News & Analysis

Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice lead off a 2020 mock fantasy draft

May 11, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley catches a pass during rookie minicamp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS

If you don’t think things can change in two short years, just take a look at ADP data from 2016. Sure, a lot of the names are familiar, but it was also a time when Adrian Peterson (still with the Vikings) and Lamar Miller were first-round picks. It also saw the likes of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Lacy, both of whom might end up jobless this year, go in the second round.

The point is, a lot can happen in a short amount of time, and it can be interesting/fun to try and guess what that will be. Below is our 2020 mock draft in a 12-team, PPR league. As with our 2019 mock, we will also do our best to predict free agent moves and where either 2019 or 2020 rookies will land and will include the ages for every player at the start of the 2020 season.

Round 1

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (23): It’ll take only two seasons for Barkley to be the top player picked in fantasy drafts. By 2020, its likely Eli Manning is no longer the quarterback for the Giants and Barkley will have the carry the load for a young and/or inexperienced quarterback. Plus, there’s just not going to be many true bell-cow running backs left that can rack up the points on the ground and in the air.

2. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins (23): This may look like a big leap now, but I predict Guice has a huge second year in 2019 and is talked about in the same breath as Barkley and Todd Gurley. He had a first-round grade in the 2018 draft and enters a situation that could produce a bell-cow workload. It’s a perfect storm for a talented back like Guice to be a top fantasy pick.

3. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (26): Gurley will be 26 and a five-year vet by the 2020 season, so a decline is around the corner, but he will still be a focal point of a potent Rams offense and scoring at will.

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings (25): Cook will be one of the last backs of this top tier thanks to his contributions in the passing game ramping up in 2019. 2020 will be the third year of the Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota and the offense should be running like a well-oiled machine by then, a machine that will center on Cook.

5. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27): He’s topped 1,000 yards in each of his first four years playing with a handful of inconsistent players on offense. If young Bucs Ronald Jones, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard — not to mention quarterback Jameis Winston — all pan out, Tampa Bay’s offense could be scary good in 2020 and Evans will be the primary beneficiary.

6. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (27): Thomas will continue to be the top target in New Orleans no matter who the quarterback is, and it will most certainly be someone other than Drew Brees. Even this past year when the Saints passed it much less than previous years, Thomas still topped 100 receptions and 1,200 yards and totaled at least 80 yards or a touchdown in 10 of 16 games this season.

7. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (24): Russell Wilson will only be getting older and the Seahawks will be shifting even more of the offense to the run game. They’ll also have another year to draft or sign much needed improvements to the offensive line which will only help Penny as he attempts to recreate the Marshawn Lynch era in Seattle.

8. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (25): 2020 will represent the third year of the Patrick Mahomes era and if he’s as good as the Chiefs hope he is, Hunt will have plenty of opportunity to score fantasy points.

9. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (27): Adams will still be the top target for Aaron Rodgers in 2020 especially after the likes of Jimmy Graham and Randall Cobb move on. And at just 27, he’ll be a first-round fantasy pick a few times.

10. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans (25): By 2020, Davis will have had two full seasons to showcase why he was a top-10 pick in the actual draft. His rise will coincide with quarterback Marcus Mariota’s as the Titans properly build around the quarterback and his primary target.

11. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (25): There is no question that Mark Ingram will be out of the picture in New Orleans by 2020 and the run game will be all Kamara while still contributing in the passing game.

12. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (24): McCaffrey should see more rush attempts by 2020, which will complement his fantasy-friendly receiving numbers, sneaking him into the back-end of the first round of PPR drafts.

Round 2

1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (25): Maybe the Cowboys find a suitable replacement for Dez Bryant by 2020. Or maybe they don’t. Either way, the team will still be built for the run and Elliott will be a threat to run it 300 times a season for the foreseeable future. Even if he only averages the 4.0 yards per carry he did in 2016, that’s good for 1,200 yards on the ground.

2. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (28): Hopkins takes a dip from 2019 to 2020 through no fault of his own. I just see the Texans offense becoming more balanced and incorporating the run game, along with better secondary receivers, over the next two years. Hopkins will still be the top target on a good offense and that will have value.

3. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (23): No, you’re not hallucinating. By 2020, Smith-Schuster will become the primary target in Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger goes for one more championship before he retires. That’s not to say Antonio Brown will be out of the picture in Pittsburgh, but just may be used in a different way than his target-hog ways now.

4. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (25): Fournette also slips a bit from his 2019 draft position, but not by much as he’s still the best player on the Jacksonville offense albeit with potentially all new players around him in 2020 from the 2018 version.

5. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns (24): The Browns will be in Year 3 of the Baker Mayfield era and all signs point to them being much better on offense than they have been the past two decades. 2019 will also be the first full year for Chubb as the solo starter, which propels him to be picked so high in 2020 fantasy drafts.

6. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants (27): The Giants continue to turn more of the offense over to Saquon Barkley, meaning there are fewer targets to go around. No one is hurt by this more than Beckham, who can still post 1,000-yard seasons when healthy — just maybe not the double-digit scoring seasons he produced his first three years in the league.

7. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (24): Mixon will have played three seasons and still be just 24 when the 2020 season starts. He should be churning out 1,000-yard seasons and could even have a new quarterback, one that will draw attention away from Mixon instead of leaving him out to dry.

8. Amari Cooper, WR, San Francisco 49ers (26): I think Jon Gruden and the Raiders let Cooper walk as they reset the offense. He doesn’t travel far, as he signs with the crosstown 49ers and sees an upgrade at quarterback.

9. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (24): Both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be free agents by the 2020 season, if they aren’t cut before then, and the starting job will officially be handed off to Sutton. Denver wasn’t the best landing spot for Sutton’s short-term fantasy prospects, but he was viewed by many as the best receiver prospect in the 2018 class and will be learning from two of the best for at least a year.

10. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams (26): While there is some skepticism that the Rams can produce a top fantasy receiver, I think they have that in Cooks. He’s produced three straight 1,000-yard seasons and the Rams just traded a first-round pick for him. I think the Rams go with the same three-wide set in 2019 they did in 2018, but Robert Woods will be pretty expensive by 2020 and Los Angeles could choose to roll with just Cooks and Cooper Kupp at receiver, freeing up valuable targets for both.

11. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (26): The lack of a true workhorse role will always hold Henry’s fantasy value back. Plus, the offense will be more on quarterback Marcus Mariota and the passing game than the run. But that doesn’t mean Henry still can’t produce a very ho-hum 1,000-yard season on the ground.

12. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (28): Allen takes a small dip from 2019 but is still in the prime of his career and the top target of quarterback Philip Rivers. I expect the Chargers to move on from running back Melvin Gordon which will put even more of an emphasis on the passing game.

Round 3

1. D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans (24): Two years removed from an Achilles injury, Foreman should be entrenched as the starting running back and run wild through the holes created thanks to defenses being scared of what Deshaun Watson will do. Foreman won’t be a three-down back necessarily, but he should be in prime position to score a lot.

2. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (26): I don’t believe the Sammy Watkins experiment in Kansas City gets a third year and Hill is back to being the top receiver on a team that finishes in the top half of the league in pass attempts.

3. Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets (28): this is quite the fall for Bell in just two years but running backs seem to hit a wall much earlier than any other position. Bell finds himself where LeSean McCoy does in current times as an aging running back on a middling team with no other options. But hey, the volume is there.

4. Bryce Love, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (22): After going a year without a suitable replacement for Bell, I believe the Steelers will take the (at the moment) top-rated running back in the 2019 class and pair him with a veteran for his rookie year. By 2020, Love will have the job to himself and be surrounded by the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown (even in decline), and more. If I were doing a 2021 mock, he’d be much higher than this.

5. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (28): Johnson won’t be the three-down, do-it-all back that he was but he’s still the starter on an offense that will have gone through growing pains in 2018-2019 but be primed to be much better under quarterback Josh Rosen. I see 2018 rookie Chase Edmonds taking some of the passing-down duties but that doesn’t meant Johnson still can’t produce 1,000 yards on the ground.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Dallas Cowboys (31): Jerry Jones loves his stars and after having none at receiver after the release of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will scoop up an aging Julio Jones to jump start the Dallas passing game.

7. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (23): Moore will have two years under his belt and the deck will be cleared in Carolina when it comes to targets. Greg Olsen will likely be retired, and the Panthers will choose to not bring back Devin Funchess, meaning Moore will be the top target for Cam Newton and possibly the best receiver he’s ever had.

8. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (25): After a rookie season marred by serious injuries, Williams will have been healthy for two seasons and should show why the Chargers took him with the seventh overall pick in 2017. It’s not unheard for one team to support two fantasy WR1s and I think Los Angeles and, more critically, Philip Rivers, can handle it.

9. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (25): The ascension of Ridley is what will allow the Falcons to cut Julio Jones (see above). Quarterback Matt Ryan will still be chugging along and will make Ridley his new top target.

10. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (30): The slight decline of Kelce will be offset by more targets opening up in Kansas City, and he’ll still be the top tight end in fantasy, albeit as a late-third-round pick.

11. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (28): McKinnon drops a round from our 2019 draft due to age and fellow running back Matt Breida cutting into his workload, but he will still be the starting running back of a top-10 offense.

12. A.J. Green, WR, New England Patriots (31): After the Bengals let Green walk, he promptly signs with New England in search of a championship as Tom Brady and company gear up for one last Super Bowl run. The hype may outweigh the production but as the best receiver in New England since Randy Moss, Green will draw a lot of attention.

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