When the Monday night clash between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings goes in the books, so will the 2019 fantasy football season for a huge majority of fantasy managers. Before FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson jetted off for the holidays, he cranked out a special expanded edition of “Traps & Trends.” Matt dusted the snow off his crystal ball to give us an early take on some notable fantasy players that he thinks will trend up or down in 2020.
The 2020 NFL fantasy season is expected to kickoff Thursday evening, September 10th in the home stadium of the Super Bowl LIV champion. As of Monday, December 23rd, that’s exactly 262 days away. Here some fantasy players to monitor during the offseason:
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore
Well, duh, he’s really, really, good. Everybody knows that Jackson is the best running quarterback in the NFL, but his development as a passer from Year 1 to Year 2 has been way faster than expected. Completing a rock-solid 66.1 percent of his throws so far, Jackson has thrown a league-leading 33 touchdown passes against just six interceptions. However, he also ranked just 19th in passing yards (3,127), 25th in attempts and 23rd in completions. Jackson directs a passing attack that cranks out lots of touchdown passes but not lots of passing yards. I’m expecting him to continue developing in Year 3 and increase the passing yards. I figure opposing defenses will have the offseason to watch lots of video on Jackson and devise some ways to slow him down. Jackson is still an elite fantasy quarterback, but regression, particularly as a runner, will happen.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona
Operating behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines and throwing to one of the league’s thinnest receiver corps, the rookie still exceeded expectations. Murray’s game improved during the course of the season, which included better play in road contests during the second half. Through Week 16, he averaged 226.5 passing yards and 1.2 touchdown tosses per contest with four 300-yard games. As a runner, Murray averaged 36.6 yards per contest and scored four times. The Arizona Cardinals undoubtedly will bring in reinforcements to help Murray. Will the league find a way to slow down the Air Raid scheme? Maybe, but I would still bet on Murray’s talent and still untapped upside. He could be the top breakout quarterback of 2020.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee
I never thought I’d be writing about Tannehill is a season-ending article, but he clearly deserves some props for replacing Marcus Mariota and leading the Tennessee Titans on a playoff run – with assists from A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry of course. Tannehill has gone 6-3 as a starter. On the season, he has tossed multiple touchdown passes in eight games, racked up three 300-yard outings and tallied at least two total touchdowns in all nine starts. If you want to nitpick, Tannehill has been very efficient (70.7 completion percentage) in Tennessee’s run-first attack, but he hasn’t been a high-volume passer (average of 23 attempts per game). Tannehill, turning just 32 in July, is a free agent at the end of this season. If he stays in Tennessee, Tannehill should continue to impress.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona
Assuming the Cardinals re-sign him, Drake likely will be their starting ball carrier for a ground game that has been schematically rock solid all season long. Since he arrived in Arizona via trade, Drake has racked up three 100-yard outings in seven contests played while averaging a robust 5.3 yards per carry. During the last two weeks, the every-down threat has rushed for at least 130 yards in two straight and found the end zone six times.
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo
He finally supplanted Frank Gore as the Buffalo Bills’ starting tailback in Week 11. Although Singletary has found the end zone just once since that time, he has averaged 17.8 touches and 91.5 combo yards per contest to help pace the NFL’s fifth-best ground game. Opposing defenses must account for Josh Allen’s scrambling ability, which helps Singletary. While he should continue to improve, I’m a little concerned about the speedy 5-foot-7, 203-pound Singletary’s ability to hold up over a full season of work. Earlier in the season, he missed four games due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia
With Jordan Howard (shoulder/stinger) parked on the injury shelf since Week 10, Sanders emerged while operating in a starting role. In six contests sans Howard in the backfield, Sanders averaged 13.8 touches and 105.8 total yards per contest with four touchdowns scored. Here’s the thing: Howard will supposedly return healthy next season, and we all know that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson loves timeshare backfields. Maybe…just maybe…Sanders’ solid play will make Peterson rethink his running-back-by-committee mindset.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee
Who is the Tennessee Titans’ No. 1 wideout? What? Corey Davis? Nope – not anymore. From Week 1 through Week 10, Brown played like a typical rookie, racking up some huge outings with dud performances sprinkled in. However, he really came on after the Titans’ Week 10 bye, averaging 8.2 targets per contest, racking up three 100-yard outings (the rookie cleared 130 receiving yards in two outings) and four scoring grabs along with one rushing touchdown. Brown struggled while getting the Marshon Lattimore treatment this past Sunday, but Tennessee got him involved on a 49-yard touchdown run on a handoff. During that same stretch, Davis went scoreless and failed to clear three catches and 57 yards in a game. Brown’s 2020 prospects will rely heavily on whether the Titans re-sign Ryan Tannehill.
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina
His concussion-shortened Week 16 outing left his chemistry with rookie Will Grier in question, but the overlooked Moore was productive with Cam Newton and Kyle Allen throwing him the rock during a great sophomore leap season. Moore headed into Week 16 action as the fantasy WR8 in one-point PPR leagues. He was ranked fourth among wideouts in targets (133), sixth in receptions (86) and third in receiving yards (1,174) to go along with four touchdown grabs. The second-year pro also has either scored at least once or compiled at least 70 receiving yards in 12 of 14 contests with Kyle Allen under center. The Carolina Panthers’ quarterback situation obviously will impact Moore’s 2020 fantasy prospects, but talent wise he’s for real.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami
Operating as the Miami Dolphins unquestioned wideout after on-the-rise undrafted rookie free-agent Preston Williams (knee) went down in Week 9, Parker finally manufactured his long overdue breakout – with an assist from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since Week 10, Parker, averaging 9.3 targets per contest, has either racked up at least 90 receiving yards or hit pay dirt at least once in five of seven contests. Parker also racked up three 110-plus yard outings and notched two two-score outings. Parker has been successful battling for contested throws, and gunslinger Fitzpatrick isn’t afraid to sling the rock in tight windows. If Fitzpatrick isn’t starting in 2020, be cautious about Parker. Don’t forget about Williams.
Tyler Higbee, TE, L.A. Rams
The Los Angeles Rams’ have been struggling to throw the ball deep all season and struggling to protect Goff, which are two reasons why the team started using its tight end way more than usual as a safety valve. Gerald Everett was seeing more action up until he went down with a knee injury in Week 12. Tyler Higbee stepped in. From Week 13 through Week 16, Higbee, averaging 11.8 targets per contest, racked up four 100-yard outings and scored once. Even if the Rams get their deep ball clicking again, I don’t think Higbee’s role will disappear. Head coach Sean McVay loved to use tight ends when he directed Washington’s offense from 2014-2016.