Fantasy Football 2020: Mock Draft Strategy, Rankings and Analysis

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2020

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) goes through drills during practice at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

With the start of the 2020 NFL season just two weeks away, we're entering prime fantasy football draft season. While there is no preseason to help managers prepare for the perfect draft, there are plenty of other resources they can turn to.

Mock drafting is one way for fantasy managers to get an idea of where players are being valued in the draft order. A mock won't tell you exactly where to take a player, how they're going to perform in the regular season or when an opponent might throw a proverbial wrench into the draft with an early pick. However, it can provide a guide for when to pick up certain prospects.

For example, in a recent simulated mock draft—run with FantasyPros' Mock Draft Simulator—New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas was the third overall selection. While this is a mild surprise, as the early first round is typically running-back heavy, it's not a total shock, and it's a logical choice.


Mock Draft, Round 1

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

7. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

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

9. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

10. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

12. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers


Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley were the first two picks in this mock, and they're likely to be the top two selections in most real-world drafts. Why? They're the two players closest to a "sure thing" in fantasy.

McCaffrey totaled more than 2,000 rushing and receiving yards last season, while Barkley did the same two years ago. One could argue that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is also a relatively safe pick because of his consistency and guaranteed workload—he's had at least 301 carries in each of his full seasons. He had 242 carries in 10 games three years ago.

When looking at a projected role, though, Thomas has to be viewed as a high-end selection, especially in points-per-reception (PPR) formats. He's averaged more than 115 receptions over his four pro seasons and is coming off a 149-catch campaign.

Similarly, Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams is a target-dominant fantasy option who is worth targeting in the first round. He played just 12 games last season but had 111 catches for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018.

Dalvin Cook is a popular early-first-round running back, but there's some risk in drafting him. He has an extensive injury history and only has one year of elite production on his resume. Saints back Alvin Kamara is arguably a "safer" pick because of his PPR potential.

Kamara has exactly 81 catches in each of his three pro seasons.

While the first round in this mock was mostly running-back oriented, the second round was heavy on pass-catchers—with six receivers and two tight ends coming off the board. This too is unsurprising because while there are few truly elite running backs, there are plenty of top-tier pass-catchers to target in drafts.

Targeting a running back first and a receiver second is a sound strategy in most fantasy formats.

Quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes came off the board in the early third round, and this is a fair range to target the top two passers in fantasy. I've seen Jackson go as early as Round 1 in some simulated mock drafts, but that's far too early to be taking a signal-caller.

While there are several high-end starters available at quarterback, positions like running back and receiver are far less talent-heavy at the top.

For example, you can likely land a starting-caliber quarterback like Matt Ryan or Russell Wilson in Round 5 or 6—both were sixth-round picks in this mock—but you're not sniffing an RB1 or WR1 that late in the draft.

Drafting a quarterback can wait. Filling out your other starting positions cannot. Who should you target for those starting spots? Here's a look at the latest PPR rankings:


2020 Fantasy Top 50 Rankings, PPR

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. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

6. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

7. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

8. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

9. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

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

11. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

13. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

14. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

15. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

16. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

17. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

18. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

19. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

20. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

21. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

22. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

23. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

24. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

25. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

26. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

27. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

28. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

29. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

30. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

31. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

32. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

33. Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

34. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

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

36. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

37. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

38. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

39. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

40. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

41. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

42. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

43. D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

44. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

45. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

46. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

47. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

48. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

49. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

50. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals