If 2020 were a typical sports summer, instead of the logistical Year From Hell, we likely wouldn’t have the time or interest in doing LIVE mock drafts before training camps launch in late July/early August.
Instead, we had plenty of hourly openings on this week’s Tuesday calendar, and got sucked into another live mock draft, via ESPN.com.
To make things interesting and needlessly challenging, though, here’s our unique strategy for today’s mock exercise:
Are you familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark, the fascinating biblical tale of a man being spared by God during a horrific flood, since Noah compassionately brought two kinds of every animal onto his over-sized ship?
(The story’s a little more complex than that … but you get the gist.)
Well, for this mock draft, while occupying back-to-back slots for Rounds 1/2 (12th and 13th overall picks), Rounds 3/4 (36th and 37th), Rounds 5/6 (60th and 61st), etc. … we’re consigned to the consistent and disciplined task of snagging ‘two of everything‘ at every turn.
In other words, potentially going WR-WR for Rounds 1/2 … RB-RB for Rounds 3/4 … QB-QB for Rounds 7-8 … all the way through the draft.
(For the sake of balance, let’s combine the kicker and defense into one pairing.)
Now, is this a wise strategy for highly competitive drafts? Probably not.
At the same time, it forces the general manager (read: you) to focus hard on positional value at certain value-added spots … knowing they cannot deviate from the plan when invoking back-to-back draft selections.
Here are the results … enjoy!
BATSBY SPORTS’ LIVE MOCK DRAFT FROM JULY 27
ROUND 1 — WR Davante Adams, Packers
ROUND 2 — WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
ROUND 3 — RB James Conner, Steelers
ROUND 4 — RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
ROUND 5 — RB Mark Ingram, Ravens
ROUND 6 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 7 — WR Will Fuller, Texans
ROUND 8 — WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
ROUND 9 — QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
ROUND 10 — QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
ROUND 11 — TE Austin Hooper, Browns
ROUND 12 — TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions
ROUND 13 — D/ST Buffalo Bills
ROUND 14 — PK Harrison Butker, Chiefs
ROUND 15 — WR Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
ROUND 16 — WR Steven Sims, Redskins
a) We’ll keep this short and sweet with Davante Adams:
****When extrapolating his 2016-18 numbers over three 16-game campaigns, Adams tallied elite-level averages of 87 catches, 136 targets, 1,089 yards and 11.7 touchdowns.
****Adams’ 12-game numbers from last season, when extrapolated to a 16-game slate, shake out to 111 catches, 170 targets, 1,330 yards and 6.7 TDs.
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 the preseason (No. 2 overall receiver):
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 (Evans, Godwin, Ronald Jones, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Justin Watson).
c) 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 here, based on a 2018 track record of 11 outings of 95 total yards and/or one touchdown.
(There were also five games of multiple TDs within that dream campaign of ’18.)
d) Le’Veon Bell averaged 79 catches, 1,599 total yards and 8.4 touchdowns from 2013-17, putting him on a seemingly easy-peezy path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And then came the holdout campaign of 2018, followed by a good, but hardly elite season with the Jets last year (1,250 total yards, 4 TDs).
Which begs the subjective questions …
****Does Bell own a top-20 ranking, among tailbacks, based on projectable numbers for 2020?
****Or am I merely keeping him on a proverbial pedestal, based on his Steelers years … and that he’s a fellow Michigan State alum?
e) There’s no justification in Mark Ingram (1,265 total yards/15 TDs last year) falling to the 60th slot.
Yes, Ingram’s 2019 tallies for catches (26) and targets (29) were wretched; but then again, he also had a 90-percent proficiency rate when targeted … and six outings of 100-plus total yards or multiple touchdowns.
What more do you want from a primary cog in the NFL’s most prolific rushing offense?
f) It’ll be interesting to see how fantasy pundits gauge Raheem Mostert, moving forward …. even after his salary adjustment for 2020.
On the down side, Mostert will likely remain embroiled in a time-share situation, divvying carries and touches among the likes of Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson Jr. or Jerick McKinnon, a lightning-fast asset who’s been plagued by major injuries for back-to-back seasons.
That said, it’s impossible to ignore Mostert’s absurd 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 that prolific span, Mostert held sublime averages of 95.4 total yards and 1.4 TDs.
g) 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.
h) Christian Kirk was a tough call over Sterling Shepard, a virtual coin flip. Here are two reasons for making the Kirk move:
****Last year, Kirk (68 catches, 709 yards, 3 TDs) produced eight outings of nine-plus targets, seven games of six-plus catches and two 100-yard efforts … while serving as Arizona’s No. 1 wideout (DeAndre Hopkins will likely commandeer this role in 2020).
Fast forward to the present: Fantasy owners should anticipate Kirk seldom, if ever, incurring any double teams, especially in the red zone, thanks to the arrival of Hopkins and tailback Kenyan Drake (1,162 total yards, 8 TDs last year with Miami and Arizona).
****The Giants’ first five games include a gauntlet of stingy pass defenses — Steelers, 49ers, Bears, Rams and Cowboys.
i) With Davante Adams on the roster, Aaron Rodgers (healthy three-year average: 4,291 yards passing, 33 TDs) makes for a superb handcuff at quarterback.
Assuming Rodgers gets off the fantasy bench more than six times this season.
Why is that?
j) Matthew 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.
k) With the Falcons last season, Austin 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 132 represents good value for Hooper — BATSBY Sports’ fifth-ranked tight end.