Scott Engel returns for his ninth season of Fantasy Football coverage on Seahawks.com. Scott is a 20-plus year veteran of the Fantasy industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. You can find more of his Fantasy analysis at RotoBaller.com and SportsLine.com. You can listen to Scott on weekend mornings and on demand on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Scott has also won his highly competitive Fantasy Football league with other experts and top players in each of the past three years.
This has obviously not been the usual type of preseason, as Fantasy players have been dealing with several pieces of player news and moves affecting their draft approaches at any time. If you have already drafted, you may already need to make some key roster adjustments. For those who have not drafted yet, it is extra important to stay updated. This is especially true at the running back position, where we have seen notable changes in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Washington.
It is highly recommended to utilize a patient approach here, as RBs who have changed teams or are just coming into the league may have to ease into lead roles during the regular season. You should still regard RBs such as Cam Akers, D'Andre Swift and Leonard Fournette as candidates to eventually become the top Fantasy RBs for their new teams. If they slip in drafts, you should take advantage.
As news breaks, I will be regularly adjusting my full rankings here. In the meantime, stay informed as we approach the new season. This should be an exciting campaign for those who roster top Seahawks on their Fantasy teams. Russell Wilson may have the best pass-catching crew of his career in terms of playmaking depth. Tyler Lockett is a high-end Fantasy WR2 and DK Metcalf is widely considered to be a favorite breakout star at WR. Chris Carson is capable of playing at a Fantasy RB1 level and Carlos Hyde is a sleeper candidate. Greg Olsen is a viable TE2 target. For those intense Fantasy players who participate in Individual Defensive Player formats, Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams remain elite performers at their positions and both should be among the top picks among defenders again.
Whether you have drafted or not, these 12 players have to be on your Fantasy radar as those who can exceed expectations this season. You should target them in drafts or trade discussions.
12 Fantasy Players to Watch in 2020
- Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers' longtime search for a featured back may be over. Tampa Bay is making a strong push to emerge as an NFC contender and Fournette might have filled the last significant glaring need on the team. As we have indicated, he may need some time to emerge as the top Fantasy option after being signed late in the preseason. Don't forget, though, that Fournette stayed healthy and finished as Fantasy RB7 last year. He will certainly catch less passes with his new team, but can definitely compensate statistically with seven-plus TD runs as he finishes off drives for a very potent offense. Patience will pay off with Fournette as soon as the third to fourth week of the season and he is a value target in the fifth or sixth rounds.
- Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams: As we already pointed out, the rookie is not beginning the season as the starter. But it won't be long until he takes over lead duties. The Rams were looking to find a new RB in the NFL Draft this year. They wanted a RB who could function as a crux of the offense. Reports indicated that Sean McVay had his eye on Akers as one of his favorite rookie prospects. He is a decisive runner with good vision who will battle hard for his yards. It may just take two to three weeks before Akers is the Rams' clear RB1. Many teams don't want to push rookies into a full role right away after an abnormal preseason. The ramp-up process will be a quick one for Akers.
- Raheem Mostert, San Francisco: His epic performance in the NFC Championship Game last season was a clear signal that Mostert is a very promising upside performer. Rushing for 220 yards and four TDs in the second-biggest game of the year for his team definitely should be taken into consideration when you are mulling over the best RB targets in the 20 to 25 range. Mostert is explosive and can score from anywhere on the field at any time. He is also determined to prove that his amazing outing in the conference title game was no fluke.
- James Conner, Pittsburgh: There was some speculation about a RB time share in Pittsburgh earlier in the year, but those whispers have been silenced. After an injury-marred 2019 season, Conner is healthy and ready to assume No. 1 RB duties without any competition. The Steelers offense will be refreshed by the return of Ben Roethlisberger, and Conner can get frequent scoring opportunities and show off his versatility again as part of a balanced attack. Just two years ago, Conner totaled 1,470 yards from scrimmage while rushing for 12 TDs. He also caught 55 passes. Make sure you draft Benny Snell late as his Fantasy backup.
