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Mon Mar 8th 2021

2021 Bounce-back Players

One of the most important ways to capitalize on player value is to look for players whose dynasty value dramatically dipped from this point a year ago after having a poor season last year. If their underperformance last year can be excused in some way or their circumstances for the coming season have changed, it can be a great time to buy players that are poised for a bounce-back season in 2021. I believe seven players will bounce back in 2021, so I am looking to buy low on their currently depressed value.

Daniel Jones

  • In Jones' rookie year in 2019, he averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game and had five 300-yard passing games. In 2020 he averaged 14.9 points per game and had zero 300-yard passing games. Last year was his first year under his new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, and the whole offense was less effective once Saquon Barkley was last for the season after week two. I believe a second year in the offensive system and a healthy Barkley will make a huge difference in Jones's fantasy performance next year. Jones had a historically low touchdown percentage last year, throwing only 11 touchdowns on 448 pass attempts (2.5%). In his rookie season, his touchdown percentage was double that, at 5.2%. If he just gets back to that modest percentage, he'll move back into the top15-20 quarterbacks and be a safe starter in Superflex leagues and a streamable quarterback in one-QB leagues. If Sterling Shepard (more on him later) can stay healthy for a full season, Jones will benefit even more. The Giants have already waived Golden Tate, making them more likely to add a wide receiver in the NFL draft, too, unless they believe they can revive the hopes the 49ers and dynasty managers had in Dante Pettis, who they added to their team last year off waivers. Jones is a safe bet to finish as a top-ten quarterback in rushing yards too. He finished seventh in quarterback rushing yards each of his two seasons.

Ezekiel Elliot

  • Elliot had his worst season since 2017, when he missed six games to injury. He averaged 13 points per game last year but had averaged 19 points per game through the previous four seasons. I do not think Elliot has hit any sort of running back cliff. He's only 25 years old and has plenty of great years ahead of him. Elliot suffered last season as the entire Cowboys offense regressed once Dak Prescott was injured. Dallas's backup quarterbacks could not move the offense, and the spirit of the team died when Dak got injured, spiraling the whole team and its fantasy players downward. Dak has yet to re-sign with the Cowboys, but he most certainly will, even if he just gets a second franchise tag. The Cowboys offense will pick right up where it left off to start the season last year when Elliot was averaging 20 points per game. Tony Pollard has earned the right to get more touches next year, but he's nowhere near Elliot's talent and is never going to surpass Zeke to lead the Dallas backfield. 

Miles Sanders

  • Like Elliot, Sanders averaged a modest 13 points per game last year, which was slightly more than the 12.6 points per game he averaged in his rookie season while working into a full-time role. He was set to be the lead back in 2020, and the expectations were reasonably high for Sanders and the Eagles offense, but Carson Wentz's sudden demise changed everything for fantasy players on his team. I'm chalking up Sander's mediocre year to the team's internal implosion that led to coaches being fired and Wentz being traded. Sanders also battled injuries all season. The Eagles' new head coach, Mike Sirianni, fed Jonathan Taylor last year in Indianapolis and will do the same with Sanders this coming season. Philadelphia has to address their aging offensive line in the NFL draft and is likely to add another wide receiver early in the draft, making their offense stronger. It remains to be seen if Jalen Hurts can carry the offense, and arguments can be made both as to if a running quarterback helps or hurts the running backs' fantasy value on their teams. I just know that their team cannot be worse than they were last year, and Sanders will be better.

Joe Mixon

  • Mixon's year will be remembered as a down-year because he missed the final eleven games of the season, but dynasty managers cannot forget that he was averaging 14.8 points per game before he was injured. Rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow, looked excellent in his rookie season before he got injured. He can make this offense great once he returns from his injury, and Joe Mixon will reap the benefits. Money is a big reason why I believe Mixon will bounce back. He signed his second contract with the Bengals just before the season started, and they paid him handsomely. Giovani Bernard is a free agent and likely not to re-sign by Cincinnati, so the backfield will be Mixon's to own next year. He has all the talent in the world and has managed to stay out of trouble, which was a major concern for NFL teams and dynasty managers. Mixon will get fed next year and play up to the level of his talent on a team whose offense is on the rise.

D.J. Chark

  • Chark's breakout year was in 2019, when he had 1008 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, resulting in 12.6 fantasy points per game. Last season, Chark digressed to 706 yards receiving and five touchdowns, resulting in 8.5 fantasy points per game. While Chark had poor quarterbacks in both seasons, the inconsistency at quarterback and the quarterback rotation last year was much worse than the year before. All of that is changing next year when Jacksonville will have Trevor Lawrence throwing him the ball. Chark will have a lot to prove in a contract year while younger and cheaper second-year receivers Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson earn roles in the offense. Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook are all free agents and likely not to sign back with the team whose new coaching staff did not draft them. Jacksonville may pick a wide receiver in the draft or sign a free agent for depth, but none will compete with Chark for Lawrence's leading target. 

Preston Williams

  • Williams has a strange habit of getting injured in his best game of the season. His rookie year in 2019, he was injured in game eight after catching two touchdown passes. Last year he was injured in week nine after catching a touchdown pass. He's scored a modest nine fantasy points per game when he has played, but in each season has shown tremendous upside to do more. Last year, Tua Tagovailoa was named the starter by Miami after their week-four bye. Tua was just starting to establish chemistry with Williams before he got injured. Tua did not look stellar the rest of the season, but there's no reason to think he will not make considerable improvement this year given his draft pedigree and college production. Miami is likely to draft a wide receiver in the NFL draft, but I believe Williams and Devonte Parker would pair with the rookie in three-wide receiver sets. Williams was an excellent pro prospect that was passed over by many teams because of behavior concerns. Miami took a chance on him, and I believe they'll want to see what they have in him before his rookie contract expires this season. He has all of the size and skill to be an Alpha, even on a team with two wide receivers with better draft capital ahead of him.

Tyler Higbee

  • Tyler Higbee finished his 2019 season on a tear and became a tight end waiver wire addition that contributed to dynasty championships. I know because I lost a Super Bowl playing against him that season. Even so, I recommended selling Higbee at the end of the 2019 season, suspecting that his last five games that season increased his dynasty value as high as it would ever go. I still believe that his dynasty value peaked at the end of that season, but I also believe his 2021 season will be far greater than his 2020 season. Last season Higbee had one fewer yard receiving than he had in the last five games of his 2019 campaign, which brought his dynasty value to another low point. I think it now time to buy Higbee. He signed through the 2023 season at roughly six million dollars a year. Gerald Everett, his primary competition in LA, had just three fewer receptions than Higbee last year, is a free agent and unlikely to sign in LA since they drafted Brycen Hopkins in last year's NFL draft. Higbee's role will increase significantly, and he has a new quarterback, Matt Stafford, who has been pretty helpful to tight ends throughout his career. I believe the whole offense will get better under Stafford's leadership, and Higbee is poised for a bounceback year. He won't ever average more than one hundred yards a game as he did at the end of 2019, but he will become a reliable starter for the next few years at the fragile tight end position and finish close to a top-twelve tight end at the end of the 2021 season.

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