2020 Season in Review: Players on the Most Teams that Missed the Playoffs (Fantasy Football)
The 2020 fantasy football season has come to an end. If you made the playoffs and won your championship, congratulations! If not, don’t look back in anger. You’ll have a shot again next year, and if you’re reading this article, it sounds like you’re already trying to prepare.
Evaluating the players on the most teams that missed (or made) the playoffs can help us identify who to draft next year — and who to avoid. Here are my notes on the players on the most teams that failed to make the postseason.
Lamar Jackson (BAL)
100% rostership rate, 56% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Oof. I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan, and seeing Jackson’s name on this stung a little bit. The third-year quarterback followed up his breakout MVP campaign with a relative dud; although he finished as the overall QB9, he was only the QB10 entering the playoffs, and he had missed Baltimore’s Week 12 game with the Steelers.
There’s a clear lesson here: don’t draft your quarterback early. Jackson entered the year as the QB2 and as the 22nd overall player in ADP. While he still finished as a QB1, he didn’t give you an advantage at quarterback, and that’s what you’re paying for when you draft a quarterback so early. Mid-range weapons, like Kyler Murray and Josh Allen, and late-round flyers, like Ryan Tannehill and Justin Herbert, would’ve all been better investments.
Honorable mention: Matt Ryan (ATL): 82% rostership rate, 49% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
92% rostership rate, 51% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Boy, did Edwards-Helaire not live up to the hype. Although Kansas City sunk a first-round pick into CEH (as did many fantasy managers), the rookie finished as the RB19 in PPR, RB18 in half-PPR, and RB19 in standard-scoring leagues. That’s not what you want out of a first-rounder.
While running backs like Damien Williams and Kareem Hunt have flashed upside in Andy Reid’s offense, Reid chose to emphasize the passing game, and it came at the backfield’s expense. The Chiefs attempted the 10th-fewest rushing plays and scored the eighth-fewest rushing touchdowns, which points to the dwindling volume for running backs here.
That said, CEH’s value could bounce back next season — if he can carve out a role in the passing game. He finished five games with one catch or fewer last year, which won’t cut it in this offense.
Miles Sanders (PHI)
100% rostership rate, 50% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Sanders was a borderline first-round pick this year. He was the RB9 and 11th player overall in ADP, yet he finished as the RB22. To be fair, it’s not all his fault; Sanders missed three games between Weeks 1 and 16, and his 14.2 PPR points per game sits comfortably between David Johnson (14.4) and Mike Davis (13.8), both of whom were rock-solid RB2s.
The other factor explaining Sanders’ struggles? Regression. Although Doug Pederson used him as a workhorse back, the Eagles regressed heavily on offense, and their offensive line ranked 23rd in adjusted line yards (they ranked 14th last year).
Sanders should be drafted as a mid-range RB2 next year, and if Philadelphia’s offense improves, he could end up finishing as a higher-end option at the position.
Honorable mention: Kenyan Drake (ARI): 100% rostership rate, 50% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
It appears that managers who drafted Thomas were the least likely to make the playoffs of all managers. Not only was he cut from 11% of rosters before the end of the season, but 57% of the rosters on which he remained also missed the playoffs. That’s tough.
Thomas ended the year as the WR80, and he was scoring only 12.0 PPR points per game, which sits in between Jarvis Landry (12.3) and Nelson Agholor (11.9). That’s a far cry from the 24.5 PPG that he scored last year, which depended upon his league-leading 11.5 targets and 9.3 receptions per game.
Julio Jones (ATL)
98% rostership rate, 51% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Jones wasn’t as big of a bust as Thomas, but he was a bust nonetheless. That said, the wideout played in only nine games due to his hamstring injury, so the lack of production isn’t entirely his fault. And unlike Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, Jones’ up-and-down injury status strung fantasy managers along all season, and they weren’t able to move him into their injured reserve slots.
While Jones is almost certainly past his prime, he still averaged 16.2 PPR points per game, between A.J. Brown (16.7) and Mike Evans (16.1). According to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the team may move on from Jones and Matt Ryan. Should they do so, Jones could be a nice buy-low candidate heading into his age-32 season — but of course, that depends upon where he ends up.
Honorable mention: Jarvis Landry (CLE): 96% rostership rate, 50% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Rob Gronkowski (TB)
97% rostership rate, 48% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Alas, these numbers only help us identify the players who were on playoff-missing teams at the end of the season. As a result, we can’t tell how many teams who drafted Zach Ertz ended up missing the playoffs, and I suspect that number is somewhat higher than Gronk’s.
Gronkowski often busted this season — he scored 4.5 or fewer PPR points five times. That said, he also flashed some serious upside, as he scored 15-plus points on four occasions. That included a two-touchdown showing in Week 16.
The lesson of this year’s tight market is that you should either commit to a big name early or stick to streaming. The mid-range weapons don’t have much more value than most streamers, as Gronkowski finished closer to TE16 Dalton Schultz (11.9-point difference) than to TE6 Mark Andrews (19-point difference).
Honorable mention: Evan Engram (NYG): 89% rostership rate, 46% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Justin Tucker (BAL)
91% rostership rate, 42% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Don’t draft a kicker early. Sure, Justin Tucker still finished as a K1, but his overall ADP was an absurd 126th. That’s in the same range as players like Antonio Gibson (129), T.J. Hockenson (131), and Ryan Tannehill (132), all of whom would’ve been much better investments.
Honorable mention: Wil Lutz (NO): 80% rostership rate, 38% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Chicago Bears D/ST
78% rostership rate, 36% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
Also, don’t draft your defense early. The Chicago Bears D/ST had an overall ADP of 155th, ahead of players like Chase Edmonds (163), Curtis Samuel (166), and Tony Pollard (167), all of whom had much more upside.
We can draw another lesson from Chicago’s failure — remember to think about a team’s offense when drafting a defense. Some units can compensate for poor quarterback play, but that’s asking a lot, and you’re better off taking a less risky approach. Of the top-10 fantasy defenses, six were teams that also ranked top-10 in points per game.
Honorable mention: Indianapolis Colts: 86% rostership rate, 36% rostership rate among playoff-missing teams.
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