Greetings, Falcoholics. The 2020 NFL Draft is now behind us, so naturally, here comes the fantasy football content. Today, I’m going to give a top five per position (PPR) heading into training camp. This list will also cover players outside of just the Atlanta Falcons, although you may spot one or two on the list. Let’s get started!
1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
This shouldn’t be a shock. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the best fantasy quarterback for many. He did finish as fantasy’s best quarterback in 2019, totaling 36 passing touchdowns and 7 rushing touchdowns for roughly 487 fantasy points, in normal scoring leagues. Some folks will look for regression, which is always a factor , but that doesn’t mean he won’t remain the top fantasy quarterback in 2020.
Even though Patrick Mahomes won a Super Bowl this past season, his 2019 season was a regression from his incredible 2018 campaign. That’s not to say he’s bad, he’s ranked 2nd for a reason. But Mahomes finished 2019 as the 6th best fantasy quarterback.
He likely would’ve finished better, but Mahomes missed two games following a dislocated patella in the Chiefs Week 7 game against the Denver Broncos. Even so, Mahomes’ 28 total touchdowns is enough for any fantasy owner to draft him higher than he probably should go, and some may even prefer him over Lamar Jackson. He should be taken around the third-fourth round but will likely go earlier.
3. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
The first two quarterback spots really aren’t up for debate, but once you get to the third quarterback on the rankings list, anything goes. For me, it’s Cowboys’ Dak Prescott. Yes, I know they have some issues to work out with his contract, but they will come to an agreement before the regular season begins. Prescott quietly finished as the second-best fantasy quarterback in 2019, and it wasn’t even that close. This offseason the Cowboys have hired a more competent head coach in Mike McCarthy and used a first-round pick on promising wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Prescott could very well have a better 2020 fantasy season than his tremendous 2019 fantasy season.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
At the fourth spot, I have Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. It’s not solely because of the upside he brings but because of how high his floor is. Wilson is year-after-year one of the safest fantasy quarterbacks out there. When you average his 2017-2019 seasons, Wilson has finished as the 3rd best fantasy quarterback. Consistency is what you get with him.
5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
In 2019, Deshaun Watson proved again that he’s a rare talent and a franchise quarterback. In the fantasy world, he finished as the 4th best quarterback averaging 24.8 fantasy points per game. The only reason Watson has dropped in my rankings is the obvious loss of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. As of now, Watson’s targets for this upcoming season are Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee. That doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing defenses, but with Watson’s dual-threat ability to rush for touchdowns, he’s still a top-5 fantasy quarterback entering the 2020 season.
1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey is the current consensus top player in this year’s fantasy league drafts. He brings dual-threat to your lineup as both a running back and receiver, as he not only had 1,000+ yards rushing in 2019, but 1,000+ yards receiving too. If McCaffrey randomly decided to quit playing football after 12 games last year, he would’ve still finished as the top-scoring running back. Even with a new head coach, I don’t see how anyone who holds the top selection in your leagues’ draft can pass on McCaffrey.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Unlike the quarterback rankings, the running back rankings begin to differ in opinion following the top spot. For me, there’s literally five different guys you could argue belong here and I wouldn’t disagree with you. For me though, it’s Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott. For me, it’s the consistency Elliott brings to your fantasy roster. In 2018 Elliott finished as the 5th best fantasy running back and finished as the 2nd best in 2019. He’s similar to Russell Wilson in that he may not finish as the best, but he will be pretty close – very high floor.
The offensive-minded Gary Kubiak joined the Vikings in 2019 and running back Dalvin Cook took off, literally. Cook exploded in 2019, finishing as the 6th best scoring back, despite missing two games. With Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo, Cook could see more carries in 2020. With a league-leading 21 carries inside of the five-yard-line 2020 could easily be another great year for Cook.
4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
One of the most memorable moments from last season’s playoffs is the dominance of running back Derrick Henry. He’s a punishing runner, who finished as the 5th highest scoring running back in 2019. The only real knock on Henry is that he’s a pure runner, offering little to no production in the passing game. He had an insanely low 18 receptions out of the backfield for Tennessee last season. With that being said, the man only knows one thing in fantasy, and that’s scoring points. His league-high 303 carries in 2019 should give fantasy owners enough value to draft him as their RB1.
Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley had a phenomenal rookie campaign in 2018 which prompted fantasy owners to draft him as high as the top spot last season. That quickly blew up in their face, as Barkley was injured and only played 13 games in 2019, finishing as the 10th best fantasy running back. Aside from staying healthy, Barkley’s 2020 season may depend on quarterback Daniel Jones taking the next step, as it would certainly help open lanes for Barkley.
1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
It pains me to have him here, but Michael Thomas is the top fantasy wide receiver. Thomas set a new NFL record in 2019 having 149 receptions. That’s 149 fantasy points in PPR leagues just based on catches alone. His 70th best yards per reception average won’t matter much to fantasy owners, as he still managed to finish with the most receiving yards among receivers in 2019. Unlike his playoff efforts, Thomas will show up for fantasy owners during the regular season.
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
With Julio Jones, you’re getting one of the safest wide receivers in fantasy football. The last time Jones finished the season outside of the top-8 wide receivers was 2013. Sure he has Calvin Ridley taking targets away and sure he doesn’t always have the most receiving touchdowns, but his ceiling is too high and his floor is too high to pass on this level of talent.
3. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Even though he missed some time in 2019, Packers’ wide receiver Davante Adams finished as a top receiver last season. What benefits Adams more than anything is that the Packers refuse to get quarterback Aaron Rodgers any help, making Adams’ target share relatively safe compared to the other wide receivers on this list. As long as he’s healthy, Adams remains a WR1.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
The Houston Texans decided to trade one of the best wide receivers in the league for absolutely no reason. Even though the Cardinals are much more crowded with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk on the roster, you don’t trade for an elite target like Hopkins and not treat him as your WR1. Hopkins has caught touchdown passes from quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, etc. and still produced. I have absolutely no worries about Hopkins with Kyler Murray at quarterback.
5. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
The fifth spot is where you’ll see differing opinions on who should be here. I went with Tyreek Hill mainly because of his ceiling. Hill’s an insanely good fantasy asset, especially when paired with quarterback Patrick Mahomes on fantasy rosters. He only played in 12 games last year, causing him to fall out of the top-20 fantasy wide receivers. The year before however, he finished as a top-5 wide receiver so the production is certainly present, as long as he can remain on the field.
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
The best tight end in fantasy football will again be Chiefs’ Travis Kelce heading into 2020. Kelce finished 2017, 2018 and 2019 as the top scoring tight end so why should we expect anything different in 2020? The position overall is thin, and he’s one of three tight ends to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in 2019. The biggest question with Kelce is when to select him in your league’s fantasy draft? He’ll likely be going before the end of round two.
If there’s one tight end who can challenge Kelce for the top spot, it’s George Kittle. Kittle played in only 14 games during the 2019 season and still managed to finish as the 2nd among fantasy tight ends. If you want to argue for Kittle opposed to Kelce, you could say that Kittle is not only younger, he scored as many points per game in fantasy as Kelce did last year. If he’s not the first tight end off the board, he definitely will be the second.
3. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
This is where things get more debatable. For me, Mark Andrews is the third best tight end heading into league drafts this summer. Andrew managed to finish as the 5th best tight end in 2019, despite playing less than 50% of the Raven’s snaps. The Ravens thought enough of him to trade their former first-round pick Hayden Hurst to the Falcons, so the door is wide open for Mark Andrews to thrive in Baltimore.
4. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz has been a tremendous fantasy option for years now. He’s consistently a top fantasy tight end and still has a lot of value for fantasy owners at a very thin position. The problem with Ertz is the Eagles continue to add receiving options for quarterback Carson Wentz, chipping away at Ertz’ target share. With tight end Dallas Goedert’s fantasy value emerging, Ertz could be in decline-mode.
5. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Waller was dominant last season and managed to finish as the 3rd scoring tight end in fantasy football. With that being said, the Raiders didn’t have a ton of receiving targets which has changed this offseason. The team added rookie wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards to the mix, which will limit Wallers 2019 target share in 2020.
So that does it on my 2020 pre-training camp fantasy football rankings. If you’d like to review last year’s rankings, click here. Stay tuned to The Falcoholic as Adnan Ikic and I bring you more fantasy content in the near future. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @EvanBirchfield. And remember, ALWAYS go with your gut.