One Fantasy Vulture For All 32 Teams
Do you remember summer days as a kid? You had a pool/sprinkler, some popsicles, and a few friends over and you were good to go.
With that being said, one of the things I vividly remember from my childhood is splinters from our wooden deck. I’m not sure what it was about me, but I would get splinters in my foot all the time. They were annoying and I remember being so frustrated every time I would find one.
There are equivalents of splinters in fantasy football; they’re called vultures. These players are ones that typically won’t offer true fantasy production themselves, but hinder the potential of the players above them on the depth chart. They’re more annoying than anything to a fantasy player and will most likely cause frustration at some point this season.
Who are the players that you need to start preparing to be annoyed at in 2020? I’ve got one for each NFL team here below…
One Fantasy Vulture For All 32 Teams
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
For the past few seasons, there’s been talk that Larry Fitzgerald may be close to hanging up his cleats. However, “Fitz” has returned year after year and has continued to climb the all-time receiving yards list because of it. With that being said, at this point of his career, Fitz is teetering on the edge of fantasy relevance. Unfortunately, he may fall into the category of not receiving enough work to be useful for fantasy football, but involved enough that it takes away targets from someone like DeAndre Hopkins.
Atlanta Falcons: Brian Hill (RB)
If Todd Gurley was fully healthy, he’d be in competition to be the No. 1 overall fantasy RB this season. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Gurley will never be fully healthy ever again and will be forced to deal with his injury issues for the remainder of his NFL career. With that in mind, Brian Hill could be in line to take away a lot of potential work from Gurley this season. While Hill isn’t anything “special” from a talent perspective, he could be a player that Gurley fantasy owners become frustrated with in 2020.
Baltimore Ravens: JK Dobbins (RB)
I considered adding JK Dobbins/Mark Ingram to the subject line, because these two running backs are going to limit each other’s true ceiling in 2020. If the Ravens hadn’t drafted Dobbins in the 2020 NFL Draft, we’d be talking about him as a top-10 RB again for 2020. They’re each going to have standalone value again in 2020, but Dobbins is going to cancel Ingram out and vice-versa.
“Get. Off. Me.” -JK Dobbins pic.twitter.com/7sgbIWBXjy
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 14, 2019
Buffalo Bills: Zack Moss (RB)
Heading into the 2020 offseason, there were a ton of people hyping up Devin Singletary as a potential league-winner in 2020. With the addition of Zack Moss though, it does seem like Singletary is destined for a change-of-pace role for the foreseeable future. Moss is going to step into the goal-line back role in this offense, which means that Singletary will have to do the majority of his damage to opposing defenses between the 20’s.
Carolina Panthers: Robby Anderson (WR)
There are some huge Curtis Samuel believers out there in the world. If you’re one of them, you may want to skip this paragraph…Robby Anderson signed with the Panthers as a free agent this offseason on a 2 year/20 million dollar contract. The entire offense will be starting from scratch and learning a new system that Joe Brady will be implementing, but Anderson has a leg up on everyone due to his experience with Matt Rhule back at Temple. Anderson will know the terminology that will be called out and could have the inside track to be the number two wide receiver in this offense behind D.J. Moore.
Chicago Bears: Cole Kmet (TE)
There are two main receiving options in Chicago at the wide receiver position…Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. Robinson is essentially a lock for 140-plus targets, but Miller could lose some work if Cole Kmet is more involved in this offense than we anticipate. Miller’s purely a slot receiver and he’ll work the middle of the field. Kmet will be asked to stay in and block a lot, but he’ll work the middle of the field as well when he’s asked to run routes. If Kmet becomes a reliable target for Foles/Trubisky, we’ll see Miller’s overall targets diminish slightly.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tee Higgins (WR)
It seems as though everyone is all aboard the “AJ Green train” this season, but there are definitely reasons to be skeptical of his fantasy impact in 2020. One of the main reasons is the selection of Tee Higgins at the top of the second round of the NFL Draft. Higgins profiles as a big X-receiver and seems destined to take over for Green within the next year or two. However, his involvement in this offense may come sooner than expected by most and we could see him actually be a starter in this offense. If that’s the case, he may end up taking a significant portion of Green’s snaps, which will diminish Green’s fantasy impact in 2020.
Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt (RB)
When Kareem Hunt came back off of suspension last season and got acclimated in the offense, we actually saw him outscore Nick Chubb in Full PPR formats (Weeks 13-17). Chubb is one of the most talented runners in the NFL, but his ceiling is limited due to Hunt’s presence on this roster. Hunt will be the pass-catching compliment and appears to be locked in to vulture fantasy points away from Chubb in 2020.
Kareem Hunt with his first TD as a member of the Browns!
(via @Browns) pic.twitter.com/LhdqIwpy8M
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 24, 2019
Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb (WR)
The selection of CeeDee Lamb at No. 17 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft certainly came as a shock. While the Cowboys had a need at the WR position, it wasn’t expected that they would address it until later on in the draft. Lamb appears to be locked in to assume the vacated slot role in this offense, but due to his talent, it may come at the expense of Michael Gallup‘s fantasy impact. Gallup was on the verge of becoming a fantasy star, but Lamb’s presence most likely limits Gallup’s overall ceiling.
Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy (WR)
Jerry Jeudy is a fantastic WR, but in this offense, he’s considered a fantasy vulture. Jeudy’s essentially always going to be open due to his route-running savvy, which means that Drew Lock will be looking his way more often than he would’ve with other receivers in this offense. Because of this, Courtland Sutton‘s overall ceiling may be hindered this season and beyond. Sutton will still be the WR1 in this offense, but Jeudy will certainly vulture some fantasy points that could’ve gone Sutton’s way.
Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson (RB)
Kerryon Johnson has been fantastic when he’s on the field, but he’s had difficulties staying healthy over his first couple of seasons. Now, the Lions invested significant draft capital in D’Andre Swift, who is one of the more well-rounded running backs to come out in the past couple of years. Swift would be a fantasy star if he were given the majority of the carries, but Kerryon is still going to be involved in this offense. These two will create a formidable duo, but they may end up cancelling each other out for fantasy football.
Green Bay Packers: AJ Dillon (RB)
It’s been a few months and I still don’t understand what the Packers were doing in the NFL Draft. However, they chose to select a running back in the second round that is certainly going to get touches in 2020, which limits Aaron Jones‘ overall workload. Additionally, Dillon profiles as a prolific goal-line back at his size, which means that Jones’ rushing TD potential may be limited this season. It doesn’t make any sense, but Dillon is absolutely going to vulture fantasy points from Jones in 2020.
Houston Texans: Duke Johnson (RB)
There are two things that have to go David Johnson‘s way in order for him to have a high-end fantasy impact in 2020. One, he has to be fully healthy. Two, he has to be incredibly involved in the passing game. Unfortunately, his receiving work may not be as much as some would like due to Duke Johnson’s presence in this offense. Duke Johnson is a fantastic pass-catcher out of the backfield and will be utilized heavily in this offense. If that happens, it leaves very little left over for David Johnson and his quest for top-end fantasy relevance.
Indianapolis Colts: Marlon Mack (RB)
If Marlon Mack wasn’t on the Indianapolis Colts roster, how high would we be drafting Jonathan Taylor? While I believe Mack is a good player, he pales in comparison to what Taylor can do on the football field. Mack and Taylor are going to form a “one-two punch” in this backfield, but this certainly limits things from a fantasy perspective. Mack may receive just enough work to take away from Taylor’s overall ceiling, but it’s most likely not going to be enough for him to be useful for fantasy football in 2020.
MARLON MACK HOUSE CALL. 🏠 @BudLight | #BudLightCelly pic.twitter.com/7Md8Sis4gK
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 8, 2019
Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyler Eifert (TE)
There are a few receiving weapons in Jacksonville that can be useful for fantasy football, but they may not reach their true ceiling with a healthy Tyler Eifert in the lineup. Eifert’s a monster in the red zone when he’s on the field and he could take away some targets that would otherwise go to players like DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, etc.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sammy Watkins (WR)
Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill are the most explosive receivers in the NFL and it’s really not close. If Hardman can refine his game and become a diverse route-runner, he’ll be a nightmare for opposing defenses and a consistent fantasy option week after week. Unfortunately, Sammy Watkins is still assumedly above him on the Chiefs depth chart, which limits the overall impact that Hardman could have in 2020.
Los Angeles Chargers: Tyrod Taylor (QB)
The Chargers allowed Melvin Gordon to walk in free agency and drafted his replacement in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Joshua Kelley is a talented running back out of UCLA and will step in alongside Austin Ekeler in this backfield. This Chargers offense is going to be built around the run game this season and there should be plenty of opportunities for these running backs, but they’re going to lose out on some overall volume due to Tyrod Taylor’s rushing ability. Taylor is an extremely mobile QB and, assuming he starts all 16 games, should be around 100 total carries on the season. This is completely different than what we’ve seen from Philip Rivers in years past and it’s going to hurt the running backs overall ceilings.
Los Angeles Rams: Darrell Henderson (RB)
Everyone seems intent on anointing Cam Akers as the lead running back in this offense, but we need to remember that Darrell Henderson is still on this roster. Henderson was drafted in the third round last year and is an extremely talented back in his own right. Akers’ ADP continues to rise this offseason, but I believe there are going to be some disappointed people when they see how much work Henderson garners this season.
Las Vegas Raiders: Lynn Bowden (RB)
Anyone who watched Josh Jacobs at Alabama knows how talented of a receiver he is out of the backfield. Unfortunately, the Raiders coaching staff seemingly does not agree as they refuse to utilize him in that fashion in this offense. While there was some hope that that would change in 2020, the Raiders slammed that door shut when they drafted Lynn Bowden in the fourth round and resigned Jalen Richard. Bowden, who is listed as a RB, is an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands and he’s a good receiver to go along with it. With him and Richard receiving looks out of the backfield, it looks like we’re in for another season of Jacobs not being utilized as a receiver as much as we would like to see.
Lynn Bowden Jr's five highest-graded plays as a Kentucky Wildcat⚡️pic.twitter.com/wWLVAXJB97
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 23, 2020
Miami Dolphins: Matt Breida (RB)
Jordan Howard signed with the Dolphins early on in free agency to be “the guy” in this backfield and the Dolphins added Matt Breida later on via trade during the NFL Draft. While Breida is going to be the “change-of-pace” player in this backfield, the Dolphins aren’t going to be high-powered enough of an offense for Howard to receive a ton of carries. Breida will take away just enough work on the ground to limit Howard’s potential as a bell cow back.
Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Rudolph (TE)
There are a lot of people who believe in Irv Smith Jr. and his future potential. However, as long as Kyle Rudolph is still on this roster, Smith’s unlikely to truly breakout. This offense simply doesn’t have enough targets to go around for Smith and Rudolph to both be relevant for fantasy football. As long as Rudolph is playing, he’ll be the starting tight end due to his veteran experience.
New England Patriots: Mohamed Sanu (WR)
The Patriots are looking like an offense that we all may want to avoid for fantasy football this year. Sony Michel will still see significant volume, but he’s proven that that doesn’t necessarily equate to a ton of fantasy value in years past. Julian Edelman is probably the only player that carries some appeal for fantasy football, but we could see Sanu eat into some of his target share. This may just be an offense worth letting someone else deal with in 2020.
New Orleans Saints: Tre’Quan Smith (WR)
Emmanuel Sanders joins a loaded offense here in New Orleans, but he’ll play a distant second fiddle to Michael Thomas. While Sanders could be on the edge of fantasy relevance, he has to worry about Tre’Quan Smith taking away targets. Since the overall “pie” of targets for Sanders and Smith to pull from is significantly smaller than in other offenses around the NFL, if Smith excels in his role this season, it will limit Sanders’ upside. Both of these players have backup appeal, but that may be it from a fantasy football perspective.
New York Giants: Golden Tate (WR)
The Giants currently have a lot of talented WRs in this offense, but that creates a bit of an issue for fantasy football. Due to the fact that this offense has a limited number of targets to go around, and the reality that this team will run through Saquon Barkley, this leaves a bit of a logjam from a fantasy perspective. If Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Barkley all play 16 games, it’s going to be very difficult for one of the wide receivers to finish within the top-24 at the position this season. Tate is the one to identify as a fantasy vulture though due to the slot role that he occupies and the area of the field he’ll be working out of consistently. This most likely will have a negative effect on Engram and hurt his potential.
New York Jets: Frank Gore (RB)
Adam Gase seems intent on taking the ball out of Le’Veon Bell‘s hands and he backed it up by bringing in Frank Gore this offseason. Gore wouldn’t have signed with the Jets if he wasn’t guaranteed touches, so fantasy players that were holding out hope for Bell to have a resurgence in 2020 may be very disappointed.
Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Clement (RB)
Miles Sanders appears to be locked in as “the guy” for the Eagles this season, which is something that we didn’t expect at the beginning of the NFL offseason. With that being said, it’s hard to envision Sanders receiving 275-plus touches in this offense with the way Doug Pederson has traditionally used his running backs. If that’s the case, there’s going to be another player in this backfield that will step up and vulture some of those touches away from Sanders. Clement’s been in this system for several years now and has been effective when he’s been healthy. Out of the many backs that the Eagles currently have under contract, it looks like Clement may have the best shot right now to be the main competition for touches behind Sanders.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony McFarland (RB)
James Conner‘s shown us that he can be a top-tier running back when he’s healthy, but that’s been an issue over the past couple of seasons. The Steelers went out and drafted Anthony McFarland, who’s electric when he’s given the ball and he looks like a very likely candidate to take away touches from Conner in 2020.
Anthony McFarland broke a huge TD run against Ohio State.
Five minutes later, he did it again. pic.twitter.com/cU8eVYGvAB
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 17, 2018
San Francisco 49ers: Tevin Coleman (RB)
Raheem Mostert exploded in the playoffs last year and may have played his way into the starting role of a dynamic offense. Unfortunately, this lead role may not lead to anything more than 215 total touches on the season with the way Kyle Shanahan prefers to divvy up the workload. Tevin Coleman is going to remain involved in this offense and he’s going to be a thorn in the side of every Mostert fantasy owner in 2020.
Seattle Seahawks: Carlos Hyde (RB)
Carlos Hyde signed with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason to be insurance for Rashaad Penny, who is likely to start the season on the PUP list. However, he may end up taking away more work from Chris Carson than we would like to see this season. Carson’s coming off of his own injury and may not be fully ready to receive a full workload right away. If that’s the case, Hyde may be taking away more touches than we’re anticipating right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB)
Ronald Jones showed us all that he can be a competent NFL RB towards the end of last season. However, the Buccaneers still went out and drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round of the Draft to compete for the starting job. Vaughn’s an excellent pass-protector and receiver, which are two areas that Jones struggles in. If Vaughn can succeed in these two areas in training camp, while Jones doesn’t show any improvement, we may see Vaughn become the lead back in this offense sooner than later.
Tennessee Titans: Adam Humphries (WR)
Right now, all eyes are on AJ Brown and Jonnu Smith in this Tennessee Titans offense. Both players are in line for huge seasons in 2020 with Ryan Tannehill behind center and should command the majority of the targets. However, if there’s one reason to be cautious about Smith breaking out in a big way this year, it’s Adam Humphries. Humphries was dealing with an injury for the majority of last season and never really got the opportunity to showcase his skills in this offense. While it’s unlikely that Humphries becomes second in this offense, in terms of target share, he could be involved enough to take away some work from Smith in the middle of the field.
Washington Redskins: Adrian Peterson (RB)
Derrius Guice has done next to nothing up to this point of his NFL career, but he still has a lot of believers in the fantasy football community. Additionally, there are a lot of people that are very excited to see what Antonio Gibson can develop into here in the next couple of years. However, I believe both camps are going to be annoyed with Adrian Peterson, who is going to most likely be the lead back in this committee. A new coaching staff is going to lean on veterans that they know can help keep them steady and Peterson is as dependable as they come at this point in his career. Unfortunately, Peterson’s most likely not going to be involved enough to be a weekly option for fantasy football, but still may do just enough to prevent Guice and Gibson from being true fantasy forces in 2020.
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio
Kyle Yates is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Kyle, check out his archive and follow him @KyleYNFL.