Five Undervalued NFL Players in 2020
The possibility of no NFL season in 2020 has made football-lovers everywhere realise how much they value and appreciate the sport. With the NFL and NFLPA now in agreement over terms for this season and the season looking likely to go ahead, let’s highlight some players at various offensive positions who themselves are undervalued and are due a bit more love from NFL fans everywhere in 2020.
#1: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals.
Drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 2017 draft, Mixon has certainly been a player disadvantaged by playing on a bad team in a small market. Win percentage and playoff numbers might deceive, but more precise numbers do not lie; 1,137 yards rushing in 2019 puts him ahead of Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones and Saquon Barkley.
This is particularly impressive considering the Bengals’ offensive line was without 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams and consequently ranked 30th in the NFL last year. The production of a RB is arguably more dependent on the offensive line than any other position’s dependence on another position group; Mixon still racking up over 1,000 yards rushing is incredible.
Don’t forget: the Bengals’ main outside threat, A.J. Green, was out for the whole season last year so it was not as if opposing defenses had much outside of Mixon to worry about, making his rushing total all the more impressive. With Green and Williams back this season and #1 overall pick Joe Burrow coming to town, watch out for the Bengals offense and Mixon out the backfield this season because, just like his new QB, he ain’t no average Joe.
#2: Devante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
In at number two we have another sufferer from ‘on-a-bad-team-itis’. Quietly, well almost silently, Parker accrued 1,202 yards receiving last year. That’s among the top five in the NFL by the way, more than vaunted wideouts DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper (all of whom are household names compared to Devante Parker).
It is also worth considering the QBs these guys were playing with. Take those three for example: Hopkins played with Deshaun Watson all year, Allen with Philip Rivers and Cooper with Dak Prescott. In contrast, Parker started the year with Josh Rosen and finished it with Ryan Fitzpatrick. I love me some ’Fitzmagic’ but I know which situation I would rather be in between Parker’s and any of those three.
Let’s also not forget in Week 17, in Foxborough, Parker gave Stephon Gilmore the business. 8 receptions for 137 yards against the best cornerback in the NFL and newest addition to the 99 club on Madden, demonstrated he can do it against the very best of them. Tua, you’ve got yourself a stud.
#3: Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
Perhaps overshadowed by the known brilliance of Travis Kelce in the same division, Waller quietly had an exceptional year for the Raiders as probably the only stand-out weapon in their pass attack in 2019. He racked up 1,145 yards receiving which is more than some coveted WRs including Stefon Diggs, who the Bills gave up the farm for.
He also put up more receiving yards and yards per reception than All-Pro tight end (and consensus best TE in the league) George Kittle. Waller does get recognition, but with Mark Andrews and Jack Doyle making the Pro Bowl last season ahead of him, he certainly does not get the amount of recognition his numbers deserve. Waller’s a baller!
#4: Anthony Castonzo, LT, Indianapolis Colts
Now we’re into the offensive line, which itself is the underappreciated unit in NFL teams. A player who embodies that is the Colts’ left tackle Castanzo who, in his last 1,820 snaps, has only allowed three sacks. That is absurdly impressive considering some of the talented edge rushers in the NFL.
His PFF pass-blocking grade of 87.2 last season is the third best in the league at LT and he is an active member of the ‘blue wall’ in Indianapolis who were the second-highest graded unit in the NFL last season. He can pass-block with the best of them, allows a sack every 607 snaps on average and is a key weapon in one of the best rushing units in the league.
#5: Mitchell Schwartz, RT, Kansas City Chiefs
Another big guy up front who is the ultimate unsung hero. In 2018, he was PFF’s top offensive lineman of the year, yet he did not make the NFL Top 100 list… work that one out. He also hadn’t missed a single snap in his eight-year career up until last season and in the NFL, where health is wealth, that highlights his value.
Last year, he allowed zero sacks all year and won a Super Bowl and, yes, once again did not make it into the NFL Top 100 list. A lot of us get seduced by the Chief’s high-octane passing attack with the speedy receivers downfield, but none of that is possible without top class tackle play. Mitch is certainly due some recognition and love.
There are some underappreciated players in the NFL to keep an eye out for this year as we all enjoy the season we weren’t sure would materialise. If you agree, or perhaps disagree, with any of the picks or have any further comments on the article be sure to join the conversation and get involved on social media – @TheTouchdownNFL on Twitter.
All-round American Sports enthusiast and content creator – Marley is a contributor to ‘The Nat Coombs Show’ on ESPN and co-hosts the Anytime NBA Show by Tedfred Media. He’s also a writer for the US edition of the online newspaper VAVEL and will be contributing to our NFL content on the website. Find his US Sports content @MARLEYGUSU on twitter