Fantasy Football Mock Draft
The sports world has been turned upside down thanks to the Voldemort of diseases (it that shall not be named). Football, however, has been a light in the darkness of late. Tom Brady is a Buccaneer, DeAndre Hopkins is a Cardinal, Stefon Diggs is a Bill, Kenyan Drake is the main man in Arizona’s backfield and Hayden Hurst might be a thing now.
It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s a nice distraction and it’s an opportune time to start thinking about fantasy drafts. With that, here’s who I’m initially looking at in the first round heading into the 2020 season. As usual, I’m using the standard 12-team format. Opinions are welcome, even incorrect ones.
*Statistics were gleaned from FF Today and Next Gen Stats*
RB Christian McCaffrey
Last Season: PPR RB1 (471.2 points) | 29.4 PPG
Not since 2003 has an overall RB1 repeated the feat (Priest Holmes), but there’s no one I’m picking ahead of McCaffrey right now – especially not in PPR formats.
A bevy of statistics can be utilized to prove McCaffrey’s dominance in his third year, but the following is one of my favorites: his scoring output in PPR leagues (446.4 through 16 weeks) was greater than Chris Carson and Le’Veon Bell COMBINED (443).
He had 143.9 more PPR points than the PPR RB2 – Aaron Jones. That difference was more than David Johnson’s output all season (143.5).
Furthermore, it was the most PPR points for a running back in a single season since LaDainian Tomlinson’s historic 2006 season (474 PPR points).
For the icing on the cake, his receiving numbers alone would have made him the PPR WR13. Cam Newton may be gone, but Teddy Bridgewater is a capable starter. The QB change won’t keep me from taking McCaffrey first overall.
WR Michael Thomas
Last Season: PPR WR1 (374.6 points)
If McCaffrey hadn’t put up such gaudy numbers, we’d be talking about Thomas as the first overall pick for 2020 fantasy drafts. For the uninitiated, Thomas broke the single-season receptions record with 149 catches; that’s 9.3 catches per game, people. He also led the league in receiving yards (1,725) with nine touchdowns on his way to Offensive Player of the Year honors.
While not as impressive as the gap between McCaffrey and Aaron Jones, Thomas did score north of 100 more PPR points than the WR2 (Chris Godwin). Drew Brees is aging and doesn’t have the arm he used to, but that clearly doesn’t negatively impact Thomas’s output. Regression will inevitably have its day, but Thomas is as safe as they come at his position.
RB Saquon Barkley
Last Season: PPR RB10 (244.1 points) | 18.8 PPG
We were spoiled by Barkley’s inaugural professional football outing. He fell back down to Earth the second time around. Some might call it a sophomore slump; he did tally 140 fewer PPR points, after all. The Penn State alum ostensibly made it impossible for him not to regress after his record-breaking rookie year that saw him become the third rookie ever to eclipse 2,000 total yards. He also broke the single-season rookie running back record for catches (91).
Let’s face it, 2018 may very well end up as Barkley’s career year. And that’s OK, but he was hampered by a high-ankle sprain last season that limited his full potential and kept him on the sideline for three GAMES. Even so, Barkley posted the seventh-highest PPR points per game among running backs (18.8) – better than guys like Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb.
I’m taking a chance on one of the most talented players in the world early in the first round again. Heck, depending on how ADPs shape out we may be able to get him at a bargain.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Last Season: PPR RB3 (311.1 points) | 19.5 PPG
Elliott might have constructed the quietest RB3 crusade in the history of fantasy football. Seemingly most of the Cowboys’ success was credited to Dak Prescott’s breakout year, but Zeke stayed healthy, stayed out of trouble and did his thing. For the first time in his four-year career, he played all 16 games.
There will be new blood on the sideline in Dallas with the hiring of Mike McCarthy as the new head coach. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will remain the play-caller, though, which favors Elliott and the rest of the offense.
Zeke’s fantasy finishes (PPR) since 2015 are as follows: RB2, RB12 (10 games), RB5 and RB3. He’s a perennial threat to win the rushing title and one could make the argument that there is no safer selection in all of fantasy football.
RB Dalvin Cook
Last Season: PPR RB6 (292.4 points) | 20.9 PPG
Finally, Cook played the way we’ve all been wanting him to since the Vikings selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft. He suffered a torn ACL his rookie year and fought through nagging hamstring ailments that cost him five games in 2018. He did battle a shoulder injury in 2019 that cost him two games, but we’ll certainly take 14 games from the Cookie Monster.
His 21.2 PPR points per game were second at the position (behind McCaffrey’s 29.3). Cook saw a career high 63 targets, 53 catches and 519 yards and could be even more involved in the passing game if the Vikings don’t address wide receiver after losing Stefon Diggs. The former Florida State standout might be the riskiest player listed here, but the risk is worth the ceiling.
RB Alvin Kamara
Last Season: PPR RB9 (245.5 points) | 17.8 PPG
I was taken aback when I came to the realization that Kamara was actually the PPR RB9 last season. It honestly felt like he didn’t do much of anything; that’s mainly because we were so spoiled by his electric play in his first two campaigns. A lack of touchdowns was the culprit for Kamara’s regression a year ago as he found the end zone six total times compared to 13 and 18 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Coincidentally, he’s caught 81 passes in each of his first three years, but the receiving yards and touchdowns have gone down each time. Lots of dump-offs, folks. But you know what? Boring is OK in the fantasy realm. I hate to use boring and Kamara together, but I digress. Kamara is in the top-five conversation.
