I did an interview with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey of Football Diehards on Sirius XM Satellite Radio on May 23, 2020. For those that missed the segment, I thought it might be useful to share some notes regarding some of the items we discussed during the show.
An overarching theme headed into this season will be to lean more heavily on RBs than usual. I recently finished updating my 2020 fantasy player rankings and ended up having a lot more blue-/green-rated RBs than blue-/green-rated WRs. There are also only three blue-rated QBs, which is a much lower number than in recent years.
A variety of factors led to this, but the primary one is that the passing game requires more practice time to get up to speed than the running game. Since this offseason is all but certain to curtail much of the usual allotment of practice time, QBs and WRs will find it tougher to get in sync than RBs. This should allow RBs to get to par a lot faster than QBs and WRs and thus running back fantasy value is positively impacted.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is another Bucs value pick. A recent Paydirt article notes that Tom Brady has the potential to be a tremendous fantasy value pick among Tampa Bay players.
Vaughn has the capacity to be another Bucs value pick. His 2019 stats don’t lend in the direction of a breakaway runner, as he had only two carries of 30+ yards against Power 5 foes, but per cfbstats.com in 2018 Vaughn led the SEC in carries of 30+, 40+, 50+, and 60+ yards versus Power 5 teams. Tampa Bay has the most favorable rush defense schedule in my early 2020 schedule rankings and the Bucs matchup slate could lead to a lot of high scoring games. This makes Vaughn a strong RB4 candidate whose value could increase as the 2020 season progresses.
The odds are against Lamar Jackson finishing as the No. 1 overall fantasy QB for a second consecutive season. Jackson’s dominant 2019 campaign currently has him sporting a second-round ADP, but the last quarterback to finish back-to-back ranked No. 1 in QB fantasy points was Daunte Culpepper in 2003-04.
That historical trend makes Jackson arguably the leading regression candidate in fantasy football this year but let’s also note that he faced a lot of man coverage last season. That factor opened the door to Jackson getting a ton of rushing production yet there are many reasons to think the Ravens offense will face a lot more zone coverage this year. Add these elements to subpar matchup and fireworks points scores and it will make Jackson an overvalued player in many draft rooms.
If you are thinking of drafting Todd Gurley, be sure to offset the risk with Ito Smith. Gurley had a low 7.5 GBYPA last year (the league average in this metric is 8.5), a total that suggests he might not be the breakaway impact player he was before the injury. There is also the concern of a potential workload cap or a possible split carry situation given his durability question mark, as he is coming off of his first sub-300 scrimmage play campaign since his rookie season in 2015.
My latest rankings have Gurley listed as a high-tier RB2, but he should not be selected without also taking Ito Smith, as Smith would be the primary beneficiary of a lead/alternate or platoon setup and thus could easily have a much higher ceiling than his current RB6 ADP suggests.
Get the Kenny Golladay upper-tier WR1 bandwagon ready. Golladay finished third in wide receiver fantasy points last year and yet he is currently falling to a low-tier WR1 level in most ADP rankings. It’s not as if his 2019 numbers were a significant anomaly, as Golladay has a 9.6 YPT in his career and the only major difference between his 2018 and 2019 totals was a jump in touchdowns from five to 11.
Before writing that off as a pace that Golladay cannot replicate, it’s worth noting that he has a 95 matchup points total, which is the highest mark in that category among the WR1 candidates. Detroit also has a much more favorable pass defense schedule than run defense schedule and thus will be motivated matchup-wise to throw the ball. Combine all of these together and it equals Golladay landing second in multiple categories in my latest WR rankings.