Here’s a dry run of draft expectations when holding the No. 6 slot in 12-team leagues (Points Per Reception scoring), working exclusively off an updated Average Draft Position chart from our friends at Fantasy Football Calculator.
NOTE: We made a semi-conscious effort to land three running backs in the first four selections, essentially ignoring our ‘4-2-1’ system from previous years — a time-tested, PPR-enhanced process of grabbing four wideouts sometime in the first seven rounds.
Why the deviation?
There’s an overflow of quality receiving depth in the latter rounds; and as such, fantasy owners should feel emboldened to pursue high-end tailback options in the early rounds.
This is yet another perk of executing at least one mock per week, especially during this dark period of minimal live sports.
Preparation and experimentation breed draft-day confidence.
Round 1, Pick 6 overall: Motive — Best overall player
1st option: RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders
2nd option: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
3rd option: WR Davante Adams, Packers
RATIONALE: Last summer, I took social-media flak for minimizing Jacobs’ Year 1 potential with the Raiders, believing his Alabama teammate Damien Harris might have been placed into a better backfield situation (Patriots).
In hindsight, that was an incredibly stupid declaration on my part, a mistake that won’t be repeated in 2020.
In just 13 games last year, Jacobs rolled for 1,316 total yards (1,150 rushing) and seven touchdowns; and if we extrapolate these rock-solid numbers, it converts to a 16-game campaign of 1,526 total yards and eight scores.
Here’s another slice of fantasy goodness: According to Pro Football Reference, Jacobs still earned top-10 marks (among tailbacks) with red-zone rushing attempts (8th), red-zone rushing yards (5th) and red-zone rushing scores (10th).
Round 2, Pick 19 overall: Motive — Best playmaker available
1st option: RB Aaron Jones, Packers
2nd option: WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
3rd option: QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
RATIONALE: The elite-level battle of Aaron Jones vs. Ezekiel Elliott represents a virtual coin flip.
For 2019, Elliott enjoyed the head-to-head edge with carries (301), rushing yards (1,357), total yards (1,777), catches (54) and targets (71); whereas Jones prevailed with yards per carry (4.6), receiving yards (474), rushing touchdowns (16), receiving scores (3) and total touchdowns (19).
The tiebreaker for 2020: Similar to Vikings star Dalvin Cook, Jones should greatly benefit from a schedule that includes the Panthers (NFL-worst 27 rushing TDs allowed last year), Jaguars (bottom-5 ranking with rushing yards/rushing TDs surrendered) and Lions (bottom-10 with rushing yards/rushing TDs allowed).
Two more bonus tracks:
****In his final six outings last season (including the playoffs), Jones posted supreme averages of 116 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns.
****Last season, Elliott nearly doubled Jones’ amount of red-zone carries (59-33 disparity); and yet, the latter finished with more rushing touchdowns inside the 20 (14-11 advantage).
Round 3, Pick 30 overall: Motive — Best playmaker available
1st option: RB Chris Carson, Seahawks
2nd option: WR DJ Moore, Panthers
3rd option: RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
RATIONALE: Carson owns stellar two-year averages of 1,405 total yards and nine touchdowns … despite missing three regular-season outings during this span.
And when in doubt, roll with the elite-level running backs at the top of the draft. As referenced before, there should be a flood of quality options, among wideouts, in the latter rounds.
Round 4, Pick 43 overall: Motive — Best overall player
1st option: WR A.J. Brown, Titans
2nd option: RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
3rd option: WR Mark Ingram, Ravens
RATIONALE: Does Brown (52 catches, 84 targets, 1,051 yards, 8 TDs last year) warrant WR1 status in 12-team leagues?
It’s certainly a legitimate question for a guy who tallied just one outing of double-digit targets and two games of six-plus catches last year.
But here’s where things look rosy: For his final six regular-season outings in Year 1, Brown cracked the 100-yard mark four times and recorded five touchdowns.
What’s more, the Ole Miss product enjoyed an all-world catch-to-target rate of 86 percent during this stretch.
Round 5, Pick 54 overall: Motive — Best wideout available
1st option: WR DJ Chark, Jaguars
2nd option: WR DeVante Parker, Dolphins
3rd option: WR Stefon Diggs, Bills
RATIONALE: Chark proffered a major breakout in Year 2 with the Jaguars, rolling for 73 catches, 118 targets, 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games.
Of equal importance, in his first 10 outings last season, the LSU product collected 100-plus yards three times, eight-plus targets six times and all eight scores during this brief span.
Which brings us to this: Chark would be a useless WR2 for prospective drafters, if he repeats last year’s mediocre-at-best finish to the fantasy campaign, merely averaging 4.5 catches, 45 yards and zero TDs for Weeks 14-17. Ugh.
Round 6, Pick 67 overall: Motive — Best playmaker available
1st option: WR DeVante Parker, Dolphins
2nd option: QB Deshaun Watson, Texans
3rd option: RB Derrius Guice, Redskins
RATIONALE: Fantasy pundits might have Chark (73 catches, 1,008 yards, 8 TDsd in 15 games last year) ranked ahead of Parker, through the appearance of more stability with the quarterbacking situation (Gardner Minshew’s the clear-cut starter in Jacksonville).
