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Key Players with Bad Defenses (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Joshua Lefkowitz | @JLefkoNFL | Featured Writer
Sep 3, 2020

Deshaun Watson has a chance to produce the best season of his career in 2020.

Bad defenses are often fantasy goldmines for offensive players on the team. Although it might not seem appealing to draft a player on a team that will struggle during the season, in reality, these players are in crucial situations to produce at a high level in fantasy football.

I have identified three key players with bad defenses that should thrive this season. The three players were chosen due to their team’s secondary and defensive line rankings for the upcoming NFL season, via Pro Football Focus. Although their defenses will be a concern, their offensive production should not be questioned. These players should be in situations where they are trailing or in tight games, which means each individual’s offense will be dealing with high-volume pass attempts throughout the year.

Below are my key players with bad defenses that I am targeting in fantasy drafts this season.

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Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU)
According to PFF, Houston’s secondary ranks 25th, and their defensive line ranks 16th across the NFL. As a result of the potentially porous defense, Watson might end up with a massive uptick in pass attempts, ultimately boosting his fantasy value and potential as a top-tier QB. Watson is the foundation of the Texans franchise, and we could easily see Watson put up his highest numbers yet due to Houston’s assumed subpar defense.

Watson’s importance to the Texans has not gone unnoticed by fantasy drafters. Watson currently sits as the QB5 with an ADP of 57.3, illustrating the high expectations surrounding Watson even though Houston’s defense is near the bottom-half in both defensive rankings. Regardless of the departure of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Watson has a chance to produce the best season of his career in 2020.

D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
The Carolina Panthers defense is headed for a lot of trouble this season. PFF has this defensive squad’s secondary ranked 31st, and the defensive line ranked 29th. This is terrible news for their defensive unit but great news for Carolina’s offense, in particular D.J. Moore. Carolina will be dealt with a lot of negative game scripts due to their poor defense, which will result in Teddy Bridgewater passing the ball at a high capacity, and in return, Moore will see an increase in volume.

Expect Carolina’s defense to struggle the entire season, which only boosts Moore’s value as an elite fantasy wide receiver this season. D.J. Moore is currently ranked as the WR10 in PPR, with an ADP of 30.0. If the defense produces at the low-level that I expect them to play at, Moore has a great chance of living up to his ADP and finishing the season as a high-end WR1.

D.J. Chark (WR – JAX)
This offseason, the Jaguars traded Calais Campbell to the Ravens, A.J. Bouye to the Broncos, Yannick Ngakoue to the Vikings, and released Leonard Fournette. It is evident that the Jags are attempting a rebuild and clear house of talent and securing cap space. These moves also presume a lot of volume is coming D.J. Chark’s way in what will be a pass-heavy offense. Jacksonville does not have an established second pass catcher, leading Chark to get the bulk of the targets. I expect Chark to have one of the highest target shares among all NFL pass catchers. This article was written before Ngakoue’s trade. However, PFF has Jacksonville’s secondary ranked 29th, and their defensive line ranked 23rd. The defense will be a mess the entire season, leaving the Jaguars with no other choice but to throw the football as much as possible.

Chark has a great chance of climbing inside the WR1 ranks due to the high volume and number of targets expected to come his way this season, combined with the lack of competition he faces. Chark is currently being drafted as the WR23 with an ADP of 56.0. Chark is one of my favorite targets for those who prefer to wait on WRs until rounds four and five.

Conclusion

It is a short-sided ideology to fade players on bad teams. Fading players in bad situations are one thing, but not drafting a player because you are worried about their defense could be costly. Drafting players on teams with horrible defenses is beneficial to fantasy success. Aiming for players that will be utilized more in their offense at a high-volume clip is key to building a championship-winning roster.

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Joshua Lefkowitz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joshua, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JLefkoNFL.

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