The Perfect 2019 Fantasy Football Draft
We all agonize over every decision during the preseason, only to be let down throughout the regular season, wondering how we could’ve been so stupid to pass on Christian McCaffrey for Saquon Barkley, or Mike Evans for Odell Beckham.
Look, if fantasy football were easy, there’d be no reason to analyze it. However, we must learn from our mistakes. You’re never going to get every pick right, but what would it look like if you did? And I’m not talking about a dream scenario where you the top-three finishers from every position. No, this is going stick to ADP (average draft position) and select the players based on the round they were drafted in. This is a team you actually could’ve drafted based on where they were going in the preseason.
For this exercise, I’ll be using the consensus ADP across multiple websites. It’s also important to keep in mind that just because a player scored the most points, it doesn’t mean he should be the player selected in that round, as we have to keep in mind the starting requirements for each position, which includes one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one flex (W/R/T), and one defense.
1st Round: Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
Based on what I know from the experience in my leagues, teams with McCaffrey essentially were automatic playoff teams, with a lot of them getting a first-round bye due to his absurd totals this year. He became just the third running back in NFL history to finish with both 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. It really stinks to not take Michael Thomas in this round (ADP was 11), but we found more receivers in the later rounds than we did running backs.
2nd Round: Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
This was a tough round to choose from, as Mike Evans and Travis Kelce were both great picks, but it’s all about position scarcity. Did you know Jamaal Williams was the best waiver wire running back this year? We can’t wait until the later rounds to get a 20-plus-touch running back who racked up points all season. Despite missing Week 16 and portions of other games, Cook finished behind only McCaffrey in PPR points through Week 16.
3rd Round: Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
This one came down to Jones and Leonard Fournette, but considering it was our flex spot, we’ll take some variance in order to get some upside. Jones scored a miraculous 19 total touchdowns in 2019, and that’s despite sharing the workload with Jamaal Williams. Did you know that Jones topped 13 carries in just four games during the first 16 weeks of the season? Despite that, he finished as the No. 4 running back during the 2019 fantasy season. It’s tough to see the timeshare going away in 2020, but Jones has produced enough to warrant first-round consideration.
4th Round: Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
Despite getting injured in Week 15, fantasy owners got their worth out of one of the biggest steals in the draft. Many were on Godwin as a sleeper, which caused him to rise into the fourth-round, though not many would’ve guessed he’d edge out his teammate Mike Evans in fantasy points. Through 15 weeks, Godwin was the No. 2 receiver to only Michael Thomas.
5th Round: Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
The fifth round of fantasy drafts did not bring us tremendous value, as there were only two potential selections here. Kupp or Calvin Ridley, and only one of them was truly elite for half the season. It seems so long ago, but Kupp finished with 100-plus yards in five of the first eight games this season and was fantasy’s No. 1 receiver for a while. While his yardage and usage came way down, he also scored in each of the final four games of the fantasy season.
6th Round: Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC)
This round was tough, as Allen Robinson and D.J. Moore really did deserve consideration, but again, we found many more wide receivers in the late rounds than we did running backs. Despite only having the “starter” role for four games and reaching double-digit carries once since Week 4, Ekeler was able to finish as the No. 3 running back in PPR formats, behind only McCaffrey and Cook.
7th Round: Kenyan Drake (RB – ARI)
We’re in a weird part of drafts, as the seventh and eighth rounds were pretty horrendous. But knowing Drake likely carried his fantasy owners to a championship, he makes the team. In Weeks 15 and 16, when it mattered most, he tallied a combined 303 rushing yards, 27 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. You have to wonder what the Cardinals will do with him and David Johnson, as Johnson signed a high-dollar contract extension before the season, while Drake is slated to be an unrestricted free agent.
8th Round: Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
It came down to Shepard or Curtis Samuel in this round, which just highlights how bad this round was. Seriously, the others drafted in this round were Jared Goff, Derrius Guice, Cam Newton, Sammy Watkins, David Njoku, Jordan Howard, Rams D/ST, Corey Davis, Eric Ebron, and Marvin Jones. At least when Shepard was on the field, he was useful, totaling 76 yards and/or a touchdown in 5-of-9 games. This is by far the weakest round of our draft.
9th Round: Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)
Seriously? Did you think we were going to leave our draft without Jackson, who might become the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback of all-time? He’s just 1.40 fantasy points short of Patrick Mahomes‘ record-setting performance in 2018. Removing Week 17 from the equation, Jackson scored 16.94 more fantasy points during the fantasy season than Mahomes did. Some will consider him the No. 1 overall pick heading into 2020, and while I’m not going to be doing that, he does deserve consideration at the end of the first round.
10th Round: Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
Despite playing with three less-than-stellar options at quarterback, Sutton overcame the odds and finished as a top-20 receiver. There were just five wide receivers who totaled 56-plus yards in 11 different games. Sutton was part of elite company, joining Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Devante Parker, and D.J. Moore as the only ones to do it. His consistency and prowess in the red zone should make him a coveted WR2 in fantasy drafts next year.
11th Round: Mark Andrews (TE – BAL)
Rather than using a second-round pick on Travis Kelce, we’ll lose 2.8 PPR points per game to take Andrews in the 11th round. Not only did Andrews finish as the No. 3 overall tight end, but he was one of the more consistent options at tight end, as he finished with 9.5 or more PPR points in 10-of-15 games, which was behind only Kelce.
12th Round: D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA)
This is unexpected considering Metcalf was a raw wide receiver out of college and that he’d take some time to develop. Instead, he finished as a top-36 wide receiver in his first year, which includes him missing multiple weeks prior to the season for a knee scope. He was the WR22 from Weeks 5-15 and will have a full offseason to train with Russell Wilson. The future is bright for the size/speed freak who should only improve in 2020.
13th Round: New England Patriots D/ST
Yes, knowing what we know now, the Patriots defense would’ve absolutely been worth a pick in the 13th round. They finished with exactly 50 more fantasy points than the next closest team (Steelers) and gave fantasy teams multiple week-winning performances. We don’t use early-round picks on defenses because of the variance, as evidenced by those who wasted seventh-round picks on the Bears (yes, their ADP was 78 overall), who finished as the No. 16 defense in 2019.
14th Round: John Brown (WR – BUF)
When Brown signed with the Bills, it seemed like the worst-case scenario for his fantasy value, but he and Josh Allen proved the doubters wrong. He totaled at least 51 yards and/or a touchdown in 13-of-15 games this year and finished as a top-15 PPR receiver at 29 years old while in a new offense. With Josh Allen taking a step forward as a passer this year, there’s little reason to doubt Brown as a sturdy fantasy option in 2020 drafts.
15th Round: Devante Parker (WR – MIA)
There was a point earlier in the season where someone said, “Can you stop hyping up Parker? The dude is a bust.” It’s miraculous what can happen when you have a quarterback who’s willing to target you, and then lose a head coach who’s continually held back talent. Prior to the season, we talked about Parker on the podcast as someone who’d tremendously benefit from Ryan Fitzpatrick winning the starting job. Here’s a fun stat: Since Fitzpatrick took the starting job for good in Week 7, the only wide receiver who outscored Parker the remainder of the season was Michael Thomas.
QB: Lamar Jackson
RB: Dalvin Cook
WR: Chris Godwin
WR: Cooper Kupp
WR: Devante Parker
TE: Mark Andrews
W/R/T: Aaron Jones
BENCH: Austin Ekeler
BENCH: Kenyan Drake
BENCH: D.J. Chark
BENCH: Courtland Sutton
BENCH: John Brown
BENCH: D.K. Metcalf
BENCH: Darren Waller