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Young RBs on the rise in new fantasy mock draft

The NFL Scouting Combine is in full force, the free agent-period begins in March and the 2014 NFL Draft will be here before you know it. That means this mock draft (Version 2.0) is the last one we'll see before player movement changes fantasy values across the board. There have already been several changes compared to the Version 1.0 I filed back in January, but you will notice one thing remains: A focus on younger players with what will be my favorite word this offseason -- "upside."

One other thing that hasn't changed (and won't change) is the lack of quarterbacks being drafted in the first five rounds. Heck, I had to force myself to put Peyton Manning in Round 2 despite the fact that he's coming off one of the best fantasy football seasons of all time!

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. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Charles is coming off the best season of his career, recording 70 receptions, 1,980 scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns and 308 fantasy points. Whether he can duplicate his top status among running backs remains to be seen, but at 27 he's in the prime of his career. Look for Charles to remain the focus of Andy Reid's offensive attack.

2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: The NFL's leading rusher, McCoy piled up 1,607 yards with 11 total touchdowns and 278.60 fantasy points in the offense of Chip Kelly. The Pittsburgh product has now finished second in fantasy points among backs in two of the last three seasons, and at 25 he's in the prime of his career. I wouldn't be shocked to see McCoy picked first.

3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson experienced a large decline in production in 2013, but that was to be expected after the monstrous totals he recorded in the previous campaign. Still, he did finish eighth in fantasy points among running backs despite also missing time due to injuries. Peterson is no mere mortal, and the addition of OC Norv Turner is an obvious positive.

4. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It seems like Lynch has been in the league forever, but he's just 27 and should still have one or two strong seasons left in the Great Northwest. He has ranked among the five-best running backs based on fantasy points in three straight seasons, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to find success. Consider "Beast Mode" a top-five pick.

5. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte thrived in the offense of coach Marc Trestman, recording career-bests in rushing yards (1,339), rushing scores (9), receptions (74) and receiving yards (594). The 28-year-old runner also averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry, proving he can be both explosive and versatile. Forte will be a top-five selection and could go in the top three in PPR formats.

6. Eddie Lacy, RB. Green Bay Packers: If you watched "NFL Fantasy LIVE," you know I love Lacy. He started the 2013 season with a combined 15 carries in his first three games, due in large part to a concussion that cost him some playing time. From Weeks 5-17, he averaged 20.7 carries per game. Lacy also scored more rushing touchdowns (seven) than any player from Week 10 on. He is the real deal.

7. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray shook his prone-to-injuries label to start 14 games in 2013. Outside of Dez Bryant, he was the best statistical performer on the field for coach Jason Garrett. Murray even caught 53 passes, which showed how versatile he can be on the field. At 25 and with little wear-and-tear on his body, he's in the conversation as a top-10 fantasy running back.

8. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: If Lacy is my No. 1 fantasy man crush heading into the 2014 campaign, Bell is definitely No. 1A. In 13 games as a rookie, he averaged better than 13 fantasy points and was projected to record 211.57 fantasy points over a full season of work. That would have been more points than Lacy, Murray and Peterson scored. Bell has superstar written all over him.

9. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: I am not a fan of taking wide receivers in the first round, and chances are I wouldn't make this move before the ninth overall pick. But Megatron is a safer bet than any of the running backs still on the board, and I won't lose much at the position waiting a few more picks to nab a runner. Megatron has finished no worse than third in points at wideout since 2011.

10. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: How valuable is Graham? His 217.5 fantasy points would have ranked him as a super stud regardless of position -- he would have finished as the sixth-best running back, the top-ranked wide receiver and the top-ranked defensive unit. I wouldn't be a bit shocked to see him selected at the end of the first round in countless fantasy football drafts next season.

Round 2

11. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Despite the fact that he missed the first two games of the season, Gordon still led all wideouts in receiving yards and fantasy points in 2013. He also scored at least one touchdown in five straight games -- that was the most for a Browns player since Paul Warfield in 1976. Hopefully, the franchise will make a major improvement at the quarterback spot.

12. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos: One of the biggest offseason stories to watch is the status of Moreno. A pending free agent, he could decide to leave the Mile High City for richer pastures. If that happens, Moreno loses value while Montee Ball becomes a huge sleeper candidate. If he remains with the Broncos, though, I would move Moreno ahead of both Lacy and Murray for 2014.

13. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: Thomas has emerged into a fantasy superstar, as his fantasy-point totals have risen in each of the last three seasons. He's finished with 90-plus catches, 1,400-plus yards and a combined 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons as the main threat in the pass attack for Peyton Manning. And at 26 he's barely in his prime. Thomas is an established superstar.

14. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: One of the most talented young wide receivers in the league, Green has finished fourth in fantasy points at his position in each of the last two seasons. He has also seen his reception and yardage totals increase during that time. Like Thomas, Green is entering the prime of his career and should remain a fantasy football star for the foreseeable future.

15. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant is a fantasy monster, scoring a combined 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He's also a stud when it counts, scoring a touchdown in each of his last five games of 2013. In 2012, Bryant recorded at least one end-zone visit in seven of his last eight games. Overall, the talented wideout has one score in 11 of his last 13 games in December.

16. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears: In his first two seasons in Chicago, Marshall has recorded a combined 218 catches, 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns. He's also finished no worse than fifth in fantasy points among wide receivers in that time. Even with Alshon Jeffery emerging into a star, Marshall is still easily one of the top 5-10 players at his position.

17. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Jones missed most of the 2013 season due to injuries, but don't let his absence make you forget about him. He was on pace to average over 100 yards per game and would have ranked among the top 10 players at his position based on fantasy points. If you're able to grab Jones past the second round, it's really like stealing. This kid is a fantasy monster.

18. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams: Stacy carried the football once for the Rams over the first four weeks. During the final 12 games, all of which he was the starter, Stacy averaged better than 13 fantasy points. Coach Jeff Fisher will lean on Stacy as his workhorse in his second pro season, so he'll be well worth a late second-rounder as a No. 2 runner at this stage of the draft.

19. Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: Bush missed some time due to injuries, but he still ranked 11th in fantasy points among running backs in standard leagues and ninth in PPR formats. He isn't going to be a true featured back, though, as Joique Bell broke out in 2013 and is certain to remain an important part of the offense. Consider Bush a high-end No. 2 fantasy runner next season.

20. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: I finally broke down and took a quarterback. Manning is coming off a historical season that saw him set new NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55), and he also led all players with over 400 fantasy points. Keep in mind, though, that Manning is extremely unlikely to duplicate those totals in back-to-back seasons.

Round 3

21. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Brown broke out in 2013, recording career-bests almost across the board while finishing second among wide receivers in catches (110). He ranked among the top 10 wideouts in fantasy points in all standard leagues and finished third in PPR formats.

22. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: No quarterback in the NFL has been more consistent for fantasy leaguers than Brees, who has ranked no worse than second in fantasy points at his position in five of the last six seasons. He's likely to go a bit higher than this in 2014 drafts.

23. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers was 22nd in fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2013, missing seven games with a broken collarbone. If we project the numbers he posted in his seven full starts, Rodgers would have finished third in fantasy points at his position.

24. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: The addition of new OC Hue Jackson in Cincinnati could be massive for Bernard, who is a candidate to move up in future mock drafts. Fantasy owners need to keep close tabs on what the Bengals do with their backfield during the offseason.

25. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Foster missed a total of eight games due to injuries in 2013 and had fewer rushing touchdowns than Jets DT Sheldon Richardson! He's also going to be returning from a back procedure, which makes him a major risk-reward pick in his age-28 season.

26. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Martin was a massive disappointment, as he missed 10 games with a bum shoulder and wasn't that great in the stat sheets when he was active. Still, he's a young runner who should rebound in an offense that will lean on him as its centerpiece.

27. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Did you know that Newton has scored more fantasy points (990.46) in his first three seasons than any other NFL player since 1960? His rare combination of arm strength and running skills make him a seriously lethal weapon for fantasy owners.

28. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: Morris had a down season compared to his breakout rookie campaign, rushing for 338 fewer yards and six fewer touchdowns. However, the Redskins runner did lead all running backs with 678 yards after contact and is a good bet to rebound in 2014.

29. Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Crabtree has all the tools to record No. 1 wideout numbers, so landing him at this stage of the draft could be a massive steal. He'll also get in a full training camp and preseason and should be 100 percent back from his Achilles surgery.

30. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears: A talented wideout with some of the best hands in the NFL, Jeffery broke out in 2013 with 89 catches, 1,421 yards and 194.60 fantasy points. He will continue to be the second option in the pass attack behind Marshall, but Jeffery has major upside.

Round 4

31. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: Mathews had the look of a true No. 1 fantasy runner in the second half of 2013, but I still don't trust him as more than a fourth-rounder.
32. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: The addition of new OC Gary Kubiak is good news for Rice, but a disappointing 2013 season plus his recent off-the-field problems are a real concern.
33. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson ranked among the 10 best wide receivers in fantasy football this past season, but I'm more comfortable making him a high-end No. 2.
34. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: I love Cobb's versatility and upside catching passes from Rodgers, which is why I have him ranked ahead of his teammate, Jordy Nelson.
35. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins: The leading pass-catcher in the NFL this past season, Garcon finished with career-bests in both receptions (113) and yardage (1,346).
36. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: Nelson has recorded 1,200-plus receiving yards and a combined 23 touchdown catches in each of his last two full seasons for the Packers.
37. Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: Decker has finished among the 10-best wide receivers in fantasy football for two consecutive seasons, but will he remain with the Broncos?
38. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson, who will be entering his age-33 season, is a reception and yardage machine but has lacked for touchdown catches since 2010.
39. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald found the end zone 10 times this past season, but he's also recorded fewer than 1,000 yards in back-to-back campaigns.
40. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers: Allen was by far the best rookie wide receiver in fantasy football this past season, not to mention the top option for Philip Rivers.

Round 5

41. Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans: I am assuming that Tate will leave Houston as a free agent and sign with a team (maybe the Browns) that will turn him into a featured runner.
42. Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos: There aren't many tight ends who will warrant a draft pick in the first five rounds of 2014 drafts, but Thomas is now clearly one of them.
43. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson is too inconsistent to be considered a No. 1 fantasy wideout, but I'll take him at this point as a high-end No. 2 option.
44. Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos: If Moreno leaves Denver as a free agent, Ball is going to be one of the biggest sleeper candidates in fantasy land. If not, his value falls.
45. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Will Gronkowski be ready for the start of 2014? That remains to be seen, but he's a risk worth taking once we get into Round 5.
46. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Forget about White's poor numbers, as he missed time with multiple injuries. Look for him to rebound back into a 1,000-yard wideout.
47. Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Coach Bruce Arians wants to build his offense around Ellington, who showed flashes of potential as a rookie. He's a nice sleeper.
48. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Luck didn't put up a ton of monster stat lines in 2013, but he still ranked an impressive fourth in fantasy points among quarterbacks.
49. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: There's been talk of the Titans cutting ties with Johnson in 2014, so his stock for next season is very much in question. Stay tuned.
50. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers: The bottom has to fall out on Gore at some point, right? Until then, it's hard to not consider him a legitimate No. 2 fantasy runner.

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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