These are uncertain times, and for your fantasy football assets, it's no different. A couple of weeks ago, I discussed some of my favorite offenses for the 2020 NFL Season, full to the brim with fantasy points and opportunity. Now, it's time to get darker.
These are scary times. Your fantasy rosters deserve the best they can get. So, of course, this week, I'd like to touch on some of the more terrifying offenses for your upcoming fantasy seasons. Who should we avoid amongst this chaos? Let's dig in.
Los Angeles Chargers
New QB - who dis? The Chargers are going to look very different in 2020, top to bottom. Between the departures of Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon to their new facilities at SoFi Stadium, things will feel at least semi-foreign for a while.
What we can expect: Austin Ekeler was signed to a 4-year/$24.5 million deal with the departure of Melvin Gordon and finished as the RB4 in PPR formats for the 2019 season. At 5'10", 200 pounds, Ekeler typically been considered more of a complementary back but showed his versatility both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Ekeler should continue to be heavily involved and be considered an early-round pick in redraft leagues.
The unknowns: Though the team has kept its wide receiver corps intact, the player under center is undoubtedly bound to affect their usage and efficiency.
For now, the former Raven and Bill Tyrod Taylor is expected to reside under center for the Chargers in 2020. He hasn't played a full season since 2017, but it's worth noting that in each of his seasons with the Bills, we saw his average depth of target, completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns all decline.
Though Taylor did spread the ball amongst his wideouts in his time in Buffalo, it's worth noting that tight end Charles Clay had a decent stint amassing a 17% target share with Tyrod under center. Now let's imagine that's Hunter Henry out there. He may prove to be one of the better values in your fantasy drafts, rather than Mike Williams relying on the big play and Keenan Allen working out of the slot with a possibly inconsistent target share. Talent aside, their value in fantasy leagues may be riskier than we'd prefer.
New England Patriots
What we can expect: While we've never seen a Bill Belichick led Patriots Offense without Tom Brady, we can at least project the scheme. Utilization of the slot wide receiver, prolific (yet unpredictable) run game, passes that get their playmakers into open space; it's what they do. That being said, we can probably expect much of what we do every year; all Patriots are high-risk fantasy assets until proven otherwise.
The unknowns: Despite the recent signing of veteran Brian Hoyer, the consensus seems to be that the Patriots are inclined to give Jarrett Stidham a chance to compete as their starting quarterback. We've done this dance before - first with Jacoby Brissett, closely followed by Jimmy Garoppolo. How will an offense with Stidham under center look? It's hard to say.
Though Stidham got off to a decent start in his freshman year at Baylor, his time was cut short amid a school scandal that led him to pursue opportunities elsewhere. He eventually found himself at Auburn University for his final two years but failed to translate much growth in his time there with the team. Some speculated that it was the wrong system - a poor fit in terms of making progress. Who better to fix address this kind of problem than Belichick?
In terms of receivers that he has to work with, Julian Edelman hasn't absorbed fewer than nine targets and six receptions per game since 2013. If he returns, we probably shouldn't expect different usage. However, given that he is 33 years old and intrinsically attached to Tom Brady, it's worth questioning if he will return at all.
Should he not return, New England's primary weapons will be a former first-round running back with knee problems in Sony Michel and returning sophomore wideouts N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Harry had an injury-riddled rookie season while adjusting a monstrous Patriots Offense. While it could certainly be a time to buy low for the former first-rounder in your dynasty leagues, he is likely a liability on your fantasy rosters in 2020.
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Las Vegas Raiders
The sum of the Raiders Offense is a bit of a question mark, and now they make the journey to Las Vegas. There's a lot to unpack here, literally and metaphorically.
What we can expect: Jon Gruden will continue to utilize Josh Jacobs heavily. The former first-rounder saw 262 total touches in just 13 games in 2019 and ranked 15th among RBs in points per game. He averaged 20 touches per game and looked good doing it - despite his BROKEN SHOULDER.
Jacobs showed off his first-round pedigree by managing the seventh-most rushing yards and leading the league with 69 missed tackles in 2019. He still has plenty of room to grow in terms of production in fantasy leagues after starving for production in the passing game in his rookie year. If there's any certainty, it's Jacobs.
Tight end Darren Waller gets an honorable mention here, after signing a deal worth $29.8 million and leading the team in receiving yards. He produced a team-high 1,145 receiving yards in 2019 while relying on 117 targets to get it done.
The risk lies in the fact that the Raiders do still have tight end Foster Moreau. Moreau is a 2019 fourth-round draft pick, who remarkably finished with the second-most receiving touchdowns on the team for the season. Did I mention that they also signed veteran Jason Witten? Boy, oh boy. It's a crowded room.
The unknowns: Quarterback still seems to be a sore subject for the Raiders. They certainly did their due diligence in scouting QB prospects 2019 NFL Draft, but nothing came of it other than another year of average production from Derek Carr. Though this isn't a particularly deep class for quarterbacks, it's worth wondering if Gruden and Mayock look to make a splash with the big move.
If we're going to talk about the uncertainty of quarterback for the Raiders, we've got to address the wide receiver corps. Between Zay Jones, Tyrell Williams, and Nelson Agholor, Carr could have a field day.
It would be shocking if the Raiders didn't address the wide receiver position in a deep 2020 class, but regardless, their brightest light of hope for now lies with second-year. Renfrow remarkably managed to rank 11th among wideouts with 50 or more targets in yards per route run for the 2019 season. It's not much, but he showed flashes in his rookie season and is certainly worth a glance in dynasty formats.
Meanwhile, getting off the topic of actual football analytics -- let's discuss real life. Even if a change in scenery is a good thing, there's always going to be an adjustment period. New facilities, new home and surroundings, a new city -- it's all an adjustment.
Though we're not precisely talking analytics, there's more than enough there to question how the change may affect the performance of the offense as a whole. The Raiders aren't just relocating; they're relocating to Vegas. If I remember anything of my trips (and I barely do) to Vegas, it's that there are plenty of things to distract young hopefuls from their dreams in Sin City.