Here are the results of an ESPN.com mock draft from Sept. 3, while holding the No. 2 slot in Round 1 (12-team league, PPR rules).
The simple caveats here:
a) I planned to go heavy on tailbacks in the first eight rounds (at least four at this position).
b) I wanted to handcuff an elite-level receiver to his day-in, day-out quarterback.
ROUND 1 — RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings
ROUND 2 — WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
ROUND 3 — WR Kenny Golladay, Lions
ROUND 4 — RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
ROUND 5 — RB Devin Singletary, Bills
ROUND 6 — WR Will Fuller, Texans
ROUND 7 — TE Tyler Higbee, Rams
ROUND 8 — RB James White, Patriots
ROUND 9 — QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
ROUND 10 — WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
ROUND 11 — WR Breshad Perriman, Jets
ROUND 12 — RB Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
ROUND 13 — D/ST San Francisco 49ers
ROUND 14 — QB Jared Goff, Rams
ROUND 15 — TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles
ROUND 16 — PK Younghoe Koo, Falcons
a) There were initial pangs of wanting Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall, but we stuck with The Big Board and grabbed Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook at that premium spot.
The primary knock here: Cook has yet to play a full season in the pros, with last year’s output of 14 games serving as the career high.
Personally speaking, there are minimal worries about Cook’s longevity or sustainability:
****For his first 13 games in 2019, Cook reached the elite-level threshold of 110 total yards and/or one touchdown 13 times; and against NFC North foes, the Vikings star owned stellar averages of 121 total yards and 1.3 TDs.
****Citing the NFL’s eight worst rushing defenses from last year, in terms of touchdowns allowed, the Vikings will encounter six of the unique opponents in 2020 (nine games total) — including two meetings apiece with the Packers, Bears and Lions.
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b) Chris Godwin finished second overall with the majority of PPR leagues last year (trailing only Thomas), despite ranking 11th in receptions (86), 17th in targets (120), 3rd in receiving yards (1,333) and 3rd in receiving touchdowns (9).
As such, there are two ways to interpret our positional ranking for 2020:
GOOD: Godwin (three double-digit target outings, six 100-yard games last year) might already be a fantasy superstar … but also has plenty of tangible upside with catches, targets and touchdowns.
MEH: Fantasy owners should never assume 1,300-plus yards and nine touchdowns from any wideout, year to year, especially one who has yet to clear 90 receptions.
Put it all together, and it’ll be fascinating to see how new Bucs quarterback Tom Brady utilizes arguably the NFC’s best collection of playmakers from Day 1 (Godwin, Mike Evans Ronald Jones, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Justin Watson, Leonard Fournette).
c) Today’s mock marks the one and only time we’ve landed Kenny Golladay this summer.
Is he worth such a lofty spot (Round 3), even with the Lions building up their backfield with Georgia tailback D’Andre Swift in April’s NFL draft?
****Last year, Golladay enjoyed career highs with receiving yards (1,190) and touchdowns (NFL-best 11, among wideouts), while just missing out on personal bests with catches (65) and targets (116).
****Of his last 15 games with Matthew Stafford as the Lions’ starting quarterback, dating back to 2018, Golladay collected eight-plus targets 12 times.
For good measure, charting those crucial Stafford starts, Golladay reached the elite-level threshold of seven catches, 90 yards and/or one touchdown 10 times.
****Covering the last two seasons, Golladay has posted at least one touchdown in back-to-back outings six different times.
d) We’re taking an interesting leap of faith with Bills tailback Devin Singletary.
When extrapolating his 12-game rookie numbers of 969 total yards and four touchdowns to a full 16 games, it shakes out 1,296 total yards and five scores.
Is that textbook Round 5 material?
At first glance, perhaps not. However, we’re also banking on a major jump from last year’s tallies with catches (29) and targets (41).
e) Here’s something sneaky-good for the middle rounds:
Charting his 10 greatest games with Deshaun Watson as the Texans’ starting quarterback, Will 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; and it usually involved DeAndre Hopkins being in the Texans’ lineup.
f) For Weeks 13-17 last year, Tyler Higbee dominated all comers, posting two touchdowns, four outings of double-digit targets, four 100-yard efforts and five games of seven-plus catches during this incredible stretch.
Forget about tight ends. This five-game spurt easily represents the best finishing kick of any pass-catcher last season.
And yet, Rob Gronkowski has consistently gone higher in PPR drafts this summer. Go figure.
g) Here’s another Higbee-related connection to celebrate:
According to Pro Football Focus, Rams QB Jared Goff (two-year averages: 4,663 yards passing, 29 TDs) was the top-ranked play-action passer last season — a stat which certainly benefits the vertically focused talents of Higbee.
Also, charting the NFL’s eight worst defenses against tight ends last year, in terms of touchdowns surrendered, Higbee and the Rams will encounter six of the clubs in 2020 (Dolphins, Redskins, Buccaneers, Giants, Cardinals twice).
And last but not least …
h) We rarely end with kickers, typically the most replaceable assets in fantasyland.
But here’s something to consider, for those who often wait until Round 15 or 16 for this position:
The Falcons’ Younghoe Koo has carved out a cool real-world niche of being the NFL’s best onside-kick artisan, but there’s tangible fantasy value to address, as well:
For his eight-game audition with Atlanta last season, Koo buried 23 of 26 field goals (including 8 of 10 from 40-plus yards) and 15 of 16 PATs.
Of equal importance, Koo pleased his respective owners roughly 63 percent of the time, burying three or more field goals on five different occasions.