NFL: Year-end fantasy football review, lookahead to 2020 mock drafts

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Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (NFL single-season record of 109 catches for tailbacks) was a runaway choice for Fantasy MVP, amassing 2,291 total yards and 18 TDs in the first 15 games.

BATSBY Sports hearkens back to the good, bad and ugh moments of the 2019 fantasy season, while peering ahead to the 2020 fantasy drafts … which are merely eight months from now.

FANTASY MVP: RB CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY

STATS: 2,294 total yards, 18 TDs (15 games)
THE SKINNY: McCaffrey was a runaway choice for this prestigious award, the happy result of 2,000-plus scrimmage yards, 18 touchdowns and 109 receptions — the NFL single-season record for tailback catches.

And who knows what C-Mac can accomplish in Sunday’s season finale (vs. Saints), perhaps collecting enough scrimmage yards for the 2,400 threshold … or two scores to become just the 14th tailback in NFL history with 20 or more total touchdowns.

Either way, McCaffrey’s fortuitous owners supremely benefited from his otherworldly production and bedrock consistency, accounting for 130 total yards and/or one touchdown in 13 of 15 games (to date).

Not bad for a guy who wasn’t the consensus choice for No. 1 overall in PPR drafts.

BIGGEST FANTASY TEASE

Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins single-handedly carried fantasy owners to victory in Week 1, racking up nine catches, 198 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars — supposedly one of the NFL’s stingiest pass defenses.

This exhilaration would be short-lived, though, with Watkins failing to find the end zone from Weeks 2-16.

In fact, during this painfully mediocre stretch, Watkins didn’t once crack the eminently attainable threshold of 70 yards. Ouch.

BEST FANTASY CAMEO

For Week 7, and just days before the Cardinals acquired Kenyan Drake (via trade), backup tailback Chase Edmonds exploded for 150 total yards and three touchdowns against the Giants … only to disappear for the rest of the year (due to injuries and a crowded depth chart).

BIGGEST FANTASY TEASE, PART II

Bengals wideout John Rosss III started the season like a house on fire, notching 11 catches, 270 yards and three touchdowns in the first two weeks.

By all accounts, the University of Washington product was finally living up to the hype of being a top-10 draft pick from 2017.

But alas, this elite-level production was merely an inconvenient sugar high for the owners who stealthily drafted Ross in Round 15 or 16 … but didn’t feel cocksure about starting him in early September.

After that, injuries and woeful production from Weeks 3-16 (15 catches, 194 yards, zero TDs) would ultimately define Ross in Year 3.

ALL-FANTASY TEAM

QB LAMAR JACKSON — 4,333 total yards/43 TDs
RB CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY — 2,294 total yards, 18 TDs
RB DERRICK HENRY — 1,535 total yards/15 TDs
WR MICHAEL THOMAS — 145 catches/1,688 yards/9 TDs
WR CHRIS GODWIN — 86 catches/1,333 yards/9 TDs
TE TRAVIS KELCE — 94 catches/1,205 yards/5 TDs
FLEX #1 DALVIN COOK — 1,654 total yards/13 TDs
FLEX #2 DEANDRE HOPKINS — 104 catches/1,165 yards/7 TDs
K HARRISON BUTKER — 33 of 37 field goals (three from 50-plus yards)
D/ST NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 231 fantasy points (5 TDs, 25 INTs)

MOCK: TOP 60 PPR PLAYMAKERS FOR 2020

  1. RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants
  3. WR Michael Thomas, Saints
  4. RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings
  5. RB Aaron Jones, Packers
  6. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
  7. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
  8. RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders
  9. WR Davante Adams, Packers
  10. RB Alvin Kamara, Saints
  11. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
  12. WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
  13. RB Derrick Henry, Titans
  14. RB Nick Chubb, Browns
  15. WR Julio Jones, Falcons
  16. TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs
  17. WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  18. RB Mark Ingram, Ravens
  19. WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers
  20. RB Kenyan Drake, Cardinals
  21. RB Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
  22. WR Kenny Golladay, Lions
  23. RB Miles Sanders, Eagles
  24. RB Chris Carson, Seahawks
  25. QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
  26. RB Todd Gurley, Rams
  27. RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
  28. WR A.J. Brown, Titans
  29. RB Joe Mixon, Bengals
  30. WR DJ Moore, Panthers
  31. QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals
  32. TE George Kittle, 49ers
  33. QB Deshaun Watson, Texans
  34. RB Melvin Gordon, Chargers
  35. RB James Conner, Steelers
  36. WR DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  37. WR Amari Cooper, Cowboys
  38. TE Mark Andrews, Ravens
  39. QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
  40. WR Allen Robinson, Bears
  41. WR DJ Chark, Jaguars
  42. RB Austin Ekeler, Chargers
  43. QB Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
  44. WR Stefon Diggs, Vikings
  45. WR Julian Edelman, Patriots
  46. RB David Montgomery, Bears
  47. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
  48. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
  49. RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
  50. QB Josh Allen, Bills
  51. RB Marlon Mack, Colts
  52. WR Cooper Kupp, Rams
  53. RB Devin Singletary, Bills
  54. WR Adam Thielen, Vikings
  55. RB Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
  56. WR Cooper Kupp, Rams
  57. WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
  58. RB Devonta Freeman, Falcons
  59. WR D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks
  60. WR Odell Beckham Jr., Browns

THE 2019 ALL-BUST TEAM

WR ANTONIO BROWN, PATRIOTS

Consistently a top-20 pick during the August drafts as a Raider (preceding his high-profile release), Brown played just one game with the Patriots, before the club dumped him, presumably as a means of getting ahead of an NFL-endorsed suspension … which has yet to take place.

