Taking an early look at this coming fantasy season, I am finding some sweet spots I want to draft in. I love having the #2 pick with the assumption that Christian McCaffrey goes first. Saquon Barkley still feels like the best RB in the league and grabbing him second is nice. Outside of those two, I see a definite tier break. If I miss on a top-2 pick, I hope to be somewhere around 8-11. I like grabbing a top RB first and pick eight gives me a chance at Joe Mixon and Nick Chubb with back-to-back selections. Basically, I am hoping to be pick 1, 2, or somewhere around the turn. So which pick did I get? I selected third.
Round 1, Pick 3: Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Dallas Cowboys)
Outside of McCaffrey and Barkley, there are probably 5 guys I can make a case for. I could easily take Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, and Joe Mixon and not feel bad about it. However, there is a safer guy–a 1b to the 1a that is Barkley and CMC. I, of course, am talking about Zeke. Ezekiel Elliott does not exactly have the safe reception floor of my top two guys, but he averaged 22+ touches per game last year. He is about as safe a player as you can take. Sure, Zeke is not my top guess to finish as the top-scoring back. I can almost guarantee he will be top-5 though. He is, in my mind, the safest running back in the NFL and a worthy pick at the 1.03.
Round 2, Pick 10: Le’Veon Bell (RB, New York Jets)
This pick will surely make some people queasy. Bell is on the wrong side of the age curve (28 this coming season), he finished outside the top-12, he put up no 100-yard games, and he plays on a terrible offense for an uninspiring coach. Why Bell then? Last season, Sam Darnold was a non-factor thanks to a case of mono. Despite the low numbers, Bell still passed the eye test for me: he looked like the stud I remember from years past. I think Bell still has RB1 talent, and I’m happy to grab him as the 15th RB off the board–after Miles Sanders.
Round 3, Pick 3: Allen Robinson (WR, Chicago Bears)
After go running back in the first two rounds, I needed someone I knew I could rely on in the third round. Allen Robinson was my pick. To be fair, there were plenty of great names available: Odell Beckham Jr, Amari Cooper, Keenan Allen, and Stefon Diggs to name a few. What I like about Robinson was his consistency. Robinson saw 5+ receptions in 13 games last year. He was the clear #1 target, and his year could have been even better if the quarterback play improved. Robinson is a beast after the catch, and he is smart enough to find open space in a defense. I can rely on him as my WR1 in 2020.
Round 4, Pick 10: Kenyan Drake (RB, Arizona Cardinals)
I usually like to keep my drafts balanced in the early rounds: I like to leave the first four rounds with two running backs and two wide receivers. I don’t like inherently creating a weakness in my lineup before week 1. Well, this draft took me outside my comfort zone. Five of the six picks before me (and 10 of 14) were WR and I don’t like reaching after a run finishes up. So, I took another running back in Kenyan Drake. Drake doesn’t have a team for 2020 yet, but I’m betting on the Cardinals. Either way, he should have a starting job next year. I like what he showed, and he makes an excellent RB3.
Round 5, Pick 3: Devonta Freeman (RB, Atlanta Falcons)
After I took Drake, I watched three more receivers go in the next four picks. Seeing Devonta Freeman still on the board was too much for me to pass up. I think of Freeman as the poor man’s Lev Bell–he played behind a terrible line and put up terrible stats despite some good play. I don’t imagine Freeman leads the league in points, but I could easily see him finishing as an RB1 this season. Atlanta needs to figure out its offensive line. I love the offense though; Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on the roster mean that defenses are hardly locking in on the run. Freeman could be in for a big bounceback season in 2020.
Round 6, Pick 10: Christian Kirk (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
Once I left the first five rounds with only one receiver, I knew I needed a couple of big shots–guys who could break out and become number ones on their respective teams. Christian Kirk perfectly fits this mold. Kirk has flashed talent, and he has a young QB that looks ready to make a leap. If the Arizona offense improves, Kirk could stand to be a prime beneficiary. I can easily see a world where he finishes as a top-15 WR in 2020. If he doesn’t, I play the waivers and wait for the next DJ Chark or Terry McLaurin.
Round 7, Pick 3: Sterling Shepard (WR, NY Giants)
In a dysfunctional offense in 2019–and amidst concussions–Sterling Shepard still played well. Shepard averaged 8+ targets and 5+ receptions per game and was the best weapon on the Giants outside of Saquon Barkley. Maybe the Giants suck again. If so, this pick hardly hurts in the seventh round. If they become a more capable offense, though, Shepard will be the #1 and he could easily put up 1,000 yards without much trouble. In a full season, he would have had 133 targets and 91 receptions last year. I love those numbers this late.
Round 8, Pick 10: Hunter Henry (TE, LA Chargers)
Hunter Henry once again fell to injury, and his health is becoming a recurring question. As such, his stock fell more than three rounds. In the eighth, I love taking a shot on Henry. I trust his talent, and he played well in a bad offense last year (seeing a pattern to my picks?). Henry has the talent to be a top-5 tight end, and I grabbed him as the TE8. If he plays poorly, there are other guys I can take a shot on. If he stays healthy, he solidifies the position and gives my team another strength at a discount price. Did I mention that Henry could be a free agent with his choice of landing spot? Sign me up!
Round 9, Pick 3: Marvin Jones (WR, Detroit Lions)
At this point, I wanted another wide receiver I could trust in week 1. I need a running mate to Robinson in my week 1 lineup. Marvin Jones is an excellent choice in this regard. He played in only 13 games last year, but he averaged seven targets and five receptions per game. We know how valuable Jones’ targets can be. He is the #2 weapon on the team, but I’m fine with that: this just means Jones will face easier coverage. He should still get plenty of volume–assuming Matthew Stafford can heal that pesky back–and he is always capable of the monster game (see week 7). Hopefully, Kirk or Shepard pops and I don’t even have to rely on him outside of bye weeks.
Round 10, Pick 10: Justice Hill (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
I loved Mark Ingram last year with his deflated price, and that paid off. Despite a split backfield (Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edwards), Ingram still put up an RB1 season. So why invest in his backup? Ingram is 30. He only recorded 15+ carries six times. This was a split backfield all the way. If Justice Hill pops, I think he could easily steal away a big chunk of the carries, and the Ravens spent a fourth-round pick on him. He has the speed to put up big days on only a few carries–think of him as the Alvin Kamara to the Mark Ingram of New Orleans. If Hill breaks out, it would also give me the ammo to move some RBs for a top-end WR. If he doesn’t, I can easily drop him after a couple of weeks and move on. This is my ideal late-round pick.
Round 11, Pick 3: Alexander Mattison (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
In the same vein of Justice Hill comes Alexander Mattison. Mattison played well in 2019 but is locked behind Dalvin Cook on the depth chart. Raise your hand if you feel 100% confident in Cook’s health. That’s what I thought. If Cook goes down, Mattison becomes a strong option each week and he fits in well as a Cook replacement. He would be a weekly starter with some RB1 upside. Again, this is perfect for a late-round bench stash.
Round 12, Pick 10: Andy Isabella (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
I’m going to be honest: I haven’t thought too much about late-round selections yet. Andy Isabella seemed like a decent hedge against Christian Kirk in what could be a high-volume offense. He should only need a few catches a game to make his mark, but it is worrisome how many weapons are fighting for a piece of this pie. If Isabella didn’t show quickly, I’d be fine with dumping him right away for someone else.
Round 13, Pick 3: Corey Davis (WR, Tennessee Titans)
At this point, I still needed a quarterback, defense, and kicker. You don’t have to roster a kicker though–not until week 1 anyways. I decided to take another lotto ticket in Corey Davis. Davis has been underwhelming in his first three years, and AJ Brown just blew past him on the depth chart. Still, I don’t think Davis is done; my hope would be some kind of trade and a change of scenery for the underwhelming receiver. If nothing has changed by week 1, I drop him for a kicker.
Round 14, Pick 10: Matthew Stafford (QB, Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford only played in eight games last year. When he was playing, he was fighting through injuries. How did he do? Stafford was on pace for 4,998 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. I know we can’t just double someone’s numbers, but this tells me Stafford is a great choice–assuming he is healthy. I will take Stafford all day in the 14th round, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him finish top-5 amongst all QBs. Stafford is an EXCELLENT sleeper going into 2020, and he has a wealth of weapons to support him.
Round 15, Pick 3: Los Angeles Rams Defense/ ST
I pretty much play matchups in week 1, and this was a nice filler option until I know what to look for in week 1. In my perfect draft right now, I’ll grab six running backs, six wide receivers, a quarterback, a tight end, and a defense. Once the preseason is over, I’ll drop my worst RB or WR for a kicker. At that point, someone might be hurt anyways.
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