Risers and Fallers of the 2020 Offseason



We are going to take a look on how my opinion has changed over the course of the preseason. Most of this section is running backs as they saw the most changes in value as we got a better understanding of the committee expectations. There are also a lot more risers than fallers, because it is more likely for players to climb up the rankings multiple spots, while everyone else just shuffles back a place or two. I am not saying to fade the fallers (at least not all of them), but rather summarizing the reason they have dropped off. Most of these players have been talked about elsewhere through the preseason.

Quarterback

Risers

Cam Newton- Probably the biggest riser of any player overall. Cam went from unemployed to starting QB. All reports are that he has looked healthy in training camp and is ready to roll in the regular season. When he is healthy he is a star. My final preseason rankings have him at QB8.


Ben Roethlisberger- Roethlisberger is throwing the ball well to all parts of the field and apparently feels better than he has in years (his elbow has been bothering him for longer than we knew). Another QB with a clean bill of health through training camp and ready to show he hasn’t aged out. It is a bounce back season for the Steelers offense and Roethlisberger figures to finish as a QB1. I have slightly tapered expectations and still prefer some other options as a whole, but he is as high-upside a back-up QB as you can draft. QB13 headed into the season.


Fallers

Josh Allen- I’ve never been a big Josh Allen fan and he continuously fell down my rankings as other QBs ascended. I think Allen will have some real spike weeks where he is amongst the top scorers at the position, but I think they are going to be hard to predict and there will be too many duds mixed in. I think Zach Moss has really impressed and we won’t be able to count on the rushing TD’s like we have been able to in other seasons. From a total points perspective he might finish top 10, but the consistency is not what I want from my starting QB.


Running Back

Risers

CEH- I’ve been talking about him all offseason. WIth the news surrounding Alvin Kamara I was tempted to move him up to RB4, but I believe most of the news coming out of New Orleans is “noise”. This has really shaped up to be CEH’s backfield in KC and I expect him to start close to 70% usage and climb from there. He remains my target after the big four.


Jonathan Taylor- Rave reviews as Taylor seems set to live up to the hype. I worry this committee will be a little more involved than we want in the early weeks of the season, but I think that Taylor “runs away” with the job. His rise is contrasted with the fall of a lot veteran backs that seem to be in more of a committee than we anticipated early in the offseason (Johnson, Gurley, Bell).


Antonio Gibson- The Gibson rocket ship has been impressive. Originally in a six man battle for touches in the Washington backfield, Gibson has emerged from camp with a clear path to carries and receiving work in week one. Upon his exit, Adrian Peterson said they want someone to be the pony and that someone is Gibson. Gibson is the type of player who wouldn’t have worked in the league ten years ago, but offensive coordinators are more creative now than they were then and know how to utilize a player like him to his best capabilities. Gibson profiles to get 5-10 carries a game with another 5-10 targets a game. That type of usage will put him in the Austin Ekeler-lite role with room to grow. If Gibson shows more in the running game early, then that carry number will grow. There is very little proven competition on this roster in Washington and cream rises to the top. His ADP has skyrocketed into the third to fifth round in some leagues, but he has the type of league winning upside we want to swing for the fences on.


RoJo- I could put Ronald Jones on both lists. RoJo started around RB40 on mosts lists (not mine where he was RB25). After climbing as high as RB15, I have had to sadly drop RoJo to RB21 on my final update. The Fournette addition was surprising, but I think it says more about McCoy/Vaughn than it does RoJo. This will be his job to start the year and if he performs to expectations than he will easily hold off Fournette for the lion’s share of carries and receptions. If the pressure gets to him and slips up, then this will be a 1A/1B situation. RoJo had climbed into the fifth round, so enjoy the discount of being able to get him in the 8-10 range now.


Tarik Cohen- To this point the Bears have not brought in a replacement for David Montgomery for the early part of the season. Cohen is not built to get more than 15 carries in a game for an entire season, but he should see more carries and designed targets early in the year. I think with improved QB play he can get back to his 2018 efficiency and excel on the increased touches he is bound to see.


Damien Harris- A minor injury has opened the door a little for Michel to reclaim his early down role in the New England backfield, but I think Harris keeps it. The Pats passed on bringing in Fournette and released veteran-depth add Lamar Miller. We had four straight weeks of rave reviews on Harris’s performance in camp while Michel was out. The Pats offense seems set to work Michel out of the rotation and turn this into a Harris/White backfield with Cam under center. I think Harris is the better football players and his ability as a receiver should be what seals the deal.


Chase Edmonds- With Kenyan Drake in a walking boot for part of the week last week, Chase Edmonds got a lot more interesting. Drake and the Cardinals said there was nothing to worry about with his foot, but it helps to reinforce that Drake isn’t built for workhorse duty and that sets Edmonds up for a flex-worthy amount of touches per game. If anything does happen to Drake, then Edmonds would be the primary ball carrier for the offense as he was last season when David Johnson went down.Had he not suffered a minor injury of his own, then the Cards would not have brought in Drake and the job would likely be his.


Jerick McKinnon- Talked about a lot in the round by round column. I like McKinnon to compete for touches and potentially lead the RB platoon in SF by midseason.


Fallers

Todd Gurley- His fall is partly due to his health concerns and partly due to more intriguing options elsewhere. If we were guaranteed the workload he had when leading the Rams backfield then we would be targeting him in the first round, but reports have been inconsistent out of camp and touch limits are already being discussed. The Falcons don’t have much behind him so I think he remains with most of the high-value touches, but it is just hard to bet on him with the other RB/WR options available in the third round.


Leveon Bell- Bell showed up in the “best shape of his life” to Jets camp, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. Gase just doesn’t seem to like the former Steelers star. Apparently Gore is going to get touches early and this team felt the need to trade a late round pick for Kalen Ballage (before Ballage promptly failed the physical and the trade was rescinded). Bell doesn’t fit Gase’s scheme and Gase just doesn’t seem to care. Continue to avoid in drafts.


Leonard Fournette- I was down on Fournette originally because I didn’t think he would repeat last year’s volume and I thought there was a good chance that he didn’t finish the season on the Jags roster. Turns out I was right and he won’t even start the season there. He is now in Tompa Bay and set to back-up RoJo. We don’t know how long he will be the back-up, but I expect him to start with 20-30% of the usage. It is hard to tell if Fournette is good anymore because he was on the Jags. We know that 32 teams didn’t feel like it was worth paying him his old salary ($4 mil) and he got a non-guaranteed contract to come to TB. If people are still crazy enough to take him in the 3rd or 4th round of fantasy drafts, then rejoice that a better player will fall to you.

Devin Singletary- I started this offseason with Moss ranked above Singletary, but they were close. Now Moss is RB23 and Singletary has fallen to RB42. His fumbling issues have persisted through preseason and Moss has apparently stood out as rusher and receiver. I think Moss gets the better part of a 60/40 split at minimum with the goal line carries. I want no part of Singletary in drafts.


Wide Receivers

Risers

Odell Beckham Jr- Every time I sat down to do my rankings I seemed to find myself moving up OBJ. It’s been a spot or two each time that has culminated in him ranking WR9. I love everything the Browns did this offseason (rebuilt O-line, new HC/OC, no new WRs). Odell has been healthy through camp and should be set to smash this season. I am excited to see what Stefansky does with him and for OBJ to prove he belongs in the conversation of best WR in the NFL.


Tyler Lockett- Another steady riser with one big jump to finish as WR14. With DK Metcalf taking the top off last year, we saw Lockett rise to another level before missing time and losing ability with a brutal lower leg injury. Lockett should be back to early 2019 levels of production in 2020 with Metcalf and the re-signed Josh Gordon in town to take the defenses lid off again. His ceiling/floor combo is elite which is why he has jumped so many other talented wideouts.


Jalen Reagor/Brandon Aiyuk- Both players have climbed into the top forty at the position. Both would have gotten another bump in this final update if not for some minor injuries that have cost them a week of training camp and may linger through week one. They may start slower than I thought they were going to after coming back from these injuries, but the upside is still there for them to finish top 20-30 in points per game down the stretch. Enjoy the discount and stash them on your bench for later in the season.


Laviska Shenault- Maybe the biggest beneficiary of the Leonard Fournette release. Shenault was used all over the formation in college and could potentially see work in the backfield while his team is in the redzone. If the Jags get really creative then we could see Shenault with a similar usage to Antonio Gibson (getting 3-8 carries a game with a higher target upside as Jax’s WR2/3). It’s less guaranteed than what we are anticipating with Gibson, which is why he hasn’t seen a similar rocket ship rise until the top 30, but the potential is there and he is primed for plenty of dance parties if he does take off.


Paris Campbell- Campbell has apparently locked up the number two wideout role in Indy. TY Hilton has not exactly been a pillar of health in recent seasons and I think Campbell is going to show us why he was so highly valued coming out of college last offseason. My favorite final pick at the WR position and I am expecting some real spike weeks as he settles into more consistency throughout the year.


Fallers

Amari Cooper- Really nitpicking here, but he started in my top 10 at the position and is now WR11. I think Michael Gallup is criminally underrated and that CeeDee Lamb is going to contribute. Cooper had a tendency to disappear at times last season, but I am expecting more consistency with less defensive attention this season. Splitting hairs at WR has him down a few spots from where he started.


Jarvis Landry- Falls to WR30 after starting the offseason around WR20. Small worries about volume in the offense and the rise of two tight end sets. Landry is reportedly fully recovered from his hip injury from last season, but he didn’t clear the injury list until three weeks into camp. His fall is more to do with other WR’s rises (Fuller, Diontae, Green, Hollywood), but he has slid down about ten spots from the first rankings release.


Cooper Kupp- I started the season low on Kupp and keep finding people to put ahead of him. I worry that he is just another slot receiver and won’t be as productive on the outside with the Rams running more two tight end sets. If his TDs fall off then he won’t return top twenty value and I am a full fade with him at WR35.


Alan Lazard- Feels rude to beat on a guy who was never ranked higher than WR50, but Lazard has dropped all the way down to WR70 as the Packers seem recommitted to MVS. Reports are that MVS will start in two receiver sets and that he has looked the most impressive of the non-Davante Adams wideouts in camp. MVS was a popular sleeper last year after a mini-breakout in 2018. Maybe this is his post-hype breakout that we were expecting last season. Regardless, Lazard is no longer worth the late round flier and can be had off the waiver wire if he emerges with usable target volume early in the season.


Tight Ends

Risers

Mark Andrews- Cheating again because I never moved him from TE3. However I went from drafting him in the 4th/5th to the 3rd round. I think he has a real chance to challenge Kelce/Kittle for TE1 and am willing to get him after securing two rounds of top talent in front of him. I gave him his own new tier in the most recent rankings update to illustrate the no man’s land he currently finds himself in.


Hayden Hurst- Another slow climber. Hurst looks like he is set to fill most of Hoopers role from last season, and although I don’t think he will be TE1 for much of the season like Hooper was last year, I also don’t see him falling outside the top 10. Atlanta is going to need to throw a lot and they can easily feed three weapons in this offense.


Eric Ebron- A reinvigorated Ben Roethlisberger and a coaching staff that is okay with him not blocking (like at all). I love Ebron for his TD upside, especially since you can draft him late as a TE2 flier if you passed on the top six.


Fallers

Darren Waller- The injury to Tyrell Williams might give a slight boost to his target projection, but I just think the Raiders have too many mouths for Waller to stand out again in 2020. I’ve moved him back a few rounds and he leads the fourth tier of TE’s. I definitely want an upside backup if I am drafting Waller.


Mike Gesicki- Gesicki is a glorified slot WR (lines up in the slot 80% of the time) and not a very good one. He is running a lot of routes that figure to get him in space and let him succeed and he just doesn’t. I liked him a lot when the Dolphins WR’s opted out and it looked like Preston Williams wasn’t going to be healthy to start the year, but now Williams is healthy. I’ve moved Gesicki to the back of the upside TE tier and would rather any of the guys above him then take him as my TE2 and under no circumstances want him as my TE1.

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