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FANTASY FOOTBALL: Quick-hitter thoughts from a live PPR mock draft on July 13 (No. 2 slot)

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Panthers tailback Christian McCaffrey (2,392 total yards, 19 TDs, 116 catches last year) should be the runaway choice for No. 1 overall in the August fantasy drafts.

If 2020 were a typical football summer, instead of the logistical Year From Hell, we likely would’t have the time or interest in doing LIVE mock drafts before training camps launch in late July.

Instead, we had plenty of hourly openings on our Monday schedule for this week, and begrudgingly got sucked into a live mock draft, via ESPN.com.

For this 12-team faux league with PPR rules, we were the last owner in the draft room. As such, we ended up with the No. 2 slot, which comes with its own unique challenges for Rounds 2-5.

Not that we’re complaining with the final results.

POSITIONAL RANKINGS

QB-STARTER RANKINGS

TOP 60 PPR TAILBACKS

TOP 75 PPR WIDE RECEIVERS

TOP 30 PPR TIGHT ENDS

TOP 150 PPR PLAYMAKERS

BATSBY SPORTS’ LIVE MOCK DRAFT FROM JULY 13

ROUND 1 — RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
ROUND 2 — WR DJ Moore, Panthers
ROUND 3 — QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
ROUND 4 — RB James Conner, Steelers
ROUND 5 — WR Will Fuller, Texans
ROUND 6 — RB Devin Singletary, Bills
ROUND 7 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 8 — TE Noah Fant, Broncos
ROUND 9 — RB Marlon Mack, Colts
ROUND 10 — WR Sterling Shepard, Giants
ROUND 11 — D/ST New England Patriots
ROUND 12 — WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
ROUND 13 — TE Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
ROUND 14 — QB Drew Lock, Broncos
ROUND 15 — PK Zane Gonzalez, Cardinals
ROUND 16 — WR Steven Sims, Redskins

ROSTER BREAKDOWN

a) File this under ‘C’ for Curveball.

I had Dalvin Cook all queued at No. 2 overall, given his prodigious track record and eminently doable schedule for the 2020 campaign (many porous rush defenses).

However, things changed for the better in a flash, once the guy drafting 1-1 opted for Saquon Barkley over McCaffrey — last year’s runaway choice for Fantasy MVP honors … the happy result of 2,392 scrimmage yards, 19 touchdowns and 116 receptions (NFL single-season record for tailback catches).

McCaffrey’s fortuitous owners from last August, many of whom scooped C-Mac up at picks 4-6 in Round 1, supremely benefited from his otherworldly production and bedrock consistency, accounting for 130 total yards and/or one touchdown 14 times.

Put it all together, and McCaffrey should be the No. 1 overall pick in 99.9 percent of 2020 drafts.

Of course, with the Panthers undergoing a regime change at the top (head coach Matt Rhule, offensive coordinator Joe Brady), there’s no guarantee of McCaffrey matching last season’s tallies with catches, targets (142) or receiving yards (1,005).

In fact, it’s implausible to believe McCaffrey will eclipse his scorching averages of 9.7 receptions/11.8 targets from the final seven regular-season outings.

Especially with receiver DJ Moore seemingly ready for a greater workload.

b) Which brings us to this …

Of his final 11 games last season, none of which featured Cam Newton as the Panthers’ starting quarterback, Moore accounted for nine outings of eight-plus targets, eight efforts of six-plus catches, four 100-yard games and three TDs.

Love the upside here, assuming Moore (eight games of double-digit targets last year) flirts with a 60-percent uptick in touchdowns (reasonable request).

c) For the record, I loathe being the first or second owner to draft a quarterback, given the absurd depth at this position.

However, who among us can resist the notion of snagging the two best fantasy superstars from last year — McCaffrey and Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP who rolled for 4,300-plus total yards and 43 touchdowns (seven rushing)?

Here’s another selling point: In this final eight regular-season outings last year, Jackson notched three or more touchdowns seven different times … and seven games of 64-percent-or-higher passing.

Not bad for a guy who’s still feeling his way through the NFL.

d) This time last summer, James Conner (1,470 total yards/13 TDs in 2018) was being hailed as a low Round 1/high Round 2 pick in PPR drafts.

Fast forward to the present: Conner easily deserves the benefit of the doubt in Round 5, based on a 2018 track record of 11 outings of 95 total yards and/or one touchdown 11 times.

There were also five games of multiple TDs for that dream campaign.

e) Charting his 10 greatest games with Deshaun Watson as the Texans’ starting quarterback (dating back to 2017), 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 approximately 47 percent of Fuller’s starts with Watson running the Houston offense.

f) Let’s be honest here: Raheem Mostert’s trade request (through his agent) has artificially decreased his draft value in July, even though we’re 99.99-percent positive the Niners won’t be trading him in August.

So, for the time being, we’ll revel in Mostert’s absurdly low value, knowing it’ll naturally go back up during the preseason games.

Why is that?

It’s simply implausible to ignore Mostert’s supreme finishing kick to last season.

Citing his final nine games (including the playoffs), Mostert accounted for 13 total touchdowns … without toting more than 20 carries in a single outing.

And during this prolific span, Mostert held sublime averages of 95.4 total yards and 1.4 TDs.

g) 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.

h) Gonzalez finished in the top four with field goals made/attempted last year.

That production might flatten a bit this season … in anticipation of the Cardinals rolling for 40-plus touchdowns.

Sounds like a decent trade-off for Round 15.

i) How’s this for upside with the last selection:

The Redskins’ Steven Sims ranked 11th in targets from Weeks 13-17 (40) and fourth overall in receiving touchdowns (four).

And he’s only 23!

On the down side, given how a number of our playmakers also share a Week 8 bye … it’s entirely plausible that Sims might never earn a starting spot — even as a flex option — in the first seven weeks.

Unless there’s a major breakout.

Last but not least …

j) We’re willing to take an upside-based gamble on Jerry Jeudy (143rd spot), in hopes the Broncos rookie quickly lives up to the immense expectations.

It also helps that I’ve been an ardent Jeudy supporter since Day 1 of his Alabama tenure.

Come August, though, the days of Jeudy wearing the label of a WR4 or WR5 in highly competitive PPR leagues will likely be numbered.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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