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Fantasy Football Mock Draft: How to Handle the No. 12 Pick (2020)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Jul 31, 2020

Our deep dive into draft strategy with a late-round pick concludes with a look at how to plan for the 12th and final pick in a standard league.

For the last time, I used the handy-dandy Draft Wizard to conduct a mock draft in a 12-team league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, a FLEX, a defense, and a kicker.

So what should you expect when picking last in your league’s draft? Here’s how my mock panned out:

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Rounds 1 and 2

The Picks: Nick Chubb (RB – CLE) and Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
I use the same approach when picking 12th in a fantasy football draft as I would when picking first. Obviously, the player pool will be drastically different. But the name of the game is finding value wherever possible and staying ahead of positional runs.

If I can come out of the 12th and 13th picks with some combination of Nick Chubb or Joe Mixon and Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill, I’ll be happy. In this case, both Chubb and Hill were on the board.

Kareem Hunt’s presence in the Cleveland backfield might cap some of Chubb’s upside. But it also lowers Chubb’s risk of injury. Kevin Stefanski made Dalvin Cook a fantasy darling with his run-heavy scheme. I foresee the same thing happening to Chubb, who might be even more talented.

I’d prefer the floor that Michael Thomas and Adams offer, but Hill definitely has the highest weekly upside of any receiver in the league.

Rounds 3 and 4

The Picks: Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC) and Calvin Ridley (WR- ATL)
Woof. The draft board got gross in a hurry. In Rounds 3 and 4, I was left to choose from Austin Ekeler, A.J. Brown, Chris Carson, Calvin Ridley, and Cooper Kupp as the best players available. Both of the top two quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson) and the top three tight ends (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews) were gone.

I considered bypassing running backs entirely, but I knew the position would be even uglier when I picked again in Round 5. So I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and took Ekeler. As my RB2, I can stomach it.

I have significant concerns about Ekeler holding up under a larger workload. He’s a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and presents more upside than Carson. But in reality, he’s best-suited in tandem, and his value as a pass-catcher is diminished in a standard league. Ekeler will also suffer from losing Philip Rivers under center, as Rivers relied on Ekeler often as his safety valve.

I wanted to nab a receiver with my fourth pick, and 57% of our experts suggested I take Brown. However, I’m not buying him this early.

Frankly, a lot of what Tennessee accomplished with Ryan Tannehill last season was fluky. Tannehill’s a career dink-and-dunker who went from averaging only seven yards per attempt through his first six seasons to averaging 9.6 yards per attempt in 2019. Meanwhile, Brown ranked 17th in the league with an average of 11.3 yards before the catch per reception, and he ranked 29th with an average depth of target of 13.2 yards.

Tennessee’s powerful rushing attack opened up more downfield opportunities, particularly in play-action. Tannehill only threw 84 pass attempts out of play-action, but racked up 1,095 yards on those attempts, an average of 13 yards per play-action attempt. To compare, Jared Goff led all quarterbacks with 1,564 yards on a whopping 194 play-action passes, an average of eight yards per play-action attempt.

I’m willing to bet that a year’s worth of film will help opposing defenses shut down Tennessee’s rushing attack and expose Tannehill as nothing more than a game manager. Tennessee’s offense screams regression, which will make it tough for Brown to finish as a top-12 receiver.

This is all a long way of telling you I’m taking Calvin Ridley instead. While Ridley will always play second-fiddle to Julio Jones, he’s still garnered 185 targets in his first two seasons. He’ll benefit from Atlanta’s pass-happy system and is one Jones injury away from potential fantasy stardom.

Rounds 5 and 6

The Picks: Devin Singletary (RB – BUF) and Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
I’m taking a flier on Singletary as a Year 2 running back with upside in what should be a pretty good Bills offense. Singletary’s rookie season was a tale of two halves. He missed several weeks with a hamstring injury early in the year, only to become Buffalo’s lead back in the second half. Singletary carried the ball at least 14 times in all but one game between Weeks 9-16.

The addition of Zack Moss is notable, but a bit overblown. Moss is nothing more than a sledgehammer. And while his presence limits Singletary’s touchdown upside, I still see the second-year pro garnering the majority of the touches as Buffalo’s lead back.

I took Prescott as the best player available in Round 6, and 88% of our experts agreed with me. I typically wait on quarterbacks, but I felt the value was too good. He has dynamic weaponry to work with and could throw even more under new coach Mike McCarthy.

Plus, I had a feeling that quarterbacks would start to go off the board in this range, and I wanted to stay ahead of the run.

Rounds 7 and 8

The Picks: Michael Gallup (WR – DAL) and Marlon Mack (RB – IND)
As I suspected, nine quarterbacks went off the board in between my sixth and seventh picks. It still felt too early to take a tight end, so I opted to add more depth at tailback and receiver.

I was excited to see Michael Gallup still on the board, and I decided to pair him with Prescott in Round 7. Gallup is being discounted and undervalued because of CeeDee Lamb’s arrival in Dallas. But Gallup was the WR20 in standard leagues last year, and he still offers a nice floor as a WR3 even if Lamb’s presence hurts his upside. There should be plenty of targets to keep Gallup fantasy relevant.

The more drafts I do, the more optimistic I feel about Marlon Mack. Rookies might suffer the most from the shortened offseason caused by the pandemic. And while Jonathan Taylor will likely be the back of the future in Indianapolis, it might take a bit longer than anticipated. The most realistic scenario is Mack starts roughly half of the season and is a serviceable RB4.

Rounds 9 and 10

The Picks: Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG) and Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET)
I never expected to be fully in the tank for Sterling Shepard, but I keep ending up with him in mock drafts. Maybe I’m crazy to give him another shot after several years of failing to meet his potential. But perhaps a new coaching staff will give Shepard more looks in the slot — his more natural position. And maybe he can stay healthy to string together his third full season. And maybe Daniel Jones isn’t that bad after all? I’ll take the plunge one more time on Shepard’s upside as my WR4.

In Round 10, I took Johnson for the same reason I took Mack. I don’t buy the notion that D’Andre Swift will come in as a rookie and win the starting job immediately. I have a hunch that Detroit’s backfield will play out more like a committee, which benefits Johnson significantly. There’s a decent chance he won’t stay healthy all season, but I’ll take a stab on him for additional depth at tailback.

I seriously considered taking my top tight end target, Hayden Hurst, in Round 10. I felt a tight end run coming and didn’t want to miss out on him. However, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, Jared Cook, Rob Gronkowski, and Austin Hooper were all still available. Plus, the Draft Wizard’s Pick Predictor feature told me there was a 65% chance Hurst would still be on the board in Round 11.

Let’s see what happens…

Rounds 11 and 12 

The Picks: T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) and N’Keal Harry (WR – NE)
Cue the sad game show music… Hayden Hurst was taken nine picks ahead of me. Lesson learned, take Hurst by Round 10. This is a small setback, but there are still plenty of exciting options at tight end.

I took a flier on Hockenson over Gronk, Hooper, Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, and Jonnu Smith. Hockenson has the most raw talent of the bunch, and he could take a significant leap in Year 2 if Matthew Stafford stays healthy.

Harry is another second-year player who has some sleeper appeal in 2020. He struggled to build a rapport with Tom Brady as a rookie, but I’m willing to bet on Harry’s first-round talent blossoming in 2020 with Cam Newton under center.

Rounds 13 and 14

The Picks: Noah Fant (TE – DEN) and DeSean Jackson (WR – PHI)
Fant was surprisingly still on the board, so I decided to hedge my bet on Hockenson and pair him with his former Iowa teammate. I’m banking on one of them breaking out.

I have trouble trusting Jackson to stay healthy, but his explosive upside is too appealing this late in the draft. Don’t forget about his Week 1 outburst last season, when he exploded for eight catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns. He’ll be someone I start sporadically or in a pinch, but in the right weeks can win me a week or two. Having him and Hill in the same lineup could be a lot of fun. And if it doesn’t work out, I paid little to get him.

Rounds 15 and 16

The Picks: Minnesota Vikings D/ST and Will Lutz (K – NO)
The Vikings normally field a competitive, safe fantasy defense. Lutz is a reliable kicker on one of the league’s most potent offenses. Don’t overthink these picks.

Final Roster and Draft Grade

I ended this mock draft series with a bang, earning an “A” grade from the Draft Wizard and a score of 94-out-of-100. I was projected to have the best team in the league, and I’m truly flattered.

From a positional standpoint, the Draft Wizard rated me second at quarterback, third at receiver, sixth at running back and 12th at tight end. I’m not surprised or worried about my tight ends, as I suspect either Fant or Hockenson will have a big year. And while I love landing Chubb at No. 12 overall, I do have my suspicions about Ekeler, Singletary, Mack, and Johnson, especially because the latter two face serious threats to playing time.

How do you think I did in this mock draft? Let me know on Twitter @RealMattBarbato!

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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