However, we’d argue the Dolphins will do everything in their power to assign a redshirt year to rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa, allowing him to fully mend from last year’s hip surgery and subsequently hit the ground running for 2021 — similar to how Patrick Mahomes transitioned with the Chiefs in 2017-18.
And if that’s the case, we look forward to 12, 14 or even 16 games of Ryan Fitzpatrick (the only QB in NFL history with three straight games of 400 yards passing) slinging it around to Parker, who averaged 5.1 catches, 82 yards and 0.7 TDs in his final 13 outings last year.
For this prolific stretch, Parker collected double-digit targets seven different times. He also tallied six catches, 90 yards and/or one touchdown on 10 occasions.
Round 7, Pick 78 overall: Motive — Best running back available
1st option: RB Marlon Mack, Colts
2nd option: RB Sony Michel, Patriots
3rd option: RB Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
RATIONALE: Right now, I’m operating under the assumption of Mack being the Colts’ go-to back for Week 1, with Wisconsin rookie Jonathan Taylor serving as the backup rusher.
If things should change during training camp, we’d easily drop Mack for Derrius Guice, who appears to have a stronghold on the RB1 slot with the Redskins.
Last season, Mack posted eight different outings of 90 total yards and/or one touchdown, despite logging 20-plus touches for merely seven games.
Round 8, Pick 91 overall: Motive — Best wideout available
1st option: WR Will Fuller, Texans
2nd option: WR Marvin Jones, Lions
3rd option: WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
RATIONALE: Here’s everything you need to know about this surprising selection.
Charting his 10 greatest games with Deshaun Watson as the Texans’ starting quarterback, Fuller boasts staggering averages of 5.6 catches, 102 yards and 1.4 TDs per outing.
In case you’re wondering … that otherworldly sample size represents roughly 47 percent of Fuller’s starts with Watson running the Houston offense.
Round 9, Pick 102 overall: Motive — Best QB1 available
1st option: QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
2nd option: QB Carson Wentz, Eagles
3rd option: QB Daniel Jones, Giants
RATIONALE: Stafford’s midseason injury served as a death knell for the eminently flawed Lions, who went 0-8 without their franchise signal-caller last season.
There were also fantasy consequences to swallow, since Stafford was on pace for 4,998 yards passing and 38 touchdowns … before going down with a serious-but-not-surgery-worthy back ailment.
Can Stafford produce another year of monster numbers?
**Unlike previous years, the Lions are blessed with high-upside playmakers at the tailback, receiver and tight end slots.
**The schedule-makers have apparently been very kind, since Detroit draws the vulnerable pass defenses from the AFC South (Texans, Colts, Jaguars) and NFC South (Bucs, Falcons, Saints).
**Stafford posted the third-highest average of points among quarterbacks last year (25.9 per game).
The two passers ranked ahead? Lamar Jackson and Jameis Winston … currently Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans.
Bottom line: A healthy Stafford has value that far exceeds pick 102.
Round 10, Pick 115 overall: Motive — Best wideout available
1st option: WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
2nd option: WR Sterling Shepard, Giants
3rd option: WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
Round 11, Pick 126 overall: Motive — Best playmaker available
1st option: TE Austin Hooper, Browns
2nd option: WR Sterling Shepard, Giants
3rd option: WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
RATIONALE: With the Falcons last season, Hooper (75 catches, 97 targets, 787 yards, 6 TDs) enjoyed career-best marks across the board; and yet, fantasy owners should feel optimistic about the 26-year-old’s still-roomy ceiling, moving forward.
For instance, replicating 97 targets will likely be a stretch in Cleveland, given the Browns’ arsenal of explosive playmakers (Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, David Njoku).
On the plus side, Hooper might never encounter a between-the-20s double team with Cleveland all season, let alone inside the red zone.
So, it might be a reasonable swap to cede slightly fewer catches and targets … for a tangible bump in touchdowns.
Put it all together, and pick 126 represents good value for Hooper — BATSBY Sports’ fifth-ranked tight end.
Round 12, Pick 139 overall: Motive — Best QB2 available
1st option: QB Ryan Tannehill, Titans
2nd option: QB Jared Goff, Rams
3rd option: QB Drew Lock, Broncos
RATIONALE: Tannehill (2,742 yards passing, 26 TDs in 12 games last year) has the chops to be a QB1 for this squad, especially with A.J. Brown as a primary handcuff. Solid pick!
Round 13, Pick 150 overall: Motive — Best kicker available
1st option: PK Justin Tucker, Ravens
2nd option: PK Harrison Butker, Chiefs
3rd option: PK Zane Gonzalez, Cardinals
Round 14, Pick 163 overall: Motive — Best backup tight end
1st option: TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions
2nd option: TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles
3rd option: TE Eric Ebron, Steelers
Round 15, Pick 174 overall: Motive — Best tailback (preferably a handcuff)
1st option: RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
2nd option: RB Adrian Peterson, Redskins
3rd option: RB A.J. Dillon, Packers
Round 16, Pick 187 overall: Motive — Best defense/special teams
1st option: D/ST New Orleans Saints
2nd option: D/ST Tennessee Titans
3rd option: D/ST Philadelphia Eagles
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ByJayClemons.