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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
Todd Gurley Aug 13 7:30pm ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II may not see a heavy set of reps during training camp and he was seen with a limp, per ESPN. The 26-year-old has been nursing a knee injury dating back to his tenure with the Rams in 2018. Gurley was once an elite fantasy commodity, but has now been set back by injuries. Last season, the back had 857 rush yards, 12 rush touchdowns, 31 receptions, 207 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns in 15 games. The Falcons are set to have a high-powered offense this season and Gurley will be the RB1, but the possibility of an injury or missed time will continue to loom over his fantasy value. Because of this, the Georgia product's fantasy value takes a hit and downgrades him to an RB2 for 2020.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Aug 13 7:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin has been putting in the work to build rapport with new QB Tom Brady as training camps are continuing to progress. The 24-year-old was seen catching a pass from Brady on Tuesday as the two look to form a solid QB-WR duo. The now fourth-year player is coming off an incredible 2019 season in which he stockpiled 86 receptions, 1,333 yards, and nine touchdowns in 14 games. Despite having competition for targets on the team, Godwin enters 2020 as arguably a top-five fantasy receiver based on his performance from last season. The slow formation of chemistry with a legendary QB only helps his chances of accumulating similar stats from last season.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Aug 13 4:10pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs and tight end Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension on Thursday, including $28 million in guarantees according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The All-Pro tight end had two years and $46 million remaining on his original deal, which was signed back in January of 2016. The Chiefs have spent big to keep their explosive core together this offseason as they doled out a 10-year extension to quarterback Patrick Mahomes that could be worth around $500 million. Kelce led all tight ends in 2019 with 97 catches and 1,229 receiving yards. He should be the second tight end off the board in fantasy drafts after San Francisco's George Kittle.

From RotoBaller

Justin Jefferson Aug 13 3:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is already expected to play a pivotal role in the offense in 2020. The first-round draft pick may not have the blow-away speed of departed receiver Stefon Diggs, but is a versatile route-runner who can play outside or in the slot. The Vikings have been decimated on the defensive side of the football this past offseason, putting more of an onus on the offense to step up. The absence of preseason games creates a challenge for fantasy owners to properly scout rookies before drafts. But Jefferson figures to have a role early on, making him an intriguing late-round fantasy option.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Miller Aug 13 3:00pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller enters training camp trying to put 2019 behind him after disappointing last season. The third-year receiver caught seven touchdowns during his rookie season in 2018 and Miller's future looked very bright. But Miller endured a sloppy training camp and struggled to see the field the first month of the season. He did rebound and finished the season with 52 receptions for 656 yards but caught only two touchdowns. Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey has made a litany of comments in the offseason about Miller's preparation but has praised, thus far, what he has seen. He's trying to learn. He's dropped the ego of this whole Memphis thing. Now he's coming here and learning from Allen Robinson, asking Allen Robinson, watching Allen Robinson," Furrey told reporters. "If you're starting to do that stuff, you're definitely heading in the right direction and starting to grow individually.'' Miller will be the definition of boom-or-bust heading into fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Mitch Trubisky Aug 13 2:50pm ET

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw to receivers on Wednesday but the real competition for the starting job begins on Friday when full-padded practices begin. Head coach Matt Nagy has intimated that the decision could come sooner than later with the condensed training camp schedule hindering the team's ability to get a full picture. To this point, Trubisky has said all the right things and has been praised for his preparation in zoom meetings. Even if he wins the job out of camp, Trubisky's leash will be extremely short with backup Nick Foles breathing down his neck heading into the team's Week 1 battle against the Lions.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Aug 13 2:40pm ET

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles has already been praised by head coach Matt Nagy for "improving the quarterback room" as the team prepares for full-padded practice starting next week. Foles was acquired from the Jaguars in the offseason to not only compete with incumbent starter Mitch Trubisky, but perhaps snatch the starter's job from him. Foles had a disastrous season in 2019, breaking his collarbone in Week 1 and then underperformed when he returned to action in Week 11. The veteran has a history of poor quarterback play when given the keys to an offense right out of the gate but also has shown to be one of the greatest off-the-bench passer's in recent history. If Foles wins the starting job in Chicago, he still lacks any kind of fantasy appeal outside of two quarterback leagues.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Aug 13 12:42pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.

George Kittle Aug 13 11:33am ET

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension Thursday, Aug. 13, that includes an $18 million signing bonus. The contract language is still being worked out.

Fantasy Spin: Kittle is an elite tight end that should be among the top two or three taken universally in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Aug 13 11:30am ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle signed a five-year $75 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. The $15 million per season average makes Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the league by a wide margin over Hunter Henry's $10.6 million franchise-tag deal. Kittle caught 85-plus passes and gained 1,000-plus yards each of the past two seasons in becoming arguably the best tight end in football. The 26-year-old was named a First-Team All-Pro last season and now will be locked-into Kyle Shanahan's offense in San Francisco that was fourth in the NFL in total offense last year. Kittle should be one of the top-two tight ends drafted in fantasy within the top-25 picks.

From RotoBaller

P.J. Hall Aug 13 10:53am ET

Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Houston Texans Thursday, Aug. 13.

From TheHuddle

Everson Griffen Aug 13 9:43am ET

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Everson Griffen agreed to a one-year deal with a $3 million base salary and includes $3 million in potential roster bonuses.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Ansah Aug 12 11:23pm ET

Free-agent DL Ziggy Ansah (Seahawks) was offered a one-year, $910,000 minimum salary by the San Francisco 49ers, but it wasn't enough for Ansah to sign.

From TheHuddle

K.J. Wright Aug 12 11:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (shoulder) had a 'marvelous' recovery from shoulder surgery and was able to practice Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

From TheHuddle

Everson Griffen Aug 12 9:33pm ET

Free-agent DE Everson Griffen (Vikings) agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Everson Griffen Aug 12 9:20pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract on Wednesday evening. Griffen had spent over a decade with the Minnesota Vikings and had multiple suitors during free agency. The veteran lineman has recorded 74.5 sacks across his past 77 games and adds an extra pass-rushing element to the Cowboys' defense. The unit gave up the 11th-fewest points per game last season, but also lost Robert Quinn and Byron Jones over the summer. The Cowboys project to be a middle-of-the-pack DST unit in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Luke Stocker Aug 12 7:53pm ET

Updating a previous source, free-agent TE Luke Stocker (Falcons) is expected to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source Wednesday, Aug. 12.

From TheHuddle

James Conner Aug 12 7:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner said Wednesday, Aug. 12, he never considered opting out, despite the fact he's a high-risk player as a cancer survivor. 'Going on four years now removed from cancer,' Conner said. 'I didn't really have to talk to my family. It was never a concern for me. I've been healthy for years now. It was an easy decision for me. I never really gave much thought to it. I'm healthy and my immune system is back healthy. I'm not worried.'

Fantasy Spin: Conner stands to have a good bounce-back season with QB Ben Roethlisberger back under center for the Steelers. He totaled just 464 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 116 carries over 10 games in 2019. This is also a contract season for him, and he should be targeted as a low-tier RB2.

From TheHuddle

Chris Carson Aug 12 6:13pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (personal) is away from the team right now while dealing with family matters, according to head coach Pete Carroll Wednesday, Aug. 12.

From TheHuddle

James O'Shaughnessy Aug 12 6:03pm ET

Updating a previous story, Jacksonville Jaguars TE James O'Shaughnessy (undisclosed) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12.

From TheHuddle