nfl fantasy mock draft

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23 can’t-miss fantasy football stars from the 2020 NFL Draft class

Sleeper rookies that should be on your radar—and Joe Burrow.

Apr 22, 2020, 3:51 pm*

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Ken Griggs 

Ken Griggs

I was in the fourth grade and I had a show cow. She was a Simmental and her name was Charlotte, named after the E.B. White novel. I raised her from birth and took her to the county fair, won a blue ribbon, and had my picture in the local newspaper wearing an Air Jordan T-shirt.

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A week after the fair she was sent to the sale barn. And she was in a freezer shortly thereafter. 

It taught me a great many things about life and death. Most notably that she had no idea about our agreement. I never gave it much thought, I suppose, until many years later when I read Bertrand Russell’s tale about the chicken. 

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“The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.”

The thing is, death wasn’t something Charlotte ever thought about. I know damn well the chickens I have—and I love each of the hens in a distinct way—don’t waste any time pondering death. 

I have a dozen hens now. They are adventurous, beautiful birds who spend 12 hours a day outside. And from the moment they fly out of the coop into the morning sun until the moment they’re perched up and shitting all night into the straw below them, their only thought is about survival. 

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A friend of mine said the other day that there is nothing more sobering than seeing his life insurance payment clear. Tomorrow the world is going to wake up with me, or without me. It often feels as though we forget this in our pursuit of a lot of shit that simply doesn’t matter. Easy for me to say, of course, as I sit here on land I own with a wife who has a work-from-home job. We are incredibly lucky. Our survival could easily be taken for granted.

Everyone needs a brutal lesson in the transience of existence. Isn’t that what Boethius said? Ignatius J. Reilly? Vanity. Insecurity. Don’t you forget about me? Where the fuck are my notes?

Is complete acceptance of mortality the only way to morality or is that just more philosophical nonsense for stoners wasting time thinking instead of doing? You tell me, because I honestly don’t know anything anymore.

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Which is great news for me because I can suspend all morality and ethical requirements and sit back and enjoy the 2020 NFL Draft. Live from Roger Goodell’s basement. I doubt we will get a glimpse of the cryogenic bell jar he keeps Pete Rozelle’s head in, but maybe the Zoom feed’ll get hacked and we can see some of the trained gimps Robert Kraft sent him as a gift.

I’ll be starting on Wednesday morning at 5am. I’m going to take the Wonderlic over and over until I’m able to outdo Jerry Jeudy’s 9. By noon, having failed to crack an 8, I’ll load a bowl and wait for Green Bay to take a defensive lineman everyone thought would slip to Saturday afternoon (even though everyone knows Green Bay should trade up and draft a quarterback).

Did you know the Packers have taken a defensive lineman in every draft since 1985

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“Data, data, data!” Ron Wolf screamed right after passing on Randy Moss for Vonnie Holliday. “Process. Process. Process.”

In the last week, I’ve read countless articles and player evaluations. The amount of information available for each of these prospects is mind-boggling. After a while it begins to blend together in a word and number soup only the truly depraved could possibly believe translates into gauging who will succeed and who will fail. You have to tip your hat to these lunatics who are good at it. 

The important thing is to enjoy this draft for what it is: a complete reduction of each of these human beings into nothing but a massive clump of numbers and percentages, where they are diminished to data points, stripped of all humanity, a space where we don’t even care if these athletes live or die. In fact, at times, we want them to die, even if it’s not explicit. Our own livelihood, security, and satisfaction trumps all other concerns. Prance them out there in the ring hoping to find a blue-ribbon winner among them, all for the joy of winning, even if it means the destruction of goodwill and common sense.

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That’s probably being dramatic, but what’s the point of writing if we aren’t allowed to be hyperbolic?

Let’s get to the rub because I know all of you have to get back to push-up contests and which four players would you buy with a fictional $20. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Addai we are adrift on a ship of fools. Don’t you know Marshall Faulk has to be on every team?