RB Leonard Fournette
Last Season: PPR RB7 (259.4 points) | 17.3 PPG
It was a weird third season for the former LSU standout, but ultimately he and D.J. Chark were really the only fantasy bright spots on a largely underachieving Jaguars squad. Fournette tallied career marks in rushing yards (1,152), receptions (76) and receiving yards (522), but managed a meager three touchdowns. Nonetheless, he is one of the few legitimate workhorse running backs remaining in the NFL.
Fournette and company might have been anticipating a coaching change, but Doug Marrone is staying. Fournette, for one, should be content given his exponentially increased usage in the passing game. His 76 catches and 100 targets weren’t just career highs; they dwarfed his receiving numbers from his first two seasons.
It’s a confounded mystery as to how he didn’t find the end zone more frequently; three touchdowns on 341 touches is an almost impossible feat. Positive regression is in order for the focal point of the Jags’ offense – just another reason to take a chance on him in the first round.
WR Davante Adams
Last Season: PPR WR24 (212.7 points) | 17.7 PPG
A mulligan is in order for Adams’ 2019 performance after he suffered through turf toe that forced him out of four meetings. When he was healthy, he was the only viable threat in Green Bay’s receiving arsenal. Despite being sidelined for those four games he posted 83 catches (second-most of his career) and 997 yards (tied for second-most of his career). The one major drawback was the five touchdowns – a far cry from the 11.6 he averaged over the previous three seasons. One wonders why Adams didn’t score more considering the relatively poor play from his counterparts. We’ll blame Aaron Jones and the anomaly that was his 19 total touchdowns.
That being said, the Packers are in the market for another playmaker at wide receiver. Ideally, that would take some pressure off Adams, Rodgers and the rest of the offense, but Rodgers will look Adams’ way frequently no matter who else he has the option to throw to.
WR Julio Jones
Last Season: PPR WR3 (274.1 points) | 18.3 PPG
Michael Thomas dominated the attention among wide receivers during the 2019 campaign, and deservedly so, but Jones needs more credit. His career average of 96.2 yards per game is tops in NFL history and he became the fastest player to reach 12,000 career receiving yards.
Sure, the touchdowns leave something to be desired compared to other star receivers, especially since he sees such a high percentage of Atlanta’s targets. Still, the receptions and yardage make up for it. His 1,394 yards were second behind Thomas and the lowest Jones has tallied since he played just five games in 2013. In that span he has not finished worse than PPR WR7, including back-to-back WR2 finishes. Jones might see even more targets in 2020 with Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman gone, although I do like the Hayden Hurst addition.
Anyway, Adams is listed ahead of Jones here, but either one can be selected as the second wide receiver in 2020 drafts.
WR Mike Evans
Last Season: PPR WR15 (232.7 points) | 17.9 PPG
Is it just me or does Mike Evans fly under the radar every year? Consistency is the name of the game with Julio Jones (and many of these players); it’s the name of the game for Evans, too. I’m not saying Evans is Jones, but the man has tallied at least 1,000 yards in each of his six seasons while managing fewer than five touchdowns just once. Only two iterations have been of the 16-game version.
Even despite missing three contests a year ago he gained over 1,100 yards and found the end zone eight times. That was with teammate Chris Godwin breaking out to boot. Evans is one of three wide receivers (the other two being on this list) with at least 115 targets each year since 2014. His career-low actually came in 2019 at 118 targets.
It’s not like Godwin will damper Evans’ value either. Evans and Godwin were fourth and second, respectively, in PPR points per game last season. While I don’t see that feat repeating itself with Tom Brady at the helm, I do think they can both attain top-five status.
Bottom line: Evans will get his no matter who he’s playing with or who his quarterback is. Take him comfortably toward the back half of Round 1.
RB Derrick Henry
Last Season: PPR RB5 (294.6 points) | 19.6 PPG
King Henry is the talk of the town following his otherworldly performance last postseason. His dominance didn’t commence in the postseason, though. He progressively excelled as the season aged, culminating in a surprising Tennessee playoff run.
Many of us were guilty of viewing Henry as a one-hit-wonder after his breakout 2018 campaign. The main drawback in his game is his lack of involvement as a pass-catcher. He did, however, set career highs in receptions (18), receiving yards (206) and receiving touchdowns (2) in 2019. Those numbers don’t jump off the page compared to his counterparts listed above, but it’s something.
He’ll get him as a runner. It was a banner year for Henry in that regard, too, as he posted career highs in rush attempts (271), rushing yards (1,329) and rushing touchdowns (13). What makes Henry’s success more impressive is that he faced eight-plus defenders in the box on nearly 35% of his snaps (sixth-most among running backs) and still managed 4.9 yards per carry.
The recency bias could understandably push Henry’s stock too high, but he’s a physical specimen who is one of the few remaining featured backs in the league. There are many who will draft him higher than this.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
Last Season: PPR WR5 (268.5 points) | 17.9 PPG
I, for one, have taken Hopkins for granted after what was seemingly a down year for one of the most consistent wideouts in the land. It was a “down year” compared to his last two iterations as Mr. Glue Hands saw his least amount of targets (150) since 2014 and a career-low in yards per game (77.7).
Make no mistake, though, Hopkins is elite and still only 27 years of age. His fantasy stock might take a little bit of a hit with a more crowded receiving corps in Arizona (who unequivocally stole Hopkins from the Texans), but he’ll be Kyler Murray’s go-to guy in what will be a fun offense to watch.
I am tempted to replace Hopkins with someone like Godwin, and this pick comes with some bias since I’ve had Hopkins on several of my teams over the years, but I have no problem using a late first-round pick on the Cardinals’ new weapon.
Next up: Chris Godwin, Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon, Todd Gurley, Tyreek Hill