2020 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, Sleepers: Preseason Edition

2020 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, Sleepers: Preseason Edition

by September 3, 2020 0 comments

The 2020 NFL season is just a week away, and fantasy drafts are happening left and right. Normally a start, sit, and sleeper article would be about which players you should or shouldn’t play that week. However, in this edition, we are switching it up. Four of our writers (Mike Fanelli, Joshua Abbe, Mason Thompson, MJ Hurley) have come together to give you a player they are targeting (start), a player they are avoiding (sit), and a player they like more than most (sleeper) for the entire 2020 season.

Please note that the opinions are based on PPR scoring, and the ADP comes from Fantasy Pros’ PPR ADP.

Quarterbacks

Starts

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (QB12, 102 Overall)

Last season Wentz became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards despite not having a wide receiver go over 500 yards. Part of that is the great tight end duo Wentz has. The other part is the Eagles’ wide receiver group was killed with injuries, and the lack of depth showed. However, the Eagles made sure to address that this offseason. Unfortunately, Marquise Goodwin opted out, and now Jalen Reagor is dealing with an injury. Even with throwing to Greg Ward and other no name receivers last season, Wentz finished as the QB8 in six-point per passing touchdown scoring. As long as Wentz has Zach Ertz, he will be a top 10 quarterback. – Mike

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (QB8, 87 Overall)

Ryan was apart of one of the five most passing offenses in the game last year, and he has thrown 600 or more passing attempts in the last two seasons alone. With an overly aggressive 2020 schedule that should test the Falcons young secondary core, they are in line for a lot of high-scoring contests. Those in return would mean fantasy points aplenty for the 12-year quarterback. If a healthy receiving core can repeat last season’s numbers, Ryan is a QB1 and a better value than reaching for a quarterback in the first five rounds. – Joshua

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (QB13, 108 Overall)

Stafford was on pace for an MVP like season last year before he got hurt. In the first eight weeks of the season, he was the QB6. In those games, Stafford averaged over 21 fantasy points per game. Stafford was on his way to a great season last year in a new offense. The defense was awful, causing him to take matters into his own hands and air it out. Once again, the defense is going to be awful, and Stafford is going to have to chase points. Stafford is one of the draft’s best bargains and will put up QB1 numbers unless he gets hurt again. – Mason

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (QB15, 129 Overall)

Roethlisberger has been one of the toughest and most consistent quarterbacks in the league since starting in 2004. With star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger will have his number one target to focus on all season. As long as he stays healthy, he will provide value well above his current ADP. – MJ

Sits

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (QB5, 66 Overall)

Over the last three seasons, Wilson might be the most underrated fantasy quarterback. He finished last year as the QB3, the QB7 in 2018, and the QB1 in 2017. However, he is wildly inconsistent week to week. The Seahawks have a run first mindset, and that makes Wilson touchdown dependent for a big fantasy game. Last season, Wilson had six games with one or fewer passing touchdowns. In those games, Wilson averaged just 14.4 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Wilson had 10 games with two or more passing touchdowns. In those games, he averaged 30.4 fantasy points per game. Wilson is a top-six quarterback in my rankings, but his week to week inconsistency scares me off from drafting him. – Mike

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (QB19, 150 Overall)

With the excitement of the 2020 rookie draft coming around, the hype of one Burrow was the focal point of the number one pick. Rightfully so with the performance he had throughout his college career at LSU. Though with rookie stripes come rookie concerns. With an injury-prone receiving core, the cause for worry with dropping weapons is all too familiar for Cincinnati fans. For fantasy purposes, if you draft him, he needs to be your QB2 because he won’t be reliable week to week. Their offensive line is one of the worst in the league. Last year they were among the worst teams in yards per carry and sacks per game. I am staying away from the rookie. – Joshua

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (QB9, 90 Overall)

Brady will be a good quarterback this season, but he’s being over-drafted. He has a great set of weapons, but there are several quarterbacks going behind him with more upside. The Buccaneers defense was very good in the second half of the last season and should keep up their play this season. With a strong defense, Brady won’t find himself in as many shootouts this season. At his current ADP, Brady is a pass for me. – Mason

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (QB16, 132 Overall)

Until Mayfield performs at the caliber he should with those ridiculous weapons, it seems dangerous to draft him as a starting quarterback. He might be worth a backup spot, as there would only be few circumstances that Mayfield should be viewed as a true QB1 this season. – MJ

Sleepers

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (QB22, 172 Overall)

Despite splitting time with Nick Foles, Minshew finished as the QB19 in four-point per passing touchdown scoring last season. Now he takes over as the unquestioned starter and is in a prime opportunity to finish as a top 12 quarterback this season. Historically, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden‘s offense has repeatedly produced a top 12 fantasy quarterback. Furthermore, with the release of Leonard Fournette and the awful Jaguars defense, Minshew will be chasing points and throwing plenty this season. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Minshew leads the Jaguars in rushing yards as he had the second-most on the team last season with 344. He should also challenge for the league lead in pass attempts. – Mike

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears (QB37, 324 Overall)

Trubisky is battling with Foles for the starting job. Matt Nagy won’t name a starter till week one, so if Trubisky can string together some good practices, he should win the job. Last season, the Bears’ offensive line was killed with injuries, and Trubisky also dealt with a partially tore labrum. If he is named the starter, he had weapons. Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are a good wide receiver duo. He has the PPR monster Tarik Cohen in the backfield. Lastly, Trubisky offers rushing upside. If he’s the starter, he’s a value at his ADP. – Joshua

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (QB17, 135 Overall)

It seems as though everyone has given up on Goff’s fantasy production. He’s currently being drafted way too late. Last year, he finished as the QB13 and would’ve finished higher if he didn’t have a horrendous three-game stretch against three of the best defenses in the league. Goff still leads one of the league’s best offenses and has weapons all around him. Take Goff late, and don’t look back. – Mason

 

 

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (QB7, 80 Overall)

While this may not be your traditional sleeper, but the fantasy crowd is underestimating the value of Stefon Diggs to Allen. Allen has struggled with accuracy and overthrowing guys so far in his career. Adding Diggs, one of the fastest receivers in the league, as his WR1, will help Allen out. Diggs’ versatility and playmaking ability will only help Allen’s fantasy value. – MJ

Running Backs

Starts

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB20, 39 Overall)

Injuries have always been a problem for Conner. Last season he missed six games with injuries and left several others early. He has yet to play a full 16 game slate in his career. However, when he is on the field, Conner has been good for fantasy owners. In 13 games during the 2018 season, Conner finished the year as the RB7, averaging 17.3 fantasy points per game. Then last season, in the seven games where he played at least 50 percent of the snaps, Conner averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game. His injury history is a red flag, but if he can play 13 games as he did in 2018, you’re getting a steal at his current ADP. – Mike

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (RB26, 56 Overall)

In addition to his groin injury, Montgomery’s ADP is weighed down by Nagy’s play-calling from last season. Montgomery has shed weight this offseason and says he is more agile this year. If his offensive line can do a better job opening holes, Montgomery could have a big year. Cohen impacts his upside in the passing game, but the volume he should see on the ground makes him a solid RB2 once he returns from the injury. – Joshua

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens (RB25, 55 Overall)

Some experts have Ingram as a bust this year and think his ADP is too high. That is puzzling as he is on the most run-heavy team in the league. He won’t have the volume as last year with the addition of J.K. Dobbins, But that shouldn’t turn fantasy players off to Ingram. He will likely finish as a top-24 back regardless of what Dobbins does, and at his current ADP, Ingram is a good value. – Mason

David Johnson, Houston Texans (RB19, 38 Overall)

Let’s be clear Johnson should not be a top two round pick in any fantasy format. However, Johnson will have the clear first shot at carries in Houston in an offense that no longer boasts a clear dominant wide receiver. Johnson still has something left in the tank and will be getting a good workload even with Deshaun Watson slinging the ball around. – MJ

Sits

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (RB13, 20 Overall)

Last season, Jones exploded onto the fantasy scene, finishing the year as the RB2, averaging 19.7 fantasy points per game. A big part of his success was his touchdown production as he tied for the league lead with 16. However, in the offseason, the Packers draft AJ Dillon, and he has been impressive in camp. If you expect Jones to have a big role in the passing game, you would be mistaken. Jones had a career-high 49 catches last season, but 22 of them came during the four games Davante Adams missed. With Adams back healthy and the addition of Dillon, drafting Jones at his current ADP would be a mistake. – Mike

 

 

Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets (RB17, 35 Overall)

It’s no secret that Bell and Adam Gase don’t get along. With Frank Gore getting work with the starting unit in camp, Bell may end up in a 60/40 split with Gore. The rookie La’Mical Perine has shined in camp before getting hurt, and the team tried to trade for Kalen Ballage before a failed physical sent him back to Miami. There is no reason why you should draft Bell as your RB1 this season, even taking him as your RB2 is risky. – Joshua

