We are going to analyze the all of the latest information, ADP, and context you need to prepare for your upcoming drafts. The goal is to help you figure out who to target and when to target them in your drafts this weekend.
It is now under 14 days from the kickoff of Week 1. We are officially in draft season. While the two previous installments of this article (last week and two weeks ago) focused primarily on best ball drafts, this week we will also turn our focus to regular season-long drafts. While the focus of this article is not best ball, we are going to use today’s ADP from Underdog Fantasy’s best ball drafts because it is the most up to date we have access to. If you are drafting this weekend, you need to know where this week’s risers and fallers are likely to go.
We are also going tossup back a little bit and give the bigger picture view of the 2020 fantasy draft board for those who are just tuning in now and have not been researching for weeks. As such, the format will be a bit different.
We will go round-by-round through the early rounds highlighting all of the high impact player news you need to know. The focus will be on the biggest decisions you will face in each round.
The first round
1.01 to 1.04
Almost all 2020 draft start with Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara as the top four. Typically, in that exact order. This is the same top four we had last year. When you take into account these four players’ proven talent, offensive roles, health histories, and the positional scarcity of the running back position, each of these four backs has everything going for them. Do not overthink it. If you are lucky enough to land a top-four pick, lock in one of these proven, high-ceiling, high-floor RB1s.
After 1.04 things get interesting
The two elite wide receivers
It is at 1.05 the choices get much tougher and no two drafts look alike. In full PPR scoring, it is hard to go wrong with Michael Thomas. His floor is incredibly high and we saw what his ceiling looked like last year. Davante Adams is a strong 1B at the wide receiver position in 2020. Most teams have started to spread the ball around more between top targets. Green Bay should be one of the few exceptions. As long as Adams stays healthy, he should average well over 10 targets per game.
Rodgers to Adams has been ðŸ’° all camp. Just did it again with Adams in middle of defense— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) August 25, 2020
First-round running backs
The running back picture after the top four is cloudier. In non-PPR, Derrick Henry is still an easy choice in the middle of the first round. The fact he has averaged 16.5 catches per season over the past two years doesn’t hurt you in that format. In PPR, Henry’s upside is a bit more limited.
Decisions in this part of the draft were made more difficult this week with Adam Schefter throwing up the red flag on Dalvin Cook.
Holdout concerns are growing where Joe Mixon is concerned, as well.
#Bengals RB Joe Mixon — who hasn’t practiced in recent days and wasn’t spotted on the field Wednesday — has been dealing with migraines, source said. Optimism he’ll be back soon, with contract talks ongoing ...— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 27, 2020
Both the Bengals and Vikings are teams that seem to value the running back position. Neither Cook nor Mixon falls into the “Do Not Draft” category at this point. However, it makes sense to drop them to the bottom of their current tiers. At the very least, we can use the contract uncertainty to break ties.
One of the hottest names in fantasy drafts right now is Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He rarely makes it out of the Top 6 overall in recent drafts. He belongs in that range, especially in full PPR scoring. Edwards-Helaire has earned rave reviews for his receiving ability. The consensus amongst Footballguys projectors gives Edwards-Helaire 57.5 receptions, which makes sense as a median number. However, there is a realistic chance Edwards-Helaire blows past that number. Given his dynamism as a pass-catcher, something like Austin Ekeler’s 92-993-8 receiving line in 2019 is not a crazy upside projection for Edwards-Helaire. He could wear out single coverage while opposing safeties are worried about Mahomes throwing it over their heads to Tyreek Hill.
In the early part of the second round, you should still be looking at many of the guys we discussed as strong option in the first round. There typically is not room for all of Chubb, Jacobs, and Drake I the first round. The second tier of wide receivers (Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins) also typically all last into the second round.
James Conner continues to be a hot name. The days of getting him in the late third round (two weeks ago) are over. He is now a staple of drafts in the mid-to-late second round. Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler are the other two back who are firmly in the mix in the middle of the second round.
Worth drafting a Quarterback or Tight End?
