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Fantasy Football 2019: Examining Expert Mock Drafts After Preseason Week 3

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2019

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs for a 78-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Heading into Week 4 of the NFL preseason, we have a fairly good idea of how teams will look in 2019. The back ends of rosters remain unsettled, but many of the starters and key roles have already been established.

Some notable injuries and surprise retirements have revealed themselves as well.

For fantasy football managers, this means the fantasy landscape is about as clear as it's going to be ahead of the regular season. How does it look? We're here to find out by examining some expert mock drafts from around the web.

    

Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley

Round 1

1. Team 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

2. Team 2: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

3. Team 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

4. Team 4: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

5. Team 5: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

6. Team 6: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

7. Team 7: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

8. Team 8: Julio, WR, Atlanta Falcons

9. Team 9: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

10. Team 10: Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

Bleacher Report's own Zach Buckley put this mock together utilizing the FantasyPros draft simulator. Probably the most notable takeaway from the first round here is that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is still trending as a top-five selection.

This seems to indicate folks are still confident Elliott will return in time to be fantasy-relevant. It's entirely possible, as sitting out the entire season would accomplish little for the running back—without an accrued season, he'll be no closer to free agency.

The prospect of not having Elliott until the second half of the season doesn't appear to faze Cowboys owner Jerry Jones:

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't seem unnerved on @1053thefan with possibility team could start 2019 without RB Ezekiel Elliott. "We've got a marathon here. We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we're in the dog days of the season."

Should it worry you? That depends on how valuable you view your first-round selection. Having Elliott back for a fantasy playoff push would be great. Not having him for a large chunk to start the season, however, could put you too far out to make that push.

Passing on a player like DeAndre Hopkins or Davante Adams to gamble on Elliott would be a very risky move.

     

ESPN's Tom Carpenter

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

2. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

5. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

6. Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

8. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

9. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

10. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

ESPN's Tom Carpenter compiled this 10-team mock draft, which was actually selected by 10 ESPN employees.

Despite being a point-per-reception (PPR) mock, the first round was dominated by running backs. Again, we see Elliott as a top-five selection, and again, we see Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey kicking off Round 1.

What's notable here is that both David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell have gone before any of the top wide receivers. In a PPR mock, a guy like Hopkins, who had 115 receptions last season, holds a ton of value. Yet, two runners looking for bounce-back seasons are being valued more.

The biggest reason is that both Johnson and Bell should be every-down backs in their respective offenses. Bell has been away from football for a year but was a PPR machine in 2017, while Johnson could be in the right offense to become a fantasy stud once again.

"Keep in mind that [Kliff] Kingsbury's last team for a full season at Tech averaged 35 rushes a game," Peter King of NBC Sports wrote. "Johnson will not go hungry, in the running or passing game."

Johnson and Bell are two more viable options if you're not comfortable betting on Elliott.

    

Bleacher Report's Matt Camp

1. RB Saquon Barkley, NYG

2. RB Alvin Kamara, NO

3. RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR

4. WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

5. WR Davante Adams, GB

6. RB David Johnson, ARI

7. WR Julio Jones, ATL

8. RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL

9. TE Travis Kelce, KC

10. WR Michael Thomas, NO

11. WR Odell Beckham Jr., CLE

12. RB James Conner, PIT

Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

Bleacher Report's Matt Camp put together this 12-team, PPR mock, also using FantasyPros draft simulator. Of note here is that both Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. have crept into Round 1—possibly a product of having two additional teams.

Thomas makes perfect sense as a first-round target. He is Drew Brees' clear No. 1 target, and he's coming off a 125-catch campaign. The New Orleans Saints' addition of tight end Jared Cook could cause him to see fewer targets in 2019, but he's still a premier fantasy receiver.

Things aren't as certain for Beckham. The Cleveland Browns' new No. 1 receiver is an elite talent. However, he'll be competing for catches with the likes of Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and David Njoku.

This isn't to say Beckham won't be a fine fantasy receiver, but he may not prove worthy of a first-round selection.

It's also worth noting Elliott has dropped outside of the top five here. Drafting him in Round 1 is still risky, but drafting him in the top half—where you'll wait more than a full round to pick again—is even riskier.