Best Ball Players to Target (2020 Fantasy Football)
With the NFL playoffs in the rear view, best ball season is upon us! As we wait for our dynasty rookie drafts, a great way to pass the time is to jump into a Best Ball league. If you haven’t tried best ball already, it’s a great way to stay in tune with current draft values and perceptions ahead of redraft leagues that are still months away. With that said, here are four players that I’m targeting in best ball leagues early this off-season.
Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
Ridley is a great example of a player that gets forgotten about because he didn’t “blow up” right out of the gate. The young Falcons WR has had a fine first two season in the league posting almost 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. Even missing three games in 2019, his receptions and yardage were almost identical to his rookie season, which I think speaks to the career projection of this former first-round pick.
We’ve seen two slightly different versions of Calvin Ridley so far in his short time in the league. In his rookie season, Ridley was the boom-or-bust poster child, posting six games of 14.5 points or more. However, he also had nine games with fewer than seven fantasy points. In his sophomore year however, Ridley found some more consistency, finishing with just four performances under seven points and nine games with 11 points or more. With these numbers, Ridley ended as the WR16 in points per game, so even if he remains the same in 2020, he’s shaping up to be a fine value.
Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
Williams is another young wide receiver that I think is being highly undervalued. The fourth-year wideout played sparingly during his rookie season due to injury and since then has returned two very different seasons. If you remember, Williams was one of the members of the surprise double-digit touchdown club in 2018 with 10 scores on just 43 receptions. Williams then followed that up in 2019 with just six more receptions but for 337 more yards. Unfortunately for fantasy owners in 2019, it took Williams 14 weeks to find pay-dirt, and he finished with just two touchdowns on the season.
Now, unlike Ridley, Williams has a bit more uncertainty around him entering 2020. The biggest of which is the quarterback situation for the Chargers. The Philip Rivers era has now ended, and with the sixth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, many experts are penciling in a quarterback to the Chargers early in Round 1. Now obviously, quarterback play will impact offensive production, but Williams has shown to be an explosive player over his career. In 2018, Williams finished 11th in the league in yards per reception at 15.4 and actually led the league in yards per reception at 20.4 in 2019. There’s talent here, so bank on that and take advantage of the discounted price.
Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE)
Here is a player that could have many outcomes in 2020. We are all familiar with the situation this talented young back has put himself in, but as we take a look at this for fantasy purposes, Hunt could be a PPR floor play, or a league winner, depending on how his off-season goes. Hunt is a restricted free agent this off-season and if he’s able to move on to another NFL franchise, fantasy owners will be waiting to see if he’s able to replicate the 17.99 points per game he was producing in his first two seasons with the Chiefs. If he’s able to do that, all the early best ball drafter that took a chance will be strutting straight to the bank!
Now, even if Hunt doesn’t move on to another team this off-season and does stay in Cleveland, he could still be worth the later round stash. After not suiting up until week 10 last season due to suspension, Hunt was able to post double-digit points in five of his first six games, which include 30 receptions and three touchdowns during that span. Hunt’s price tag will only skyrocket if he leaves Cleveland, but the combination of a solid late round floor play with second-round upside is definitely worth targeting.
Matthew Stafford (QB – DET)
Quarterbacks are always hard to target unless you’re playing in a superflex league. There are just so many available options, it’s often not necessary to target one. However, Matthew Stafford could quickly turn into this year’s late-round sweetheart. After missing playing time last season for the first time since 2010, fantasy owners were robbed of what could have been a huge fantasy performance. Through eight games, Stafford had already posted just under 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns and based on points per game, ranked fourth — just ahead of Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. Taking some liberties with easy math, Stafford’s on-pace numbers were 5,000 yards and 38 passing touchdowns, which would have ranked him second and first in the league respectively.
Over his 11 NFL seasons, Stafford has always been a productive quarterback that fantasy owners could rely on for solid, low-end QB1 production. And even coming off a down year in 2018, Stafford’s first year with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell produced solid fantasy production and career high 8.6 yards per attempt. Now, is it a sure thing that the same pace continues in 2020? Not exactly. But he should be a quarterback you can acquire for cheap who has top-10 upside. And from a best ball perspective, we definitely saw some big performances from Stafford last season. He had five games over 23 fantasy points in just half a season.