by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritballer
It’s upon us! Finally, one of the most exciting times of the year is here as we start to get stuck into fantasy drafts. It’s been a long, and nerve-racking last few months as we have lived in this uncertain ‘bubble’ of not knowing whether or not there would even be an NFL season.
Alas, it’s now looking certain that come September 10th we will have the start of a somewhat unpredictable 2020 season. That means we have one solid month from the time of writing to get all of the redraft and start-up drafts in the books.
Last week I presented to you my ‘undesirable’ players to avoid this season, but in this article i’m flipping negativity with positivity and giving you a list of mid-round targets that I believe are well worth drafting onto your 2020 fantasy rosters
In the Crosshairs #1
DeVante Parker, WR – Miami Dolphins
ADP: 7.02 Half PPR / 6.08 PPR / 6.12 Non-PPR
Miami have improved drastically from this time 12 months ago. They had a mid-season transistion between the team tanking for the first overall pick, and then looking like a solid middle of the road, 8-8 type team. Hats off to HC Brian Flores for taking that miserable looking roster and making a go of it down the stretch, it would have been easier to roll over and take the beatings.
That positivity has seemingly followed them into this offseason too. A good free agency saw them strengthen offensively by adding Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda to reinvigorate the running game and of course ironically drafting Tua without actually having to tank for him in the end.
The defensive unit was also improved, particularly in the defensive secondary and also both trenches were added to via free agency and the draft. The one area that until recently had been untouched was the receiving corps.
DeVante Parker ended last season as the clear number 1 target for Ryan Fitzpatrick and was able to pick up steam as soon as the latter took over from Josh Rosen after week 5. It ended up becoming Parker’s breakout season (72 receptions for 1,202 yards and 9 tds) after so much promise early on in his career where he failed to deliver year after year. Who knew all it took was a little bit of (Fitz)magic.
After the transaction period of the off-season was over and no receivers had been added to challenge Parker’s production, it was clear to see that he along with impressive rookie Preston Williams and fellow breakout Mike Gesicki at tight end were trusted by Flores and co to lead the Dolphins revolution.
As the season now draws closer and the recent news that fellow wide receivers Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson would be opting out of the season, it brings to question who will eat in to DeVante Parker’s production. And the answer is no-one!
Preston Williams is also still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in week 9 and may not even be ready to start the season. That leaves the depth chart looking extremely empty behind Parker with the likes of Mack Hollins, Jakeem Grant and newly acquired Chester Rogers. None of whom you’d expect to challenge Parker for any kind of main role.
It’s a case of opportunity knocks for DeVante Parker for fantasy owners this season. He proved last year he can be the receiver we all thought he could be coming out of college, and this season with a better team around him on both sides of the ball, a division where games are more winnable than ever, and no one really challenging him for the top spot, Parker is primed to repeat last years performance and lead owners to fantasy titles in 2020.
In the Crosshairs #2
D’Andre Swift, RB – Detroit Lions
ADP: 9.01 Half PPR / 5.10 PPR / 6.11 Non-PPR
The Kerryon experiment in Detroit over the last two years has failed. OK, he was fine in his rookie year, but he can’t stay on the field and last years’ 3.6 yards per carry average when given the keys to the kingdom was not impressive. So much so they drafted one of the better RB talents out of college over the last decade.
D’Andre Swift had a very high quality and highly productive college career. He totalled 3,551 scrimmage yards with 25 total touchdowns over three years for the Georgia Bulldogs and due to the elite level production he almost qualified for my “generational talent” criteria in an article I wrote a couple of months ago.
He steps into a team that has been crying out for a decent run game after not having a rusher over 650 yards since Joique Bell in 2014 and no 1,000 yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013.
But things are looking up on the offense in Detroit. The offensive line is arguably the best it’s been for many years with the likes of Frank Ragnow cementing himself as one of the best Centres’ in the league alongside Taylor Decker and Halapoulivaati Vaitai manning the tackles whilst rookie third round investment Jonah Jackson out of Ohio State could prove to be an excellent acquisition at Guard.
Matthew Stafford has seemingly made a full recovery from broken bones in his back suffered during last season after being on pace for a 5,000 passing yards, 36 TD season after week 8. If Stafford is able to even come close to that pace in 2020, I dare say it is likely going to feature D’Andre Swift a fair bit out of the backfield.
