PPR Dynasty Startup Mock Draft (2020 Fantasy Football)
NFL Draft season is upon us. For some hardcore dynasty enthusiasts, this is the time to find a new startup. Dynasty startups at this time of year are not for the feint of heart, especially if rookies will be included in the draft. There is a great deal of uncertainty now as free-agency-powered player movement will alter depth charts across the NFL. The NFL Draft has yet to occur, so you take on additional risk when drafting rookies before you know where they will land or if they will be drafted to a favorable depth chart (see Damien Harris to New England, Darrell Henderson to Los Angeles, and Rodney Anderson to Cincinnati).
You may be asking yourself “Do people really do dynasty startup drafts before the NFL Draft?” Yes. Yes they (we) do. There are different ways to handle an early startup that holds its draft before the NFL Draft itself. If the league provider allows for it, incoming rookie players will sometimes be included in the draft. In some cases, leagues draft the regular player pool and the rookies in separate drafts. In others, dynasty teams are able to pick rookie draft slots like 1.01 and 1.02 in the startup draft, and utilize those slots once the rookie draft is held.
For the purposes of this dynasty startup mock draft we will be drafting both rookie players and NFL players. There are many different strategies one may employ when drafting for a startup dynasty league. Going young is the route I prefer, as I am perfectly willing to experience growing pains in my first season before turning into a true dynasty by year two. I will explain the rationale behind each pick below. This was a single-QB mock draft that lasted 18 rounds. We will discuss the selections made in the first 14 rounds. Let’s dig in.
1.10 – Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
Alvin Kamara at 10th overall? In a dynasty league? Believe it or not, I actually had to talk myself out of going in a different direction here, so his stunning drop is not as far-fetched as I immediately thought. Kamara saw his numbers fall off pretty dramatically in 2019 but saw just 23 less touches overall. The major difference was the touchdowns, as Kamara had 18 combined scores in 2018 and only six in 2019. Eighteen touchdowns is an elite season, but Kamara should be back up over 10 combined touchdowns for the third time in four seasons this year. I would have considered Kamara as early as fifth overall and would have drafted him before any of the four receivers that came off the board before my pick.
2.03 – Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
I almost drafted Mixon at 1.10. I took Mixon in the first round in the majority of the startups I participated in last season and would do so once again this season. I was shocked that he was still on the board at 1.10 and am absolutely elated that my gamble paid off and Mixon is still on the board for me to take at 2.03. Whether it is Joe Burrow at quarterback as most of the world expects, or Tua Tagovailoa, Mixon is going to see a dramatic upgrade to the talent around him on the offensive side of the ball. The 2019 11th overall pick Jonah Williams will be ready to make his Bengals debut. A.J. Green could be back, but if he decides to sign elsewhere, you can be sure that the Bengals will make an impact addition or two at wideout in free agency or the draft. Mixon finished ninth in the league with 1,137 rushing yards in 2019 despite averaging just 40 rushing yards per game over his first eight games of the season.
3.10 – D’Andre Swift (RB – Georgia)
The wide receivers left on the board at this point of the draft did not exactly enthuse, so I decided to be aggressive in targeting the top rookie running back in the 2020 NFL Draft. Swift will likely be a third round pick or higher at some point in this off-season, so while he is a value now, he may not be as much of a reach as one might expect. We do not know where Swift will land, but he will be one of the first running backs off the board during the NFL Draft and will be drafted to start. He has immediate 1,000-rushing-yard, 10-touchdown upside and should instantly vie for RB1 status. Swift could prove to be a steal here.
4.03 – A.J. Green (WR – CIN)
Drafting A.J. Brown at 3.10 was a strong consideration, but I am much happier with Swift as my RB3 and A.J. Green as my WR1. Green’s dynasty value is slowly decreasing with each passing year, but he will provide WR1 level value until the players I draft in the following rounds enter that conversation themselves. Green remains one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL and should be drafted much higher than this in dynasty leagues. We do not know where Green will be playing this upcoming season, but he proved throughout his career that he is one of the rare quarterback-proof wide receivers. A.J. Brown would have been considered here if he made it back to me.
5.10 – D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA)
Metcalf was one of the top rookie receivers of 2019 and is one of the top dynasty wide receivers. It is perplexing that he is still on the board at this point of the draft, but I am not complaining. Metcalf was always a terrific fit with Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks were smart enough to scheme to their rookie receivers strengths and not ask him to do things he does not have the skill-set to accomplish. With Seattle willing to ask him to do only what he does best, the sky is the limit for Metcalf. He should become a perennial 1,000-receiving-yard, 10-touchdown receiver as soon as next year.
