Derrick Jones Jr. in the 2020 Dunk Contest (Sorry, Aaron Gordon). Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Miss Davis working at the Landing Strip in Varsity Blues. Our lives are defined by perfect 10s. Thankfully, we can take this same principle and apply it to our fantasy drafts.
After you’ve taken the first few rounds of your draft to grab as much talent as possible (hopefully not quarterback, but that is for a different article), it is time to take some swings that will give your team necessary depth in case of injury or to hit on upside.
Using the April PPR ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator, here is the best fantasy football team you can compile in the 10th round or later to take your team to the next level in 2020.
Quarterback: Daniel Jones, New York Giants
ADP: 10.02, QB16
Daniel Jones comes off a 2019 football season that began with the Giants and Jones being ridiculed for his top-10 selection in the draft and ended with a strong performance for the rookie signal-caller. In 13 games, Jones completed 61.8% of his passes for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Jones boasted a 5.2% touchdown rate, a 2.6% interception rate, and added 45 carries for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. All these stats were compiled with Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram missing time at various points throughout the 2019 season.
From weeks 12-17 last season, Daniel Jones ranked as QB25 in fantasy scoring overall despite missing two games due to injury. While that ranking is underwhelming, a closer look tells us that Jones ranked as QB7 in average points per game during that same part of the season (19.21 average). That average points per game ranked him ahead of names like Patrick Mahomes (19.12 average, QB8), Carson Wentz (18.97, QB10), and Dak Prescott (17.94, QB13).
Looking to the future, the Giants hired former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to be their new offensive coordinator. In Garrett’s last three years in Dallas, the Cowboys averaged a 54/46 Pass to Run ratio despite having a winning record in that time frame (27-21). History tells us that teams with losing records often pass the ball more thanks to negative game scripts (playing from behind) to keep the game close or have a chance to win late. Dallas had their worst season (in terms of win-loss record) in 2019 (8-8) and during that season, Dak Prescott attempted 597 passes (37 per game) even with a healthy Ezekiel Elliott playing in all 16 games and amassing over 300 carries.
Currently, the William Hill oddsmakers in Vegas project the Giants over/under win total at 6.5, lending credence to the fact that the Giants will find themselves in many late-game passing situations throughout the 2020 season. In just 13 games in 2019, Daniel Jones attempted 459 passes, good for 35 attempts per game (and one of those games consisted of 4 attempts in a blowout loss).
A season of at least 550 pass attempts is not out of the question for Daniel Jones in 2020, and that doesn’t even account for the times he may tuck the ball and run to gain yards throughout a game. Volume is king in fantasy football, and Daniel Jones provides the potential passing volume, rushing upside, and weapons to be an excellent quarterback to target as a high upside QB2 in your 2020 fantasy football drafts.
Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
ADP: 10.08, RB45
Of all the names on this list, Jonathan Taylor is poised to see the biggest jump (likely in the first 10 rounds), meaning by the end of May he likely won’t be on this list. But if you’re drafting now, it is time to exploit this value to the best of your ability.
In college, Taylor won back-to-back Doak Walker Award for being the nation's best running back and finished his career as sixth on the NCAA career rushing list (6,174 yards), despite playing only 3 collegiate seasons. Taylor joins a team in the NFL with arguably the best offensive line that has paved the way for Marlon Mack, allowing him to average more than 4.4 yards per carry the last two seasons.
When discussing Taylor, it is important to note that incumbent Marlon Mack and pass-catching back Nyheim Hines will still play a role in Indianapolis during the 2020 season. Since taking over as head coach before the 2018 season, Frank Reich has given his RB1 a 49.5 percent share of the team’s rushing attempts, buoyed by Marlon Mack’s 247 carries in 2019. Reich has also balanced backfields with multiple options before. In 2017 with the Eagles, LeGarrette Blount saw 36 percent of the team’s carries (173 attempts in 16 games) with Corey Clement also factoring on the ground with 15% of the team’s rushing attempts (74 carries). In that season, Blount finished at RB39, and Clement finished as RB45. So, what does that mean for Jonathan Taylor?
For one, it is important to note that we truly have not seen a running back prospect with the complete profile of Jonathan Taylor. His collegiate statistics aside, Taylor is superior in terms of his size and speed of any of the players mentioned above. In terms of sheer physical stature, Taylor shares similarities to Ezekiel Elliott, only he is faster. Zeke ran a 4.47 40-yard-dash at 6’0 225 pounds compared to Taylor’s 4.39 40 at 5’10, 226 pounds.
The Colts also seem to value that physical skill set combined with college production, as they moved up in the 2020 draft to acquire Jonathan Taylor. Since taking over as the Colts GM, Chris Ballard has conducted 11 trades during the NFL draft. Only 3 times has he moved UP for a prospect. Jonathan Taylor is one of the prospects he identified as must-have and the only one on the offensive side of the ball.
While Marlon Mack does factor in the Colts’ backfield in 2020, he has yet to play more than 14 games in a season and enters 2020 on the last year of his rookie contract. In today’s NFL, running backs are typically heavily used throughout their rookie deal before teams move on. Given the willingness of the front office to move up in the draft and Taylor’s physical profile, it seems hard to believe the Colts will waste one of 4 contract years of the best college running backs we have seen in years as a second option in a run-heavy offense.
Even if we do see a similar usage to the Blount/Clement backfield in Reich’s last year with the Eagles, Jonathan Taylor is far more explosive than LeGarrette Blount, meaning he should be able to have far more big plays and therefore more fantasy relevance. Beyond all that, the Colts went out and acquired 38-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers to be their starter for the 2020 season.
The Colts will likely try to utilize the run game to minimize the strain on Rivers, control the clock, and minimize the number of times their older quarterback absorbs hits in games this season. There is a path to a split backfield in Indianapolis, but evidence seems to point as Jonathan Taylor leading that attack.
Taylor will see plenty of work in his rookie season and should exceed his current status as the RB45 for the 2020 season.
Wide Receiver: Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins
ADP: 11.02, WR55
Before a knee injury ended his rookie season, undrafted rookie Preston Williams was on fire. In the first 8 weeks of the season, Williams averaged 7.5 targets, four catches, and 53.5 yards per game. Williams also compiled 13.38 yards per reception, 7.13 yards per target, and had a role on special teams as a punt returner. Williams ranked as WR37 during the first nine weeks of the season, ahead of names like AJ Brown, Michael Gallup, Davante Adams, and Deebo Samuel.
It is well known that DeVante Parker, Williams’ teammate, finally shed the bust label that followed him for most of his career by finishing as the WR11 in PPR formats in 2019. However, through the first nine games of the season, Preston Williams slightly outpaced Parker's production on the field for the Dolphins.
Williams saw 60 targets (21 percent) versus the 52 for Parker (18 percent). Williams also had a larger share of the team’s receptions (32 vs. 28) and receiving yardage (428 vs. 400) while getting only one less receiving touchdown (four vs three). For all intents and purposes, Williams was establishing himself as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target in the Miami passing game.
Historically speaking, offensive play-caller Chad O’Shea comes from a system in New England that has kept the target percentages even in the passing offense. During his last two seasons in Foxborough, his leading receiver garnered an average of 19.25% of the passing targets while his second receiver saw 18.3% of the target share.
These numbers seem to bear out above, giving Williams upside for year 2 in the Miami offense. Even if Parker remains entrenched as the team’s WR1 for 2020, the gap between the top two receiving options in O’Shea’s offense is relatively insignificant and allows multiple players to be fantasy relevant.
With the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick (and the possibility of top 10 quarterback Tua Tagovailoa getting some repetitions behind center as the season progresses), several upgrades to the offensive line, and no major additions to the wide receiver room, Williams has all the makings of a late-round receiver that can have a major role for your fantasy team in 2020.
Wide Receiver: Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
ADP: 11.10, WR58
Jamison Crowder subtly finished as WR26 for the Jets in 2019, catching 78 of 122 targets for 833 yards and 6 touchdowns (197.7 PPR points). At WR26, Crowder outpaced bigger names such as Calvin Ridley, Terry McLaurin, Tyreek Hill, D.K. Metcalf, as well as many other receivers who are currently being drafted ahead of him in current fantasy drafts. Crowder established himself as Sam Darnold’s safety net when things went bad in the Jets offense, collecting 23 percent of the target share.
Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas exit the Jets offense (replaced by Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims), leaving Crowder as the only wide receiver with familiarity with Darnold and Adam Gase’s offense. Beyond that, the exit of these two players frees up 154 targets from the 2019 season or roughly 29 percent of the offense’s pass attempts from the season before.
Given the lack of OTA’s and training camp this summer, experience and familiarity are crucial for players and coaches in the upcoming season, giving Crowder a leg up in soaking up some of those pass attempts. While he will not absorb a majority of those 154 targets, it does cement his 2019 floor in the offense (122 targets) and opens him up to possibly more work next season.
If we assume that Crowder adds two targets a game out of that 154 that are vacated, that puts Crowder at 154 targets for the season. If you added those 32 targets to Crowder’s 2019 statistical averages, he would have finished with 98 catches, 963 yards, and seven touchdowns, good for 236.3 fantasy points in a PPR league. That total vaults Crowder from WR26 all the way to WR13, ahead of Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans, D.J. Moore, and many other big-name fantasy wide receivers.
Yes, it is very unlikely that Jamison Crowder finishes as a top-12 receiver in the 2020 season. A lot of things would have to break perfectly, and his role would have to grow for it to be close to coming true. However, Crowder is the main returning piece of a receiving group tied to a young quarterback in a truncated offseason that also features a head coach (Adam Gase) known for feeding slot wide receivers. While a top-12 finish is unlikely, a round 11 ADP and WR58 draft slot are downright insulting for a player with the 2019 fantasy profile of Jamison Crowder. Snap him up in round nine or 10, set him as your WR2, WR3, or FLEX spot, and don’t think twice about it.
Tight End: Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers
ADP 14.06, TE30
The Panthers offense returns several key components (Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel) while adding huge parts in Teddy Bridgewater, head coach Matt Rhule, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Ian Thomas is a holdover but will likely see an uptick with his role in the offense due to the exit of long-time tight end Greg Olsen.
Since coming into the league in 2018, there have been 10 games where Thomas has registered over 65% of the offensive snaps. In those games, Thomas collected 59 targets, 40 catches, 314 yards, and 3 touchdowns. While it is difficult to project Joe Brady’s offense to the NFL at this point, it is worth noting that his tight ends (Thaddeus Moss and Stephen Sullivan) combined for 59 catches (14 percent of the offense), 700 yards (12 percent of the team receiving yards) and four touchdowns (six percent of reception touchdowns) in the most-prolific college offense in the history of the NCAA.
In the 14th round, Thomas has massive upside on an offense that will likely be playing from behind in 2020 with a quarterback who is more likely to check it down than throw it deep.
FLEX: Duke Johnson, Houston Texans
ADP: 10.09 RB46
Despite seeing less of a role than expected in the Texans offense, Duke Johnson finished as RB29 in PPR leagues in 2019, better than Sony Michel (RB31), Devin Singletary (RB32), David Johnson (RB37), and Damien Williams (RB38). Given that, it is surprising to find that Duke Johnson Jr. is still available late in the 10th round of fantasy drafts despite his ability to carve out a fantasy-relevant role in a split backfield.
In the 2019 season, Johnson saw 19 percent of the carries and was third on the team in targets (62), good for 11 percent of the team’s pass attempts. Despite his success and efficiency, the Texans went out of their way to add David Johnson in exchange for DeAndre Hopkins. The positive? Hopkins’ exit opens 150 targets that will be divided between Will Fuller and new perimeter additions Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb.
David Johnson figures to get the first crack at lead-back duties, but he has been ineffective (averaging 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carries the past two seasons compared to Duke Johnson’s 4.9 and 5.0 YPC). Given David Johnson’s injury history, Duke Johnson is an excellent late-round pick that could easily surpass his draft positioning with an injury or ineffective running back in front of him.
So, to recap:
QB: Daniel Jones
RB: Jonathan Taylor
WR: Preston Williams
WR: Jamison Crowder
TE: Ian Thomas
FLEX: Duke Johnson
To avoid bias, let’s ask our guest judge to be the deciding factor:
If Billy Bob gives it a 10, you know it’s good.
Questions/Comments/Concerns/Disagreements? Don’t scream into the void, reach out on twitter (@fornekdf) to open this up to some good ol’ fashioned discourse.
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