Quarterback and tight end are both very deep this year. It is easy to wait at either position. If there is a running back you are fully sold on while on the clock in the second round, that is the way to go considering how positional depth stacks up this year. However, if you are not 100% sold, do not pass up an elite player like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes II, George Kittle, or Travis Kelce by overemphasizing positional value.
Based upon reports from camp, everything is lining up for these four to have big seasons. In Kansas City, the offense has been humming in practice. It would not be a big surprise if Mahomes and the Chiefs approach the insane numbers produced in 2018. Remember, the last time we saw this offense was when it went and averaged 39 points per game in the playoffs. You absolutely need “something special” if you are going to invest a premium pick on a player that plays at a non-premium fantasy position. Mahomes and Kelce clearly have the potential to be something special.
Observations from Day 7: there was a new safety in spotlight and DeShon Elliott isn’t backing down; sigh of relief as the MVP and Marcus Peters return to practice; a couple of circus catches and your daily Marquise Brown deep ball. https://t.co/Fex0xDaQVR— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 24, 2020
It is easy to see the upside in drafting Lamar Jackson in the second round given what he achieved last season. In addition to the unmatched edge Jackson’s legs provide, he has also shown signs of improvement on deep passes in camp. He has been hooking up on deep balls to Marquise Brown every day. Chunk passing plays could lead to a big boost in Jackson’s passing yardage totals.
Rounds 3 and 4: Searching for upside
There are a lot of solid running backs and 1,000-yard receivers available in this range. The tougher thing to figure is who has the upside to really explode for a league-winning type of season.
The #letrusscook movement can easily be seen as a negative for Carson and is probably perceived as such by most. However, the Seahawks opening up the offense earlier in games could be just what Carson needs to unlock his full fantasy potential. Carson has had to make a lot of his own yards in recent years due to the predictability of the offense. The slow starts have also led to fewer comfortable fourth-quarter leads, which have robbed Carson of time in the four-minute offense. Seattle is 57-0, including playoffs, since 2012 when it goes into halftime with a lead of four points or more.
Most of the running backs going off the board in the third and fourth-round play in offenses with questionable upside (Jets, Jaguars, Broncos, Colts, etc.). Meanwhile, the Seahawks could realistically emerge as a team that averages 30-PPG if Wilson has a career year. Due to this, Carson looks like the top target outside of the first couple of rounds.
Sticking with Seattle, Metcalf is one of the players in this part of the draft (he is typically going in the late-fourth round) with the most upside. Playoffs included, Metcalf had 69 catches for 1,119 yards and 8 touchdowns as a 21-year old rookie. Aside from Julio Jones, Metcalf may be the most impressive size-speed receiver in the league.
DK Metcalf wants to be one of the best receivers of all time. His pursuit of greatness is essential the #Seahawks quest for a championship.— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) August 26, 2020
“The look in his eye, the way he works, has been pretty awesome.” https://t.co/FbsblVQTdP pic.twitter.com/M2WSWokPgv
If we assume Metcalf’s rookie numbers as his floor, he is not much riskier than any of the other receivers in this range (especially in non-PPR or 0.5 PPR). The realistic upside is amongst the highest of this tier, which makes him a strong player to target in the fourth round.
McLaurin remains one of the clearest upside plays in the fourth round of 2020 drafts. He put up good numbers as a rookie in an awful offense in 2019. With the typical second-year leap and any improvement from the Washington offense, McLaurin could smash his ADP.
In Footballguys’ plant your flag series, Ryan Hester made a great case for McLaurin:
Terry McLaurin sees over 30% of Washington's targets. He turns in a relatively inefficient season because of who they're coming from but still finishes as a WR1 in all formats. Look no further than Allen Robinson's 2019 for a comparison to what McLaurin can do. Robinson saw 153 targets (mostly from Mitchell Trubisky) and caught 98 passes for 1,147 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 254.9 PPR points made him the overall WR8 last year. Robinson's target market share was 27%.
As a team, Washington attempted 477 passes last year. 30% of that number would yield 143 targets for McLaurin -- within the range of Robinson's 2019 number. If Washington's volume increases to over 500 attempts, McLaurin's floor and ceiling go with it.