6.03 – CeeDee Lamb (WR – Oklahoma)
With A.J. Green and D.K. Metcalf on board as my WR1 and WR2, targeting the top rookie receivers becomes my priority. Marquise Brown and N’Keal Harry are still on the board at this point, but Lamb may be the safer bet as far as half-PPR scoring is concerned. He has the talent to hold off most depth chart additions, and could become a 100 reception receiver as soon as his rookie season. An Odell Beckham Jr. type of receiver at 6’2, Lamb could be the next big thing at the wide receiver position. I like Jerry Jeudy more, but believe he will last longer in startup drafts at this point of the off-season.
7.10 – Kyler Murray (QB – ARI)
I passed on Patrick Mahomes in the third round and Deshaun Watson in the fourth, so adding Kyler Murray this late feels like an absolute steal. Murray had over 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards as a rookie and is only going to get better. He is not going to set any rushing-yard records like Lamar Jackson but has more upside as a passer and remains a terrific QB1 in dynasty leagues. Murray has too much upside to pass up at this point of the draft.
8.03 – Mark Ingram (RB – BAL)
I get that Mark Ingram is aging and probably only has a couple of years left as a starter, but landing 2019’s RB8 in the eighth round feels almost criminal. These are the types of values to take advantage of when dynasty managers have their sights honed in on younger players at this point of the draft. The Ravens will likely make an addition to their backfield if Gus Edwards leaves in free agency, but they are unlikely to add someone with the talent to unseat Ingram as the starter. Ingram could be one of my top two backs production-wise for the next couple of seasons.
9.10 – Jerry Jeudy (WR – Alabama)
I expected that Jeudy would have been off the board by now. I considered him back in the fifth round before taking CeeDee Lamb, so it is perplexing that he is still available at this point of the draft. While Lamb may be the more polished, NFL-ready receiver, it is Jeudy who has more upside. If you believe in NFL mock drafts, Jeudy has a high chance of landing with Adam Gase and the New York Jets, a landing spot that would torpedo his fantasy upside. That is the risk of participating in early dynasty startups without a separate rookie draft. Jeudy is well worth the risk.
10.03 – Cam Akers (RB – Florida State)
With Jonathan Taylor already off the board, my decision came down to Cam Akers or Damien Williams. Akers will likely be a fifth or sixth-round pick in dynasty startups most participate in this season, so he is too good of a value to pass up at this point in the draft. Akers has a high probability of landing a starting job this April and will immediately become an RB2 if he does so. He has the tools to be an immediate high-volume workhorse and proved in college that he can find success no matter the state of his offensive line.
11.10 – Preston Williams (WR – MIA)
I was shocked to see Preston Williams still on the board in the 11th round. DeVante Parker was taken in the fifth round, but we should remember that it was Williams, and not Parker, who led the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and air yards before he was lost for the season in Week 9. Parker scored 92 fantasy points and had an 18 percent target share in his eight games with Williams. He scored 154.2 fantasy points and had a 23 percent target share in his final eight games. It did not hurt that Ryan Fitzpatrick, after becoming more comfortable in the system and being inserted as the full time starter, played dramatically better in the second half of the season either. In dynasty leagues — and I am definitely in the minority here — I would draft Williams before I took Parker. The fifth round is much too high for him, and the 11th round is much too low for Williams. Barring any free agent or impact draft additions, expect Williams’ ADP to climb closer to that of Parker’s.
12.03 – Jalen Reagor (WR – TCU)
Reagor is going to be a star in the NFL. There are, of course, scenarios where he is misused and takes longer to breakout than expected, but he will instantly become of the most electric receivers in the league. Even if we do not know where he lands, Reagor is a high-upside, low-risk pick at this point of the draft.
13.10 – Josh Allen (QB – BUF)
Since I took Kyler Murray in the seventh round, I wanted to ensure I had a QB1-level option to stream him out for when he has tough matchups. I expect Murray to eventually become an every-week starter, but Allen will be a terrific streaming option until that happens. Josh Allen was the QB6 in 2019, and could be a top-10 fantasy producer at the quarterback position for the next five-plus seasons. I drafted Tua Tagovailoa with my final pick of the draft.
14.10 – Will Dissly (TE – SEA)
Dissly is still on the board 20 tight ends deep. Somehow, Jacob Hollister was drafted before Dissly. Dissly will, in all likelihood, be the starter at tight end for the Seahawks next season and is a terrific value at this point of the draft. There is no reason for him to be available this late, as recency bias is our friend here. Dissly has played at a TE1 level when he has been healthy and should log the majority of the snaps at the position for Seattle. The only other tight end selected from this point onward was when I selected Jace Sternberger in the 16th round. Albert Okwuegbunam was also considered, but Dissly and Sternberger both have more value due to not knowing where the Missouri tight end will land.