Fantasy Intrigues on Uninteresting Teams

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These players can help your fantasy team make the playoffs, even if their real NFL teams won’t

Fantasy football is exactly what its name suggests: fantasy.

The biggest benefit of this game is that you can rely on your fantasy team even when your favorite NFL team lets you down by going 3-13.

It gives you reasons to care about players on good teams. And allows you to be invested in games between the better teams in the league by rooting for the players on your fantasy team.

While fantasy football may be an escape from the bottom teams for some people, it also works the other way around.

The teams at the bottom of the standings cannot be completely ignored in fantasy. A player does not have to be on a playoff team to help your fantasy team make the postseason.

This season there are plenty of those types of players. Guys who are stuck on disappointing teams but could prove valuable to your fantasy team.

Here are some of the best fantasy options on each of the worst teams in the NFL, as decided by 2020 Super Bowl odds.

Jacksonville Jaguars- DJ Chark

Fans of the jaguars do not have a whole lot to look forward to in 2020. The lone bright spot on a clearly rebuilding team has been the ascension of Chark.

His breakout season came seemingly out of nowhere. He finished his rookie season with just 14 receptions for 174 yards and no touchdowns.

His second season in the league was much different. He recorded 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He even earned his first Pro-Bowl nod of his career.

Chark also proved to be a valuable fantasy asset last year. He finished as the WR17 in PPR leagues, with 225.8 points in 15 games.

There is reason to believe that Chark will improve his numbers once again in 2020.

Jacksonville featured rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew under center for much of last season. They made no moves that indicate Minshew is losing his starting spot in 2020.

An added year of experience for Minshew, plus more time for Chark and his quarterback to develop chemistry, could lead to an even bigger year for the third-year wide receiver.

Chark has all the makings of a go-to target for Minshew. He is a deep threat capable of stretching the field but also has very sure hands.

Chark recorded over half of his receiving yards (679) before the catch. Five of his touchdowns were longer than 20 yards, with three of them going for more than 30 yards.

He did all of that very efficiently and reliably. He dropped just four passes for a drop rate of 3.4 percent. Of the 38 players to have at least 100 targets, only 12 players had a lower drop percentage than Chark.

Washington Redskins- Terry McLaurin

The Redskins may give the Jaguars some competition for the title of most rebuilding team in 2020. A lot of question marks on this roster remain, but McLaurin is definitively not one of them.

McLaurin had a very impressive rookie season. He finished with 58 receptions, 919 yards, and seven touchdowns, second for rookie receivers in each category.

The most impressive thing about McLaurin’s production may be the fact that he did not have a lot of help around him. He had 541 more yards and 16 more receptions than the next best Redskin, Chris Thompson, who is no longer on the roster.

The rest of the Washington team scored 11 touchdowns, just four more than McLaurin’s total.

McLaurin did not benefit from stellar quarterback play last year either. The starts under center for the Redskins were split nearly evenly between journeyman Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins.

McLaurin had decent success with both quarterbacks, despite having to deal with the switch halfway through the year. It looks like Haskins will be the full-time starter in 2020. McLaurin should benefit from the consistency of having the same signal caller all season.

If Haskins can improve on his weaknesses in 2020, mainly his poor completion percentage and propensity to throw interceptions, it will be very helpful for McLaurin.

The two former Ohio State teammates showed a glimpse of solid chemistry in the seven games Haskins started. Although McLaurin caught just two of his seven touchdowns in those games, he did rack up over half of his season yardage total.

Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Mixon

Mixon may be the most interesting inclusion on this list. He is actually coming off a down year, unlike the other players mentioned.

Calling his 2019 season a down year might be a bit misleading because it was by no means a bad season.

Mixon finished ninth in the league in rushing yards and added five rushing touchdowns. He also chipped in 35 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns. That line gave him an RB11 finish in standard leagues and an RB13 finish in PPR leagues.

Mixon’s 2019 season was not as impressive as his final stat line suggests. It was very much a tale of two halves for the third-year player.

Mixon was horrendous in the first half of the season. He was the RB36 through week nine with eight games played. He turned it around big time in the second half of the season, finishing as the RB4 in from week 10 to week 17.

Which version of Mixon will be on the field in 2020? First half Mixon will do nothing for your fantasy team other than take up a spot on the bench. Second half Mixon could help win a championship.

It is more likely that the Bengals will benefit from the version of their starting running back that ended the 2019 season. He may not end up as a top-five player, but a top-10 guy is a very possible outcome.

Mixon had over 15 carries just four times in the first half of the season. He hit that number in every game in the second half.

Cincinnati will feature rookie Joe Burrow as its starter this season. Handing the ball off to Mixon will be a good way to take pressure off the first-year player. It is highly likely that he hits that 15-carry mark in almost every game in 2020.

Mixon is a superstar and 202 could very well be his full-fledged breakout year. The Bengals may not be anything more than a rebuilding team but Mixon is a championship-winning fantasy football asset.

Carolina Panthers- DJ Moore

The easy answer here is Christian McCaffrey, but nobody needs to be convinced of how good he is anymore. Moore is a more underrated player in Carolina, although he is coming off a breakout year of his own.

Moore announced himself as one of the best young wideouts in the league last year. He racked up 87 catches for 1,175 yards (ninth in the league) and just four touchdowns.

Moore managed to finish as the WR16 in PPR leagues despite the lack of touchdowns. His inability to reach the endzone has more to do with who was throwing him the ball for most of the season: Kyle Allen.

Fortunately for Moore, the team brought in free agent Teddy Bridgewater to be the starting quarterback in 2020. While Bridgewater is by no means a superstar, he provides a much-needed upgrade over Allen.

Bridgewater threw nine touchdown passes in just five starts last year for the Saints. If he can translate that success to his time in Carolina, Moore should see an increase in scores.

Another big change for the Panthers in 2020 is the new man leading the team: head coach Matt Rhule. If Rhule brings his Big-12 style of offense to the NFL it could lead to an improved passing game.

The Panthers had the second-most passing attempts in 2019. They were inefficient with those attempts, as they finished tied for last with 5.3 net yards gained per attempt.

Bridgewater may not attempt more passes in 2020, but he should be more efficient when he does drop back. If the Panthers want to do more than just throw checkdowns to McCaffrey, Moore has the potential to be a productive deep threat and stretch the field with his speed.

New York Jets- Jamison Crowder

Crowder is probably the most under the radar player on this list. He is not the borderline young superstar coming off a breakout year like some of the other guys. That does not mean that he will not be able to help your fantasy team in 2020.

It is easy to see why Crowder has been forgotten about this offseason. He is on a New York Jets’ offense that has not inspired a lot of confidence lately. Darnold has yet to become the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be, and the rest of the talent is underwhelming.

Crowder was the best receiver on the Jets last year. He finished as the WR26 in PPR leagues with 78 catches for 833 yards and six touchdowns.

If you are someone that believes in fifth-year breakouts for players, then this might be a textbook example of that. Crowder may have taken a substantial year forward in his first season in New York.

He started double-digit games for the first time in his career, despite playing all 16 games for the third time. He also experienced career-highs in targets and receptions while just barely having his second-best totals in yards and touchdowns.

Darnold also missed three games in 2019. Games in which Crowder recorded eight receptions for 75 yards and zero touchdowns.

His 16-game pace with Darnold at quarterback was 86 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns. That would have made him the WR20 last season, a very formidable starting option.

Crowder may experience even more success this season for a few reasons.

The first reason is that Robby Anderson is no longer on the team. This could mean opposing defenses can focus more on Crowder but it is not likely that teams will plan on doubling him.

It is far more likely that Anderson’s departure helps Crowder. Anderson will be leaving behind 96 targets and five touchdowns.

Not all of those will go to Crowder, obviously, but the Jets did not bring a player that is guaranteed to absorb all those vacated stats.

New York signed Breshad Perriman and drafted Denzel Mims in the second round. Both players are fairly unproven and not nearly as established as Crowder.

The second reason for Crowder’s increased success is the maturation and development of Darnold.

Darnold did not perform very well last year. It is possible his struggles can be attributed to a season that was derailed early by mono. A lot of people may not have noticed that he improved almost every facet of his game from his rookie year.

He recorded career-bests in yards, completions, touchdowns, completion percentage, and interceptions. He did not improve any of those numbers by a substantial amount, but it is a glimpse of optimism suggesting that 2020 could be another big step forward.

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