy here? I'm going with a running back in the first round and an elite wide receiver in the second. With that said, taking Megatron here was a simple choice. With Matthew Stafford back under center, I think Johnson is a lock to duplicate (or surpass) his 2010 yardage and touchdowns totals.
16. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: White posted career bests in catches (115) and yards (1,389) in 2010 -- he also scored double-digit touchdowns for the second straight season. With Matt Ryan continuing his rise to elite status among NFL quarterbacks, White will no doubt continue to post huge fantasy totals. He's a lock second rounder on draft day.
17. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: Hillis, one of the most valuable players of the 2010 season, finished fourth in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. However, I am concerned about his lack of production down the stretch. He is also certain to lose work to Montario Hardesty, who'll be back from a knee injury. For now, Hillis has second-round value.
18. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: Nicks finished in the top seven in fantasy points among wide receivers this season, and that was while playing in just 13 games. The fact that he has missed a combined five games in his first two NFL seasons due to injuries is worrisome, but Nicks is ultra-talented and still a No. 1 fantasy wideout regardless.
19. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: A first-round pick in most 2010 drafts, Jackson finished 13th in fantasy points among running backs while playing in a full 16 games for the first time since 2006. The fact that the Rams offense is improving is a definite positive, but Jackson's numbers in recent seasons make him worth no more than a second rounder.
20. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Brady, who threw for 36 touchdowns with a mere four interceptions and finished fourth in fantasy points overall, will no doubt be selected earlier than No. 20 overall in countless drafts. But with the immense depth at the quarterback position, he comes off the board in the middle of the second round in this mock.
21. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: Assuming that Bradshaw is back with the Giants next season -- he's slated to become a free agent -- he'll be well worth a second-round pick. Despite the fact that he shared part of the workload with Brandon Jacobs, he still recorded better than 1,500 scrimmage yards and scored eight touchdowns.
22. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: Jennings rebounded from a disappointing 2009 campaign with better than 1,250 yards and an impressive 12 touchdowns, making him once again an elite wideout. With Rodgers at the helm in what promises to remain an explosive Packers offense, Jennings should continue to fill up the stat sheets.
23. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: One of the most talented young wideouts in the league, Wallace recorded 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those totals were good enough to finish fifth in fantasy points at his position. With Ben Roethlisberger under center for a full 16 games in 2011, Wallace could post even better numbers next season.
24. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Bowe finally had the breakout season that many fantasy enthusiasts had predicted, recording 1,162 yards with an impressive 15 touchdowns. While it's hard to envision a scenario where he'll duplicate those number of end-zone visits, Bowe should remain productive in a Chiefs offense with a lot of statistical potential.