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (RB29, 65 Overall)

Many Kerryon Johnson truthers were frustrated with the Lions coaching staff last year, and furious as the Lions selected Swift in the second round. Despite what some think, Johnson isn’t going anywhere, and he will cut into Swift’s workload. Furthermore, Swift has been dealing with an injury during camp and has missed some time. Historically the Lions have struggled to run the ball, and without a clear cut full time role, Swift isn’t worth the risk. – Mason

 

 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (RB7, 9 Overall)

Rookie quarterback, lackluster offensive line, and lack of weapons around him, the hype around Mixon is unwarranted. Burrow is going to make several mistakes that take the ball out of Mixon’s hands and will cause Mixon to lose touchdown opportunities and overall touches. – MJ

Sleepers

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (RB27, 62 Overall)

Akers appears to be running away with the Rams’ starting running back job. Darrell Henderson Jr. suffered a hamstring strain in camp. While the team is optimistic that he will be ready for week one, he is falling behind Akers in the team’s eyes. Furthermore, if the Rams thought Henderson or Malcolm Brown could be Todd Gurley‘s replacement, they wouldn’t have spent their top draft pick on Akers, especially when they had so many other needs. Despite playing with bad knees, Gurley finished last season as the RB14. Akers has the role and talent to finish the year as a top 15 running back. – Mike

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (RB52, 144 Overall)

Even though fellow running back Kenyan Drake is the lead back for Arizona, Edmonds will have a prominent role in the offense. He had some monster games last season and should continue to build on that this season. Drake has some injury history and was in a walking boot during camp. If Drake misses time, Edmonds takes over as the lead role and would have plenty of upside. Edmond averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season, and Kliff Kingsbury recently said he views Edmonds as a starting caliber running back. Even if you don’t draft Drake, Edmonds is a guy you should target in the double-digit rounds. – Joshua

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (RB50, 139 Overall)

While all of the hype in the Colts backfield goes to Jonathan Taylor, Hines could be the steal of the draft. The addition of Philip Rivers drastically affects Hines in a good way. Rivers loves to dump it off to his running backs, leading the league in check downs the last three years, and Hines is the pass-catching back in the Colts backfield. In fact, in his career, Rivers has thrown 100 passes to the running back position every year. The argument that Hines won’t be on the field as much this year has been dismissed by training camp reports as well as the fact that he is one of the best pass-blocking running backs in the league. He will be a league winner. – Mason

Adrian Peterson, Washington Football Team (RB53, 147 Overall)

The two ageless running backs in the NFL are Peterson and Gore. With the issues surrounding the Washington Football Team, Peterson not only will now have some extra chances to get involved in the run game. Although Peterson won’t be close to a top 24 running back, but as a flex option, he could provide some value, especially in non PPR leagues. – MJ

Wide Receivers

Starts

Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team (WR26, 61 Overall)

Despite playing with three different quarterbacks and missing two games last season, McLaurin finished the year as the WR29, averaging 13.7 fantasy points per game. He was the focal point of the Washington passing attack. McLaurin played 98.2 percent of the snaps last season and had a 23 percent target share. Now he enters year two, with an improved Dwayne Haskins and no challenger for his targets. Given his situation, McLaurin is one of the safest floor wide receivers this season. Barring an injury, McLaurin is a lock to finish the year as a top 20 wide receiver. – Mike

Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (WR27, 63 Overall)

A lot of negativity surrounds Diggs after being traded to Buffalo in the offseason. He produced top-25 fantasy numbers in his last three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and there is no reason he can’t do the same with Buffalo. He has an emerging passer in Allen that continues to work on accuracy and his ability to get the ball downfield. Fellow wideout John Brown had a career year last season. Diggs will take over as the WR1 in Buffalo and should see a high target share. – Joshua

DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars (WR21, 50 Overall)

Chark broke out last year thanks to the development and chemistry he had with Minshew. Chark will have a high target share as the Jaguars lack other proven pass catchers. Furthermore, the Jaguars will be chasing points all season long, giving Chark even more upside. The Jaguars added Laviska Shenault in the second round of the draft, but he won’t impact Chark’s production. Chark has the upside to finish as a WR1 this season. – Mason

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (WR25, 58 Overall)

Not to take anything away from Jacoby Brissett, but Rivers will provide the gunslinging quarterback that the Colts need. Hilton has consistently been one of the best receivers in the NFL during his career. With a strong running game and an upgrade at quarterback, expect Hilton to have a bounce-back season. – MJ

Sits

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (WR28, 68 Overall)

Green hasn’t played since week 13 of the 2018 season. Despite being in a contract year, Green missed all of last season with an injury. Now he is playing under the franchise tag this season, and he has to wonder what his future with the team is. They drafted Tee Higgins with their second-round pick, have Tyler Boyd, and the coaching staff likes Auden Tate. Green is dealing with a hamstring injury and hasn’t been practicing. Could he decide his last big NFL contract is more important than playing through an injury? Possibly. Furthermore, reportedly Joe Burrow and Boyd have been developing a strong chemistry in camp. With all the red flags attached to Green’s name, fantasy players should stay away from drafting him. – Mike

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (WR24, 54 Overall)

Lockett has been Wilson’s favorite target the last few seasons, but D.K. Metcalf is coming for that title. Yes, Lockett is coming off a career year, but his targets in the second half of the season trailed off. While Lockett has great playmaking ability, he lacks week to week consistency. He had four games with six points or less in 2019 and only five with 17 points or more. Furthermore, the team just re-signed Josh Gordon. – Joshua

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys (WR13, 33 Overall)

Half of the fantasy community loves Cooper, while the other half hate him. The Cowboys drafted CeeDee Lamb in the first round, and Michael Gallup has emerged as one of the best young receivers in the league. Dak Prescott has plenty of other options to throw the ball to and won’t be forcing passes to Cooper. Furthermore, Cooper is one of the hottest and coldest players in the league. He can win you a week with a big game and then lose you the next week with an awful outing. Sometimes, consistency is the key in fantasy football, and Cooper isn’t consistent at all. – Mason

 

 

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (WR15, 36 Overall)

Although this may not be a popular opinion, Thielen benefited a lot from having Diggs on the team. Thielen is an extremely efficient wide receiver, but he does not have the skills nor the mentality to be the number one option. Due to the lack of options behind him, Thielen will get a lot of targets, but he likely will not warrant WR1 value in 2020. – MJ

Sleepers

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (WR38, 92 Overall)

Many are worried that Kirk won’t be productive now that the Cardinals have added DeAndre Hopkins. However, that isn’t true. Last season, Kirk was the team’s leading receiver on a per game basis. He led the team with a 98.5 percent snap count and a 24.5 percent target share. The Cardinals offense isn’t going to force feed Hopkins 160 plus targets a year like he was in Houston. They will spread the ball around, and Kirk is in line to be this year’s sleeper third-year breakout wide receiver as defenses focus on Hopkins and Drake. – Mike

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (Not Ranked)

Peoples-Jones is such a great sleeper as he could end up being the Browns’ WR3. He has impressed in camp and is putting pressure on Rashard Higgins. He is expected to be the team’s punt returner, so for leagues with special team points, he offers a little more. In standard size leagues, he’s not worth drafting, but in deeper leagues, he’s worth a late-round flier. – Joshua

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (WR64, 170 Overall)

This one is obvious, as Lazard is the second option in a potent Packers passing offense. He broke out last year and emerged as the second option. Furthermore, the Packers didn’t draft a wide receiver in April, and Devin Funchess opted out. The second option in the Packers passing attack has been one of the most sought after players in drafts the last few years, and Lazard is the clear second option this year. – Mason

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans (WR73, 208 Overall)

With the exit of Hopkins, Cobb will have a nice role this season. The dynamic slot receiver may be entering his 30’s, but he will play a key role in the offense. With Johnson providing some action in the receiving game as well, look for Cobb to be a decent flex option this season. – MJ

Tight Ends

Starts

Tyler Higbee, Los Angles Rams (TE8, 79 Overall)

Despite playing just 66.6% of the snaps and running a route on just 45.5% of his snaps last season, Higbee still finishes the year as a top 12 tight end in 36% of his games. Furthermore, over the final five weeks of the season, Higbee finished no worse than the TE7 in any week. He finished as the TE3 on average during that stretch. Last season, Higbee was tied for the league lead among tight ends with 19 red zone targets. He joined Travis Kelce and Ertz, despite having a much smaller snap percent, route participation, and target share than Kelce and Ertz. There is plenty of risk with Higbee, but the upside is good enough for him to finish as a top-three tight end. – Mike

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TE9, 89 Overall)

