The NFL lockout is in the rearview mirror and player movement has been fast and furious ever since. With most of the big moves in the books, now is the time to mock! Before we get into the picks, here's a nugget for you to wrap your fantasy brain around. Did you know that since 2006, a mere 35 percent of running backs and 32.5 percent of wide receivers that finished in the top 10 at their position also reached that mark again the following year? Clearly, it's inevitable that many of last year's studs are going to experience a statistical decrease.
Did you also know that more quarterbacks are putting up bigger fantasy numbers than ever before? The NFL has become a passing league and the stats prove it. I don't know about you, but I'm using that depth to my advantage. That means you won't see a ton of signal-caller being taken in the first three rounds. Alright, let's get to mocking -- here's my first three rounds.
This mock is based on NFL.com's standard 10-team league 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. 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. 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, but his current holdout is a concern.
3. 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, but there's still no reason Foster can't post terrific numbers in what will remain a great offensive attack. He will be a top-five pick in all drafts.
4. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Charles is coming off another terrific season, finishing fourth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com despite losing a number of 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.
5. 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 among backs. With Vonta Leach now blocking for him, Rice should be in a great position to find success. The presence of Ricky Williams will hurt his value, but Rice remains one of the top runners.
6. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: There's no way I'm taking a quarterback in the first round because of the overall depth at the position -- but Rodgers is worth such a prominent selection. He was third in fantasy points among all players on NFL.com in 2010, throwing for 3,922 yards and scoring 32 total touchdowns despite missing time with a concussion.
7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: McCoy hasn't reached the same level as Brian Westbrook in his salad days, but he's getting close. The versatile runner was seventh in fantasy points at his position in 2010, posting better than 1,600 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns. He's certainly earned the right to be a No. 1 fantasy back, especially in PPR formats.
8. 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 is also one of the few featured backs in the league, which adds to his value. Look for Mendenhall to come off the board in the middle to late first round in drafts.
9. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: As I mentioned earlier, I will not take a quarterback in the first round. However, Vick is a lock to be taken there based on his 2010 totals. He's the ultimate weapon on the field, but keep in mind that his playing style does make him more likely to be injured. Also, Vick has little chance to replicate last year's numbers.
10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Despite the fact that he missed three games due to injuries, McFadden still finished sixth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com. If not for his well-documented lack of durability -- and the presence of Michael Bush -- I'd have ranked him even higher. McFadden is the epitome of a risk-reward pick.
11. 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.
12. 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. He did undergo microfracture knee surgery during the offseason, but Jones-Drew is expected to be fine for the start of the 2011 campaign.
13. 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, his proneness to injury is a concern -- Gore hasn't played more than 15 games since 2007. Still, he'll be hard to pass on at the start of Round 2.
14. 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.
15. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: Turner would have added value if he were more versatile, but his skills as a runner make him a legitimate No. 1 option. He's rushed for better than 1,300 yards in two of his first three seasons with the Falcons and has scored a combined 39 touchdowns in that time. Turner also has a favorable schedule in 2011.
16. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Can you see my strategy here? I'm going with a runner in the first round and an elite wide receiver in the second (in most cases). With that said, taking Megatron was a simple choice. With Matthew Stafford back under center, Johnson is a lock to duplicate (or surpass) his 2010 yardage and touchdowns totals.
17. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Despite the fact that he had some inconsistent statistical weeks, Forte still finished 10th in fantasy points among running backs in 2010. The featured player in the offense of coordinator Mike Martz, he should remain a productive option for the Bears and fantasy owners alike. Forte will have added value in PPR leagues.
18. 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 recent numbers make him worth no more than a second- or third-round choice.
19. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: Nicks finished in the top seven in fantasy points among wide receivers last season, and that was 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 clearly ultra-talented. I wouldn't be shocked if he were the top fantasy wideout of 2011.
20. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: It's a testament to Fitzgerald's skills and abilities that he was able to catch 90 passes and record 1,137 yards in 2010 with the likes of Derek Anderson and John Skelton at quarterback. With Kevin Kolb now under center, the University of Pittsburgh product has re-gained his place among the top wideouts in fantasy land.
21. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Brady, who threw for 36 touchdowns with a mere four interceptions and finished fourth in fantasy points overall, will be taken earlier than No. 21 overall in countless drafts. But considering the quarterback depth, he comes off the board early in Round 3 in this mock. Brady is basically a guaranteed fantasy point producer.
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 in fantasy leagues. 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 broke out last season with 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 moving forward.
24. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Over the last five years, Wayne has finished no worse than 12th in fantasy points at his position. He's the lone wideout who can boast about that accomplishment. While he is getting a little long in the tooth, it's hard to pass on a reliable player who also has the advantage of catching passes from the great Peyton Manning.
25. Drew Brees, QB, Saints: One of only two quarterbacks (Manning) to finish in the top six in fantasy points at the position over the last five years, Brees will be no less than a second- or third-round selection in drafts. With the entire offseason for his injured knee to heal, Brees is back at 100 percent and should improve on his 2010 totals.
26. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: Jackson missed most of last season due to a combination of a holdout and injuries, but he's back with the Chargers and at 100 percent heading into 2011. Now in a contract year and with Philip Rivers throwing him the football, V-Jax is a virtual lock to post 1,100-plus yards and around eight touchdowns this season.
27. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: If you're the superstitious type, then you'd be better off passing on the Madden '12 cover boy. But based on his success last season, Hillis will be hard to pass on at this point in drafts. He won't finish in the top five in fantasy points at his position again, but Hillis is worth a look as a No. 2 back.
28. Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys: In the five full games that Austin and Tony Romo were on the field together last season, the veteran wideout was on pace to post more than 1,500 yards in an explosive pass attack. Sure, Dez Bryant might get more attention in fantasy land, but Austin is the Cowboys wide receiver to target first on draft day.
29. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Jackson, a fourth-year wideout out of California, has a chance to post the best numbers of his career in 2011. Not only will he be catching passes from one of the league's top quarterbacks in Vick, but he's also slated to be in a contract year. Consider Jackson a low-end No. 1 fantasy wideout in standard formats.
30. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts: Manning is a player that fantasy owners need to watch in the preseason. If his return from neck surgery puts his status for the start of the regular season in jeopardy, Rivers would be the quarterback to draft here. Manning has never missed an NFL start, though, so it's hard to question his durability.