POLARIZING Players in 2020 Fantasy Football - Target or Avoid?

by Nick Ercolano July 27, 2020 2 Comments

POLARIZING Players in 2020 Fantasy Football - Target or Avoid?

Lamar Jackson - QB, Baltimore Ravens

Coming off of pretty much the greatest single season of fantasy ever.

He sat out a game. He was played 3/4 of the snaps in 4 games.

I pay homage to the gawd Mike Vick, but Lamar is something we've never seen before. His passing yardage number last year, his first season as a started was topped by vick once in his 13-year career, and if lamar played 16 he would've beat that. Lamar broke the record for QB rushing with 1206 in his first full year as a starter -  it took vick six years to scarp past the 1000 yard mark. So, for those of you that coveted watching Michael Vick play, don't let Lamar pass you by without appreciating how awesome he is.

If you drafted him late last year, he was a legit league-winner, even in 1QB leagues.

Lamar averaged nearly 7 fppg more than the next QB. It was just about the same number Cmac did over the next ranked QB - so to put it easy for ya, they were equally as valuable and in SF Ljax was even moreso given only 32 starters were available while you could start probably 40-50 so running backs on any given week.

So, what happens in 2020.  

He's a 2nd round pick in 1QB leagues, top-5 for superflex of course, can't argue that latter, but is he worth the investment in 1QB knowing that you could easily roster someone picked 10 rounds later.

The problem I have is that when you play the draft out, and skip out on a 2nd round pick, your overall roster takes a hit. 

Look at it this way - if you skip out on an RB in round 2 and opt to go with a QB, LJax, you're likelihood of hitting on the RB you'll have to use to replace that RB you didn't draft is going to be a lot lower than vice versa - if you skip out on a QB in Round 2 to draft the RB, the likelihood of hitting on the QB that you'll have to replace LJax with is much higher, and almost impossible not to hit because even if u miss you can find a suitable replacement on the wire.

I'm okay with LJax back of round 3, but round 2 i think there are two many pivotal players to anchor your team still available to do that.

  

A.J. Brown - WR, Tennessee Titans

By definition, polarizing actually means to divide people. "By the sheer force of one's polarizing personality, an individual can unite or divide people."

With A.J. Brown you have one side of people that are literally just robots. Efficiency must come down, efficiency must come down, efficiency must come down.

On the other side, we have people enamored by the fact that the man is 226lbs and runs a 4.49 40-yard dash, he looks like the second coming of like Julio Jones, Josh Gordon, Andre Johnson, whatever you want to label him as.

A.J. Brown as fantasy's WR15, catching just 52 passes on 84 targets for 1051 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was the only WR inside the top-25 that did so with under 90 targets.

In the 10 games with Tannehill as a starter, we see the numbers on the left, they're incredible. Just 3.8 catches/game is where it gets bumpy. I can break down all of the games, 150 yards here, then 30, 130, then 40. It was inconsistent to say the least but what makes him such a divided fantasy pick is what we know for sure, everything AJB related when it comes to projecting him in 2020, is just that - projections. We know that Tennesee wants to run the ball like crazy and feed Henry until he literally dies on the field. 

The playoffs are where things get ugly. In THREE playoff games, A.J. Brown caught 5 total passes for 64 yards. Targeted 10 times. Derrick Henry ran the ball 27 times/game for 446 yards. This is what we're afraid of. That style of play where Tannehill throws the ball 9 times in a game.

Brown doing that during his rookie year after playing minimal snaps over the first half though, was super impressive and I'm more on the side of him being good enough to command targets and good enough that his high-efficiency numbers will still be really high because he's just really fucking good. I think Brown's bust is worth the boom - over the last 6 weeks of the season, Brown had single-game lines of 4-135-1, 5-153-2, 8-114-1, 4-124-1. Four of those six were monsters.

Brown won't average 20 yards per reception, but that's also not fluky - he's got great downfield speed and great with the ball in his hands, there's a reason why his number was so high. There's a reason why he averaged over 16 ypr in college despite playing in the slot a lot. He's going to get a lot more playtime this year and comes in as the alpha, whereas that wasn't established until like week 9 last year.

It won't surprise me if we look back and are just like fuck, how did we think someone as good as Brown was just not going to dominate.

Like, you understand that good players become great on a trajectory right.

Brown's next step up from 1050 yards, will be 1300 yards. From 85 targets to 120, from 8 touchdowns to 11. Like this is what happens when a guy is a rookie who played on 68% of the snaps. Don't leave your drafts without a share of future hall of famer A.J. Brown.

 

**Notes from Matt Harmon podcast on PFF -- lined up at X receiver, outside on 88% of routes -- success rate vs. man coverage - "as a separator, he's already a class above Anquon Boldin"

 

D.K. Metcalf - WR, Seattle Seahawks

Metcalf’s redraft ADP & value is starting to mirror his dynasty ADP (WR16) which is insane. Metcalf far exceeded my expectations during his rookie year, but Tyler Lockett is still here, folks, and is still very much the apple of Russell Wilson’s eye. The chemistry between Wilson and Tyler Lockett is unrivaled. Well, at least outside of former Seahawk Earl Thomas and his big bru.

