Why Saquon Barkley's Week 15 success means a great deal

These are my top 24 fantasy football players for PPR leagues, as of July 15th. The following ranking is definitely subject to change before Week 1 kicks off – this is just an early idea of what the first two rounds of your draft will look like later in the off-season. Disclaimer: In some situations I have players ranked below others, despite being projected to score more points. This can be attributed to a few key factors like relative upside, injury concern, or positional scarcity. Point projections do not directly correlate to overall ranking.

  1. Christian McCaffrey, RB1

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 287 ATT, 1387 YD, 15 TD – Receiving: 141 TAR, 116 REC, 1005 YD, 4 TD – 471.2 FPTS, RB1

2020 projections – Rushing: 248 ATT, 1184 YD, 9 TD – Receiving: 109 TAR, 89 REC, 797 YD, 5 TD – 371.1 FPTS

CMC outscored all other running backs by over 150 fantasy points in 2019, and was on the field for a ridiculous 93% of snaps. Expect significant regression in numbers and usage, but even so, McCaffrey should still be the first overall pick in all draft formats. He is an elite running back and top tier wide receiver, both rolled into one awesome fantasy player.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB2

2019 stats (13 GM) – Rushing: 217 ATT, 1003 YD, 6 TD – Receiving: 73 TAR, 52 REC, 438 YD, 2 TD – 244.1 FPTS, RB10

2020 projections – Rushing: 270 ATT, 1321 YD, 10 TD – Receiving: 101 TAR, 72 REC, 585 YD, 3 TD – 340.6 FPTS

Saquon may be the most talented running back in the league. His 2019 was plagued by an ankle injury, but he should be back in his 2018 form going into the regular season. He is the focal point of this Giants offense, and should see a huge workload. The Giants also drafted offensive linemen in the first and third rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, which only bodes well for Barkley. I cannot justify taking anyone, except McCaffrey, over Barkley in fantasy drafts.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB3

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 301 ATT, 1357 YD, 12 TD – Receiving: 71 TAR, 54 REC, 420 YD, 2 TD – 311.7 FPTS, RB3

2020 projections – Rushing: 285 ATT, 1339 YD, 11 TD – Receiving: 73 TAR, 55 REC, 478 YD, 1 TD – 308.7 FPTS

Ezekiel Elliott has been the name of consistency at the running back position. Since entering the league in 2016, with the exception of his 2017 season where he missed 6 games due to suspension, Elliott has been top 5 at his position in PPR format. With Mike McCarthy coming in as the new HC in Dallas, Elliot will see a slight reduction in carries as the offense becomes more pass heavy. But, he is the leagues most powerful runner behind a dominant OL. Draft with confidence.

4. Dalvin Cook, RB4

2019 stats (14 GM) – Rushing: 250 ATT, 1135 YD, 13 TD – Receiving: 63 TAR, 53 REC, 519 YD, 0 TD – 292.4 FPTS, RB6

2020 projections – Rushing: 258 ATT, 1211 YD, 10 TD – Receiving: 75 TAR, 64 REC, 565 YD, 2 TD – 313.6 FPTS

When healthy, Dalvin Cook is one of the best dual-threat backs in the league. He is great at racking up YAC, and can hit tiny gaps and explode for huge runs at any time. If he had little to no injury history, he would be my clear cut 3rd overall pick. But he isn’t as durable as guys like Zeke and CMC, which is why he falls to 4. He is currently threatening a holdout if he isn’t offered a new contract before training camp, but I am not concerned. I have no doubt in my mind that the Vikings will pay top dollar for their offensive star. Alexander Mattison is a must draft for Cook owners though, and you may be required to reach for him in drafts.

5. Alvin Kamara, RB5

2019 stats (14 GM) – Rushing: 171 ATT, 797 YD, 5 TD – Receiving: 97 TAR, 81 REC, 533 YD, 1 TD – 248.5 FPTS, RB9

2020 projections – Rushing: 200 ATT, 917 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 101 TAR, 79 REC, 556 YD, 4 TD – 298.3 FPTS

Kamara isn’t going to put up points the same way as other running backs around him in ADP. He won’t see nearly as many carries as other top tier guys, but Kamara is a killer through the air. He has had 81 receptions in each of his first 3 seasons, and should continue to produce at such a level going into his fourth year. Despite missing only 2 games, reports say he was riddled by injuries all season long. I’m expecting to see the same explosiveness and speed on the ground and after the catch from Kamara that was on display in his rookie and sophomore years.

6. Michael Thomas, WR1

2019 stats (16 GM) – 185 TAR, 149 REC, 1725 YD, 9 TD – 374.6 FPTS, WR1

2020 projections – 155 TAR, 127 REC, 1473 YD, 8 TD – 322.3 FPTS

Michael Thomas should be the first wide receiver taken off the board in all fantasy formats. He is a target hog, and is catching passes from one of the most accurate mid-range quarterbacks in history. Although I have him projected to score more points than running backs ranked ahead of him, I would take him after the above due to scarcity at running back in the middle rounds, and depth at wide receiver in those same rounds. You can find much greater value at the wide receiver position later, compared to the running back position.

7. Joe Mixon, RB6

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 278 ATT, 1137 YD, 5 TD – Receiving: 45 TAR, 35 REC, 287 YD, 3 TD – 225.4 FPTS, RB13

2020 projections – Rushing: 288 ATT, 1296 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 52 TAR, 44 REC, 312 YD, 2 TD – 264.8 FPTS

Joe Mixon had an awful start to 2019, but showed what he could do during the second half of the season when given the volume. With former first round pick Jonah Williams back from injury, Mixon will have an upgraded OL to run behind. Additionally, Joe Burrow and a returning AJ Green should improve the passing game, which will open up the field for Mixon to run. Look for a career year from the Oklahoma product.

8. Derrick Henry, RB7

2019 stats (15 GM) – Rushing: 303 ATT, 1540 YD, 16 TD – Receiving: 24 TAR, 18 REC, 206 YD, 2 TD – 294.6 FPTS, RB5

2020 projections – Rushing: 299 ATT, 1459 YD, 13 TD – Receiving: 20 TAR, 16 REC, 173 YD, 0 TD – 257.2 FPTS

Teams stacked the box on Derrick Henry the entire second half of the season and he still averaged a healthy 5.1 YPC. At 6’3, 247 lbs., teams struggle to bring him down when he has the ball in his hands. He is the focal point of a run-first offense, and is a bruising downhill runner between the tackles. He lacks receiving work, but has a solid shot at repeating as the rushing champion. One of the safest mid-first round picks.

9. Davante Adams, WR2

2019 stats (12 GM) – 127 TAR, 83 REC, 997 YD, 5 TD – 212.7 FPTS, WR23

2020 projections – 158 TAR, 103 REC, 1310 YD, 12 TD – 306 FPTS

Davante Adams’ 16 game pace in 2019 was 111 REC, 1327 YD and 7 TD, which would have earned him a WR2 finish, were it not for his turf toe injury suffered in Week 4. I have him projected for more redzone success, with a few less yards and receptions as the Packers continue to shift to a more run heavy game script. He is the 4th best receiver in the game right now, and his connection with Rodgers is electric. Great target in the mid to late first round.

10. Miles Sanders, RB8

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 179 ATT, 818 YD, 3 TD – Receiving: 63 TAR, 50 REC, 509 YD, 3 TD – 218.7 FPTS, RB15

2020 projections – Rushing: 220 ATT, 1005 YD, 6 TD – Receiving: 65 TAR, 51 REC, 487 YD, 2 TD – 248.2 FPTS

I’m very bullish on Miles Sanders going into 2020. He was limited by Jordan Howard during the first half of the season, but exploded from Weeks 11-16 when he led the backfield. There were rumours of the Eagles signing a vet running back before the season kicks off, but with every passing day that no signings occur, Sanders’ draft stock rises. He is the lead guy and a first round pick for me. Doug Pederson has expressed that Sanders is the, “clear lead back” and is, “ready to carry the load” so I’m expecting a huge breakout season from the former Nittany Lion.

11. Josh Jacobs, RB9

2019 stats (13 GM) – Rushing: 242 ATT, 1150 YD, 7 TD – Receiving: 27 TAR, 20 REC, 166 YD, 0 TD – 191.6 FPTS, RB21

2020 projections – Rushing: 273 ATT, 1301 YD, 9 TD – Receiving: 40 TAR, 32 REC, 246 YD, 0 TD – 240.7 FPTS

Jacobs is another sophomore I’m targeting going into 2020. As ranked by PFF, Jacobs was one of the best pure runners in 2019. He was the second most elusive back, behind Nick Chubb, boasting a 3.5 yards after contact. The Raiders will want their star on the field as much as possible, and I have him projected for around 19 touches per game. If Jacobs can really step up in the receiving game, he has top 3 upside at the running back position.

12. Kenyan Drake, RB10

2019 stats (14 GM) – Rushing: 170 ATT, 817 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 68 TAR, 50 REC, 345 YD, 0 TD – 214.2 FPTS, RB17

2020 projections – Rushing: 195 ATT, 916 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 65 TAR, 51 REC, 423 YD, 1 TD – 238.9 FPTS

13. DeAndre Hopkins, WR3

2019 stats (15 GM) – 150 TAR, 104 REC, 1165 YD, 7 TD – 269.54 FPTS, WR5

2020 projections – 150 TAR, 98 REC, 1325 YD, 10 TD – 290.5 FPTS

A lot of people are discounting Hopkins’ ability to produce so quickly in a new offense. I don’t see why. The Cardinals know he’s a top 3 receiver in the league and he’ll see a crazy target share. Plus, I think he’ll be utilized so much better under Kingsbury than how he was used under O’Brien. A YPT of 7.8 is absurdly low for a player of Hopkins’ caliber, especially considering his hands and physicality. He’ll see a lot of deep looks from one of the most accurate deep ball quarterbacks in the league in Murray, and should dominate in the redzone.