Rounds 5 through 7
Wide Receiver Depth
The wide receiver depth extends deep into the sixth round this year. It makes sense to reserve a couple picks in this range for wide receivers. The great thing about 2020 is that there are not just a few intriguing targets, there are more than a dozen. Just look at some of these names going in the 5th round or later right now:
Chark broke out with a 1,000-yard season as a 22-year old last season. He is the clear #1 in Jacksonville and has a nice rapport with gunslinger Gardner Minshew.
With Sutton, we have yet another emerging young player coming off of a 1,000+ yard season. He caught 72 passes for 1,112 passes and 6 touchdowns last season with Joe Flacco throwing him passes much of the year. If Drew Lock takes a step forward in his seance season, Sutton has WR1 upside.
Parker had his breakout year in 2019 with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. Camp reports show he is set to pick up right where he left off from his hot finish.
We noted above when discussing Lamar Jackson that Brown has been catching deep bombs on a daily basis in Ravens camp. Fully healthy and sporting 20 pounds of added muscle, Brown is an obvious breakout candidate.
A minor hamstring tweak for Green has kept Green’s ADP from rising. There is some injury risk but Green is amongst the handful of most talented receivers in the NFL. With Joe Burrow expected to make a big impact as a rookie, Green could give you WR1 production at a 6th round price tag.
Rookie Running backs
It takes a lot to pass on all of the wide receiver upside in this part of the draft. The top rookie running backs are amongst the group of players also being drafted in the fifth to seventh round with the upside to justify passing on a top receiver.
The two that stand out the most are D’Andre Swift and Cam Akers. We discussed the case for Swift as the next Alvin Kamara in last week’s article. Akers is also an interesting rookie with a clear path to the starting job. His primary competition, Darrell Henderson, has missed significant time in camp with a hamstring injury.
Where to take David Montgomery
There have been surprisingly few serious injuries to running backs in camp. The only starter who looks unlikely to be on the field Week 1 is Montgomery. He suffered a groin injury in camp this week and could be out until late September. It is hard to draft Montgomery as an RB2 given the injury and his shaky performance last season. However, if he slides to the late-6th round or later, taking a risk on Montgomery could pay off big. He has reportedly looked much improved after losing weight in the offseason. He makes for a great RB3 target who will be ready to make an impact in October and beyond.
Late Round Targets
Rookie Wide Receivers
In Part 5 of the first article in this series, we made the case for the upside of the top rookie wide receivers. All of the top rookie wide receivers (especially CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jalen Reagor) remain underrated in redraft. The lack of preseason has kept the public from seeing any of these guys in action. In a normal year, each would have seen their ADP jump up at least a round or two in August. Let’s go deeper on one of the top wide receivers and also take a look at a mid-round wide receiver whose stock is soaring.
In our Plant Your Flag series this week, I made the case for Jeudy as the top wide receiver in drafts right now given his current 11th round ADP:
Jeudy will easily outperform his WR54 ADP. He is just too talented, polished, and mature not to make a major impact as a rookie.
Jeudy will be especially valuable when it matters most for our fantasy teams -- Weeks 14, 15, and 16. By the end of the year, I expect Jeudy will have already emerged as a solid fantasy WR2 option and predict he has at least one huge fantasy playoff performance that helps you win your championship.
There may be some concern that the abbreviated offseason could cause slow starts for some rookies. I do not fully buy that argument but even if I did, it would not matter much because player performances in each week of the fantasy playoffs are many times more valuable than any week of the regular season. This is when I expect the rookie wide receivers to shine. From Week 14 to Week 16 last season, 5 of the top 21 receivers were rookies. Even more impressively, three of the top seven wide receivers in the 2019 fantasy playoffs were rookies. I think we see the same thing happen in 2020.
With Tyrell Williams suffering a shoulder injury, Edwards has an opening to enter the starting lineup. Once he does, it will be hard to put him back on the bench if the reporting from training camp is any indication. Edwards can still be had in the 14th or 15th round of most drafts.