Had it not been for that weirdo mid-season injury to Lockett that, somehow didn’t cause any missed play time, but certainly pushed him to a decoy role, Lockett likely would’ve finished tightly inside the WR1 gang, ahead of his already fantastic WR14 finish.

So, maybe it’s less of a point to fade Metcalf, as it is Lockett getting taken at WR22 vs Metcalf’s WR18 price tag. 

It was a phenomenal rookie year by all accounts for the sculpted pidgeon, but people are acting like Metcalf finished the year as a WR2. Or even a high-end WR3. I hate that I have to be the one to break this to you, but Metcalf was the WR41 in fantasy points per game last year (minimum 10 games played). And now he’s being drafted as a mid-WR2. Metcalf can easily improve upon his numbers from last year, and still fall far short of returning value, or really the upside that people are drafting him for. Again, the WR41 last year. 

How big of a jump can we reasonably expect him to take based on the passing volume in this offense? I think we can all still agree it’s a run-first offense. They ran the ball on 54% of their plays in 2019, 6th highest rate, after being 1st in 2018. I will presume Lockett is still the WR1 here in Seattle, some of y’all might disagree. But you’d be wrong. It’s hard to imagine a world where Metcalf out-paces Lockett on targets, and surpasses the ~110 mark. Right now Metcalf is being drafted one spot behind Adam Thielen who has legitimate 140-150 target upside, and right in front of Robert Woods who has done each of the past two seasons what we PRAY Metcalf would do in 2020. You look at his former college teammate, A.J. Brown, who is similarly priced in ADP and in a similar situation being on a run-first team – but only one of them is the clear alpha. Imagine A.J. Brown having Stefon Diggs opposite him – he’d be a scary redraft pick. That’s basically what we have in Seattle with Lockett and Metcalf.

I think the most likely outcome is Lockett finished between the WR14-18 that he finished as in 2019, with Metcalf jumping up to a back-end WR2. Give me someone with more STATISTICAL (NOT PHYSICAL) upside at this point in the draft.

**it’s unfair (but worth nothing) to hold an injury probability against Metcalf after playing in the full 16 games last year, but his college career was marinated in injury-shortened seasons, followed by both a knee and oblique strain last preseason.

  

Jonathan Taylor - RB, Indianapolis Colts

Current ADP: 38, RB19 (4.02)

Taylor, one of the best pure running backs to come out of college, possibly ever. 

Three years at Wisconsin, three years of over 2000 yards from scrimmage, good lawd. Nearly 1000 touches during that three year span. Some people will get nervous about the touches, I have zero problem with it given he never dealt with injuries. I'd much rather see a guy show us he can handle workhorse levels of touches than not. Not a red flag for me at all, plus this is redraft, you're concerned about dynasty if anything.

Going into his final year at Wisco, we had questions about his passing game chops, did more than enough to show he's got that part of the game if given to him at the next level - a 26-catch season is good enough for me - and more promising is the 9.7 YPR at Wisoc, he's a baller with the rock in his hands.

But that "IF GIVEN TO HIM AT THE NEXT LEVEL" is going to be massive.

 

Here's the best way I can really help put it into perspective. If Taylor finished the season with over 1300 yards from scrimmage, you knew that, where would you be drafting him? Because that's what Miles Sanders did last year. We knew he wasn't going to come in and command all the touches right away, but he exploded over the 2H of the season. By all accounts, if Taylor finished 2020 with Sanders' numbers, you'd be ecstatic. But, Sanders was going off the board around

I think an easier projection is what Josh Jacobs's numbers were. Great for a rookie, by all means. Jacobs got a lot of groundwork, not much in the passing game, on par with what we'll see from Taylor, except, Jacobs 1. had first-round drat capital and 2. was used as the workhorse from the very beginning. Jacobs had 24 touches in his very first game in Oakland. I remember that first MNF game, shit had me looking stupid, had me in my bag, in my feels. Thought I'd never work another day in this town (wipe eyes with tissue).

Here's the problem, Taylor could get the Josh Jacobs workload maybe by week 6 or 7, but Jacobs was the RB15 in PPG last year in half ppr. So, you're drafting Taylor at the what, RB18 or 19, not getting that RB15 ppg stuff for the first month, maybe two, and then probably getting it.

Is Taylor better than Marlon Mack, sure. But this isn't Madden. It's not plug and play. The Colts trust Marlon Mack. Marlon Mack is not Peyton Barber, he rushed for over 1000 yards last year. The list of guys that outrushed Mack last year: 

Mack played in 14 games, he plays a full 16 he's flirting with the top 5. 

Case in point, Mack is not just a guy. Maybe he's not great, but he's not someone to shove to the side.

It's really all we've heard out of Indy, is the split backfield.

You might not believe him, but I'm not sure why? The other problem I see is that even if Taylor does take over the groundwork, are we going to see enough work in the passing game to justify a top-20 RB pick. He's a borderline 3rd round pick. That's far too expensive for me because it's based solely on projection of him taking over. Sanders was in the same situation last year, he was going, what, in the 6th or 7th round?

Taylor's a guy I'd like some shares of, but not at this price point.

Next year, top-5 pick overall? Sure. But as an early pick, he's too high-upside, high-risk for me personally.

 

Kittle/Mike Gesicki?



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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2 Responses

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