Fantasy Football 2020 Mock Draft: Full 12-Team PPR Picks as Training Camps Open
NFL training camps are starting to ramp up across the country, and that means fantasy football draft season is doing the same.
A major part of having a successful draft lies in doing your homework, and one of the most valuable things you can do is participate in and examine mock drafts to see who is landing where and identify potential values.
In an effort to assist you in that regard, I recently gathered 11 other fantasy drafters together for a 12-team draft. It was a fairly standard setup: 16 rounds, PPR scoring, start two running backs, three wide receivers and a "flex" player.
I was awarded the No. 1 spot, which is usually a good thing. But as you'll see, if you're dealing with a skilled group of drafters, having the No. 1 pick can be as much a curse as a blessing.
Here's a round-by-round review of how that draft played out, beginning with a selection that should surprise no one.
1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
1.02: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
1.03: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
1.04: Michael Thomas, WR, NOS
1.05: Alvin Kamara, RB, NOS
1.06: Davante Adams, WR, GB
1.07: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
1.08: Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN
1.09: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
1.10: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
1.11: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KC
1.12: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
Kansas City Reaches
In most respects, the first round of this draft is as unremarkable as most first rounds are. It was heavy on the running back spot, but there were a pair of questionable selections—both involving players from the defending Super Bowl champions.
Mahomes is obviously a fantastic player, and rookie Edwards-Helaire got a sizable boost in fantasy value when Damien Williams opted out. But to justify this draft slot, Mahomes has to finish as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback by a mile, and Edwards-Helaire has to finish inside the top 10 at the position.
No quarterback is worth a first-round pick in leagues that start just one each week. The "edge" you get at that position isn't worth the deficit you'll find yourself in at running back or wide receiver.
I didn't ask for the first pick in the draft—frankly, I believe the back end of Round 1 (and two picks in the top 15) is where the real value is in 2020.
But in fantasy leagues that award a point for receptions, McCaffrey is an easy call after topping 1,000 yards rushing and receiving a year ago. The Carolina offense will flow through him again this year, and he's a lock for 350-plus touches.
2.01: Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC
2.02: Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
2.03: Kenyan Drake, RB, ARZ
2.04: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARZ
2.05: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
2.06: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
2.07: Josh Jacobs, RB, LV
2.08: Chris Godwin, WR, TB
2.09: Aaron Jones, RB, GB
2.10: Mike Evans, WR, TB
2.11: Travis Kelce, TE, KC
2.12: George Kittle, TE, SF
Sometimes boring isn't such a bad thing.
There isn't a single pick in Round 2 who could be called a reach. There are, however, some nice values. Landing Sanders, Chubb and Jacobs in the middle of Round 2 qualify—especially if you eschew a second-tier back in the first round for an elite receiver.
Round 2 is also when you can expect to see the top two tight ends come off the board in 2020. Once either Kelce or Kittle goes, the other will follow quickly.
There's some risk involved in taking a tight end—any tight end—in the second round. That's especially true given what I did with the first pick in Round 3. But there's something to be said for targeting one at the back of the second if you have a top-three pick.
Combining one of the "big three" running backs with an elite tight end will give your team an edge at a pair of positions right off the bat.
3.01: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
3.02: Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
3.03: Allen Robinson, WR, CHI
3.04: Kenny Golladay, WR, DET
3.05: Leonard Fournette, RB, JAX
3.06: Todd Gurley, RB, ATL
3.07: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
3.08: Adam Thielen, WR, MIN
3.09: D.J. Moore, WR, CAR
3.10: Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
3.11: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE
3.12: Le'Veon Bell, RB, NYJ
Question Mark Time
At some point in every fantasy football draft, the sure things run out. By Round 3 of this draft, that's where we're at.
There are players taken in this round like Fournette and Beckham who could crack the top 10 at their positions and provide a great return on investment. Or Bell could have another down year, or Robinson could be hindered by the offensive struggles in Chicago.
It's here where fantasy leagues are won and lost—after the studs come off the board but before we hit the land of the dart throw.
I don't usually draft a quarterback early. In 2020, I think the value under center lies with being patient. There are quarterbacks being taken outside the top 10 at the position who possess considerable fantasy upside.
But part of the value in mock drafts lies in trying different approaches and strategies. And even were this draft "for real," I sometimes like to mix things up. Variety is the spice of life and all.
Drafting Jackson here puts me in scramble mode at wide receiver and running back, but it could also set me up with a sizable advantage over my opponent at three positions.
The rest of the draft room was not amused by the Jackson pick, and that's a good thing.
4.01: DeVante Parker, WR, MIA
4.02: Melvin Gordon, RB, DEN
4.03: Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
4.04: Chris Carson, RB, SEA
4.05: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
4.06: Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
4.07: Robert Woods, WR, LAR
4.08: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
4.09: Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
4.10: David Johnson, RB, HOU
4.11: Cam Akers, RB, LAR
4.12: James Conner, RB, PIT
Wideouts and Bouncebacks
There were a handful of interesting picks here.
Woods could be a bargain after topping 1,100 yards and finishing as a top-10 PPR option in 2019. Ditto for Cooper, although his penchant for occasionally vanishing and woeful road splits are cause for concern.
In the backfield, there are a number of potential redemption stories. Johnson, Conner and Carson have all shown the ability to post RB1 numbers, but each is also trying to shake off the stink of an injury and/or disappointing season.
Also, if you're looking for a high-end tight end but don't want to pay the Kelce/Kittle premium, Round 4 is the sweet spot for landing Andrews.
Had Johnson been on the board here, I probably would have taken both he and Conner on the 4/5 turn. But when drafting with folks who know their stuff, disappointment becomes something of a running theme.
Conner's 2019 season wasn't a good one, but as recently as two years ago the 25-year-old piled up over 1,400 total yards and finished as a top-10 fantasy option. He also doesn't face significant competition for touches in 2020.
Here's hoping for a rebound.
5.01: Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
5.02: DJ Chark, WR, JAX
5.03: Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
5.04: David Montgomery, RB, CHI
5.05: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
5.06: Raheem Mostert, RB, SF
5.07: Devin Singletary, RB, BUF
5.08: DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
5.09: Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS
5.10: T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
5.11: Mark Ingram, RB, BAL
5.12: James White, RB, NE
Wide Receivers Take Over
Eventually in every fantasy football draft, the paradigm shifts and the wide receivers take control. In this draft it was Round 5.
Those receivers were a mixed bag. There were veterans looking to shake off a down 2019 season like Hilton and youngsters looking to build off solid rookie campaigns like McLaurin and Metcalf.
Of course, running backs weren't ignored. That a part-time back for a team facing multiple questions offensively in 2020 (White) didn't last past the fifth round demonstrates how quickly the position can be depleted in drafts.
If you aren't aggressive at running back, expect to wind up sifting through some less than ideal options.
When you don't take a wide receiver until the fifth round, it creates a dilemma. Do you go for broke and aim for a high-ceiling option or play it safe with a veteran who has a higher fantasy floor?
With a bit of good fortune, hopefully Allen can be a bit of both.
The uncertainty at quarterback in Los Angeles is cause for concern, but Allen ranked sixth among receivers in PPR fantasy points in 2019 and has averaged over 100 catches and 1,200 yards per season the past three years.
6.01: Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF
6.02: Marquise Brown, WR, BAL
6.03: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
6.04: Darren Waller, TE, LV
6.05: D'Andre Swift, RB, DET
6.06: Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET
6.07: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
6.08: Ronald Jones, RB, TB
6.09: Evan Engram, TE, NYG
6.10: Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI
6.11: J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL
6.12: Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN
Clear as Mud
The sixth round of this draft has a little something for everyone, but fully half the round was taken up by running backs who face uncertainty in 2020.
The group's poster guys may well be Johnson and Swift, who went back-to-back.
Swift was the highest-rated rookie running back on many draft boards before being taken by the Lions in the second round. But with no minicamp, OTAs or preseason in 2020, how long it will take him to take over as the Lions' lead back? Johnson has flashed considerable talent over his two years in the NFL, but he hasn't been able to stay on the field.
Whether it's Detroit, Miami, Tampa or Washington, how the league's more unsettled backfield situations shake out is going to have a massive impact on fantasy leagues in 2020.
The cost of going with a tight end and quarterback with back-to-back picks in Rounds 2 and 3 is starting to sink in by this point—and it stings.
However, while the situation at running back is—let's go with less than ideal—it's not as bad at wide receiver. That's an indicator of the depth available at the position in 2020.
The return of A.J. Green has some folks down on Boyd, but he has topped 1,000 yards and been a solid fantasy WR2 the past two years. With better QB play from Joe Burrow, a third straight 1,000-yard campaign isn't hard to imagine.
7.01: Jordan Howard, RB, MIA
7.02: Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
7.03: Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, TB
7.04: Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
7.05: Michael Gallup, WR, DAL
7.06: Julian Edelman, WR, NE
7.07: A.J. Green, WR, CIN
7.08: Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
7.09: Kyler Murray, QB, ARZ
7.10: Derrius Guice, RB, WAS
7.11: Will Fuller V, WR, HOU
7.12: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
There are two main themes to this seventh round.
