And we made it.
There were many who did not think that the NFL could play for all 17 weeks, and yet here we are. The Chiefs still have the best record in the NFL, the Packers and the Saints still control the NFC and the NFC East still gets to send a team to the playoffs unless they change the rules.
There seemed to be more first-round fantasy draft picks that outright sucked for various reasons and none of them because they caught the ‘rona and never played. But the COVID-19 virus was a part of this season’s landscape even in the NFL. We can only hope that vaccinations and continued vigilance can prevent it from being a factor in 2021 – but at least they know what they are dealing with next time.
About 99% of all fantasy leagues and contests are done. That final 1% that uses Week 17 are almost always leagues that have been around forever, filled with “Stay out of my yard!” kind of owners, particularly if you question them why they use the final week.
The NFL is leaning towards a 17-game schedule, so maybe they were actually forward-thinking, afterall.
Wrapping up the column for 2020, I thought we’d take a look at some stats. Not the total yards and touchdown and fantasy points we all so closely follow. But some of the interesting ones that help define how effective a player was, given his opportunities.
- Quarterback Effectiveness
This measured how many yards they averaged each time they either ran or threw the ball. How productive were they when they did not hand the ball off? (Minimum – 250 plays)
Hats off to Deshaun Watson playing with a continually dwindling set of players around him and a questionable offensive line. Both Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill did better in this metric than their overall stats might suggest.That bottom five all lost their jobs during the season at some point, even the rookie Tua Tagovailoa last week.
- Running Back Effectiveness
This measured how many yards a running back gained when he touched the ball – catch or run. Minimum – 150 touches
The top players are no surprise since they are top rushers or add in a lot of catches which tend to be longer than their rushes. J.D. McKissic should stick next year.The worse players are a slight surprise including Josh Jacobs and his great offensive line, and Kenyan Drake who looked so effective to end 2019. And it all begs the question – how low will Gore fall in 2020 when he lands on his sixth team with a starting job that no one understands.
- Yards Per Rush – Running Backs
It is a standard measurement and one that is greatly influenced by their offensive line. Minimum = 100 rushes.
This is why Mark Ingram has been inactive. The rookie J.K. Dobbins is one of the best rushers in the league, more limited by a team that insists on a committee that includes their quarterback. Miles Sanders’ year has been a disappointment, and the Eagles offensive line was decimated by injury but Sanders still runs well.The Steelers line is also one of the better units, and hasn’t had the same injury issues of many other teams. But the notion that Benny Snell will take over for James Conner next year doesn’t look like a great idea. And the rookie Joshua Kelley started the year as the primary rusher and ends on the bench watching life go by.
- Best Hands – Wide Receivers
This is a measurement of how often a player caught the pass that was thrown to him. In fairness, it is subjective as to how “catchable” a pass is and that also reflects on the quarterback as well. (Minimum – 50 Targets)
Have to admit that the change in coaches and quarterbacks helped Curtis Samuel. He lined up as a running back at times which helped. And Chris Godwins tumble down the rankings in 2020 doesn’t appear to have that much to do with his ability to catch the ball.Of the worst, A.J. Green’s attempt to reclaim his career did not go as well he he hoped. But more concerning is the Alabama rookie selected 1.15 as the second wideout drafted. Jerry Jeudy ranked dead last with only 44% of his targets turning into catches. It does have to do with Drew Lock since fellow Denver rookie KJ Hamler was in the Bottom-10 as well.
- Best Deep receiver
This measures the yards-per-catch for wideouts with at least 50 catches. There are also a handful of receivers with high averaged but low volume of receptions. This is looking at every-down starters.
Moore has always been a field-stretcher and Agholor has been everything that the Eagles wanted, only on the Raiders roster now. Will “Juice” Fuller did well with Deshaun Watson and, apparently, the help of modern medicine.The Steelers’ passing game was certainly short this year, with two receivers gaining yardage like a tight end. And Keenan Allen was a surprise, having been very productive with the rookie Justin Herbert.
- Best Hands – Tight Ends
Finally, which of those big guys did the best when they stopped blocking long enough to catch a pass? How well could they transition to becoming a receiver? Minimum – 50 Targets
Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle are no surprises, given they are the Top-3 in their position. Tyler Higbee blew up in the second half of 2019 but never saw anywhere near the same volume of passes this season even though he’s caught them as well as any tight end. Robert Tonyan is the biggest surprise. The Packers haven’t ever used tight ends much with Aaron Rodgers there but Tonyan led the field with is ability to catch a pass. Probably helps that Rodgers is throwing it, but still a nice surprise.Surprising names at the bottom as well. Zach Ertz looks like he has aged-out of the league and Evan Engram has never been great at catching passes. He just usually gets a high volume than most. And Gronk’s return looked like a non-event, then he started to matter, and now he’s mostly back to blocking.