Now that we are close to a lot of people’s fantasy drafts, I wanted to hand out some names that I frequently end up with when I do mocks, just because I have them higher in my rankings. So these are players, who present value based on their ADP (average draft position), all as an average between the three biggest platforms for fantasy football – NFL.com, ESPN and Yahoo. That’s as of August 20th, with the first two having a full-PPR scoring system and the last one being set to .5PPR. They also all have a standard lineup of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 FLEX, 1 TE, 1 DEF and 1 K. I had to wait until now, so that the draft data is representative of what people actually think of these players, especially with so many mocks having the majority of users set as auto-picks and distort the results.
So I will talk about what I like about these players heading into 2020, maybe a couple of concerns and talk a little bit about what I look at them as, compared to the where people are selecting them in their mock drafts. I listed three guys for every position that fills one spot in your standard lineup (QB, TE, DEF) and five for running back and wide receiver respectively. Oh, and I’m not doing kickers here – just pick one from the high-scoring team and that you know has a proven track record of converting on his opportunities.
Here are some of my favorite value picks:
ADP – 79.57 (QB9)
This seems weird to put a name here that is discussed as probably the greatest of all time and who hasn’t been on my radar as a fantasy option for a long time (especially since I usually pick my QBs very late), but I think there has never as much value with Tom Brady as this upcoming season. TB12 was QB12 last season with a broken-down Julian Edelman, who led the league in dropped passes, to go with a former first-round bust in Philip Dorsett, an undrafted rookie in Jakobi Meyers and a Mohamed Sanu, who looked like one of the worst in-season acquisitions of 2019, as the three next-most productive receivers, combining for less than 1000 yards. To go along with that he had what looks like a bad first-round choice in N’Keal Harry and the league’s least productive tight-end room. Now he is in Tampa Bay, where they have the premiere receiving duo in the game with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a three-headed monster at tight-end, some interesting backs and pretty much a push as far as the O-line goes, while playing for a coach that is much more interesting in pushing the ball downfield. While having to learn a new system after two decades of being in New England and knowing every little intricacy about it will be a challenge no matter how long you’ve been around the league, just the sheer improvement in weapons and the increased chances to go down the field make me believe he will finisher multiple spots higher than he did in 2019. Brady has gone up quite a bit these last few weeks, but at the end of the eighth round, I think he is still a value pick. I personally have him about a round higher than that and when I do mocks, where I have my two starting RB and WR spots, my flex and one of each on the bench secured, this is a guy I end up with on quite a few occasions – even though this usually is the earliest I think about picking a QB, if nobody just falls right into my lap.
ADP – 139.50 (QB20)
A name that already was controversial at the time of the actual draft and seems to be a little controversial in this discussion as a fantasy option as well is Daniel Jones. While there are some concerns, that I will get to in a second, let me give you some numbers. In terms of average points per start (12), only ten quarterbacks put up better numbers than Jones did last season. His 18.98 points in those starts were better than what Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Kyler Murray were able to put together. He had three different games with 4+ touchdowns and no picks (Lions, Jets, Washington) and you can’t overlook his effectiveness as a runner. Jones missed out by five carries to reach that 50-mark, but among the ones who did, he would have finished behind only Lamar Jackson with 6.2 yards per rushing attempt. He put up all those numbers despite having a banged up Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram being out for most of the time and getting sacked 38 times on 459 attempts. Now, he was highly inconsistent as a rookie, with those three games of 28+ fantasy points and not reaching 15 in any of the other contests, and his ten fumbles lost not only limited his opportunity to add to the scoring, but also directly lowered his total in the end. With that being said, I still think the offensive line will be better than it was a year ago and Jones’ top five options in the passing game will be healthy at the same time, at least for the start of 2020, which was never the case in year one for him. There are some guys like Darius Slayton, who I expect to break out in his second season, and while new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will build on the run game, he could also involve his QB more in that area, similar to what they did in Dallas with Dak Prescott for the last few years.
