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12-Team Dynasty Rookie Mock (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
May 26, 2020

Laviska Shenault Jr. is going to be used all over the field in Jacksonville and looks set to step in as the team’s number one weapon.

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While superflex leagues have exploded in popularity, single-QB, 12-team leagues are still the most popular league format. 12-team leagues force owners to have some sort of skill if the rosters are deep enough, and as such is preferred over six, eight, or 10 team leagues. They are also a great training ground for anyone who wishes to up the challenge by stepping into 14 team, 16 team, 20 team, or even 32 team leagues. 12-team rookie draft content is, as a result, the most sought after, but this also means that there is a lot of associated noise with fantasy writers and analysts all chiming in with their 12 team league thoughts and prognostications.

This is why our expert consensus rankings are so critical to any fantasy sports player’s draft preparation. It allows you to get a quick snapshot of what the top minds in fantasy football are thinking about a particular player or players. The fact that you get to draft against our ECR when using our Draft Simulator resource should be enough to warrant starting or extending your FantasyPros subscription. This allows you to mock draft with an intelligent draft room that may more closely mirror what you will see in your actual draft, as opposed to the vanilla strategies that sometimes dominate live mock drafts.

This mock is a 12 team, single QB rookie mock draft that will span five rounds. I have the second overall pick in this draft which means I am going to be able to land one of this year’s elite running backs. As the draft board below shows, this mock will also be quite different from our 12 team, superflex version here. Let’s dig in.

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1.02 – Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)
The debate for the 1.01 in non-superflex leagues is going to come down to Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor in most draft rooms. At 1.02, you do not have to worry about making a mistake and can simply select the remaining tier-one rookie runner. Taylor has a safer floor and also appears to have more long term staying power as far as the role is concerned. I have echoed this sentiment before, but the crux of it is this, Taylor will likely cede targets but not many carries in current or future committees. CEH will likely cede an ample amount of both carries and targets in current and future committees. Suffice it to say, that I will be delighted anytime Taylor falls to 1.02 in single QB leagues. 

Taylor lands in a terrific spot with the type of offensive line that should allow him to remain the dominant runner that made him so sought after by NFL teams. He has much better hands than anyone gives him credit for, and actually recorded a higher target per route run than Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Kenyan Drake, Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon, or Saquon Barkley did in their final college seasons. Taylor even lined up out wide on some snaps. Despite the presence of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, two replacement level talents, to siphon touches, Taylor could very well see north of 50 receptions from check-down Philip Rivers. Taylor could and should enter the RB1 conversation by the end of his rookie season. He is already being drafted as a top-12 running back in many startups, and has even cracked the first round in some 12 team leagues. The sky is truly the limit for Jonathan Taylor, only the Colts belief in him as a true workhorse can hold him back from entering the top five dynasty running back conversation by 2021. 

2.02 – Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR – JAX)
Another Draft Simulator rookie mock, another second-round pick spent on Laviska Shenault Jr. Hopefully, this is opening some eyes or changing some minds. Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman are the two receivers I would consider taking over Shenault in the early second round. Unfortunately, Higgins went 1.12 and Pittman 2.01, leaving Shenault as the no doubt cream of the crop of the remaining receivers. The injury history is a legitimate concern with Shenault, but he has day one NFL Draft talent and is a stunning omission from the first round of dynasty rookie drafts. He is going to be used all over the field in Jacksonville and looks set to step in as the team’s number one weapon. D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook remain solid starting options for the Jaguars, but despite Chark’s strong 2019 season, the Jags needed a true number one receiver. Chark and Shenault complement each other perfectly, and when you add the explosiveness of Westbrook from the slot, you have the makings of one of the most underrated receiving corps in the league. 

Shenault is likely to start his career as more of a WR3/flex type, but should quickly enter the WR2 conversation once the bye weeks roll around. By the end of the byes his role should have expanded enough that he is viewed as a consensus WR2 tier player in redraft leagues. In dynasty, he should be viewed as an immediate WR2 asset. Even if the Jaguars go out and add Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman, Devonta Smith, or Ja’Marr Chase in 2021, Shenault is still going to be featured in this offense. He will, of course, get his wide receiver targets, but should also be seeing snaps at wildcat quarterback and running back. Jacksonville is also planning to deploy him as a move tight end in some packages, suggesting that they are fully aware that they have a rare playmaker on their hands. 

We may never know how well Shenault would have timed in terms of track speed if he were not injured at the 2020 NFL Combine, but we do know that the absence of a strong 40 has helped lead to him being available in the second round of rookie drafts. One could even argue that he slipped out of the first round due to yet another injury causing him to slip off some teams day one radar. Whatever the case may be, dynasty league rookie drafters should get themselves acquainted with the special talent that is Laviska Shenault Jr. 

3.02 – Chase Claypool (WR – PIT)
Chase Claypool is one of the most controversial talents from the 2020 NFL Draft class. On one hand, he has enough special traits that you understand why the Pittsburgh Steelers took him in the second round. He has starter level upside and is the type of ferocious blocker that Pittsburgh absolutely covets in their wide receivers. His 4.42 40 time at 6’4 and 238 lbs is the fastest 40 by any receiver over 230 lbs since Calvin Johnson in 2007. In fact his 123.6-speed score ranks him fourth over that same timeframe behind only Johnson, D.K. Metcalf, and Julio Jones

Claypool has come a long way from the Canadian receiver who had to post his own highlights on Facebook for American colleges to take notice of him. Now a second-round pick, and a potential number one receiver for future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool has clawed his way to fantasy relevance. There has been quite a bit of talk about whether or not Claypool would be a better fit at tight end. While I still think he would be an elite tight end due to the routes he is most successful on combined with his exceptional blocking, if the Steelers are willing to give him the Metcalf treatment and only ask him to do what he does well, Claypool can explode with a 1,000 receiving yard, 10 touchdown season as a rookie. If they maximize his skill set, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns is going to be his annual floor as long as Big Ben is under center. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson should dominate the defensive attention of their opponents to start his career, something that will allow Claypool to find success in single coverage against cornerbacks who will be dwarfed in size and strength. If the Steelers really let JuJu walk in the 2021 offseason and move Claypool to the slot, we could have the makings of an elite level WR2 on our hands. There are a lot of ifs, and maybes when it comes to Claypool, but the upside here is palpable enough to take a swing in the late second or early third round. 

4.02 – Van Jefferson (WR – LAR)
When I took Chase Claypool in the third round, I was hoping that somehow, someway, that Devin Duvernay would slip to 4.02. The truth is, he has been going in the third round of all my rookie drafts whether they be live or mocks, but with this being a Draft Simulator mock draft, I decided to test out the strategy in the hopes that he would still be available. This is why mock drafts are so important because they allow you to get a better feel for whether or not certain draft strategies will work out in a favorable manner. Now, while I was not able to land Duvernay here, I was able to land a receiver I was even higher on pre-draft. Duvernay was a landing spot dependent rookie, Van Jefferson will succeed anywhere, even with a rapidly declining Jared Goff

The son of a former wide receiver and current New York Jets wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson, the younger Vanchii runs routes like a veteran Pro Bowl receiver. He can get open seemingly at will, something he displayed beautifully against LSU’s dominant cornerback duo of Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley Jr. Surprisingly lasting until the late third or early fourth round of rookie drafts despite only having replacement level Josh Reynolds ahead of him on the depth chart in three-wide sets, Jefferson is primed to provide a significant return on investment for his dynasty owners. Jefferson projects as a long term starter, especially when one takes the premium Sean McVay’s system places on route running into consideration. 

Some bemoan his lack of college production at Florida, but when a receiver sees his college career-high in targets as a freshman it is hard to build on his resume. The move from Ole Miss to Florida seems to have worked out in his favor, as he has become the first Florida receiver since Percy Harvin in 2009 to be drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. As a redshirt senior, Jefferson will be 24 years old when the season starts, something that may be affecting his dynasty stock in the eyes of more than a few dynasty owners. An older draft age is not as damning for a wide receiver prospect, as they generally have much longer shelf lives than their counterparts at the running back position, and as such should not play a large correlative effect on your thoughts on him as a prospect. The fact that he wins with skill over athleticism suggests that he will be able to stick in the NFL well past his physical prime, something that cannot always be said for those who rely more on their physical gifts. 

Jefferson will likely be more of a flex option outside of the bye weeks for most of his career, but he will present matchup based WR2 upside, especially if they allow him to take at least a fifth of his snaps out of the slot. If Cooper Kupp is not extended, Jefferson could become the high volume slot receiver in the Rams offense, something that would fasten him to the WR2 periphery for at least the duration of his rookie contract. At this late in your rookie draft, rookie selections are usually hit or miss. With Jefferson the risk is all but nullified. 

5.02 – James Proche (WR – BAL)
A talented wide receiver from SMU, James Proche’s 111 receptions tied him with Justin Jefferson for first in the nation. He scored 15 touchdowns on the season, a number that placed him fourth in the country. With Devin Duvernay all but assured a spot in three-wide sets, 

Proche is likely going to have to fight for snaps in Baltimore. 2019 third-round pick Miles Boykin, and veteran receiver Willie Snead may both open the season ahead of him on the Ravens depth chart. Proche can win both inside and outside, but did a lot of his damage from the slot in his senior season where over half of his receptions and touchdowns came from routes started from the inside. He has the route running contested-catch skills to be a starter on the outside but appears set to be more of a rotational receiver to start his rookie season. 

Miles Boykin has more athletic upside and is also the stronger blocker, but Proche is more game ready and is more of a finished product who can likely contribute more in terms of being a sure-handed receiver for franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson to lean on. He will be no more than a WR4/flex2 to start his career but could enter the WR3 conversation by the end of the year. He would have WR2 upside on a team where he was expected to battle for the number two receiver job, but that is not the case in Baltimore. Proche is going to get more snaps than the casual observer may expect, and his current standing as fifth on the Ravens receiver depth chart should not be enough to scare potential suitors away in the fifth round. Proche could, and should be starting in three-wide sets by the end of the season, making him someone dynasty owners will want to stash on the end of their benches. 

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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