Three WRs to Remember in 2020 (Fantasy Football)
Out of all the articles in the Players to Remember series, the WRs are by far the hardest to scale down to three. There is so much talent available in the middle to late rounds that it’s only fair to bring up a few honorable mentions. These players are not detailed in this article but don’t forget about Courtland Sutton, D.J. Chark Jr., N’Keal Harry, Preston Williams, Breshad Perriman, and DeSean Jackson, just to name a few. I love the upside of these wide receivers and they are available to draft late enough to take the risk if they don’t hit.
Although it was difficult to narrow down, let’s dive into three wide receivers to remember in 2020.
Current ADP is based on PPR scoring in the 2020 Ultimate Draft Kit.
1. Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals
With WR A.J. Green out the entirety of the 2019 season, many folks picked up the Bengals’ WR2, Tyler Boyd in hopes that he could fulfill Green’s position and production. Despite the opportunity to become the WR1 in the offense, Boyd struggled as the primary wide receiver.
According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception (exclusive to the UDK), Boyd’s success rate versus man coverage dropped from 66.9% in 2018 to 57.4% and dropped from 72.7% to 50% in press coverage.
The take away is pretty clear. He needs a true WR1 in order to be successful.
Luckily, the Bengals have made some serious moves in the offseason including additional pieces on offense and a new QB in Joe Burrow. Green is back and healthy, so once again Boyd has an opportunity to take advantage of defenses scheming around Green.
2019 was not without its issues on offense with Dalton performing at a sub-par level and QB Ryan Finley taking over for three games. Still, Boyd saw 148 targets with 90 receptions for 1,046 yards and five touchdowns. However, he only had three games as a top 12 WR or better (WR1) and two games as a top 24 or better (WR2). This equates to 11 games of being a WR30 or worse.
Let’s compare this to 2018 when the QB play was better and Green was on the field. Boyd saw 108 targets over 14 games (two fewer than 2019) with 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns. He had five games as top 12 WR and three games as top 24 or better, finishing the year as the WR17 in half-PPR scoring.
2020 should look more like 2018 with high WR2 upside and WR1 weeks in the right matchups.
2. Diontae Johnson – Pittsburgh Steelers
If 2019 was a bad year for the Bengals, it was catastrophic for the Pittsburgh Steelers. On top of a mountain of off-field drama, QB Ben Roethlisberger went down early in the season and did not return to the field for the rest of the year. With WR Antonio Brown gone, WR Juju Smith-Schuster was a guinea pig in an altered offense, which didn’t go so well. The Steelers were forced to rely on not one, but two, backup QBs both making their NFL debut in 2020.
These circumstances were less than ideal. Couple that with the Steelers’ history of avoiding a heavy workload for rookie WRs and really nothing jumped out that said rookie WR Diontae Johnson was going to be significant.
He didn’t care.
Somehow, Johnson carved out 59 receptions on 92 targets for 680 yards and five touchdowns with 11.5 yards per reception. He had five weeks as a top 24 WR or better with three of those weeks as a top 10 WR. It was a breakout year that shouldn’t have happened, yet here we are.
Fortunately, the horizon is looking much better for the Steelers in 2020. Roethlisberger is back and healthy and Smith-Schuster is moving back to slot where he is at his best. This leaves Johnson as the go-to wideout to work in tandem with Smith-Schuster. In 2018, the Steelers WRs saw 65.8% of the targets. The WR1 saw 24.9% of those targets while the WR2 saw 24.6%. That’s only a 0.3% difference between the WR1 and the WR2 in terms of targets. Granted, this was with Brown as the WR1 so this may not repeat in 2020. However, even if it gets close to that proportion of targets, Johnson and Smith-Schuster should be the primary recipients in heavy volume passing.
Getting a WR2 that could actually become the WR1 )or at least have massive WR1 weeks) in the 9th Round is a no-brainer for me. I am targeting Johnson in as many leagues as I can get him.
3. Anthony Miller – Chicago Bears
Anthony Miller has a real shot at making a big splash in 2020, however, there are two big obstacles he must hurdle first. Those are QB drama and HC Matt Nagy.
In case you missed it, QB Mitchel Trubisky was… less than stellar in 2019. The Bears then brought veteran, Super Bowl champ Nick Foles into the QB room. Whether it was for a stabilizing, mild-mannered presence or to light a fire in Trubisky, the questions still remain regarding which one will start and which will have the most playing time. Either way, this should be a good thing for the Bears’ weapons. Nick Foles should inject some fresh blood in the offense and if Trubisky wants to keep his job, he should also start to play better. Hopefully, this is a win-win all around.
For Miller, the biggest change this offseason is losing WR2 Taylor Gabriel. Gabriel usurped 48 targets for 29 receptions, 353 yards, and four touchdowns over nine games before getting injured. Despite his WR2 status, he wasn’t able to do much with the opportunity, finishing only once as a top 12 WR. Once Miller assumed the WR2 role, he was more productive in a shorter amount of time on his increased volume. In Weeks 13 through 16, he finished as the WR11 in Week 13 and then as the WR5 in Week 15.
Prior to Gabriel’s injury at the end of the season, Miller’s targets were abysmally low. With the exception of Weeks 5 and 6 where saw seven and nine targets respectively, he only saw at most three targets a game for 10 weeks. It’s pretty difficult to do much when you don’t get the ball. He showed he can be a valuable asset to the team as well as in fantasy when he is incorporated into the offense.
So, why didn’t this happen earlier? Despite the lack of receiving weapons aside from Allen Robinson and a mediocre Taylor Gabriel, Nagy seemed hesitant to incorporate Miller into any kind of offensive scheme during the early part of the year. The reasoning behind this isn’t conclusive, however, it may have to with Miller’s need to further develop. After undergoing a second surgery, the Chicago Tribune reported that Miller has been working during his rehab with the WRs coach and studying film on elite WRs to mentally take his game to the next level.
He is poised to have a breakout year if he can put the pieces together and overcome the issues at quarterback. You are drafting him as a WR3 but he should see the opportunity to be a high upside WR2 with WR1 weeks. He is going criminally low in drafts so you can get him dirt cheap or even off of the waiver wire in some leagues.