How’s it going everyone, Joe Colonna here talking about players I am targeting in my fantasy football drafts for the upcoming 2020 season. In this article, I will list three players at each position who I feel strongly will out-score their current average draft position (ADP) and help lead you to a fantasy football championship this season. I will be referring to BestBall10s ADP for the purposes of this article.
1. Matt Ryan
There are a lot of positives and negatives for the Falcons offense and Matt Ryan for this upcoming season. Let’s start with the negatives. The Falcons are first in the league in vacated targets (258) as the team lost their starting TE Austin Hooper & RB DeVonta Freeman, and have replaced each with Hayden Hurst, and Todd Gurley. Most of the vacated targets will gravitate towards Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley, who hope to be one of the best duos in the NFL this season. The rest of the targets will be distributed to Hurst, Gurley, and 3rd wide receiver Russell Gage. The Falcons are a pass happy team and are expected to be playing in a lot of shoot outs, given their division opponents (New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina twice) and the rest of their schedule this season. Matt Ryan is a former MVP candidate, typically averages over 4000 yards, and 20+ TDs a season. Ryan is typically a good bet to stay healthy, as he’s played in only missed a handful of games throughout his career to this point. At a mid 8th or early 9th round price, I’m very in on drafting Matt Ryan this season. If you don’t want to draft your QB that early, can I interest you in Baker Mayfield, nearly 3 full rounds later?
2. Baker Mayfield
I know Baker Mayfield and the Browns were major let downs last season. I get it. However, I’m expecting a rebound season. Mayfield has the draft pedigree, three quality receiving options, as he did last year, but what really interests me in Mayfield and the Browns offense is two of the most important changes that were made this offseason. The team significantly upgraded their offensive line (more on this later) and there is a new head coach in town in Kevin Stefanski, formerly of the Vikings. Mayfield certainly has downside, which is warranted, as we have not seen Mayfield live up to his potential to this point of his career. I’m willing to take a risk on someone who is typically being selected in the eleventh round or later of fantasy football drafts, and is someone I have in my top 12 quarterbacks this season. The coaching change, offensive line additions, the draft pedigree, and the quality of receivers are all reasons I am interested in buying Mayfield at that price.
3. Drew Lock
The Broncos’ second year quarterback, Drew Lock, received a major weapon overhaul this offseason. Denver added RB Melvin Gordon to an already solid backfield of Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Denver also spent two premium draft picks on WRs. Jerry Jeudy, arguably the top wide receiver in the draft, was selected in the first round, and K.J. Hamler was drafted in the second round, added to work with star wide out Courtland Sutton and Tight End Noah Fant. The best part about Drew Lock is that you don’t have to spend a high draft pick on him at all. You can easily grab him in the 14th round of your draft, as a backup to your starting QB.
1. Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb is one of the most under-rated running backs in Fantasy Football this season. Here’s why. Nick Chubb 2nd in the league in rushing yards last season, he averaged 5.01 yards per attempt, and scored 8 touchdowns. That was last year when the Browns underwhelmed. Why am I so invested in Chubb now? I’ll give you three reasons. First, Cleveland has hired a run first head coach in Kevin Stefanski, from Minnesota. He was Dalvin Cook’s old coach, and we all know how talented Cook is. Stefanski, on paper, is a major upgrade over former coach Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski brings more experience and a different mentality. The next reason I’m interested in Chubb, is because Cleveland addressed their offensive line need in a big way this off season, adding star OT Jack Conklin as well as rookie OT Jedrick Wills from Alabama in the draft, to an already impressive offensive line. Conklin was one of the key players for Derrick Henry’s success last season, so now he’s going to be playing in Cleveland, blocking for Chubb. Is that not enough for you? You that you can get Chubb in the very late first round, or early second round of your draft, in most cases. That’s right. The only real reason for fading Chubb is the fear that Kareem Hunt, the team’s second running back, will take away important carries from Chubb throughout the season. That is a fair point, but my counter to that is, I believe that Cleveland is going to be a run first team, and both running backs can be productive in this coaching system.
2. Raheem Mostert
We all need to stop sleeping on Raheem Mostert. Yes, I’m aware the player has been on five different teams and is 28 years old now. But, let’s keep this simple. He’s a member of the 49ers offense, a team that was second in the league in rushing yards per game and rushing attempts last season. The 49ers added former all-pro OT Trent Williams to an offensive line that played in the Super Bowl last season. Mostert is a great target as a low end 2nd or ideally a 3rd running back in fantasy drafts this season, someone you can get in the 4th or 5th rounds that not a lot of people are talking about. Mostert does have competition for touches, as Tevin Coleman is in the mix, as well as a returning Jerick McKinnon, but as we have seen in the past, the 49ers should be one of the more run heavy teams in the league, so it is okay if Mostert shares the load, as you are not spending a premium pick on him at this time.
3. Alexander Mattison
This one has so many ways to play out that can either really benefit or really your team. I’ll start out with the negatives first. The obvious negative is that Mattison is a clear backup to Dalvin Cook, and there is absolutely no debate about that. That means, heading into the season, you should not expect much of anything from Mattison. However, who says backup running backs can’t be valuable in fantasy? I’m a big believer in handcuffing running backs, especially in redraft leagues. Cook has been injured in two of the last three seasons (4 games played in 2017, 11 games played in 2018) and is currently unhappy about his current contract situation in Minnesota. Those reports were proven to be false, but it is still something to keep in the back of your mind. Minnesota is a run first team and will heavily feature the ground game no matter who their running back is this season. Should Cook miss any time, Mattison becomes a high end RB2 on your fantasy squad that you can get as late as the tenth round of your fantasy drafts this season. Even if Cook stays healthy, I think Mattison could be a nice bye week or injury fill in if needed. You only really need to spend a 9th or 10th round draft pick on Mattison and it really pay off to have one of the best backup running backs in the league on your fantasy team.
1. Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson is coming off a 98 reception, 1,147 yard, and 7 TD season playing with the likes of Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel at Quarterback last season. 2020 could be the season where Allen Robinson has his best quarterback play yet in Nick Foles. Talent has never been the question for Robinson, it’s really all about the volume and quality of targets for him. With improved quarterback play, and similar volume (100+ targets) Robinson should have the ceiling of a WR1 this season that you can draft in the third round of your fantasy football drafts.
2. Calvin Ridley
Ridley has so many positive things going for him this season. First, Atlanta has the second most vacated targets in the NFL, as previously mentioned. Most of those targets will be divided between WR Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and new additions Hayden Hurst, and Todd Gurley. Atlanta has always been a pass first team with Matt Ryan under center. Ryan is a former MVP candidate and is not afraid to sling it. Atlanta is going to be playing in tons of shootouts this season with games vs Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints and the rest of their schedule. Ridley is a reasonable way to get a piece of this offense without having to spend a premium pick on someone like Julio Jones in the 2nd round or Todd Gurley in the 3rd round. There should be plenty of fantasy points to go around for the Falcons offense this season. I’ve been taking third year breakout candidate Calvin Ridley in the late 3rd or mid 4th round of every draft I’ve had the opportunity this season as a low end WR1 or ideally a high end WR2.
3. Mike Williams
Mike Williams is one of the most disrespected wide receivers in the NFL, and it’s totally unwarranted. The guy has draft pedigree, has shown potential numerous times, but has yet to put it all together in one season. In Williams’ three seasons, Williams has had one season of 10 Touchdowns (10, 2018) one season of 1000 yards (1001, 2019). Will 2020 be the year he finally puts it all together? Williams has a new quarterback on his team in either Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert. The Chargers depth at receiver is not that exciting, the team really only has Keenan Allen, Williams, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler. The rest of the names on that roster are players most people have never heard of in Joe Reed and Darius Jennings. The answer remains to be seen as to whether Williams can put it all together, but I’m banking on a player who has a 16.5% target share, and averaged 20 yards per reception last season. Should Williams see positive regression in the touchdown department and post similar yardage totals compared to last season, we are getting a premium value on a receiver who is typically drafted as late as the 12th round of most fantasy drafts. Williams makes for an excellent WR4 with upside this season.
1. Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews was the breakout tight end of 2019, as he finished the season with 98 targets, 64 receptions, 852 yards and 10 Touchdowns. I expect more of the same to continue in 2020 for various reasons. First, at the time of this writing, Baltimore did very little to address the need at wide receiver. Second, former Ravens Tight End Hayden Hurst was traded to Atlanta this offseason, clearing up more of an opportunity for Andrews to play more, as he’s earned it. Nick Boyle will be the backup TE in Baltimore, but the starting job belongs to Andrews. The third-year player will likely see touchdown regression but should be able to maintain close to 100 targets this season and make up for the regression in the touchdown department with more yardage. I’m a buyer at his current 4th round ADP.
2. Hayden Hurst
Honestly, I was not in on Hurst at all this season until maybe a month or two ago. I just didn’t believe in the talent, but after really looking into this, my opinion has changed almost completely. There are two key things that sold me on Hurst this season. First, was he was originally playing as a backup tight end on a run first team, primarily used as a blocker. He didn’t get the opportunity to shine in the receiving game. In 2020, Hurst moves to one of the most past happy offenses in the NFL with tons of vacated targets with the departure of Austin Hooper. Hooper isn’t considered an elite talent by most scouts, and still put up great numbers in that offense. Put it all together, and you have a recipe for success in Atlanta. The best part about Hurst is you only have to spend a 9th round pick on him in your draft, so you can focus on building your RB and WR core first and still pick up Hurst later.
3. Noah Fant
Noah Fant was a first round draft pick out of Iowa just one season ago and was regarded as one of the elite tight end prospects to enter the league in the last several years. In his rookie season, Fant had 66 targets, 40 receptions, 562 yards and 3 touchdowns with rotating quarterback play in Joe Flacco and Drew Lock. Drew Lock should see some improvement as he develops more chemistry with his second year tight end. Fant should see less attention in coverage as Denver added premium talent in the draft this off season to take away the pressure on he and Sutton. I am a little concerned that the added talent in Denver could take away targets for Fant, that is a risk I am willing to take in the late 9th, or early 10th round of a fantasy draft this season.
(Cover Photo: Design by Ryan Waldis, photos via Getty Images and Kelly Lacy)