Hello Heat Seekers welcome to episode 84 of Sully’s 2 Cents Fantasy Football Podcast. I hope that everyone is doing well. Thanks for being here.
There have been many unique occurrences during the preparation for the 2020 NFL season, as a result of COVID-19. We had a virtual draft this season, OTA’s and mini camps were eliminated, and coaching staffs have just recently been permitted back into the team’s training facilities.
Yesterday, Adam Gruse, our team’s unsung hero dropped a great article – COVID-19’s Impact on the Redraft Fantasy Season. It’s a must read, and really got me to thinking what happens mid season when players start testing positive for the Novel Coronavirus?
The NBA slammed its doors shut after 1 reported positive test. The NHL followed suit a day later suspending their season and the MLB never made it out of spring training.
This week Ezekiel Elliott tested positive, and 13 members of the University of Texas football program did as well. As many jurisdictions in Canada and the United States attempt to reopen their economies, and as the NBA and NHL are sorting out a restart of their season, it’s very important to note that this virus hasn’t simply gone away.
Nobody wants sports back more than I do, trust me. The reality is that as football fans we need to prepare for a season that starts late, one that is suspended once it starts, and perhaps no season at all. It currently looks like teams will have training camps and that the season is planned to start as scheduled. Let’s hope and pray that we get this virus under control for the citizens of these great nations and we can go back to enjoying all aspects of life including sports.
Today, I am going to continue to roll thru my Redraft Rankings and next up is the 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
Since the start of the 2010 season it has taken on average 249.85 PPR points to finish a season as a top 12 wide receiver. Since 2016 the number has dropped to 240 points.
Since the start of the 2010 season it has taken on average 198.34 PPR points to finish a season as a top 12 wide receiver. Since 2016 the number has climbed to 201 points.
These are not major swings in point totals but what it does illustrate is that the WR position in fantasy of flattening, and we are seeing more and more receivers become viable in fantasy, especially in leagues that start 2-3 WR, and a flex.
In Dynasty formats I have forever drafted WR heavily in my start-up drafts and used rookie drafts to back fill my running back roster. In redraft leagues it’s the complete opposite. I want as many high-end RB’s on my roster, wide receivers are deep, and in a once around the sun duration redraft league I will wait on my receivers as long as possible.
The other piece that jumped out to me here when putting together my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings is don’t fear age. Now that may be a rather obvious statement but for those that play a lot in both formats, we need to rewire our brains a little when drafting.
In addition to the rankings, I also have tiers to built into my rankings. Utilizing a tier-based system during your draft is crucial in my opinion. The player you are licking your chops to draft with your next selection is likely a player many covet. Having a quick pivot plan once the player comes off the board is imperative.
2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings
I’ll start off with the Honorable Mentions, the guys that just missed my top 12. My 3rd tier of WR is in play here my 3rd tier runs from WR 9-WR17.
16. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings
Adam Thielen finished 2017 as WR8, and 2018 as WR7. In 2019 he suffered thru an ineffective offense early and injury late on route to a disappointing WR64 finish with 114.4 points in 10 games. Thielen was injured in week 6 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. In the 4 games he played post injury, Thielen was targeted 10 times, catching 4 for 52 yards and a touchdown.
In the two seasons that Thielen saw over 100 targets, he finished inside the top 10 in PPR scoring. Get ready for another triple-digit target campaign in 2020. With Stefon Diggs off to Buffalo, the Vikings will look for passing-game help from several young players, but Thielen remains the number one target. That locks him into a productive year assuming he’s healthy. Despite last year’s injuries he still managed double-digit PPR points in five of his first six games. If he stays on the field, expect him to finish as a mid WR2 Fantasy receiver, with some top 12 upside.
15. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans has been a top 10 fantasy WR in three seasons of his six seasons while catching passes from Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, and others. He was the NFL’s most productive fantasy receiver in 2016, with 96 receptions, 1,321 yards and 12 TD’s. Evans produces regardless of who’s under center, so you should expect him to continue to produce with his new quarterback Tom Brady in 2020.
Evans is one of of the most physically imposing wide receivers in the game and excels at making contested catches. There is something to be said for Brady’s ability to get the ball downfield to Evans. The concern is overblown. Brady outside of Julian Edleman in the slot had little to target in the Patriots offense a year ago. He will be just fine in Tampa in 2020. I do expect some regression from Evan who finished as WR15 a year ago in 13 games. Evans 16 game pace would have seen him finish as WR6.
Evans may see fewer targets sharing the field with Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and OJ Howard, but he should see an increase in scoring opportunities. Brady might not throw for the 5109 yards that Jameis Winston did in 2019, but he also won’t come close to the 30 interceptions either. Tampa is going to have longer drives in 2020 and score more points. Mike Evans will play a large role in extending drives and the increase in points. Ranked at 15 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings may end up being too low here.
14. Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp in his past 24 games, has 16 touchdowns and 13 games with 17-plus PPR points. He’s also had six or more targets in 18 of those 24 games. In addition, Kupp finished in the top 10 among receivers in red-zone targets and top five in targets inside the 10-yard line in 2019.
The reason that Kupp falls out of my top 12 in 2020, is the uncertainty of how he will be used in in this Rams offense. In 2019 after the Rams bye week, there was a shift to an increase of 12 personnel, involving Tyler Higbee more in the offense. With a weak offensive line and the running game struggling the shift to 12 personnel made sense. In weeks 1-8 Kupp was WR2 overall with 167.8 PPR points. In weeks 10-17 he WR21 with 102.9 PPR points. The shift in offensive approach effected Kupp’s usage in the slot.
I don’t see Kupp averaging 20.98 points a game like he did in the first half, and I don’t expect him to average 12.86 points like he did in the second half either. Kupp is somewhere in the middle and as a result he is properly situated at 14 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
13. Juju Smith-Shuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
Heading into the 2019 season, I had many a debate with those on the potential of Juju Smith-Schuster. My take was Juju had the ability to finish as the top scoring WR in fantasy a year ago. The end result was a WR65 finish with 113.2 PPR fantasy points. Not what I was expecting and dare I say not what anyone was expecting.
Juju played without his starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for all but 6 quarters last season and the replacement combo of Mason Rudolph and Dalvin Hodges was a steep drop off to be polite. There was also the injury that shortened Juju’s season and hindered his production. The real question facing Juju last season was could he be the team’s #1 guy, and sadly he never really had a chance to prove it. In 2020 I believe he will.
After the Steelers drafted Chase Claypool , they stated that Juju will move back into the slot role he played while Antonio Brown was there. That’s great news for his outlook, as it allows him to be mismatched with nickel cornerbacks who only come on the field at certain times. Provided Roethlisberger is healthy and returns to normal, Smith-Schuster should return low-end WR1/high-end WR2 numbers, worth of 13 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
12. Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is coming off a strong season, posting 102 receptions for 1199 yards and six touchdowns. Allen finished as WR6 with 261.5 PPR fantasy points. In 2020 Allen will be catching passes from a new quarterback for the first time in his career. Tyrod Taylor is the likely starter and should he falter, 2020 6th overall selection Justin Herbert will be next man up.
Allen was a target hog with Philip Rivers, eclipsing 130 targets for three consecutive seasons, including 149 last year. There is a
perception that with Taylor at quarterback, the Chargers project to be a low-volume, run-heavy offense, which is bad news for Allen’s volume. It’s true that Taylor’s career-high in pass attempts is 436, which is significantly less than Rivers’ 591 attempts in 2019. The reality however is Tyrod has proven to be an effective where Allen goes to work, in the middle of the field. Taylor is bad for Mike Williams, not Keenan Allen.
In addition if Taylor struggles it will be Justin Herbert under center sooner rather than later. I have taken regression into consideration here and 12 is a far back as I am comfortable placing Allen in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
11. Odell Beckham Jr. – Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. was a fantasy bust last season. Fantasy managers drafted OBJ to be a top WR, not the WR25 that he ended up being. He finished with 74 receptions, 1035 yards and 4 touchdowns on 133 targets. The 55.6% reception percentage was the lowest of his career. The yards and the touchdowns his lowest in any season expect for 2017 when he appeared in only 4 games. Beckham will bounce back in 2020.
Injuries hampered OBJ, in 2019. He dealt with groin and hip pain the entire season. The injury clearly played a factor in OBJ’s ability to gain separation from defenders. In addition to injury, the Browns offense a mess. Baker Mayfield struggled and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens was a disaster.
The Browns have done an excellent job re-tooling their offensive line, and new head coach Kevin Stefanski has proven to be an effective offensive coach. Stefanski’s offense tends to be run dominate which may bring his targets down slightly. His positive regression in catches, yards and touchdowns will more than compensate for a potential dip in volume. OBJ is back where he belongs in the top 12 of my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
10. Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions
In 2018 second year WR Kenny Golladay had a mini breakout season finishing as the WR21. In 2019 Kenny G, completed his “third-year” breakout with a bang finishing as the WR9. The most impressive part of Golladay’s 65 catch, 1190 yard, 11 touchdown season was he did it without Matthew Stafford for half the season.
Golladay finished the last half of the season as WR11, averaging 14.7 points per game with the combination of David Blough and Jeff Driskel as his quarterback. Golladay led the NFL in targets inside the opponents 10 yard line a year ago with 13. He hauled in 7 of them, 6 for touchdowns.
In addition to being a top red zone target, Golladay is also a top deep ball threat. KG finished with 15.6 TAY (average targeted air yards), 2nd to only Mike Williams for receivers with a minimum of 90 targets. With Matthew Stafford returning and hopefully healthy, Golladay belongs in the top 12 of the 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
9. D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers
In 15 games a season ago, D.J. Moore posted 230.5 PPR points and a WR16 finish. Impressive considering that the majority of his production came with below average replacement quarterback play. In 2018 Moore finished as WR36 with 157 PPR points.
With Teddy Bridgewater in place as the Panthers quarterback, things are looking up for Moore in 2020. Bridgewater is not an air yards kind of QB and Moore isn’t an air yards kind of WR. In 2019 Moore ran a slant route 27% of the time, the most of any route on his tree. He was successful on those routes 81.1% of the time. If Moore is targeted as much as he was last season (135), he is in line for a monster season.
Moore specializes in yards after the catch, and new Panther’s OC Joe Brady knows Bridgewater and his strengths and should tailor make this offence to benefit those running routes close to the quarterback. 2020 is going to be the first of many seasons that D.J. Moore makes his way into my top 12 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
8. Amari Cooper – Dallas Cowboys
I love what the Dallas Cowboys have done this offseason, especially at the wide receiver position. It all started with the signing of Amari Cooper to a new 5 year $100 million deal. They followed that signing with the selection of Oklahoma star CeeDee Lamb at pick 17 in the recent NFL draft. With Cooper, Lamb and Michael Gallup, the Cowboys have one of the best 3 WR sets in the league.
Last season was the best overall statistical output of Amari’s 5-year career with 79 catches for 1189 yards and 8 TDs. Cooper finished the 2019 season as the WR10 with 246.5 PPR points. From Weeks 1-10 he was the WR4. Injuries impacted his play during that down stretch, and as a result weeks 11-17 he was WR43. Cooper’s arrival in Dallas midway thru the 2018 kick started this offense and diversifies the Cowboys attack. That helps to explain why Cooper got paid and will remain the Cowboy’s top target in 2020. 8th in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings, if anything is conservative.
7. Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears
In 2019, Allen Robinson was once again an elite WR. Robinson finished the year as WR8 with 254.9 PPR points. His 154 targets, and his 98 receptions were both career highs. His 1147 yards and 7 touchdowns were second only to his 1400 yard 14 touchdown 2015 season. Robinson will still just be 27 years old when the season starts. The Nick Foles / Mitch Trubisky combo at QB is not ideal, but Robinson has proven throughout his career that bad QB play has little effect on his ability to produce.
According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Robinson checked in with a 79.3 percent success rate vs. man coverage (98th percentile) and 83.7% success rate vs. press (97th percentile). Both of those marks are Top-10 scores in Reception Perception history. Robinson obliterated people as a route runner last year. He also remains one of the best receivers at the catch point, posting an 85 percent contested catch rate on 20 sample targets. Allen Robinson is an unappreciated talent, his Fantasy Pros ADP has him coming off the board at pick 32. At WR 12 pounce on the value that Robinson ranked at 7 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
6. Chris Godwin – Tampa Bay Buccanners
In his third season, Chris Godwin truly delivered on the breakout season anticipated by many. His breakout was anticipated but his #2 overall fantasy finish at WR was not. In 14 games Godwin finished with 86 catches, 1333 yards, and 9 TDs for 276.1 PPR points.
