Every year, we find our fantasy teams crumble thanks to those veteran players that we drafted to be the foundation of our fantasy successes, but who don’t live up to expectations. Be it through injury, poor form or difficulty settling into a new team, these players can see their ADP drop the following year but have the potential to be fantasy steals come draft day. I’ve taken a look at five guys who didn’t live up to expectations in 2019, and have a lot to prove in the season ahead. Each of these guys can provide you with league-winning upside in 2020 if their production can live up to their talent.
Odell Beckham Jr. - Cleveland Browns
After all the fanfare of Beckham’s trade to the Browns last offseason, its fair to say he underwhelmed to a great degree. Despite his fifth 1,000 yard receiving season in six years in the league, Beckham finished as the WR25 in fantasy, despite being drafted as the WR7. An abdominal injury hampered him all season and the Browns in general were a hot mess after being the offseason darlings so it is all to play for Beckham who already claims to be in the best shape of his life. The record-breaking rookie season is still in the mind and his hands and speed are as good as ever. He is currently going off the board as the WR27 (5.05) and if you can get him anywhere near that draft capital, you have a potential top 5 player for relative peanuts.
After a disastrous holdout last season, which did Gordon absolutely no favours in making the money he wanted, he has now moved onto the Broncos, a potentially solid landing spot. After missing four games with the holdout in 2019, Gordon still managed to finish as the RB23 in total points, but a more encouraging RB14 in points per game (14.5). Having finished as the 8th, 5th and 7th placed running back over the previous three seasons, Gordon has top-10 potential and even as the current RB12 (2.09), he offers some value in the late second round.
Stefon Diggs - Buffalo Bills
Diggs’ social media exploits helped engineer his move away from Minnesota to the wilds of Western New York and Bills after an underwhelming 2019 season where his targets and receptions dropped right off from 2018. No doubt he feels as though he has something to prove, but a move to play with the most inaccurate quarterback in the league (10 or more starts) in Josh Allen, feels like a recipe for disaster. Now a player with Diggs’ refined route-running skills and ability to separate from coverage may help Allen, but Diggs current WR23 (4.11) ADP feels a little high and not someone I’ll be targeting in the 4th round.
This is the ultimate boom or bust season for Johnson as he has found his way to the Texans after a trade that sent Deandre Hopkins to Arizona. Johnson only played in 12 games in 2019 thanks to ankle and back injuries and lost his starting job to Kenyan Drake once he returned, but was averaging over 20 PPG through the first six weeks of the season. In Houston he is installed as the clear number 1 back, and he will see his share of the 150 targets that Hopkins leaves behind as he works with Deshaun Watson. People are avoiding him at his at his current RB27 ADP (6,08), but I have already taken plenty of shares in best ball leagues and is a prime buy low trade target in dynasty leagues
JuJu Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers
What to make of JuJu. Primed for a breakout in 2019 with Antonio Brown out the door, he suffered doubly by first losing his quarterback in Week 2, then suffering multiple injuries that meant he only played in 12 games and didn’t see more than six targets after Week 1. He returns in 2020 as the number one receiving option on the Steelers, but is in a contract year with lots of young receiving talent around him and so could be playing for either his future in Pittsburgh or a big contract elsewhere. His current ADP of the WR34 (7.05) is way too low considering he had 166 targets and 11 catches in 2018 with Antonio Brown on the team and a healthy Big Ben. If you can grab him in the 4th or 5th round you can thank your lucky stars you got a guy drafted as the WR6 in 2019 who could return a top-15 season in 2020.