I crowdsourced this article with elite Twitter fantasy talent. They were kind enough to send their favorite sleepers over to me. I wish I could’ve asked dozens, but there are chicken eggs to gather.

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I’ve excluded tight ends, as historically it’s uncommon for rookie breakouts at this position. I used mock drafts at SI.com, NFL.com, and SBNation as a reference for team needs and other miscellaneous information.

So, here are some guys who, if they land in a great spot, could help you in both redraft and dynasty.  

Quarterbacks

Joe “the Overconfident Donkey” Burrow, QB, LSU: He will most likely land in Cincinnati and will find himself surrounded by proven playmakers. There’s not much I can tell you that can’t be found with a Google search. And all his tweets just read: “This Tweet is unavailable.” 

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Of course old tweets are mostly sad snapshots of lonely losers. 

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Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Oddsmakers are saying Tagovailoa will end up in Los Angeles, as Miami is -150 and the Chargers solidified the right side of their line, which suggests they’re ready for a Southpaw in South Beach. There are also good odds that he doesn’t even play much this year. But he’s worth monitoring if he does.

Per Wikipedia, “he was trained to throw the ball with his left-hand by his father at a young age.” So just imagine when he finally starts throwing right-handed.

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Running backs

Tom Brady will be dumping passes in Tampa Bay when he’s not fluttering ducks 15 yards downfield. Tampa has to be one of the juiciest landing spots for an RB. Keep your eye on what the Bucs do.

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Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: He compiled the greatest stats in the history of college football running backs. They say he might fall to the second round. Maybe the Giants will take a chance on him? Value-based drafting, my friends. Or maybe he will land in Houston? Just kidding, Bill O’Brien likes to be able to out-sprint his running backs.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia: In high school, my local barber’s name was Randy Whiskers. I often thought of how apt his name was. Adding to this tradition, Swift is at the top of a lot of RB boards. Former scout Daniel Jeremiah has him as No. 1.

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Is it out of the realm of possibility he goes to KC at 32? Damien Williams is no spring chicken and the only people who believed in Darwin Thompson have disappeared into Andy Reid’s mustache.

Cam Akers, RB, Florida State: Any player who Arthur Juan Brown thinks is great, I, too, think is great. I have no original thoughts.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU: Standing just 5’7” you have to wonder whether he has the durability to lead a backfield. But his stock has been rising and maybe Tampa Bay is lurking.

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AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College: His full name is Algiers Jameal Dillon. Whenever I hear Algiers I can’t help but think of Albert Camus’ The Stranger or the Outsider. This, of course, inevitably leads me to think of Camus’ The Plague: “I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.”

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Albert, you have no fucking idea how many levels this works on. Pour me a Scotch.

Fantasy football mock drafts: Expert takes

Dan Williamson (@OverHypedSleeper

JJ Taylor, Arizona: “If you need a productive RB who will probably go somewhat later in both the NFL and your rookie draft, order a shot of JJ Taylor from Arizona. I’d call him a teacup RB at 5’5″ and 185 lbs, but he’s really more like espresso. He won’t be to everyone’s taste but he’s got elite burst, considerable pass-catching chops, and, oh by the way, make it a triple-shot because he’s a highly caffeinated returner on special teams. If he lands on a team with a creative OC, he could brew up plenty of big plays.”

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Kyle M (@DynastyFF_KyleM)

Bryan Edwards, South Carolina: “There’s been lots of talk Edwards could fall to day two, and even if he does, I don’t mind targeting him in the later rounds of rookie drafts. He was extremely productive and his college profile is off the charts.”

Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) 

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Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State: “In redraft, I’d go with Benjamin. He has a three-down skill set and can contribute immediately in the right offense. No draft-eligible running back caught more passes in college, and the weight he packed on before the combine (up to 207) increases his chances at a workhorse role.”

Matt Schauf (@SchaufDS

“The RB pool presents a number of guys who could contribute soon or disappear onto NFL depth charts. I’ll be keeping an eye on Eno Benjamin, Michael Warren, RB, University of Cincinnati, and Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA.”

