by Bradley Stalder
In the classic 2004 romantic comedy 50 First Dates, the protagonist Lucy (played by a prime Drew Barrymore) suffers from Goldfield’s Syndrome — a brain illness that affects, among other things, one’s short-term memory. Her love interest Henry (played by a regressing Adam Sandler) faces conflict when Lucy cannot remember any information regarding their romantic encounters from the previous few days. In fact, she flat out rejects his attempts to remind her of his love. His failure to help her remember only more fuels his desire to renew a lasting love with her. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say, it is an Adam Sandler film (but not like Funny People or Uncut Gems, more like Happy Gilmore).
Sometimes, we as fantasy managers experience a form of non-clinical Goldfield’s Syndrome — forgetting or dismissing the “love” our players have shown us in the past. We are too quick to reject our fantasy players’ future because of what we see in the present. Let me remind you, as Henry reminded Lucy, of the love of past players and what love they could show us managers in 2020.
While these players should NOT be your WR1, they can be important depth pieces in your championship pursuit.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR5, 2014)– Age 33
- Situation Review: Sanders joins Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara on the Saints offense. In what is expected to be Brees final year, Sanders provides another option in the receiving game to the single season reception record holder “Can’t Guard” Michael Thomas.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 5%. Sanders may be a top-15 option if Thomas goes down with injury. Other than that scenario, Sanders will prove to be a better NFL player than fantasy option in 2020.
Marvin Jones, Jr. (WR11, 2017)– Age 30
- Situation Review: Jones slots into the wide receiver role opposite Kenny Golladay without competition for that role. Jones was on pace for another top-15 wide receiver finish before an ankle injury which cost him the last three games of 2019. With only Quintez Cephus and Geronimo Allison added in the offseason to the Lions WR corps, Jones’ target share shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 25%. Jones certainly has the upside as a top-15 receiver. Injuries, however, have cost Jones 10 games in the last 2 seasons. When on the field for the Lions, Jones has produced– but fantasy managers should not feel comfortable listing him as more than an upside FLEX play given age and recent injuries.
Golden Tate (WR11, 2014; WR12, 2017)– Age 31
- Situation Review: Tate, the most senior member of the three-headed wide receiving monster that is the NY Giants, returns to the fold after losing 4-games to a PED suspension in 2019. The hype surrounding the Giants offense is not unwarranted: Daniel Jones achieved top QB fantasy scores throughout the season; Saquon Barkley should be the RB2 off any fantasy board (see why here); Evan Engram possesses top tier TE upside; and three respectable wide receivers. However, Jones never played a snap with all five of his top offensive weapons on the field in 2019– pointing to the upside of the Giants offense this season.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 10%. Golden Tate is a floor play– whose floor has slowly decreased over the last three seasons. He may be a usable FLEX option in deep leagues with a potent Giants offense. Tate’s 16-game pace would have put him near WR25 last season. The week-to-week expectation for Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton will vary– with Tate being the least exciting of the three options.
Alshon Jeffrey (WR8, 2013; WR10, 2014)– Age 30
- Situation Review: Most reports out of Philadelphia expect Jeffrey to start the 2020 season on PUP. With a reloaded WR corps including 1st round pick Jalen Reagor, Olympic sprinter Marquise Goodwin, and a few others late draft picks, there seems little confidence in future production for the oft-injured receiver. Even if Jeffrey returns, he’ll compete for targets with incumbent lead receiver Greg Ward and veteran Desean Jackson. The Eagles are also expected to continue with a high-usage 2 TE-sets with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 5%. Jeffrey is one of the NFL’s best red-zone threats over the past few seasons and a trusted asset of Carson Wentz– which is why he still has a chance to achieve a top-15 status. However, upon PUP confirmation, Jeffrey’s chance for a top-flight season in 2020 is over.
AJ Green (WR3, 2012; WR4, 2013; WR8, 2015; WR10, 2017)– Age 31
- Situation Review: After a lost year in 2019, Green signed the franchise tag this offseason– even after rumors of a trade during the offseason and potential free agency. Tyler Boyd will continue to command a respectable target share, 2020 rookie Tee Higgins will project as a future piece, and new quarterback Joe Burrow will look to rebound the bungled Bengals.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 30%. Last time we saw Green, he was a stud (WR7 pace if played in 2019). That was for nine games in 2018. We can view Green as almost a discount Julio Jones. Green’s upside may still rival Julio’s– but even with greater injury history and questions of chemistry with a new quarterback– there does come a point where Green is too intriguing of a value to pass up. Know the risk.
