Many fantasy football drafts are going to be occurring over the next week. That means that time is running out to identify sleepers and find value picks before draft day. In the time remaining, it will be important for sharp fantasy football owners to participate in mock drafts to test out draft strategy and fantasy football rankings to make sure they're well prepared for the most important event of the season.
Some mock drafts do take a while, so if you only have a little bit of time on your hands, check out the FantasyPro's Mock Draft Simulator, which allows you to do a mock draft in minutes. But if you want a full, 12-man mock experience, feel free to take an hour or so to complete a mock in full.
Recently, I participated in a 15-round mock set up by Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com. The 12-team PPR draft gave me a perfect opportunity to test our top 200 PPR rankings and have a look at what players might be sleepers and steals come draft day.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2020 cheat sheet
After going with a low pick in my first PPR mock, I decided to go at the opposite end of the spectrum. I took the No. 2 selection knowing that I would get one of the top-two RBs on the board. From there, the goal was to land a solid RB2 before loading up on receivers to round out my team. In essence, this was a test of the balanced strategy after I went RB-heavy last time around.
With all that said, here’s a look at how my team came out this time around.
2020 Experts Fantasy Mock Draft: 12-Team PPR league
* This draft was for a PPR league that starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 D/ST, 1 K, and has 6 bench spots
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants (Round 1, Pick 2). Having the second overall pick is the lowest-stress position in the first round of fantasy football drafts. There are two top RBs that are going with the first two picks, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. With the top pick, you have to choose which one you like better. With the second pick, you choose which one is left. Pretty simple, no? Anyway, McCaffrey (unsurprisingly) went off the board with the No. 1 overall pick, so we were able to grab Barkley here. Barkley was the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy last season but didn't live up to expectations because of an ankle injury. Still, he had 1,441 scrimmage yards and eight scores in 13 games despite not being fully healthy, so he could emerge as the top player in fantasy once again.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars (2.23). Last year, Fournette wasn't expected to be much of a threat in PPR. Instead, he shocked the world by racking up 100 targets and 76 receptions en route to a season with 1,674 total yards. The problem with Fournette is that he plays for a weak Jaguars team that doesn't score much, so he racked up only three TDs on the year. Still, he's our 11th-ranked RB in PPR, so grabbing him at the end of the second round as an RB2 is a great value, even factoring in fewer catches with Chris Thompson now in Jacksonville.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns (3.26). There were three WRs at this spot that fit the bill in our rankings: Beckham, Cooper Kupp, and Amari Cooper. All fit into the same WR tier, so I went with the player that has both the most upside and that I thought was least likely to come back to me in Round 4. Beckham has seen at least 124 targets in every season that he has played 12 or more games and has crossed the 1,000-yard mark in all five of those campaigns. He'll need to build up better chemistry with Baker Mayfield and score double-digit TDs against (something he hasn't done since 2016), but the rest of the numbers are there for Beckham to have a bounce-back season.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams (4.47). My gamble in the third round paid off. Kupp came all the way back around to me with my fourth-round pick, so I was able to scoop him up here. Kupp is our seventh-ranked WR for PPR and actually clocks in ahead of Beckham for us. But people are sleeping on the Rams receiver because of the other quality receiving options that the team has (WR Robert Woods, TE Tyler Higbee). Last year, Kupp finished 11th in the NFL in targets (134) and posted 94 catches for 1,161 yards and 10 scores. He has a high floor for PPR, so landing him as a WR2 is an unbelievable value at this point in the draft.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos (5.50). Last year, Sutton finished 17th in the NFL in yards per catch with a mark of 15.4. He ranked 15th among WRs in total targets with 124, and he did all of this despite playing with three different quarterbacks (Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and Drew Lock). His ceiling is sky-high, and while we could've grabbed another high-floor player like Keenan Allen here, Sutton makes sense as a swing for the fences WR3/FLEX play.
James White, RB, Patriots (6.71). Taking White in PPR is never a bad bet. The Patriots top receiving back has averaged 99 targets per 16 games the past four seasons for 72 catches, 623 receiving yards, and five TDs. New England lacks talent in the receiving corps, so White could be relied on more by Cam Newton in his first year as the Patriots starter. Newton did have Christian McCaffrey as a weapon in Carolina, so it's safe to assume that he'll be comfortable enough checking the ball down to White to put him in the RB2/FLEX range.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (7.74). Wilson tops our Tier 2 QBs for the '20 season, checking in as our third-ranked passer. Considering that Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson both went in the third round of this mock, Wilson is a great value with the second pick in the seventh round. Wilson has been a top-10 fantasy QB in each of the past three seasons and was twice in the top-five during that span, including a No. 1 overall ranking in '17. He has tossed at least 31 TDs in each of the past three seasons, and with the presence of Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Greg Olsen in the receiving corps, Wilson should be in for a good year.
Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals (8.95). Last year, Kirk had just one fewer target than Larry Fitzgerald despite playing in three fewer games than the venerable veteran. DeAndre Hopkins' addition to the offense will take away some balls intended for Kirk, but Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray will do their best to spread the ball around, so Kirk's upside should still be high. He's a great sleeper pick as our WR4 and should be a fine bye-week filler if he doesn't emerge as a true WR3 for fantasy.
Duke Johnson, RB, Texans (9.98). Johnson is a valuable asset in PPR formats, as he caught 44 passes and logged 410 receiving yards last year for the Texans. He also totaled exactly 410 yards on the ground despite only seeing 83 carries. Duke is behind David Johnson for now, but he has had injury troubles in recent seasons. If he goes down again, Duke will have a chance to prove himself as the lead back for Houston. He has value in PPR as both a receiver and a top handcuff.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots (10.119). Michel has been the lead back for the Patriots this year, but he has some concerns in PPR. First, he doesn't catch many passes. He has only 19 grabs through two NFL seasons. Second, he has been banged up recently and is dealing with a foot injury. The latter issue is what caused him to slip into the 10th round while James White and Damien Harris went ahead of him. Grabbing Michel as a fifth RB with TD upside was a no-brainer, especially considering that he is a handcuff, of sorts, for White.
Allen Lazard, WR, Packers (11.122). Aaron Rodgers needs a No. 2 receiver to step up in the Packers' offense. Devin Funchess was supposed to compete for that role, but he opted out of the season. That means that Lazard, who made three starts last season and had some nice games for the team, will be favored to be the No. 2 guy. Lazard had 17 total targets in the last two weeks of the regular season, so maybe that's a sign of things to come as he develops more chemistry with Rodgers.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers (12.143). I tend to get so focused on taking RBs and WRs that I usually forget to take players at tight end until late. This time, it paid off as Hunter Henry was somehow still on the board when we were drafting here. Henry comes in at 60 overall on our top 200 PPR rankings, so he is a ridiculous steal with the 143rd pick. Sure, the concern about Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert comprising the QB group is warranted, but Henry would've totaled 73 catches, 869 yards, and seven TDs had he played a full 16-game slate. He will be a TE1, and we could've taken him as early as the seventh round and been fine with it. What a pick.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Chiefs (13.146). Somebody in Kansas City will have to spell Clyde Edwards-Helaire when he needs a break. Thompson is one of our top RB sleepers, as he got a lot of buzz last offseason and should be a top backup and handcuff for fantasy formats. He may not ultimately pan out, or he may find himself behind DeAndre Washington, but in the 13th round, there is no risk in taking the '19 sixth-round pick.
New England Patriots D/ST (14.149). The Patriots check in as our third-ranked defense for the season and they have a relatively easy Week 1 matchup with the Dolphins. I find it best to trust matchup-based plays early in the season before settling on a stop unit, but the Patriots give us good short-term upside and great long-term upside.
Zane Gonzalez, K, Cardinals (15.152). Gonzalez is our sixth-ranked kicker, plays on a team that should have a good offense and score plenty of points, and kicks in a domed stadium. What's not to like?
By the end of the draft, this is what my team looked like:
QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
RB Saquon Barkley, Giants
RB Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
WR Cooper Kupp, Rams
FLEX Courtland Sutton, Broncos
TE Hunter Henry, Chargers
K Zane Gonzalez, Cardinals
RB James White, Patriots
RB Duke Johnson, Texans
RB Sony Michel, Patriots
RB Darwin Thompson, Chiefs
WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
WR Allen Lazard, Packers
On paper, this team looks pretty good. The starting lineup is stacked thanks to the selections of Wilson and Henry at significant discounts, and the receiving corps, in general, is in very good shape. Between Beckham, Kupp, and Sutton, I should get a lot of catches and yards. The only question is whether or not the TDs will be there beyond Kupp.
As for the RB position, I'm fairly confident in this group. Barkley should be a stud, and so long as Chris Thompson doesn't take away too many receiving opportunities from Fournette, he should be a good RB2. The depth at the position is solid, but if Fournette flops, this team will lack a true RB2. But that's about the only concern with this mock.
To see the full results of the mock draft, including who I passed on, how some other teams were built, and analysis of each team, head over to the Walter Football YouTube Channel!