The first round is an extremely important part of any fantasy draft. The later rounds are key, too, but your top pick needs to be a guy who you can rely on for elite production week in and week out. A bad pick early on can doom a season before it starts.
So if you haven’t had your draft yet, let’s go through a possible first-round order for a 12-team, standard scoring league.
Statistical projections will also be listed, so you can have some realistic expectations for what each player can provide. At the end, we’ll look at some humorous options for team names.
First-Round Mock Draft
No. 1: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings Running Back
This first pick could go a few ways, but the best choice is Peterson, who’ll be the clear focal point of the Vikings offense. He basically got 2014 off because of his suspension, which could mean some initial rust, but the rest he got could also give him the fresh legs needed to run wild in 2015.
Statistical projections: 1,390 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 450 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
No. 2: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back
The clear-cut No. 1 in PPR leagues, Bell falls just short of that lofty position in standard formats. He’s a valuable dual-threat halfback who’ll pile up the points, but a prolific Steelers passing attack led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant should leave him just below Peterson.
Statistical projections: 1,240 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 580 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns
No. 3: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs Running Back
Don’t be too scared by Knile Davis’ 134 carries that cut into Charles’ workload last year. Yes, Davis is a rising running back in the league, but Charles makes too much of his opportunities (at least five yards per carry in each of his NFL seasons) to fall off the fantasy map. The fact that game manager Alex Smith is still under center also helps the veteran’s cause.
Statistical projections: 1,220 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 400 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns
No. 4: Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers Running Back
Lacy is a special talent, so special that not even the best quarterback in the NFL (Aaron Rodgers) can spoil his status as one of the top fantasy running backs. The 25-year-old’s punishing running style is fun to watch and should lead him to another statistically great season.
Statistical projections: 1,260 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 390 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
No. 5: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks Running Back
Lynch is 29 years old, has four straight seasons of at least 280 carries and now has to compete with new tight end Jimmy Graham for red-zone touches. Those are the points of concern, but we also have to consider his remarkable skil set and consistency (four consecutive 12-plus touchdown seasons) before dropping him too far.
Statistical projections: 1,210 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
No. 6: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears Running Back
Like Lynch, Forte is 29 years old and has been a bell cow for the past few years. He’s accumulated 3,779 yards from scrimmage in the past two years, but his workload may be slightly reduced under new head coach John Fox.
Statistical projections: 1,130 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, 670 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns
No. 7: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver
You can call Brown “Mr. Reliable,” as he’s been a model of consistency over the past couple of seasons.
His rapport with Roethlisberger is amazing, and that should continue as the Steelers continue to put pressure on their opponents with an amazing offensive attack.
Statistical projections: 1,680 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 20 rushing yards
No. 8: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots Tight End
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see Tom Brady’s four-game suspension as a huge factor in Gronkowski‘s fantasy value. When second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lines up as Brady’s replacement for a month, he’ll be looking to Gronk, far and away the Pats’ best receiver, as his security blanket. And, of course, we all know Gronk will kill it when Brady returns.
Statistical projections: 1,140 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns
No. 9: C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos Running Back
Anderson answered the bell at the end of 2014 when Peyton Manning struggled passing the ball, rushing for 648 yards and eight touchdowns over the Broncos’ final six regular-season games. That production won’t hold up during 2015 as Manning returns to form and Denver continues to utilize its backups, but Anderson will still rack up nice point totals.
Statistical projections: 1,130 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 390 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns
No. 10: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills Running Back
If you’re someone who likes living on the edge, McCoy is your guy. The Bills’ below-average offensive line is a cause for concern, as is Buffalo’s quarterback situation. Shady should see several eight-man boxes this season in his inaugural Bills campaign, but he’ll also get a heavy workload; it’s up to you to decide which of those factors matters more.
Statistical projections: 1,310 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 220 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
No. 11: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver
Bryant is one of the safer options at this point in the draft—he’s nearly a lock for double-digit receiving touchdowns as Tony Romo’s favorite target, plus the Cowboys’ running game is worse than it was last year with DeMarco Murray gone.
Statistical projections: 1,400 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns
No. 12: DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles Running Back
Murray, like McCoy, is entering a totally different situation and should be seen as a boom-or-bust candidate. The 2014 rushing leader has an injury-riddled history in the NFL and his breakout campaign included much better stats than he’d ever produced before. He’ll also have Ryan Mathews breathing down his neck for carries.
Statistical projections: 1,180 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 240 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
Top Team Names
A creative, witty team name sends a message to the other team owners in the league: You mean business, but you also know that fantasy football is, first and foremost, supposed to be fun. Here are some options to consider, if you haven’t already come up with your moniker:
You Sankeyed My Battleship
Calvin and Cobbs
You Winston, You Lose Some
For Whom Odell Tolls
ABC, Easy as RGIII
Feel free to list your favorite team names in the comment section below.
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