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Doc Mitchell’s Plant Your Flag

Tis the season to plant your flag. @ReflipeWThenuz gives you one player at each position he’s betting on in 2020.

We have reached the doldrums of the NFL season. That time of year where we are searching for the slightest bit of news about anything. Prior to the signing of Cam Newton, which sent shockwaves across the league, dynasty owners were in the process of offseason evaluations. Some of you have completed your rookie drafts. Now you are examining how to fill any remaining holes in your perspective line-ups. Others are anxiously awaiting your late summer drafts, deciding if you want to be bold or go with experts and pundits’ chalk decisions.

For those who consider ourselves

Credit: LATimes.com

QB: Sam Darnold

Dynasty Nerds Composite Ranked QB19

Sam Darnold is one of the most polarizing prospects in the entire NFL. The talented former top-five pick will be entering his critical 3rd season in 2020. Despite achieving veteran status, the gunslinger is still somehow younger than this year’s no.1 pick Joe Burrow. Darnold came out of USC with sky-high expectations. However, due to several factors, including lack of weapons and coaching changes, he has not managed to capitalize on his immense potential. Despite all of his troubles up to this point, I am planting my flag in the Jets QBs camp. Let us take a look at some of the reasons why.

The Weapons

Sam Darnold has had one of the weakest skill groups in the league to this point in his career. The WR room in NY has been particularly dreadful with undrafted FA Robbie Anderson, the headliner over the last two seasons. Fast forward to 2020, and the cast has been reworked with the addition of a former 1st round pick in Breshad Perriman and combine freak 2nd round pick, Denzel Mims. They will more than offset the Anderson loss as mentioned earlier and pair with last season’s catch leader Jamison Crowder to provide Sam Darnold with the best WR group he has seen to date.

On top of fielding, a vastly improved WR room Sam Darnold will again have the services of Le’Veon Bell. Say what you will of Bell’s rushing inefficiency in 2019; there is no doubt that he is still an asset in the passing game having contributed a 66/461/4 in that department. Add in the old workhorse in Frank Gore, and you have the makings of a solid veteran backfield that will provide Darnold with reliable check-down options and know their blitz keys and assist in keeping the youngster on his feet at all times.

Darnold will have yet another arrow in his quiver with the return of talented TE Chris Herndon. The former University of Miami Hurricane enjoyed a wildly successful rookie campaign to the tune of 39/502/4 before dropping off the map in his sophomore season due to injury and suspension. 2020 will see the return of a healthy and by all reports rededicated Herndon once again bringing a big athletic safety blanket for his talented signal-caller.

Checking the Boxes

For his part, Sam Darnold checks all the boxes you are looking for in a franchise signal-caller. He is big, athletic, charismatic, dedicated to his craft. Coming out of USC at such a young age, it was understood that he would need to be given some time to develop. He has experienced incremental improvement over his two years in NY and is poised for a 3rd-year breakout. Keep in mind that he missed a large chunk of 2019 with mononucleosis. Despite battling this crippling illness, you can see that he bested his rookie numbers and showed improvement from year one to two.

At 23 years old, Sam Darnold has a lot of football in his future. He is going into his second season under Adam Gase. Say what you will of Gase, it is a plus when a QB gets to spend multiple seasons within the same system. Sam will also have a new mentor on the bench to help him through the season’s ups and downs. Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is along for the ride in 2020 and brings a wealth of knowledge and the pedigree to help Darnold reach his potential. I will leave you with his 2019 highlight package. One which saw him progressively get better over the second half of the season after returning from mono. For my money, in a Superflex, I would much rather take Sam Darnold at a discount than to pay up for Joe Burrow. Then again, that could just be me.

RB: David Montgomery

Dynasty Nerds Composite Ranked RB21

Credit: Bleacher Report

I must confess upfront that David Montgomery is one of my guilty pleasures. As a Bears fan who saw the writing on the wall with Jordan Howard, I was absolutely giddy when the team traded up in the 2019 NFL draft to select the Iowa State product in the 3rd round. Montgomery holds the NCAA record for forced missed-tackles in a season with 104. To say that he has make you miss ability is an understatement. What he lacks in long speed, he more than makes up for in short area elusiveness. He has some of the best contact balance I have ever seen. Check out his record-breaking season highlights below.

The Floor or the Ceiling

Despite a somewhat disappointing rookie season, the Chicago Bears rode David Montgomery to the tune of 242/889/6. Throw in another 25/185/1 receiving, and you have a 1,000 total yard campaign with 7 TDs. Not jaw-dropping numbers but yeoman type work from a player the team traded up to acquire. The team showed further commitment to him heading into 2020 by cutting last season’s free-agent pickup Mike Davis and not making any effort to replace him on the depth chart. The team will again head into the season with David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen firmly planted atop the depth chart.

While I know some were not overly thrilled with Montgomery in 2019, I saw a player attempting to find his way. Coming out of Iowa State, the defenses are much more adept in the NFL than the Big12, to say the least. He also suffered from weak play at the QB position as Mitchell Trubisky struggled to find his form after a Pro-Bowl Sophomore season. I liken Mongtomery’s rookie year to someone like Le’Veon Bell. The former Michigan State product saw a similar early career struggle turn into brilliance across the next several years in the Steele City. Like Bell, Montgomery is a patient runner. I feel that there is ample room for development in his game, and he will shine in his second go-around in the NFL with some improved QB and OL play.

Form or Function?

An observation I made in 2019 was that David Montgomery ran much better in power formations than in a wide-open spread setting. In the games where Matt Nagy committed to Montgomery in the I-formation, with a lead blocker, he played his best ball, and the team was successful. It makes one wonder if the team will attempt to rely on the running game a bit more in 2020 and build the passing game off of the play-action instead of allowing the passing game to dictate the game script. The team has certainly stocked up on TE’s this off-season, including this year’s top pick Cole Kmet. Hopefully, they will help Montgomery reach new heights in 2020. You can see his rookie highlights below.

David Montgomery is among the safest bets to lead his team in backfield touches. Sure, Tarik Cohen will cap his usage in the passing game, but few players provide the safe floor of a David Montgomery. Especially at his depressed pricepoint. If Montgomery can get his rushing numbers up by even .25 per carry and pick up just a bit more of the passing game work, he could be a potential league winner. He is my absolute favorite high upside RB2, and I will gladly plant my flag in his camp for the 2020 season.

WR: Robert Woods

Dynasty Nerds Composite Ranked WR31

Credit: LATimes.com

Robert Woods is one of the most criminally overlooked players in the entire fantasy world. Since he departed from Buffalo, the former USC Trojan has been a consistent producer for both the Rams and your dynasty squads. He truly is the rare occurrence of a WR becoming in his second stop what he failed to develop into on his first squad.

Over the past two seasons, Robert Woods has been a remarkably consistent performer finishing as the overall WR 14 and 11, respectively. I’m not sure if it’s the Jared Goff connection or the return to the coliseum, but Woods is finally living up to his early 2nd round draft stock. I made a point of acquiring him in my oldest team just this year. I am the defending champion and managed to ship off Keenan Allen for Woods, Breshad Perriman, the 12th pick in the 2020 rookie draft, and a 2021 2nd! Needless to say, I was quite thrilled with my return.

Looking ahead for Woods, the future seems bright in LA. The departure of Brandin Cooks & Todd Gurley should fundamentally shift the focus of the offense. Woods and Kupp are likely to again command the lions share of targets with Tyler Higbee taking on a bigger role in the system following last season’s second-half breakout.

I fully expect Robert Woods to also enjoy some positive regression in the TD department in 2020. He will almost certainly finish with 80 or more catches for over 1,000 yards to boot. In all likelihood, with the departure of Cooks and Gurley, this will quite likely be Woods’ career year, where I predict he will finish as a low-end WR1. I am confidently planting my flag in his camp, and after checking out his 2019 highlights below, you should as well.

TE: Mike Gesicki

Dynasty Nerds Composite Ranked TE12

Credit: ProFootballNetwork.com

Mike Gesicki is quite possibly the most physically gifted TE in the entire NFL. The former 2nd round pick possesses a rare blend of size and athleticism. Gesicki combines his raw talent with opportunity and appears to be on the verge of a 3rd-year breakout.

While some seem to have soured on the athletic freak, I consider myself a true believer. I called for a second-year jump last season and was not disappointed. He vastly improved upon every single category. You can see the jump in the numbers below.

While some are high on 2nd-year man Preston Williams, I believe it will be Mike Gesicki tag-teaming with DeVante Parker in 2020. The two former high round picks are talented enough to stress defenses on the boundaries and down the seam. With his 4.5 speed, Gesicki can function out of the slot as well as on the line.

With a 3rd year breakout in his sights, I believe Mike Gesicki will cement himself as a TE1 annually. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the type of risk-taker who is always willing to put the ball in play with playmakers of Gesicki’s stature. However, once 1st round pick Tua Tagovailoa takes over, he will love having the security and reliability of a player like Gesicki to lean on early and often. I am supremely confident in planting my flag in Gesicki’s camp.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the players I am willing to plant my flag with for the coming 2020 season proverbially. I am ready to bet on each one of these players to vastly outperform their ADP and help me take home yet another championship. Whether you agree with me or not, I cannot stress to get ‘your’ guys strongly enough. Just because ADP suggests that you should take a player in this round or a trade calculator suggests you should only pay this amount for a player; in the end, those are arbitrary numbers. You must build a team you like, a team you are happy to cheer for. Find your player and plant your flag now before it’s too late.

Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd, so you don’t miss out on any amazing things we have to offer @Dynastynerds.com. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. So much for so little, why miss out on all the fun. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings.

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