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Sat Jan 18th 2020

10 Bounce-back Players

I still believe in these players

Every year there are many players who disappoint dynasty owners by not living up to their perceived value.  Dynasty owners have to evaluate if their poor year is a sign that they are declining assets or if their poor year was based on other circumstances, and they're poised to bounce back next year.  I believe that these ten players are in the latter category.  I expect that they will bounce back in 2020.  Next week I will list ten players that I do believe are declining assets.

James Conner

  • Conner finished the year as the number 34 ranked running back.  Last year he ended the season as the number 6 ranked running back.  I believe he will bounce back.  Conner missed 6 games this year with injury and was also limited in carries in many of the games he did play to protect him from further damage.  He was averaging 16 points per game before his injury, which is close to his average 20 points per game in 2018.  The injury was not his only problem.  Ben Roethlisberger only played one complete game this year, which bought down the Pittsburg offense from 26.8 points per game to 18.1 points per game.  Thus, Conner's touchdowns dropped from 12 in 2018 to just 4 in 2019.  Plus, Conner's back-ups, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell, did not show that they were able to be more effective than Conner while he was injured. Conner's injury and Big Ben's injury are the only reason Conner had such an unproductive year.

Melvin Gordon

  • Gordon finished the year as the number 24 ranked running back.  Last year he ended the season as the number 7 ranked running back.  I believe he will bounce back.  Gordon held out for the first 4 games of this year, but last year he missed 4 games due to injury.  He played the same number of games as last year but scored 120 fewer points.  This was entirely due to the surprise involvement and production of Austin Ekeler, who touched the ball 224 this year compared to 136 last year.  This year, Gordon looked just as good as he did in 2018, but Ekeler looked far better this year than he did in 2019.  He looked good enough to let the Chargers know that they do not need to re-sign Gordon next year.  I believe Gordon will leave as a free agent and sign with a team that will give him the leading role in the backfield.  He's just 26 years old, so I believe he will get a four-year contract from a new team that will ride him until he hits that 30-year-old plateau.

Kerryon Johnson

  • Johnson finished the year as the number 51 ranked running back.  Last year he ended the season as the number 34 ranked running back.  I believe he will bounce back.  Johnson missed 8 games to injury this year and 6 games to injury last year.  Admittedly, I do worry that he is going to get injured every year, but I am choosing to believe in Johnson for at least one more year.  None of the back-up running backs in Detroit did anything to prove they are better than him, and Detroit cannot afford to draft a running back high in this year's draft because they have so many other holes to fill on their team, especially on defense.  Kerryon will return to the starting role next year and get one more chance to prove he can produce for a full season. 

Devante Adams

  • Adams finished the year as the number 24 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 4 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  Adams played 3 fewer games than he did last year, but was nearly as productive in average points per game (15.5 compared to 19.3).  Adams was the number 7 ranked wide receiver this year based on average points per game, so his 24th ranked finish is very deceptive.  The difference is solely based on his touchdowns since he scored just 5 touchdowns this year compared to 13 last year.  Adams is still a top 5 dynasty wide receiver and, barring injury, will surely finish in the top 12 wide receivers at the end of next year.

Tyreek Hill

  • Hill finished the year as the number 31 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 1 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  Much of what can be said of Devante Adams can be said of Hill too.  He was ranked number 12 in average points per game last year.  It was the games missed due to injury that caused him to finish the year as the number 31 ranked wide receiver this year in addition to his touchdowns dropping from 12 to 7.  Mahomes' touchdown passes also dropped from 50 to 26.  That's the difference this year.  It was unrealistic to expect Mahomes to throw 50 touchdowns again, but I believe it's equally unlikely that he will throw less than 35 touchdowns next year.  Hill is still my number three ranked dynasty wide receiver, and barring injury, he will surely be a top-12 wide receiver at the end of next year.

TY Hilton

  • Hilton finished the year as the number 60 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 13 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  Hilton's value dropped significantly the day Andrew Luck shockingly announced his retirement. Jacoby Brissett was surprisingly efficient to begin the year, and Hilton benefited by scoring 13.7 points per game.  After Hilton was injured, however, Brissett became more ineffective.  Brissett scored 18 points per game when Hilton was healthy but only 14.5 points per game when Hilton was out or hampered by his injury.  Hilton carries Brissett and opens up the field for all of the other targets on Indianapolis.  Soft tissue injuries on a 30-year-old speed wide receiver do cause me some concern, but I believe Hilton can bounce back next year and maintain a top 24 value for the next few years.

Adam Thielen

  • Thielen finished the year as the number 61 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 6 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  I don't believe he will ever finish the season in the top 10 as he did in 2018, but I do believe he will continue to out-produce Stefon Diggs and be Kirk Cousin's primary target like he was in the most recent playoff games.  This is the first time Thielen has ever battled an injury.  I don't believe it will become a pattern for him.  At 29 years old, he still has 4-5 more top-24 wide receiver seasons ahead.  He's a very safe wide receiver two in dynasty line-ups.

Brandin Cooks

  • Cooks finished the year as the number 62 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 14 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  Based on trades I have seen and even one that I made last week, most people do not believe Cooks will bounce back.  Cooks became the Rams' third most targeted wide receiver last year behind Woods and Kupp.  Some games he was written entirely out of the gameplan even. Add to that the fact that tight end Tyler Higbee was so involved in the offense at the end of the season, and there is reason for people to believe he will not bounce back.  Finally, his five concussions leave dynasty owners worried.  With all that evidence against him, I still believe he will bounce back. Here's why. First, his history suggests that he can do it again.  He had 4 straight years of one thousand yards receiving, and 200 fantasy points scored.  He's an excellent receiver, and the film does not suggest that he has lost a step at all.  Secondly, he is young (26) and has two more years on his contract in Los Angeles.  Plus, if the Rams trade Cook, he has already proven that he can switch teams and produce the same, having done so with the Saints, Patriots, and Rams.  If he is traded this offseason, he'll be great on whatever team picks him up.  I'm highly invested in Cooks and am still buying him where I can.  I traded a 2021 second-round pick for him this week. 

Juju Smith-Schuster

  • Juju finished the year as the number 63 ranked wide receiver.  Last year he ended the season as the number 8 ranked wide receiver.  I believe he will bounce back.  It's pretty easy to diagnose what happened to Juju this year.  He was injured, and so was Ben Roethlisberger.  The younger wideouts in Pittsburg, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, played well with the back-up quarterbacks, but Big Ben will come back next year and continue to have eyes for Juju first.  At 23 years old, he's younger than some of the wide receivers coming out in this year's draft.  He will bounce back, as will Pittsburg's entire offense.

Jack Doyle

  • I am cheating a bit on this one because Doyle scored more points this year than he did last year but near as many points as he did in 2016 and 2017.  Like TY Hilton, he lost a lot of dynasty value once Andrew Luck retired because Luck loved to target his tight ends.  That said, so does coach Reich.  The tight end if\s going to be a featured target in his offense as it has been with Doyle and Ebron for the last two years.  It looks like Ebron may not be on the roster next year, so Doyle should finally get the bulk of the work.  In 2017, with Luck but without Ebron or Reich, Doyle was the fourth most targeted tight end in the league.  I believe he will be a top-10 targeted tight end next year.  Many younger tight ends have jumped him into the top 12 in dynasty value because of their youth.  I have them ranked higher than Doyle because of that, but I would not be surprised at all if Doyle outscores the younger tight ends in 2020 or 2021.

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