Honestly, it’s simple; Gronk and Brady. They have the best chemistry a quarterback and tight end have ever had it seems. The athleticism he is flashing during camp is making him look five years younger. With other pass-catching players Mike Evans and Chris Godwin taking the defense’s attention, Gronkowski should have plenty of favorable matchups. He seems healthy after taking a season off. Gronk is a TE1 this season and startable every week. – Joshua

Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons (TE12, 113 Overall)

After letting Austin Hooper leave this offseason, the Falcons traded a second-round pick for Hurst. He will be the full time starting tight end, and Ryan loves to throw to his tight ends. Over the last two seasons, Hooper has finished as the TE6 both years, and Hurst should put up a similar finish based on his target volume alone. – Mason

 

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (TE14, 120 Overall)

There are questions as to who will be playing quarterback for the Dolphins this season. Whether it is Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa, Gesicki should have a featured role in the passing game. After a breakout season in 2019, look for Gesicki to be the safety blanket for whoever is playing quarterback in Miami. – MJ

Sits

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (TE5, 59 Overall)

Waller was the perfect example of a late-round tight end target last season. However, his situation is very different from last season, and now he’s a mid-round tight end instead of a late-round sleeper. Last season, Waller had 117 targets, but that number will come down this season with all the additions the Raiders made at wide receiver and tight end. Furthermore, Waller was a product of his targets as he had just three touchdowns last season. By comparison, his teammate, Foster Moreau, had 92 fewer targets than Waller, yet he had one just fewer end zone target (four to Waller’s five) and two more touchdowns (five to Waller’s three). Waller is a nice tight end, but he is overvalued at his current ADP. – Mike

Evan Engram, New York Giants (TE6, 74 Overall)

Engram has as much uncertainty as any other tight end because of his injury history. At his current ADP, you are paying a heavy price when you have to take a backup tight end later in the draft. He hasn’t been a touchdown producer and has averaged just 4.1 catches for 48 yards per game for his career. He played in eight games last season, and his injury risk alone makes him a reach at his current ADP. – Joshua

Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers (TE7, 77 Overall)

The whole Charger offense is a bit of an unknown at this point. The only for sure thing is that Austin Ekeler is a potential RB1. With Tyrod Taylor, all of the Chargers’ pass catchers come with some risk. Justin Herbert may not see the field this season and even if he does, that won’t help their fantasy production. Henry is currently being drafted way too soon given his upside and comes with injury risk. Fantasy players would be better off waiting a few more rounds and taking a late rounder flier. – Mason

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (TE2, 22 Overall)

Kittle is one of the most physically imposing tight ends we have seen since Gronkowski in his prime. The issue here is not with Kittle, but his quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G has always been a game manager and did not go out and win as many games for San Francisco as he did not lose the game for them. Kittle will be drafted as the first or second tight end, but do not be surprised if he finishes the year outside the top three because of Garoppolo. – MJ

Sleepers

Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys (TE20, 156 Overall)

The Cowboys added Lamb in the draft, and everyone is worried if there will be enough targets for everyone. However, there is plenty of targets to go around for Jarwin to finish the year as a TE1. Last season the trio of Cobb, Jason Witten, and Jarwin combined for 207 targets. Taking that total and removing 30 targets for whoever the Cowboys’ TE2 is this year, that leaves 177 targets between Jarwin and Lamb. Even with giving Lamb 110 targets, which might be generous, that leaves 67 for Jarwin. Adjusting Jarwin’s 2019 production with 67 targets means he would have finished the season as the TE11 with 140 fantasy points. Jarwin has been impressive in training camp and should have a breakout season. – Mike

 

 

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (TE27, 236 Overall)

Knox has been impressive in camp and scream breakout potential this season. After a strong rookie campaign when he had 388 yards and two touchdowns, Knox should see more playing time this season. Offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, and Knox know each other from their time together at Ole Miss. With Daboll calling the plays, expect him to call Knox’s number often. – Joshua

Jace Sternberger, Green Bay Packers (TE28, 253 Overall)

Similar to Lazard, Sternberger has the opportunity to make himself known in the Packers passing attack. He was consistently getting open late in the season and has had a great start to training camp. The fact the Packers didn’t select a receiver or tight end bodes well for Sternberger to potentially break out this year. – Mason

Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers (Not Ranked)

Now, this is a super sleeper. Parham was a star in the XFL. With the height and the speed to be a matchup nightmare, the hope is that Parham can pick off right where Antonio Gates left off. That may be extremely large shoes to fill, but he has the skills to do it. With Taylor and Herbert in the quarterback room for the Chargers, Parham could turn into an extremely talented safety blanket for them. – MJ

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