2020 Contract Year Players (Fantasy Football)
In order to win your fantasy football league consistently, you need every competitive edge that you can get. That’s what we aim to provide here at FantasyPros, so you’re well-equipped to ace your draft, win your league, or get ahead of the curve in your Dynasty leagues.
One of the competitive edges you can gain on your league mates, particularly in Dynasty leagues, is knowing who the upcoming contract year players are. These players may find themselves in a different situation next season, which may lead to an increase in fantasy production. There have been several examples over previous seasons of a change of scenery being an upgrade for the player’s fantasy stock, whether it was Robert Woods a few years back to even Mark Ingram last season.
It’s a roll of the dice, but it can pay off in a big way for your long-term rosters.
With that in mind, it’s the time of year where it’s important to look forward and take a look at this upcoming potential free agency class that has the potential of seeing some very talented players change teams.
The Cowboys pushed off paying Dak Prescott and they’re now entering the franchise tag dance with him since a long-term deal could not be agreed upon. There’s very little chance Dak hits the open market next year, but he’s going to have to prove himself again this year to keep working towards a long-term contract.
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 22, 2020
Jameis played himself right out of Tampa Bay with his 30 interceptions in 2019 and he now lands as the backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans. Taysom Hill appears to be the Saints long-term plan at the position, but we could see Winston play his way back into a starting job somewhere else if Brees misses time again in 2020.
Rivers was allowed to walk away from one of the worst offensive lines in football last year and now finds himself behind practically a brick wall in Indianapolis. Rivers should still have enough in the tank to keep this offense afloat, but it’s unlikely that he plays much longer than one or two more seasons. If he plays well enough, he’ll resign with the Colts in 2021. If he struggles, he’s going to have a tough time even finding a backup job.
Tyrod appears to be the plan for the Chargers at the QB position in 2020, which would allow Justin Herbert to sit and develop behind the veteran QB. While Tyrod should fit this scheme well, he’s not going to be the long-term answer for the Chargers. He’s likely to be a free agent again in 2021 and should land as a backup elsewhere.
Fitzpatrick’s going to do everything he can to keep the new rookie QB, Tua Tagovailoa, on the bench. Fitzpatrick’s getting older though and will eventually be replaced by the talented rookie. This may be the last year that we see Fitzpatrick in the NFL…
Brissett was thrust into the starting QB role last season as Andrew Luck unexpectedly announced his retirement. Unfortunately, Brissett also saw several of his receiving options go down with injury last year and never truly got the opportunity to get into a rhythm. Brissett can be a low-end starter for a NFL team and should get some looks in free agency next year.
Things in Chicago appear to be unraveling quickly for Trubisky with Nick Foles now in town. Trubisky’s entering an open QB competition with Foles, but could find himself riding the bench in 2020. He’s likely to see the open market next year, but could be a low-end starter if he lands in the right system.
Dalton chose to head back to Texas and sign a cheap backup deal with Dallas. He’s unlikely to see any playing time this season with Dak ahead of him on the depth chart, but could get some looks again for a starting spot in 2021.
Mullens has played well when he’s been given the opportunity, but he’s unlikely to be anything more than a high-quality backup in the NFL.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 2, 2018
Allen has a serious chance at beating out Dwayne Haskins for the starting QB spot in Washington this season. If he does end up being the backup though, it’s hard to envision him landing elsewhere next offseason and leaving this system that he knows so well.
The Titans are reportedly working on a long-term deal for Henry, who is currently under the franchise tag in 2020. If a long-term deal isn’t struck though, it’s hard to envision the Titans using a second franchise tag on Henry, which would bring a hefty price tag along with it.
When healthy, Alvin Kamara’s one of the best RBs in the NFL. It’s unlikely that New Orleans lets him walk in free agency next year, but if they do, we could see a team back up the Brinks truck for the dynamic RB.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 20, 2020
If Drake were to have hit the open market this past offseason, it’s unlikely that he would have cashed in. However, after being transition tagged in Arizona, there’s a very real chance that he could emerge as one of the most coveted backs in free agency next year if he has a big season. This offense will be humming in Arizona and Drake’s going to be at the center of it.