Detroit have drafted a player that they hoped when the drafted Kerryon with the 43rd pick of the 2018 draft, however Swift seems to have that next level pedigree coming out of college. I’ve managed to pick him up as late as the 11th round in mocks so his 9.01 half ppr ADP seems a bit high to me. Nonetheless, i’m willing to throw a rookie dart throw on Swift, and so should you.
In the Crosshairs #3
Jerry Jeudy, WR – Denver Broncos
ADP: 11.09 Half PPR / 10.06 PPR / 10.09 Non-PPR
Another rookie I have no problem buying in to is former Alabama superstar Jerry Jeudy. I absolutely loved watching this kid at school and I firmly believe he is the next AB/OBJ/Michael Thomas for fantasy football.
I will admit I was slightly disappointed on draft night when the Broncos picked him up with the 15th pick, I was rather hoping he would end up in San Francisco, Philadelphia or even back re-united with Tua in Miami, where he would have been unchallenged for the WR1 atop the depth chart.
However, after re-watching Drew Lock film, and also knowing there is room for another top class receiver opposite Courtland Sutton, I quickly renewed my excitement for Jeudy coming to the NFL.
Jeudy was outstanding in college. He posted back to back 1,000+ yard seasons and back to back double digit TD seasons to go with it. His complete college resume reads 2,743 yards from 159 receptions (17.2 YPR) and 26 touchdowns. These stats were good enough to see Jeudy finish in the top 20 for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in each of the last 2 seasons within FBS.
So after an extremely productive college career, Jeudy has proven himself to be one of the, if not the most ‘pro-ready’ receiver in the 2020 class and he heads to a team that will be able to utilize him in a “Chris Godwin in Tampa” type of role.
Jeudy is definitely worth a bench spot on your fantasy teams where you can pick him up in the 10th/11th round and not having to worry about him making an instant impact in week 1. It’s baffling to me that Jeudy finds himself with a lower ADP than CeeDee Lamb who is likely the WR3 on his team, the injured Eagle Alshon Jeffrey and Mr Inconsistent Sammy Watkins. Jeudy’s talent and opportunity is better than all of these players and some others drafted in the same vicinity.
In the Crosshairs #4
Le’Veon Bell, RB – New York Jets
ADP: 3.09 Half PPR / 3.08 PPR / 3.07 Non-PPR
Is a 3rd round pick classed as a mid-round player? Probably not, but considering the landscape of running backs, a 3rd round RB is basically a super deep sleeper this year!
Regardless, i’m sticking Bell in.
Now I know Lev Bell is a shadow of his former self since effectively resigning from the Steelers before his hold out year in 2018. That doesn’t mean the talent resigned too though.
2019 was always going to be an uphill task for Bell. A year without playing, probably not as fit or as healthy when he rocked up to training camp, a failed attempt to take the jackpot $wag he was really after, and finally ending up with a head coach that publicly admitted to “not wanting him”.
So of course we weren’t going to get back fantasy superstar Le’Veon Bell last season, and you were foolish if you thought we would quite honestly. But a year has passed, a sense of belonging and acceptance has to have set in by now, and as you take a look down the roster, Bell is the only big hitter in the team.
It’s a big assumption to say Adam Gase will let bygones be bygones and swallow his pride to showcase Bell as the star player in the organisation; but if Gase wants to keep his job as HC in New York, he’s going to have too this year!
I think the Jets are going to have to go through the run game if they are going to want to be competitive this season. New additions in the receiver room Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims hardly fill me with confidence that they will produce big numbers out wide and the tight end room is like a bowl of spoiled fruit with a couple that might still be edible, just.
The un-retire-able Frank Gore was added to relieve Bell once he’s been run in to the ground and behind him comes the mediocre talent of Kenneth Dixon and rookie Lemichal Perine. Gore may snatch a few goal-line snaps from Bell, but I hardly think he’s going to jeopardise Bell’s fantasy production dramatically over the course of the season.
The one area that has been improved over this off-season is the offensive line which bodes well for Bell potentially having a bounce-back year. Big and powerful mauling run blocker Mekhi Becton was the Jet’s 11th overall pick of this years’ draft, and 2019 all-conference honouree Cam Clarke out of UNC in the 4th round will improve the line at guard. They also picked up arguably the best Centre in free agency too when they acquired Connor McGovern formerly of the Broncos.
Darnold has new weapons out wide with injury prone tight ends likely missing time throughout the season. He’s going to need to dump the ball off a lot and build trust with the best weapon available to him. That is Lev Bell, and that’s why Bell should be on fantasy rosters this season.