I would expect Godwin to experience some regression in 2020. Mike Evans is still in his prime and will remain a top targets as well. It is hard to predict volume in this new Tampa Bay offense with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn mixing in. Godwin gets a lot of work from the slot, and he beats press coverage routinely. His high success rates on routes like the slant and dig will should fit right in with new quarterback Tom Brady. Even with some expected regression, Godwin has proven he has the talent to finish as the top fantasy WR. AS a result he slides down from 2 last season to 6 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
5. Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill finished as WR32 a season ago with 188.3 PPR points. It was quite a roller-coaster of the year for Hill and the Kansas city Chiefs. It all started at the 2019 NFL draft where news leaked out in regards to some off-field activity. The Chiefs immediately selected Mecole Hardman the following day and it looked like a suspension was coming for Hill. Coming off a breakout season in 2018 with a WR3 overall finish the news was less than ideal for all involved.
In the end Hill avoided suspension and started the season with his Kansas City teammates. His adversity however continued. Injured in week 1, Hill did not see the field again until week 6. From that point on Tyreek Hill was the 5th highest scoring wide receiver totaling 184.2 points (16.8 (points/game). Hill like the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs offense, benefits from playing in an Andy Reid system with the best quarterback on the planet in Patrick Mahomes.
Hill combines elite route running with blazing speed. As a result he faces very little press coverage and often simply blows by the defender like they are standing still. Hill comes in at 5 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings but he possesses the ability to finish anywhere in the top 5 in 2020.
4. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
A few seasons ago I started to call out the regression that was coming for Julio Jones. He was getting older, seemingly never scored touchdowns and the Falcons added a route running specialist in Calvin Ridley via the draft. In those two seasons Julio finished as the WR4 and the WR3, with a combined 599.9 PPR points. 31 games, 212 receptions, 3071 yards and 14 touchdowns. If only they all regressed like Julio. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. There will not be a third time.
Jones remains dominant across the entire route tree. Atlanta uses him the most on slant and dig patterns, where he overwhelms defenders in the middle of the field. There is nothing to suggest that he is going to slow down anytime soon. Julio Jones barring injury is a lock for a top 5 spot in these 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
3. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams finished second among receivers in PPR in 2018 with 329.6 points (22.1/game). In 2019, a turf toe injury caused him to miss four games resulting in a slightly disappointing fantasy season. He ended up with 212.7 points in 12 games (17.7/game), and a WR23 finish.
The Packers for reasons unknown did not use a single draft picks to address the receiver position, leaving Adams and teammates Allen Lazard,and Devin Funchess as fantasy winners following the NFL Draft. With all do respect to Lazard and Funchess, Adams is unquestionably going to operate as the clear-cut number one option in Aaron Rodgers’ passing attack. The 2020 Davante Adams Fantasy football value remains strong.Given his likely target share and dominant ability, as long as Adams stays healthy, he has a clear path to the top 3 in my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
2. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
For reasons known only to himself, Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brian decided to trade WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason. Hopkins was last season’s WR5 with 269.5 fantasy points in what was a down season. Nuk, has averaged over 1,200+ yards per season in his 7-year career. 150 targets last year was his lowest in the past five seasons. He’s been a top-5 fantasy WR in four of the past five seasons.
There are those that are concerned that in Arizona, Kyler Murray and the Kliff Kingsbury offense might struggle to get him enough targets to keep him in the top 5? Simply put, I am not one of those in fact I believe its the opposite. Arizona will target Hopkins early and often, he is the perfect fit for a Kingsbury offense that wants to play at a high temp in 4 WR sets.
If you are worried about Kyler, don’t be. This is a WR that averaged 79 catches 1122 yards and 6 touchdowns a season in his first 4 seasons. His quarterbacks in those 4 years were Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryan Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, TJ Yates, Brock Osweiler, and Tom Savage. Hopkins will be just fine and as a result he lands firmly at #2 in these 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
1. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
What should come as no surprise, Michael Thomas tops my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings. Thomas set an NFL record with 149 receptions last season. After averaging 1,325 receiving yards over the previous two seasons, he had 1,725 (+400) last year. His 185 targets were the most in the NFL since 2015.
In 2020 its a pretty sure bet that his targets will regress. The Saints added Emmanuel Sanders via free agency to help balance the load. Regardless he’s he’s still the top pick at WR with Drew Brees back as the Saints QB for another season. I confidently have Michael Thomas atop my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
That’s going to do it for this episode. Thank you for listening to my 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
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I’ll be back with episode 85, next week and my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings next week. Stay safe, and healthy Heat Seekers.