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Mike Tagliere’s Must-Have Fantasy Football Players (2020)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 21, 2020

James Conner is an extreme value in 2020 fantasy drafts

Throughout the offseason, we go through many waves of information, talking about sleepers, workhorses, potential breakouts, and anything else you could ever want. While I’d love for you to read all my articles I’ve published (you can find them all here), I feel like there should be an article where you can find the guys I like most heading into 2020.

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That’s where this article comes in. These are the guys I want to leave every draft with, if possible. Draft cost certainly comes into play with most of them, while others are going to require that you reach just a bit to ensure you get them. These are the guys who when I see come off the board to another team, I sigh or yell some sort of obscenity.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC) My Rank: RB7, Current ADP: RB14
He was my No. 1 running back in this year’s draft class because I thought his skill set best-suited today’s NFL. So, when I watched him get drafted in the first round, to the league’s best offense, with a head coach who’s continually produced RB1s, I get excited. You then find out that Patrick Mahomes said he wanted him, and that Reid said his tape was better than Brian Westbrook. You also find out that Damien Williams opted out of the season. Everything adds up to a first-round pick, even in his rookie season.

Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL) My Rank: WR13, Current ADP: WR17
I wrote an article back in January highlighting my early bold predictions for the 2020 fantasy season. In there, I wrote that Ridley would be the 2020 version of Chris Godwin. Similar to Godwin, we’ve watched Ridley’s ADP skyrocket as the offseason has gone on to the point where he’s going in the fourth round. If you’re telling me that I can have two running backs and a wide receiver before drafting Ridley, I’m down with that. The Falcons never replaced Mohamed Sanu‘s targets in the offense. Ridley saw 49 targets in the six games he played without Sanu, which would amount to 131 over an entire 16-game season. Ridley has real top-five breakout potential and is an ideal high-end WR2 on your fantasy team.

Zach Ertz (TE – PHI) My Rank: TE3, Current ADP: TE4
This is one that not many might know, but Ertz has been steadily moving up my draft board. The shortened offseason combined with the lack of proven wide receiver talent on the team suggests that Ertz will be a favorite of Carson Wentz once again. There have been times where Ertz falls to the late-fourth/early-fifth round in drafts, which is a steal for a player of his caliber with his type of role in his team’s offense.

Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) My Rank: RB18, Current ADP: RB20
Yes, I’ve heard the Colts talk about Marlon Mack as the starter. No, I’m not worried about it. They wouldn’t have drafted Taylor in the second round if they didn’t think they could improve. If anyone was looking for a two-down back in this year’s class, Taylor was it. He’s phenomenal in-between the tackles and can shrug off defenders who don’t come properly. They’ll apparently ride the hot hand, and let me tell you, Taylor will be that guy. Getting him at low-end RB2 prices is going to be laughable by this time next year.

James Conner (RB – PIT) My Rank: RB15, Current ADP: RB21
There are questions about Conner’s health, sure. But we play a weekly game, and when he’s on the field, he’s a top-12 running back. Don’t believe me? Look at his numbers over the last two years compared to Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs, and Nick Chubb from last year. I’ll take him at his discounted prices all day.

Player RB1 % RB2 % RB3 % Boom % Bust %
James Conner 43.5% 65.2% 87.0% 30.4% 8.7%
Joe Mixon 37.5% 56.3% 68.8% 12.5% 18.8%
Josh Jacobs 30.8% 61.5% 84.6% 7.7% 15.4%
Nick Chubb 31.3% 62.5% 87.5% 18.8% 12.5%

 

Robert Woods (WR – LAR) My Rank: WR16, Current ADP: WR24
This all comes down to value. Woods scored just two receiving touchdowns last year but finished as a WR2 or better in 53.3 percent of his games, which ranked 12th among wide receivers. If you were to add in a couple touchdowns, he would’ve posted a top-12 season. Now with Brandin Cooks out of town, there’s a clearer path than ever to 130-plus targets, and we’ve already seen how important he is to this offense. Getting him in the fifth round is a no brainer.

A.J. Green (WR – CIN) My Rank: WR23, Current ADP: WR28
You might be rolling your eyes, thinking “how can he stick with Green? He’s old and always hurt.” Well, for one, he came into the league the same time as Julio Jones. You aren’t fading him, are you? As for the injury question marks, I won’t argue with you, but that’s built into his price. Are we really going to pretend that guys like DeVante Parker weren’t labeled as “injury prone” before 2019? Since 2000, here’s the list of wide receivers who’ve posted WR2 or better type numbers at a higher percentage than Green: Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Odell Beckham. That’s the end of the list. He’s played his entire career with Andy Dalton. I’ll take him with his discounted cost, because even if he doesn’t stay on the field, it doesn’t ruin my chances of a fantasy championship.

Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN) My Rank: WR26, Current ADP: WR29
I’m willing to take both Bengals wide receivers at their current ADP. Based on how many pass attempts and where those pass attempts took place, Andy Dalton should have finished as the No. 12 fantasy quarterback, and that’s despite missing three full games. There’s a lot of opportunity in this offense, so if Joe Burrow can come in and be at least competent (or average), there’s tons of value to be had while getting a wide receiver who’s finished top-24 in each of the last two years as your WR3.

Ronald Jones (RB – TB) My Rank: RB25, Current ADP: RB33
You can tell by my ranking that I’m not “all in” on Jones this year, but at his cost, I’ll take him there every single time. The exaggeration of his lack of skills in the passing game is ridiculous, as he was one of the best running backs in the game when it came to yards per route run. No one will mention that because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Instead, they’ll often quote his 51 pass-blocking snaps where he allowed two hurries and one sack. I won’t say that Bruce Arians loves him no matter what; he doesn’t. However, he has said that Jones is the clear-cut starter for this team that should finish top-10 in points per game. That has plenty of value, especially where he’s being drafted.

Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT) My Rank: WR35, Current ADP: WR43
Did you know that Johnson ranked No. 1 among perimeter wide receivers in yards of separation at target? He generated an average of 3.6 yards of separation, which is sky high. He also saw 92 targets in his rookie season, while the team threw the ball just 510 times. With Ben Roethlisberger back, the team should get closer to the 600 range, which allows for much higher target potential. While JuJu Smith-Schuster will get his, Roethlisberger has shown throughout the course of his career that he can support multiple top-36 options.

Tarik Cohen (RB – CHI) My Rank: RB30, Current ADP: RB41
I’m a value-based drafter, period. When I can get a running back who’s been an RB2 or better in half of his games over the last two years in the 9th/10th round, I’m gonna do that. Cohen lacked explosive plays last year and didn’t live up to the RB13 expectations he had from a year earlier, but he was still usable as a flex player. It all comes down to expectations. It seems that Cohen is the new James White in fantasy football, and I have zero issue taking advantage of the recency bias.

Latavius Murray (RB – NO) My Rank: RB34, Current ADP: RB42
Do you remember when both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram both finished as top-six running backs in 2017? Not many do, as evidenced by Murray’s current ADP. Not only does he have elite handcuff upside (he was the RB1 while Alvin Kamara was out last year), but he also has weekly flex appeal if the team gets back to their pass-to-run ratio of 2017-2018. Did you know Murray had 23 carries in the red zone compared to 26 for Kamara last year? Or that they both had 14 carries inside the 10-yard line?

Hayden Hurst (TE – ATL) My Rank: TE7, Current ADP: TE12
The Falcons didn’t even make an offer to Austin Hooper but decided to spend a second-round pick to acquire Hurst from the Ravens. It’s clear they view him as someone who can step right into Hooper’s role. It may take some time for Hurst to get acclimated to the new offense with a shortened offseason, but Hooper’s role was massive last year. He totaled 97 targets in just 13 games, which was a pace of 119 targets on a full 16-game season. Did you know that of the 116 tight ends who’ve seen more than 85 targets the last 10 years, that 97 of them finished as top-12 tight ends? That’s an 83.6 percent success rate and it seems highly likely that Hurst is going to hit that with a ceiling for much more.

Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI) My Rank: WR41, Current ADP: WR51
He’s been skyrocketing up my board, as it’s a foregone conclusion at this point that Alshon Jeffery will start out the year on the PUP list, which means an immediate full-time role for Reagor, who’s electric with the ball in his hands. The Eagles have been apparently working him both in the slot and on the perimeter. Knowing his only competition for targets among wide receivers is the 34-year-old DeSean Jackson, it’s possible we see Reagor eclipse 100 targets this year and lead the team in receiving. That’s rare to find outside the top 40 wide receivers, let alone the top 50.

Anthony Miller (WR – CHI) My Rank: WR44, Current ADP: WR55
There were seven games last year where Miller played without Taylor Gabriel (who’s no longer on the roster). In those games, he totaled 45 targets, 29 receptions, 370 yards, and two touchdowns. Over the course of a season, that’d be a line of 103/66/846/5. Keep in mind that’s with Mitch Trubisky playing less than competent football. Knowing Nick Foles has been added to the stable of quarterbacks, Miller has twice the chance at competent quarterback play, and he’s finally healthy. The Bears coaching staff said he’s been a new person this offseason, showing the dedication they always wanted out of their former second-round draft pick.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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