There are just days until kickoff, which doesn’t leave much time for drafts. While you can always go to PFF's consensus rankings page to see how our analysts are ranking every position group, it’s always good to have some explanation for why each player is ranked where.
These rankings are based on PPR scoring and a typical starting roster. Rather than blindly following the rankings, it’s important to keep an eye on trends at certain positions and take advantage. I typically wait until shortly before Week 1 to pick up a defense and kicker in order to draft more high-upside players who could see their stock improve before the start of the season, but defenses and kickers can all be found at the bottom.
- Christian McCaffrey (RB1) – Unquestionably the top overall pick, McCaffrey has averaged eight more fantasy points per game than any other running back. If his targets were cut in half last season, he still would have had the eighth-most targets for a running back. If there is any concern, it’s having a new coach, but that could potentially help him instead.
- Alvin Kamara (RB2) – Kamara was in the top eight in fantasy points per game, and there is reason to believe he will be running more in 2020. The Saints only had 119 rushing attempts in the fourth quarter, which was around league average and is unexpected for a top team. From 2015-2018, they had 545 fourth-quarter carries, which was the most. When New Orleans was within five yards of scoring, they ran 41.9% of the time — the was 25th most. From 2015-2018, it was 54.5%, which was eighth-most. With more goal line and fourth quarter carries, Kamara could have his best fantasy season.
- Ezekiel Elliott (RB3) – Elliott has been a top-five fantasy back each of the last two seasons, but there is reason to be concerned about his touches in Mike McCarthy’s offense. From 2016-2018 when the Packers were losing, they ran 24.6% of the time, which was second lowest. When they were winning, that only increased to 38.3%, which was the lowest. Elliott did see 68 targets (ninth-most), so even if he sees fewer carries, he could see more receptions as a result.
- Saquon Barkley (RB4) – Barkley was the best fantasy back in 2018 but took a step backward in 2019 largely due to a high ankle sprain. Despite missing three games, he was still top 10 in scoring. If he can perform as a top-10 back with a high ankle sprain, he should rebound to be a top-five back this year. One concern that is keeping him from ranking higher is his offensive line, which ranked 20th earlier in the offseason, and that was before Nate Solder opted out for the season.
- Michael Thomas (WR1) – Thomas had 45 more catches than any other wide receiver as well as four more 100 yards games than any other. It’s clear that Thomas should be the top wide receiver off the board, but where he should be drafted depends a lot on league format. Because we don’t have a preseason this year, roughly half the teams have more question marks than usual regarding how playing time at running back will be distributed. That has pushed Thomas' value down some as drafters are picking the sure things at running back higher.
- Dalvin Cook (RB5) – Last year, Cook had the second-most fantasy points per game at 21.2. If he can repeat last season, then picking him at six is a steal. His main concern is that he’s yet to play a 16-game season in his three years. The running backs above him were all top-five fantasy backs in 2018 and top-10 in 2019.
- Aaron Jones (RB6) – Jones was RB2 last year with 319.8 fantasy points and his 90.7 PFF grade was second-best among all backs. He had 14 touchdowns in the red zone, which was the most for backs, but only on 34 red zone carries, which was 15th most. His red zone efficiency will regress to the mean, but he should see more red zone carries. His head coach, Matt LaFleur, had backs in the top five in red zone carries in 2017 and 2018 as offensive coordinator with the Rams and Titans. While A.J. Dillon might cut some into Jones' playing time, he should cut into Jamaal Williams‘ more. The Packers have the luxury of easing Dillon into action while they get all they can out of Jones before he becomes a free agent next offseason.
- Julio Jones (WR2) – While Michael Thomas is the clear top wide receiver option, Jones should be a clear second. He had 40 explosive catches last year, which was second and six more the receiver in third. He’s finished as WR2 in three of the last five seasons and was at worst the WR7 over the last six. There is at least some risk to each of the other wide receivers situations, but Julio remains with the same quarterback and coaches.
- Miles Sanders (RB7) – For the first half of 2019, Sanders was fighting Jordan Howard for playing time. Howard missed most of the second half of the season with injury, so from Week 11 to 16 we got a look at how Sanders as the lead back. Over those six games, he had 112.5 fantasy points, which was third-best for all running backs. The main concern is the small sample size — and Sanders is currently week-to-week with a lower body injury.
- Austin Ekeler (RB8) – Last year, Ekeler led all backs in fantasy points per snap at 0.52. He finished with the fourth-most fantasy points at running back, and the Chargers are now without his main competition in Melvin Gordon. His value differs a lot from PPR leagues to standard, as his 92 catches were second-most last year.
- Derrick Henry (RB9) – Henry is more valuable in standard leagues than PPR, but even in PPR his rushing productivity is hard to ignore. If you removed all of Henry’s yards before contact from his yards total, he would still be top five in rushing yards. The coaching staff and personnel around him has remained largely the same. The only concern is the drafting of Darrynton Evans in the third round, so he could take a few of Henry’s carries per game.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB10) – With Damien Williams opting out, Edwards-Helaire becomes the top running back in Kansas City as a rookie. PFF's Dwain McFarland highlighted how that would impact Edwards-Helaire. Andy Reid has long had a history of elite fantasy backs with Brian Westbrook and Kareem Hunt. The only problem is that he's a rookie and we don't have a pre-season, and we don’t know how much other backs will be rotated in.