Which Players are Fantasy Toast in 2020?
As we head towards the glorious NFL season, us fantasy football nuts are already beginning deep in preparation for 2020 redraft leagues. Whether that be new landing spots, attempting to identify emerging stars, engaging in mock drafts, buying this year’s Fantasy Football Magazine, the hard work is underway. In this article we will identify some players who have had strong fantasy value in the past but for whatever reason(s) are no longer valuable contributors. To put that in modern terms, they are now fantasy toast!
Larry Fitzgerald | WR | Arizona Cardinals
It hurts my heart to start with Fitzgerald. The guy is a class act on and off the field. However, as he enters his 17th pro season, his athleticism has diminished to some degree. He has become more of a possession guy rather than a field stretcher. He is an amazingly talented athlete who is now surrounded by others who offer much of the same, namely the man who could be argued as the best receiver in the entire league, DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins will be the alpha dog and the clear cut #1 pass catcher on this team and should eat up targets like ice cream during a quarantine. Christian Kirk is a young talent who should also be in the mix for plenty of targets. That is without mentioning Arizona mixing in last season’s rookies, Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. Quite simply, is a crowded receiving core with an overabundance of talent.
While Fitzgerald averaged nearly 7 targets a game, Kirk averaged slightly over 8. How many will targets will Hopkins be taking away? Who will suffer the most? In 2020, Fitzgerald looks to be a touchdown dependent fantasy option, who will suffer the most by the arrival of Hopkins, My projections max him out at 5 targets per game and 3 catches for 35 yards isn’t going to cut it for your fantasy team. He’s been serviceable every year he’s been in the NFL but there is every chance that time is over.
Robby Anderson | WR | Carolina Panthers
Anderson started slow last season but picked things up the last six games of the year, scoring over 10 points in five of those contests. Anderson has speed and good hands, but what he has now in Carolina is a game manager-type QB (Bridgewater, 20th in yards/attempt), a target hog RB (McCaffrey, 142 targets) and a great possession WR (Moore, 135 tarets).
On top of that there is another receiver in Curtis Samuel who mostly does the same things Anderson does. Who will be the odd man out? I’d put my money on Anderson. It is hard to see him being fantasy relevant minus a few scattered weeks throughout the season. He is a nice weapon for the Panthers, but it is difficult to see him being much of a starting option on your fantasy team. There are also better options for your bench, one that offer both upside and consistency.
Phillip Lindsay | RB | Denver Broncos
It is hard not to like this young man’s talent and make up. He has been splitting reps with Royce Freeman for most of the past 2 seasons but separated himself during Freeman’s injury in their rookie season. Watching him run is fun, his vision and ability to make timely cuts is entertaining. However, for some reason the Broncos made it nearly a 50/50 split with Freeman once again to open 2020. Again, Lindsay outplayed Freeman drastically, ending with 224 carries to Freeman’s 132.
This offseason the Broncos landed the workhorse back they’ve been dreaming of since Terrell Davis. Melvin Gordon seems to be the perfect fit for what Denver wants in their offense. While Lindsay should carve out a complimentary role of some sort, it is hard to trust him as a fantasy starter anymore. If he is in the “Freeman role” we are talking about him losing nearly 100 carries! He logged in 35 catches last season, which isn’t bad but he’s clearly not a true third-down back.
What about Freeman? Will the Broncos still use him? What appears to be clear is that Gordon is their guy and has the talent to be just that, leaving Lindsay as nothing more than a handcuff. Even as a Gordon owner in one league and I didn’t feel it necessary to do that given the uncertainty with Freeman’s role. Unfortunately, even talented players get cooked sometimes, meaning Lindsay finds himself in the toast category.
Adrian Peterson | RB | Washington Redskins
Peterson is the back who seemingly never dies, well him and Frank Gore apparently. This man is one of the best to play the position and has been a fantasy option even the past few years despite his age. Once Guice went down, there he is! Does anyone remember his short stint as a NO Saint? It sounded good didn’t it? Except without volume he was worthless. (4 games, 27 carries, 81 yards). He was traded to AZ, got volume and showed up.
However, with the super crowded backfield in Washington, it is hard to see a way for him to get volume. There’s Guice, newly acquired Barber and McKissac, not to mention their 3rd round pick Antonio Gibson. Oh, and do not forget Bryce Love, their 4th round pick from 2019. That is a very crowded backfield? Sorry AP, your touches are toast and so is your fantasy production.
O.J. Howard | TE | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Howard is a monster of a man and a freak athlete. Unfortunately, instead of breaking out last season as many predicted, he only eclipsed double digit points three times and had plenty of zeroes to go with his general subpar fantasy season. While the talent is there I wasn’t sold on him back when he was drafted and I’m completely off of him now. His teammate, Cameron Brate doubled him up in TDs (only four but still) and now the team has added their new quarterback’s favourite target, Rob Gronkowski.
Coach Arians will have to use his tight end more than he typically does this season with Brady running the offense, it just won’t be Howard. With the Brady to Gronk connection, it is hard to see Howard’s role increasing, which it would need to do for him to be fantasy relevant. With many strong options at the tight position this season, it may be wise to stay away from OJ completely.
Tyrod Taylor | QB | Los Angeles Chargers
Good old coach speak has some actually believing Taylor will be the guy this season for the Chargers. Come on! If you haven’t realised by now, coach speak means very little in this league. Did you have a chance to watch Taylor play in Cleveland? I’ll never forget watching the game where he went down and Baker Mayfield came in. The offense went from zero to hero in a few snaps, zero being Taylor and hero being Mayfield. For a brief moment Taylor could run, throw and score fantasy points. However, that was back in 2015 as a Buffalo Bill. Okay, maybe that is a bit harsh on Taylor, but if you think the job is his this season then it is time to re-evaluate. He is not worth a roster spot on any fantasy team unless it’s a 2QB, 12-team league and you are desperate. Herbert will start sooner rather than later.
If you feel like taking a flyer on one of these players late in a draft that is understandable. However, with their situation or stage of their career there are better options available. Some people enjoy burnt toast, I’m not one of them.
Norman Bún was raised in Northern California and now resides in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina with his beautiful wife and two children. He is a school teacher and writer who is passionate about his faith, golf, MMA and fantasy football.
Image credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri & Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports