Fantasy Football Mock Draft Breakdown: Know Your First-Round Studs

Who are this year's first-round fantasy studs to target on draft day? SI Fantasy expert Corey Parson breaks down the top choices.
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With fantasy drafts already underway, it's important to identify which players to anticipate going early, as well as which players may slip to the early part of the second round. Remember, Mock Draft tools such as SI's Mock Draft Now FREE software can help you prepare from any round at any draft position.

Below are my first round targets for 2020.

This is a FREE article from our Mock Draft series. 

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First Round Fantasy Mock Draft

1. RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR

Last year, there was a lot of discussion on who should be the top pick in fantasy football drafts. This year, there is no debate that McCaffrey is the clear consensus top pick. Head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady will put in a new offense in Carolina; Teddy Bridgewater will make getting the ball to McCaffrey a priority.

2. RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL

For the most part, many believe Ezekiel Elliott had a down 2019 season. Yet he had over 1,700 yards from scrimmage, 14 touchdowns with 301 carries and 54 receptions. I think anyone would sign up for that kind of down year. Naysayers will point to new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy as the type who often shies away from the ground game. I would tell that McCarthy has never had a running back like Elliott. 

3. RB Saquon Barkley, NYG

Barkley’s second season had its ups-and-downs. He missed three games with an ankle injury, yet Barkley was still able to run for over 1,000 yards in 13 games. Barkley scored 15 touchdowns in his rookie season then only scored eight times in 2019. This season, the Giants will implement a new system from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. His offense is a hybrid of Norv Turner’s offense. For Barkley, that will likely mean more power runs and receptions. As long as he can stay healthy, the stats will follow, and he will be excellent in 2020.

4. RB Dalvin Cook, MIN

Cook was about as beastly a runner that one had ever seen last season. He ran for over 1,100 yards, scored 13 touchdowns and hauled-in 53 catches for over 500 yards. Cook returns to the same offense and will run behind a sneaky-good offensive line. He will be a beast yet again.

5. WR Michael Thomas, NO 

Thomas was a bad man last season. He has taken over as the top wide receiver in fantasy football. When Drew Brees went down early in the season, Thomas investors were worried about a drop-off in production, that decline never came as Thomas caught at least ten passes in 12 games; that’s Antonio Brown-type production. Thomas had an NFL record 149 receptions to go along with over 1,700 receiving yards. I like to draft running backs at the top of the draft, but Thomas could go as high as the second pick, and I would not have any problem with that.

6. RB Alvin Kamara, NO 

Alvin Kamara has had exactly 81 receptions every year. I’m not sure how that’s even possible. In 2019, Kamara posted 1,330 yards from scrimmage, which was a career-low. I think not having Drew Brees for five games, and nagging injuries were the reason for the drop-off. The big issue Kamara was the low touchdown totals. He only scored six times, and I am betting on him getting back to over double-digit touchdowns again in 2020.

7. RB Nick Chubb, CLE 

I think Nick Chubb is getting ready to have a breakout fantasy season. Yes, I know Kareem Hunt will still be around, but I consider Chubb to be a much better all-around back. Last season, the Browns had a poor offensive scheme with a worse offensive line. This year under the guidance of Kevin Stefanski, Chubb should blossom into one of the best backs in the league. Chubb is not a big-time pass catcher, but he is a big-time runner who put up close to 1,500 rushing yards last season.

8. WR DeAndre Hopkins, ARI 

It can’t be overstated: Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien made a mistake when trading DeAndre Hopkins. The former Clemson star is a generational talent who can excel at his position even if he has poor quarterback play. Not to say that Kyler Murray is a bad quarterback, but he is no Deshaun Watson, not yet anyway. Murray is savvy enough to know to get the ball into the hands of Nuk Hopkins. He has had over 100 receptions in each of his last two seasons. There is no reason why that number should go down in Arizona.

9. WR Davante Adams, GB 

Adams has one of the best jobs in football: catching passes from the great Aaron Rodgers. Adams has excelled in that role. In just 12 games played last season, Adams caught 87 balls for just under 1,000 yards. Given a full, healthy season, Adams should return to his 2018 numbers, making him one of the top three receivers in the game.

10. WR Tyreek Hill, KC 

Hill only played in 12 games last season, so there was a dip in his numbers. There may be plenty of wideouts who get more targets and receptions than Hill, but his big-play ability is very tempting. Hill has scored 32 touchdowns in his career yet only finished with seven a year ago. That number should get back to over double-digits this upcoming season.

11. RB Austin Ekeler, LAC 

This may look like an aggressive ranking for Ekeler, but there is so much he can do for your squad. Ekeler caught 92 passes last season for just under 1,000 yards. He was able to put up these numbers even though Melvin Gordon rejoined the team last year after a four-week holdout. Well, Ekeler is the guy now for all 16 games, and I expect another big season.

12. RB Joe Mixon, CIN

Joe Mixon makes my list as the final pick of the first round. He is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard rushing seasons. Mixon can help your fantasy team, especially if the No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow lives up to the hype.

Bengals insider James Rapien reported this about Mixon:

“It’s silly to put him in the same conversation and Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb from a pass-catching perspective. Mixon is an above-average receiver out of the backfield. The Bengals haven’t utilized him enough in the passing game, but that should change with Joe Burrow at quarterback.”

Burrow could make Mixon a true fantasy stud!