The fantasy football draft is not unlike the real thing. In the NFL Draft, there’s a sense of optimism that the picks being made will improve our team. Just like in our fantasy football drafts, everyone has a chance to be a winner based on the picks we make. That unfortunately doesn’t happen to everyone, and every owner at some point drafts a player and by the end of the season wonders what the hell we were thinking. Like me drafting Cam Akers…

Anyway, these are the players who just seemed to fall below expectations in the 2020 NFL season. I tried to find players who weren’t injured for long periods of time; usually if they missed more than a month, they don’t count. While it would be fashionable to label Saquon Barkley a “bust” because most people drafted him within the first few picks and he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2, that’s more about bad luck than bad performance. Those players are listed as honorable mentions.

(Preseason and in-season rankings are based on ESPN’s PPR ranking and scoring system. Ranking positions are based on total points during the 2020 season.)

Quarterback

Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons (Preseason ranking 7th, In-season ranking 13th)
Carson WentzPhiladelphia Eagles (Preseason ranking 9th, In-season ranking-21st)

These two weren’t exactly the top of the heap when it came to quarterbacks, so it wasn’t a massive drop in performance, but they still had noticeable drops. In particular, Carson Wentz struggled so much throughout the season that many Eagles fans wanted Jalen Hurts to start. That wish was granted in Week 14.

Honorable mention – Lamar JacksonBaltimore Ravens; Dak PrescottDallas Cowboys

Running Back

Clyde Edwards-HelaireKansas City Chiefs (Preseason ranking 7th, In-season ranking 19th)
Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams (Preseason ranking 22nd, In-season ranking 50th)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire may not be at fault for making this list. Becoming the starter for the Super Bowl champs after Damien Williams opted out of the season for COVID reason, Edwards-Helaire put out a solid 800 yards in a pass-first offense before getting injured. This may have been one the fantasy experts just simply expected too much out of Edwards-Helaire, given the position he had for the season.

Honorable mention – Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers; Saquon BarkleyNew York Giants

Wide Receiver

DJ Moore – Carolina Panthers (Preseason ranking 9th, In-season ranking 23rd)
DJ Chark Jr. – Jacksonville Jaguars (Preseason ranking 25th, In-season ranking 41st)

If you were a wide receiver named “DJ” and played for a team that debuted in the 90s, you had a rough season. Moore was the tougher pill to swallow due to how high he was ranked. Chark could be forgiven based on the QB issues with a disappointing Jaguars team, and his likely draft spot was a low-risk bench pick.

Honorable mention – Michael ThomasNew Orleans Saints; Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons; Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions

Tight End

Evan Engram – New York Giants (Preseason ranking 6th, In-season ranking 14th)
Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams  (Preseason ranking 7th, In-season ranking 17th)

As far as tight ends are concerned, it didn’t take much for Engram and Higbee to make this team. Their negative trend looks worse than the numbers suggest. Both players would’ve met their preseason ranking position had they scored two and three more points per game respectively. That’s one more catch per game, and one more touchdown at some point in the season. Seeing it like that, they weren’t that bad.

Honorable mention – George KittleSan Francisco 49ers; Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Defense/Special Teams

San Francisco 49ers – (Preseason ranking 3rd, In-season ranking 11th)
Minnesota Vikings – (Preseason ranking 8th, In-season ranking 27th)

Kicker

Wil Lutz – New Orleans Saints (Preseason ranking 3rd, In-season ranking 15th)
Matt Prater – Detroit Lions (Preseason ranking 4th, In-season ranking 22nd)
Chris Boswell – Pittsburgh Steelers (Preseason ranking 5th, In-season ranking 25th)

Just like on the All-Star Team post, these are more examples of how managers shouldn’t waste higher picks on a defense and kicker, and should hold off to the final rounds. Imagine drafting the 49ers early. In the league I was in, they were drafted in the 10th round in an 18-round/10-team league. That 10th round pick could go toward a QB or a Flex player, but no, it went to a defense that wound up doing worse than 10 other defenses in a 10-team league. Just pick whichever seems to be the best in the final rounds, and if it doesn’t work out, switch them out with someone else. Don’t blow a higher draft pick on them when there’s little reward that they’ll be a Patriots 2019 defense.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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