14. Tyreek Hill, WR4

2019 stats (12 GM) – 89 TAR, 58 REC, 860 YD, 7 TD – 188.3 FPTS, WR32

2020 projections – 135 TAR, 88 REC, 1352 YD, 8 TD – 271.2 FPTS

Tyreek Hill and Pat Mahomes are one of the most dangerous QB/WR combos in the league, and Hill has enough upside with Mahomes under center to be the WR1. His speed kills, and he thrives on the deep ball, especially with the NFL’s best quarterback slinging it to him downfield.

15. Nick Chubb, RB11

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 298 ATT, 1494 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 49 TAR, 36 REC, 278 YD, 0 TD – 255.2 FPTS, RB8

2020 projections – Rushing: 292 ATT, 1452 YD, 10 TD – Receiving: 22 TAR, 20 REC, 147 YD, 0 TD – 239.9 FPTS

Fantasy owners everywhere are going to be scared away from Nick Chubb due to the presence of Kareem Hunt. Don’t be. Chubb’s 16 game pace with Kareem Hunt in the lineup in 2019 was 288 ATT for 1382 YD, including 22 goal line carries. Combine that with new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-oriented offense, and the fact that the Browns really beefed up their OL (additions include Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills Jr.), Chubb should put together another solid fantasy season. He will definitely see regression in the passing game with all the mouths to feed in Cleveland. Although I have Chubb projected for more points than Drake, I prefer Drake’s upside, hence his higher ranking.

16. Julio Jones, WR5

2019 stats (16 GM) – 157 TAR, 99 REC, 1394 YD, 6 TD – 274.1 FPTS, WR3

2020 projections – 152 TAR, 96 REC, 1373 YD, 5 TD – 263.3 FPTS

Julio Jones is a unanimous top 3 receiver in the game, and is still playing like one at 31 years young. If you want reliability at the wide receiver position, here’s your guy. Over the past 7 seasons, Julio has missed only 4 games, and has provided fantasy owners with a top 7 finish at his position every year. He may not see the 170+ targets he once did with the surrounding receiving talent in Atlanta, but he is a near lock for a top 5-6 finish nonetheless.

17. Chris Godwin, WR6

2019 stats (14 GM) – 120 TAR, 86 REC, 1333 YD, 9 TD – 276.1 FPTS, WR2

2020 projections – 136 TAR, 96 REC, 1242 YD, 7 TD – 262.2 FPTS

2019 was Chris Godwin’s crazy breakout season, but I think he’s going to be nearly as effective in 2020. Tom Brady, who joined the Buccaneers during the offseason, is Godwin’s key to success. Brady loves to target the slot, evidenced most recently by Julian Edelman, but also Rob Gronkowski and Wes Walker. Godwin is going to see a huge target share with Brady under center, so draft him as a very safe WR1 in a pass heavy offense under Bruce Arians.

18. Travis Kelce, TE1

2019 stats (16 GM) – 136 TAR, 97 REC, 1229 YD, 5 TD – 254.3 FPTS, TE1

2020 projections – 124 TAR, 91 REC, 1155 YD, 9 TD – 260.5 FPTS

Coming off his 4th straight finish as the TE1, Kelce has shown no signs of slowing his dominance at the tight end position. He is Pat Mahomes’ safety blanket and a beast in the redzone. You may prefer to grab George Kittle before Kelce as I believe his upside is higher, but I’m taking Kelce’s consistency and touchdown prowess all day. He would have finished as the WR9 each of the past 2 seasons. You can’t go wrong grabbing him in the mid-late second.

19. Aaron Jones, RB12

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 236 ATT, 1084 YD, 16 TD – Receiving: 68 TAR, 49 REC, 474 YD, 3 TD – 314.8 FPTS, RB2

2020 projections – Rushing: 210 ATT, 1017 YD, 10 TD – Receiving: 56 TAR, 42 REC, 365 YD, 1 TD – 246.2 FPTS

Aaron Jones is due for some serious regression in the touchdown column this year, as it would be near impossible to recreate a 19 touchdown season. However, Aaron Jones is among the most efficient redzone backs in the NFL. He should still see double digit touchdowns as Green Bay continues to transition to a more run heavy scheme. Jones is ranked lower than other backs who aren’t projected for as many points is because of how he scores said points. His production is volatile – he had 5 single digit point performances, as well as well as 6 performances of 25+ points, in 2019. If major inconsistency is fine given the other players on your roster, Jones is a solid option at the end of the second round.

20. Austin Ekeler, RB13

2019 stats (16 GM) – Rushing: 132 ATT, 557 YD, 3 TD – Receiving: 108 TAR, 92 REC, 993 YD, 8 TD – 309.0 FPTS, RB4

2020 projections – Rushing: 162 ATT, 697 YD, 4 TD – Receiving: 73 TAR, 63 REC, 641 YD, 3 TD – 238.8 FPTS

Like Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler is in line for heavy regression going into 2020. While Gordon is out of the picture in LA, Anthony Lynn still plans to utilize a three headed backfield, by the likes of Ekeler and fellow running mates Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley. Plus, with Rivers now in Indianapolis, Ekeler will be lining up next to some combination of Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert all season long – Taylor, a mobile, scrambling quarterback and Herbert, a rookie with a massive arm – neither of which bode well for the checkdowns that made Ekeler so successful.

21. George Kittle, TE2

2019 stats (14 GM) – 107 TAR, 85 REC, 1053 YD, 5 TD – 222.5 FPTS, TE2

2020 projections – 128 TAR, 99 REC, 1287 YD, 5 TD – 257.7 FPTS

George Kittle is the clear alpha in a dynamic Shanahan offense. He’ll put up WR1 numbers in a dry tight end group, so grab him in the second round as a set-it-and-forget-it guy all season long. He is a lock to be extended by the 49ers, and at only 26, should dominate the position for years to come.

22. D.J. Moore, WR7

2019 stats (15 GM) – 135 TAR, 87 REC, 1175 YD, 4 TD – 230.5 FPTS, WR16

2020 projections – 138 TAR, 92 REC, 1219 YD, 5 TD – 243.9 FPTS

D.J. Moore may be my single favourite fantasy football target going into 2020, for a few reasons. First, his 16 game pace from Weeks 1-15 before going down early with an injury in Week 16 was 152 TAR for a statline of 98/1342/5, which would have earned him a WR6 finish on the season. Second, he had 86 catches for 1174 yards over 14 games while battling erratic quarterback play from Kyle Allen and Will Grier, which should be drastically improved with Teddy Bridgewater at QB. He is great at YAC, so the narrative that Bridgewater won’t be able to supply him with the target-depth he needs is overblown. If Moore can show growth in the touchdown category, you’re looking at a guy with legitimate top 5 WR upside, for a mid-third round price tag.

23. Kenny Golladay, WR8

2019 stats (16 GM) – 116 TAR, 65 REC, 1190 YD, 11 TD – 248 FPTS, WR9

2020 projections – 123 TAR, 71 REC, 1203 YD, 8 TD – 239.3 FPTS

Kenny Golladay is a big play machine, and he should be better than ever on the deep ball with Stafford back and healthy. He averaged an absurd 18.3 YPC and 11 TD in 2019, and I’m expecting both those numbers to come down. But, he should also see more targets with Stafford back full time. Kenny G won’t provide the most consistent numbers, but will win you weeks when he’s on. I’m taking him over any running back outside my top 13, including Gurley, Fournette, and Carson.

24. Chris Carson, RB14

2019 stats (15 GM) – Rushing: 278 ATT, 1230 YD, 7 TD – Receiving: 47 TAR, 37 REC, 266 YD, 2 TD – 232.6 FPTS, RB12

2020 projections – Rushing: 264 ATT, 1161 YD, 8 TD – Receiving: 51 TAR, 40 REC, 302 YD, 0 TD – 234.3 FPTS

Chris Carson is another guy I’m higher on than most for the upcoming fantasy season. He seems to be constantly overlooked in drafts, going off the board towards the end of the third round. He carries the run game in Seattle, and with Penny starting the season on the PUP list, his only competition in the backfield is a 30-year-old Carlos Hyde. I don’t think he’ll see as many carries as last season, as the Seahawks staff will limit his injury concern, but he will see more receiving work. Carson is a solid RB2 option that is almost sure to yield positive draft value.

Honourable Mentions

Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson – Should be the QB1 and QB2 off your draft board in whichever order you prefer. But I cannot justify taking them in the 2nd round, especially in a PPR league, given the depth at quarterback. You can find a solid QB1 in the double digit rounds of drafts.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – I love his upside with Big Ben back from injury. We’ve seen his ceiling – a 111/1426/7 season in 2018 – but I have him just outside the top 24.

Leonard Fournette – Finished as the RB7 in 2019. I don’t think he’ll see nearly the same type of workload he did last year though, pushing him down to my RB15.

Todd Gurley – Battling knee arthritis, he signed a 1 year deal with the Falcons after his release from the Rams. His condition limits his upside, but he should still put up solid RB2 numbers, especially if he can consistently find the endzone.