Bounce-back Candidates

Fri Aug 16 10:05am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Dalton could surprise this year


For the most part, winning your fantasy league means taking a few chances. You can win by playing it safe but playing it safe isn't going to work most of the time. So thinking outside the box a little is a good way to put your team over the top.

One way to think outside the box is to look at some bounce-back candidates. These are guys that underperformed last year or the previous few years, but seem primed for a better season. They are important players to grab because these players carry less value come draft day. Bounce-back players can become great values for fantasy teams as the season progresses. Here are a few of our favorite bounce-back candidates for the coming season. You might want to target some of them come draft day. 

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Stafford had a season to forget last year, finishing 20th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He was a top-10 fantasy quarterback three straight seasons before last year, though. The Lions had injury issues last year and made some trades for the future, so things were stacked against him as the season progressed. He can get back to his big ways this year and is a good buy-low candidate for fantasy teams. The track record of success is certainly there for Stafford.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals. The Bengals were a bit of a mess last year, but Dalton was producing. He missed the five games because of injury but if he plays a full year, he has 31 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards. New head coach Zac Taylor is an offensive minded coach that should be a plus for the offense and Dalton. This offense could be a lot better with Taylor running the show. Don’t discount Dalton to have one of his better seasons as a pro.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans. Mariota struggled with injury last year, posting pretty poor numbers throughout the season. He did have a career best 69 percent completion percentage, though, which is encouraging. He is over his arm issues now and has some new weapons to work with offensively. The Titans have assembled a lot of talent at receiver, which is a big plus for Mariota. He also gets back a healthy Delanie Walker. Mariota has the potential to have a career season.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Fournette was a bust last year. Many had high hopes for him to be an elite No. 1 back but injury issues and ineffectiveness while on the field marred his season. He is back healthy this year, though, and seems to have a chip on his shoulder. Remember, he had nearly 1,400 total yards as a rookie. He also has little competition for touches, which bodes well for his production. Fournette is setup for a big year three in Jacksonville.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings. Cook has played 15 games in two seasons. He has been a disappointment to date but showed flashes last year. He had 920 yards in 11 games and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Cook just needs to stay healthy. If that happens, the sky is the limit for him, especially in this offense. He can be an elite fantasy back. His stock might never be this low again. Grab him while you can.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker had another disappointing season last year, getting just 309 yards in 11 games. He was in the dog house much of the year and didn’t get the playing time as expected. He is the most talented receiver on the roster, though, and a new coaching staff should be a plus for him. He can work his way into good graces with the new staff and be the top target in the passing game. Parker certainly has the talent to be a big-time NFL player. He is worth the risk at a very reasonable price. He could lead this offense in targets.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints. Ginn missed most of last year with injury, playing just five games. He had three of five games with 50-plus yards, though, and caught six passes for 102 yards in the playoffs. Ginn has a chance to be the No. 2 receiver in this offense. And even if he isn't starting, he will have a role. He knows the offense and had three straight seasons with 700-plus yards before last year. 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Jackson was erratic last year with the Bucs. He started really fast but struggled most of the rest of the season. He even missed some time because of injury. He gets a fresh start with his old team this year, heading back to the Eagles. He will start in this offense and should be the top big-play threat for the team. Jackson had his best years with the Eagles, so don’t be surprised for a big rebound season. He is always capable of the big game. 

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins. Reed didn’t play a full season once again, missing three games because of injury. He did have 54 receptions, though, which was a nice rebound from the previous year. He is a big part of this offense and should see plenty of targets. HIs big issue continues to be his health. But if on the field, Reed will produce. He could even lead this team in targets. The Redskins lack top options in the passing game. Reed will get plenty of work when he is on the field. 

Delanie Walker, TE, Titans. Walker broke his ankle last year, playing just a game. He had at least 800 yards four straight seasons before last year. He is going to be 35 years old before the start of the year, but the time off last year might help him have one more big season. He is a big part of this passing game and will get plenty of weekly looks. The Titans added more weapons at receiver this offseason, but Walker might remain Marcus Mariota’s favorite target. At a position that is weak, Walker has good potential for fantasy teams at a pretty good price tag. 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Tee Higgins Aug 5 8:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft and has a high ceiling without a doubt, especially since he will be catching passes from No. 1 overall selection Joe Burrow. Both rookies have built a rapport already as the duo conducted workouts together during the offseason. Higgins finished his final season at Clemson with 59 catches and 13 touchdowns off of 1,167 yards. While he is a risky selection in redraft leagues this season due to his potential limited playing time, he is surely worth a first-round pick in dynasty formats as he will likely rack up plenty of receptions from Burrow for years to come.

