We’re not even completely done with the 2019 season and a group of us crazies is already looking toward 2020. Twelve of your favorite QB List analysts took part in a Way Too Early Mock Draft that started on January 20th. The format of the mock was a 12-team PPR with the starting lineup consisting of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, Flex, K, and DST to go along with our five bench spots. For sanity purposes, we did not factor in the incoming 2020 rookie class. Let’s get to it!
Round 1, Pick 4: Dalvin Cook (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
With Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott off the board, I faced my first dilemma of the draft (and trust me guys, I do not handle pressure well). I was between Dalvin Cook and a pair of Saints in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Ultimately I went with Cook, not just because I love him, but because the Vikings ran the ball at the fourth-highest rate this year and the offensive line did a great job opening holes. Per Football Outsiders, the O-Line ranked seventh in Adjusted Line Yards and his 14.2% target share is just the cherry on top. For what its worth, it made me feel pretty good that Kamara and Thomas were taken directly after me.
Round 2, Pick 21: Mike Evans (WR, Tampa Bay Bucs)
Our staffers went super running back heavy in the first round and a half as I watched 14 backs go in the first 20 picks. With the league being PPR and having the ability to start up to four wide-outs, I expected a more even split, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when Mike Evans fell into my lap. Evans was in the midst of a monster season (WR2 at the time) when he suffered a hamstring injury on his way to the end zone on a 61-yard touchdown reception in Week 14. Despite the injury, Evans finished with 1,157 yards and 8 TDs on 67 catches. There is some mystery with this pick due to Jameis Winston‘s status as a free agent, but Evans warrants this type of pick on talent alone.
Round 3, Pick 28: Zach Ertz (TE, Philadelphia Eagles)
Oh, hometown bias, why you gotta haunt me so much? Immediately after making this selection I share with Twitter, “Ertz at 3.04. Too high for him? Still a top 3 TE?” – so trust me, I’ve doubted this pick from the start. However, when I look at the seven picks that went immediately after, I think I’m okay with the pick, regardless of if it were a reach. The next seven went Odell Beckham, Todd Gurley, Julien Edelman, Amari Cooper, Keenan Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. I love Jackson and Mahomes, but I wasn’t taking either early in the third round. I definitely could make an argument for Beckham, Cooper, or Allen, but every year I find myself waiting on tight end, drafting two late, and trying to use my depth to trade for a stud. So, I’m okay with Zach Ertz here.
Round 4, Pick 45: Melvin Gordon (RB, Free Agent)
With taking a wide receiver and tight end in the last two rounds, I didn’t want to leave myself thin at running back. I was pretty locked into Melvin Gordon, with Kenyon Drake and Marlon Mack being my other options. There’s currently a lot up in the air, but I love the value depending on where Gordon lands. This year was such a strange year for Gordon which started with the holdout along with Austin Ekeler‘s early-season success. On the positive side, he found the end zone nine times, saw a 9.5% target share, and caught 42 balls in just 12 games. If Gordon ends up in a situation where he’s a three-down back, we’ll see him shoot up draft boards, but in early drafts, he should continue to come at a value.
Round 5, Pick 52: Kerryon Johnson (RB, Detroit Lions)
Fun fact – Kerryon Johnson will turn just 23 in June of 2020. In the first five healthy games of Johnson’s 2019 season, he found the end zone or went over 100 yards in four of those games. Johnson played on just over 50% of the Lions’ snaps in their first two games but following the release of C.J. Anderson, Johnson’s snap share spiked to 70-75% over the next three games. Since we can’t have nice things, of course, Johnson went down with knee injury that kept him out until Week 16. Seeing Johnson return late in the year gives me confidence in drafting him in 2020, especially when he comes as an RB3.
Round 6, Pick 69: John Brown (WR, Buffalo Bills)
I love this pick and not just because John Brown went at pick 69 (noice!). Brown was such a beast as Josh Allen‘s favorite target this year as he had a 23.9% target share. The part that makes me even more excited is his 14.2 aDOT. Not only is Brown getting volume, but he’s getting plenty of shots down the field to create big plays. Brown and Allen are both locked into the Bills next year and I expect big things to come.
Round 7, Pick 76: Terry McLaurin (WR, Washington Redskins)
Maybe I have a type because Terry McLaurin and John Brown are very similar. Big play receivers that saw a 20%+ target share with a big aDOT. McLaurin finished second among rookies in catches, yards, and tied for third in touchdowns with a combination of Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, and Dwayne Haskins under center. Truth be told, I kind of fell hard for McLaurin and ignored everything around him, but when I saw Deebo Samuel and Darren Waller come off the board at 7.11 and 7.12, my heart sank a little bit.
Round 8, Pick 93: Darius Slayton (WR, New York Giants)
Alright, this may have been a reach, but with zero ADP to go off of, I grabbed Darius Slayton; one of many high-upside receivers that I had in my queue. In his rookie season, Slayton played in 14 games and accumulated 740 yards and eight touchdowns while sporting a 16.6% target share and a 79.4% snap share. Daniel Jones showed some legit signs of fantasy stardom as a rookie and will be on my shortlist of high-upside late-round quarterbacks in leagues where I plan to draft two quarterbacks. Hindsight being 20/20, I could’ve gone with Curtis Samuel or Alshon Jeffery and ended up with Slayton later.
Round 9, Pick 100: Royce Freeman (RB, Denver Broncos)
Two years ago I made the mistake of falling in love with Royce Freeman based on his preseason games and drafted him the fourth round – ugh. 2019 saw Freeman in a 50-50 timeshare with Philip Lindsay. With both Lindsay and Freeman on the books for 2020, I’d expect a similar workload as Freeman’s floor. However, the optimist in me remembers that preseason and the fact that the Broncos invested a high third-round pick in Freeman. The upside, if something happens to Lindsay or if Freeman beasts out, is a three-down back. When I made this pick, I was between Freeman and Rashaad Penny, and Penny was oh-so-close to making it back to me.
Round 10, Pick 117: Preston Williams (WR, Miami Dolphins)
This is a pick that wasn’t well researched. Granted it’s January, but make sure you learn from my mistakes. For eight weeks, Preston Williams was a standout for the Dolphins. He had a 21.4% target share with an 84.6% snap share in his rookie season. Then, in Week 9, Williams tore his ACL. He’s expected to be out 6-9 months, which on the long-end places him back in August. While that doesn’t necessarily make Williams undraftable, we’ll need to have more information on his status before being drafted in the 10th round.
Round 11, Pick 124: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
Is this what’s going to happen next year? Because I’ll take this risk all day long. Aaron Rodgers as a late-round quarterback really blows my mind. Rodgers had a down year for his standards but finished as the QB9 and that was with being without Davante Adams for five weeks.
Round 12, Pick 141: Tyler Higbee (TE, Los Angeles Rams)
Following Gerald Everett‘s knee injury in Week 12, we saw Tyler Higbee go absolutely bananas. The question is, moving forward will we see Higbee continue to be the lead tight end? Everett returned from the knee injury in Week 16, but Higbee continued to get the lion’s share of the snaps. Over the last five weeks of the season, Higbee averaged eight catches and over 100 yards per game while finding the end zone twice. Knowing how late Higbee and Dallas Goedert went, I’d probably lean away from taking Zach Ertz in the 3rd round.
Round 13, Pick 148: Baltimore Ravens DST
The Ravens defense is a fine pick for a DST, but when it comes down to draft time, I’ll be looking at teams’ early-season schedule to attempt to pick on weak opponents – a la the Patriots of this year. The Ravens will face the Bengals and Browns twice along with the Giants and Redskins, but nothing guarantees that they’ll face those opponents early on.
Round 14, Pick 165: Ty Johnson (RB, Detroit Lions)
Ty Johnson is a fine late-round, post-hype sleeper and he goes well with Kerryon Johnson‘s injury history. There are a lot of question marks with Ty Johnson, like “why do the Lions hate him?” and “will they sign random free agents in October as opposed to playing him?”, but for now, he’s fine as a late-round flier.
Round 15, Ka’imi Fairbairn (K, Houston Texans)
Standard “Kicker in the last round”. To be fair, I should’ve followed Mike Miklius and Colin Weatherwax’s lead and used this pick for another late-round flyer with the intention of grabbing a kicker off the wire.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re officially my next best friend! No take-backs, no getting out of it! Enjoy the off-season!
(Photo by Rich Gabrielson/Icon Sportswire)