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Christian McCaffrey's historic fantasy football season will be difficult to top in 2020. CMC had a combined 2,392 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Not only was he the only running back in the league to have over 100 receptions, 116 to be exact, but he outscored Aaron Jones, the RB2 for the season by more than 150 fantasy points in PPR scoring. McCaffrey saw 21% of the Carolina Panthers' targets and scored 51% of the team's touchdowns. He was simply a machine.
While you may see some regression in 2020, the dip will not affect his overall production. CMC could have sat out the last two games of the 2019 season and still remained the clear cut RB1 for the year with 416 PPR points. There are not too many things in fantasy football that are for sure, but having Christian McCaffrey first overall in our fantasy football rankings is as easy as it gets.
Barkley was active in 13 games last season. He missed three games due to a high ankle sprain and averaged 22.3 opportunities, 111 total yards per game, and 16 PPR fantasy points per game. Barkley was very effective last season. He averaged 0.84 fantasy points per opportunity and the only other running back who averaged more Yards Created per game than Barkley (38.5) was Derrick Henry (38.6). He’s finished as an RB2 or better in 83% of his career games which provides a very high floor.
The Giants offense is well-positioned to improve on its 21.2 points per game last season. The team’s offense will continue to run through Saquon Barkley in new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s offense. General Manager Dave Gettleman acquired tackle Cam Fleming, drafted Georgia All-American tackle Andrew Thomas, UConn tackle Matt Peart, and Oregon guard Shane Lemieux. These additions improve the Giants offensive line and also provide quarterback Daniel Jones with additional protection. Barkley can be viewed as an RB1 and is in a strong position to finish within the top-five at his position.
Kamara was active in 14 games last season. He suffered ankle and knee injuries and missed Week 7 and Week 8 because of them. Kamara averaged 19.1 opportunities, 95 total yards, and 17.8 PPR fantasy points per game. He only scored two total touchdowns in his first 12 games. Kamara averaged 0.93 fantasy points per opportunity and finished the season ranked 7th in Juke Rate. This advanced metric isolates a running back’s on-field elusiveness and tackle-breaking power. Kamara’s 2019 numbers weren’t incredible, but he’s finished as an RB2 or better in 77% of his games over the last two seasons.
You should expect Kamara to return to his superstar form in 2020. The Saints offensive line finished first in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards metric. The team has ranked in the top three of this metric since 2016. The Saints have prioritized their offensive line in recent years which have resulted in a run-heavy philosophy. New Orleans has finished as a top-four scoring offense in four consecutive seasons. Drew Brees has finished as the fantasy QB7 in points per game in consecutive seasons. The Saints offense also prioritizes the use of its running backs as receivers out of the backfield. Kamara ranks No. 11 among the NFL’s top-15 players in catch rate since 2017 among players with at least 100 targets. He is a candidate to finish within the top four at his position in most formats.
It's hard to believe that Elliott is entering his fifth NFL season yet is still just 25-years-old with his prime years still ahead. Elliott is an old-school, three-down workhorse able to make an impact as both a runner, receiver and as a plus pass-blocker. In addition to his elite physical skill set and production, Elliott offers durability, which can't be overlooked at a position with little depth and major injury concerns.
Last year, Elliott's numbers lagged a bit but he still finished fourth in the NFL with 1,357 rushing yards. A bigger concern might be the decline from 95 targets in 2018 to 71 last season of the NFL's top offense. The addition of first-round wideout CeeDee Lamb could take even more targets from Elliot but he should still be a candidate to receive 350 touches and double-digit touchdowns in the Cowboys' prolific offense.
Still young, healthy, and consistently productive, Elliott offers top-5 weekly upside with an extremely high floor. He's about as safe as a pick as any asset can be in fantasy football.
We finally saw what Dalvin Cook could do with a featured role and he more than lived up to the hype. In his third season, Cook touched the ball 303 times and racked up 1,654 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns. Now entering the final year of his rookie contract, Cook is an intriguing pick to finish the 2020 season as the overall No. 1 running back.
But it's been health, not production that has always been the primary concern for Cook. He's only played in 29 of a possible 48 games in three seasons. While Cook was durable at Florida State, since entering the pros he tore his left ACL in 2017 and missed five games due to a hamstring ailment in 2018. Even during last year's breakout, Cook was "rested" during the crucial fantasy playoffs with a shoulder injury.
When healthy, Cook has been nothing short of a top-tier RB1 more than worthy of a top-5 pick in fantasy leagues. Despite only having 250 carries in 2019, Cook finished third among all running backs with 37.1 yards created per league and scored 13-plus fantasy points in all but one game. That kind of production and upside certainly warrants early first-round considerations but a late-round investment in Alexander Mattison as a hand-cuff would be advised.
Now widely regarded as the best wide receiver in football, Thomas comes off a historic 2019 campaign in which he set an all-time NFL record with 149 receptions. Additionally, Thomas led the league with 1,725 receiving yards and 26 red-zone targets.
No position player offers a higher floor that Thomas, who exceeded double-digit targets in 12-of-16 games and whose quietest performance (Week 13) still resulted in six grabs and 10-plus PPR points. The main catalyst for Thomas's production is his elite hands, which resulted in a league-best 94.9% True Catch Rate- the highest of his career to date.
Still just 27, Thomas is just about to enter his prime and remains one of the most secure options in all of fantasy football with QB Drew Brees at the helm of the Saints' high-octane attack. While scooping up running backs early in fantasy drafts remains a viable strategy, targeting the best wideout in the game offers the safest return-on-investment of any first-rounder. Whether it's dynasty, redraft, standard, or PPR, Michael Thomas should be a top-10 selection in every fantasy football league.
Davante Adam’s 2019 campaign was derailed due to injury after Week 4, in which he posted 10 receptions for 180 yards. Once Adams returned from injury, from Week 9-16, he posted 127.6 fantasy points, which ranked 6th among WRs in PPR scoring. Despite missing 4 games, among WRs, Adams finished tied-12th in receptions (83), tied-2nd in Red Zone Targets (23), and 3rd in total Target Share with a 30.3% Target Share. Even in a season haunted by a turf toe injury, Adams maintained his elite-level of play and is primed for a massive rebound season in 2020.
Green Bay elected not to draft a complimentary WR in the 2020 NFL Draft, leaving Adams as Aaron Rodgers’ number 1 weapon. Adams thrives when handling the bulk of the workload in the passing game. The addition of free-agent WR Devin Funchess does not impact Adam’s fantasy production; having another suitable WR on the outside should allow Adams to dominate various areas of the field. Adam’s touchdown numbers dropped in 2019, after finishing with double-digit touchdowns from 2016-18, so getting into the end zone more in 2020 should be high on his priorities. Adams is one of the most reliable pass-catchers in the league, hauling in over 70 receptions in 4-straight seasons. I expect Adam’s to return to his 2018 form (WR2 in PPR), continuing to command a massive target share for the Packers, with a serious chance of finishing 2020 as a top-2 fantasy WR. Michael Thomas is the only wide receiver I would consider drafting before Adams in fantasy this season.
Few players can offer the consistency that Julio Jones brings to the table. In each of the past six seasons, Jones has finished as a top-7 fantasy wideout while averaging 104 receptions and 1,565 yards. Selecting Jones in the first or second round has been a winning formula for a long time and there are no indications that that trend will end any time soon.
About the only thing that has plagued Jones has been lack of touchdowns. Only once in his storied career has he surpassed double-digit scores, but that could change in 2020. TE Austin Hooper, who joined the Cleveland Browns via free agency, is vacating a whopping 18 red-zone targets, which were two more than Jones commanded all season. New tight end Hayden Hurst will certainly factor in but the 6-foot-3 Jones should see a significant increase in red-zone targets, which should help boost those scoring numbers.
The Falcons also play an appealing schedule for wideouts, with six games against the defensive-challenged NFC South and also includes tilts against Detroit and Minnesota squads that ranked in the top 7 of fantasy points allowed to wideouts. It gets even better during the fantasy playoffs as Jones gets matchups with the Saints and two games against Tampa Bay to close out the season.
Hyping up Tom Brady's next Randy Moss has been an annual tradition in fantasy football. It's also been a losing strategy as the Patriots failed to ever develop that elite outside threat. But now removed from New England and in Tampa, Brady finally has that type of talent in Mike Evans, a physical freak (6-5, 230) who has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his six NFL seasons and averaged eight touchdowns annually.
With Brady under center in place of Jameis Winston, Evans should see improved placement and accuracy. While Winston threw an NFL-worst 49 interceptable passes, Brady mustered only 17. Bruce Arians is an aggressive coach and while the Bucs won't have to be playing from behind quite as much, Arians will allow Brady the freedom to challenge defenders in tight windows and jump balls.
This should be extremely beneficial for Evans, who ranked 10th in the league last season with 28 contested targets but came down with only nine of those throws. With Chris Godwin emerging as one of the most dangerous inside receivers in the game, Evans should see more one-on-one coverage opportunities, and combined with Brady's touch and timing is going to have some monster games en route to another WR1 season.
Melvin Gordon was not brought back to the Chargers which slides Austin Ekeler to be the projected leader in the backfield for touches for Los Angeles. We saw during the first half of 2019 when Ekeler saw a larger role during Gordon’s suspension he put up great fantasy numbers. On the season overall, Ekeler was a top-five fantasy running back and it was on a 57.1% snap share.
Ekeler had the tenth-highest breakaway rate (5.3%), ranked sixth-highest in fantasy points per attempt (2.34), and first in fantasy points per opportunity (1.29). He was extremely efficient. In 2020 his overall volume is going to increase but that is more likely to come in rushing attempts instead of targets in the passing game.
The major caution with Ekeler is that he will not see nearly the pass volume in 2020 he saw in 2019 due to the change at quarterback. Mobile quarterbacks just do not throw the ball to running backs as often as non-moile quarterbacks do. Ekeler had eight receiving touchdowns in 2019 (first), 92 receptions (second), and 993 receiving yards (second). These numbers will most certainly decrease in 2020.
The Chargers still have Justin Jackson and added Joshua Kelley in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. The fear with these two guys is that they could potentially take red zone work away from Ekeler. In Weeks 1-4 of 2019, Ekeler saw all the rushing attempts inside the five-yard line. Once Gordon came back in Week 5, Ekeler was immediately supplanted from work near the end zone. From Weeks 5-17, Ekeler saw just four carries inside the ten-yard line.
With his volume increasing but the role in the passing game decreasing and question marks at the goal line, Ekeler is a fringe RB1 for 2020.
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