12 Fantasy Football League Winners for 2020
Year in and year out there are a handful of second-tier fantasy assets who breakout into bonafide league-winners. Last year it was Dalvin Cook and Chris Godwin. The year before, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle. Likewise, there are always a handful of mid to late-round picks who morph into superstars out the blue too. In 2019, we saw Lamar Jackson and Darren Waller lead this pack. The year before, Patrick Mahomes and James Conner were fantasy beasts. Today, I’ll tell you about 12 players who could fit one of the two descriptions as 2020’s version of a fantasy football league winner.
Joe Mixon (CIN)
Yes, Mixon plays for a terrible team, but this offense should be quite good this season with the additions of Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins plus the return of both A.J. Green and John Ross from injury. You’d have to expect the return of Jonah Williams and an off-season focus on improving the offensive line will have a substantial impact too. But really what this comes down to is that Mixon has true 1.1 talent in an up-tempo offense like Zac Taylor wants to run. Mixon has the receiving chops to become a true three-down, game-script-proof bell-cow and in an improved offense, that could take him into the top two or three for the position.
Kenyan Drake (ARI)
Much like Mixon above, Drake plays in a fast-paced offense which will run 17 or 18 games worth of plays this season. That comes in handy from a fantasy football perspective, as his volume is sure to be higher than most others at the position. Not only that, but Drake was spectacular from the time he landed on the Cardinals, finishing the season as the #4 fantasy back over the final eight weeks despite not knowing the playbook when he came over. Add DeAndre Hopkins and an improved offensive line to this offense and Drake could explode into the top tier of fantasy backs.
Raheem Mostert (SF)
There is always some risk when drafting Kyle Shanahan running backs since he changes starters so often but there is a potential HUGE reward with Mostert. Check out this list of the running backs with the most fantasy points over any 8-week stretch last season.
Christian McCaffrey – 205.9, ADP #1
Derrick Henry – 171.7, ADP #7
Dalvin Cook – 163.6, ADP #4
Aaron Jones – 151.4, ADP #17
Raheem Mostert – 149.2, ADP #70
Ezekiel Elliott – 133.8, ADP #3
Kenyan Drake – 131.4, ADP #30
Those were the only 8 weeks Mostert started for the 49ers. He has a legitimate chance to be a top 5 fantasy running back and yet you can get him easily as your RB3.
Damien Harris (NE)
We all know Sony Michel‘s performance has been uninspiring since the Patriots drafted him but did you know he had off-season foot surgery…..in the Spring! Foot injuries are a nightmare to come back from, especially when he might not be ready to go by the preseason, if there is one. Don’t be surprised if Harris gets the starting gig from the get-go. You can say he didn’t get many touches last year, but Belichick only makes backup RBs active when they are third-down options or used on special teams. Harris is neither. Instead, he could play the Steven Ridley role this season in a run-heavy offense.
Adam Thielen (MIN)
In 2017, Thielen broke out as a top 12 fantasy receiver then proceeded to be WR #7 in 2018. Yes, he was a disappointment in 2019 from a fantasy perspective, but that had everything to do with his injury and nothing to do with his performance. Prior to the Week 7 injury, Thielen was once again a top 8 fantasy wideout. Now that Stefon Diggs is gone, Thielen legitimately has a shot at leading the NFL in targets.
Calvin Ridley (ATL)
Ridley has been among the most efficient receivers since he joined the league in both TD-rate and yards/target. The problem has been that the Falcons have only given him 92 and 93 targets in the first two seasons of his career (in part to an injury last season). Now that he should finally see more targets, he could have a Chris Godwin like explosion.
Sammy Watkins (KC)
You can say what you want about Watkins being an overall disappointment but when he was actually healthy, Watkins was a top 10 fantasy wideout through 8 games and was the Chiefs’ top receiver in the playoffs. The former top-five pick has tons of upside for a late-round wideout because of his ability but also the presence of Patrick Mahomes. At this point in Watkins’ career, you don’t have to invest much to buy the lottery ticket.
Breshad Perriman (NYJ)
Although Sam Darnold missed a portion of the season with mono and had virtually no weapons or offensive line to support him, he wasn’t so bad for a 22-year-old. There is still a chance he breaks out in a major way and if he does, Perriman just might be his top receiver. The former 1st round pick is an electric athlete who finally made his way onto the field when Mike Evans was injured last year. Perriman produced 506 yards and 5 scores in the final 5 weeks and looked tremendous on tape in the process.
Jonnu Smith (TEN)
Remember when T.J. Hockenson dominated the NFL combine just two years ago? Well, Jonnu is the same size but faster, stronger, quicker and a better leaper. Not only that, but he breaks tackles like he’s George Kittle and Bill Belichick, himself, called Jonnu “one of the best tight ends in football.” If you are looking for this year’s version of Darren Waller, it is difficult to look beyond this supreme athlete moving into a much larger role in one of the NFL’s top offenses. You can grab Jonnu late in your drafts and if it doesn’t work out, move over to streaming the position.
Tyler Higbee (LAR)
Higbee does have some question marks with Gerald Everett returning, a more challenging schedule than last year and plenty of talent at the WR position, but his five-game stretch the end last season was better than any five-game stretch in Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez or Travis Kelce‘s careers. There is a chance he busts, of course, but if you are looking for that next elite tight end, the list starts with Higbee’s ridiculous stretch to end last season.
Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Rodgers has taken a major step back in the past few seasons from a fantasy perspective but frankly, his efficiency numbers are still tremendous and the only thing holding him back from having been a top 3 fantasy QB is an artificially low TD-rate. If he had his career TD-rate last year (a highly volatile stat), Rodgers would have finished among the top two fantasy QBs for the eighth time in ten healthy seasons. You can get him as a fringe QB1 this year and he just might be a top-two quarterback once again.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN)
From the time Tannehill took over as the starter in Tennessee (Week 7), he was the best quarterback in football. Really. In fact, he became just the fifth quarterback of all-time to post 10 or more AY/A (Pass Yds +(20 * Passing TD) – (45 * Interceptions))/(Passes Attempted). In fact, Tannehill had 1.09 more yards per attempt than any other QB in the final 11 weeks. That is larger the career difference between Tom Brady and Trent Dilfer. It’s twice the difference between Drew Brees and Andy Dalton or Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. Folks, Tannehill was ridiculous as the starter. And it just isn’t true that Tannehill has always been terrible. Prior to his injuries and the arrival of Adam Gase in 2016, he was #3 all-time behind Peyton Manning and Dan Marino in passing yards during the first four seasons of a career and top 10 all-time in most TDs. His interception rate? Top 10 best and he accomplished all of this with lackluster weapons and a struggling offensive line.