“Lamar Jackson finishes as a top-three quarterback” and “Vance McDonald is this year’s George Kittle” were my first two fantasy football bold predictions in 2019. One makes me look like a genius while the other would have people questioning why I haven’t deleted my Twitter account yet. So it goes with fantasy football bold predictions and, ultimately, fantasy football in general.
Fantasy Football Bold Predictions for 2020
Before we get into these fantasy football bold predictions, I want to preface this by saying that all of these predictions are, by no means, the most likely outcome. Most of them should be considered 80th or 90th percentile outcomes or better. Some are more likely than others, but that will depend on your own opinions of each player. For reference, all of these are based on a PPR scoring format.
1. Gardner Minshew is a QB1
Last year, Minshew finished as the QB17 in fantasy points per game (16.37) among all qualified quarterbacks. He did this despite being a sixth-round rookie without any significant starter reps and thrust in and out of the lineup. Minshew finished fifth among all quarterbacks in rushing yards last season. He was very good as a passer as well putting up a 3,271/21/6 line and earning PFF’s top grade for any rookie passer, above ROTY Kyler Murray.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 29, 2019
There’s a lot in Minshew’s favor for 2020. Jay Gruden, who orchestrated Andy Dalton’s and Kirk Cousins’ best fantasy seasons, is now the Offensive Coordinator in Jacksonville. Minshew now has a full offseason of starting reps. The Jacksonville defense should be one of the worst in the NFL in 2020. Combine all these things with Minshew’s rushing ability and he has all the makings of a top-12 quarterback who is currently going as the QB24 according to Fantasypros ADP. For a more in-depth breakdown of Minshew, you can find that here.
2. DJ Chark is a WR1
If the first prediction comes true, it only stands to reason that Minshew’s top target, DJ Chark, should thrive. After barely playing as a rookie in 2018, Chark broke out in a big way in 2019. After starting hot, Chark got banged up, missed a game, and faded down the stretch. He was still able to post a 73/1,008/8 receiving line finishing as the WR19 in PPR points per game with 15.05. In the first half of the year, Chark led the AFC in both receiving yards and touchdowns with 660 and six respectively.
Now entering his third year, Chark looks poised to build on his sensational sophomore campaign. A full offseason with Minshew at the helm should help to continue to build the rapport they showed last season. As mentioned with Minshew, the Jags might sport one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020, allowing Minshew and Chark to connect more often. If Chark takes a step forward, he could very easily post an 85/1,200/10 receiving line. Those numbers would be roughly 16.56 PPR points per game which would have placed him as the WR8 in 2019.
3. Christian McCaffrey goes for 1,000/1,000… again
At first, this may not seem too bold considering McCaffrey just accomplished this feat last year. Then you realize it was only the third time in NFL history that a player has ever posted a 1,000/1,000 season and no player has ever done it twice. I think CMC is just that good that he will do something we’ve never seen in the history of the game. The things that McCaffrey is doing are nothing short of incredible and while there is some concern for a repeat season, he’s just too involved in all facets of the offense to truly bust, aside from injury.
Was Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season the greatest dual-threat RB season of all time? pic.twitter.com/2JtQCboPSH
— PFF (@PFF) August 4, 2020
There’s a laundry list of stats you can point to when talking about McCaffrey. Some of the craziest include that only Michael Thomas (321) has more receptions through the first three years of a career than CMC (303). McCaffrey also could have stopped playing last year after Week 12 and STILL finished as the RB1. This year he should pick up right where he left off. Only concerns are a new coach and quarterback, but everything should still revolve heavily around McCaffrey. Bridgewater also seems like a perfect fit for CMC, at least on paper, as a high completion percentage guy who likes to pass underneath. McCaffrey looks locked and loaded to make NFL history in 2020.
4. Tyler Higbee finishes TE3 or better
Tyler Higbee has become one of the most divisive players in fantasy football this year. On one hand, you have people arguing that it’s too small of a sample size and occurred during a period when Gerald Everett was hurt. On the other hand, people believe in the production as it coincided with a notable scheme change by the Rams. Consider me part of the latter group as I believe it was a conscious effort by McVay to find something that was more effective, shifting away from a failing scheme centered around Todd Gurley. By getting rid of Gurley and Brandin Cooks and drafting Cam Akers, Van Jefferson, and Brycen Hopkins, the Rams have shown us all offseason signs that point to the continuance of the scheme that was so successful for both Higbee and Jared Goff.
Higbee’s production down the stretch reached record-breaking levels. He became the first tight end ever to record five straight games of 7+ receptions and 84+ yards. During this stretch, Higbee was seeing a big boost in snap count and target share. He was able to average 21.44 PPR points per game during this stretch, easily the TE1 overall. This production certainly isn’t sustainable, but it doesn’t need to be. Travis Kelce (15.89), George Kittle (15.89), Austin Hooper (14.75), Zach Ertz (14.37), and Mark Andrews (13.81) were the top five in PPR points per game last year. These benchmarks are more than attainable for Higbee, who should continue to be a key cog in the offense. Kelce and Kittle are the elite of the position but it wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever if Higbee challenges them for the tight end crown in 2020.
5. Jared Goff goes for 5,000+/30+
Sticking with the Rams, Higbee’s quarterback, Jared Goff, has been on the precipice of a full breakout for a couple of years now. In 2017, he increased his touchdown percentage to a very good 5.9% which allowed him to finish with 28 touchdowns. In 2018, Goff’s volume increased and he was able to sustain the touchdown percentage. He finished 2018 with 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns. Last year the volume increased even more as he was able to lead the NFL with 626 pass attempts, however, the efficiency dipped.
There have been 62 different times a QB passed for over 4500 yards.
Jared Goff's 22 TD passes on 4,638 yards last season are the third fewest among those seasons.
Goff had 7 completions get tackled at the 1-yard line, the most in the league. No TD passes after any of them.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) July 13, 2020
This year, as mentioned in the Higbee section, I believe they stick with the scheme that they had success with late in 2019. All the offseason moves tend to paint the same picture. In that same stretch that Higbee balled out, Goff did the same. He had a 16 game pace of 5,257 yards and 35 touchdowns. With Gurley out of town, I’m expecting Goff to challenge for the league lead in pass attempts once again as he’s trailed only Matt Ryan in terms of both passing attempts and passing yards over the last two years combined. If we see a bounce back in both yards per attempt and touchdown percentage back to 2017 and 2018 levels, we could be looking at Goff as this year’s Jameis Winston.
6. Zack Moss outscores Devin Singletary
I’m not even as high on Moss as plenty of other fantasy analysts in the industry, but this is more about being extremely pessimistic on Singletary. The big concern comes down to the amount of high value touches Singletary will see. As of now, it looks like Singletary will be on the better side of the overall touch split, but it also seems extremely unlikely he sees the better side of the target and red zone touch splits.
Last year, Singletary was elusive as a runner but was awful as a receiver. He was Football Outsider’s fourth-worst running back according to DVOA. Buffalo also remained reluctant to use him near the goal-line, instead using the corpse of Frank Gore. This offseason, the team drafted Moss, who is both a bruising back that Buffalo outright said will see much of Gore’s work and a highly efficient receiver. Josh Allen is also one of the biggest touchdown vultures in the league. All of this makes Singletary a massive fade at his current ADP of 49th overall (RB23) and Moss the one to target at 119th overall (RB43).
7. D.J. Moore finishes WR4 or better
D.J. Moore feels like one of the safest investments in all of fantasy football to me. After a solid rookie campaign in 2018, Moore had an awesome sophomore year in 2019. He finished with 87 receptions for 1,175 yards and four touchdowns. That was good enough to allow him to finish as the WR16 in PPR points per game. His target, reception, and yardage totals were all top ten in the NFL in 2019. The only thing lagging was a low touchdown rate.
Heading into 2020 there’s plenty of reasons for optimism. This will be Moore’s third year and he should be able to take another leap forward. The quarterback situation is now upgraded as Teddy Bridgewater should be a perfect fit as a guy who likes to throw underneath passes and complete a higher percentage than Kyle Allen. The Panther’s defense should put them in plenty of shootouts as well. If Moore can see some better touchdown luck this season, a final line near 100/1,350/8 could be in the cards in 2020.
8. Austin Ekeler finishes RB5 or better
If Higbee is the most divisive player in fantasy football this year, Ekeler is nipping at his heels! After finishing as the RB4 in PPR last year despite splitting time with Melvin Gordon III, you’d think his outlook would look great with Gordon out of town. Alas, long time Chargers quarterback, Philip Rivers, also left town leaving many people to question just how much Ekeler’s targets and receptions will fall back.
Pretty cool that Austin Ekeler is both the Chargers RB1 and WR3pic.twitter.com/hvsSeMei9j
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 23, 2020
Of course, Ekeler’s receptions will come down at least somewhat as a result of the total pass volume of the team coming down. However, Ekeler could have had 25 fewer receptions, 250 fewer yards, and four fewer touchdowns and STILL finished as an RB1 in PPR. That’s with no extra rushing attempts either and it should be realistic to expect him to see a nice boost in rushing attempts. Last year before Gordon came back from his holdout, Ekeler saw 10+ rushing attempts in three of the four games Gordon missed. He only saw 10+ rushing attempts once over the next twelve games after Gordon’s return. Oh, by the way, Christian McCaffrey was the only running back with more PPR points than Ekeler when Gordon was out.
9. Michael Gallup outscores Amari Cooper
Michael Gallup was another second-year wide receiver that took a big step forward. In his sophomore season, Gallup compiled 66 catches, 1,107 yards, and six touchdowns despite missing two games. That allowed him to finish as the WR17 in PPR points per game with 15.19 just slightly behind teammate Amari Cooper (15.41). In terms of yards per reception and yards per game, Gallup finished ninth and sixth respectively, both of which beat out Cooper.
Had Gallup not missed some time due to knee surgery, there is a real chance he outscores Cooper and the current ADPs would paint a different story. However, according to Fantasypros PPR ADP, Cooper is currently going as the 33rd overall player off the board (WR13), while Gallup is being selected 74th overall (WR33). Pass on Cooper in the third round and instead target Cooper four or more rounds later to get the top producing Dallas wide receiver in 2020.
10. Mike Gesicki Finishes TE5 or Better
Mike Gesicki, like most tight ends, didn’t do much in his rookie season but took a big leap forward in his second year. His final line was 51/570/5 which allowed him to finish as the TE15 among all qualified players. Even more promising was his second-half production in which he was TE5 from Week 9 on. Oh, and by the way, Gesicki has 95th percentile workout scores or better in every single metric and hasn’t dropped a pass so far in his career.
— Rob Norton (@norton0723) June 27, 2020
Two of the biggest worries people note when talking about Gesicki’s fantasy prospects for 2020 are that his best stretch came with Preston Williams out and that new offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, is not known for tight end production. Neither are much of a concern as Williams is coming off a torn ACL and the Dolphins have said they want to ease him back and Gesicki is not your normal tight end. He’s basically a big slot wide receiver listed as a tight end as he lined up in the slot more than any since Tony Gonzalez. Gesicki has a real shot at 100+ targets as the second leading receiver in Miami in 2020.
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