An early look at fantasy football's first five rounds for 2020

After leading the NFL in scrimmage yards (2392) and touchdowns (19) while producing just the third 1000-1000 season in league history, Christian McCaffrey is almost certainly going to be the No. 1 pick in your 2020 fantasy football draft. 

McCaffrey has never missed a game for Carolina and he's averaged 101 receptions per year. He's incredible. Across all Yahoo fantasy leagues this season, 82 percent of teams that rostered CMC qualified for the playoffs. That's insane. He was an actual cheat code. 

We can debate whether the Panthers should have fed McCaffrey 400-plus touches in a no-hope season, but ... well, they did it. And he thrived. Again, he's your top overall pick next year, regardless of scoring settings. 

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After McCaffrey, however, things get complicated. We obviously don't need to chisel our 2020 fantasy rankings in granite just yet, not with the draft and free agency ahead. But it's helpful to think about next season's ranks while the successes and missteps of 2019 are still fresh in our heads. 

Here's a way-too-early, round-by-round look at my top-60 players for 2020 (largely analysis-free!), assuming half-PPR scoring and excluding the incoming rookie class:

Round One

1. Christian McCaffrey

2. Saquon Barkley

3. Ezekiel Elliott

4. Dalvin Cook

5. Michael Thomas

6. Derrick Henry

7. Nick Chubb

8. DeAndre Hopkins

9. Aaron Jones

10. Tyreek Hill

11. Alvin Kamara

12. Julio Jones

You can pretty much shuffle picks 3-7 pretty much any way you like and you won't hear any outrage from me. Barkley isn't likely to budge from the second spot on my board, but all other ranks are subject to change. We were reminded in the money weeks of Saquon's potential when fully operational, and it was spectacular ...

A few of the names from my current top-12 (notably McCaffrey, Thomas, Henry, and Jones) are obviously coming off seasons that may not be repeatable, but none of them need to produce at 2019 levels to deliver first-round value next year. 

Round Two

13. Chris Godwin

14. Davante Adams

15. Austin Ekeler

16. Josh Jacobs

17. Leonard Fournette

18. Travis Kelce

19. Mike Evans

20. Kenny Golladay

21. Joe Mixon

22. Lamar Jackson

23. Mark Ingram

24. Chris Carson

With Melvin Gordon presumably headed elsewhere, Ekeler is without question a bankable RB1. Remember, he averaged 122.5 total yards per game over the season’s first four weeks, catching 24 balls on 25 targets and finding the end zone six times — which is not too shabby. He may find his way into the first-round conversation.

Lamar Jackson finished the season with more rushing yards than four of the five running backs featured in this round, which is just stupid. Realistically, you aren’t going to get him as late as Pick No. 22 in a hometown draft, because someone (and probably several someones) will be chasing last year’s numbers. Jackson is a great bet to produce another top-five positional finish assuming good health, even with an expected drop in passing TD-rate (9.0% in 2019). Baltimore is surely planning to add talent to its receiving corps, plus Jackson’s rushing TDs could plausibly jump. He’s unfair, really.

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For additional Lamar thoughts, click this clip. I have nothing negative to say. We have plenty of time to set a proper price. Ideally, of course, you’d be able to find the next Jackson — the breakout QB who destroys even the most aggressive projections, available in the mid-rounds. (No pressure, Kyler Murray.)

Round Three

25. Todd Gurley

26. George Kittle

27. Amari Cooper

28. Odell Beckham Jr. 

29. DJ Moore

30. Allen Robinson

31. Cooper Kupp

32. Courtland Sutton

33. Devin Singletary

34. A.J. Brown

35. Miles Sanders

36. Marlon Mack

The most interesting pick in this round is arguably a player who isn’t yet in it. We can probably assume the Chiefs will take a hard look at this year’s loaded class of incoming RBs. If D'Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor or J.K. Dobbins or any of 3-4 other dudes land in KC’s offense, that player is an easy third-rounder. And if you want him in Round 2, it’s understandable.

Round Four

37. Mark Andrews

38. Patrick Mahomes

39. DeVante Parker

40. Stefon Diggs

41. Adam Thielen

42. Keenan Allen

43. Phillip Lindsay

44. Tyler Lockett

45. Kenyan Drake

46. Melvin Gordon

47. D.J. Chark

48. DK Metcalf

Again, Gordon’s value is TBD, because he’s sure to relocate. He’s not likely to land in a spot that nudges him outside the overall top-50, however. Keenan Allen’s price here may seem modest, given his history; he's averaged 101 receptions and 1263 receiving yards over the past three years. But his team’s quarterback situation is murky/terrifying, with Philip Rivers now a 38-year-old free agent coming off a 20-INT season. 

Round Five

49. Le'Veon Bell

50. Calvin Ridley

51. James Conner

52. T.Y. Hilton

53. Deshaun Watson

54. Russell Wilson

55. Jarvis Landry

56. A.J. Green

57. John Brown

58. Julian Edelman

59. Terry McLaurin

60. Michael Gallup

Is Le’Veon in decline or is the Jets’ offense simply a hellscape? Both things can be true, obviously. With this rank, I'm begging anyone else in the room to draft Bell. This round is essentially a minefield of persistent injuries and sketchy/unknown quarterback situations. A.J. Green's most likely scenario is probably a pairing with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, which doesn't seem so bad at all. 

As always, please use the comments section to offer your sincere and unrestrained praise. (Or, in the unlikely event you've found a rank with which you disagree, feel free to mention that, too. We have plenty of time to shuffle and re-shuffle the board before the rankings really matter.) 

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