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Flag Planting Season

@DynastyStump identifies a few players he has planted his flag on the help you bring home the title in 2020.

In the Northern Hemisphere, June signals the beginning of summer. This is an external change, as the air warms, people leave their homes, and enjoy baseball, beaches, and burgers. The dynasty world operates in our computers and cell phones, June signals an internal change – a switch in focus.

From the moment your league’s 2019 champion was crowned, every owner shifted their sights to the 2020 rookie draft and the long-term health of their roster. In most leagues, this lasts until some time in May when rookie drafts wrap up. Now, in June, dynasty gamers’ focus becomes set on the season at hand. Regardless of your team’s outlook on the 2020 season, this article should help you determine a few players to target in trades to push you over the top or players you should hold onto tightly before a projected value increase during and after the upcoming NFL season. Now, it’s time to plant my proverbial flags.

ADPs from DTC June ADP. Stats from PlayerProfiler player pages.

QB: Teddy Bridgewater

ADP: QB22

Teddy Bridgewater signed a 3-year, 63-million dollar contract on St. Patrick’s Day, 2020, and a glance at the weapons in his new arsenal reveal the Luck of the Irish’s pervasiveness. Since his 2016 constructive knee surgery, Teddy “Two Gloves” signed with the Jets, was traded to New Orleans, saw some action with the Saints last season. Bridgewater now lands in Carolina with arguably the best skill position players in the NFL. Going into 2020, the Panthers will feature the most productive running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey. They will also have DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, and Ian Thomas running routes for the ever-accurate Two Gloves.

Playing it safe

The common criticism of Bridgewater is his tendency to dink and dunk, never putting too much air under the football. In 2019, Teddy started six games and attempted 196 passes. Here’s how he ranks among QBs with at least 100 attempts in 2019:

  • Deep Ball Attempts per Game:          1.7 (42nd) 
  • Completed Air Yards per Attempt:      3.3 (38th)
  • Pass Distance per Attempt:               6.0 (42nd)

Teddy cannot be mistaken for a gunslinger as these stats show that clearly, he’s not. He will not gain his fantasy value from completing long passes or chucking it 35 times per game. Where Teddy will shine in 2020 is in the accuracy department with the help of his receivers and CMC, who will be able to translate his stellar short accuracy into YAC and TDs.

In 2019 Teddy posted a 7.8 Accuracy Rating (grades the accuracy of each of throw on a 1-10 scale. Quarterbacks with Accuracy Ratings above 6.0 are considered highly accurate), which was good for 2nd in the NFL and a 76.4% true completion percentage (removes drops), 4th in the league (min. 100 pass attempts). The Saints have some dynamic weapons too, which provided Bridgewater with 3.86 YAC per target (7th). Look for this number to approach 4.00 in Carolina and get into the top 5 with CMC (#1 receiving back in 2019 by multiple metrics) and DJ Moore (2019 WR8 in YAC) leading the way.

RB: Anthony McFarland

ADP: RB73 (!)

The Steelers selected Anthony McFarland, the running back out of Maryland, in the middle of the 4th round in this year’s NFL draft. He’ll be the only rookie I’m planting a flag on in this article. I tried to focus on veteran players, but the ADP here is too misaligned with the potential value. I just could not leave the former-Terp out.

The little guy

For McFarland the equation is simple: Athleticism + Opportunity = Potential Fantasy Points. First, let’s look at his athleticism.

McFarland is short at 5’8”, but solid, weighing in at 208lbsgiving him an 80th percentile BMI. That’s what we like to see at the running back position as a signal of durability. Anthony’s also got the wheels. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine, good for an 85th percentile speed score when adjusting for weight. In a vacuum, it’s clear that McFarland has the size and speed to survive a sizeable NFL workload, but he looks even better when compared to the man whose job he’s gunning for, James Conner.

The big guy

James Conner is nothing special. His 64th percentile BMI explains the five different body parts he had listed on an injury report in 2019, and his 63rd percentile speed score leaves us wanting more. 2019 wasn’t kind to Conner in terms of production and efficiency, either. He finished the season as the RB35 and had only 46.4 rushing yards per game (40th among RBs) with a 57.8% opportunity share (24th). Conner will begin the season as Pittsburgh’s bell-cow back, but there’s a chance he doesn’t end the campaign as such. A few McFarland highlight-reel plays, and the fans in Pittsburgh may be clamoring for Conner to ride the pine.

Anthony McFarland is a good athlete, durable, and caught 17 passes on 26 targets last season at Maryland. Look for him to take over a significant role in the passing game in 2020. Potentially even pushing Conner for close to double-digit carries out of the backfield before season’s end. Conner is a UFA heading into 2021, and so the Pittsburgh backfield could be wide open sooner rather than later, and who better to fill the void than the dynamic McFarland?

WR: Allen Robinson

ADP: WR13

Credit where credit is due. Allen Robinson is a patient man. The QBs who have provided ARob with the bulk of his targets in his career are Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky. I’ll save the stats here, as this photo says it all:

Nuk 2.0?

In 2019, Robinson solidified himself as the new DeAndre Hopkins in terms of his QB-proof nature (shout-out Tom Savage). With Mitch Trubisky and his 32nd in the NFL True Passer Rating, he was still able to rack up 98 catches (6th among WRs), 1,147 receiving yards (13th), and 7 TDs (9th), which gave him his second career WR1 season finishing his campaign averaging 15.9 fantasy points per game.

ARob is 26 years old, now has two 1,000 yard seasons under his belt, and should only see improved QB play from last year when Nick Foles eventually gets behind center. WR13 is too low here. I’d put Robinson as a top-10 dynasty WR and will be targeting him in trade in just about every league, dynasty and re-draft.

TE: Jonnu Smith

ADP: TE14

If you like athleticism at the tight end position (and how could you not?), you’ll necessarily love Jonnu Smith. Smith possesses an 83rd percentile speed score, 94th percentile burst, an 82nd percentile catch radius, and a 93rd percentile SPARQ-x score. Get the ball in Jonnu’s hands, and good things will happen, as evidenced by his 6.2 YAC per target in 2019 (8th among TEs). Smith caught 77.8% of his targets (4th), posted 9.8 yards per target (2nd), and hauled in 35 receptions (26th). With his efficiency, it’s easy to project a juicy stat line given his projected increased target share in the Titan’s passing attack with the departure of Delanie Walker and his 31 vacated targets.

Breakout incoming

Jonnu finished 2019 as the Titan’s 4th most targeted player, and the Titans only passed the ball on 51.2% of their plays (3rd lowest). Expect the Titans to face some more negative game script in 2020, forcing Tannehill to air it out a bit more, resulting in more highlights of Jonnu Smith with the ball in space. I’m not one to invest much in the TE position. If that’s your style as well, Jonnu is the perfect breakout target.

That’ll do it for my 2020 preseason flag plants. Fingers crossed that all 4 guys pop off in 2020 and beyond. Agree or disagree? Let me know! You can find me on twitter @DynastyStump.

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