Depth Role Expected:
Larry Fitzgerald (WR4, 2009; WR11, 2010; WR6, 2011; WR7, 2015; WR11, 2016; WR4, 2017)– Age 36
- Situation Review: Thought to be on the brink of retirement in 2019, Fitzgerald announced he would be returning to the Cardinals for another season in 2020. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, and development of Christian Kirk, along with sophomores Keesean Johnson, Andy Isabella, and Hakeem Butler– we can only wonder what snap shares will be left for Fitzgerald in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 0%. Even if injuries occur to the other wide receivers, Kingsbury may elect to put younger and faster players on the field instead of Fitzgerald. He’ll provide leadership and mentoring– which unfortunately doesn’t translate to fantasy points for your team.
Randall Cobb (WR8, 2014)– Age 29
- Situation Review: Cobb joins earlier mentioned Brandin Cooks on this list. See Cooks’ situation for a recap.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 1%. Cobb, who had his highest YPC since 2011 in 2019 (15.05 YPC), should figure in as a slot receiver for the Texans. With all the injury history of other Texans receivers, the vacated targets left by DeAndre Hopkins, and the financial commitment of the Texans to Cobb, draft Cobb as a late-round floor play.
DeSean Jackson (WR9, 2009; WR12, 2013)– Age 33
- Situation Review: Jackson joins earlier mentioned Alshon Jeffrey on this list. See Jeffrey’s situation for a recap.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 15%. Jackson has the highest ceiling of any wide receiver in the NFL. His floor, however, is a zero. Jackson went 8-154-2 in week 1 of the 2019 season– which was his only game of the season due to injury. That same Week 1 also featured both Jeffrey and Zach Ertz targeted 7 times by Carson Wentz. The biggest question isn’t Jackson’s opportunity or talent; the biggest “if” for Jackson is his health. Draft him as a late-round flyer with high upside.
Demaryius Thomas (WR6, 2012; WR1, 2013; WR2, 2014; WR11, 2015)– Age 32
- Situation Review: Thomas is a FA as of this signing. He played for the Jets in 2019, as performed admirably in a role behind Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson. In 10 games where he earned more than a 10% snap share, Thomas averaged 3.5 catches and 43 yards. Not spectacular for fantasy but usable in desperation.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 0%. The day has passed where Thomas has access to even a top 25 ceiling. He may latch on later in the offseason to a WR desperate club to siphon off targets from other pass-catchers, but will not find himself in a fantasy relevant role. He may retire; stay posted.
Josh Gordon (WR2, 2013)– Age 29
- Situation Review: Gordon has applied for reinstatement as of this writing. In 2019, he violated the NFL’s PED policy– the 6th ban of his career for NFL violations. At 29, Gordon’s talent is far from washed– exhibited by an average of 56 yards on about 4 catches during the first five games of the 2019 season. Even projecting those 5 games forward on average for the whole season, Gordon still would have only finished as a top 40 WR.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 2%. Gordon needs a lot to go right to achieve this status achieved nearly 7 years ago. He needs to be reinstated. He needs to sign with a team. He needs to compete with that team’s incumbent WRs. He needs to earn a starting role. And he needs to produce at a level high enough. What looms in many fantasy players minds is Gordon’s WR2 overall finish in 2013. Until he signs with a team, Gordon is not worth investing in except as a deep late-round dynasty stash.
Antonio Brown (WR3, 2013; WR1, 2014; WR1, 2015; WR1, 2016; WR1, 2017; WR5, 2018)
- Situation Review: This article on Brown would be much more interesting last offseason.
- Chance at WR15 Status: 0-100%??? Look. Anything is possible. Brown most likely still has the talent to achieve a WR15 finish even if he’s suspended 4 games. But will any team take a chance? Will he be suspended more than 4 games upon a return? Will Brown resist inexplicable antics? All these questions will be answered on this season of Antonio “Twilight Zone” Brown.
Dez Bryant (WR4, 2012; WR7, 2013; WR4, 2014)– age 31
- Situation Review: Bryant last practiced for the New Orleans Saints in 2018 before tearing his achilles tendon. These injuries are difficult to recover from for dynamic players (sans Emmanuel Sanders).
- Chance at WR15 Status: 0%. Bryant finished 2017 at WR24 as Dak Prescott’s #1 option at age 28. His window for fantasy relevance has closed– no matter how many eye-emojis are rolled on Twitter.