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Tyler Boyd Aug 5 8:10pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has begun catching passes from rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow as the team kicks off training camp. The 25-year-old has plenty of hype heading into the 2020 season after racking up over 1,000 yards in his previous two seasons. With A.J. Green seemingly healthy along with the addition of Clemson wideout Tee Higgins, Boyd could see things open up more on the offensive end, while also remaining the team's top pass-catcher.

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A.J. Green Aug 5 8:00pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green went through his first walkthrough under second-year head coach Zac Taylor on Tuesday. The veteran, who recently signed a one-year tender a few weeks ago, missed all of 2019 after injuring his ankle during training camp. While consistent ailments have been the theme for the 32-year-old over the past seasons, there is no denying his ability when healthy. He is no longer considered an elite wideout, however, he is worth a mid-round pick for those looking for an option with an enormous upside.

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Joe Mixon Aug 5 7:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is still without a new deal as the team heads toward the 2020 season. However, according to director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, the organization views the 24-year-old as a "cornerstone piece of the franchise." Mixon is looking for a contract that would pay him north of $8 million per year, a significant increase from the $1.2 million that he is expected to earn in the final year of his rookie deal. The former Sooner is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and is projected by many to be a fantasy breakout by year's end.

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Ezekiel Elliott Aug 5 7:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was quick to respond to Ed Werder's Twitter post regarding a potentially reduced role for the former rushing champ, quipping "we all gonna eat." Though Elliott is a shoo-in, first-round pick in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign, many still wonder how he will co-exist on an offense that has plenty of mouths to feed, notably Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and 17th overall pick, CeeDee Lamb. Elliott finished 2019 as a top-five back in the majority of formats. Under new head coach Mike McCarthy, who has overseen some productive runners throughout his career, the 25-year-old could be in store for another productive year.

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Michael Thomas Aug 5 6:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas broke the single-season receptions record last year by racking up 149 catches, surpassing Marvin Harrison's 2002 mark of 143. While that accomplishment would be good enough for most throughout the league, the 27-year-old is aiming to exceed his 2019 total heading into the 2020 campaign. Thomas convincingly dominated the fantasy picture last season, and in addition to his catch total, he also accumulated over 1,700 yards while finishing fifth in yards after the catch. He is expected to finish as the top fantasy wideout this season, and will likely get snagged off the draft board within the top three picks, especially in PPR formats.

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Travis Benjamin Aug 5 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers WR Travis Benjamin was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

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Albert Wilson Aug 5 5:33pm ET

Updating a previous story, Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

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Davon Godchaux Aug 5 4:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

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Tyeler Davison Aug 5 4:43pm ET

Atlanta Falcons DT Tyeler Davison was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5. LB Ahmad Thomas was released.

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Austin Hooper Aug 5 4:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper lived part of the summer with QB Baker Mayfield while the two worked out together.

Fantasy Spin: It certainly could help Hooper to at least be somewhat familiar with his new QB despite all the lost reps from canceled offseason programs following his signing as a free agent. Hooper is expected to be the No. 1 tight end over David Njoku and should be drafted as a top-tier option at his thin position.

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Jayon Brown Aug 5 4:33pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (undisclosed) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 5, and was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

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Stefon Diggs Aug 5 4:13pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs restructured his contract Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to a source. He'll receive an extra $3.3 million in 2020, an extra $7.7 million in guaranteed money but a decrease of $300,000 cash in 2021 and a drop from $25.55 million to $22.67 million in 2022-23 cash.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Aug 5 3:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB LeSean McCoy probably will have a role in the passing game this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Fantasy Spin: It appears like McCoy may be in line for the third down back job, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. McCoy probably would see a handful of touches each games if he makes the roster but may only be a depth option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Kentrell Brice Aug 5 3:53pm ET

Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) signed with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, Aug. 5. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

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Avery Williamson Aug 5 3:23pm ET

New York Jets LB Avery Williamson (knee) said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.

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Jeremy Hill Aug 5 3:13pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders RB Jeremy Hill was released Wednesday, Aug. 5.

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Ronald Jones II Aug 5 3:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was called "the main guy" in the running back room by his coach Bruce Arians. Arians said he is confident in Jones II and that the other guys are fighting for roles. The other guys include third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who will lose valuable practice time after he hit the COVID-19 list, and veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who won't challenge for a lead back role at this point in his career. Jones II looks the part after an offseason spent bulking up and catching hundreds of passes to address a weakness in his game. The 23-year-old has RB2 upside in the 7th round but it's likely that Vaughn and McCoy cut into his ceiling in 2020, despite what Arians said.

From RotoBaller

Kentrell Brice Aug 5 3:03pm ET

Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals as long as he passes a physical and tests negative for COVID-19, according to a source.

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Ronald Jones II Aug 5 2:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones will be the main ball carrier for the Buccaneers this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Fantasy Spin: Jones rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns last season and should improve those stats with more playing time and touches. He will be a part of one of the better offenses in the NFL and can be considered a No. 2 running back in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle