As I get more and more in-depth and refine my offseason process, I have learned what I find useful while trying to eliminate the noise. It is an always-evolving process that will never be set in stone. I continuously try to learn new things and try to add more tools to the tool belt. You can never have enough resources, so long as you find the merit in them, that can help you become a better player or even an analyst. The single most impactful thing I have discovered in recent years has been putting in the time to create full projections for all 32 teams and finding what I learn along the way. In this article, I will cover my fantasy football projections for the AFC heading into 2020.
Is this for everyone? Absolutely not. It takes more time than you could ever expect, but it also deserves that level of respect. Looking up team trends, coaching tendencies, off-season losses and additions, and NFL draft picks and their impact, all go into it in one way or another and carry their own weight.
I will not lie one bit and say that it isn’t a pain, and at a certain point, you get sick of it and need to take a break. However, it is one of the biggest teachers for me. I continuously create rankings all year, whether it is dynasty, redraft, or even weekly once the season starts, but it all to a certain extent is an opinion. It challenges your perspective and thoughts based on the data rather than just Player A vs. Player B in a head to head.
I don’t have a formula or database set up that pumps everything out for me, where there is no personal input involved. What I do is an imperfect science, and my fingerprints are all over it. However, it stays within the confines of the offense, and it’s capabilities. There will be guys I am higher on than others. I was surprised as I always am when I finish this and click sort on the stats and see where the rankings fall.
AFC Fantasy Football projections for 2020
Marquise Brown is being undervalued in 2020 fantasy drafts
Outside of Mark Andrews, who is going to catch passes from the 2019 NFL MVP? Marquise Brown was selected as the number one wide receiver in 2019 even though he was dealing with an injury. Prior to his Week 5 ankle setback, Brown was on pace for 125 targets, which would have made him breakout last year. In 2019, Brown saw 21.04% of the Baltimore Ravens’ air yards according to NFL Next Gen stats while only playing in 59% of the offensive snaps and seeing just 16.13% of the targets.
Even if Lamar Jackson and the Ravens can move up to 28th in passing attempts rather than dead last (440 in 2019), Brown can see nearly 75 receptions in 2020. No, Jackson isn’t to throw for a ridiculous 9% touchdown rate, but a subtle increase in per-game attempts, lack of competition, and talent have Brown poised for a WR2 finish come season’s end.
Stefon Diggs owners need to temper expectations
While the thought of Stefon Diggs being on a new team, virtually on his own seemed intriguing early on, it has since lost the luster it had. The only way I can see Diggs getting back to his 20% target share from 2019 is that both John Brown and Cole Beasley take a substantial hit from their 43% share in 2019 (221 targets) down to 34.8% in 2020. It has to give somewhere, especially when on an offense whose goal is to dominate on the ground to move the ball and control the clock.
The second issue comes from the change of Kirk Cousins to Josh Allen. Diggs was one of the best when it comes to receptions beyond 20 yards and which helped as 31.9% of his targets were beyond 20 yards. In 2019, 365 of Diggs 1130 receiving yards came on attempts beyond 20 yards, including all 6 of his touchdowns. The issue is that he is going from Cousins, who had an adjusted deep target percentage of 44.3%, to Allen’s 30.9%.
Unless Allen completes a massive improvement in this offseason and is hyper-efficient when targeting Diggs, I don’t see him finishing as more than a higher-end WR3. He comes in as my #32 WR in my PPR full projections.
Will this be the year Joe Mixon finally gets the passing work we want?
Probably not, if I am being honest. While I still have Mixon projected for 307 total touches, only 39 are through the air. I am not worried about a holdout with Mixon and believe the addition of 2019 first-round selection, OT Jonah Williams, who missed all of 2019, helps bolster the offensive line. When my projections finished, Mixon came in as RB10 but one that if he gets more targets, I can see finishing much higher.
My other takeaway is people need to remember how damn good A.J. Green is. Outside of 2018, where he was injured midseason, Green has had fewer than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns once in his whole career. Maybe missing an entire season and resting ends up being a good thing for Green, who is 31 years old. I feel confident in saying Joe Burrow is a better quarterback than Andy Dalton by quite a large margin.
Related | Examining the dynasty value of Joe Mixon
My one trepidation is if we end up with a shortened training camp, it will be hard to get much-needed reps in before the season begins. PFN’s NFL insider Tony Pauline has been saying since May 4th that NFL training camps would start on time. Also, as recently as June 8th, PFN NFL columnist Crissy Froyd wrote an article where Pauline reiterated his stance that NFL camps will open on time and potential implications. Teams need time to get ready and rookies, especially. The combo might be shaky early on, but once chemistry develops mid-season, watch out.
Cleveland’s offense becomes who we thought they were in 2019
No team had more hype coming into 2019 than the Cleveland Browns. Also, no team disappointed as much as the Cleveland Browns. After a 6-10 season, the Browns hired Kevin Stefanski, and I believe he helps the offense starting with Baker Mayfield. Stefanski has spent years as a QB coach and will spend time working on Mayfield’s footwork and overall decision making. A recent tweet from Dan Orlovsky covered some of the same thoughts I have been having when thinking about how this offense can change to suit Mayfield.
In his first 2 season @bakermayfield has thrown 35 INTS. 29 of those have come in non-PA plays (drop-back football). BAKER MAYFIELD IS A PLAY ACTION QB AT HIS BEST. The Vikings offense was 40% play action-Stefanski+Baker means TO’s will go way down. @Browns
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) June 26, 2020
I see the run-pass ratio to come back down a bit from the 55/45 we saw in 2020 to a 53/47 but more efficient. Mayfield is projected as my QB15 but has QB1 upside. I also have both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry surpassing 125 targets. Yes, they added Austin Hooper, but seeing him get more than 80 targets is hard for me. Likely a better NFL and red zone threat than fantasy when compared to his ADP.