Who Will Be The 2020 Fantasy MVP?
In a very special episode from The Fantasy Footballers, our hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason welcome fantasy experts from across the industry to give us their 2020 fantasy MVPs. Here are their picks to help you win a #FootclanTitle!
Jonathan Taylor – RB Indianapolis Colts
“When The Fantasy Footballers approached me and asked me for my Fantasy MVP in 2020, it did not take me long to arrive at Jonathan Taylor with his mid 3rd round ADP and extremely conservative projection based on the situation he’s in. Marlon Mack is the incumbent and Nyheim Hines is possibly the passing down back, but they didn’t spend the draft capital on Jonathan Taylor to let him sit and rot. They’re going to give this kid the ball early and often, and he may get 250 touches as opposed to the 200 to 215 that most people are projecting him for.
Let’s take a quick look at some facts. They will have improved QB play going from Jacoby Brissett to Philip Rivers this season. Taylor is running behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, and the Colts have the 6th easiest strength of schedule per PFF. Four of those games will be against the Texans and Jaguars, who are projected to be awful. Give me the rookie from Wisconsin as my fantasy MVP, with the upside of possibly being a top-6 RB while being drafted as the 20th RB off the board.”
Al Zeidenfeld (Al Smizzle) – @AlZeidenfeld – ESPN
Christian McCaffrey – RB Carolina Panthers
“I’m going with Christian McCaffrey! I know it sounds like low hanging fruit, but you know what? Low hanging fruit tastes just as good as fruit from the top of the tree, and you don’t have to reach as high for it! We haven’t seen a one-man offense in the NFL, but CMC last year was the closest we may ever get. He played 93% of the snaps, had about half of the team’s total touches, a ton of the team’s total yards, and about half of the team’s touchdowns!
I don’t expect much to change for him in 2020. Maybe there’s a slightly better supporting cast, and he does get an upgrade at QB with Teddy Bridgewater, but this is still an offense that functions primarily through Christian McCaffrey getting the football. There’s a reason he’s going off the board at 1.01 in pretty much every fantasy draft. And yes, even if he takes a step back and even if there is some regression, there is still going to be plenty of work there for CMC. I think he is going to double up as your fantasy MVP!”
Marcas Grant – @MarcasG – NFL.com
Chris Carson – RB Seattle Seahawks
“What up, Footclan? It’s Brad Evans and boy, do I have a tale to tell you! Lurking deep in the chilly dark waters of Puget Sound resides a fantasy leviathan all backers should fish for! This mythical beast wrecks defenses with hard-charging runs, steady 100-yard performances, and an abundance of touchdowns. Draft him and you’ll pull the competition down to Davy Jones’ locker. His name is Chris Carson, available typically in rounds 3 to 4 of fantasy drafts. The Seattle Smasher is destined for another 1,300 total yards and 8 to 10 touchdowns. Release the Kraken, and you’ll score a championship trophy!”
Brad Evans – @NoisyHuevos – FTN Fantasy
Damien Harris – RB New England Patriots
“I know fantasy managers tremble at the idea of rostering a Patriots running back, but do not fear the multiple skill set that Damien Harris offers. Instead, embrace it! Sure, New England’s 3rd round pick from a year ago has a playing style that’s more dependable than extra, but that’s on-brand for New England. Listen, Sony Michel has a bad foot and was far from effective or efficient last year, averaging 3.6 true yards per carry. Lamar Miller, the other guy they just added – oh come on, don’t @ me with that because he missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL. Meanwhile, Harris has been lighting it up in camp, receiving praise as a pure rusher, route runner, and pass blocker. His 13th round ADP also carries zero risk. So just go ahead and lean in to all of that upside. Because I’m telling you, a breakout is looming!”
Liz Loza – @LizLoza_FF – Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Philip Rivers – QB Indianapolis Colts
“The MVP that I am picking is not the person that’s going to score the most points. My MVP is not the one that may even lead his position. But he’ll be the guy you’re going to get so late in this draft that people are going to look at you and ask: ‘How the hell did you do that?’ He’s not a young guy, he’s not a middle-of-the-age guy. That’s not a phrase? He’s one of the oldest guys in the NFL. Philip Rivers is my MVP. Never has Philip Rivers played behind an offensive line this good. He is surrounded by weapons everywhere you look, and he is playing for a coach that led one of his most successful seasons with San Diego – Frank Reich. In a year in which it’s all going to come down to the communication between the QB and the coach, and the QB and that offense, there is familiarity baked in. And I think we’re used to seeing Philip, over the last few years, behind one of the worst offensive lines that we may be judging him harshly. Philip Rivers: get him late, let him bake!”
Adam Lefkoe – @AdamLefkoe – Bleacher Report
T.J. Hockenson – TE Detroit Lions
“On this very show last year I told you that Lamar Jackson was going to be the fantasy football MVP, NBD. Regression says I’m going to whiff on this year’s pick though, but I’m going to go with TJ Hockenson. We know he has the overall profile to be a potential stud at the position, but he also fits the mold of a breakout tight end really, really well. I did a study this offseason on spotting breakout tight ends and what was clear was that breakout tight ends are generally tied to good quarterback play. They’re usually very, very athletic, and they’re often year 2 or year 3 players. There are a lot of late-round tight ends to like and target this year, but Hockenson is my favorite. I don’t think anyone should be shocked if he is a top 5 tight end this year and he emerges as the next early-round tight end for 2021 and beyond.”
