Fantasy Football Mock Draft: How to Handle the No. 1 Overall Pick (2020)
If you’ve been assigned the No. 1 overall pick in your redraft league, then allow me to offer my congratulations; you’ve won the Christian McCaffrey sweepstakes. Now it’s time to build a roster around him.
Using our amazing Draft Wizard, I conducted a 12-team mock draft for a standard league to see what kind of roster I could build around CMC. For simplicity, this league starts one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one tight end, one FLEX, one defense, and one kicker. I’ll also get seven bench spots.
The Pick: Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
Don’t overthink this. Nobody has a higher ceiling or safer floor than McCaffrey does. He’s a threat to put up 150 total yards and score multiple times every week, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink in Carolina. The situation around him also got better with Teddy Bridgewater coming in to replace the lousy Kyle Allen. Plus, Carolina’s new coaching staff is spearheaded by offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who worked wonders with Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire last season at LSU.
At only 5-foot-11 and just over 200 pounds, durability is the only possible concern for McCaffrey given his hefty workload. But when he’s on the field, he’s as good as it gets.
Rounds 2 and 3
These were two tough choices. The best nine receivers according to our Expert Consensus Rankings were off the board, leaving me with Odell Beckham Jr, A.J. Brown, Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen, and JuJu Smith-Schuster as the best wideouts available. The top three overall players left according to ECR were Sanders, Mahomes, and Mark Andrews.
I’ve written before that I couldn’t justify taking Sanders in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts because he’s an unproven commodity. I took the shot on him here because I already have McCaffrey as my RB1, which gives me the flexibility to take a risk. If Sanders pans out as Philadelphia’s three-down back, I’ll have a lethal duo at the scarcest position in a format where tailbacks are even more valuable.
Generally, I’m a proponent of waiting at quarterback. But the chance to have the $500 million man and McCaffrey on the same roster was too juicy to pass up. Taking Mahomes at the top of the third round felt fine to me, and there are plenty of talented receivers I can target in the coming rounds.
Landing the top running back and top quarterback in the league is a heck of a start.
Rounds 4 and 5
The Picks: Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR) and Terry McLaurin (WR – WAS)
There’s a cost to every decision we make as fantasy managers. For the rest of this draft, I’ll have to operate knowing I won’t get a top-15 receiver. The goal of these two picks was to find players who have WR1 potential but are being drafted as WR2s.
Fortunately, there were plenty of good ones to choose from. Calvin Ridley, Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Lockett, DeVante Parker, and McLaurin were still available. Kupp is someone I’m higher on than most. I chose him over Ridley because Julio Jones still puts a dent in Ridley’s upside in redraft formats.
Many point to Kupp’s disappointing second half of the season and the emergence of tight end Tyler Higbee as reasons to fade him, but I don’t buy that. First of all, Kupp’s rapport with Jared Goff — especially in the red zone — is obvious. Second, Kupp’s “disappointing finish,” included five-straight games with a touchdown to conclude the year. Sure, the Rams might run more 12 personnel this season. But Sean McVay isn’t an idiot. Kupp will see plenty of snaps and targets in 2020.
McLaurin is someone I’m betting on to be this season’s biggest breakout at wide receiver. I’m a big believer in his playmaking abilities at all three levels and think he’ll enjoy a greater volume of targets while benefitting from better coaching and quarterback play. Our Pick Predictor suggested there was an 82% chance he’d be off the board by my next pick, and that wasn’t a risk I was going to take.
Rounds 6 and 7
The receivers on the board were Stefon Diggs, Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup, and Marquise Brown. Diggs and Brown are similar players in store for similar seasons, but I opted for Brown because he has a bit more upside. I tend to avoid receivers in their first season with a new team and have more confidence in Baltimore’s offense with Lamar Jackson than I do in Buffalo’s offense with Josh Allen. Brown will serve as the home run hitter in my FLEX spot that can put my lineup over the top.
Hunt probably isn’t an ideal RB3, but I still think there’s some upside to be had. Despite his horrendous off-field transgressions, Hunt is a very talented player who I expect will share the field with Nick Chubb often. And all it takes is an injury to Chubb for Hunt to vault into the top-10 running back discussion. Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, Damien Williams, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn were all available, but none of them felt as appealing as Hunt.
Rounds 8 and 9
Kirk is a post-hype sleeper who finished as the WR46 in standard leagues last season. While DeAndre Hopkins is arriving as the clear No. 1 target in Arizona, his arrival could free up the middle of the field for Kirk out of the slot. And even with Hopkins in town, there will be plenty of targets to go around.
