Way Too Early 2019 Mock Draft (Fantasy Football)
With the 2018 fantasy football season in the books, we can already start checking out what our 2019 redraft teams will look like using the DraftWizard on FantasyPros. At this point in January, there is still an incredible amount of unknown information about next season, and with each step of the offseason—free agency, the NFL draft, training camp, and so on—we will be able to mock draft with more confidence and accuracy. It’s still never too early to start.
If nothing else, mock drafting now can help you begin to frame next season’s rankings and draft strategies. You can get early insight into how players are valued early on and ultimately work off of that to determine who is overvalued and who is being slept on.
The following mock draft is based on a 12-team, half-PPR league with 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 DST, 1 K, and 6 BN. I randomly received the third pick.
Round 1, Pick 3: Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
This was the easiest pick to make in the entire mock draft. I see Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley as interchangeable first overall picks, so if one of them falls to the third spot, I’m pulling the trigger. Barkley was the Giants offense in 2018. He was given 352 touches as a rookie, and that might be his floor. There is no reason to think his role will diminish next season, and the Giants can continue to build a better team around him by drafting a quarterback and strengthening the offensive line, he’ll have a bigger opportunity to score touchdowns. The Giants’ offense was middle of the pack last year, ranked 16th in points per game and 17th in yards per game. Yet Barkley finished as the RB2 overall. Volume is king in fantasy football, and Barkley is the king of volume.
Round 2, Pick 10: Juju Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz were taken right before more here, and I thought seriously about taking Kittle, but ultimately I gambled (and lost) that he’d be available in another four picks. Juju Smith-Schuster can be an elite fantasy wide receiver next year. With the increasingly probable departure of Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster will have an even larger target share next year. He put up more yards, more receptions, and had a higher catch percentage than Brown in 2018, and the 22-year-old is primed to take the next step. People will speculate about how much Brown’s presence contributed to Smith-Schuster’s success, but it’s not often a team’s “second option” ends up with the league’s fifth-most receiving yards. James Washington and James Conner will also occupy defenses’ attention. Everyone takes a step up if Brown leaves.
Round 3, Pick 3: Mike Evans (WR – TB)
Mike Evans finished the season with 1,524 yards. Yes, you read that right. Evans was quietly one of the most consistent receivers in fantasy. He had 11 games with at least 80 receiving yards. That was more than everyone in the league not named Julio Jones. Evans has now topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first five NFL seasons. I really wanted a top-three tight end since there’s an enormous drop after Kelce, Ertz, and Kittle, but I was forced to punt the position with the three of them gone. Evans is an elite option at wide receiver, but for some reason, people want to exclude him from that categorization.
Round 4, Pick 10: Allen Robinson (WR – CHI)
A long string of receivers were taken before my pick at the end of the fourth round. Instead of reaching for a running back that I’d rather take in the fifth, I rounded out my starting receivers with Allen Robinson. Robinson flashed incredible talent in his first year as a Bear (as well as his first year after a torn ACL), but he wasn’t able to produce consistently. The best game of his season was the Bears’ lone playoff game against the Eagles, where he hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, that’s a sign of good things to come. Chicago’s offense did a 180-degree turn in one year under head coach Matt Nagy. After finishing 29th in points scored in 2017, they shot up to ninth in 2018. With another season for everyone in that system and another year further removed from his surgery, Robinson should contribute on a more consistent basis.
Round 5, Pick 3: Derrick Henry (RB – TEN)
Derrick Henry’s draft value is going to be a huge question on everyone’s mind during draft season. How high did his spectacular finish in 2018 catapult him up 2019’s draft boards? In Henry’s last five games, he ran for 625 yards on 6.4 yards per carry and found the end zone eight times. Dion Lewis became an afterthought. But can he keep that up next year? I felt more than comfortable using a fifth-round pick on that gamble. I needed a running back, and it was between Henry and Kerryon Johnson, whose usage questions worry me significantly more. We saw Henry’s ceiling at the end of 2018, and if he can play anywhere near that level he will easily finish as a top-15 running back.
Round 6, Pick 10: Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
This was a bit of a wild card pick, but Jerick McKinnon was brought in last year to be the lead back for the 49ers. I believe he’ll still get a shot at that role. Matt Breida has proven to be an incredible talent, but he was on the injury report every week, often not even finishing games he started. His body doesn’t appear able to hand a full workload. There’s obvious risk involved, but the other running backs available were Kenyan Drake, Mark Ingram, LeSean McCoy, and James White. Let’s not forget that Kyle Shanahan had big plans for McKinnon in 2018.
Round 7, Pick 3: Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
Mike Williams is a guy I believe can truly break out next season. After getting drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2017 and spending most of his rookie season injured, Williams took a huge step forward in year two and flashed some of the playmaking ability that made him a star at Clemson. He’s in a high octane offense that ranked sixth in points and 11th in yards this year. Despite the many weapons Philip Rivers had at his disposal, he prioritized Williams in the end zone. His 10 receiving touchdowns were four more than any other Charger this season.
Round 8, Pick 10: Tevin Coleman (RB – FA)
This was another speculative pick. At this point in the draft, especially in January, many players are going to have large question marks surrounding their role or team next year. Tevin Coleman is a pending free agent and will look to find a starting job somewhere in the offseason. The best-case scenario is getting a McKinnon-type deal and the chance to take on a full workload.
Round 9, Pick 3: Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
It’s normal for me to take my first non-RB/WR at pick nine, and Baker Mayfield is one of my targets this year. As a rookie, he threw 27 touchdowns, breaking Peyton Manning’s previous rookie record of 26 in two (and a half) fewer games. He also threw for the sixth-most rookie passing yards of all time while playing two (and a half) fewer games than the five players above him. That’s about as good as you can start a career for a quarterback from a statistical standpoint, and he also led the Browns to their best record since 2007. If he can improve on that in 2019, when he’ll open the season as the starter with a new coach (Freddie Kitchens) he gets along with, Mayfield is going to be a top-10 quarterback.
Round 10, Pick 10: Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE)
Round 11, Pick 3: Jared Cook (TE – OAK)
Since I didn’t get a top-three tight end, I waited until the double-digit rounds to grab two. Rob Gronkowski’s name was staring at me. I know he was a shell of his former self this season and that he may retire in the offseason, but I’ll take my chances if he’s available in Round 10. For insurance, I took Jared Cook right after him. His 99 targets led all pass-catchers on the Raiders and were fifth-most among tight ends. There’s no doubt that Jon Gruden will do something to find better receiving weapons in the offseason (I would hope), but Cook should still play a featured role after developing great chemistry with Derek Carr.
Round 12, Pick 10: Mitchell Trubisky (QB – CHI)
Round 13, Pick 3: Nyheim Hines (RB – IND)
Round 14, Pick 10: James Washington (WR – PIT)
Round 15, Pick 3: Minnesota Vikings Defense
Round 16, Pick 10: Mason Crosby (K – GB)
This rounds out the rest of my bench, my kicker, and my defense. Mitchell Trubisky was up and down this season as a passer, but he boosted his value by adding 421 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Another year of development and growth under Nagy could propel his career’s positive trajectory. Nyheim Hines could be a great lightning to Marlon Mack‘s thunder, assuming the Colts don’t make any big running back moves in the draft or free agency. Pass-catching running backs always have value in half-PPR and PPR leagues. Washington is a steal in Round 14. We saw what the number two receiver in that offense can accomplish through Smith-Schuster, and right now that role is his to lose.
Round 1: Saquon Barkley
Round 2: Juju Smith-Schuster
Round 3: Mike Evans
Round 4: Allen Robinson
Round 5: Derrick Henry
Round 6: Jerick McKinnon
Round 7: Mike Williams
Round 8: Tevin Coleman
Round 9: Baker Mayfield
Round 10: Rob Gronkowski
Round 11: Jared Cook
Round 12: Mitchell Trubisky
Round 13: Nyheim Hines
Round 14: James Washington
Round 15: Minnesota Vikings Defense
Round 16: Mason Crosby