The 2019 fantasy football season just ended, but it’s never too early to get a jump on 2020 draft prep. In fact, doing preliminary research now with everyone’s recent production fresh in your memory can be incredibly beneficial. Even if you’re not ready to start prepping for next season, it’s fun to take a look at what the early rounds of 2020 fantasy drafts could look like.
Let’s take a look at the top 36 players for the 2020 draft and see where they could fall on draft day. This three-round mock draft is structured for 12-team, full-PPR leagues. All stats referenced are from Weeks 1-16 of the 2019 season unless otherwise noted. Let’s get right into it with the player who should be the top pick in 2020:
1.1 RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
The best fantasy football player of 2019 deserves the top spot in 2020 drafts. McCaffrey produced a whopping 448.4 fantasy points this season, an average of 29.9 points per game. How good was that performance? It was nine points better per game than the RB2, Dalvin Cook. It was nearly two points per game better than the No. 2 overall scorer, Lamar Jackson.
There’s no reason to get cute or play contrarian with the top pick. McCaffrey is a stud. Before finishing as the No. 1 overall player in 2019, he finished as the No. 2 overall player in 2018. McCaffrey is averaging 27.6 points per game over the last two years. The next closest player is Patrick Mahomes at 22.7 points per game, and the next closest running back is Saquon Barkley at 21.7 per game. There is no other player that should be considered at 1.1 in single-QB leagues.
Projected range: No. 1 overall
1.2 RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
It was a strange season for the consensus top pick in 2019 fantasy drafts. He finished as the RB6 in average points per game (18.6), but missed time with an ankle injury and had fantasy managers very nervous before finishing with three straight strong performances in Weeks 15-17. He’s scored the second-most fantasy points per game among running backs over the last two seasons, but there are still some small reasons for concern.
As a rookie, Daniel Jones did not throw to Barkley as often as Eli Manning. In 20 career games with Manning, Barkley is averaging 5.3 catches on 7.2 targets per game. In nine games with Jones, Barkley is averaging 4.2 catches on 5.7 targets per game. While that certainly can improve in 2020, catching around 70 passes instead of 90 could hinder his ability to finish as a top-3 pick. Barkley still has tremendous upside when healthy and should be off the board almost immediately on draft day.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 2-4 overall
1.3 RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Kamara had a good 2019 season, but it was disappointing relative to expectations and his ADP. However, a lot of that had to do with an uncharacteristic dip in touchdowns. After having 13 total touchdowns in 2017 and 18 in 2018, he had just six this past season. Despite his reception total staying at exactly 81 for the third straight season with right around 100 targets, he was far less productive with those touches. He had a career-low 533 receiving yards and a career-low one receiving touchdown.
Kamara is bound for a bounce back season. He still finished as the RB8 in average points per game (17.6) after finishing as the RB4 and RB5 on a per-game basis the prior two seasons. Expect him to make his way back into the top 5 RBs in 2020.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 3-6 overall
1.4 RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
I lean toward the safety of Elliott in this spot. His consistency as a true high-end RB1 year in and year out is too much to leave on the table. In what was considered a “down year” by some for Elliott, he finished as the RB5 with 284.3 points (19.0 per game). Here are his finishes among all running backs on a per-game basis since he entered the league in 2016: 3rd, 3rd, 7th, 5th.
Even if you consider the last two seasons slight disappointments, only McCaffrey, Barkley and Kamara are averaging more points per game in that time frame than Elliott. There are no contract distractions for him this season, so fantasy managers should draft him with confidence.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 4-6 overall
1.5 WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Thomas is definitely going in the top 5 picks of fantasy drafts in 2020. The only question is where. You can make the argument he should go as high as No. 2 overall. If Drew Brees comes back and there are no major offensive downgrades, only an injury will prevent him from finishing as the WR1 yet again. However, there is always some risk in taking a wide receiver with an early first-round pick. The risk isn’t that the receiver himself flops—top wide receivers tend to have a strong return on their value—it’s that there are so few elite running backs that missing out on one puts a fantasy manager in a precarious position.
There are more quality receiver options in the middle and late rounds of drafts and in-season waiver wire than there are running backs. All that said, it’s tough to argue against taking Thomas once McCaffrey is off the board. Thomas scored 90.8 points more than the WR2 (Chris Godwin) last season, averaging a margin of nearly five points per game more. Since coming into the league in 2016, here are Thomas’ finishes among all WRs in total points: 11th, 5th, 3rd, 1st. He’s as solid and consistent as they come and has taken over Antonio Brown’s old spot as the clear top overall WR that goes in the first half of the first round of drafts.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 2-5 overall
1.6 RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
It almost feels disrespectful to have Cook down here at No. 6 overall after the season he just had. He lived up to even the highest expectations coming into 2019, finishing as the No. 3 overall running back and No. 2 on a per-game basis. He was a true workhorse with a nose for the end zone. Cook was everything you want in a first-round running back. So why is he so low? All the names above him on this list are more proven commodities—and have less injury risk in the cases of McCaffrey, Elliott and Thomas. I don’t think it’s fair to label Cook as more of an injury risk than most running backs, but you have to nitpick at the top.
If Cook replicates his 2019 season in 2020, he’ll go within the top 3 in 2021. That’s well within the realm of possibility, as it looks like Minnesota will maintain their coaching staff and major offensive weapons. In the meantime, he’ll go somewhere in the middle of the first round. I feel very comfortable taking him before any wide receiver not named Michael Thomas. Cook is the last of the elite tier of running backs.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 4-8 overall
1.7 WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
This is where the run on receivers went last season and it’ll start here again. Fantasy managers will have to choose between the safe, veteran tier 1 receivers or the A-minus group of running backs still available. Let’s opt for safety here and go with the No. 2 WR in Hopkins. The “your best ability is your availability” cliché certainly applies here. In his seven years in the NFL, the star receiver has missed a grand total of two games. He finished as the No. 3 overall WR and No. 4 on a per-game basis in 2019. Hopkins was No. 4 in both categories in 2018 and No. 2 in 2017. He’s attached to a star quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but has produced with pretty much every quarterback he’s had. This isn’t a splash pick and he probably won’t finish as a top 5 overall (non-QB) player, but he’s a very safe bet to return first-round value.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 7-9 overall
1.8 WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
A foot injury kept Adams out for four games in 2019, but don’t let that hurt his fantasy draft stock too much. He was the WR8 on a per-game basis in 2017 and the No. 1 overall player at the position in 2018. He still gobbles up a ton of targets, averaging more than 10 per game in each of the last two seasons, and is the only reliable option in Aaron Rodgers' aerial attack.
The Packers have to add some pass-catching weapons this offseason, but that shouldn’t hurt Adams’ value. In fact, anything to lighten up the coverage he faces would be welcomed. Like Hopkins, he’s a safer option than any of the running backs still available. Adams has a 115 catch-per-16-games pace over the last two seasons.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 7-9 overall
1.9 WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jones finished above both Hopkins and Adams on a per-game basis last season, but is behind both of them on draft day. Why? Age is a primary factor. Jones is entering his age-31 season and while he hasn’t shown any major signs of decline, he’s been a little inconsistent relative to elite status. Last season was Jones’ first finish inside the top 4 WRs on a points per game basis since finishing as the No. 1 overall player at the position in 2015. He was the WR5 in 2016 and the WR7 in both 2017 and 2018 before finishing as the WR3 in 2019. He’s attached to a pass-happy offense with a good quarterback and a legitimate No. 2 option on the other side of the field in Calvin Ridley. He’s still worthy of a top-10 pick even as he ages. He’s about to be 31, not dead.