Things haven’t exactly worked out for Fournette the way that we all anticipated when he entered the NFL as the No. 4 overall pick. There have been rumors about the Jaguars potentially trading him, but it looks like he’s going to stay put in Jacksonville this season. If he hits the free agent market, there will be a team that will take a chance on him due to his previous draft capital, but it’s hard to see him being the “main” RB in that situation.
Dalvin Cook is already utilizing the little leverage that he has as a NFL RB and is reportedly willing to holdout until he gets a new contract. Cook is the focal point of this Vikings offense, but he has yet to stay healthy enough to play all 16 games in each of his first three seasons. It’s a risk for the Vikings to give in and pay Cook what he’s asking for, but if they don’t, we could see this offense sputter in 2020. Cook should receive a long-term contract from the Vikings at some point this year.
Dalvin Cook had 26 plays of 15+ yards last season
3rd most among all RBspic.twitter.com/YGWnnFcYxR
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 14, 2020
Todd Gurley’s a fantastic RB when he’s on the field and fully healthy, but we simply just don’t know his health status. The Rams ate a lot of dead cap to move on from Gurley, so it’s possible that the Falcons could just be interested in using Gurley for one year and letting him look for work elsewhere in 2021. He’s likely going to flirt with fantasy relevance for the remainder of his career on short-term deals.
Aaron Jones is one of the most underrated and underutilized RBs in the entire NFL. He has the talent to be the best RB in the league if he could only receive the carry counts that some of the other backs do on other rosters. Jones may look at the Packers offer (if they extend one) next offseason, and how crowded that backfield has been, and choose to go sign elsewhere to be the “main guy”. If so, he’ll be a fantasy superstar if he lands with a good offense.
Joe Mixon has threatened a holdout this offseason, but we have yet to see anything materialize. From a talent standpoint, he’s among the best in the NFL, but he’s never been in a dynamic offense that showcases his skills. Mixon’s likely to remain with the Bengals, but he’ll be highly sought after if he hits the open market.
Didn’t realize how good of a season Joe Mixon had last year (1,168 yards and 8 TDs). So many explosive runs. pic.twitter.com/SEfUi8r44B
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) June 4, 2019
We’re now a couple of years removed from the incident that caused Kareem Hunt to be released from the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s unlikely that he resigns with the Browns to backup Nick Chubb, unless he simply isn’t receiving the type of offers that he’s looking for, so he could be back in play to be a top-tier option at the RB position. This will be one of the more interesting situations to monitor as free agency approaches next offseason.
Tevin Coleman is never going to be the workhorse back that fantasy players have wanted him to be, but he’s a very good change-of-pace option for a NFL franchise. He’s unlikely to receive serious consideration on the open market though with the other names listed above, so there’s a possibility he resigns with San Francisco to stay with Kyle Shanahan.
James White will be 29 years old when free agency hits next season, which means his NFL career may be coming to an end sooner than later. He may still have fantasy relevance if he signs a short-term deal to be a pass-catching compliment to a bruising back, but this may be the last season that we roll out White as a FLEX option in Full PPR leagues.
Matt Breida is now in Miami as the change-of-pace option to Jordan Howard. He’s always shown flashes of his talent in San Francisco, but has had problems withstanding a significant workload. Breida’s in line to have a solid season, but it’s unlikely to lead to a large contract anywhere else in 2021.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) March 28, 2020
Damien Williams showed up in a big way in the playoffs last year for the Kansas City Chiefs, but finds himself down the depth chart again after the first-round draft capital investment in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. If Williams doesn’t resign in KC next offseason, some team is going to look favorably upon what he did in the 2019 playoffs and bring him in to compete for a starting job.
Rex Burkhead’s been a solid player throughout his NFL career, but he’s getting older and hasn’t been on the field much over the past couple of seasons. His best days are looking like they’re behind him.
James Conner’s shown us that he can be one of the better RBs in the league when he’s healthy and on the field, but that hasn’t happened much recently. The Steelers brought in competition at the position in the draft this year with Anthony McFarland and could be content to let Conner walk in free agency next offseason. He seems destined for a rotational role moving forward, unless he can outplay the other guys on his team and stay healthy for all 16 games this season.
Tarik Cohen’s one of the most explosive players in the NFL, but this offense held him back in 2019. It’s hard to envision Chicago letting Cohen walk in free agency next offseason, but it’s all dependent upon his asking price. He’s still going to have fantasy value for years to come though, no matter where he lands…
Tarik Cohen is just a different speed ⚡️
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) October 14, 2018
Marlon Mack has exceeded expectations since entering the NFL as a fourth-round pick back in 2017. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to play a full 16-game season up to this point in his career. The Colts seem intent on utilizing him still in 2020, alongside Jonathan Taylor, so we could see Mack take a discount and remain in Indy long-term.
Gus Edwards is another player who has exceeded expectations since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent, but he hasn’t been able to hold onto a starting role. He seems destined for a rotational role long-term, but could have relevancy if he lands in the right offense next offseason.
Jamaal Williams has been a good pass-catching back up to this point in his career, but it’s unlikely that he turns into anything more than that. He’s a likely candidate to take an inexpensive contract offer and remain with the Packers next offseason.
Chris Carson’s one of the more exciting RBs to watch in all of football, but the injuries simply keep piling up. Carson’s going to need to take a discount to remain in Seattle or he may be forced to be part of a rotation elsewhere in 2020.
Green appears to be comfortable playing under the franchise tag in 2020. With the addition of Tee Higgins at the top of the second round, Green’s most likely going to be playing for another team in 2021. With his full year off though, we have no idea what kind of shape he’s in and how much he has left in the tank at 31 years old.
Allen Robinson is one of the most talented WRs in the NFL that doesn’t get enough attention. He’s a smooth route-runner and has some of the best hands in the NFL. He’s one of the focal points of this Bears offense and it’s hard to see the Bears letting him walk in free agency. This is a player that I expect to be resigned by the time free agency rolls around next offseason.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) May 3, 2020
Chris Godwin has emerged as one of the more reliable WRs in the entire NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to do everything they can to make sure he stays in town for the long haul.
Golladay is another incredibly talented WR that has emerged as the No. 1 option on his team. The Lions will make sure he remains a member of the franchise for a very long time.
This 2017 WR class was loaded and Smith-Schuster is in line for a huge payday after making a second-round draftee’s salary the past few seasons. Even though Juju had a down year last year, you don’t let talent like his just walk out the door. The Steelers will do everything they can to keep Juju around.
Keenan Allen has been as consistent as they come over the past few seasons, but is getting older and may be looking to cash in on one more contract. This Chargers offense is moving more towards a ground-and-pound style of football and Allen may not put up the type of numbers he has in years past. There’s a very real possibility we see Allen walk in free agency next offseason.
The Rams would love to keep Cooper Kupp around, but they’ve backed themselves into a corner with poor cap management. Kupp’s going to get a solid paycheck if he hits the open market and LA may not be able to afford to keep him in town. The cap can be maneuvered and the Rams would love to keep him around, but this is a situation that is going to be interesting to monitor moving forward.
COOPER KUPP JUST DID THAT. 😱😱😱 #NOvsLAR
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
Dede Westbrook’s one of the more underrated WRs in the NFL and has been funneled into a slot role in the NFL. However, he does have the size and speed to win on the outside. We could see Westbrook walk in free agency next year and fill a different role for a NFL team. Westbrook has the talent, so it’s now all about whether or not he can be utilized to maximize his talent.