- Kenny Golladay, Detroit: Now you are getting the impression that the Lions offense will be one to extract quality Fantasy production from this year. Go with that feeling. Golladay is the eighth WR off the board in NFL.com drafts, yet he could finish second or third at the position in 2020. He is on the verge of becoming the next Fantasy superstar at WR. Golladay led the NFL in TD receptions in 2019 with 11, and caught six of those scoring passes in the red zone. He is a contested catch warrior who also adds sizable amounts of yardage after the catch. Don't hesitate to draft Golladay as your Fantasy WR1 or trade for him before the season starts.
- D.J. Chark, Jacksonville: Not many drafters seem to be regarding Chark as more than a mid-range Fantasy WR2, yet he has the potential to emerge as a low-end Fantasy WR1 this season. Chark has become the top playmaker in a passing game that has long been missing a true No. 1 wideout. Gardner Minshew should be more comfortable in his second season as the clear starting QB from the outset, and Jacksonville should throw often this year. Chark had seven games of 16-plus Fantasy points last season and had caught eight TD passes. Look for more receptions and yardage after he totaled 73 and 1,008 in 2019.
- Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati: He is an underrated Fantasy WR3 and has WR2 potential for 2020. Boyd is coming a pair of 1,000-yard campaigns and has totaled 166 receptions in those two seasons. The Bengals offense now gets an apparent upgrade with Joe Burrow as the new QB. Once he settles in, Burrow should lock onto Boyd as his most dependable target. Boyd may be overlooked as he heads into what will likely be his best season yet. He will firmly establish himself as Cincinnati's No. 1 WR this year.
- Marquise Brown. Baltimore: We witnessed the tremendous promise of Brown in the 2020 opener when he caught five passes for 147 yards and two TDs. He also showed another glimpse of his considerable potential in the AFC Wild Card Game, as he had seven catches for 126 yards. Throughout much of the regular season, though, injuries held Brown back from making a real impact. Now he is healthy and his QB should make strides forward as a passer. Look for Brown to boost his yard per catch mark of 12.7 while becoming an exciting Fantasy WR3 this year.
- Chris Herndon, New York Jets: In 2018, Herndon started developing a good rapport with Sam Darnold and started to exhibit the potential to become a quality Fantasy option. But his 2019 season was ruined by a variety of factors. Now he is healthy and ready to take on a significant role in what should be a busy Jets passing game. Herndon is a big matchup problem for defenses at 6-4, 253 with impressive athletic ability. He should be a key target for Sam Darnold on important passing downs and near the goal line. Herndon is a good bet to finish as a Top 10 Fantasy TE this season.
- Mike Gesicki, Miami: One of the most top young talents at his position, Gesicki is poised to break out in his third pro season. He caught five TD passes in 2019 and can better that number by at least two scores this year. There has been a positive culture change in Miami under Brian Flores and you will see the effects of it in some Fantasy numbers this year. The Dolphins also have a sleeper defensive unit.
- Russell Wilson, Seattle: He has never finished lower than eighth at QB in Fantasy Football, and Wilson has placed in the Top 3 in two of the past three seasons. Wilson finished first at QB in 2017. Yet the 2020 season may prove to be his most prolific Fantasy campaign so far. He totaled 347 Fantasy points in '17, as he threw for 3,988 yards and 34 TD passes. As we have already pointed out, Wilson may have the deepest receiving group of his career to work with in 2020. He could finish with his most Fantasy points ever and can be a real league-winning force.
- Cam Newton, New England: Watch for an impressive comeback year from the former MVP and past Fantasy star. Newton is hungry to show he can still be a difference-maker in the league and he will re-emerge as a Fantasy dual threat. The outstanding coaching staff in New England is the perfect fit to help Newton regain his past form as a playmaking QB. The supporting cast will be good enough to complement Newton in an RPO-based, quick-hitting offense. Intangibles and a friendly scheme can put Newton back in Fantasy QB1 territory.
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Fantasy Insider Scott Engel has 12 players who are in position to exceed fantasy expectations this season.