10 Early Undervalued Players (2020 Fantasy Football)
Every new fantasy football draft season presents values as players recover from disappointing or injury-plagued campaigns to bounce back into fantasy relevance. Others were able to produce in the prior year, but the fantasy football community doesn’t buy-in for whatever reason.
We have several examples of each listed below. We’ve asked our writers for the fantasy football player that is most undervalued by our early expert consensus rankings.
Overall and position rankings based on half-PPR expert consensus.
Q: Which player do you think is most undervalued by the Expert Consensus?
Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE): Overall 129 – QB19
After being drafted among the top five quarterbacks in 2019 and now being ranked outside of the top-15 quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield is the definition of a post-hype sleeper. As disappointing of a season as Baker had, I don’t think his QB19 ranking is justified. Last year, Mayfield faced one of the toughest schedules for quarterbacks, so that difficulty in opponents is likely to regress. Even with a lackluster offensive line, Mayfield posted a 40.6 completion percentage under pressure, the sixth-best mark in the league (per RotoUnderworld). Outside of the schedule, the only thing that’s different about Mayfield’s situation between last year and this year is the team’s head coach. It’s hard to get worse than what Freddie Kitchens did last year, and new head coach Kevin Stefanski will have a full offseason to prepare with all of Mayfield’s primary weapons. While people may be scared off of Mayfield because of how much Kevin Stefanski ran the ball last year, Kirk Cousins still finished as the 15th-ranked quarterback in 2019. Murphy’s Law hit hard for the Browns last year, so if they’re able to improve even slightly I’m confident Mayfield can outplay his QB19 ranking.
– Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen)
Curtis Samuel (WR – CAR): Overall 108 – WR45
Samuel was arguably the unluckiest wide receiver in the entire NFL last season. Samuel was Carolina’s primary deep threat, and consequently, the biggest victim of the Panthers’ atrocious quarterback play. His lack of production in 2019 was extremely disappointing given the enormous preseason hype. Yet, Samuel should have performed better than his final numbers indicate. He had the biggest discrepancy between air yards and actual receiving yards among all NFL wide receivers, more than 200 yards more than anyone else. Samuel’s 2019 highlight reel features countless overthrows despite him blazing past opposing secondaries. Given that the Panthers are going to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason, Samuel is priced way too low at WR45 and ECR No. 108. Fantasy owners do not easily forget explosive pass catchers with electric skills, and I project that Samuel’s ECR will rise as the offseason unfolds. Buy now while Samuel’s price is still low and beat the market before the Panthers resolve their quarterback woes.
– Jarad Evans (@Jarad_Evans)
Hunter Renfrow (WR – LVR): Overall 163 – WR64
There were not too many fantasy bright spots on the Raiders’ offense last season. While Josh Jacobs had a solid year and Darren Waller came out of nowhere to put up a TE1 season, the rest of the offense was pretty bland. Yet, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow started to make his presence known beginning Week 8 of the regular season. From Week 8 through Week 12, Renfrow saw an increased workload. He averaged over five targets per game and put up three double-digit scoring outings in PPR. He had an impressive 12.8 yards per catch (YPC) in the span and became a solid spot-starter. However, what truly intrigues me is his performance after he returned from injury. In Weeks 16 and 17, Renfrow averaged 9.0 targets, 6.5 receptions, 105 yards, and 1.0 touchdown per game. He was a WR1 in each of those weeks and became a safety blanket for Derek Carr. While many worry that Waller presents an obstacle for Renfrow to see continued success on those short-to-intermediate targets, it was actually quite the opposite. Since Week 8, in seven games Renfrow and Waller played together, Renfrow outscored Waller in five of them by a margin of 7.8 PPR points per game. In the two games Waller outscored Renfrow, it was by an average of 1.0 PPR point per game. While Las Vegas will likely add more competent outside wide receivers in free agency or the draft, Renfrow’s role seems secure as the slot option; whether Carr remains as the starter or a veteran like Tom Brady or Teddy Bridgewater comes in, Renfrow should be a mainstay in this offense. Renfrow currently has an ECR of WR64 behind guys like N’Keal Harry (ECR WR55), Breshad Perriman (ECR WR59), and Corey Davis (ECR WR60). Renfrow outscored all of them on a PPG basis in 2019. I believe Renfrow is currently undervalued and could be a viable starting fantasy asset in 2020.
– Dan Ambrosino (@AmbrosinoNFL)
Golden Tate (WR – NYG): Overall 122 – WR51
A draft strategy that many scoff at but provides sneaky rich dividends is what I refer to as the “Fitzgerald Cheat Code,” targeting old players most people have written off. They can be fantasy gold even if they’ve lost some luster from age. At 37, Larry Fitzgerald (WR63) is a value in his own right, but his younger brother, Golden Tate (WR51), is even more undervalued. He turns 32 just before the 2020 season starts. He’s old. He’s ancient. He’s over-the-hill. Go get him. He could be your fifth wide receiver giving you wide receiver two to three production. Since 2012, Tate has only finished outside the WR3 territory once. This was last year when he missed the first four games because of a suspension. In his 11 games, he had the 28th best fantasy points per game (13.4 PPR) in the league among wide receivers. If he had played in all 16 games, he would have amassed around 71 receptions for almost 1,000 yards with almost nine touchdowns. How does this translate to fantasy? He would have been WR14. He did this with a rookie quarterback who was not very accurate. Tate’s 57% catch rate in 2019 was his lowest by far. If you believe in Daniel Jones’ ascension as I do, you need to get on board with GT. Evan Engram is still in a walking boot after his Lisfranc surgery. Sterling Shepard has not been a picture of health, either. That leaves Saquon Barkley and sophomore sixth-rounder Darius Slayton to compete with Tate. Slayton, who was more productive in his rookie season than he was in college, tallied 37% of his total yards and scored 50% of his total touchdowns in two games last year. Even if Engram and Shepard play every game, Tate’s floor far exceeds WR51. Tate is your week-to-week loyal dog. He’s always healthy, productive, and he will sneakily be productive for a few more years to come. Tate is part of the “Fitzgerald Cheat Code” and will be your golden ticket to winning your league.
– Marc Mathyk (@masterjune70)
John Brown (WR – BUF): Overall 71 – WR32
Brown had a career year in his first season as a Buffalo Bill in 2019, hauling in 72 receptions for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns. The first Bills’ wide receiver to post 1,000 yards since Sammy Watkins did so in 2015, Brown surprised many as the 14th best wide receiver in fantasy football (standard scoring). While the consensus in Buffalo seems to be split between the Bills selecting an elite defensive end and a top-tier wideout in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, there is little doubt that Brandon Beane & Co. are committed to developing Josh Allen, supplying him with more weapons, and juicing up the team’s up-and-coming offense. A fresh wide receiver-whether he comes in free agency or the first two rounds of the draft-will free up Brown to do even more damage down the field, so don’t be surprised if he continues his resurgence as one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats in 2020. Put simply, I believe Brown is primed for an even bigger fantasy football season next year and is currently undervalued as the WR32 in standard-scoring fantasy football rankings. I would rank him ahead of other pass-catchers such as A.J. Green (WR30), Jarvis Landry (WR29), Terry McLaurin (WR28), and D.J. Chark (WR23).
– Jim Colombo (@WideRightNBlue)
Raheem Mostert (RB – SF): Overall 87 – RB33
Sometimes a player has a good postseason game and people lose their minds overvaluing them in fantasy football for the following year. In San Francisco the opposite is true. People are not giving credit where credit is due. Mostert was not just a one-hit-wonder that had 220 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. He had 952 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in the regular season before he had his monster postseason. He was the 24th ranked fantasy running back despite not recording double-digit carries from Week 4 to Week 12. Yet he is the 33rd-ranked fantasy running back in the ECR rankings. If the fantasy experts thought Mostert was not going to retain the starting role, that low rating would make more sense. That is not the case. Tevin Coleman is the 39th ranked fantasy running back when he was 36th last year. Breida is the 44th ranked running back when he was 45th last year. The 49ers may not return to the Super Bowl in 2020, but they should not forget how to run the football. This was the second-best rushing attack in the league last year. I do not think anyone will be an RB1 on this team due to the RBBC situation, but to have nobody in the top 30 seems like an overreaction to their depth. Mostert emerged as their best running back option last year, and I think he is the favorite to start the season as the lead back in their RBBC. He is very undervalued right now considering how well he played in the last five regular-season games and three postseason contests.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Derrius Guice (RB – WAS): Overall 75 – RB28
In an underrated 2003 movie (The Cooler) William Macy plays a casino employee with a negative energy so strong he’s instructed to ruin the winning streak of high rollers by simply being in their presence. I believe Macy should someday play the role of Bruce Allen in a movie about the cooler effect he had on the Redskins. Guice didn’t have an injury-prone label coming into the league, so we’ll see if a new front office and coaching staff will help jump-start his career. If he can indeed stay healthy, I’m confident he will rise far above his current rating as the 28th-ranked running back. Unfortunately, you have to pretty much watch his college tape to reaffirm what a beast he is when firing on all cylinders. He was just getting back into his groove in Week 13 and 14 last year (15 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns) when I’m asssuming Bruce got too close and…another knee injury. In all seriousness, his ability is elite, and I’m rolling the dice that his bizarre string of bad luck is over.
– Sheldon Curtis (@sheldon_curtis)
A.J. Green (WR – CIN): Overall 65 – WR30
Reports are that Joe Burrow has a request for Cincinnati, despite the NFL Draft being well over a month away. That request? Find a way to keep A.J. Green. Likely playing on the franchise tag or an incentive-heavy contract in 2020 and undoubtedly itching to get back on the field, there will be no lack of motivation for the veteran wide receiver to tack another onto the six 1,000+ yard seasons he’s totaled as a pro. With a boosted offensive line and a slew of weapons to prevent defenses from honing in their focus too much (recall that Auden Tate and John Ross proved respectable this year, even with inconsistent quarterback play), Green can very realistically finish as a top-12 wideout once again. Given that upside, his current ECR as the WR30 is far too low. Don’t let potential injuries scare you off at such a discounted price-in range of drafting WR3s, you don’t even need a full 16 games of Green to crush value. In the end, Burrow should get his wish from the Bengals’ front office, and the rookie will take advantage of his alpha dog from day one.
– Peter Gofen (@PeterJaguars)
Juju Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT): Overall 35 – WR16
You could make an argument that Smith-Schuster was the biggest bust in all of fantasy football in 2019, so the skepticism is understandable. The Steelers were absolutely ravaged by injuries in 2019, most notably the one that derailed the majority of Ben Roethlisberger’s season. Don’t forget, though, that before the 2019 season, there were arguments that Juju should be the number one receiver off the board. In 2018, Antonio Brown and Smith-Schuster combined for 2,723 yards, and a Roethlisberger-led Steelers’ offense should be immensely more productive than the backup quarterback carousel from last season. Obviously Roethlisberger’s health is a massive piece in Juju’s success, but he already looks like he’s a mid-round target with top-five positional upside in redraft leagues.
– Donald Gibson (@DonaldGibsonFF)
Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI): Overall 151 – RB50
It feels like everyone forgot about Chase Edmonds’ mid-season breakout. From Week 5 to Week 7, he exploded for 303 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns, which made him the RB4 in PPR. Yet he’s ranked as the RB50 at 151st overall right now, below the likes of Tony Pollard and Justice Hill. The only knock on Edmonds is his spot on the depth chart, but with Kenyan Drake about to test free agency and David Johnson’s age and injury woes, Edmonds is a safe bet to see the field. He has even proven that he can succeed when sharing time with Johnson, as Arizona used a committee approach in Weeks 5 and 6! Look for Edmonds to excel in his second year with Kliff Kingsbury.
– Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois)