As we inch closer to the 2020 NFL season, fantasy enthusiasts are gearing up to draft in season-long leagues. Draft preparation is a bit different this year, as there is no preseason. Fantasy managers will have to look elsewhere to determine players' roles and health ahead of Week 1.
Reports from training camp can help in this area, and fantasy mock drafts can further aid in evaluating players' fantasy value. While a mock draft won't paint a definitive picture of how a player is going to perform, it will provide insight into how the fantasy world thinks he is going do.
This can help smart managers avoid missing out on a desired prospect or overdrafting a potential bust.
Here, we'll examine the first round of a mock fantasy draft simulated with FantasyPros' Mock Draft Simulator and dive into some draft strategies. We'll also run down the top 10 players at each key position for dynasty and keeper leagues.
2020 Fantasy Mock Draft
1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
1.02: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
1.03: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
1.04: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
1.05: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
1.06: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
1.07: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
1.08: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
1.09: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
1.10: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
1.11: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
1.12: Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Unsurprisingly, the first four selections in this simulated draft were running backs. The position is popular early for a couple of reasons. For one, high-volume, dual-threat backs aren't going to last long on draft day. Secondly, there is typically more depth to be found at wide receiver than at running back.
A No. 2 wideout can produce a 1,000-yard season. That typically isn't happening for a No. 2 back. Only 15 running backs rushed for 1,000 yards last season, while 25 wide receivers produced 1,000 yards. Receivers get a bit of a bump in PPR leagues, but if you're not grabbing one of the top two or three guys, the position can be addressed after Rounds 1 and 2.
Only true No. 1 receivers—guys like Michael Thomas, Davante Adams and Julio Jones—should even be considered in the first couple of rounds. Doubling up on running backs instead is a tried-and-true formula.
A bit more surprising is the fact that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was taken in Round 1 in the draft simulation. This isn't a complete stretch, as he did rush for more than 1,200 yards last season. Still, taking a quarterback in the first round is a reach, and this is another position that can wait until later in the draft.
Plus, there's no guarantee that the 23-year-old will duplicate his remarkable rushing season.
"I doubt I'm going to be carrying the ball a lot going on further into the future, because we've got dynamic running backs," Jackson said, per Matthew Stevens of Ravens Wire.
Starting-caliber quarterbacks can be found in the middle rounds. Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller Carson Wentz, for example, has an average draft position of 81, according to FantasyPros. That's late in the seventh round of a 12-team league.
Similarly, tight ends can be found later in the draft, and only a handful of players—Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz, specifically—should be considered within the first five rounds.
Guys like Kittle, Ertz and Kelce can be valued as a top receiver because they essentially serve as their teams' No. 1 receiving options. Otherwise, quarterback and tight end should be the last two starting positions filled—aside from defense and kicker, of course.
Don't overdraft a defense and never take a kicker before the last round, unless you have one of the very last picks in the draft.
2020 Keeper Cheat Sheet
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
3, Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks
4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
6. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
7. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
8. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
9. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
10. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
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. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
7. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
9. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
10. Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
3. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
5. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
6. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
7. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
10. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
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