The first is that Round 7 was the first real run on the quarterback position. Four signal-callers were selected in Round 7, including three options capable of gaining yards with their arm and legs.
If your heart is set on a top-seven QB, be prepared to draft one by now.
The second is that even outside the top 75 there are some wide receivers available who possess considerable upside. Gallup had a coming-out party in 2019, while Edelman and Green have shown the ability to post high-end fantasy numbers.
Right around here is where the second-guessing of my decision to draft Lamar Jackson kicked into overdrive during the draft. Not only did a few quarterbacks come off the board here who are more than capable of top-five production, but the running backs left do not inspire a ton of confidence.
If Howard seizes the lead-back role for the Dolphins and can come close to recapturing his form from two years ago, my squad should be OK. Howard tallied almost 1,100 total yards in 2018 and ranked as a top-20 fantasy running back in PPR formats.
However, if we see the 2019 Howard again this year and/or he loses lead-back duties to Matt Breida, then I have problems.
8.01: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
8.02: Tyler Higbee, TE, LAR
8.03: Marvin Jones, WR, DET
8.04: Matt Breida, RB, MIA
8.05: Hayden Hurst, TE, ATL
8.06: Sony Michel, RB, NE
8.07: Hunter Henry, TE, LAC
8.08: T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET
8.09: Justin Jackson, RB, LAC
8.10: Josh Allen, QB, BUF
8.11: Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU
8.12: Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN
TE Run and the Steal of the Draft (?)
This round featured a mini-run on the tight end position—beginning with Higbee, four out of seven picks were second- and third-tier tight ends. If one of those players finishes inside the top five at the position, the team that hits on that lottery ticket should be in good shape.
The eighth round also features what may have been the biggest steal of the draft. Cooks has had his share of injury issues, but he also has four 1,000-yard seasons in six years and should serve as Deshaun Watson's top target so long as he's healthy.
Back in the long-ago days of 2018, Cooks was a top-15 PPR receiver, so getting him this late is theft.
I'm not saying I'm bitter about missing out on Cooks by one stinking rotten pick, but I blocked the person who drafted him on Twitter and they are dead to me.
I'm kidding, of course—about blocking them on Twitter.
Still, I'm reasonably pleased to get Lindsay this late. Sure, the Broncos brought in Melvin Gordon in free agency, but Lindsay topped 1,000 rushing yards in both of his NFL seasons and outplayed Gordon in just about every way imaginable in 2019.
Reports of his fantasy demise in 2020 are being exaggerated.
9.01: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, NO
9.02: Christian Kirk, WR, ARZ
9.03: Tony Pollard, RB, DAL
9.04: Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT
9.05: Drew Brees, QB, NO
9.06: Jalen Reagor, WR, PHI
9.07: Darius Slayton, WR, NYG
9.08: Tom Brady, QB, TB
9.09: Deebo Samuel, WR, SF
9.10: Tevin Coleman, RB, SF
9.11: Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
9.12: Latavius Murray, RB, NO
Handcuffs and Dice-Rolls
The ninth round was a menagerie of backup running backs, aging veterans and unproven pass-catchers—with a couple of notable exceptions.
The first came with the third pick of the round. That manager purchased insurance on his Ezekiel Elliott investment with the selection of Pollard. The 23-year-old has shown the ability to carry the load when called on in the past, and in this oddest of offseasons, some bet-hedging isn't a bad idea.
Then, at 9.09, Samuel finally came off the board. He was a top 15 wide receiver in the fantasy playoffs last year and entered the offseason as San Francisco's top wideout, but a Jones fracture in his foot has his Week 1 availability in doubt.
Still, outside the top 100 picks, Samuel's upside is well worth the minimal investment.
I actually considered Samuel with the first pick of the round, but there was a wide receiver available who could offer equally impressive upside without the injury risk.
In a 2019 season split between Denver and San Francisco, Sanders hauled in 66 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns, finishing inside WR3 territory in PPR formats. Now, the 33-year-old is another year removed from his Achilles tear and playing on a more potent offense in New Orleans.
Provided that Sanders stays healthy, a top-25 fantasy finish is well within the range of potential outcomes.
10.01: Mike Williams, WR, LAC
10.02: Carson Wentz, QB, PHI
10.03: Jamison Crowder, WR, NYJ
10.04: Zack Moss, RB, BUF
10.05: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
10.06: Rob Gronkowski, TE, TB
10.07: Matthew Stafford, QB, DET
10.08: Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
10.09: Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
10.10: Jared Cook, TE, NO
10.11: Golden Tate, WR, NYG
10.12: Sammy Watkins, WR, KC
Many drafters think that by the time you hit the double-digit rounds, every pick is essentially a crapshoot. There's some truth to that, but there were at least a couple of picks in Round 10 who stand out.
If you like to wait to draft a quarterback, Stafford should be close to the top of your wish list. His eight missed games last year were his first since 2011, and he was on pace for almost 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and a top-five fantasy finish when he got hurt in 2019.
A few picks before Stafford was drafted, Crowder was selected. He's not going to post jaw-dropping numbers or single-handedly win you a week, but his career-high 78 catches for 833 yards and six scores in 2019 was quietly good for a WR26 finish.
A high-end WR3 in the 10th round? Yes, please.
I would have liked to have landed Crowder's high fantasy floor in this round, but it became plainly evident early in this draft that these jerks were not going to let me have what I wanted.
After going completely nuts in the season opener last year, Watkins was quiet for most of the rest of the regular season. But in three playoff games, he hauled in 14 passes for 288 yards and a score.
He's the No. 2 wide receiver for the NFL's most potent passing game, and while it seems like he's been around forever, he is still only 27. Even if he misses a few games, he has an excellent shot to outplay this asking price.
11.01: Marlon Mack, RB, IND
11.02: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SF
11.03: Noah Fant, TE, DEN
11.04: Austin Hooper, TE, CLE
11.05: Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN
11.06: Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN
11.07: Nyheim Hines, RB, IND
11.08: Duke Johnson, RB, HOU
11.09: Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA
11.10: Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR
11.11: Henry Ruggs III, WR, LV
11.12: Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
12.01: Jack Doyle, TE, IND
12.02: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND
12.03: John Brown, WR, BUF
12.04: Denzel Mims, WR, NYJ
12.05: DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI
12.06: N'Keal Harry, WR, NE
12.07: Anthony Miller, WR, CHI
12.08: Boston Scott, RB, PHI
12.09: Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, PIT
12.10: Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI
12.11: DeAndre Washington, RB, KC
12.12: Preston Williams, WR, MIA
13.01: Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
13.02: Breshad Perriman, WR, NYJ
13.03: Jerick McKinnon, RB, SF
13.04: Tee Higgins, WR, CIN
13.05: Daniel Jones, QB, NYG
13.06: Chase Edmonds, RB, ARZ
13.07: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
13.08: Robby Anderson, WR, CAR
13.09: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense/Special Teams
13.10: Curtis Samuel, WR, CAR
13.11: Devonta Freeman, RB, FA
13.12: Jared Goff, QB, LAR
Sleeper Alert, Part 1
It happened with little fanfare last year, but from Week 12 on last year, Gesicki tallied as many PPR fantasy points per game as Mark Andrews. If you get frozen out of the big names at the position in 2020 or simply want to wait at tight end, Gesicki is a great option.
Sleeper Alert, Part 2
It's a small sample size, but over a five-week span from Week 11 to Week 15 last year, Anthony Miller ranked eighth in PPR fantasy points among wideouts. The Bears badly need someone to step up opposite Allen Robinson, and the arrival of Nick Foles will hopefully bring with it improvement under center. Give the third-year pro a look late.
This late in a draft, it's all about trying to identify upside. But my Round 11 pick of Mack was all about the now. Most fantasy drafters expect Jonathan Taylor to supplant Mack atop the depth chart in Indy in short order, but Mack is coming off a 1,000-yard season.
The next two picks are much more speculative. Preston Williams was quite the find as a rookie in Miami before tearing his ACL halfway through the season. Goedert is stuck behind Zach Ertz on the depth chart, but he showed what he's capable of if the snaps are there.
Both could play big roles for my team in 2020 or wind up on the waiver wire by Week 6.
