2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited

Hello Heat Seekers, welcome to episode 125 of Sully’s 2 Cents Fantasy Football Podcast.  I am your host, Rob Sullivan.  The Sully’s 2 Cents Fantasy Football Podcast is a proud member of the RotoHeat Family of Podcasts

In episode 125, I am going to revisit my 2020 Bold takes. The last two seasons, I have done a BOLD Takes episode for this very Podcast, and last season I decided to do a recap episode of my 2019 bold takes. It was a lot of fun. Simply put, I have no problem poking fun at myself and that episode was exactly that.  Today I’ll recap my 2020 Bold takes that I brought you back in episode 88.  Similar to 2019, this recap likely won’t end well for me, but if its fun and entertaining I am a happy fantasy analyst. 

Now, before I get into the recap, it is important to understand bold takes. In order for a take to be bold he has to be bold.  Now I get that, that statement in itself a rather ridiculous one, but it needs to be said. A bold take is a take that is borderline crazy that could actually happen.  Tom Brady is a top-12 QB in 2020 is an example of a take, not a bold one or a rather interesting one for that matter. Brady finished as a top-12 QB in 2019. Now if the take was Tom Brady will finish as the top scoring QB in 2020, now we are talking bold. 

My bold takes as I defined them are meant to be fun, they are scenarios that are a little out there–somewhat extreme, but plausible.

5. Quarterbacks

2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 20: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants looks to pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at MetLife Stadium on October 20, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) 2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited

Daniel Jones will be a top 5 QB in 2020

So, when putting this bold prediction together I looked at his 2019 season.  There was the good, In his 12 starts, Daniel Jones compiled a stat line of 284/459 for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns, and there was the bad. He averaged an interception a game and fumbled 13 times while losing 11 of them.

In addition to the passing game, he ran for 279 yards and a TD in those 12 starts.  His 16-game pace line in 2019 was 384/608 for 4,032 yards, 32 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles, with 372 rushing yards and 3 scores.  That stat line equals 282.48 fantasy points in a standard scoring 4 point per passing league.  Aaron Rodgers was QB10 last season with 282.38 points. I also took into considerations that in 2019, Saquon Barkley missed 3 games and was a shell of his normal self until Week 17.  Sterling Shepard missed 6 games, Darius Slayton 2, Golden Tate 5, and Evan Engram 8. I figured with all his weapons, especially Saquon Barkley and an improved offensive line, Jones’ turnover rate will decline dramatically, thus an increase in fantasy points.

When I made this bold prediction, I failed to take into consideration that  the Giants schedule to start the season was a tough one.  Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco, the Rams, Dallas, Washington, and Philadelphia were their first 8 games. Jones after those 8 contests was QB26 with 11.26 fantasy points an average of 13.91/game.  The remainder of the season the schedule lightened up, and Jones was QB29 from Week 9-17, averaging 13.13/game.  In fairness to Jones, he only appeared in 6 games during that span due to a hamstring injury. His 13.13-point average however was 34th best. 

In addition to the schedule, I wasn’t banking on Saquon Barkley being injured in week 2 for the season, and I failed to realize what I initially thought about Daniel Jones when he was drafted and that is that he sucks.

Josh Allen will finish outside the top 15 in 2020

Whoops.  Of all the takes that I had prior to this season this is easily my worst. 

The way I looked at this was simple.  In his first two seasons, Josh Allen had a career completion percentage of 56.3%.  In his rookie season, his 52.8% completion percentage ranked dead last of the 33 QBs measured behind the likes of Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Blake Bortles. In 2019, his 58.8% ranked dead last once again, behind Baker Mayfield, Andy Dalton, and Gardner Minshew.

Where Allen brought you his fantasy value was on the ground. In his first  two seasons, Allen ran for a combined 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns. Josh Allen finished 2019 as the 6th highest scoring quarterback in fantasy. In 2018, Allen rushed for 631 yards, second to only the 699 from Lamar Jackson, and he scored 8 times.  In 2019, Allen was third in QB rushing behind Jackson and Kyler Murray with 544 yards, scoring 9 times.

In two seasons, Allen has scored 505.62 fantasy points, 219.5 or 43% of his productivity had come from his legs. Frank Gore was stuffed from the one-yard line in 2019, 4 times.  In each of those situations Allen followed with a rushing TD,  If Gore had actually scored on those 4 carries, Allen would have gone from QB6 to QB12.

The Bills added Stefon Diggs in the passing game and Zack Moss in the running game.  Both of these additions should have meant that Allen would run less. I was adamant that regression was coming for Allen in 2020. Well regression was coming for Allen, but it was positive regression.  He ran for basically the same yardage and touchdowns as he did in 2019. He ended up with 7 less carries, 89 less yards and 1 less touchdown. 

Where he exploded was the passing game.  111 more attempts, 125 more completions, 1455 more yards, an increase in completion percentage of 10.4%, and passing touchdowns increased by 17. He finished with 405.60 points the only player over the 400-point mark and 136.08 points ahead of where my bold prediction placed him.

4. Running backs

2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 18: Running back David Johnson #31 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball in the second half of their game at Nissan Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texans 42-36 in overtime. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) 2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited

David Johnson will finish 2020 as a top 15 RB

This one wasn’t to far off.  I had DJ in the top 15 based on two factors, the start to his 2019 season, and the fact he would see a ton of work in Houston. 

In 2019, Johnson struggled with injury, and in parts of 13 games he disappointed his fantasy managers with 141.5 PPR points and a RB37 finish.  Prior to his injury in Week 6, Johnson was RB5, averaging 20.2 points per game. I figuring with health and workload this one was legit.  Well in the end he was RB19, 11.80 PPR points behind #15 Ronald Jones.  Johnson appeared in 12 games and averaged 12.2 PPR points a game. Had he played all 16 at that pace he would have landed at 195.20 PPR points and at RB9. 

Derrick Henry will finish as a RB2 in 2020

For record this one was nearly as bad as the Josh Allen take. See I have never really been a huge Derrick Henry fan.  Not only did I think this bold take could happen I wanted it to happen. 

Once again, I had regression coming for Henry, all the Titans really.  I stated that Ryan Tannehill was not the QB3 in fantasy that he played to once taking over in 2019 from Marcus Mariota.  I was right.  I stated that A.J. Brown was not the WR3 that he played to during that same time, I was right again, and I stated that Derrick Henry was not the RB2 that averaged 23.6 points a game. I wasn’t totally wrong, in the end, Henry was RB3 on the season averaging 20.8 PPR points/game. What he wasn’t was a RB2, not even close.  He surpassed that total by 126.60 PPR points, 7.91 points per game. 

During the 2020 season I acquired a share of Derrick Henry and it wasn’t cheap.  So, entering 2021 now that I have a share, I will only be wishing him success. Hopefully he keeps the train on the tracks without Arthur Smith running that offense

3. Wide Receiver

2020Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited
ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 08: Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons takes the field prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) 2020 Fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited

Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will both finish as a top 10 WRs and Ridley will finish higher than Julio.

I really liked this one, and damn I thought it was going to happen. My favorite part of this take was this statement back in July;

So, let me start this off by announcing that my annual “This is the year that Julio Jones falls off a cliff” world tour has been cancelled.  For each of the past two seasons I have declared Julio Jones to be washed and all the man has done in those two seasons is compile 599.9 PPR points and average 19.35 points a game.  Needless to say, the Julio side of this take is neither surprising nor bold.

Well sadly Julio in 2020 he kinda fell off the cliff. He ended up as WR52 appearing in a total of 9 games.  His average of 16.2 PPR points a game over the course of a full 16 games would have landed him at WR10.  His injury was all that stood in the way of this beautiful bold prediction.

Calvin Ridley who I was screaming form the roof tops for everyone to acquire held up his end of the bargain. Ridley finished the season as WR5, was a top-10 WR and did finish ahead of teammate Julio Jones.  

Amari Cooper will finish behind both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb in 2020, and all three will be WR2s. 

I liked this one as well, just not as much as the Julio/Ridley take.  What screwed this one up was the Dak Prescott injury. Dak went down in Week 5.  Thru 5 weeks Cooper was WR8, Lamb was WR11, and Gallup was WR33, in a rather small sample size, but the bones of this beautiful bold prediction was in place. I was wrong thru 5 weeks, but it was at least interesting, and the Dallas offense through those 5 weeks was hotter than a ghost pepper and exceeding everyone’s expectations.

Would it have stunned everyone if the Cowboys cooled and stopped scoring 40+ a week?  Was it out of the realm of possibility that Cooper who has shown inconsistency throughout his career would regress? Was it not possible that Gallup showed us what he showed us to end 2019? You also had to figure that CeeDee Lamb wasn’t going to be a top-12 WR in his rookie season either. Well, I guess we will never know.  Dak was lost for the season midway thru Week 5. Ben DiNucci, Garett Gilbert, and Anny Dalton combined to lead the Cowboys the rest of the way.

In weeks 6-17, Cooper was WR22, Lamb WR35, and Gallup WR42.  Dak Prescott is important to the Dallas Cowboys and even more important to fantasy managers.  In the end this wasn’t close, Amari Cooper is still the WR1 in Dallas and likely will be for the foreseeable future.  Don’t sleep on Lamb or Gallup going forward however, this bold prediction might just get a reboot entering 2021.

2. Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith Fantasy Outlook 2021
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 11: Jonnu Smith #81 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball while defended by Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) https://rookiedraftguide.com/

Jonnu Smith will finish as a top 12 TE

Damn I thought I had this one.  I was higher than the consensus rankings entering the season and for a while this one looked like it was in the bag. Through Week 8, Smith was TE8 averaging 11.3 PPR points a game.  From Week 9-17 he fell to TE21 and 8.7 points per game. Part of his decline was injury.  He missed time with an ankle injury and the game in which he returned he went scoreless. 

Somewhat lost in his hot start, was that during his early season success it came with either AJ Brown or Corey Davis out of the lineup. Further damaging Smith’s fantasy relevance was the season ending injury to  offensive lineman Taylor Lewan.  After that injury, Jonnu ran less routes and stayed in to block more often than not and we saw the emergence of Anthony Firkser for the Titans. I remain high on this talent and it will be interesting to see where he ranks entering 2021, and where he will play as Jonnu is currently a free agent.  

Darren Waller will finish outside the top 15 in 2020

Umm what?  We have a new contender for my worst bold take of the year. Seriously what was I thinking? Well let me explain.  The thought was that in 2019, the Raiders’ passing game was limited. In addition to Waller, the Raiders had Tyrell Williams who was limited by injury, Hunter Renfrow, and little else.

In 2020, the Raiders would have a dramatically different look as they added three rookie wide receivers: Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden. In the end, Ruggs struggled, Bryan Edwards was invisible, and Lynn Bowden was a Dolphin. In addition, we saw last season that when Renfrow was more involved, Waller faded. I had factored on that happening as well.  It didn’t.

As a result, Waller didn’t miss a beat.  In 16 games in 2020, Waller totalled 278.6 PPR points averaging 17.4 a game on route to a TE2 finish.  In 2019 he totalled 221 points and averaged 13.8 points a game as the TE3.  Not only did he not fall outside the top 15, he improved one spot in the standings and solidified himself as a top-3 TE entering 2021.

1. Bonus Bold Takes

2020 fantasy Football Bold Takes Revisited
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on September 20, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) https://rookiedraftguide.com/

Diontae Johnson will finish ahead of Juju Smith-Shuster and be a top-10 WR in 2020.

The thought process here was pretty simple. I figured that a WR that could have the season the Johnson did in 2019 with the combination of Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges as his QBs would explode with the sure upgrade to Ben Roethlisberger in 2020. I was right, just not as right as I was anticipating.  Johnson was WR39 in 2019 with 163.1 PPR points, in 2020 he was WR21 with 221.8 PPR points. He didn’t take as big of a step as I had though he would, and he dropped more passes than any other WR in the game. 

Juju also bounced back rather nicely all things considered and finished with 234.1 points (14.6/game), and as the WR16 and averaging 14.6 points/game. In 2019 he was limited to 9.4 PPR points a game and a WR65 finish in 12 games. I also didn’t factor in what Chase Claypool accomplished in his rookie season. Claypool’s 214.9 PPR points in 16 games impacted both Diontae and Juju but based on the roles they held in the offense Claypool impacted Johnson much more.

Kareem Hunt will outscore Nick Chubb in PPR scoring leagues in 2020.

It’s nice to finally hit on one of these.  One out of 10 isn’t bad right? Hunt finished the season as RB10 compared to Chubb at RB11.  Now Hunt playing in all 16 games compared to Chubb appearing in 12 had a dramatic impact on how this one played out.  I don’t care a win is a win and I’ll take it. 

Lost in all of this is the fact that prior to Chubb’s injury in Week 5, Hunt was RB7 averaging 17.4 PPR points a game and Chubb was RB15 averaging 15.1 PPR points a game. No matter how you look at this one I was right, Both of these backs are great fantasy assets in this Kevin Stefanski led Cleveland offense. 

That’s going to do it for today’s episode.  Thank you for listening to the Revisiting of Sully’s 2020 Bold Predictions

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I’ll be back next week as we have a look at some of the key Free Agents heading into 2021. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy Heat Seekers.

Take care.