There is a small subset of players each season who shift the power structure of a team and fantasy league. Big rewards require big risks along the way of a fantasy draft, trading, or the waiver wire. Here are the players with the highest upside compared to their cost for 2020:
How it happens: Roethlisberger is returning from missing nearly all of 2020 due to injury, a prime recipe for value the following season. Roethlisberger was QB9 and QB3 the previous two seasons and a strong collection of weapons, including promising 2019 rookie addition Diontae Johnson and free agent signing Eric Ebron of recent note.
How it happens: While the downside is an unusable player or even one not on the Patriots for Week 1, this search is about the potential and the best case scenarios. Enter Bill Belichek paired with one of the best rushing quarterbacks in NFL history, who has five top-6 seasons under his belt.
How it happens: While a first-round pick, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is slow to gain traction in the Chiefs backfield and Williams continues his two-way brilliance in arguably the best offense in the NFL. Health and a role for Williams, without a strong split with Edwards-Helaire, is the formula for an easy RB1 finish and crushing his draft investment.
How it happens: Dobbins offers a big-play ability that, when paired with Lamar Jackson, is yet another level of 'good luck NFL defenses' added to the top-end of Baltimore's offensive prowess. Even if Mark Ingram II in healthy, Dobbins surges past Ingram by midseason and turns into a fantasy league-changing auto-start for the critical weeks of the season.
How it happens: Dalvin Cook holds out and misses time, or returns to his lacking-of-durability ways. Mattison takes over and the Minnesota offense does not miss a beat as Mattison, one of the highest upside primary backups in the NFL, gets his chance to shine.
How it happens: Aaron Jones fails to fit the new Packers offense built around big packages, power running, and the exact profile of A.J. Dillon as the centerpiece of the new run-centric attack. Jones begins as the 1A option but misses time by midseason and Dillon, not Jamaal Williams, is the rising answer for Green Bay. Jones returns, but the future - and present - has already changed like the Green Bay weather to colder temperatures for Jones.
How it happens: Pollard is on the short list of running backs with league-changing upside if a single event occurs. Ezekiel Elliott missing games in any capacity is the ignition to Pollard having the keys to the backfield of an electric offense with even more weapons than last year. Pollard surges past nearly all running backs in weekly projections and turns average fantasy teams into strong contenders and left-for-dead rosters into pushing for a playoff spot.
Brandon Cooks, Will Fuller V
How it happens: Will Fuller V for the duration of his career and Brandin Cooks for merely 2019 are on the 'stay away' list for fantasy drafters navigating by injury track records. However, at least one stays healthy for most of the season and, when paired with Deshaun Watson, surge to WR1 fantasy status with moments of high-WR1 dominance.
How it happens: Sanders has four top-24 over the past six seasons and landed with an all-time great in Drew Brees. The Saints have been starved for a strong WR2 to pair with Michael Thomas in recent years. Between Thomas and Jared Cook down the seam, Sanders enjoyed open pastures for some of the easiest yards of his career. Thomas and Sanders are both top-15 fantasy options as Brees surpasses 5,000 yards on the season.
How it happens: Investing in the 'what if' of the elite offenses at a discounted price turns into gold with Hardman and Watkins. Both are an injury away with Tyreek Hill (or Travis Kelce) for a rise in targets from the quarterback oracle, Patrick Mahomes II. Kansas City is the rare offense where it only takes a handful of targets a week to turn into an impact player.
How it happens: Brown signs with an NFL team and returns to his status as one of the NFL's best receivers after a moderate, or short, suspension. Brown is shelved by fantasy teams until weeks into the season before his top-12 season on a per-game basis.
How it happens: DeSean Jackson sparsely plays - yet again - in 2020 and Alshon Jeffery is a shell of his former self as the physical erosion continues. Jalen Reagor's speed and big-play creation is a breath of fresh air for an Eagles offense which manufactured it through running backs down the stretch in 2019 by necessity. Reagor is a top-24 fantasy receiver on the season with moments of WR1 impact.
How it happens: Goedert was TE12 in adjusted PPR PPG last season even with a healthy Zach Ertz. The stalwart Ertz misses a chunk of the season due to injury for the first time in his career, paving the way for a Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert-centric passing game as Carson Wentz elevates Goedert's standing into a proverbial star.
How it happens: Hurst takes over the role vacated by Austin Hooper but with even more big-play ability downfield. Hurst stays healthy and is an unquestioned top-5 tight end even with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley both top-20 receivers.
How it happens: Will Dissly misses the opening weeks of the season with his second straight substantial recovery in as many offseasons. Olsen steps in seamlessly as one of the most productive tight ends over the past 15 years as a weekly top-10 projection and performer paired with Russell Wilson. By the time Dissly is ready to go for significant snaps, Olsen is entrenched on a Seattle team positioned as one of the strongest contenders in the NFC.
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