Fantasy Football

Early 2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: A One Man Show

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For those Fantasy Football lovers like me, this is one of the hardest weeks of the year. We are seven months away from a meaningful football game and still a few months from the NFL Draft. How might we overcome this empty void? An entirely too-early Fantasy Football Mock Draft, that’s how!

For this Fantasy Football Mock Draft, I am doing it solo. While it may be a one-man show, I am going to act independently with each pick. I basically am going to build the best foundation of each team from each mock draft slot of two full rounds.

I decided to go two rounds because I feel like the Top 24 players or so will mostly remain the same from now until August with maybe one exception which I will get to later. While overflowing with pass rushers and athletic defensive front seven players, this year’s NFL Draft is devoid of any offensive skill position players expected to make a mark day one. There is no Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott in this class.


What you will read from me here and always in the future is safety at the beginning of Fantasy Football drafts. In this early mock draft, I am going to go with safety rather than upside. I mean all of the players taken this early in a mock draft have upside. I will just lean towards the players which provide more consistency first.

For this solo Fantasy Football mock draft, I am using Points Per Reception scoring and the standard starting lineup of 1QB/2RB/2WR/1TE/1FLEX. I am drafting based on the current information as of February 11th, hence the reason LeVeon Bell is not included since he is not currently on a roster.

Early 2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

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Round 1

Pick 1.01 – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

At this point in time I see two options for the top overall pick in 2019: McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley. I have to lean toward the safety of McCaffrey though. In 2018, McCaffrey’s receiving numbers alone would have been WR16. That is just ridiculous.

He also shouldered a heavier workload on the ground, gaining over 1,000 yards on just over 200 carries. But that is precisely the reason why I lean McCaffrey over Barkley: workload. It’s picking nits, but I would rather have the player getting more of his touches through the air than between the tackles.

That last reason I like McCaffrey as the top pick in PPR formats is that he did not finish as the RB1 last year. Barkley snuck just by him (in most PPR scoring formats) by less than a point. While that is due to the minimal workload McCaffrey received in Week 17, I do think there is something to the fact that no running back has finished as the top scoring player at the position in over 15 years. It is a bit superstitious but I’m also the same guy that sat in the same seat, drinking and eating the same thing for every game of the 2011 NBA Finals.

Pick 1.02 – Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Barkley’s receiving stats in 2018 were nothing to laugh about either, as he would have been WR24 based off of just those numbers. Barkley certainly lived up to the hype he generated by becoming the first rookie running back to lead the position in Fantasy Points this century.

As the youngest player that will generally be taken this early in the draft, Barkley also gives you an amount of safety as far as to his skill set improving rather than falling off a cliff. However, after finishing as RB1 and leading the NFL in scrimmage yards, how much higher can he go?

The real uncertainty with Barkley is what the Giants are going to decide regarding the rest of their offense. Will Eli start the whole year or will they draft a quarterback? Will Odell Beckham play and if so will he stay healthy? No matter the other decisions, will they ride their bell-cow Barkley just like last season?

There is definitely some ambiguity as far as their whole offense, but I can safely say that Saquon is worth the selection at this point in time.

1.03 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

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Zeke has played in 15 games in two of his first three seasons. In both of those years he led the NFL in rushing yards. He has led the NFL in rushing yards per game in all three seasons. Elliott has not missed a play due to injury in his career. The Cowboy is about as safe as you can get in this Fantasy Football mock draft.

While his overall receiving numbers should go down with Amari Cooper wearing the star for a full season, I still expect him to catch four or five passes a game. His rushing touchdowns were down as well, along with his yards per carry, but I think Travis Frederick returns to anchor the Cowboys’ offensive line and Zeke gets closer to 2,000 yards than 1,500.

1.04 – Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

With Mark Ingram’s status as a Saint in jeopardy, Kamara could be in line for a heavier usage rate. As I stated earlier, with this early mock draft I am using current information only and currently Mark Ingram is not under contract with the Saints.

Even with Ingram on the team, Kamara is a threat to put up 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. He handled more carries last year but still hauled in 81 passes. While his astronomical yards-per-touch numbers regressed back some, he actually found the end zone more in 2018. With 31 touchdowns over his first two seasons, it is safe to say that Kamara just has a knack for reaching paydirt.

1.05 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

For the first time in half of a decade, Antonio brown will not be the first wide receiver off most draft boards. It was a good run, but Hopkins has reached another level.

Hopkins set an NFL record with 115 catchable passes without a drop. He led the league in contested receptions as well as set a new record for most receptions through a player’s first six seasons in the league. He’s proven that even with just above-average quarterback play, he is locked in for 100 catches, 1,500 yards and double digit touchdowns.

1.06 – Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

As far as the aforementioned Brown is concerned, I am not dropping him too far… yet. There are trade rumors amok and now a possible domestic violence charge coming his way.

However as of this moment, he is still an unsuspended member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. If that is true on draft day, then he would be my selection here. Now keep in mind he probably has the most volatility in where he will be drafted of anyone mentioned in this early mock draft.

1.07 – Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

Thomas has turned the 15-yard dig into a cheat code. It should not be that easy to get open on 3rd and 15 running this route, but he manages to do it over and over again. Just check out the spray chart of his routes in the divisional round against Philly. It truly is amazing how open he gets running such a seemingly simple concept.

This exceptional route running combined with the most accurate quarterback in NFL history led to Thomas posting the highest catch percentage of all receivers in the league. It’s hard to imagine but that was just his third year in the NFL. I even clicked on the wrong Michael Thomas on Pro Football Reference because I assumed he had been in the league longer.

The fact of the matter is Thomas has increased his receptions, yards and Fantasy Points in each of his first three seasons. Even without elite touchdown production, he is worthy of a Round One pick.

1.08 – Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

Shockingly, I have the 2018 WR1 as the fourth wide receiver off the board. I will probably be in the minority here, as I have seen some rank Adams as the top wide-out going into next year as well. I just do not see the safety that the other three provide.

Don’t get me wrong: Adams’ 2018 was phenomenal. He had either 100 yards receiving or a score in every game except one (and he had 8 catches for 81 yards in that outing). However, he only had 100 yards AND a score in one game.

While he has now shown that a penchant for catching double-digit touchdowns every year, last year was the first time he had more than 75 catches or 1,000 yards. Once again, I’m picking nits here, as he is still my WR4, but he does provide less safety at the top of this early mock draft as the previous few receivers.

1.09 – Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Now we get to the ultimate conundrum. Gurley was on his way to having back-to-back seasons as the top running back before his knee injury slowed him down. Then throughout the playoffs C.J. Anderson out snapped, out rushed and generally out-played him. Was it the injury? Or is there something else going on?

If it was just the injury and it’s fully healed, well Gurley should be moved up into the Top 4. If there’s something behind the scenes going on, then he could be the ultimate high-risk Round One pick. As of now, I will have him slotted here in the back end of the round.

1.10 – Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

From a general perspective, Chubb had a fine rookie season. He finished as RB15 in PPR scoring with nearly 1,000 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns. When you look a little deeper though, you see that he was much better than that.

Chubb did not start or even get more than three touches in a game until Week 7. From Week 7 through Week 16, Chubb was the sixth-highest scoring running back, only after the previous five that were drafted already in this exercise.

In the half season that he started, the rookie had 18 or more carries seven different times. With a full offseason as the starter with fellow rookie Baker Mayfield combined with a new coaching staff that is exponentially better than Hue Jackson, I think Chubb makes a leap into the elite echelon of running backs.

*After this mock draft was completed, Kareem Hunt was signed by the Browns. He still has a likely suspension coming his way, so as of now, I still have Chubb here*

 


1.11 – Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Ho-hum, just another 1,677-yard season for Julio, his fifth straight year with over 1,400 yards. There have been 24 seasons of 1,585 yards receiving or more in NFL history. Jones has three of them. He has the most yards of any player before the age of 30.

While he still just cannot find the end zone weirdly enough, you know that you are getting around 1,500 yards and 90+ catches. He provides the most safety of any running back or receiver left on the board.

1.12 – Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

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Kelce had the third most receptions and second most yards of any tight end ever last season. Combine that with the 10 touchdown catches, and you have the third-best Fantasy season of any tight end in NFL history.

The factor that pushes Kelce into Round One: sustainability. It was his third straight season with over 1,000 yards and at least 83 catches. During that stretch, he has increased his touchdown total each season. Now with the most prolific quarterback in the league throwing him the ball, Kelce is a deadly weapon to have on your Fantasy roster.

After the weird Week 1 game against the Chargers, Kelce had at least five catches in every other game. He provides consistency at a position that just does not have enough consistent players to start in a 12-team format. The Value-Based Drafting aspect of getting Kelce is well worth the pick at this spot.

Round 2

2.01 – Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

If I told you going into last season that Melvin Gordon would have less carries than Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara, you would have been out on Gordon. Yet, he still finished as the RB7 despite missing four games. His Fantasy Points per game average extrapolated out would have had him at RB4.

I know, the Chargers utilized Austin Ekeler more and more out of the backfield, and Gordon always seems to miss a couple of games. But at this point in the draft, he gives you an elite running back that is sure to get you between 1,000-1,200 yards rushing, 450-500 yards receiving and 12+ touchdowns. He is not flashy and will not single-handedly win you many weeks. He also will not lay absolute duds when he is healthy. The Kelce-Gordon combo will be one of my favorites heading into draft season if I can get Pick 12 on the turn.

2.02 – Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

With Julio in tow, I think I should get one of the remaining three-down running backs available with Dalvin Cook. I know, he has missed over half of his games in his young career. But there are no sure things left in Round 2 as far as running backs go.

Cook gives you RB1 overall upside. Last year, he had nearly 1,000 total yards and really only played eight full games. In his career, he has started 14 games with 969 yards rushing, 51 catches for 395 yards receiving and six total touchdowns. I will gladly take similar numbers for a running back in Round Two of this early mock draft.

2.03 – Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Hill is the epitome of upward trajectory at the receiver position. He has increased his targets, receptions, yards, yards per reception, and touchdowns in every year that he’s been in the league. Hill has found the perfect quarterback for his skill set. Patrick Mahomes’ cannon of an arm and gunslinger mindset compliments Hill’s big play ability perfectly. Combined with my earlier pick of Nick Chubb, I have a solid RB/WR combo with big play ability.

2.04 – Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

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This spot in this early mock draft turned into the toughest to select. I obviously could not let Gurley slide anymore, but should he not be the same back in the same situation, I need a solid RB2 to pair with him. The problem is that from the fourth slot, I am not picking again for 18 selections and the running back pool will be more shallow than the pool at Philip Rivers’ house after all of his kids jump in.

I think that I have to go with Mixon here to assure myself stability at the running back position. Mixon did end up with 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground last year. I just do not like the Bengals’ offense going forward. However, if Gurley is Gurley again, I could have the best RB1 and best RB2 of anyone in this early mock draft.

2.05 – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

If you can assure me that Odell is playing 16 games at 100% effort and health, he is a To-6 pick. When you factor in that he has missed 16 games over the past two seasons, and 22 over his five-year career, I am less inclined to think he will not miss time due to injury.

If you consider the off-the-field issues and the fact that Eli Manning is still his quarterback, I am even less inclined to take him in Round One at all. At this point in the off-season as well as this point in the early mock draft, this slot feels right. This pick gives me the best WR combo in this draft, should Odell be healthy and happy.

2.06 – Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

As I mentioned earlier, the elite tight ends have distanced themselves from the sub-standard majority of the position. Rostering one of the best three guys at the position will be one of my goals in most drafts next year.

I would not fault someone for going running back here, as you probably won’t have one of the best 14 or 15 available by your Round Three pick. I am more about getting the sure thing though. Ertz is a sure thing. He has at least 74 catches and 816 yards in four straight seasons. He took a massive leap last year setting the single-season receptions record for the position with 116 catches. Ertz is a little less consistent than Kelce on a week-to-week basis, so I knock him a half round for it. Besides that, he gives you a massive advantage at a position, which no one else available can compete with.

2.07 – David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Many people who drafted DJ in the Top 4 last year were highly disappointed. I think he performed admirably for the position he was put in. The Cardinals were the worst team in the league, by far last year. I mean, there’s a reason they have the top pick in the NFL Draft. He still finished as the RB9.

However, with Coach Bro coming from my alma mater and Josh Rosen getting a chance to work a full off-season with him, I think the offense will surprise the league next year.

Here’s the list of the last six quarterbacks that Kliff Kingsbury has groomed to be starters, in chronological order:

That list includes the all-time NCAA leader in passing, two Heisman Trophy winners, a number one overall pick in the NFL Draft, an NFL MVP, a second-round draft pick, and a guy who was leading the nation in passing as a true freshman before he got hurt.

Arizona will take a step forward, and David Johnson will be a part of it. Drafting the combination of him and Antonio Brown from this draft slot could end up looking like the steal of the early mock draft.

2.08 – James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is my least favorite pick of this early mock draft. Don’t get me wrong, Conner had a great season last year. He gave you about 90-95% of what LeVeon Bell would have. (Which is the reason that has made me think ALL waivers need to be FAAB because Conner swung so many leagues, but that’s for another discussion.)

I just do not trust him to have the same workload in 2019. Jaylen Samuels proved to be very capable when he was filling in for Conner. I have a feeling that the Pittsburgh organization does not want to give a single running back such a high usage again, considering where it got them with Bell. Conner is still worth a late-round Two pick, for now.

2.09 – Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There’s a sneaky thing that I noticed about the wide receiver group as a whole: it is not as “down” as many will tell you going into next season. Just because there will be more running backs selected at the top of the draft, does not mean that the wide receivers are worse.

2015 was seen as the ultimate wide receiver year with six players scoring over 300 PPR points and another eight guys scoring over 250 PPR points. Last season, there were five guys at each mark respectively. What I’m getting at is that the level of player from WR7-WR18 is all about equal. That does not mean it’s not at a high level.

So long story short, getting one of the elite running backs then snagging a pair of these receivers will be a sound strategy. I have Evans first because of his consistency. He has been in the league for five seasons. He has five 1,000 yard seasons topped off with his 1,524-yard 2018.

2.10 – T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

As Hilton enters his Age-30 year, we might see a bit of a downswing. I do not think it will hit too much, as Andrew Luck looked 100% back to being his old self last season and I think that continues.

2.11 – Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Cooper had 66 catches for 811 yards and seven touchdowns in his 11 games with Dallas last season. Over a full year, that would extrapolate to 96 catches for 1,180 yards and over 10 touchdowns. Those stats would have been good enough for WR8 last season. With a full offseason working with Dak Prescott, I think Cooper bests those numbers next year despite Dak’s inaccuracy.

2.12 – Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

I am not sure what I am missing here. Some analysts have their early rankings out with Thielen down in Round Four or worse. The guy was just the WR5 after being the WR8 in 2017. He increased his catches, yards and Fantasy Points last season. He started the season with eight straight 100-yard days scoring a touchdown in six of them.


I know he fell off a little near the end of the year. He still had 113 catches for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. I will happily snag him at the turn of Round 2/3 on my way to a championship!

TeamRound 1Round 2
Team 1Christian McCaffrey, RB, CARAdam Thielen, WR, MIN
Team 2Saquon Barkley, RB, NYGAmari Cooper, WR, DAL
Team 3Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DALT.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
Team 4Alvin Kamara, RB, NOMike Evans, WR, TB
Team 5Deandre Hopkins, WR, HOUJames Conner, RB, PIT
Team 6Antonio Brown, WR, PITDavid Johnson, RB, ARI
Team 7Michael Thomas, WR, NOZach Ertz, TE, PHI
Team 8 Davante Adams, WR, GBOdell Beckham Jr., WR, NYG
Team9Todd Gurley, RB, LARJoe Mixon, RB, CIN
Team 10Nick Chubb, RB, CLETyreek Hill, WR, KC
Team 11Julio Jones, WR, ATLDalvin Cook, RB, MIN
Team 12Travis Kelce, TE, KCMelvin Gordon, RB, LAC

Thank you for reading my solo early mock draft! Be sure to check back in with more off-season content as we look at the NFL Draft, free agency, and take a look back at some trends within Fantasy Football. For now, be sure to check out our Dynasty Draft Rankings!

About Michael Tomlin

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