RB DAVID JOHNSON, CARDINALS

Johnson might never be a first-round pick in PPR drafts again, after falling off the fantasy map in November and December.

How bad were things for this former shining star? From Weeks 7-16, Johnson corralled a grand total of 18 carries in a seven-game span, ceding the spotlight to Cardinals playmakers Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.

WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, STEELERS

A late first-rounder in most PPR leagues, Smith-Schuster’s free-falling fantasy value coincided with the injury loss of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

For the year (11 games to date), Smith-Schuster tallied just one 100-yard outing and three touchdowns.

RB LE’VEON BELL, JETS

At first blush, Bell’s inclusion seems a tad unfair, since he has an outside shot at 1,300 total yards and five touchdowns.

However, that’s also the point we’re making here: Bell averaged 1,600 yards and eight TDs from 2013-17, without really breaking a sweat in the Steelers offense.

But with the Jets, there were zero games of 100 yards rushing, zero outings of multiple touchdowns and only two efforts of 120-plus total yards.

Bottom line: This season, Bell likely didn’t carry a single owner to victory for any isolated week.

WR ODELL BECKHAM JR., BROWNS

It’s time to acknowledge one cold, hard fact: The Beckham we knew from 2014-16 — boasting Hall of Fame-like averages of 96 catches, 1,374 yards, 12 TDs — doesn’t exist anymore.

Chalk it up to injuries, ego, complacency, general unhappiness, unwanted change of scenery or simply getting older. Whatever the reasons, isolated or cumulative, the days of presuming 90 catches, 1,300 yards or even double-digit touchdowns have likely passed.

The lesson here: Stop taking OBJ high in Round 2 of PPR drafts.

THE DRAFT STEALS SQUAD

QB LAMAR JACKSON, RAVENS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 14th quarterback
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 11
THE SKINNY:
There’s never a downside to landing the presumptive NFL MVP in the latter rounds of a fantasy draft.

In fact, for those who selected Jackson in Round 11, 12 or 13, let’s hope you had the quick foresight to trade your other quality quarterback in September, clearing a path for Jackson to rack up absurd numbers, such as 4,333 scrimmage yards (1,206 rushing) and 43 total touchdowns.

WR DEVANTE PARKER, DOLPHINS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 69th wide receiver
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 16
STATS:
64 catches, 1,065 yards, 9 TDs
THE SKINNY: Parker slogged through a rough start in September, coinciding with the Dolphins’ collective misadventures.

For Weeks 4-16, though, Parker enjoyed a career renaissance, averaging five catches, 78 yards and 0.8 touchdowns over the next 12 games.

Adding to the fun, Parker also carried fantasy owners to victory for crucial Weeks 12-14, tallying 20 catches, 32 targets, 385 yards and two scores.

RB KENYAN DRAKE, CARDINALS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 27th tailback
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 9
STATS:
1,079 total yards/7 TDs
THE SKINNY: Ignore the above stats, or his forgettable time with the Dolphins. As the Cardinals’ backfield leader, Drake has forever captured the hearts of fantasy owners, solely based on the recent two-week explosion of 330 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns.

QB JAMEIS WINSTON, BUCCANEERS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 15th quarterback
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 13
THE SKINNY:
Come Sunday, Winston (4,908 yards passing, 32 total TDs) should be an easy lock for the exclusive 5,000-Yard Club, joining the likes of Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes and Peyton Manning.

Winston’s also the first quarterback in NFL history to exceed 450 yards passing in back-to-back outings.

In other words, from a fantasy perspective, who gives a flying you-know-what about all the pick-sixes.

TE MARK ANDREWS, RAVENS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 23rd tight end
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 14
STATS:
64 catches, 852 yards, 10 TDs
THE SKINNY: The previously underrated Andrews should be a top-5 fantasy tight end for the next five years. Enough said.

QB JOSH ALLEN, BILLS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 21st quarterback
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 16
THE SKINNY:
Allen brought the fantasy wood to Year 2 of his development, accounting for nearly 3,600 total yards and 29 touchdowns in his first 15 games.

That’s excellent production for the middle rounds of a 12-team draft … let alone the Mr. Irrelevant slot at the end of Round 16.

TE DARREN WALLER, RAIDERS

FANTASY PROS PRESEASON ADP: 21st tight end
12-TEAM DRAFT ADP: Round 16
THE SKINNY:
I blame myself for ignoring the clear signals from August.

With HBO’s Hard Knocks, Antonio Brown’s time with the Raiders was destined to be brief and erratic; and as such, Oakland would eventually need a receiver or tight end to fill the ‘targets’ vacuum, in the wake of Brown’s uncomfortable exit before Week 1.

OK, so Waller only scored three seasonal touchdowns (curiously over a seven-day span in October).

However, Waller also brought top-7 production at rock-bottom prices, accounting for eight games of six-plus catches, eight outings of eight-plus targets and four efforts of 100-plus receiving yards.

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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