Fantasy Football 2020: Early Mock Draft for Next Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2020

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

With the 2019 NFL season complete, it's probably time for football fanatics to figure out new hobbies to hold them over until teams return to the gridiron this fall.

Here's one idea for a pastime: Just pretend it isn't the offseason and start gearing up for your next fantasy draft already.

Maybe you're lucky enough to need to plan for your championship defense. Or, for the rest of us, it's time to figure out how to dethrone that person and claim the title for ourselves.

Fortunately, any time that isn't the actual fantasy football season can instead be draft preparation/mock draft season. So, let's get the ball rolling for 2020 with an early lock at the projected top-10 picks in a point-per-reception league and the rationale behind each selection.


Early 2020 Fantasy Mock First Round

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

Do we really need to explain this one? Christian McCaffrey was silly-dominant this past season, totaling 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 combined touchdowns.

Carolina will look different next season: new coach (Matt Rhule), new offensive coordinator (Joe Brady), new tight end (happy trails, Greg Olsen!) and maybe a new quarterback.

But one thing that will stay constant is McCaffrey's massive involvement in the offense. He has his own tier at the top of the fantasy rankings.


2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

The consensus No. 1 fantasy option ahead of last season, Saquon Barkley suffered through a frustrating, injury-riddled 2019. He didn't deliver No. 1-pick value, but for someone who only played 13 games, I think you'll take 1,441 scrimmage yards and eight scores.

With a summer to get Daniel Jones comfortable and upgrade the weaponry around him, Barkley should have the support to engineer another brilliant fantasy effort.


3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

In a PPR format, Michael Thomas could have a case for No. 1-pick consideration. He caught 149 passes last season. No one else reached 117, and only five other players were even targeted 149-plus times.

He snags everything in his airspace, too. More than 80 percent of the 185 throws that came his way wound up in his hands.

There's a touch of risk without clarity on Drew Brees' future, but Thomas is such an elite pas-catcher that he could justify this draft position no matter who's under center.


4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

If you wondered how a healthy Dalvin Cook would look, you got your answer in 2019: awesome.

He didn't quite make it through the full campaign, but 14 outings were enough for him to post 1,654 scrimmage yards and 13 scores. The Vikings may not lean as heavily on him in the rushing game as they did last season, but he's good enough in the pass game that he could make up the difference there.


5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys love Ezekiel Elliott. They not only chose to extend him while letting Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper enter free agency, but they also showered the two-time champion with a six-year, $90 million extension.

There might be better receiving backs, but Elliott is a workhorse in every sense. This season, he eclipsed 300 carries for the third time in four years, rushing for 1,357 yards and 12 scores.


6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Want wow-worthy statistics on Alvin Kamara? He's had exactly 81 receptions in each of his three seasons and owns a career average of 5.0 yards per carry. He's a big play waiting to happen, and he theoretically offers top-three upside.

So, why is he outside of our top five? Because there's a little too much fluctuation in his week-by-week involvement. He could get 20-plus touches, but some weeks he'll hover around 10. Oh, he's also heading into the final season of a cheap rookie contract, so there are risks of a holdout, too.


7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins has an otherworldly catch radius and a good quarterback who isn't afraid to let it fly. That gives him the rare, elite combination of a towering ceiling and a high floor.

He's going to be really good, but he just may not be top-half-of-the-first-round great. He was only the fifth-highest scoring receiver in fantasy this past season, when he had 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns.


8. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

If Davante Adams is on the field, chances are Aaron Rodgers is looking his direction. In only 12 games this past season, the wide receiver was targeted 127 times, catching 83 of them for 997 yards and five touchdowns.

But Adams wasn't the touchdown machine he'd been in prior years (35 over the previous three seasons), and he could have competition for touches if the Packers spend their first-round pick on a pass-catcher.


9. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

For everything that went wrong with the Browns last season, Nick Chubb was by far the biggest bright spot. The sophomore rusher turned the NFL's third-most carries (298) into its second-most rushing yards (1,494) and found the end zone eight times on the ground.

His rushing involvement props up his floor, but his limited target share caps his ceiling. He only has 56 catches on 78 targets over his first two seasons, and he only had multiple receptions in two of his final seven outings.


10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

The Titans are clearly huge fans of Derrick Henry. They tasked him with a league-high 303 carries this past season, and he responded with a league-leading 1,540 yards. He scored 16 touchdowns. He also missed one game, and none of this counts his damage done in the playoffs (446 yards and two more scores in three games).

But now Tennessee must put a price tag on that affection or watch him walk in free agency.

While any team that signs Henry will clearly want to feature him, other teams may not assign him such a heavy workload. Throw in the fact he's lightly used in the passing game (57 receptions in four seasons), and there's more risk than his red-hot surge through the stretch run would suggest.