Fantasy Football 2020 Mock Draft: Round-by-Round Analysis for 12-Team PPR Draft
In at least one respect, fantasy football drafts are like snowflakes.
No two are alike.
This isn't to say there aren't similarities from draft to draft. This is the third fantasy mock draft I have analyzed for Bleacher Report in 2020. In all three, at least 15 of the first 24 picks were running backs.
Players like Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings won't be around long.
But in this third go-round, there were also some substantial differences from the first two. The wide receiver position was hit harder than before in the middle rounds. The quarterback position, on the other hand, was left alone for a large stretch of the draft, especially after the elite options were taken.
Examining the differences in individual drafts can be of great value to fantasy drafters as they prepare for the big day, whether it's figuring out when positional runs may start or looking at possible value picks.
So let's get to it with an analysis of the latest 12-team point-per-reception (PPR) mock draft here at Bleacher Report.
1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
1.02: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
1.03: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
1.04: Alvin Kamara, RB, NOS
1.05: Michael Thomas, WR, NOS
1.06: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
1.07: Davante Adams, WR, GBP
1.08: Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN
1.09: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
1.10: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
1.11: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KCC
1.12: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
By the Numbers
The first round of most fantasy football drafts is usually short on surprises, and this one was no different. As is the case with the vast majority of drafts in 2020, the running back spot was hit hard in Round 1 with nine players at that spot among the top 12 picks.
Among those running backs was rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs, who has settled in as a late first-rounder after rocketing up draft boards following the opt-out of incumbent Chiefs starter Damien Williams.
If you want the youngster on your roster, it's going to cost you.
I'm no fan of the fifth spot in drafts this year, precisely because of what happened in this draft. That's no knock on Michael Thomas of the Saints, who hauled in an NFL-record 149 passes last year and finished as the No. 1 fantasy wideout by a massive margin.
But given how hard the running backs are being hit early in 2020 drafts, taking any wide receiver in Round 1 puts you in scramble mode in the backfield.
I don't much care for scramble mode.
2.01: Tyreek Hill, WR, KCC
2.02: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARZ
2.03: Travis Kelce, TE, KCC
2.04: Josh Jacobs, RB, OAK
2.05: George Kittle, TE, SFO
2.06: Kenyan Drake, RB, ARZ
2.07: Todd Gurley, RB, ATL
2.08: Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC
2.09: Aaron Jones, RB, GBP
2.10: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
2.11: Chris Godwin, WR, TBB
2.12: Mike Evans, WR, TBB
This is the third mock draft of this type I've written up in 2020, and all three have followed a highly similar pattern early: Nine or 10 running backs have come off the board in Round 1, followed by another six or seven in Round 2.
There's an argument for acquiring an elite receiver, and if you want one of the top two tight ends, both are almost always gone by the end of Round 2. Just know that by the end of the second round, the top 15 running backs are going to be gonesville.
After I took Michael Thomas in the first round, a running back was a virtual necessity here.
In a perfect world, Kenyan Drake of the Arizona Cardinals would have fallen a few more spots. But we do not live in a perfect world, so it was a matter of Austin Ekeler's receiving ability vs. Aaron Jones' 19 total touchdowns last year and Nick Chubb's fantasy ceiling.
With the benefit of a point per reception, Ekeler won out.
3.01: Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
3.02: Chris Carson, RB, SEA
3.03: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
3.04: Allen Robinson II, WR, CHI
3.05: Leonard Fournette, RB, JAX
3.06: James Conner, RB, PIT
3.07: Kenny Golladay, WR, DET
3.08: D.J. Moore, WR, CAR
3.09: Cam Akers, RB, LAR
3.10: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KCC
3.11: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
3.12: Raheem Mostert, RB, SFO
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
The third round of this draft contained the first surprise. And the second. And the third.
The first two were the selections of rookie running backs Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts and Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams. Both are talented young players, but their early-season workload is uncertain, and the ADP for both players is substantially later than they were chosen here.
Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs, on the other hand, came off the board as late as I've seen in any draft in 2020—over a round after his ADP of 2.07. No matter how you feel about taking a quarterback early, Mahomes is a value this late.
I gave serious consideration to taking Mahomes myself at 3.05. Had I taken a running back in the first two rounds, I probably would have.
More than a few fantasy drafters are down on Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars after the team seemingly spent the entire offseason trying to get rid of him. But Fournette is still there and touched the ball 341 times in 2019, gaining 1,674 total yards in the process.
4.01: Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
4.02: Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
4.03: Mark Ingram II, RB, BAL
4.04: David Johnson, RB, HOU
4.05: Le'Veon Bell, RB, NYJ
4.06: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE
4.07: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
4.08: Melvin Gordon, RB, DEN
4.09: Adam Thielen, WR, MIN
4.10: Robert Woods, WR, LAR
4.11: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
4.12: Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
Wide Receiver Run
It stood to reason with 21 running backs coming off the board in the first three rounds that, sooner or later, there was going to be a run at wideout. Sure enough, that run came in Round 4—eight players at the position were chosen.
It's a group that speaks well to the strategy of hitting running back early or taking an elite tight end or quarterback in the opening rounds. Whether it's Amari Cooper of the Dallas Cowboys, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns or Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams, more than one pass-catcher taken in this round has top-12 fantasy upside.
Sometimes in live drafts, you make a pick you almost immediately regret. That was the case with the selection of Melvin Gordon at 4.08.
Gordon is penciled in as the new lead back for the Broncos in 2020. But the 27-year-old has Phillip Lindsay nipping at his heels, he's coming off a disappointing 2019 season, and he has averaged over four yards per carry all of once in five seasons.
I demand a do-over.
5.01: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
5.02: DJ Chark Jr., WR, JAX
5.03: Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
5.04: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
5.05: Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
5.06: Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT
5.07: Ronald Jones II, RB, TBB
5.08: David Montgomery, RB, CHI
5.09: Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
5.10: Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS
5.11: DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
5.12: D'Andre Swift, RB, DET
For the most part, I'm a proponent of taking the players you want on draft day. The only person who has to answer for taking a player is the manager who drafted him.
But while Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a promising young talent who showed flashes down the stretch last year despite terrible quarterback play in the Steel City, his ADP of 8.03 is almost three full rounds later than where he was drafted here.
There were more proven talents available at that spot.
When Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews was selected with the third pick in Round 5, my decision was made. If Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles made it to me, he wasn't getting past 5.05.
Ertz was second in targets, third in receptions and fourth in PPR fantasy points among all tight ends last year. He offers elite fantasy upside as the No. 1 receiving option in Philadelphia, and he comes at a discounted price compared to Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
6.01: Marquise Brown, WR, BAL
6.02: Devin Singletary, RB, BUF
6.03: T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
6.04: Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
6.05: Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF
6.06: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
6.07: Will Fuller V, WR, HOU
6.08: DeVante Parker, WR, MIA
6.09: Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN
6.10: James White, RB, NEP
6.11: A.J. Green, WR, CIN
6.12: J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL
Wide Receiver Run 2.0
For the second time in three rounds, the sixth round of this draft was all about the wide receiver position. Just as in Round 4, eight of the 12 picks were wideouts.
Those wide receivers ran the gamut. There were veterans like A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals who have posted big numbers in the past, up-and-coming pass-catchers like Marquise Brown of the Baltimore Ravens and a surprise pick with a sky-high ceiling in Will Fuller V of the Houston Texans.
Six rounds into this draft, there have actually been more wide receivers selected (33) than running backs (32).
DeVante Parker of the Miami Dolphins finally had his breakout season in 2019 with 72 catches, 1,202 yards, nine touchdowns and a WR11 finish in PPR fantasy points.
Despite that big year, Parker's ADP is 29th among wide receivers at 6.09—almost exactly where he was drafted here.
I'll take a no-doubt No. 1 receiver coming off a WR1 season in that spot 10 times out of 10.
7.01: Evan Engram, TE, NYG
7.02: Darren Waller, TE, LVR
7.03: Michael Gallup, WR, DAL
7.04: Jordan Howard, RB, MIA
7.05: Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU
7.06: Jamison Crowder, WR, NYJ
7.07: Julian Edelman, WR, NEP
7.08: Christian Kirk, WR, ARZ
7.09: Marlon Mack, RB, IND
7.10: Mecole Hardman, WR, KCC
7.11: Tyler Higbee, TE, LAR
7.12: Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
The pass-catchers continued to be the story of this draft. By the end of Round 7, five more wide receivers than running backs had been taken. Just two of the picks in this round fell into the latter category. It's somewhat uncommon but not exceptionally so—the mid-round wideouts are a surer bet than their backfield counterparts, especially in a PPR league.
The rest of the second-tier tight ends (Evan Engram, Darren Waller and Tyler Higbee) were also picked in the seventh round, as was Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
Wilson was just the fourth quarterback taken in this draft—and the first in well over two rounds.
Had Miami Dolphins running back Jordan Howard fallen one more spot, he would have been my pick. But the other drafters here weren't especially cooperative.
If Brandin Cooks can stay healthy in 2020, though, he has a legitimate shot at a top-20 fantasy finish as the Texans' new No. 1 receiver.
My Thomas/Parker/Cooks trio has a real chance to be one of the more formidable starting units in the league. That's not bad given where the latter two were taken.
8.01: Darius Slayton, WR, NYG
8.02: Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
8.03: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, NOS
8.04: Kyler Murray, QB, ARZ
8.05: Marvin Jones Jr., WR, DET
8.06: Hunter Henry, TE, LAC
8.07: Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA
8.08: Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS
8.09: Hayden Hurst, TE, ATL
8.10: Breshad Perriman, WR, NYJ
8.11: Josh Allen, QB, BUF
8.12: Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN
Quarterbacks are People Too
The quarterback position is easily the deepest in fantasy football. It's also the most difficult to peg.
In some drafts, the top 10 fantasy options under center would all be long gone by the end of the eighth round. Here, the fifth quarterback wasn't taken until Houston's Deshaun Watson at 8.02.
Having a feel for when the lower-end weekly starters will start coming off the board can give you a real edge on draft day. The drafter who took Watson got essentially the same fantasy upside as Dak Prescott—almost three full rounds later.
That's the kind of value that wins leagues.
I gambled in the eighth round—in more ways than one.
There's no guarantee Antonio Gibson will have a prominent role in the Washington backfield as a rookie. But someone must catch passes out of the team's backfield, and he displayed electrifying athleticism at Memphis.
I also rolled the dice that Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos would make it back around to Round 9, where I could grab him as insurance for my Gordon gaffe.
He did not.
9.01: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
9.02: Matt Breida, RB, MIA
9.03: Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI
9.04: Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN
9.05: Adrian Peterson, RB, WAS
9.06: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
9.07: Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
9.08: Austin Hooper, TE, CLE
9.09: Mike Williams, WR, LAC
9.10: Boston Scott, RB, PHI
9.11: Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET
9.12: Jared Cook, TE, NOS
The running back position finally made something of a comeback in the ninth round of the draft as five backs came off the board between Nos. 97 and 108. That the gap between them and the wide receivers drafted is still so wide (seven) speaks to just how unappealing the available backs get relatively early.
Matt Breida of the Miami Dolphins and Boston Scott of the Philadelphia Eagles probably need an injury in front of them to become steady producers. Kerryon Johnson of the Detroit Lions is injury-prone and has a talented rookie in D'Andre Swift breathing down his neck.
Could a weekly fantasy starter come from this group? Yes, but the odds of that happening aren't especially good.
It's come to this: stacking the NFL's 22nd-ranked rushing attack from 2019.
With Derrius Guice gone, Adrian Peterson is in line to at least handle early-down work in D.C. to start the year. He averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry in 2019 and topped 1,000 rushing yards two years ago.
But Peterson is also 35 years old, and his hold on the lead-back role in Washington isn't exactly ironclad.
10.01: AJ Dillon, RB, GBP
10.02: Tony Pollard, RB, DAL
10.03: Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
10.04: Anthony Miller, WR, CHI
10.05: Duke Johnson, RB, HOU
10.06: Drew Brees, QB, NOS
10.07: Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
10.08: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
10.09: Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, TBB
10.10: Justin Jackson, RB, LAC
10.11: Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN
10.12: Zack Moss, RB, BUF
Send in the Cuffs
If the fantasy managers in this league were looking to handcuff their high-end running backs, those dreams died in Round 10.
Tony Pollard of the Dallas Cowboys and Alexander Mattison of the Minnesota Vikings are probably the two most valuable handcuffs in fantasy. Both are backups to players who are regularly drafted in the front half of the first round. Both have shown they can carry the load when called upon.
Neither landed with the teams that drafted Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook.
Landing Matt Ryan in the 10th round is a shining example of why waiting to draft a starting quarterback in fantasy is a good idea.
Ryan is a safe bet to finish inside the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks. In fact, it's a feat the 35-year-old has accomplished in three of the past four years.
In two of those seasons, Ryan finished inside the top three. He's a proven veteran option leading a loaded offense, and he's an excellent value in this spot.
11.01: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GBP
11.02: Henry Ruggs III, WR, LVR
11.03: DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI
11.04: Latavius Murray, RB, NOS
11.05: Deebo Samuel, WR, SFO
11.06: Jalen Reagor, WR, PHI
11.07: Preston Williams, WR, MIA
11.08: Matthew Stafford, QB, DET
11.09: Tevin Coleman, RB, SFO
11.10: Sammy Watkins, WR, KCC
11.11: Noah Fant, TE, DEN
11.12: T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET
12.01: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SFO
12.02: Damien Harris, RB, NEP
12.03: Tom Brady, QB, TBB
12.04: Chris Herndon, TE, NYJ
12.05: Sony Michel, RB, NEP
12.06: Carson Wentz, QB, PHI
12.07: Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
12.08: Bryce Love, RB, WAS
12.09: Jack Doyle, TE, IND
12.10: Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR
12.11: DeAndre Washington, RB, KCC
12.12: Rob Gronkowski, TE, TBB
13.01: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
13.02: Cam Newton, QB, NEP
13.03: Curtis Samuel, WR, CAP
13.04: Allen Lazard, WR, GBP
13.05: John Brown, WR, BUF
13.06: Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN
13.07: Blake Jarwin, TE, DAL
13.08: Golden Tate, WR, NYG
13.09: Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR
13.10: Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
13.11: Parris Campbell, WR, IND
13.12: Daniel Jones, QB, NYG
There were a few late-round selections of note between Round 11 and Round 13.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was on pace for almost 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and a top-five fantasy finish last year before hurting his back.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle has the potential to emerge as a cheap source of TE1 production given Philip Rivers' penchant for using players at that position with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Allen Lazard of the Green Bay Packers showed some rapport with Aaron Rodgers late in the 2019 season, and he appears to have the inside track to be the No. 2 wide receiver in Titletown.
Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers may not be ready for Week 1 after breaking his foot while working out during the offseason, but he emerged as the team's top wide receiver late last season and could be a steal if he plays even most of the 2020 season.
Washington's Bryce Love missed his entire rookie season while rehabbing an ACL tear, but he's a decent flier late after gaining over 2,100 yards on the ground at Stanford in 2017.
I really wanted Lazard in Round 13. But after piling up over 1,000 yards for the Buffalo Bills last season, John Brown is an OK consolation prize as veteran depth at receiver.