Projected range: Round 1, picks 9-11 overall
1.10 RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
It was truly an amazing season for Henry in 2019. Despite catching only 18 passes, the big back finished as the RB7 in total points and average points per game in PPR formats. He picked up right where he left off after an amazing finish to the 2018 season that saw him rush for 585 yards and seven touchdowns from Weeks 14-17. What’s even more encouraging is how good Henry looked after Ryan Tannehill took over as the Titans’ starter. Including Week 17, Henry averaged 23.0 fantasy points per game with Tannehill, the second-best total among all running backs. Even without the season finale, Henry was second only to McCaffrey among running backs in average fantasy points per game from Week 7 on. There’s a chance he doesn’t return to Tennessee, but if he does, he’s absolutely worthy of a first-round pick on draft day.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 10-17 overall
1.11 RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Sometimes everything goes exactly according to plan and the best-case scenario plays out before our eyes. That’s exactly what happened for every fantasy manager who took Jones in 2019 fantasy drafts. The third-year back rushed for a whopping 16 touchdowns and added another three in the receiving game as he became a significant part of the Packers’ passing offense. Some touchdown regression is expected—only two players (Derrick Henry and Todd Gurley) have rushed for a dozen or more scores in each of the last two seasons—but his role in Green Bay’s offense should continue to be huge, even if the Packers bring in another pass-catcher. Jamaal Williams will be a little bit of a thorn in Jones’ side for one more yea, but not to the extent he was early in the 2019 season.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 11-17 overall
1.12 WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
The 2019 season established the new floor for Hill. He finished as the WR9 on a points per game basis with an average of 16.2 over 11 games. Hill didn’t make anywhere near the impact he made in 2018, but an early injury essentially robbed him of his first month of the season. Even so, he was far from a liability. Here’s what his raw 2019 numbers look like extrapolated out over 16 games: 77/1144/9. That’s not bad at all, and that’s likely his floor for a 16-game projection in 2020. While no one wants to draft a low-end WR1 in the first round, let’s remember that he was the WR6 in each of the previous two seasons both in total and average points. A better statistical season is expected for quarterback Patrick Mahomes too, which should only boost Hill’s value.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 11-13 overall
A total of seven running backs and five wide receivers went off the board in the first round. Round 2 presents an interesting set of choices for fantasy managers. How confident are you in the young stud running backs heading into Year 2 of their careers? Will the elite duo of Buccaneers receivers be able to duplicate their 2019 success? Are old favorites like Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon still worthy of an RB1 price tag?
Reminder: This three-round mock draft is structured for 12-team, full-PPR leagues. All stats referenced are from Weeks 1-16 of the 2019 season unless otherwise noted.
2.1 RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Experts are already polarized about Fournette heading into 2020. For me he’s the perfect player to take at the turn as an RB1 if you grab a top wide receiver or as an elite RB2 for your team. After missing half of the 2018 season, Fournette missed just one game in 2019 and it was because of the flu. Despite how brutal the Jaguars offense was to watch for most of the season, the star back finished as the RB6 in total points and RB9 in average points per game. The biggest reason why was his massive spike in receiving game work. Fournette had 58 catches on 74 targets in his first two NFL seasons (21) games. In 2019 he had 76 catches on 100 targets in 15 games.
There’s no reason to expect those totals to drop precipitously. His receiving game work helped make up for his uncharacteristic lack of touchdowns in 2019. He averaged .76 total touchdowns per game in his first two seasons but had just .2 per game (three scores total) in 2019. Positive touchdown regression is coming in 2020. Fournette is still an injury risk, but is a legit RB1 with the upside to provide middle of the first round production.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 7-19 overall
2.2 RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
It’s hard to imagine Chubb dropping lower than this in drafts, but Round 2 is where I’d feel comfortable taking him. There are plenty of positives to Chubb’s 2019 season. He rushed for more than 100 yards in seven games, finished with the eighth-most fantasy points among running backs (10th-most on a per-game basis) and was still productive on the ground even with Kareem Hunt in the mix. The big negative, aside from the Browns being the Browns, is that if Hunt returns, there is no pass-catching upside for Chubb.
Chubb only caught 20 passes in 2018 but already had 24 in the first eight games of 2019. While that’s not exactly a total to write home about, even surpassing the 40-catch mark would significantly raise Chubb’s floor. But once Hunt’s suspension ended, Chubb’s catches dropped back down to what we saw as a rookie. He had only 11 receptions over the final eight games of the season. Assuming Cleveland doesn’t let Hunt walk as an RFA this offseason, Chubb’s value is going to be hindered enough to keep him outside of the Top 8 running backs.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 9-15 overall
2.3 WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There will be QB clarity in Tampa Bay by the time you have to make this decision, but assuming Jameis Winston is back behind center in 2020 this is a great spot to take Godwin. A hamstring injury cost the former Penn State receiver the final two games of the 2019 season, but Godwin still finished the season as the WR2 in both total and average fantasy points, trailing only Michael Thomas.
The slot role in Bruce Arians’ offense is coveted and sees a high volume of targets and Godwin made the most of his increased role. He’ll step right back into that spot in 2020 and should continue to provide WR1 production. Godwin falls into the second round because he doesn’t have the years of proven production the other five receivers above him have. However, it would not be a surprise to see Godwin going in Round 1 of 2021 drafts, especially if he can replicate his 19.7 fantasy points per game production from 2019 in 2020.
Projected range: Round 2, picks 13-17 overall
2.4 WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are a ton of question marks for the remaining running backs on the board, so let’s opt to grab another surefire top wide receiver in this spot. The hamstring monster got Evans as well and cut his season short at 13 games. However, he finished as the WR5 in average points per game (17.9) despite putting up a goose egg in Week 5 against the Saints. There’s plenty of offense to go around in Tampa Bay for multiple receivers, as evidenced by the production of Evans and Godwin this season. Evans finished as the WR10 in total points and No. 14 WR on a points per game basis in 2018 and only improved on those numbers. If Jameis Winston is back, the 6-foot-5 receiver is coming off the board somewhere in the first half of the second round.
Projected range: Rounds 1-2, picks 12-18 overall
2.5 RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon is a tough player to evaluate heading into 2020. He had such a strong finish to the 2019 regular season (494 yards and three touchdowns from Weeks 14-17), but that was largely due to a spike in carries (24 per game). Before Week 14 he only had one game all season with 20 or more carries. His season was a tale of two halves. He was the RB36 in average fantasy points per game through Week 8, but was the RB14 from Weeks 9-16. He scored 6.4 points per game more in the second half than the first half. The Bengals appear poised to have rookie Joe Burrow under center next season, so we’ll see if that gives Cincy’s offense a bit of a boost overall. Mixon had a strong second half and was a top 10 RB in 2018, but he carries some significant risk because of his injury history and his lack of receptions.
Projected range: Round 2, picks 13-20 overall
2.6 WR Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
This might be considered a tad bit of a reach inside the top 20, but Robinson is more than worthy of coming off the board in the middle of Round 2. Despite the semi-highs and major lows of the Bears' offense in 2019, Robinson finished with 98/1147/7. That was good enough to be the WR7 in total points and WR10 in average points per game. I expect him to better those numbers in 2020 as the Bears should improve on in 2019 (either with or without Mitchell Trubisky).
Anthony Miller emerged as a legit second threat that defenses must pay close attention to, which only helps Robinson. He’s matchup proof, already has a 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown season under his belt in his career and was on pace for 70/1000/5 last season in Chicago if he played 16 games. He’s young, has a fairly safe floor and still has room to improve on his 2019 numbers.
Projected range: Round 2, picks 21-24 overall
2.7 WR Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Assuming Cooper is back in Dallas in 2020, things are setting up quite nicely for a big season. Some fantasy managers may forget how hurt Cooper’s knee was in the middle-to-late portion of the season. He was visually limited on the field and it severely hurt his production down the stretch. Still he finished as the WR10 in total points and WR14 in average points per game. Even with new head coach Mike McCarthy coming in, everything else should stay relatively the same. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is coming back, as is quarterback Dak Prescott. Cooper has put up WR1 numbers ever since setting foot in Dallas in the middle of the 2018 season. There’s no reason to expect anything less in 2020.
Projected range: Round 2, picks 16-20 overall
2.8 WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Golladay is nearly QB-proof. Although Matthew Stafford is fully expected to return from his back injury as the Lions’ starting quarterback in 2020, one must realize the very real risk that he plays only part of next season. Even so, don’t shy away from the Lions’ biggest weapon in the second round. In Weeks 1-9 with Stafford upright and relatively healthy last season, Golladay was the WR9 in average fantasy points per game (17.4). From Weeks 10-16 with the combination of Jeff Driskel and David Blough, Golladay was still the WR20 in average fantasy points per game (14.1). One has to imagine the Lions pay up for a quality back-up quarterback this season, only increasing Golladay’s floor.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 20-30 overall
2.9 RB Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Jacobs had a pretty solid rookie season, finishing as the RB19 in total points and the RB15 in average points per game. Fantasy managers hope he can build on that success in Year 2 with a healed up shoulder. Guaranteed touches are a scarce commodity at the running back position these days, so being able to bank on about 20 carries per game is extremely attractive. However, the Raiders did not use Jacobs much in the receiving game. He had just 20 catches on 28 targets in his 13 games as a rookie. While it’s possible they add that element to his game in Year 2, be aware that his upside as a true top 10 RB is dependent on him becoming more involved in the passing game. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are both free agents, so pay close attention to the types of running backs Jon Gruden signs/drafts to fill those voids.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 18-26 overall
2.10 RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
There may be someone in your league, probably an Eagles fan, that reaches for Sanders early in Round 2. The issue is that even with his upside he shouldn’t be a top 20 pick just yet. A strong run late in the season with running back Jordan Howard (and every Eagles wide receiver that ever lived) out with an injury propelled Sanders to the RB13 in total points and RB20 in average points per game as a rookie. The exciting upside was on display as Sanders ranked as the RB6 with an average of 18.8 points per game from Weeks 11-16 (Howard missed that entire stretch). Howard is a pending free agent and may not return to the team.
In theory that’s a huge plus for Sanders, but head coach Doug Pederson has a history of featuring multiple backs. That doesn’t mean you run away from Sanders in his sophomore campaign—he’s proven he can have success alongside Howard and Boston Scott—but it does limit his upside a bit.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 20-30 overall
2.11 RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
This could be considered a reach by some, but I believe Carson’s negatives will be overblown this offseason compared to his positives. Does he have a fumbling issue? Yes, and it’s a concern. Let’s hope he works on it in the offseason and does whatever Tiki Barber did after the 2003 season that helped him overcome his fumbling issues. However, I don’t believe in the “he’s one fumble away from losing the starting job” narrative.
Rashaad Penny will get more work in 2020 when healthy, but the Seahawks run so frequently that Carson can still be highly successful regardless (see: Week 13 vs. Minnesota). The other major issue is the hip injury that cut his season short. There’s some good news on that front, though. He will not need surgery on the hip and should be a full go by the start of training camp. One thing you can’t poke holes in is his production. He finished the 2019 season as the RB10 in total points and RB12 in average fantasy points per game. That’s after finishing as the RB18 last season in both of those categories in 2018. He’s a safer option that many believe and you don’t have to pay an RB1 price for him.
Projected range: Round 3, picks 28-36 overall
2.12 WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
The 11th wide receiver off the board in this mock draft was the No. 11 wide receiver in average fantasy points per game last season (No. 8 in total points). Allen is coming off one of the most unassuming 104-catch seasons in recent memory. He’s as consistent as they come, even as Philip Rivers showed signs of aging. He hasn’t missed a game in three years and his average line from 2017-19 is 101/1263/6. That’s remarkable production and consistency for someone likely to go outside of the top 20 in fantasy drafts.
There are quarterback questions in Los Angeles, but if Rivers returns or if they sign a comparable replacement then Allen is a lock to finish in WR1 territory for the fourth consecutive season. If the Chargers roll with a rookie, bump Allen down to the third round. He’s a great pick here to start a wide receiver corps for a team that took one of the elite running backs high in Round 1.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 22-30 overall
An even split of six running backs and six wide receivers came off the board in Round 2. With the Top 13 RBs and Top 11 WRs taken, the next round could make or break 2020 fantasy drafts. Do you take a safe RB2? Do you grab the No. 1 QB or TE? Do you grab a high-upside young receiver or go with more proven production?
3.1 RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Let me preface this pick by saying I understand the logic of going with Lamar Jackson or Travis Kelce here. Having the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts can be tricky and getting a positional advantage at two spots (RB1, TE or QB) over the rest of the league is enticing. However, there are still a couple running backs on the board that are in a higher tier than their counterparts. One of them is Ekeler, who finished the 2019 season as the RB4 in both total and average points. He’s proven he can have plenty of success with or without Melvin Gordon on the field.
I do not believe Gordon plays for the Chargers in 2020 (more on that later), but even if he does there’s room for Ekeler to succeed. From Weeks 5-16 with Gordon on the field, Ekeler was the RB9 with an average of 16.7 points per game. Justin Jackson is talented, but he’s not more talented or in line for more touches than Gordon was getting (the same applies for any rookie they might draft). The Chargers trust Ekeler and he has RB1 upside with an RB2 floor, save for a major injury. This is a great spot to nab him.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 22-30 overall
3.2 RB Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
As mentioned above, I expect Gordon to be the lead back somewhere else in 2020. Depending on where that is, he could go as high as the middle of the second round (especially if he heads to Kansas City or Houston). But we have to hedge our bets a little here. From the hold out, to not playing until Week 5 to finishing as the RB19 in average fantasy points per game, it was a mostly forgettable season for Gordon. But let’s not forget the type of talent he is. Here are his finishes among all running backs in average fantasy points per game between 2016-18: 6th, 6th and 3rd. I feel pretty safe in saying that his RB19 mark in 2019 is his floor. If he falls into the third round he could be a fantasy MVP candidate in 2020.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 17-29 overall
3.3 QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
I am firmly in the wait-on-QB club, but with a tier gap between my next-best RBs and WRs I’m willing to take a chance here on the 2019 MVP. Keep in mind he’s unlikely yo make it out of the second round in most leagues. Jackson finished as the No. 2 overall scorer in fantasy (behind only Christian McCaffrey) last season with an average of 28.2 fantasy points per game. That was a whopping six points per game more than the QB2 (Deshaun Watson). For context, six points per game was the difference between RB2 Dalvin Cook and RB14 Todd Gurley and the difference between WR2 Chris Godwin and WR28 Terry McLaurin.
The big debate all offseason will be about the repeatability of Jackson’s success in 2020. Is his high touchdown rate sustainable? Probably not, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a great stat from ESPN’s Mike Clay. If Jackson’s passing touchdown rate dropped from 9% to league average, he still would’ve been the QB1 in 2019. Even if you dropped his passing touchdown total from 36 to 19 and his rushing total from 1,206 yards to 983 yards, he’d still be 2019’s QB1. That’s all to say there’s plenty of room for regression and a QB1 finish in 2020. Plus, if you look at outliers like the elite 2010 season from Michael Vick and the elite 2018 season from Patrick Mahomes as comps, both players finished in the top-half of QB1 territory the following season. It’s a risk worth taking after the first couple rounds, but someone will likely reach for him in the Top 20.
Projected range: Round 2, picks 16-24 overall
3.4 TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce will be off the board in the second round of many public drafts, but taking him a round later is more appropriate. He finished as the TE1 for the fourth consecutive season, besting Zach Ertz by 33.3 total points and George Kittle on a per-game basis by 0.7 points. Kelce’s 16.6 points per game were good enough to be the WR8 if he qualified at the position. He’s an absolute stud, has missed only one game over the last six seasons and always returns value as an elite tight end. If you went RB-RB, RB-WR or WR-RB to start your draft, Kelce is a great third pick.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 15-32 overall
3.5 TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Once Kelce goes, Kittle will be soon to follow. I’m a little less excited to take Kittle in the top-half of Round 3 than I am about snagging Kelce, just because the same track record isn’t there. He’s been darn good over the last two seasons, averaging 15.5 fantasy points per game. But that’s still 2.2 points per game fewer than Kelce’s average. However, Kittle closed the gap from 3.6 points per game to 0.7 last season, which is really encouraging. If you want an elite tight end you’re going to have to pay the price. I think there’s a gap between Kittle and TE3 Zach Ertz so Kittle is worthy of a Top 30 pick.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 16-33 overall
3.6 RB Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
I’m prioritizing running backs in this range over wide receivers because of the scarcity of proven RB2 talent. Unless he decides to sit out another full season, we likely just saw the worst season Bell could reasonably expect to have while healthy. Even that was good enough to be the RB15 in total points and RB17 in average points per game. There’s a decent chance Bell is playing for someone not named Adam Gase in 2020, which would only increase his value. But for now you’re paying an RB2 price for RB1 talent with a high floor. It’s been a couple years, but let’s remember why Bell was drafted a surefire first-rounder before his 2018 holdout. If he gets out of New York he’ll be a RB1 again. If not, you’ve got a solid RB2 to get you about 15 points per game.
Projected range: Rounds 3-4, picks 31-42 overall
3.7 RB Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
The mighty may have fallen, but the hate has gone a little too far on Gurley. He’s one of only two players in the NFL to rush for a dozen or more scores in each of the last two seasons (along with Derrick Henry) and the only player to do it in three consecutive seasons. As everyone opined about how “bad” he was in 2019, he finished as the RB14 in both total and average points per game. The “super-mega-high injury risk player” missed one game last season. With a full offseason to rest after the Rams missed the playoffs, hopefully some of the hyperbole from last year will go away. Gurley isn’t a first-round talent any more, but he’s not even carrying an RB1 price tag right now. He’s a solid RB2 and fantasy managers will be very pleased with the return on their investment in 2020.
Projected range: Rounds 3-4, picks 26-41 overall
3.8 WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
If you went RB-RB to open your draft and don’t want to grab Lamar Jackson or Travis Kelce, Moore is a candidate to go a half-round higher than this. He comes in as my WR12 in this mock after finishing last season as the WR12 in total points and WR15 in average points per game in 2019. Moore blossomed into a superstar in the 10 games prior to his Week 16 injury.
From Weeks 5-15, Moore was the WR6 with an average of 17.8 points per game. That’s with spotty quarterback play too. However, there’s no guarantee that Carolina’s quarterback play is any better in 2020. Will Grier is a complete unknown and may not target Moore as much as Kyle Allen did. What if Cam Newton somehow returns as their starter? Do they sign an Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers or Teddy Bridgewater? There are too many question marks there right now. A more steady QB situation boosts him to the top of the third round to compete with Keenan Allen.
Projected range: Rounds 2-3, picks 23-29 overall
3.9 WR Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Edelman is a player I’m willing to reach a little for, even in his age-34 season, as long as Tom Brady is under center for New England in 2020. I understand the concern about a drop off at some point, but what has he done lately to indicate he’s anything other than a premier WR2 at worst with Top 10 upside? Despite playing through numerous injuries toward the end of the season, Edelman finished as the WR5 in total points and WR7 in average points per game. He was the WR15 on a per-game basis in 2018, the WR23 in 2016 and the WR8 in 2015. Aside from the ACL tear that cost him his 2017 season, Edelman hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2015. He has a clear role in the Patriots offense and has a career pace of 102/1117/6 per 16 games. Unless you completely expect him to fall apart in 2020, or Brady to leave New England, there’s no reason to believe Edelman isn’t an elite WR2.
Projected range: Round 4, picks 37-45 overall
3.10 WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
I’m very interested to see what Beckham’s ADP is early in the offseason. I’ve projected such a wide range below because opinions are all over the map. He’ll be a favorite on many bounce-back candidates lists for good reason. But we also can’t completely ignore the poor season he just had. Beckham finished as the WR29 in total points and WR37 in average points per game after going off the board late in the first round in many fantasy leagues. We also can’t ignore the injury history of his 2017 and 2018 seasons despite playing all 16 games in 2019.
However, it’s hard to imagine the Browns being any worse in 2020 than they were last year and Beckham is one year removed from being the WR8 in average points per game. In fact, since he came into the league in 2014, here are OBJ’s per-game finishes among all wide receivers: WR2, WR3, WR3, WR3 (only four games), WR8 and then last year’s WR37. This pick comes with a lot of risk but also a lot of reward. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone still on the board with more upside.
Projected range: Rounds 2-4, picks 20-40 overall
3.11 WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
I know Kupp’s post-bye struggles are scaring some fantasy managers away (he was the WR32 from Weeks 10-17), but let’s not forget that he still finished with 94/1161/10 and scored in five consecutive games to end the season. That was good enough to be the WR4 in total points and the WR7 in average points per game. In his eight games in 2018 he was the WR15 on a per-game basis at the time of his ACL injury. He’s an integral part of the Rams offense and that’s not going to change in 2020. Even though he looked fine in 2019, having another offseason to recover from his ACL injury will only help him.
Projected range: Round 4, picks 37-48 overall
3.12 RB Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
It looks like the Cardinals found the running back they want to build around in the short-term after acquiring Drake from the Dolphins mid-season. From Week 9 on, Drake was spectacular for Arizona. He had 162 total yards and a score right out of the shoot against the 49ers in his first game and finished the fantasy playoffs with a whopping 303 rushing yards and six touchdowns in Weeks 15 and 16.
Arizona is expected to re-sign him and trade David Johnson in the offseason, paving the way for Drake to be the clear starter. Chase Edmonds will get some work too, but not enough to knock Drake out of solid RB2 territory. From the time Drake was traded, he was the No. 3 running back in fantasy with an average of 19.9 points per game. Don’t expect those types of numbers in 2020, but he has plenty of upside as a third-round pick in what could be an improved offense in Year 2 of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.
Projected range: Rounds 3-4, picks 26-48 overall