In the third part of my series where I project who will be this year’s versions of the players who over and underachieved their draft stock in 2019. After covering the quarterbacks and running backs, we’re now onto the wide receivers.
Who will be this year’s Chris Godwin (AKA the pre-season hype bunny who delivers in a big way)?
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Chris Godwin was one of the hottest names during draft season in 2019, eventually going as the WR20 in drafts, despite having a legitimate WR1 in the same offense in Mike Evans. Kenny Golladay has a higher draft stock than Godwin did a year ago, currently going off the board as the WR8 but has an incredible level of buzz about his prospects in 2020. Golladay was going one pick ahead of Godwin a year ago as the WR19 and over-performed his ADP, finishing as the WR9 in fantasy. Though not as high scoring as Godwin, Golladay only played eight games with Matthew Stafford before the quarterback’s season-ending back injury. He was having balls thrown to him by Jeff Driskel and David Blough from Week 10 onwards, and Golladay was still productive despite seeing fewer targets per game, and averaged 14.1 points per game up to Week 16. With a healthy Stafford in 2020, Golladay should see a career high in targets and receptions and push to be a top-5 receiver this season.
Who will be this year’s DeVante Parker (AKA the former first-round pick who finally puts it all together)?
Williams had one of the quietest 1,000-yard receiving seasons in memory, as his milestone yardage came from just 49 receptions, with just two touchdown catches. This meant he finished as the lowly WR41, having been drafted as the WR24, with the touchdowns a major regression, having totaled 10 in 2018. As a former first round pick who has failed to live up to expectations, Williams needs a true breakout season to look to be able to secure that lucrative second contract, and in a new stadium with a new quarterback (maybe two), this could be his chance. He has the explosiveness as witnessed by his 20.4 yards per reception from last year and has the size to be a red zone target machine. As the current WR65 in drafts, Williams offers some great value for a bounce back year in fantasy.
Who will be this year’s DJ Chark (AKA the deep sleeper who cracks the top-25)?
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
If you were looking for a deep sleeper in last year and you hit on Chark then you were money. He was the WR101 in drafts last year so was barely rostered anywhere other than in deep dynasty leagues. 73 receptions, 1,008 yards, and 8 touchdowns later he was your WR17 and this year will cost you a 5th round pick in drafts (which is still good value for a team’s WR1).
If you’re looking for someone similar this year, Russell Gage might be your guy. Despite sitting third on the depth chart behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Gage saw 74 targets and 49 receptions for 446 yards and over the final six weeks of the season, scored 11.4 fantasy points per game as he stepped up when Calvin Ridley was out injured. The Falcons didn’t draft a receiver this year, and with Austin Hooper’s targets up for grabs, Gage could compete with Hayden Hurst for an increased share. Gage is currently the WR103 in drafts so should be a final round stash as a player with big potential upside in the league’s most pass-heavy offense.
Who will be this year’s A.J. Brown (AKA the rookie who comes in and blows the doors off)?
Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts
In 2020, more than any other year I can think of, predicting how the rookies are going to perform with no proper off season is incredibly tricky. Therefore in trying to pick who can have a breakout campaign like A.J. Brown did in 2019, I’m looking for the guy with the best opportunity to succeed and Pittman has all the tools and the potential opportunity to be that guy. At 6’4” and 223 pounds, Pittman is a unique size in the Colts’ receiver room and Philip Rivers has a good history of success with big-bodied receivers, so Pittman should see a good share of targets. As the WR67 in drafts, Pittman is going undrafted in most redraft leagues but is a great potential late round pickup with the pass-heavy Rivers under center.
Who will be this year’s Cooper Kupp (AKA the veteran who returns from injury and doesn’t miss a beat)?
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
There aren’t many candidates to be this year’s Cooper Kupp as there weren’t any highly rated receivers who missed the same game time that Kupp did before his 2019 return. Green missed the whole of last season with lingering foot issues that started during the 2018 season, though some of this may just have been that it wasn’t worth risking him as the Bengals careered towards the first overall pick. When we last saw Green on the field in 2018 he was still the player we knew and loved, averaging 18.5 points per game through the first eight games of the season. With a new offense and new quarterback for Green to rejoin, if he shows something near his old form, I’m backing him to return to the top-20 receivers in 2020. He is just about to turn 32 and is a free agent next year, so this is his last chance to earn another contract. Green is the current WR29, going in the 6th round, so is a potential risky pick after so long out, but with WR1 upside, could be a steal as he returns to the field.