You just finished dinner and plop down on the couch to catch up on Netflix. Out of nowhere comes a text message from a buddy that reads, “Hey, are you ready for the draft?!?” A sick, sinking feeling sets in. Oh no — you forgot about the fantasy football draft and you've done almost zero preparation. Sound familiar?
If this does sound like you or sounds like a “friend” you know, there is no need to panic. I've detailed the perfect fantasy football draft strategy, laying out exactly what to do round-by-round for the 2020 fantasy football season.
This master plan derives from a similar strategy inspired by fantasy football analyst Michael Fabiano back in 2016. The premise is simple: Follow the guide step-by-step and you're sure to enter the season with a quality roster that balances reliability and upside. September 10th can’t come soon enough.
So, without further ado, here is the perfect 18-round fantasy football draft strategy for 12-team PPR leagues in 2020. Let’s go.
Round 1 (1-12): Draft a running back
You’ll be hard-pressed to catch me selecting a wide receiver in Round 1, and that’s my recommendation to anybody drafting. If you have a top-four pick, you need to come away with (in this order) Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley or Alvin Kamara.
Wide receivers Michael Thomas and Davante Adams will be drafted somewhere in the first round, but I wouldn't advise it. The second half of the first round is filled with RB1s like Joe Mixon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook. They all fall into Tier 2 of my running back rankings — each has a combination of skill and volume to project a top-10 finish.
Round 2 (13-24): Draft a running back, wide receiver or George Kittle
If any Tier 2 running backs are left, you take them next in this round, especially in the case of Josh Jacobs. The stigma around him is that he will be limited as a receiver in 2020, but several reports have suggested that the Las Vegas Raiders are going to get the second-year back more involved as a pass-catcher. That matches the results of a study on second-year running backs and how passing production spikes after their rookie seasons.
If I have a late first-round pick, I would also be willing to take Jacobs then over guys like Mixon and Cook because of some question marks coming up about their contracts.
If Jacobs is gone and you still want to attack the running back position, the name to know his Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones. Over the last three years, Jones' PFF overall grade is 90.6, which is third-best for all running backs. Elite backs who are the clear starters with a run-first coach should be drafted with high draft capital (per PFF’s Nathan Jahnke).
I much prefer Julio Jones over Tyreek Hill because I think we could see a spike in touchdown production in 2020. That’s because, historically speaking, when former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper saw little involvement in the offense, Jones had eruption games.
From 2016-2018, Jones consistently surpassed 100 yards receiving and saw his touchdown equity rise when Hooper saw less usage. This carried through the 2019 season. In the two games when Jones scored twice (Weeks 2 and 15), Hooper totaled just seven catches for 54 receiving yards.
That is why Jones is currently my second-highest-ranked wide receiver in PFF’s fantasy football rankings.
The second round is also where tight end comes into play — George Kittle is the only tight end worth a premium selection. He is going to see massive volume with Deebo Samuel sidelined to start the year, and his strength of schedule is the third-easiest among all tight ends.
Including postseason play, Kittle put up a 69-751-1 (10.9 yards per reception) stat line with Samuel on the field. Without Samuel, he went for 24-373-4 (15.5 yards per reception). Not only that, but Kittle is also due for some serious positive touchdown regression based on his yardage totals over the past two seasons. Kittle is one of 10 players since 2018 to accumulate at least 2,300 receiving yards. The average number of touchdowns scored by those players per season is just under eight. Kittle has averaged five TDs per season.
Also, keep in mind as you draft that you want to stack players on the same offense. So if you take Kittle, keep an eye out for Jimmy Garoppolo later on.
Round 3 (25-36): Draft a wide receiver or running back