Second-Half 2020 Performances & 2021 Impact (2021 Fantasy Football)
What have you done for me lately? A signature mindset for any excellent redraft fantasy player. Too often, underperforming players hog roster spots or require a draft day reach and fail to produce at the level we believe they are capable. The numbers are the numbers; they should be our focus, not the names.
A few names posted some exciting numbers over the second half of 2020 (Week 9-17). Below are four players who stood out in one or more statistical categories during the most critical Weeks of the real and fantasy season last year. What kind of impact do these performances have on the players’ perceived values for 2021?
Through eight weeks of the 2020 season, at 20.69 ppg, Lamar Jackson sat at QB12, just barely inside the line for a one quarterback league format. But, beginning in Week 9, Jackson was the 3rd highest scoring quarterback in fantasy points per game. Fantasy players who rostered Lamar expected more, and he delivered, scoring nearly 25 points per game in that closing stretch. Jackson accounted for 19 touchdowns in the second half, five on the ground and 14 through the air. He was consistently productive for fantasy teams too, landing inside the Top12 QBs in six of the eight weeks he played. That stretch included an overall QB1 performance in Week 14 at Cleveland with 35 points scored.
The Ravens put their franchise quarterback in a position to succeed. After throwing the ball more than 27 times per game in the first half, Baltimore relied more heavily on the run game lowering Jackson’s passes to 24 per week. Additionally, Lamar was part of that ground attack as he rushed it 12 times per game, a total he reached just twice in the first half. Again, playing to his strengths while also building the fantasy floor that we drafted him for.
2021 Impact: Lamar Jackson possesses the fantasy football QB cheat code — a running game. With this remarkable ability comes massive risk. Jackson, like other mobile quarterbacks, takes more hits than traditional QBs. Add in the extra game, and LJ is more likely than not to miss a week or two in 2021. However, in our game, you must build the risk into your opportunity cost. In 2020, Lamar was going at the top of drafts. Now, he is available in the 4th Round of most. If he can put together an entire season a la his 2020 second-half, you have yourself a massive win taking the Raven QB at 38th overall.
Seventy running backs carried the ball 90 or more times between Week 9 and 17. Of that group of rushers, only Derrick Henry (RB-TEN) ran more effectively than J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins posted a 5.7 yards per carry clip (Henry was 5.8 YPC), finishing his rookie campaign strong. Having that level of success over 98 carries helped cement his role as Baltimore’s lead back heading into 2021. Additionally, a lot of that success came without relation to the offensive line play in front of him, as Mike Tagliere points out:
Based on how many defenders were in the box, how many yards before contact, and how many tackles he had to break, Nick Chubb averaged 1.75 more yards per carry than he was expected to, which led the NFL. J.K. Dobbins (1.67) was the only other RB over 1.14 yards over expected.
– Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL) July 6, 2021
2021 Impact: J.K. will get the majority of carries in this offense, but he doesn’t profile to catch many passes, limiting his upside in PPR and Half-PPR formats. However, he is a skilled rusher, behind a great line, and on a team that likes to run the rock. His floor is an RB2, and with his ADP at RB15, there is even some room to outearn his current draft day opportunity cost.
Name the Top5 scoring fantasy wide receivers of 2020 after Week 9. Did you include Marvin Jones Jr.? Jones finished with a bang, amassing 134.3 points in Half-PPR leagues. That total was bested only by Davante Adams (WR-GB), Tyreek Hill (WR-KC), Stefon Diggs (WR-BUF), and Justin Jefferson (WR-MIN). Jones was in rarified air.
Marvin put up those elite numbers displaying his uncanny ability to make the contested catches. Amongst WRs with more than 100 targets, Jones ranked 7th in contested catch rate at 57.7%. Again, a talent that could come in handy with rookie Trevor Lawrence (QB-JAX) set to throw balls his way in 2021.
2021 Impact: Kenny Golladay’s (WR-NYG) injury opened the door for Marvin Jones Jr. in 2020, but Jones did the job placed before him at a high level. He will undoubtedly have more competition for targets in Jacksonville than he did in Detroit. Although, he is currently buried in drafts at WR53, making him a prime late-round breakout candidate. He won’t need to produce anywhere near his second-half numbers to make his 2021 drafters happy.
Extrapolate Jakobi Meyers’ 2020 second-half out to an entire season, and you get 90 catches for 1135 yards! From Week 9 to 17, the Patriots WR caught the 12th most passes (48) and reeled off the 15th most receiving yards (604) among his wideout peers. Now, we all know that’s not how this works, but Myers was productive, albeit in a Boom or Bust way for New England to close out the year.
In that time, Myers scored the 24th most fantasy points for WRs in Half-PPR formats — without scoring a single touchdown! New England wasn’t the most dynamic offense in 2020 with Cam Newton (QB-NE) at the helm. The unit finished in the bottom three in passing attempts, yards, and touchdowns. So Myers’ production was certainly a surprise.
2021 Impact: Jakobi Myers was an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina State without elite speed or separation. However, the slot WR in New England’s offense has been a role fantasy players have used to their advantage for years now. Utilized mainly on the outside through Week 10, Meyers lined up 247 times in the slot compared to just 151 times out wide in their last seven contests. Most importantly, he’s a free square in every league at WR112, and at that point in drafts, you can take a shot on a 24-year-old who might be coming into his own.
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