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13 Players Who Will Bounce Back in 2021 (Fantasy Football)

Jul 29, 2021

Fantasy managers have already started to scour the player pool in search of those who underperformed in what was a highly unusual 2020 season. There were plenty of big names who didn’t live up to their expectations, whether it was due to injury, off-field problems, or poor performance. With the exception of elite players like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, or Dak Prescott, a disappointing season typically depresses that athlete’s draft cost, allowing you to snag them with some built-in equity. Since selecting players with the upside to give you large returns on your investment is how you win your draft, our featured analysts have arrived to tell you which guys are their top bounce-back candidates this year.

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Q1. Who is one RB you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2020 campaign and why?

Joe Mixon (CIN)
“Mixon had a disappointing season in 2020, but it wasn’t entirely because of him. While he injured his foot early on and probably should have been shut down on IR right away, Zac Taylor constantly played with fantasy managers’ emotions by saying Mixon was week-to-week. If he had been shut down and put on IR, fantasy managers wouldn’t have been put in this frustrating situation of not knowing when he was going to be back. Mixon’s in line for a workload other RBs in the NFL can only dream about and he’s a slam dunk pick in the second round every single time.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Joe Mixon feels like a cheap answer since he spent most of his time on the sidelines due to injury last season, but the fact is that if you drafted him, you were disappointed. I’m not expecting that to be the case this season. Mixon is the workhorse running back on a team that finally has some life in its offense. The main area of concern with him has always been his health, and if he can stay on the field this season, he could very easily end up as a solid RB1.”
– Justin Dodds (SleeperWire)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) 
“Edwards-Helaire stormed out of the gate but for the most part, it was an inconspicuous debut. It’s easy to chalk him up as another overhyped rookie that failed to meet expectations, but it’s also way too early to write him off. There’s no reason to not expect him to receive a significant number of touches in a fantasy-friendly offense, and don’t forget that Kansas City overhauled its offensive line this offseason. It’s perfectly understandable to lower your expectations when it comes to CEH; just don’t drop him too far on your draft board.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Miles Sanders (PHI) 
“For me, it’s Sanders. He disappointed so many last season and I believe it had a lot to do with Doug Pederson. Now that the fantasy running back reaper is out of Philadelphia, Sanders will shine bright in an offense full of young talent. His sample size with Jalen Hurts at QB down the stretch, although small, was encouraging heading into the 2021 season.”
– Nate Hamilton (The Game Day)

Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) 
“There are some concerns I still have regarding Elliott at this stage of his career. Some of the deeper metrics on him were troubling in 2020. However, he’s come into camp in excellent shape and the healthy return of Dak Prescott is enough to get me to a place where he’s a ‘safe’ RB1 and the offensive firepower will hide any downward trends for 2021.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Q2. Who is one WR you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2020 campaign and why?

D.J. Chark (JAC) 
“For me, it’s a toss-up between Chark and Odell Beckham, but I’ll side with Chark on this one. He was someone who was drafted as a low-end WR2 last season and didn’t deliver on that price as he finished as the WR49 in PPR. I think with a new offensive philosophy and a drastic improvement in quarterback play, Chark will easily finish as a top-36 WR with strong WR2 upside. Jacksonville won’t be great, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have solid fantasy options this season. I think Chark might just be one of them this year.”
– Justin Dodds (SleeperWire)

Chris Godwin (TB) 
“Godwin finished with 840 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but it wasn’t the type of production those who drafted him early were hoping for. There were a few injuries, but it just seemed that Godwin didn’t enjoy the same chemistry with Tom Brady compared to some others. A full offseason should change that, not to mention the fact that Godwin is playing on a one-year tender after getting franchise-tagged this past offseason. Don’t be surprised if Godwin ends up being the Buccaneers’ most productive pass-catcher this season.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Will Fuller V (MIA) 
“Will, now known as ‘William’ Fuller V, is a great bounce-back candidate in 2021. In his last nine games played, he was the WR4 in fantasy with 45 receptions, 767 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. He’ll be suspended for Week 1, but he’s a screaming value in current fantasy drafts.”
– Nate Hamilton (The Game Day)

Odell Beckham (CLE) 
“While we might not be able to talk about him as a top-five fantasy WR anymore, Beckham is still one of the most talented players in the game. He’s working his way back from injury, but we can’t forget about what he can do when he’s on the football field. At his current ADP, you can live with the potential of him missing time yet again, but he could absolutely come out and remind everyone of his talent in 2021. As a WR2 — or even a WR3 — on your roster, OBJ’s worth snagging.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Julio Jones (TEN) 
“I fully expect Jones to be a top-10 WR in 2021 and the fresh start with the Titans is exactly what he needs at this stage of his career. He will also benefit from his new protege, A.J. Brown, and opposing defensive backs are going to be in for a long day at the office when facing this team. Jones is not done.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Q3. Who is one QB you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2020 campaign and why?

Carson Wentz (PHI) 
“Wentz was probably the biggest disappointment last season as he was being drafted as a top-10 quarterback fairly often, but finished as just the QB22. He has suffered practically his entire career from a mixture of bad coaching, aged offensive weapons, and a terrible (sometimes due to injuries) offensive line. Last season was all of them mixed into one awful season that ended with Wentz getting kicked out of town. The Colts have a solid offensive line, a head coach and system that is familiar to Wentz, and some solid young talent at the skill positions. I don’t think you’ll get many top-end QB1-4 performances, but I expect Wentz to consistently finish as the QB8-14 each week even though he’s being drafted as the QB20 right now. That’s essentially drafting a guy at his floor.”
– Justin Dodds (SleeperWire)

“Nothing went right for Carson Wentz (or the Eagles for that matter) last season, but he has an excellent opportunity to put all of that behind him. Not only is he reunited with his former coach (Frank Reich), but Indianapolis also has a solid offensive line and a talented backfield. There’s some question about who will catch his passes, but looking at the overall picture, the pieces are in place for Wentz to prove a lot of doubters wrong.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Cam Newton (NE) 
“Newton threw to the likes of Jakobi Meyers & Damiere Byrd at WR and Ryan Izzo at TE. He had the second-most rushes at QB, third-most rush yards, and the most rushing TDs among QBs, but finished as the QB16. His new targets in 2021 are a drastic upgrade to what he dealt with in 2020. His current ADP … QB27!”
– Nate Hamilton (The Game Day)

Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) 
“Let’s not count out Tagovailoa just yet, shall we? The second-year QB is just now getting his first opportunity to work as the starter in an actual offseason with a revamped receiving corps around him. He’s an extremely intelligent and accurate QB that’s going to get a chance to show everyone why he was a top-five NFL Draft pick. He might not push his way into the top 10 at the QB position, but he’s going to consistently be in the streaming QB conversation.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Matthew Stafford (LAR) 
“Stafford is like a kid who’s finally allowed to get out of time out, with ‘time out’ being Detroit, of course. He goes to a contender with plenty of weapons and a great offensive-minded head coach. Only poor health can stop Stafford in 2021 and there’s a good chance he has a career season in Los Angeles.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their top bounce-back candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and check out our latest podcast below for more advice.

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