Hilton has begun talking about wanting one final contract with the Colts, but it’s hard to see that happening. Hilton hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2017 and he’s getting to the point where his play may start declining at any moment. If Hilton doesn’t receive one final contract with the Colts, it’s unlikely that any other NFL team would bring him in for the type of money he’ll be looking for next offseason.
Sammy Watkins has all the talent that you desire in a NFL WR, but injuries and inconsistencies have derailed his career projection. If the Chiefs let him walk next season, we’re likely going to see another NFL team bring him into their facilities in hopes that they can get the most out of him. It’s unlikely that he ever puts it all together though at this point of his career…
Marvin Jones is a talented WR, but he’s currently 30 years old and the Lions may have drafted his replacement in Quintez Cephus. He may be able to stick around on another roster as a depth piece, but Jones’ fantasy relevant days may be close to coming to an end.
Corey Davis has been a bust up to this point when you factor in his draft capital. However, players that are drafted that highly are always going to be given another opportunity. Davis is likely to end up on another roster next offseason and will have to play his way into the starting lineup.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 20, 2019
John Ross joins Davis in the conversation of a bust up to this point in his career relative to where he was drafted. He’s struggled to stay healthy, but has shown the dynamic playmaking ability that made him such a high draft choice in 2017. He’s likely to get another shot with another franchise in 2021 after the Bengals declined his fifth-year option.
Fuller is one of the most explosive WRs in the NFL, but he’s struggled to stay healthy his first few seasons in the NFL. If the Texans don’t resign him to a “prove it” contract next offseason, he’ll sign with another franchise and try to prove that he can remain healthy.
The Panthers had high hopes for Samuel when they drafted him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but he has yet to live up to everyone’s expectations. He’s been a fine player, but has yet to take that massive step forward we’ve all been waiting for from him. If he doesn’t take that step this year, he may be looking at playing somewhere else in 2021.
Hunter Henry seems set to play under the franchise tag in 2020, but there are uncertainties for what the future holds beyond that. Henry has the talent and has shown that he can be a factor in the red zone for a NFL offense. This will be a situation to monitor throughout this next season.
Rob Gronkowski is back in the NFL and reunited with Tom Brady. We know Gronk’s not going to play anywhere else other than with Brady, so if he does play again in 2021, it’ll be with the Bucs.
It’s hard to think of another player who’s more vital to the success of their entire offense than George Kittle in San Francisco. He’s reportedly seeking a huge contract from the 49ers, but they may have to cough it up for arguably the best TE in the NFL. Kittle’s not going anywhere…
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) June 12, 2020
Jared Cook’s been a fantastic addition to the Saints and has helped this team immensely. However, he’s now 33 years old and this may be his last year in the NFL. I’d be shocked if Cook ends up playing again in 2021.
Greg Olsen may go down as one of the most underrated tight ends in NFL history. He’s shifting teams this offseason and will now be catching passes from Russell Wilson. He’s now 35 years old though, so you do have to wonder if this is his last season as well.
Jonnu Smith is about to have a huge season in Tennessee now that Delanie Walker is finally out of town. He’s always had the talent, but hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup with Walker ahead of him. That all changes this year and Smith could play himself into a huge contract next offseason.
JONNU SMITH. 😱
— NFL (@NFL) January 12, 2020
Vance McDonald has always been a fine player, but he’s never been able to take that next step forward to be a dominant tight end. He’ll land somewhere next offseason as a backup tight end if he doesn’t resign with Pittsburgh.
Tyler Eifert’s issue has never been talent. He’s simply struggled to stay healthy, but we finally saw him play all 16 games last season on a bad Cincinnati team. Can he do enough this season to warrant one final contract from a NFL franchise?
Gerald Everett was an exciting player coming into the NFL, but we’ve seen his usage be all over the place the past couple of seasons. He’s now the second option in this tight end group behind Tyler Higbee and the Rams just drafted Brycen Hopkins in the 4th round. Everett’s likely leaving in free agency next season and there’s going to be a team in need of an athletic tight end. He’s someone to keep an eye on as we move into next offseason.