If Kyler Murray takes the leap that many are expecting, then this offense will support two relevant receivers for fantasy. He likely won’t find the end zone enough to be an elite option, but Kirk has WR2 upside in what could be this year’s breakout offense. I took Kirk over Julian Edelman, Marvin Jones, Mike Williams, and Darius Slayton.
While many point to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor as the rookie tailbacks with the most upside, I believe Dobbins has just as much potential in Baltimore. He’s an explosive runner, a reliable pass catcher, and he could fit perfectly in the Ravens’ backfield. Mark Ingram likely enters 2020 as the team’s starter, but Dobbins should see the field plenty. You won’t find many RB4s with as much upside.
You might’ve noticed that I’m neglecting the tight end position. That’s because our Pick Predictor suggests there’s only an 11% chance the tight end I’m targeting gets taken before my next pick. Let’s hope that prediction is correct…
Rounds 10 and 11
The Picks: Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG) and Hayden Hurst (TE – ATL)
Can Shepard finally realize his potential? In the 10th round, I’m willing to bet that he can. The opportunity to land a potential No. 1 receiver in a Giants offense that has sneaky upside felt like a great value pick. If Shepard can stay healthy and is finally used properly as the full-time slot receiver, then I’m confident he’ll outperform his current ranking as the WR46. I’ll be looking to take him instead of his teammate, Darius Slayton, who was drafted 18 picks earlier.
Hurst is the tight end I’m going for in all leagues. The former first-round pick lost out to the talented Mark Andrews in Baltimore. But a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered, and Atlanta might’ve been the best possible landing spot. Just ask Austin Hooper, who’s finished top-seven in targets among tight ends the last two seasons.
Matt Ryan is a risk-averse quarterback who frequently checks down to the tight end when his primary targets are covered downfield. I think Hurst will benefit greatly and pick up right where Hooper left off. In fact, I’m targeting Hurst over Hooper, who I think owes Ryan a portion of the $23 million guaranteed he got from Cleveland this offseason.
Rounds 12 and 13
The Picks: Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI) and Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI)
The running back position is drying up, and I wanted to add at least one more back to my roster with my final five picks. Tony Pollard was the best back available according to ECR. But he won’t make much of an impact unless Ezekiel Elliott gets injured.
That left me with Edmonds, Nyheim Hines, Justin Jackson, Jamaal Williams, and Malcolm Brown as the top backs remaining. While I think Hines has a chance to play the Austin Ekeler role in Indianapolis, his value is reduced significantly in standard formats. I chose Edmonds because he has the clearest path to starting duties.
A one-game sample size is never ideal, but Edmonds’ Week 7 explosion against the Giants proved he can perform when given a chance. Plus, are we really buying Kenyan Drake as a true workhorse tailback? I’m certainly not. I’ll take a flier on Edmonds getting another shot to show what he can do.
With my next pick, I wanted to nab another tight end with some upside. I went with Goedert over Jared Cook, Austin Hooper, Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith, and T.J. Hockenson because Goedert is the most talented player of the group. Yes, Zach Ertz is still there. But Goedert managed to produce 58 receptions on 87 targets for 607 yards and five touchdowns last season. Goedert becomes a top-5 tight end if Ertz goes down, and I’m confident there will be more opportunities for Goedert to shine even if Ertz stays healthy.
Rounds 14 and 15
The Picks: Sammy Watkins (WR – KC) and New England Patriots D/ST
Taking Sammy Watkins made me feel gross inside. But since I have Mahomes on my roster, I felt it was worthwhile to take a stab on his No. 2 receiver. The potential emergence of Mecole Hardman worries me, but I feel good about Watkins finishing third in targets behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
A friendly reminder: don’t take your defense or kicker until your last two picks. The 49ers, Steelers, and Ravens defenses were already off the board, which left me with the Bills and Patriots to choose from. There’s plenty to worry about New England’s offense, but its defense should be rock-solid once again. I’ll take the safer choice in the unit coached by Bill Belichick.
The Pick: Younghoe Koo (K – ATL)
Your league should really consider doing away with kickers entirely. The only advice I have when picking a kicker is to choose a competent one connected to a high-scoring offense. Koo checks both boxes.
Final Roster and Draft Grade
The Draft Wizard was kind enough to give me an A. The projected standings had me as the second-best team in the league, which is certainly encouraging.
As for a positional breakdown, I was ranked first at both quarterback and running back. But taking McCaffrey, Sanders, and Mahomes with my first three picks also had its consequences — the Draft Wizard said I had the worst group of receivers in the league.
How do you think I did drafting out of the first slot? Let me know on Twitter!
Full Draft Board
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.