Game-By-Game Projections: Davante Adams (2020 Fantasy Football)
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As we approached the 2019 season, most experts ranked Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins as the top two wide receivers. But by year’s end, Hopkins was the WR5 and Adams the WR23. That said, Adams missed four games in 2019, and his 17.7 points per game ranked sixth.
This season, Adams is again viewed as a top-two receiver in FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings (ECR). He’s the only receiver other than Michael Thomas to have received a vote for first overall, too.
I think that the Packers’ failure to invest in another legitimate receiver must be propelling the Adams hype. But do the data support it?
Yes. Among all players with at least 60 catches, Adams ranked second in targets per game with 10.6. That proves that his second-place finish in overall targets from 2018 wasn’t a fluke. For some perspective, only four receivers averaged more than 10 targets per game, and only and only 12 averaged more than nine.
Despite the hype, there are two potential arguments against Adams. For one, some wonder whether Aaron Rodgers’ down season in 2019 is a harbinger of troubles to come. Also, head coach Matt LaFleur has been vocal about his desire to emphasize the run. But neither of these arguments should deter you from drafting Adams. Why?
First, Rodgers’ down season was overblown. Although he posted some below-average stats, I think that you can expect a return to the mean in most categories.
Aaron Rodgers' fantasy regression in 2019 was a perfect storm. He posted below-average numbers in completion percentage (62%), Y/G (250.13), and TD/G (1.63).
I think he's a positive regression candidate for 2020, but his value will depend on how much volume LaFleur gives him. pic.twitter.com/3raILFRHo3
— Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois) June 9, 2020
Second, barring wholesale changes to the Packers’ offense, LaFleur’s system won’t compromise the passing volume in Green Bay. Rodgers’ 35.56 attempts per game in his first season with LaFleur were his fourth-most as a starter!
So with all that in mind, here are my rosy predictions for Adams’ 2020 season.
Week 1: at Vikings
After an early-season slump, Adams turned things around in the back half of 2019. He only earned nine targets and seven catches in the Week 2 game against Minnesota — but he impressed with 16 looks and 13 receptions in Week 16. The Vikings let cornerback Xavier Rhodes go after a down year, and replacements Jeff Gladney, Holton Hill, and Mike Hughes might take some time to gel. Expect a solid performance from Adams against the seventh-best passing defense from last year.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 targets, 11 receptions, 132 yards (24.2 fantasy points).
Week 2: vs. Lions
In 2019, Matt Patricia’s Lions were abysmal in the passing game. They ranked 29th in defensive efficiency against the pass, spurring them to add both Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah. The tandem of elite corners will replace Darius Slay, who shadowed Adams in the one game he played against Detroit last year. Slay held Adams to 93 yards and seven catches on 13 targets, and I expect coverage of similar quality from whoever ends up covering him.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 79 yards (14.9 fantasy points).
Week 3: at Saints
Marshon Lattimore. That name should strike fear into your heart if you’re an Adams owner. The elite cornerback shut down Adams as a rookie, allowing him just two receptions and 12 yards on five targets. Rodgers had Jordy Nelson back then, though, so the Packers will have to force the ball to Adams unless Allen Lazard or Devin Funchess can break out.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards (4.9 fantasy points).
Week 4: vs. Falcons
Atlanta’s defense is a joke. They ranked 31st in Defensive Value over Average (DVOA), and they ranked 25th against the pass. Worse, they lost star cornerback Desmond Trufant and replaced him with A.J. Terrell. It’s safe to expect a strong performance from Adams here. He posted 180 yards on 15 catches against Atlanta in 2017 and 2018, so we’ve seen him succeed despite Dan Quinn’s best efforts.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 10 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD (27.5 fantasy points).
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: at Buccaneers
Oh boy. The Buccaneers were a defense to target with passing-game weapons in 2019, and they will be again in 2020. Their run-funnel defense forces opponents to lean on their quarterbacks and wideouts, so don’t expect Matt LaFleur to lean on the run here.
Predicted Stat Line: 16 targets, 11 receptions, 137 yards, 2 TDs (36.7 fantasy points).
Week 7: at Texans
After some jaw-dropping numbers in Weeks 4 and 6, look for Adams to keep the ball rolling. The Texans boasted the seventh-worst passing defense in 2019, and they couldn’t add much defensive talent in the draft due to their strange offseason trades. The Packers will be able to lean on their running game a bit here, however, and that may limit Adams’ upside. The Texans will need to keep things close for Adams to stay in the game.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 92 yards (17.2 fantasy points).
Week 8: vs. Vikings
Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes couldn’t contain Adams last year, and now he’s gone without a clear replacement. The Vikings have invested a lot of draft capital in their secondary, and by Week 8, we should know what to expect. But unless either Gladney or Hughes have a breakout season, I’m expecting a solid performance from Adams here.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 93 yards, 1 TD (23.3 fantasy points).
Week 9: at 49ers
In two games against San Francisco last season, Adams posted 181 yards and one score on 16 catches. Oh, and he did it against Richard Sherman, ProFootballFocus’ top-ranked cornerback from last year. The Packers may try to emphasize the run in this spot, but Adams will get enough work to retain fantasy value.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 72 yards (13.2 fantasy points).
Week 10: vs. Jaguars
The Jags are a mess. They ranked 22nd against the pass and 32nd against the run last year, and there’s little cause for optimism in Duval County. The Packers should run all over them in this spot, and that caps Adams’ usage here. The game should be over by halftime, and I doubt the Packers will leave their star receiver on the field for unnecessary snaps.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 7 receptions, 94 yards (16.4 fantasy points).
Week 11: at Colts
Pierre Desir is out, Xavier Rhodes is in. That’s good news for Adams, as the Packer roasted Rhodes for 100-plus yards in two games last season. The Colts’ 19th-ranked defense should be moderately better next season, as they traded for DeForest Buckner from San Francisco. If that’s the case, leaving the ball in Rodgers’ hands may be the path of least resistance for Matt LaFleur.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 82 yards, 1 TD (22.2 fantasy points).
Week 12: vs. Bears
Chicago’s defense ranked eighth against the pass last season, and they kept Adams to just 11 catches and 139 yards in two games. Prince Amukamara deserves the credit for that, however, and he’s now a Las Vegas Raider. I don’t want to write off Bears cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Artie Burns completely, but Adams looks like a safe floor play in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 78 yards (15.8 fantasy points).
Week 13: vs. Eagles
Although the Eagles play good defense, they haven’t had much stability at cornerback. No corner has started at least 10 games in back-to-back years for them since, uh… Nolan Carroll. With a new defensive backs coach to work with new additions Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman, things are looking up in Philadelphia. Assuming that the ex-Lion lines up against Adams, the Packer receiver should post decent numbers. Slay limited Adams’ catch rate, but he failed to keep him out of the end zone last season.
Predicted Stat Line: 13 targets, 7 receptions, 81 yards (15.1 fantasy points).
Week 14: at Lions
Adams gets a date with the Lions in the first round of most leagues’ fantasy playoffs. While Okudah and Trufant should get the best of Adams at least once next season, they won’t be able to stop him if the Packers are in the playoff hunt. Also, who knows if Trufant can make it through a full season again? He’s made 16 starts just once in the last four seasons.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 targets, 10 receptions, 143 yards, 1 TD (30.3 fantasy points).
Week 15: vs. Panthers
I’m conflicted about this one. On the one hand, the Panthers’ defense ranked 11th against the pass in 2019. On the other, that was because opposing teams could exploit their 32nd-ranked rushing defense — a problem that new head coach Matt Rhule has tried to address head-on. The Panthers did little to address their cornerback issues, however, as they replaced James Bradberry with three Day Three draft picks. Expect Green Bay to feature their passing game in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 11 receptions, 106 yards, 1 TD (27.6 fantasy points).
Week 16: vs. Titans
LaFleur faces off against former boss Mike Vrabel in this one. The Titans ranked 20th against the pass last season, but their decision to trade Jurrell Casey should leave the running lanes open for Aaron Jones and company. Look for LaFleur to emphasize the running game at Adams’ expense in Championship Week for most fantasy leagues.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 75 yards (13.5 fantasy points).
Week 17: at Bears
I hope that your league doesn’t count Week 17 stats. If the Packers have a bye locked up, Adams probably won’t be that useful. And if they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention, then Matt LaFleur could throw Jordan Love out there to see what he’s got. I think it’s safe to say that the Bears will be out of the race by now, however, so don’t expect an inspired defensive performance in any scenario. As long as Green Bay needs to win, Adams should put up WR1 numbers.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 82 yards, 1 TD (22.2 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 180 targets, 129 receptions, 1,482 yards, 8 TDs (325 fantasy points).
In 2020, look for Adams to post career-highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. He won’t have much competition for Rodgers’ attention next season, as Green Bay failed to add a credible receiving threat to their offense. Yes, he’ll draw most teams’ top corners, but Adams has proven that he can take the heat.
These numbers would’ve given Adams a WR2 finish in 2019, 50 points behind Michael Thomas but 25 points ahead of Chris Godwin. The 20.3 fantasy points per game that this total demands would’ve also ranked second among receivers.
Adams deserves his WR2 ranking as we head into the 2020 season, and the Packers’ questionable offseason moves do not deter me.