Fantasy Takeaways After Projecting All 32 NFL Teams: AFC Edition

Projecting all 32 NFL teams is one of the most impactful things I do in my process. Here are my fantasy football takeaways and their impact on the AFC.

Denver’s pass catchers are challenging to project

First, the Denver Broncos added RB Melvin Gordon in free agency. Then in the NFL Draft, John Elway went and selected one of the best wide receivers we have seen in recent times in Alabama standout Jerry Jeudy. Not to mention the addition of Penn State speedster, KJ Hamler, and TE Noah Fant in entering his second year. There are just so many variables to figure out on a projection aspect. 

Also, we had a coaching change at the offensive coordinator position as Rich Scangarello was replaced with Pat Shurmur, who is usually a rather pass-happy play-caller. The crux is that head coach Vic Fangio is a defensive-minded coach and will ultimately have the final say in terms of the offense’s scheme. 

Unless the Broncos have second-year QB Drew Lock throw for 600 attempts, I don’t think there is enough to go around. I currently have the Broncos with 562 passing plays called, but that is including sacks and the occasional step in from backup Jeff Driskel for whatever reason.

While I fully expect Lock to take another step in his maturation, NFL success doesn’t always lead to fantasy success. I have Courtland Sutton as my WR21, but given his ADP, I have a tough time seeing a path where he could be a low-end WR1 in fantasy as his ceiling is limited. Granted, touchdowns or an injury could drastically shift this, but given the cost of ownership, I would rather have Jeudy or even Fant than Sutton in 2020.

Brandin Cooks can be a league winner if Fuller misses any time

The reverse can be said about Will Fuller as both of these wide receivers are somewhat interchangeable, but the ceiling isn’t as high for him. The still-stunning departure of DeAndre Hopkins leaves open a large hole in the Houston Texans’ offense as Hopkins saw 150 targets in 2019. However, Cooks is the player with the highest upside. Here are Cooks’ career finishes in full PPR:

  • 2014 – WR56 (10 games)
  • 2015 – WR13 (16 games)
  • 2016 – WR10 (16 games)
  • 2017 – WR15 (16 games)
  • 2018 – WR13 (16 games)
  • 2019 – WR61 (14 games)

Going into 2019, there were only four receivers with an active four-year streak of 1,000 plus yards: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Brandin Cooks. Add in that Deshaun Watson was the most accurate quarterback in 2019 on passes over 20 yards (54.1 adjusted percentage), and you have a recipe for a phenomenal season for Cooks if he can avoid concussions.

I would rather roster Jonathan Taylor than Nick Chubb in 2020

Some might find that controversial, but when I look at their situations entering 2020, it becomes more apparent. Both Jonathan Taylor and Nick Chubb are phenomenal backs. Taylor was my 2020 RB1 for rookies and maintained that status after the draft. He is on the Indianapolis Colts, who have a top-3 offensive line. While the Cleveland Browns upgraded the offensive line by adding OT Jedrick Wills, I still take the Colts between the two groups. 

They both have to deal with another running back who will be more heavily involved in the passing game, and no one will argue that Nyheim Hines is better than Kareem Hunt. The latter could step into a majority of backfields and be the feature back. 

Add in that the Colts running backs combined for 399 carries in 2019, Taylor has a road to 250 carries or more if anything happens to Marlon Mack. Chubb is going at pick 17 in ADP, according to MyFantasyLeague, where Taylor is a mid to late third-round selection. Give me the extra nearly two rounds of value for a better situation in Taylor. I have Jonathan Taylor coming out as the RB8 in my projections but I might even be low on him.

It’s hard to be excited when it comes to Jaguars players in fantasy

Outside of D.J. Chark and Leonard Fournette, there isn’t much else I felt comfortable targeting in 2020 when I finished my projections. Fournette is in the last year of his contract, and I expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to use him as much as possible when the game script allows it. This also adds to the other issue being the defense could and likely will be deficient in 2020, and it’s hard to see the Jaguars staying out of garbage time. 

Currently, I have Chark projected for 124 targets, and I can see a case made that he will see more based on how quickly they fall behind. Chark is WR25 in my PPR rankings and brings mid to upper-end WR2 upside though I don’t think he can crack the top-12 at the position based on volume, not talent.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.

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