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Wide receivers

Many draftniks are telling us this is one of the deepest wide receiver classes in history. But it’s important to remember there are no sure things.

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One thing we can all agree on, however, is that most QBs are terrible.

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: He could land with the Jets, in San Francisco, or Denver. Darnold might be a kiss of death, but kissing Jimmy Garoppolo’s lips probably isn’t any safer.

They’re making a big deal out of his Wonderlic score, but if he’s capable of spelling his name he’s already smarter than everyone in Congress.

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Watch all of his TDs and you’ll be convinced his QB won’t matter.

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Cedarian “CeeDee” Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: A lot of mocks have him landing in Las Vegas. But there are plenty of Philly rumors and Lord have mercy they’re thirsty for it.

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https://twitter.com/PhillyFreck215/status/1250527926141046786?s=20

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: He could land in Denver or San Francisco. Both would likely be preferable to Sin City where Derek Carr’s Christianity might be tested beyond its limits. Ruggs’ 4.27 40 time is the third-fastest since they started electronic timing in 1999. The other two? Henry Ruggs I and Henry Ruggs II. He should be named Henry Ruggs VI because that’s what gear he’s in. I don’t know much, but after watching Ruggs he’s the one guy I’d be banking on to make an immediate impact if hooked into the right situation. And as Ben Cummins noted, he’s got huge mitts.

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Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU: Rumors are swirling that Minnesota has an interest. Lining up opposite of Adam Thielen could open things up immediately. Per NFL.com, Jefferson dominated when he moved to the slot. He can, as Bootleg Fantasy points out, “hit that James Harden euro.” Honestly, I don’t know what that means, but I’m all about Europeans. They live free and fast.

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Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson: After enough research, all these players start to look the same. But Higgins is a big kid with an even bigger heart. I hope he goes ham.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, ASU: His 10.9 yards after catch number was second only to Lamb. Contested catch rate, according to SI.com, was the lowest among its top-32 WRs. But maybe in Green Bay, he can soak up the last bit of gravy in the bottom of Aaron Rodgers’ cup.

Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame: He’s 6’4” 238 pounds and runs a 4.42 40. Claypool grew up playing hockey and since he’s from Canada if he gets hurt he has free healthcare. In an imperfect guessing game, you gotta look for every leg up you can find.

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Let’s bring in the experts

Matt Schauf (@SchaufDS

“If I have to plant my flag with one player, it’s Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson. The guy contributed as a true freshman despite converting from QB out of high school. He broke out at 19. He dominated market shares the past two years—over 40% in catches, yards, and TDs. On tape, Johnson runs crisp routes and flashes terrific hands. No Senior Bowl invitation and then bowing out of Combine testing points to a potential draft slide. If that happens, I’ll be there to catch him at the bottom like he’s my own toddler. I think he could start in the slot for a team this season.”

Steve Rapin (@fantasygeek37)

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Jauan “Juice Man” Jennings, WR, Tennessee: “While the 6’3”, 215-pound former quarterback, turned wide receiver, may not be the prototypical downfield threat, Jennings excels in the intermediate routes while forcing missed tackles in the open field. I’m here for it.”

Jared Smola (@SmolaDS)

Isaiah Hodgins is flying under the radar in this deep WR class. The 6’4, 210-pounder boasts 82nd percentile arm length with a 36.5-inch vertical, giving him a rangy catch radius. And Hodgins puts a big checkmark in the college production box, breaking out as a 19-year-old sophomore and accounting for 38% of Oregon State’s receiving yards and 43% of the receiving TDs this past season. He looks ready to contribute immediately as a possession receiver and red-zone threat.”

Brian Girdler (@FacetiousGnome

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Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor: “At 6’3”, 207, he’s a big man with 4.38 40 speed. In three seasons he hung Tecmo numbers of 182/2901/28. He led the nation in contested catches last season according to PFF. He can be a reliable secondary option for a QB who has time in the pocket. Plus, with a name like Denzel you know he has range.”

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*First Published: Apr 21, 2020, 3:18 pm