JJ Zachariason – @LateRoundQB – FanDuel & numberFire
Blake Jarwin – TE Dallas Cowboys
“The fantasy MVP for the 2020 season isn’t an RB, a WR, not even a QB. The fantasy MVP for the 2020 season is Dave Caldwell, Doug Marrone, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Do you know what they did for you? They saved you the headache of reaching for Leonard Fournette in maybe the 3rd round, potentially the 4th round. That headache is gone! You don’t have to worry about that anymore! You don’t have to sit there and say ‘look how good he was last year, look at what he could do this year with all this work.’ We’ve been telling you on our podcast (shameless plug) at CBS Sports, and on this fantastic podcast, the Fantasy Footballers. Anybody who’s been paying attention has told you to not draft Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have removed that headache for you. So, Dave Caldwell – you’re the guy, you’re the fantasy MVP for the 2020 season! Right before the busiest draft weekend in fantasy, you took away the headache of Leonard Fournette. High five. Thank you, Dave Caldwell. MVP. Also, Blake Jarwin, it’s his time.
Jamey Eisenberg – @JameyEisenberg – CBS Sports
Antonio Gibson – RB Washington Football Team
“My pick should not be surprising to anyone who’s been following the podcast at all, over the summer or since the draft. It’s Antonio Gibson, the rookie RB out of Washington. Look, are you feeling down in the dumps? Do you want to bring some joy into your life? Pull up Antonio Gibson’s highlights on YouTube and see what the potential is. This guy was scoring a TD basically every single time he was touching the ball at Memphis.
Here’s the path that Antonio Gibson took. He had to go to JuCo because of his grades. There, as an RB, he led his team in receiving. At Memphis, he played behind two NFL RBs, so I don’t blame them for not getting him on the field. Once he finally got his shot as a Senior, he was 2nd on the team in receiving at the RB position. I want my RBs to catch the ball. I care more about that than I care about them being a two-down grinder. He’s a dominant kick returner, and we’ve seen a high correlation to NFL production with players who have that skill set. That means they’re a good NFL player, so get them the ball in space. Also, the Senior bowl matters for college. In the Senior Bowl, he was the leading rusher of the game with 11 carries for 68 yards, proving that he can get it done on the ground. Washington used their 2nd pick on him! Yeah, it was in the 3rd round, but it was their second pick!
He is one of the few players where the backfield is very murky. Yes, I readily admit, I think Adrian Peterson is the starter at the beginning of the season. But this is absolutely a situation where the talent rises to the top. The best RB will be “the guy.” And I believe the best player for the team is Antonio Gibson. The three-down skill set is there, and he has been tearing it up in training camp. He has been running with the one’s, while Bryce Love is running with the two’s. In some drafts, Gibson’s draft cost has recently gone up to the 8th/9th round, but that’s still in the range where you should take the shot on a guy who can win you your league. And to me, that’s Antonio Gibson.”
Mike Wright – @FFHitman
Kyler Murray – QB Arizona Cardinals
“A fantasy MVP is a difference-maker that you can acquire later in the draft. That has been the definition of a fantasy football MVP for the past few years, specifically for this position. I’m not singing a new song here – Kyler Murray is my pick as the fantasy football MVP. He is a popular breakout pick for a reason! The passing ability of Kyler Murray is why he went number 1 overall. Daniel Jeremiah said: if you took this draft class, last year’s draft class, and the year before, and you put all the available QBs into the pot, he would take Kyler Murray number one overall over Lamar Jackson because of that passing upside. I think he has the best chance of being a weekly difference maker for your fantasy team relative to the draft value.
He is entering his Jordan year – his year 23 season. When Patrick Mahomes entered his year-23 season, he made the leap to league MVP as a 10th round fantasy selection that year. Lamar Jackson, going into his year 23 season, made a similar leap to league MVP. And here’s Kyler, going from year 22 to year 23, as a 6th round pick. You already have a low hit rate in that round, but the upside of hitting on Kyler Murray is so tremendous. Cam Newton is the only other rookie QB to hit 3,500 passing and 500 rushing yards in the history of the NFL.
And the real case for Kyler that can be easily made, statistically, is his touchdown percentage. Last year, Kyler Murray had a 3.7% touchdown percentage. For comparison, Lamar had a 9% rate in 2019, while Mahomes had an 8.6% rate in 2018. Those are outliers, but let’s say Kyler gets to 5% or 5.5%. He’s going to throw the ball at least 550 times. You add DeAndre Hopkins to the equation, and you have an outside shot of drafting the #1 overall QB in the 6th round.”
Andy Holloway – @AndyHolloway
A.J. Brown – WR Tennessee Titans
“A.J. Brown is my fantasy MVP. He was phenomenal and otherworldly in his rookie year, finishing with the 9th best rookie WR season since 2000. We left last season worried he would be a top 6 WR pick in fantasy this year because of how dominant he was. How dominant was he? After Tannehill took over, he was the WR3. But from their bye week on, there was a major shift in the Titans offense. Before the bye week, A.J. Brown averaged 59% of snaps. After their bye week, he averaged 85% of the snaps. He went from being just a WR on the team to THE starting WR on pretty much every passing down! He was not just a WR1; he was THE WR1 ahead of Michael Thomas during that stretch.
A.J. Brown had a ton of touchdowns and breakaway plays, which could be outliers. He finished his rookie season as the WR15, and is now being drafted around WR18. He is now entering camp as the clear WR1 for that team. Brown has the potential and ability to finish as a top 5 WR, and you’re getting him in the 4th round. And lastly, here are some of the WRs that finished within a PPG difference compared to A.J. Brown’s rookie season:
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Anquan Boldin
- Michael Thomas
- Mike Evans
- Michael Clayton
- Mike Williams
- Kelvin Benjamin
- Keenan Allen
- Marques Colston
- Eddie Royal
- A.J. Green
- Amari Cooper
- Calvin Ridley
- Julio Jones
The vast majority of those players are career superstars, and that’s what A.J. Brown is. To me, I think he should be a top 10 WR, but is being drafted a lot later. He should break out, and that’s why he is my fantasy MVP.”