It is August, which means one thing for football fans – it is finally time to get ready for the upcoming fantasy football season. While the lead up to the 2020 NFL season has been a little strange, with players opting out and the cancellation of the preseason, football fans should take some solace in the familiarity with our picks for the top ten fantasy football players 2020.
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10. Greg Kittle
While Travis Kelce is a bit more of a fantasy starlet, Kittle is the better overall talent and could be even better when he enters his fourth NFL season and second full season with Jimmy Garoppolo. Kittle regressed a bit in 2019 after setting the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018. He has put up 173 receptions over the last two seasons and leads all players (not just tight ends, but everyone) in yards after the catch.
Kittle’s ability to break tackles and make big plays is why we rank him in our top 10 fantasy football players. He showed off those skills when he put up an absurd 210 yards in a half (against the Denver Broncos). Overall, Kittle is about as fun and talented a player you will find in football this season.
9. DeAndre Hopkins
Moving from Houston to the Arizona Cardinals high-tempo offence could help DeAndre Hopkins improve on his modest 2019 numbers (104-1165-7tds). Hopkins will have reigning rookie of the year, Kyler Murray, slinging him the ball this season. Murray did not have a player nearly as talented as Hopkins to pass the ball to last season (Fitzgerald is reliable but not the otherworld talent he was in his prime), yet Murray still managed to top 3700 yards and 20 passing touchdowns.
With Murray set to improve, Hopkins is due to numbers similar to him 2018 season (when he had Deshaun Watson entering his sophomore year). That season Hopkins lead all receivers (in full-point PPR scoring) with 333.5 points. If he builds a report during this pandemic-stricken offseason with his new offence, then Hopkins finishing as the top receiver is quite realistic.
8. Derrick Henry
If you are not in a PPR league, you can make the argument that Derrick Henry is the best player in fantasy football. However, his ceiling is capped because he does not do that much in the passing game (as he has never surpassed 20 catches in four NFL seasons).
Still, Henry is a great fantasy football player due to his running skills and the fact he is one of the few 300+ carry running backs in the league. He is coming off 1540 rushing yards and 16 rushing TDs – both tops in the NFL last season. He also is not carrying a huge career workload into his fifth season (just over 800 carries in four seasons) and has played in all but two games since entering the NFL.
7. Julio Jones
Talent-wise, Julio Jones is probably the best receiver in the game. However, he finishes as our choice for the second-best wide receiver in fantasy terms. Jones is an all-world talent, stretching defences and causing mismatches against just about every defensive back he faces. He has superb chemistry with his quarterback Matt Ryan, helping him lead all wide receivers with 12125 yards since he was drafted in 2011.
Jones is also still only 31 and has mostly been healthy through his NFL career (playing at least 14 games the last six seasons. If Jones, who is 6’4”, was a more reliable red-zone target, he would be slightly higher on our list.
6. Michael Thomas
For those in a PPR, Michael Thomas is a truly special player. Thomas set the NFL record with 149 receptions last season and leading the league with 1725 yards. Thomas has three straight years with at least 104 receptions and has scored nine touchdowns in three of the last four seasons.
Thomas is the perfect receiver for an older quarterback like Drew Brees. He runs effective routes and does much of his work within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. He even performed great last season, when Brees went down. Thomas should have another great season in 2020 and is our pick for the best wide receiver in fantasy.
5. Dalvin Cook
Finally, healthy for most of an NFL season, Dalvin Cook showed off why he was worth a second-round pick in 2017. Cook finished with over 1600 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 14 games last season, finishing sixth amongst running backs in full-point PPR scoring last season.
Cook has been an effective runner in Minnesota’s system, averaging 4.6 yards per carry in his career. He also averages 3.6 receptions per game over his career, which averages out to a 57.6 over a 16-game season. As long as he is healthy in 2020, Cook is in a great position to finish the year as a top-five fantasy football player.
4. Ezekiel Elliott
Coming off his third season of at least 1750+ yards from scrimmage and his fourth season with at least nine touchdowns, Ezekiel Elliott is as reliable a player there is in fantasy football. The Dallas Cowboys lead running back has averaged 125 yards from scrimmage in his career (56 of a possible 64) games and his 96.5 rushing yards per game is fourth all-time.
Elliott misses a spot in the top three due to the Cowboys offensive line looking on the decline and the fast the top-three guys on this list are more likely to put up a 40-pt game.
3. Lamar Jackson
If this was just a list of the top 10 fantasy football players by position, Lamar would be the top quarterback by far. However, as long as the difference between the first and the twelfth ranked running back is more significant, putting a QB at the top – no matter how special they are – will never happen. Still, there are a lot of reigning fantasy football champions from last year he had Lamar.
The Baltimore Ravens signal-caller set all kinds of records last season. His 1206 rushing yards are the most ever by a quarterback, while his 9.0% passing touchdown rate was only the fourth time since 1976 a quarterback threw a touchdown on 9.0% or more of their pass attempts.
Lamar’s rushing ability and the system built around him should help him repeat as the top fantasy quarterback. It will take another wildly efficient passing performance though if he is to top 400 fantasy points for the second year, something no player has ever done.
2. Saquon Barkley
While injuries cut into Barkley’s sophomore season, the Giants running back was still productive – finishing the year with 1441 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. Barkley finished out the season as strong as any player, scoring five touchdowns and posting 539 yards from scrimmage in his final three games.
Barkley has huge value in PPR leagues. He averages 4.93 catches per game or 79 catches per season. That is a higher average than some Amari Cooper, Tyreek Hill, and T.Y. Hilton have averaged over their previous three seasons. Overall, Barkley may have the most talent and upside of any player in fantasy.,
1. Christian McCaffrey
After a season of monster production and record-breaking stats, Christian McCaffrey is our top pick for fantasy entering 2020. HE became only the third player in NFL to record 1000 rushing and receiving yards in a single season and posted 14 games last year with at least 98 yards from scrimmage (and seven games with at least 173 yards).
McCaffrey is coming off back-to-back 100+ reception seasons, including a record for running backs – 116 – last year. The Panthers made some changes in the offseason, with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback. However, assuming McCaffrey’s production is tied to a coach or QB is a little foolish, as the team started three QBs and fired their head coach midseason last year. As long as you are in a PPR league, no player is worth more than McCaffrey entering 2020.