The New Reality No.160: Projecting 2021 Uptick Players

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

Identifying bounce-back or breakout players for the following season is a long-standing strategy to maximizing roster value in the offseason. Here are my favorite bets for an uptick in 2021:

QUARTERBACKS

Jared Goff

Why: Goff is floundering in the QB20s this season and is on par with his lackluster 5.6% touchdown rate from 2019. This after an electric career start in 2017-18 with 60 touchdowns combined. Despite the lull, Goff will be five years into a largely successful career with QB6, 11, and 13 finishes to his profile. Having a top-6 season, plus another top-12 finish is a strong predictor of future QB1 seasons - nearly 70% of top-6 finishers hit for another top-6 season in their career. The Rams infrastructure is sound (Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, a rising Cam Akers, Van Jefferson likely moving up to the WR3 role next year) and Goff is still on the early side of the peak production window for quarterbacks in his mid-20s. The 'down season from a veteran' bounce-back through optics and especially touchdown rate is one of the easiest subsets for investment.

Joe Burrow

Why: Burrow was tethered to a horrible Bengals team but one with quality skill position players (sans Joe Mixon being out for a cross-section of Burrow's starts). Top overall picks are generally overrated for fantasy purposes as the average finish is in the QB20-25 range with Cam Newton as the notable top-6 finish over the past 25 years. On a per-game basis, Burrow was slightly above that zone at QB18-20 this season. A.J. Green is a likely loss in the offseason, but Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are under contract. Joe Mixon will return and is under contract. Year 2 is a different story for No.1 overall quarterbacks. 31% post a top-6 finish and another 23% are in the top-12. Finally, Burrow is a touchdown rate regression candidate. Rookie quarterbacks are typically low in the category and Burrow at 4.9% (rate per completion) was no exception in 2020. Comparable age and touchdown rate historical peers rose by 2.9% on average the following season, which would be more than seven added touchdowns by regression alone on his partial-season tally from 2020.

RUNNING BACKS

Miles Sanders

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