14.01: Nyhein Hines, RB, IND
14.02: Jared Goff, QB, LAR
14.03: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense/Special Teams
14.04: Baltimore Ravens Defense/Special Teams
14.05: San Francisco 49ers Defense/Special Teams
14.06: Jerick McKinnon, RB, SFO
14.07: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND
14.08: Ian Thomas, TE, CAR
14.09: Drew Lock, QB, DEN
14.10: Buffalo Bills Defense/Special Teams
14.11: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
14.12: New Orleans Saints Defense/Special Teams
15.01: Justin Tucker, PK, BAL
15.02: Kansas City Chiefs Defense/Special Teams
15.03: Harrison Butker, PK, KCC
15.04: Wil Lutz, PK, NOS
15.05: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
15.06: Indianapolis Colts Defense/Special Teams
15.07: Los Angeles Rams Defense/Special Teams
15.08: Greg Zuerlein, PK, DAL
15.09: Robbie Gould, PK, SFO
15.10: Younghoe Koo, PK, ATL
15.11: Chicago Bears Defense/Special Teams
15.12: Matt Gay, PK, TBB
16.01: Minnesota Vikings Defense/Special Teams
16.02: Ka'imi Fairbairn, PK, HOU
16.03: Chris Boswell, PK, PIT
16.04: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARZ
16.05: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SFO
16.06: Jason Myers, PK, SEA
16.07: Zane Gonzalez, PK, ARZ
16.08: Philadelphia Eagles Defense/Special Teams
16.09: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense/Special Teams
16.10: Gardner Minshew II, QB, JAX
16.11: Jake Elliott, PK, PHI
16.12: Josh Lambo, PK, JAX
Rounding Things Out
The drafters in this league did themselves proud in at least one respect: The first defense wasn't drafted until the 14th round, and the first kicker wasn't picked until Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens came off the board at 15.01.
There were also a few late-round quarterbacks who could be significant values in 2020. Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans is being slept on despite a red-hot second half last year, and Gardner Minshew II of the Jacksonville Jaguars could be in for a ton of garbage-time fantasy production while the Jaguars play from behind in 2020.
Ian Thomas of the Carolina Panthers isn't an elite talent, but the 24-year-old has the potential to emerge as a good bye week fill-in and underneath target for Teddy Bridgewater this year.
Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals is coming off one of the best seasons ever by a college quarterback. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft has the talent and situation to become the second straight rookie quarterback to crack the top 10 in fantasy points.
The Eagles defense is all about a Week 1 matchup with a Washington offense that may be the NFL's worst in 2020. When the favorable matchups dry up, it's off to the waiver wire to find another streaming option.
Matt Ryan, ATL (10.08); Joe Burrow, CIN (15.05)
Given that I didn't select a quarterback until the double-digit rounds, this isn't a bad two-fer. Ryan should finish in the top eight fantasy quarterbacks for the season, while Burrow has at least some upside as a backup. If the rookie starts more than once for this team in 2020, though, something went wrong.
Austin Ekeler, LAC (2.08); Leonard Fournette, JAX (3.05); Melvin Gordon, DEN (4.08); Antonio Gibson (8.08); Adrian Peterson, WAS (9.05); Bryce Love, WAS (12.08)
The top two running backs for this team (Ekeler and Fournette) should be fine, especially if Fournette experiences positive regression in the touchdown department. Behind them, though, are a bunch of questions. Will Gordon take the bull by the horns in his new home? Will any of the backs in the nation's capital emerge as a reliable weekly starter?
Michael Thomas, NOS (1.05); DeVante Parker, MIA (6.08); Brandin Cooks, HOU (7.05); Deebo Samuel, SFO (11.05); John Brown, BUF (13.05)
Given that this unit is anchored by the NFL's best receiver, it's no surprise it's the strength of this team. The front three have a chance to make some real noise if Cooks and Samuel are healthy, and if both are on the field and on top of their game, a wideout will likely be inserted in the flex spot more weeks than not.
Zach Ertz, PHI (5.05); Ian Thomas, CAR (14.08)
The tight ends are all about Ertz. If the 29-year-old is healthy and on the field, he's a safe bet for top-five fantasy production. Were Ertz to miss significant time, though, this position could become a liability in a hurry.
Philadelphia Eagles (16.08)
Grabbing the top three running backs for Washington meant punting on drafting a kicker. But there's no rule that says I have to draft one, so I'll have until the last waiver-wire pass before Week 1 to decide which running back (or perhaps Burrow or Thomas) will be sent packing so I can pick one up.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year.