Fantasy Football 2020: Mock Draft Strategy, Cheat Sheet and Flex Rankings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2020

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

There are two keys to finding value among NFL players in fantasy drafts. Managers have to know whom to target, and they also have to know where to target them. Targeting a player too early will result in a below-market value, while targeting him too late will result in missing out entirely.

Here, we're going to take an in-depth look at where to target some of the top players in fantasy for 2020. We'll examine a Round 1 mock draft—as simulated with FantasyPros' Mock Draft Simulator—some key strategies for working the early rounds and a positional cheat sheet for standard-scoring formats.

Let's dig in.

    

2020 Round 1 Mock

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1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

1.02: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

1.03: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

1.04: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

1.05: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

1.06: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

1.07: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

1.08: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

1.09: Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

1.10: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

1.11: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

1.12: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    

This mock draft was conducted for standard scoring, and unsurprisingly, running backs ruled the first round. Christian McCaffrey is a clear top choice after racking up more than 2,000 scrimmage yards last season, a feat that Saquon Barkley accomplished two seasons ago.

McCaffrey and Barkley are common-sense targets at the top of Round 1, but strategy comes into play shortly thereafter. The first thing managers need to consider is the scoring format their league is using. In points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, a receiver like Michael Thomas (149 receptions last season) might be more desirable than a running back like Ezekiel Elliott.

A dual-threat back like Elliott, in turn, could be more valuable than reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry.

Managers must also weigh the injury risks and boom-bust potential for early draft targets. Dalvin Cook, for example, has tremendous upside but a dangerously low floor because of his injury history. He topped 1,600 scrimmage yards last season but has also missed 19 games in three seasons.

After Round 1, it's wise to target projected starters at running back, even if they play for underwhelming teams. High-volume players are going to have a relatively high floor, making them a safe choice for a starting slot.

Austin Ekeler, for example, played for the 5-11 Los Angeles Chargers last season and still amassed more than 1,500 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns.

Some tight ends can be targeted early as if they were top-tier receivers—Travis Kelce, for example, had more than 1,200 yards last season. However, after the top four or five tight ends, this should generally be the last starting position you fill, aside from quarterback.

Don't overdraft a quarterback. Exactly two—Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson—are worth targeting in the first three rounds—and even then, more value can likely be netted by waiting at the position.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, for example, passed for 4,466 yards and 26 touchdowns in 15 games last season. With an average draft position (ADP) of 80—according to FantasyPros—he can potentially be nabbed in the seventh or eighth round.

Don't even think about drafting a defense or a kicker within the first 10 rounds, unless there is a bizarre and unexpected run on D/ST units early. The likelihood of that happening is close to zero, so it should be safe to fill out a starting lineup—sans kicker and D/ST—and top backup slots first.

      

2020 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Quarterback

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

2. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

5. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

7. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

9. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

10. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

   

Running Back

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

6. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

7. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

8. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

10. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

    

Wide Receiver

1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

3. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

5. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

6. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

7. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

10. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

   

Tight End

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

4. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

5. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

6. Evan Engram, New York Giants

7. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

8. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

9. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

10. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

    

Defense/Special Teams

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. Baltimore Ravens

4. Buffalo Bills

5. New England Patriots

6. Minnesota Vikings

7. Chicago Bears

8. Kansas City Chiefs

9. Los Angeles Rams

10. New Orleans Saints

    

Flex Top 40

Brian Blanco/Associated Press

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

5. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

7. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

8. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

9. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

11. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

12. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

13. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

14. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

15. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

16. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

17. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

18. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

19. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

20. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

21. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

22. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

23. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

24. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

25. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

26. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

27. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

28. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

29. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

30. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

31. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

32. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

33. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

34. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

35. Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

36. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

37. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

38. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

39. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angels Rams

40. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars