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The Rearview Mirror: A Look Back at 2020

Kyle Allen

The 2020 season is now history. Despite a pandemic which dismantled the preseason, prevented crowds at games, and completely changed the way the season played out, we had a full 17 week NFL season and did not miss a single game. Fortunately we were able to enjoy this game that we love including all of the ups and downs that each season brings. Kudos to all of the people within the NFL, within each franchise, and within the fantasy community that made this football, and fantasy football, season possible!

So what’s this whole thing about? Back in September, prior to week one, I posted a thread of tweets which listed 24 players who I believed were either being overlooked or overhyped based on their FantasyPros ADP. In this article I’m revisiting that list. In an act of accountability, I’m going back to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly calls that I made before the season to see how they panned out.

The Omissions

I’ll begin by listing the two players, Preston Williams and Julian Edelman, who I decided to omit from the review. Both receivers suffered injuries that cost them more than 6 weeks of the season, making it difficult to give them an honest analysis in an article based on a full season. I listed both of these receivers in my list of players that were being overlooked at their current ADPs as I expected them to outperform their ADP, but we will unfortunately never know how their seasons would have panned out if played in full.

The Draws

Moving on to our next group, we’ll take a look at a trio of quarterbacks and one tight end who finished the season dead even with their preseason positional ADP. Because of this, I scored these players as a wash or a draw on my overall record for the year. 

Baker Mayfield, QB- Cleveland Browns

Prediction: Overhyped
117 overall, QB17; finished QB17

Mayfield got off to a slow start, failing to break 20 PPR points until his week 7 explosion against Cincinnati. After his huge week against the Browns’ in-state rival, Mayfield recorded 3 of his worst 4 games in a row, but closed it out with a nice 4 game streak in which he averaged 24.73 PPR points heading into the fantasy playoffs. Overall he ended the year with 255.8 total points and 16.1 ppg, good for a QB17 finish. While Mayfield had some weeks that made me question my take, his inability to consistently produce QB1 numbers, assisted by the Browns’ reliance on a run heavy scheme, are what led me to believe he would fail to live up to the hype.

Jared Goff, QB- Los Angeles Rams

Prediction: Overlooked
122 overall, QB18; finished QB18

With an ADP of QB18 coming into the season, Goff was one of my favorite later round QB stashes in the hope that he would once again outperform his ADP. Unfortunately he did not quite excel as I had hoped. Overall, Goff’s season was quite underwhelming as he failed to break out for more than 30 points in any given week, but managed double digits in all but week 12 against the 49ers. Goff finished the year even with his ADP as the QB18 in PPR scoring. Goff finished the year even with his ADP as the QB18 in PPR scoring recording a tepid 16.9 points per game.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB- Pittsburgh Steelers

Prediction: Overlooked
118 overall, QB14; finished QB14

Ben Roethlisberger entered the year as a question mark for many fantasy managers who had doubts about his elbow affecting his ability to throw. After hearing Ben report that he felt better than ever throwing and watching him throw during workouts in the offseason, I was excited to watch Ben reconnect with a healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster and continue to build his rapport with Diontae Johnson and James Washington, and he played well to begin the season, but much like Goff, never truly excelled. Ben closed out the year as the QB14 in PPR scoring with a per game average of 18.48 PPR points.

Jonnu Smith, TE- Tennessee Titans

Prediction: Overlooked
149 overall, TE16; finished TE16

The tight end position was a mess this season as a whole with the exception of the top 3 or 4 at the position. Jonnu Smith got off to a hot start averaging 17.53 PPR points per game over his first 4 games, but fizzled out as the season drove on. With a spectacular athletic profile, eye popping measurables, and the starting role in his hands I was very confident that he would have a year that surpassed his TE16 ADP, but he was unable to surpass that spot finishing right at TE16 in PPR formats. 

The Wins

This next group feels great to break down. Everyone loves to take a victory lap, but I will try to refrain from patting myself on the back too much here. Instead, I will highlight what made each of these players overperform or underperform their ADP.

Drew Brees, QB- New Orleans Saints

Prediction: Overhyped
70 overall, QB7; finished QB21

Drew Brees was taken as the consensus QB7 for 2020. His disappointing season was highlighted by injury and middling performances that limited his upside all season. Losing his favorite target in Michael Thomas for most of the season did not help his upside, but Brees’ performances were still overshadowed by Taysom Hill who averaged 21.55 PPR ppg as the starter compared to Brees’ 17.96. Due to a mix of missing his favorite receiver and only appearing in 12 games this season Brees finished as the QB21 in PPR formats and QB17 in points per game. 

Aaron Jones, RB- Green Bay Packers 

Prediction: Overlooked
20 overall, RB14 finished RB5

I know I said I was going to limit the victory lapping in this article, but my goodness does it feel good to be right about Aaron Jones. Seeing what he was able to do in 2019 with a full starting RB workload, I was elated to see his ADP stay so low throughout the offseason and he did not disappoint. Jones had an incredibly consistent season, breaking 15 PPR points in 8 out of his 14 games played and only failed to break double digits once. Upon returning from a two week hiatus with an ankle injury, Jones posted a 4 week span of 13.6 PPR ppg, but closed the season on a hot streak with a 5 game stretch of 17.88 PPR ppg. This was a contract year for Jones and he likely earned himself a nice pay raise moving forward. He finished as the PPR RB5 in total scoring and RB6 in points per game.

J.K. Dobbins, RB- Baltimore Ravens

Prediction: Overlooked
89 overall, RB32; finished RB24

J.K. Dobbins entered one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the league after being drafted to Baltimore, but many were concerned about his volume due to competition for carries from Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and a defacto third RB in Lamar Jackson. While his volume was not similar to that of the league’s best backs, his production was stellar when he was used as the lead back. In games where Dobbins handled 10 or more carries, he produced 15.03 PPR ppg which would put him 16th in the league between Josh Jacobs and David Johnson. With Ingram clearly on the down and out and Dobbins’ volume increasing as the season progressed, I expect big things next season for the Ravens’ new #1 back.

Kenyan Drake, RB- Arizona Cardinals

Prediction: Overhyped
17 overall, RB13; finished RB16

Drake is a back that seems to be perpetually overhyped and I made a point this offseason to avoid him as much as possible. Many expected him to have a transcendent season after 4 great games against weak defenses to close out 2019, but he was unable to produce the RB1 numbers many expected. Drake averaged an uninspiring 11.1 PPR ppg and only broke 15 PPR points 4 times this season. In contrast, he failed to break double digits in 6 games this season despite averaging 14.8 touches in those 6 games. The Cardinals ran the 4th most plays per game on average and called 9th highest percentage of rushing plays in the league, so there was no shortage of opportunity for Drake. Poor efficiency and sharing a backfield with a QB known for mobility do not bode well for RB1 numbers and that’s where Drake found himself this season, finishing at RB16 in PPR scoring.

Miles Sanders, RB Philadelphia Eagles

Prediction: Overhyped
11 overall, RB11; finished RB23

Managing Miles Sanders was a roller coaster ride this season. Many expected him to be one of the best RB values in the league this season, but a mix of poor offensive line play, questionable play calling, and lingering injuries limited Sanders’ upside this year. Sanders only managed to surpass 20 PPR points 3 times in his 12 games played, but still managed 14.2 PPR ppg. Sanders is known for his big play ability and that helped him to a few breakout games, but it unfortunately was not enough to warrant an RB1 finish for Sanders. Sanders is a prime example of a situation in which the talent to be great is there, but the opportunity and supporting cast are lacking. He finished this year as the RB23 in PPR scoring.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB Kansas City Chiefs

Prediction: Overhyped
18 overall, RB7; finished RB22

The first rookie taken in last year’s draft was taken well within the top 10 options at the position in fantasy after Damien Williams decided to opt out of the season. With a clear path to the #1 running back spot in the best offense in the NFL, CEH was supposed to be a fantasy darling this year. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite happen as he only managed to muster 13.5 PPR points per game, good for 23rd among RBs. Whether it was an inability to master the offense without a true offseason or a limitation due to his size, CEH underperformed the hype and finished as the RB22.

Todd Gurley, RB Atlanta Falcons

Prediction: Overhyped
29 overall, RB15; finished RB29

The biggest questions surrounding Gurley entering the season was the health of his knees and whether or not the Falcons would limit his workload in the early season so that he would be healthy in the latter part of the year. Because of the unknowns of the situation, I avoided Gurley this season, but the Falcons did not, feeding him nearly 20 touches per game through the first 9 weeks of the season. After their week 10 bye, Gurley seemed to be a shell of his old self and never managed to accrue more than 8 PPR points or 10 touches in any of the Falcons’ remaining games. Physical limitations capped Gurley’s value and failed to allow him to reach anywhere close to his ADP of RB15. He finished the season as RB29 in PPR formats. 

Brandin Cooks, WR- Houston Texans

Prediction: Overlooked
86 overall, WR35; finished WR17

Brandin Cooks, the man, the myth, the team proof wide receiver legend. Cooks joined Brandon Marshall as only the second player ever to record a 1,000 yards season with 4 separate teams. After joining his 4th team in 7 seasons and suffering his third concussion since joining the NFL last year, many fantasy managers worried he wouldn’t be able to produce well in Houston, sinking his PPR ADP to WR35. After starting the year with a measly 7.93 PPR ppg through the first four weeks, Cooks exploded 30.1 vs Jacksonville and produced at a clip of 18.93 PPR ppg for the rest of the season. Cooks proved the doubters wrong finishing as the WR17 overall and in points per game. 

Mike Evans, WR- Tampa Bay Buccaneers  

Prediction: Overhyped
26 overall, WR7; finished WR11

Mike Evans has been a fantasy stud since he entered the league in 2014. He has surpassed the 1,000 yard milestone in all 7 of his NFL seasons including this year. He is a consistent superstar at the WR position and had yet another phenomenal season. However, he failed to meet his ADP of WR7 this year because Tampa Bay has so many mouths to feed. Don’t get me wrong, Evans was great, recording 13 receiving TDs and staying healthy for all 16 games, but he failed to meet the expectations of managers taking him as a top 7 receiver. Evans finished the year as the WR11 overall and the WR16 in PPR ppg, one spot behind teammate Chris Godwin.

Hayden Hurst, TE- Atlanta Falcons

Prediction: Overlooked
113 overall, TE12; finished TE10

Hayden Hurst was a sleeper tight end pick this season that I targeted in the later rounds of drafts due to his fantastic athletic profile and the fact that he joined the offense that produced a top 6 TE in 2019 with Austin Hooper. While he wasn’t among the elites, Hurst’s floor in PPR scoring kept him in the top 10. He started off slowly, but put up 13.03 PPR ppg from week 6 to week 9 and closed the season out with 3 straight games with a touchdown and greater than 12 PPR points. In a season where reliable TE production was tough to find, Hurst finished as the TE10, surpassing his ADP of TE12.

Hunter Henry, TE- Los Angeles Chargers

Prediction: Overhyped
81 overall, TE8; finished TE12

Henry was a trendy TE sleeper pick this year as many expected big things from the 5th year tight end. Henry had a decent year and barely snuck into the top 12 tight ends, but a stint on the COVID IR cost him his final two weeks of the year after turning in a season high 17.5 PPR points in week 15. After being drafted as the TE8, Henry finished the year as TE12 in total PPR points and TE11 in PPR ppg.

Tyler Higbee, TE- Los Angeles Rams

Prediction: Overhyped
95 overall, TE10; finished TE17

After posting career highs in receptions, yards, and TDs in 2019, and closing the season out with 21.44 PPR ppg in weeks 12-17, Higbee drove up his 2020 draft stock landing himself as a consensus top 10 TE. Unfortunately, he found nowhere near that level of success in 2020. A monster week 2 seemed to be an indication of good things to come for Higbee, but he only managed to break double digit PPR points 2 more times in the season. He finished as the TE22 in PPR ppg and TE17 overall.

Austin Hooper, TE- Cleveland Browns

Prediction: Overhyped
97 overall, TE11; finished TE21

Austin Hooper became the highest paid TE in the NFL this offseason, prior to George Kittle’s extension, when he signed his deal in Cleveland. After finishing the year as TE6 in PPR scoring in 2019, he was expected to maintain his high level production when he joined the Browns highly talented offense. He recorded a solid 3 week streak of double digit PPR points from week 4-6 and another such streak in weeks 15-17, and failed to produce anything else remarkable all season. He finished the year as TE21 in overall scoring and PPR points per game, 10 spots below his ADP of TE11.

The Losses

With the exception of the ‘72 Dolphins, no NFL team has ever gone undefeated through an entire season, and unfortunately, my list didn’t go without taking a few lumps either. While I am happy to say that this list is much shorter than the wins list, I must hold myself accountable for my takes no matter how bad they may be. These 5 players proved me wrong, no question about it. I won’t try to defend my takes, but I will tell you what my expectations were and how they came up short. 

Mark Ingram, RB- Baltimore Ravens

Prediction: Overlooked
62 overall, RB26; finished RB77

After his third career 1,000 yard season and a career high 15 total TDs in 2019, I was excited to see Ingram in 2020. Little did I know he would not only take a back seat to the rookie star J.K. Dobbins, but he was also bested by backup Gus Edwards. With so many mouths to feed in one backfield and one of the best rushing QBs in the league, there was not much left for Ingram to consume this season. He was taken as the RB26 by the consensus and I foolishly believed this was too low. Ingram finished the season as the RB77 in PPR scoring and only managed a measly 4.8 points per game.

Jordan Howard, RB- Miami Dolphins/Philadelphia Eagles

Prediction: Overlooked
90 overall, RB35; finished RB92

Another massive RB bust that I expected to outperform his ADP this season was Jordan Howard. He began the year in a wide open backfield in Miami, and ended up in Philadelphia after being released by the Dolphins. I expected to see him take over the Miami lead back duties, or at worst handle short yardage and goal line work. Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong. Howard found the end zone in all of his first three games in Miami, and I expected this to be rewarded, but the Dolphins instead released him after just 5 games due to the emergence of Myles Gaskin. He finished the season as the RB92 in PPR formats and only scored 10.9 more points in 3 games with Philadelphia. 

Stefon Diggs, WR- Buffalo Bills

Prediction: Overhyped
65 overall, WR27; finished WR3

One of the best values in fantasy this season at the wide receiver position this year with an ADP of WR27 was Stefon Diggs. I truly did not expect the connection with Josh Allen to happen so quickly after Diggs was traded from Minnesota to Buffalo, but they have both excelled this season. Allen improved his accuracy as a passer and Diggs has blossomed into a true WR1 now that he has the leading receiver role to himself in Buffalo. I straight up whiffed on this one as Diggs crushed this year recording career highs in receptions, targets, and yards. He finished as WR3 in both points per game and overall in PPR scoring.

N’Keal Harry, WR- New England Patriots

Prediction: Overlooked
157 overall, WR57; finished WR99

N’Keal Harry may be my most well documented and most disappointing miss on this list. As a Patriots fan I desperately wanted to see him excel and surpass his WR57 ADP, but he didn’t even come close. Cam Newton was supposed to give him the boost he needed to get his career headed in the right direction, but it ultimately made no difference as Harry was outshined by Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd even after Julian Edelman was lost to injury. Harry only broke double digits twice this season, scored a mere 2 touchdowns, and only recorded a pedestrian 9.4 ypc. Harry finished the year as the WR99 in PPR formats.

Bryan Edwards, WR- Las Vegas Raiders

Prediction: Overlooked
233 overall, WR71; finished WR133

Last but not least is rookie WR Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina. While I’m not giving up on the young Raiders prospect, I know I am not alone in my disappointment in his 2020 performance. Edwards was a hot topic of conversation in dynasty circles this offseason and I expected him to carry a little bit of fantasy value in redraft, but I was sorely disappointed in my go to late round flyer. Edwards failed to record more than 2 receptions in any game this season and did not find the end zone until week 17 when most of us were already done with our season. He finished the year as the WR133 in PPR formats and has been relegated to nothing more than a dynasty stash until he proves himself otherwise.

Looking back on this year, I am so thankful that we got to enjoy fantasy football together. If you read any of my preseason articles or utilized any of the weekly injury reports from myself or Matthew, your support is greatly appreciated.It was a season unlike any other and my hope is that these articles were helpful in making you a more informed fantasy football manager.

I learned alot about fantasy football this year, especially dynasty format fantasy. As a manager, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to form your own rankings in the preseason and revisit them from time to time. Many of the takes in this article were based upon my preseason rankings and this exercise was a great learning experience for me. I have learned to trust my gut, use my eyes to analyze performance and data, and resist the urge to rank and draft players with my heart.

I look forward to the 2021 season and interacting with the fantasy community on Twitter and Reddit in the meantime! If you are interested in reaching out, you can find me on Twitter @kallen_4 or on Reddit u/kallen_4.

Kyle Allen – Injury Writer/Editor
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @kallen_4
Reddit: u/kallen_4

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