14.01: Joshua Kelley, RB, LAC
14.02: Jace Sternberger, TE, GB
14.03: Blake Jarwin, TE, DAL
14.04: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
14.05: San Francisco 49ers Defense/Special Teams
14.06: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARZ
14.07: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
14.08: Greg Olsen, TE, SEA
14.09: Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA
14.10: Buffalo Bills Defense/Special Teams
14.11: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, JAX
14.12: Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
15.01: Baltimore Ravens Defense/Special Teams
15.02: Kansas City Chiefs Defense/Special Teams
15.03: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
15.04: New Orleans Saints Defense/Special Teams
15.05: New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams
15.06: Los Angeles Chargers Defense/Special Teams
15.07: Los Angeles Rams Defense/Special Teams
15.08: Cam Newton, QB, NE
15.09: A.J. Dillon, RB, GB
15.10: Chicago Bears Defense/Special Teams
15.11: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense/Special Teams
15.12: Denver Broncos Defense/Special Teams
16.01: Justin Tucker, PK, BAL
16.02: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
16.03: Harrison Butker, PK, KC
16.04: Wil Lutz, PK, NO
16.05: Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS
16.06: Zane Gonzalez, PK, ARZ
16.07: Greg Zuerlein, PK, DAL
16.08: Robbie Gould, PK, SF
16.09: Ka'imi Fairbairn, PK, HOU
16.10: Younghoe Koo, PK, ATL
16.11: Dan Bailey, PK, MIN
16.12: Jake Elliott, PK, PHI
Sleeper Alert, Part 3
You know it's a weird year when Roethlisberger can be called a "sleeper." But as the 17th quarterback selected in this draft, that's exactly what Big Ben is.
Yes, Roethlisberger is 38 years old and coming off a season in which he played just two games before injuring his elbow. But he has plenty of talent around him, and in his last full season, he paced the NFL with 5,129 passing yards and was a top-five fantasy quarterback.
Making Me Proud
Want a good barometer for the level of competition in most fantasy drafts? Take a gander at how many managers waste valuable draft capital on defense or a kicker before the last couple of rounds.
In that respect, this is a savvy bunch indeed. All of three defenses were drafted before the 15th round, at which point there was an extended run at the position. Not a single kicker was drafted before the 16th and final round, and two teams did not draft one at all.
In fairness, no one said they had to. If your league has a waiver pass before Week 1, an argument can be made for waiting until then to acquire a place-kicker.
I would have loved to land Roethlisberger as Lamar Jackson's backup, but I'll settle for Mayfield, who is a good bet to rebound in his third season and draws a favorable fantasy matchup during Jackson's bye week.
I'm generally a "streamer" on defense—I'll pick a team with a good matchup to open the season and then use the waiver wire as a de facto bench at the position. But the Ravens are a potential every-week starter after making a number of quality additions in the offseason.
As for Elliott, Philadelphia opens the season against Washington, and Washington stinks. I'll worry about Week 2 when it gets here.
Lamar Jackson (3.01), Baker Mayfield (14.12)
So long as Jackson is healthy, there's only one other quarterback in the league (Patrick Mahomes) whose fantasy production will be consistently comparable. With any luck, Mayfield will start exactly one game for my team—in Week 8 against the Raiders in Cleveland.
Christian McCaffrey (1.01), James Conner (4.12), Jordan Howard (7.01), Phillip Lindsay (8.12), Marlon Mack (11.01)
McCaffrey may not match last year's production, but he's going to be a monster again in 2020. Given how long I waited to draft my RB2, Conner is a solid addition at the back end of Round 4. Howard, Linday and Mack are the question marks here. If a couple of those backs wind up leading their team in touches at the position, I'll be fine. If all three are relegated to second-fiddle status, not so much.
Keenan Allen (5.01), Tyler Boyd (6.12), Emmanuel Sanders (9.01), Sammy Watkins (10.12), Preston Williams (12.12)
My wide receivers are almost always the weak spot on my roster. It's usually because I load up at running back early. Still, if Allen can come close to his production from the last few years, Boyd can back up 2018 and 2019, and one of the back three steps up as a reasonably dependable third starter, then I should be OK. The "flex" spot for this squad has the makings of a matchup-based rotation, though.
George Kittle (2.12), Dallas Goedert (14.12)
Kittle is a machine who will be right in the mix for the top spot among tight ends, and my squad should outscore its opponent at the tight end spot most weeks. If Zach Ertz were to go down with an injury or the Eagles have issues at wide receiver like last season, then Goedert may well be the player I slot in that flex spot more weeks than not.
Jake Elliott (16.12), Baltimore Ravens (15.01)
Per the projections at My Fantasy League, this team is projected to finish third in points in this league. That's not a bad result by any stretch, but I don't know that I feel this good about this squad.
Frankly, had I known that I was going to be sniped as much as I was in the middle and late rounds in this draft, I probably would not have taken Jackson with the first pick in Round 3.
That's no knock on him—the McCaffrey/Kittle/Jackson trio is a solid core of players who should be both consistent and productive. But in addition to a less than imposing cadre of wide receivers, the team's depth at running back suffered significantly. That's not great.
This team should contend for a playoff spot, but it would take a player or two emerging, a bit of waiver-wire wisdom or a favorable trade to bring home a title.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year.