ADP – 146.43 (QB23)
Before I talk about any of these numbers – the sample size for Drew Lock as a rookie was pretty small. He started the last five games of 2019 and averaged 13.6 points a week, with three games right around that number and two outliers – a 24-point affair at Houston, when he threw 3 TDs in the first half alone in an upset victory, and a 6.6-point blunder in a snowstorm at Kansas City. That is not necessarily something to get super-excited about and I don’t love some of the hype Lock has been receiving this offseason, but it doesn’t yet reflect in his fantasy ADP. The highest he is ranked on any of these platforms is 22nd (ESPN). While he did already have Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant as a rookie, the latter despite being the most productive rookie tight-end, heavily fluctuated with his weekly output, putting up 159 combined yards in two of those weeks and 19 combined in the other three. He will likely take another step, when you look at the history of the position. And now you replace DeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick, who caught just 53 percent of the targets their way and averaged 6.2 yards per targets, with two stud rookies. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was my top-ranked receiver in the draft and create a dependable target due his highly advanced route-running and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler opens up the offense with his blazing speed, while being a nightmare to tackle in open space as part of RPOs for example. Even though Pat Shurmur didn’t last long as a head coach for the Giants, I still like what he can do for a young quarterback, in terms of forcing the opposition to defend the entire field and running more spread looks, which Lock is used to from college. Something Lock had issues with in year one is not accounting for roaming defenders, who didn’t have anybody in their area to cover, which will get better with having more people out on the route. And most importantly, I hope he gets encouraged to give his receivers chances down the field, which he was hesitant to at some point as a rookie.
Others options I like:
Baker Mayfield (ADP 141.07; QB19)
Jared Goff (ADP 144.82; QB23)
Teddy Bridgewater (ADP 147.62; QB24)
ADP – 70.12 (RB24)
There seems to be a split between Jonathan Taylor believers, who watched him dominate college football and think he will take over this Colts backfield, and the ones who think he will be in a committee with Marlon Mack or even like scat-back Nyheim Hines to take on a larger role. Count me as a believer. If I told you there was this running back, who rushed for almost 6200 yards and 50 touchdowns in his three years in college, runs a 4.39 at 225 pounds and was selected in the second round by a team that doesn’t have a long-term answer at quarterback on the roster and could have used some of the edge rushers or corners that went off the board in that range, which role do you think he will have? Marlon Mack is a really solid back and I was actually higher on him than most people coming out of South Florida, but this kid from Wisconsin is special. Last season Mack rushed for 1091 yards in 14 games, yet all but 500 of them came before contact. He finished third in the league in terms of time behind the line of scrimmage at over three seconds and his 4.4 yards per carry, running behind what I believe is the best offensive line in all of football, isn’t overly impressive, plus he has missed at least two games in all three years in the league. There are two concerns for me when it comes to Taylor. First, he didn’t contribute much as a receiver in college, but as a junior he more than doubled his previous output, catching 26 passes for 252 yards and an additional five TDs, while catching the ball pretty natural at the combine as well. The much bigger one is fumbles, as Taylor put the ball on the ground 18 times throughout his time with the Badgers, while Mack didn’t do so once on 261 touches last season. Some of that may have to do with carrying he rock 926 times overall, but that is definitely something to monitor. If he can take care of the ball, even if he doesn’t stay on field on passing downs a whole lot (needs refinement as a protector). I believe he will absolutely be a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year, because he has explosiveness, power and big-play ability to make a lot of noise.
ADP – 71.64 (RB26)
I already talked about Montgomery as one of my breakout candidates for 2020 (LINK). So you can read up on what I like about his skill-set there, but now let’s look at the situation this guy is in. While the Bears doesn’t blow you away with stars all over the field, but they do have one of the most underappreciated receivers in the game in Allen Robinson and another young guy in Anthony Miller, who could be used as a fly sweep threat to bind defenders or as the target on RPOs who will benefit from aggressively flowing defenders in the box. It is a little concerning me that, despite losing Kyle Long, the only addition they made on the offensive line was Germain Ifedi, but they didn’t have Long for three quarters of 2019 either. I think having second-round pick Cole Kmet as your true Y tight-end will help get the Bears backs to the edges at a higher frequency and I think the Matt Nagy offense will be stress defenses more with different personnel sets this season. Most important, Chicago did not add a single running back outside of undrafted free agent Artavis Piece this offseason and I expect Montgomery to take away some of the opportunities Tarik Cohen got last season, who averaged a miniscule 4.7 yards per touch, despite having 79 receptions. So they may use Cohen more as a true slot receiver, but at 5’6”, 190 pounds soaking wet, he will not run as much in-between the tackles (3.3 yards per carry) and Montgomery obviously will get all the goal-line work as well. The second-year back was a missed-tackle machine at Iowa State and when Nagy did allow him to gain some momentum without a defender getting hands on him before he could even cross the line of scrimmage, this guy showed some signs. He can make those subtle adjustements and cuts to not allow defenders to square him up and has the size to break tackles. He is a that I end up with a lot in the middle rounds.
ADP – 77.58 (RB27)
Somebody I was concerned with a few weeks ago, when he asked for a trade and I thought even if he stayed wasn’t on good terms with San Francisco, is Mostert. Now that they have sweetened the pot for him a little bit and he seems to locked in, I think him going in the 8th to 10th round make no sense. Mostert is coming a playoff run, in which he rushed for 336 yards and five touchdowns over three games, but people seem to forget that he also averaged 5.6 yards per rush during the regular season – second-highest behind only Lamar Jackson among players with 100+ attempts – and scored a touchdown every 15th time he touched the ball. Maybe the craziest statistic for Mostert is that in the ten total games he received double-digit carries, only once did he average less than 4.8 yards per attempt. If you look at the offensive line, not only did they their two starting tackles a combined 86 percent of the offensive snaps and I think a healthy Trent Williams could actually be a significant upgrade over what I saw from Joe Staley last year, but they also get starting center Weston Richburg back, who went on IR after week 13. Kyle Shanahan’s offense still goes through the rushing attack, where he is the very best at creating issues for the defense and stacking plays together, and that will be even more apparent without Emmanuel Sanders gone and probably missing Deebo Samuel for a few games early on. The one concern for me is that the Shanahan’s have always had at least two-back systems and there are capable players on that roster, with old friend Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon hopefully finally healthy after he got a big deal from San Fran two years ago and at least one more of the young guys. However, from week 12 on, when he gashed Baltimore’s number-five run defense for 146 yards, Mostert led the team in rush attempts and yards all but once and he has established himself as the top option in my opinion.
ADP – 112.92 (RB38)
Another rookie that I think gets doubted because of the situation he is in is Dobbins, even though people look at it the wrong way. The Ravens just set a new all-time mark in rushing yards with 3296, which had stood for over 40 years, What people fear about grabbing anybody outside of the top two contributors is that they made up for 72.4 percent of their rushing production over the 15 games they played. However, not only do I believe that number to drop, but even then there were 218 carries left on the table for the rest of the squad. Quarterback Lamar Jackson actually led Baltimore with a QB-record 1206 yards on the ground and while he has shown that he is just a different breed in terms of not even allowing defenders to touch him in one-on-one situations and never showed any weakness getting up after a hit. I think it is very enthusiastic to believe he repeats those 176 carries. The top running back Mark Ingram also had an outstanding season, including 15 touchdowns, but he was on the field for only 45.6 percent of the snaps on offense and now on the wrong side of 30, it’s safe to assume he will give up some of that workload, especially considering there was no special talent on the roster to demand those chances. At the very worst, Dobbins should be able to replace what Gus Edwards did last season and that was worth over 700 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards a clip. But this kid was a 2000-yard workhorse at Ohio State last season and I had him as my number two back in the draft, thanks to his combination of explosiveness and strength, while having great ball-security fundamentals. He is a perfect fit in that zone-read heavy offense from shotgun, which he basically played in last season with the Buckeyes and another dual-threat QB. I would not be shocked if he emerges a few weeks into the season and ends up leading this team in rushing.
ADP – 141.61 (RB50)
If you are looking for a really deep sleeper, either if you are a zero-RB advocate or you just have your roster filled out already and just try to grab the player left on the board with the most upside, I think this is a name that has to be on your radar. Antonio Gibson primarily lined up at slot receiver for Memphis last season, but he was most effective taking handoffs and slicing through defenses that way. The explosion he has, the long-speed and that contact balance to bounce off hits are all on a different level to most backs in the league. Now, he has only really run two plays when in the backfield – power and stretch, mostly with another back on the opposite side of the QB in split sets – but he seems to have a natural feel for the position and he can do so much more for an offense. I believe Gibson will be a swiss-army knife for new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who will move him around the formation, get him the ball on jet sweeps or as a decoy off those or create mismatches with slower defenders, as he comes out of the backfield. I was already pretty high on him, despite having an RB room that went five or six names deep at that point, because I believe he could be on the field for the majority of snaps anyway, thanks to his versatility, but now that Derrius Guice was let go due to some off-the-field stuff, the rookie is even more intriguing to me. When you look at who Washington is bringing back, their leading rushing from 2019 is a 35-year old Adrian Peterson and the next-closest guy is QB Dwayne Haskins with 101. And when you look at receiving yards, after the clear leader in Terry McLaurin, the next two names are RB Chris Thompson, who left in free agency, and Kelvin Harmon, who recently suffered a season-ending injury. So the offense is bound to improve and Gibson should have plenty of opportunities. That is golden for a running back around the 50s.
Other options I like:
Cam Akers (ADP – 93.32; RB32)
Jordan Howard (ADP – 113.18; RB37)
Zack Moss (ADP – 131.88; RB47)
ADP – 50.08 (WR17)
I’m pretty sure not a lot of people know Calvin Ridley was a top 15 fantasy wide receiver last season based on average points per game (15.2) in non-PPR leagues and top 18 in the two other formats as well. He averaged 9.3 yards per target and converted 47 of his 63 receptions into new first downs, despite his longest catch going for only 36 yards. He is more of a deep threat than that (especially of double-moves) and I would be shocked if he doesn’t have at least one 50-yarder this upcoming season, while also being an excellent red-zone receiver ever since coming into the league. Julio Jones is still the number one receiver on that team and I think the best as an actual player at the position in the world, but the Falcons want to take some pressure off him with Ridley. Atlanta’s top candidate for their WR3 role is Russell Gage, who had a fairly productive second season, but almost half of his yardage total came in the four games he started in place of Ridley. So he will not demand a target share in the same region as Mohamed Sanu, who the Falcons traded away mid-2019. While a lot of it is about Austin Hooper leaving town and I will talk about his replacement in the tight-end segment, this team has by far the highest amount of vacated targets from a year ago at 258. I would not pick guys like Cooper Kupp or Keenan Allen ahead of Ridley and while I have him right around that range among receivers, I have this guy about ten spots higher in my overall rankings, which a full round later in those stages of a draft presents excellent value. I thought the Falcons number two could make that Juju Smith-Schuster jump in his second season, but with injuries that might have just been postponed things by one year and we see less of a difference between him and Julio’s numbers in 2020. I think you can book Ridley for a 1000 yards and around double-digit TDs.
ADP – 65.81 (WR25)
This is one I don’t understand at all. Stefon Diggs “only” finished last season as the WR24 in full-PPR formats (18th in non-PPR), but he was within ten points of the guys that own the six spots above him, while missing one game. That was for a Vikings team that finished with the fourth-lowest pass play percentage (51.7%) and was in the bottom-six in terms of plays run per game (60.5). While Buffalo didn’t pass the ball at an immensely higher rate (about four percent more), they finished top ten in plays run, as they switched to a more up-tempo, 11 personnel attack – and that was without having a true number one and in the process not an ideal two. Diggs finished last season with the second-highest yards per target (12.0) and third in terms of percentage of his team’s air yardage, as the premiere deep threat in all of football. The one real concern here is that Josh Allen was one of the worst deep-ball thrower statistically last season, completing only 24.1 percent of his passes travelling 20+ yards through the air – dead-last according to Pro Football Focus- With that being said, a lot of that had to do with not having that guy, who can create separation vertically, with John Brown not showing that extra gear to gain a step on his defender and nobody else on the roster to average over eight yards per target with at least 15 grabs. Allen is still obviously not the most precise passer in the NFL and he has even more room to grow as a decision-maker at times, but having that guy who can streak downfield on go and post routes – especially in the mold Minnesota used him last season as that backside target on bootlegs – will open up the offense in a major way and Brian Daboll will encourage him to let it fly a few times each week to just let the defense know they need to account for it. I know I’m higher than pretty much anybody, but Diggs is my WR14 and a mid-fourth round pick for me.
ADP – 70.93 (WR26)
A second-year receiver I like a whole lot is this guy from Washington. McLaurin was phenomenal as a rookie. He went for 919 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, despite missing two games and being part of one of the very worst passing attacks in the entire league. His quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a really rough rookie campaign, completing only 58.3 percent of his passes for just over 150 yards per game and the same amount of touchdowns as interceptions (seven). So obviously a lot of this will come down to how much that guy can grow coming into his second season and how that will influence his top target, who he already had built up plenty of chemistry with at Ohio State before joining the same team in the pros. I personally had a top-20 grade on Haskins and think he will make a big jump now that he is in better shape and had a full offseason to watch tape and hopefully be able to work through progressions more quickly. He simply wasn’t ready when thrown out there last season and had a brutal welcome to the NFL. However, even if Ron Rivera decides to go a different route with who lines up under center at some point, the offense should be much more beneficial for the young star receiver. Last season, Washington finished 30th in neutral situation pass rate and 31st in pace, while the Panthers with Scott Turner calling shots were fourth and fifth in those respective categories. Now as the new offensive coordinator in the nation’s capital, I expect this offense to be much more wide open and McLaurin will be his new version of D.J. Moore in that attack, who went for almost 1200 yards in 15 games last year. Right now this kid is going anywhere from the sixth to the ninth round, depending on the platform you use, and I think he should be a fourth-rounder, simply because of the changes offensively and the fact he is their clear-cut number one option.
ADP – 111.03 (WR39)
One of the most overlooked receivers this year to me is Marvin Jones. This guy is going between wide receiver 36 and 42 depending on the platform, despite having finished 15th in average fantasy points in PPR-formats last season. Now, he has missed ten combined games over the last two seasons, but in the three years prior he missed only one total game and the last time he played a full 16 contests (2017), he led the league with 18.0 yards per reception. Since coming to Detroit, Jones’ average receptions per game have gone up every single season and over these last three years, he has scored half a touchdown per week. Obviously Kenny Golladay is and will remain the top target in that offense and you would assume the chances for second-year tight-end T.J. Hockenson will increase, already because he was a top-ten pick alone, but Jones also caught passes from Jeff Driskel and David Blough over his final five games rather than the uber-talented Matthew Stafford, during which he averaged 18 yards less per week. While Detroit used their second-round pick on another running back in D’Andre Swift (Georgia) and the offense will be built on the rushing attack, number 11 will frequently be the target off deep play-action and the Lions really only have three relevant receivers on that roster. So at this point, Jones is going as a low WR4 at best and I personally look at him as a nice flex option. Grabbing him a round later than a guy like Julian Edelman and using that other pick for like a high-upside rookie back or maybe a QB/TE you like in that range makes a lot of sense to me. I really like him as a fallback option if you go RB-heavy early on and you only have two dependable receivers on your roster at that point.
ADP – 125.54 (WR43)
I had several candidates to choose from for this final wide receiver spot, but in the end I went with the guy I think could be the best of the bunch and will receive the biggest boost in quarterback play. Diontae Johnson quietly hauled in 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. That was despite the ball being thrown by Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, who combined for just 186.3 passing yards per game (31st in the league) and tying for an NFL-low 4.5 air yards per completion. This year the Steelers get Ben Roethlisberger back under center, who led the league with 5129 passing yards in 2018 and even at 70-80 percent of himself should be a major upgrade over the two guys, who are clearly on the lower end of backup material even. I recently talked about Johnson’s skill-set more in detail and said he was be breakout candidate(LINK!!), because I saw start-stop quickness to win as a route-runner, how slippery he is to put a hand on that punt return ability he displays with the ball in his hands, with the feel for where defenders are coming from. He already made some huge plays as a rookie, often times catching the ball a few yards short of the sticks on shallow crossers and finding a way to convert for his team. Pittsburgh does have Juju Smith-Schuster as the primary target and I believe he will bounce back in a major way, James Washington came onto the scene last season and they also brought in another receiving weapon in flex tight-end Eric Ebron to go with another second-rounder receiver. However, I think Johnson could easily be one of the more productive number two guys for his respective team and at the very least a nice matchup play for your flex spot. Even if he somehow ended up repeating his output from a year ago, he was still the WR39 in PPR formats. If you take that as a baseline and think what Big Ben could do for him, just putting the ball out in front on some double-moves, that could be a great pick in the double-digit rounds, especially considering he led all receivers in separation, according to Next Gen Stats.
Other options I like:
Darius Slayton (ADP – 128.30; WR45)
Mecole Hardman (ADP – 130.83; WR45)
Jalen Reagor (ADP – 142.32; WR53)
ADP – 124.06 (TE13)
If I could only choose to tell you about one player in this entire breakdown, this might be my guy. The Falcons just lost Austin Hooper to free agency, after he put up career-highs in targets (97), receptions (75), yards (787) and touchdowns (6). Because of that they spent a second-round pick to acquire what basically was the Ravens’ TE3. That alone tells you how much they wanted him, since they could have used that selection in the draft to address some other areas of need or grab another one in the draft, since only one was off the board at that point. Not saying he isn’t worth it, but that is rare compensation for a player who is third on a team’s depth chart and has barely cracked 500 receiving yards to go with three touchdowns through his first two years in the league. With that being said, Hurst is a former first-round pick and someone who Baltimore actually selected ahead of reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson. The speed, feel as a route-runner and physicality after the catch put the former South Carolina standout at the top of my tight-end board as well and I’m guessing that’s where the Falcons had him too, So based on pure talent, you can argue that he and Hooper are basically at the same level. What makes this guy so intriguing as a value pick for me is the offense he has landed in. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is famous for heavily involving the TE as a volume pass-catcher on stick and hook routes underneath, but also allowing them to work down the seams, where Matt Ryan had a lot of confidence, putting the ball to the back-shoulder of Hooper, who could shield it with his body and come down with the catch. When you look at the target rate of these two guys, the difference is enormous, as Hooper averaged 7.5 looks per game compared to only 2.4 for Hurst in his second season, while the latter averaged almost a full yard more per target. I love this guy as a low-end TE1 as my 13th pick or so of the draft.
ADP – 147.77 (TE21)
While I know it isn’t overly exciting, purely based on receiving yards, finishing 18th at your own position would make me think you get drafted higher than 21rd, but that is the most simplistic and least interesting case for Jonnu Smith. Let me talk you through a couple of other things instead. Of just 45 targets over the 2019 regular season, Smith caught 35 of them for 439 yards and three touchdowns. That left him tied for ninth among all players in the league at 10.0 yards per target and his 8.3 yards after the catch on average was the second-highest number among tight-ends, behind only George Kittle, who is obviously in a different stratosphere. While Tennessee is trying to run it back with a strong offensive line and a battering ram in Derrick Henry behind it, to go with shots off play-action, the Titans last season were 30th in plays run and they had the third-lowest percentage of pass plays (51.2). Those numbers are likely to go up at least a little bit with a more capable passer in Ryan Tannehill being under center for a full season and opposing teams likely selling out to stop the run. So that should result in more opportunities for Smith, who despite seeing a low target share, finished seventh in yards per route run among TEs last season. If you combine his targets with the ones of Delanie Walker until he got hurt, who is now out of the picture for Tennessee, that lands him at 75, which – while I know it doesn’t quite work that way – would result in 732 yards and five TDs if you simply multiply it with the numbers he actually put up on 45 looks. This guy is close to undrafted in a lot of leagues and with the way he started being used down the stretch – streaking downfield more and even taking some handoffs for big gains as a true running back – that gives you a high-upside TE2. Please take him over a second defense or whatever you may think of at that point of your drafts.
ADP – 148.51 (TE23)
This is a name that I seem to have a weird fantasy crush on, but when you really look into it, it makes some sense. Doyle may not blow you away statistically, never having reached the 700-yard mark or surpassed five touchdowns in his seven-year career, but he is a very good all-around player, who is on the field all the time. We all remember when Eric Ebron went off for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018, but a lot of that was thanks to Doyle going down with an injury, since he had been on the field for 81.7 percent of the snaps as long as he was healthy, When he put up career-highs the year prior, he logged over 90 percent of the snaps, and while he wasn’t as effective last season as a full-time starter, he did average over 10 yards per catch and converted two thirds of his catches into first downs. That was with Ebron on the roster and being more of a downfield target, while Doyle was responsible for the dirty-work in the run game and even as a pass-protector. Now, I know the Colts signed Trey Burton this offseason, but he had just 84 receiving yards and no TDs over the one half of 2019 he was available for and should be much less likely to steal targets from what I think is the clear TE1 in this offense still. While yards per target, yards per route run and all those statistics are great to predict what can happen, the one relevant fantasy factor before anything else is how much a player is on the field and I don’t see why Doyle wouldn’t be out there for 80 percent of their offensive plays again. Indianapolis was in 12 personnel 26 percent of the snaps last season (sixth-highest in the league), so even if Burton re-emerges to some degree, this should hold true. And with Philip Rivers coming in, who checked it down to his backs more than any other QB in the league last season, I could see some of that share to going to Doyle leaking out late or curling up over the middle.
Other options I like:
Mike Gesicki (ADP – 137.23; TE15)
Blake Jarwin (ADP – 150.07; TE23)
Chris Herndon (ADP – 150.37; TE25)
Defense / Special Teams:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ADP – 145.42 (D/ST13)
It does sound a little crazy if you put a defense here, that finished 29th in points allowed and didn’t make any major changes, but I believe this unit is a whole lot better than the number would indicate. First of all, the stats are skewed due to their former quarterback Jameis Winston turning the ball over 35 times and giving the opposition a shortened field to cover on several occasions. But even with that, the Bucs finished tied for seventh with 47 sacks (only seven behind number one Pittsburgh), they recorded the fifth-most takeaways (28) and they somehow finished as the D/ST9 when the season wrapped up. And that was despite being in the first year in that fairly complex Todd Bowles system and facing the entire NFC West. When you go through their roster and their likely starting 11 on defense, it is highly impressive. Tampa has the reigning sack leader in Shaq Barrett paired up with a still effective JPP, an interior D-line was largely responsible for finishing as the league’s top run defense, two rangy, play-making linebackers and a young secondary that is finally starting to come together. This year the one NFC division they will face in its entirety is the North (definitely more favorable than the West) and they play the AFC West, which outside of Kansas City of course had no top 20 scoring offense last season. Not only will they directly benefit from Tom Brady and the offense not giving the ball away nearly as much and putting them in bad field situation, but that should also result in being more fresh when they have to go out there and assuming they perform better as a team – which I think should mean double-digit wins – their defense should be in much more favorable positions, as they lead in games and that pass rush can truly be unleashed. We saw that already in 2019, when in their four double-digit wins they recorded an average of 17.3 fantasy points.
ADP – 137.32 (D/ST14)
Before we talk about anything else – there’s a big difference between the different platforms you may use, as the Colts are the sixth-highest defense being selected on ESPN and 19th on NFL.com for example. So check your format and the respective rankings again as you put your board together and mark different fantasy options with a star. I personally have the Indy D/ST seventh in my rankings thanks to added talent and the schedule they will face. First, they added former 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who immediately becomes one of their top two together to go with Darius Leonard and will provide a lot more disruption on the interior. While I don’t love their corner room as a whole, they added some veterans to the mix and I think Rock Ya-Sin will develop into one of the better guys at the position sooner rather than later. And hopefully we will finally see healthy seasons from Malik Hooker and Kemoko Turay, who I was very high on both when they came out of college. Last season the Colts already finished middle of the pack in points and yards allowed, whilst being the D/ST14. So based on that alone, they would have to improve by just one spot to outperform their ADP, which is fair to assume with a top 50 player in the league added to that unit. And then you look at the schedule – in their division alone, the Texans lost one of the elite receivers in football, the Titans at least have to replace a Pro Bowl-level right tackle with a rookie and the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall in the 2021 draft. Last year’s third-place schedule also brings the Colts the Jets and Raiders, to go along with the North divisions, which don’t blow anybody away, outside of the Ravens. Outside of that one matchup with Baltimore, the only other offense that finished in the top 13 in terms of points scored is Minnesota.
ADP – 150.82 (D/ST24)
Alright, hear me out on this one. I will probably not end up drafting the Browns defense and they will probably go undrafted in all my leagues, but depending on when the D/ST I originally selected has their bye week or faces a tough stretch, this is a unit that I will keep an eye on. Cleveland finished last season as the 25th defense in fantasy with ten weeks of putting up five points or less. So on the surface, there are more appealing options. However, when I look at their schedule from a year ago, I can see a trend. Until their best player Myles Garrett was suspended following their week 11 matchup with the Steelers, the Browns D/ST averaged 6.3 points and that fell to just 4.0 points once he was out of the lineup. And over those first nine games, they faced six playoff teams (Tennessee, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, New England and Buffalo), with only one of them not cracking double-digit wins. Against the three non-playoff teams, they averaged 9.0 points, plus then they scored a season-high 16 in that week 11 Steelers matchup. One more factor in this was the offense giving the ball away, with Baker Mayfield finished second behind only Jameis Winston with 21 interceptions thrown and overall the Cleveland offense turned the ball over 28 times, often times setting up the opposition in favorable field position. Garrett is back under contract for the next five years and I like they new safety tandem they have put together, even though they are unproven at the linebacker level. Now let’s look at their schedule for 2020. Inside their division, they do have last year’s number one overall seed in the Ravens, the Steelers getting Big Ben back and the Bengals drafting the reigning Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall. However, they also have the NFC East and AFC South on their slate, which outside of the Cowboys doesn’t include another top ten offense, plus the Raiders and Jets. With a more ball-control offense under Kevin Stefanski and more positive game-script allowing their D-line to tee off, they could easily flirt with a top ten finish.