Early Undervalued Wide Receivers (2020 Fantasy Football)
The 2019 fantasy football season has come to a close. For those who never take their foot off the fantasy gas pedal like me, 2020 preparation has just begun. Over the course of the month, I have walked through all early renditions of potential over and undervalued running backs and wide receivers for the upcoming season. The fourth and final part in this series is undervalued wide receivers.
Curtis Samuel (CAR)
2020 ECR: WR46
Samuel’s potential is going to be extremely dependent on how the quarterback situation in Carolina plays out. However, he had the highest air yard differential per game in 2019:
Amazing stat time:
WRs who had 40+ Air Yards Above Actual Yards Per Game averaged 15.8 PPG the next year
77% increased their PPG!
2020 qualifiers who are likely to improve PPG output:
– Mike Williams 41.1+
– John Brown 41.8+
– Odell Beckham 44.9+
– Curtis Samuel 58.8+ 👀
— David Zach (@DavidZach16) February 7, 2020
This means his PPG output is very likely to increase if they can start connecting to him on the deep balls. Kyle Allen had one of the worst passer ratings in the league on deep passes, and Samuel suffered because of it. If they re-sign Cam Newton or bring in a serviceable replacement, all of those unredeemed air yards should start converting into actual yards.
Carolina also brought in a brand new coaching staff who claim to use their best players to their talent, not trying to force them into their scheme. If this indeed holds true, it’s hard to imagine them not featuring Samuel even more. His continued use in the red zone, rushing, and deep targets are all a testament to his ability.
Greg Olsen’s departure leaves 82 targets up for grabs. Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore are already raking in their full share of targets, so expect these vacated opportunities to be taken up more by both Samuel and tight end Ian Thomas. All signs point to more opportunities.
Brandin Cooks (LAR)
2020 ECR: WR47
Cooks had four straight years of finishing as a WR16 or better. Now, after an injury-filled WR61 finish in 2019, the fantasy community is leaving him for dead. I’m not sure I have ever seen a staple WR1/2 fall so hard in one year.
I understand why it happened: numerous concussions and a quarterback who was deathly afraid to throw it deep while not having the pocket time to do so. Cooks thrives in the intermediate to deep game with an average depth of target of 13.9, so we can quickly see why his target share collapsed. The Rams are painfully aware of how far their offensive line fell apart this year, and they will be bent on addressing it in the offseason.
Cooks is still a 26-year-old wide receiver who somehow has four 1,000-plus yard seasons under his belt despite transitioning across three different teams during that span. Don’t let one down year scare you away from his potential. Yes, he likely won’t perform like he used to, but WR47 is an outrageous fall for a player of his caliber.
Michael Gallup (DAL)
2020 ECR: WR31
Gallup finished his sophomore year with a breakout campaign, going for 66-1107-6 in only 14 games. In year three, he’ll look to continue his breakout as the status of Amari Cooper remains up in the air. Even if Cooper returns, there’s little to worry about, as Gallup performed very well in his presence. In fact, did you know that Michael Gallup had more targets per game and yards per game than Cooper last year? Pretty amazing considering their current difference in ADP, with Cooper as a top-10 option and Gallup way down at 31. Gallup missing a few games is what hurt his bottom line, so if he can stay healthy, it is very well a possibility that he and Cooper produce similar numbers once again.
Jason Witten came out of retirement at 37 years old, and he somehow amassed 85 targets last year. Now that he’s gone for real this time, those targets will get spread around to the rest of the team and whoever takes over the tight end position. As always, more opportunities lead to more fantasy points. Gallup has a lot of things going right for him.
Allen Robinson (CHI)
2020 ECR: WR12
As one of the few bright fantasy spots of the Chicago Bears last year, Robinson reminded us of the talent he still has. Despite playing on one of the least-productive offenses in the league, he still somehow managed to finish as a top-10 wideout while claiming a massive 27 percent target share.
Mitchell Trubisky was far from great last year, which goes to show just how stable we can expect Robinson to be. If the Bears improve their passing at all from last year, Robinson should finish even better. If they remain the same, we already know what his floor looks like.
Jamison Crowder (NYJ)
2020 ECR: WR49
Robby Anderson is a lock to find a new team by the end of free agency, and he will get paid well in doing so. What’s going largely unnoticed is the 96 wide receiver targets that he’ll leave behind. This passing volume will have to go somewhere, and the reliable Crowder will be waiting.
In games with Sam Darnold healthy, Crowder finished with 14 PPG in full PPR, and he’s more dependent on reception scoring than most. He works underneath often and is the perfect safety valve for when Darnold is under pressure, which happens to be nearly every play thanks to some of the poorest offensive line play in the league. His average depth of target of 8.0 can attest to this, as it’s one of the lowest in the league.
The Jets will bring in some receiver help, but Crowder’s role will remain unchanged. Plan for a continued low depth reception machine yet again in 2020 as long as Darnold remains the quarterback.
Thanks for reading and stay golden! If you like what you learned, follow me @DavidZach16 for more interesting stats and tidbits throughout the year.