Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
For some of us, the season ended on Christmas when Alvin Kamara reminded everyone who the Saints offense really runs through. Yes, we never really doubted the Saints RB from a talent standpoint, it was more about how he fits the Saints offensive scheme with Taysom Hill under center. With hindsight, it turned out the answer was he fits just fine, so I (like most of you) have zero concerns about him next season without Drew Brees needing him as a crutch.
For others though, the season ended this morning. Maybe you won, maybe you did not, but regardless today is the day where you can finally look back and reflect, and hopefully get the weight of this crazy season off your shoulders. I know it has certainly been a wild ride here at The Lateral, as we tried to figure out what content people are looking for in a highly saturated market. Now we have to figure it out all over again when it comes to our first offseason, but more on that will come later in the next several days. Rest assured, we have some plans. 2021 starts today if you want to win this time next year.
The Morning After: A Quick Week 16 & 2020 Season Recap
The Week 16 Stars to Watch for 2021
Yes, A.J. Dillon looked good. He looked almost as good as those pistons he calls legs. But he was not the only young RB that shined in Week 16 worth keeping on the radar for your 2021 drafts. The obvious one is Miami RB Myles Gaskin, who has locked down a rare bell-cow role on a good team at only 23 years old. As good as Salvon Ahmed looked in relief in Week 15, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores clearly does not share his mentor Bill Belichick's belief in a split backfield. It is still early in the offseason, but Gaskin and Ahmed could be the lead RB/handcuff RB combo to target in 2021. Especially since it will be cheaper than the Cowboys RBs Zeke and Pollard. Jeff Wilson Jr. (SF) may also be claiming a lead role in his backfield, scoring 27.4 PPR points in Week 16 and averaging 17.45 PPR points when receiving 10+ touches. For reference, Raheem Mostert scored only 12.62 PPR points per game when receiving 10+ touches. Keep an eye on that San Francisco backfield.
At QB there was not a ton that should have 2021 implications other than Jalen Hurts cementing his role as the Eagles starter. Well, except for Mitchell Tubisky complicating things for the Bears. Prevailing thought will have most thinking Mitch will not be the QB for the Bears but is that actually the case? Since taking over after the Week 11 bye, Trubisky has been the QB9 in fantasy and has the Bears fighting for a playoff spot. If they win a playoff game with Trubisky under center, it will be really tough not to bring him back.
Speaking of a late-season comeback, how about Cowboys WR (and the bane of my existence) Michael Gallup? Gallup not only finished as WR4 in PPR format but in the second half of the season was a startable WR33 with 12.7 PPG. To be fair, both CeeDee Lamb (WR22) and Amari Cooper (WR23) finished higher over the same period, but if you are looking for a WR3/WR4, Gallup and his six to seven targets per game could be available cheap. Panthers WR Curtis Samuel could also be mentioned here, but at this point, he was already on your radar for 2021, especially with his impending free agent status. Finally, with the probable arrival of QB Trevor Lawrence, Week 16 WR21 Laviska Shenault Jr. could be a breakout candidate in 2021.
I am going to keep TE very simple. Believe the TE1 performance from Irv Smith Jr. (MIN). Do not believe the TE11 performance from Chris Herndon IV (NYJ). Smith averaged 13.1 PPG since Week 9. Herndon averaged 6.9 (nice). One of these things is not like the other.
Your Fantasy MVP is...
We will do an awards article in the next few weeks, but this is a 2020 recap so I figured I would throw out a couple candidates and explain why they qualify as an MVP candidate. QB Kyler Murray (ARI) is an obvious choice because he scored the most points season-long, never missed a game, and was second in PPG amongst all NFL players in fantasy points who played 10+ games. Yet if you played him when it counted, he may have lost you your matchup. In comparison, QB Aaron Rodgers (GB) was drafted rounds later and had his lone dud in Week 6. With the combination of nominal performance and then adjusting for the value of getting Rodgers in a later round, would he not be more valuable?
What about RBs Alvin Kamara (NO), Dalvin Cook (MIN), and James Robinson (JAX)? As good as Cook was, he missed a game and Kamara did not, and while Kamara had the lone dud in Week 12 that Cook never quite had, is that enough to make Cook more valuable than Kamara? What about when factoring in that Kamara was the best player in Championship Week by a country mile? And if we are talking about value, can you get more valuable than Robinson? The Jags RB went undrafted in most leagues. Yet he finished as the 29th best player in fantasy this season, and while he missed Week 16, he was probably a big reason your team got there in the first place.
Using the same logic we already discussed, the MVP candidates from this year's WRs are clearly WR Davante Adams and WR Stefon Diggs (BUF). Despite missing two games, Adams still finished ahead of Diggs and Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill this year and in Week 16. Given Adams was drafted just ahead of Hill, can Hill claim any argument other than being healthy for 15 games? Can either Adams or Hill, the WR2 and WR3 by ADP this season claim to be more valuable than Diggs, who was WR23 going into his first season in Buffalo? In Week 16 he was WR2, and he was the season-long WR3. He may be the best value of anyone that both got you to a championship and won you that championship.
And then there was TE Travis Kelce (TE). The Kansas City tight end and potential GOAT candidate at the position had a monster 2020, finishing 15th overall at the end of the season. But not far behind him was TE Darren Waller (LV) at 27th overall. Given the difference in draft capital (Kelce went in round two per ADP, Waller in round five), ignoring Waller for fantasy MVP would be a mistake. Especially since the next closest TE at 84th overall (T.J. Hockenson [DET]). But his four duds compared to only one single-digit performance from Travis Kelce may be impossible to overcome. The MVP competition is certainly fierce this year, especially depending on how you define the award.
A Final Point: Patience is a Virtue
Knowing when to pull the trigger may be the greatest differentiator in fantasy football. That should not be read as, "drafting does not matter." Drafting properly is important to fantasy success, and if you are reading this you already knew that. Anyone can figure out that drafting is important. Everyone can learn how to draft, how to analyze talent, etc. I know that my drafting this year with real preparation was significantly better this year than when I was more passive in my drafting. I went from being the director that fixes everything in post to the director who writes the screenplay and the line budget because they want nothing left to chance.
But even then, I still made mistakes. Whether it was holding onto Phillip Lindsay too long, not drafting a second QB, and getting crushed once Dak Prescott went down, not holding onto A.J. Dillon because I had to have Joshua Kelley (oops), etc., mistakes happened because the trigger was not pulled at the exact right time. I know I was certainly not alone in this either. In the end, though, most people that won were the ones who knew not just the right move to make, but the right time to make it. That was my biggest takeaway this season, and that is why "Patience is a virtue" is my mantra already for 2021.
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