Welcome to the stock report Week 17 edition. Even though there are many great performances and several mediocre performances, the player's stock usually remains the same. Patrick Mahomes is always going to be in the top echelon while Mitchell Trubisky is going to trend toward the bottom. What will be discussed in this and future articles are those players that are rapidly moving up or down based on the athlete's weekly performance. Since the fantasy season is over by the start of Sunday's games, I decided to look at the most significant stock risers and fallers over the year. Which players improved their worth for 2020 and which decreased their values? I used FantasyPros as a baseline for the pre-season rankings dated September 8, 2019, with Points Per Reception (PPR) values.
Many had Lamar Jackson as a borderline QB1 coming into the season. Jackson has great athletic skils and can run, but it was his accuracy that was the more significant issue. The Chargers demonstrated what containing Jackson could result in when they faced off in the 2018 NFL playoffs. Jackson tallied 248 yards and two-touchdowns while turning the ball over twice and only completed just 48 percent of his passes in the loss. He quickly erased any negatives in the first game of the 2019 season when he burned the Dolphins for 330 total yards and five touchdowns and completing 85 percent of his throws. Jackson would finish the season throwing five touchdowns in three games and five games where he crossed the goal line three or more times. He didn't play in Week 17 but did finish with 4333 scrimmage yards and 43 total touchdowns while only throwing six picks and easily the QB1.
You will need to dig much further than Jackson to find the pre-season ranking of Josh Allen. According to FantasyPros, he was the QB20 coming into the season. Just like Jackson, Allen struggled with accuracy issues and only completed 53 percent of his passes as a rookie in 2018. Allen would improve in 2019 as he increased his completion percentage to 59 percent. His 29 total touchdowns, 3599 scrimmage yards, and just nine interceptions, would drive him up to a verge starting quarterback for fantasy teams. Allen's rushing totals were less than the previous by over 100 yards. However, that could mean he is getting better at reading defenses and doesn't need to take off and run.
When Melvin Gordon decided to hold out, Austin Ekeler became a draftable commodity as a marginal RB2/3. However, he was supposed to disappear on the emergence of Gordon; but that didn't happen as Ekeler continued to be a force in the passing game. He nearly caught 100 passes (92) and a thousand yards (993) while scoring eight touchdowns through the air. Ekeler crossed the goal line three times on the ground, including rushing for 557 yards on 132 attempts. He started and maintained a top-five status all-season while playing a part-time role.
There hasn't been much out of Derrick Henry in his three years in the league. He isn't flashy and has weak hands catching just 39 passes in that period. After being benched in favor of Dion Lewis in 2018, it seemed to be the sparking point for his career. Henry went on to score 12 times, more than his ten total in his first two years in the league. However, after two disastrous seasons to start his career, many felt Henry was not much better than a lower-tier RB2 in a make or break season. It was clear from Week 1 this was his make season. He would lead the league in yards (1540) and score 16 times tying him with Aaron Jones. Henry even scored twice on receptions, busting out a 75-yard score in the first week of the season. His season dominance allowed him to finish fifth overall.
Did you draft Raheem Mostert? No, worries very few did. After all, FantasyPros had him as the 104th running back off the board. Mostert was the third running back on the team and has done nothing since entering the league in 2015 while playing on five teams as an undrafted free agent. He managed to stick around and through perseverance and injuries, the 49ers would finally make him the unofficial number one running back on the team. Mostert would finish 24th depending on league settings which for a guy that has just 137 carries is remarkable. The surprise stud would finish the season with 772 yards (5.6 yards per carry) while scoring a total of 10 times and adding 14 receptions.
For many, Cooper Kupp was not worth more than a low-end WR2 and preferably a WR3. He had made a mark in the fantasy community but it wasn't unique by any means. In his first two seasons, he caught 11 touchdowns and 102 passes in 23 games played. Kupp was also coming off an ACL tear ending his 2018 campaign in game eight. He would prove that an ACL tear has little effect on performance for some players. Kupp would finish the season with 94 receptions for 1161 yards and ten touchdowns. Including in those ten were five straight games of scoring at least once. By the end of the year, Kupp would place among the top-five of receivers in all formats. Placing second in touchdowns behind Kenny Golladay, seventh in receptions, and 11th in yards.
Every season fantasy owners are given a player they didn't provide much hope for; this season it was D.J. Chark. On average, he fell into the WR6 category if not lower. It didn't help that his rookie season was a reflection of dropped passes and he never found the end zone. On top of that hill was the Jaguars focus on running the ball which left little room for any receiver outside of Dede Westbrook. On the side of that hill included the quarterbacking of Nick Foles and some guy calling himself Gardner Minshew. None of that matter as Chark routinely put up substantial numbers including three 100+ yard performances and scoring five touchdowns in his first five games of the season. As the year wore on, his numbers took a hit and he didn't score in the last five games, but he was an active member in a bad offense. Chark finished with 73 catches for 1008 yards and eight touchdowns.
I guess some players spring to life when left for dead as in the case of DeVante Parker. In his first four seasons, Parker totaled 163 receptions for 2217 and nine touchdowns. In 2019, Parker nearly halved his totals by catching 72 balls for 1202 yards and matched his scores at nine. Just like Chark, Parker was a dart throw at the end of drafts of 12 team leagues. Parker's emergence should be of lesser surprise as he is a former first-round choice by the Dolphins going at pick 14. He didn't start strong but by Week 4, he began a three-game consecutive streak in getting in the end zone. Parker then finished the season scoring five times in five games, scoring twice in two of those contests. He also closed out the year by going over 100 yards in back-to-back matchups and three of the last five competitions placing him at WR12.
The second-year tight end did not get much fanfare as a lower-end TE2 to start the season. It all changed with the emergence of Jackson helping Mark Andrews finish in the top-five of all tight ends. Andrews started the season with back-to-back games of 100+ yards while catching two touchdowns. He wouldn't go over the 100-yard barrier again but was a continuous presence catching 64 passes for 852 yards and ten touchdowns. The ten scores put him tied with Kupp for NFL scoring. His receptions put him 7th among tight ends and Andrews' yards were fifth in that category.
I first caught on to Darren Waller while watching the HBO special "Hard Knocks." Those unfamiliar with the story found Waller washed up on drugs but fighting back and remaining sober. Oakland awarded him for his efforts with a three-year contract worth $9 million per season. Waller awarded the Raiders with a TE5 season by catching 90 passes for 1145 yards and three touchdowns. He became the first tight end to do so since Todd Christensen in 1986. Christensen also did it two other times prior in 1983 and 84.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback had a price tag in the top-five in almost everyone's rankings, and FantasyPros had Aaron Rodgers at three. With a more focus on the running game and Rodgers' age, it appears he is more of lower-tier QB1 and next season could even falter even more. He doesn't run much anymore and for the second straight season finishing in the mid-20s for touchdowns (25, 26). It was the worst yardage output in his career while playing all 16 games as he barely cracked 4,000 yards. With both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams taking a meaningful step forward, it will be hard for Rodgers to not slide past QB12 next year.
His stock drop is a difficult place to put David Johnson. After all, he fell from grace after putting up 23 points against Atlanta. His fall was more related to injuries and the arrival of Kenyan Drake which eliminated any hope for a bounce-back and became waiver wire fodder. He would finish the season with just 47 yards more on 18 carries scoring only once in the air in his final seven games of the season. Arizona has an exciting choice to make. They owe Johnson a boatload of money, but Drake is a better fit for their system. Unfortunately, he is also an Unrestricted Free Agent.
It wasn't just James Conner who faltered; all the offensive weapons were ineffective. Ben Roethlisberger was out for 99 percent of the season, and JuJu Smith-Schuster was either not on the field due to an injury or not performing on it. Unfortunately for Conner, he was a first-round selection in many leagues and just was awful. He missed much time dealing with injuries missing six games and injured his Quadriceps making him questionable for the start of training camp in 2020. Conner did not have more than 55 yards rushing outside of his 145 against Miami. He only scored four times on the ground but added three in the air. Conner barely eclipsed 3.9 ypc while rushing for 464 yards on 116 attempts while catching 34 passes.
It is one thing to be injured and not perform well. It is also another when you are sharing time and don't put up high numbers. However, what do you call a first-round pick who is neither injured or in a part-time role that fails? If you guessed, LeVeon Bell you are correct. It wasn't all on his shoulders. It doesn't help when you are a bad fit for an offensive scheme. Bell is a patient runner who chooses the correct path to the goal line. When defenses stack the box because of a below-average quarterback and an offensive line struggles to block, Bell performs at an unacceptable level. Even head coach Adam Gase was not satisfied as he chose not to answer a reporter's question on if he wants Bell back with the team. In the end, the talented running back ran for 789 yards on 245 carries (3.2 ypc) and four total touchdowns while catching 66 passes.
The injury to Ben Roethlisberger, coupled with injuries, did JuJu Smith-Schuster no favors. How much effect did it have on his play? Smith-Schuster was not very good to open the season but did have a touchdown against the 49ers in Week 3. His second and third touchdowns came in Game five and eight against the Ravens and Dolphins, where Smith-Schuster had his only 100-yard game of the year (Miami). He only caught more than three passes in four games and never hit double-digits. He did miss four contests but closed out the year catching four passes for 28-yards in two competitions. By the end of 2019, Smith-Schuster put up a 41-552-3 stat line and is probably begging for the return of Roethlisberger.
It appeared to be a rosy pre-season as the Cleveland Browns looked to take over the AFC North when they acquired Odell Beckham to team with Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately, the combination didn't coincide, and with a new hire and first-year fire of Freddie Kitchens, it didn't was a complete disaster from the opening week as they lost to the Titans by 30 points but Beckham did have 7-77 stat-line. Cleveland got back on track against the Jets in Week 2 and Beckham had his best game of the season (6-161-1). He would go nine straight games without a touchdown and eclipse the century barrier just once the rest of the season. Beckham could get no more than 87 yards and put up clunkers in eight games totaling 328 yards or 41 yards per game. He did finish on a positive note catching touchdowns in back-to-back games increasing his season total to four while also finishing with 74 receptions for 1035 yards.
A year that Stefon Diggs would love to forget. He was mostly inconsistent except for a three-game stretch where he caught seven passes in each contest while delivering yards of 167, 143, and 143. Diggs did score three times in that period, but all three-game against Philadelphia. It would take him another five games to score again and the last time he broke 100 yards by catching 5-121 against Denver. Diggs' 1130 yards put him 15th while his 63 receptions were 31st. The six scores placed him tied for 20th among 16 other receivers.
Perhaps the most significant stock plummet in fantasy football goes to O.J. Howard. In 142 rankings done by FantasyPros, Howard was ranked no higher than 2nd and no lower than 8th; he finished 31st among all tight ends. He put up three games worth of goose-eggs and never had more than 73 yards in any contest. Howard would score once against Arizona and not catch six passes in any competition. In the end, his 34-459-1 was the worst of his three-seasons. He had 34 catches last year in 10 games and caught more touchdowns in his rookie year and has gone downhill in that department.