As drafting season fast approaches and ADPs swing, several players are being undervalued in 2020 fantasy football that should be taken higher. These are not sleepers or guys who would need a training camp to get a roster spot. Just because a highly-talented player disappointed one season, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should put them on a “do not draft list” the following season.
A few of the players on this list are ones who haven’t broken through, but they have shown flashes of brilliance and have the metrics and opportunity to be valuable commodities during the 2020 season. The masses will start to drive up prices as more and more people get wise, but for those who can take advantage early, here are some players who I believe are being undervalued in 2020 fantasy football drafts.
Daniel Jones – QB13
QB Daniel Jones is a player I look at when I am waiting on selecting a quarterback this year, which is a strategy I use a lot in redraft formats. From Week 8 through Week 17, Jones was the sixth-best quarterback in fantasy football. More impressively, he did that with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate missing a combined 23 games. They were never all on the field together for a single snap in 2019. Add in Darius Slayton, and this is one of the deepest and most talented skill groups in the NFL.
Jones also shows he has sneaky athleticism, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns on his 45 attempts. It isn’t league winning or even week winning upside, but it does help to raise his floor. His 24 passing touchdowns in 2019 were the second-highest ever for a rookie; he did that in 12 starts. Now that he knows how to be a professional athlete and has a new Qb-friendly coach in Jason Garrett, Jones has top-12 upside that you can get later in drafts.
James Conner – RB22
The issue for James Conner isn’t talent; it is staying on the field. If he can do that, he has top-8 positional upside for a fraction of the cost. Part of Conner’s value is you aren’t selecting him as your RB1 or even RB2 in leagues. In 2020, loading up on running backs in the first few rounds looks like the play to make, so getting him as your RB3/Flex is a significant advantage.
I believe Conner will be the primary running back even though the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Anthony McFarland in this year’s draft. Also, if they limit his touches to keep him on the field, he can be highly efficient. In the ten games Conner has seen at least 18 touches, he has averaged a staggering 28.3 fantasy points per game.
The return of Ben Roethlisberger brings back a sense of balance and aerial threat to the Steelers offense that was missing last year. When Roethlisberger was under center in 2018, Conner saw 40 touches inside of the red zone compared to only 18 in 2019. I expect the Steelers offense to get back to what we used to see with more overall volume and scoring opportunities, elevating Conner to one of my underrated fantasy players for 2020.
D’Andre Swift – RB28
Remember when D’Andre Swift was in the conversation for the rookie 1.01 in the not so distant past? Unless you still fear an injury-plagued Kerryon Johnson, you shouldn’t be bailing on the talent that Swift brings to the Detroit Lions. I know people are worried about the offense in general in Detroit, but I think we are undervaluing Swift too much right now. Swift is one of the top pass catchers in the 2020 class for me alongside Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Antonio Gibson.
2019 saw Lion’s running backs targeted 101 times, the lowest since 2013. While Stafford was under center, from Week 1-8, he targeted his running backs on 45 attempts (18.5% target share). The year prior, running backs were targeted on 141 of the 555 attempts (25.1%). Swift’s skillset set him up perfectly to take advantage of this and can see 65-70% of the touches. During his college career at Georgia, Swift averaged 6.6 yards per catch on his 73 receptions. He is shifty enough in space that once the ball in his hands, he can make a play happen.
The one downside of Swift is his playoff schedule. From weeks 13-17, the Lions play the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Minnesota Vikings. I would use him and then flip when he gets hot before your league’s trade deadline.
Robert Woods – WR23
I have been vocal in saying that Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are being drafted in the wrong order, and I stand by that statement. Woods is coming off back to back 1,000 yard receiving yard seasons and was WR14 despite having only 2 receiving touchdowns. When the Los Angeles Rams shifted to playing predominantly 12 personnel, Woods was WR7 over the last seven weeks of the season.
Over the last two seasons, Woods has the eighth-most fantasy points at his position while only catching 8 touchdowns. The players above him have had that many in a single season. The scores will come for Woods, and it is easy to see a path that he ends the season as a top-10 wide receiver. When lined up in the slot, Woods has the third-most plays of 15 yards or more in the entire league.
One sneaky stat in favor of Woods is his rushing upside. Over the last two seasons, Woods is second to only Cordarrelle Patterson in rushing yards by a wide receiver. They aren’t at a level that will win you consistent weeks, but it does raise his floor a bit and translated to an additional 21 points last year. Fantasy football is a game of margins, and you take whatever upside you can find. Woods is my most undervalued wide receiver heading into the draft this year.
Terry McLaurin – WR28
An offense doesn’t need to be good to produce valuable fantasy players, and Terry McLaurin is a prime example of a player being undervalued because of his team. Outside of McLaurin, who else does Dwayne Haskins have to throw the ball to? Yes, I do have Steven Sims as one of my sleepers for 2020, but there is no one on that offense as far as a proven player. Kelvin Harmon is out with a torn ACL, and other than rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden, there are no other players I see making an impact.
After a breakout 2019 rookie campaign where McLaurin has 900 yards and 7 touchdowns, he is a virtual lock to see 125 targets or more on a team who will be in garbage time by the 3rd quarter. McLaurin is a top-20 wide receiver with a high-end WR2 upside who is being undervalued in drafts currently.
Odell Beckham Jr. – WR14
Did we all forget that Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL because of one down year on a new team? Beckham has the talent to be a top-5 wide receiver every week he steps on the field and has shown it over his career. While he and the entire Cleveland Browns offense disappointed last year, he played the whole season with a sports hernia.
They don’t have a clear WR3 on the team, and it appears that Kevin Stefanski will use more two tight end sets which will lead to both Jarvis Landry and Beckham to see the vast majority of targets. Throughout his career, Beckham has averaged 18.9 fantasy points per game and will have weeks that can single-handedly win you your matchup. I expect another season with Baker Mayfield, developing chemistry, and Stefanski working with Mayfield to lead to a bounce-back season for Beckham.
Jonnu Smith – TE23
If you miss out on the elite tight ends or choose to wait, few players offer the upside that Jonnu Smith brings for the cost on draft day. Smith played on 70.81% of offensive snaps in 2019 and has a very realistic chance to be number two in targets for the Tennessee Titans.
After the catch, Smith is one of the best players with the ball in his hands in the league. Smith’s 8.4 yards after the catch per reception was fourth-best, not for tight ends, but all NFL players. Smith was only behind A.J. Brown (8.8yac/r on 52 receptions), Deebo Samuel (85yac/r on 57 receptions), Noah Fant (8.5yac/r on 40 receptions). While being undervalued in fantasy football drafts, I expect his value to rise as we get closer to drafts, but it won’t come close to his ceiling.
Hayden Hurst – TE16
After Austin Hooper went to the Cleveland Browns in free agency, the Atlanta Falcons were quick to react and traded with the Baltimore Ravens for Hayden Hurst. It’s not Hurst’s fault he was on the same team as one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Mark Andrews. The Falcons also didn’t bring in any other pass catchers and feel comfortable relying on Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley being the primary targets. I do like Russell Gage as a sleeper, but Hurst will see more targets than him by the time the season ends.
It is no secret that Dirk Koetter loves to have his offense target the tight end position heavily. Hooper had 62 targets by Week 8 last year and was well on his way to seeing over 100 on the season before being injured. While only seeing 39 targets last year, Hurst made the most of them for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns. When given a full workload, Hurst has a floor of TE12 and can work his way into the top 10 at the position. While undervalued now, I expect the general masses to catch on to this and move his ADP up in the coming months.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.