By Gabriel Foster: Twitter @gurugub
The 2020 NFL season has been everything but normal. From unexpected missed games due to COVID-19 to early season ending injuries, this for sure will go down in the record books. Despite the odd season, there have been a number of new faces that emerged and have been the ultimate difference maker for their squads. On the other hand, there have been some familiar faces that just didn’t put on for their city this year.
As for this campaign, there have been a few players that analysts everywhere didn’t expect to take that turn towards fantasy relevance and they absolutely did. The waiver wire was a very important thing for fantasy managers everywhere and may have won them some cash or that beloved trophy. Before I spill too much information about who these guys were, let’s get right into 3 Shocking Studs and Duds from this always enjoyable, yet bizarre NFL season.
RB James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Let’s get right to the punch. This guy was probably the most unexpected breakout this year and has provided more than enough points for owners to easily punch their way into the playoffs. Robinson, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State, has silenced the haters and clearly proved that he was worthy of a pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The most asked question has to be, “How did every single team pass up on this kid?” The dude is talented and may have been Jacksonville’s saving grace when they decided to let star running-back Leonard Fournette go before the season started. Robinson has been more than what Jacksonville expected, putting up an impressive 1,070 yards on the ground, along with 7 touchdowns.
Coming in at 3rd in rushing yards this season, Robinson will look to exceed this rank and continue to outperform in the future. Teams all over the country wish they had the luck of the Jaguars, as they have now secured the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence is the projected pick to go along with Robinson and the rest of his talented teammates.
The future is bright for Robinson as his first season in the league was monstrous and definitely not anyone expected. The soon to be second-year, will look to hopefully pair with Lawrence and get more involved in the passing game, as well as prevailing in the running attack.
QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
It may be chilly in Buffalo right now, but at least they have Josh Allen to heat them up. Allen has had a career year and is upon the league’s best quarterbacks. With the ability to attack opposing defenses with his arm and feet, he’s already one step ahead.
The Bills, sitting atop the AFC East at 12-3, have made a strong case for themselves heading into the playoffs. Buffalo has always been an average or back and forth organization but that’s not the case now. With a receiving core in newly acquired Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown and Gabriel Davis, this makes Allen’s job ten times easier.
The Bills captain has racked up 4,320 passing yards with 34 touchdowns, followed by 418 rushing yards with 8 touchdowns. Allen’s name has come across MVP headlines and has been in the running for the award. Although, Mahomes or Rodgers are the favorite, Allen should not be ashamed. To put up numbers, even close to two phenomenal quarterbacks, is an award in it’s own.
Allen has the 3rd best QB rating coming in at 81.6.
If you were lucky to snag Allen in the late rounds of your fantasy draft, greater than not, it probably paid off. At the beginning of the season, Allen was considered a sleeper and was not really a hot commodity in drafts. This will surely change in 2021, as Allen will find himself comfortably sitting as a Top 3-5 quarterback heading into next season.
WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Alabama produces just straight creatures. Every year, it’s like there’s always somebody that emerges as an absolute animal and then you check where they attended school, then BOOM, Alabama. I mean, you can’t convince me that Derrick Henry wasn’t man-made in a laboratory somewhere, nevertheless, Calvin Ridley.
Ridley makes this list over many others because it’s honestly amazing how someone can take the reigns and make an impact so quickly. This year was a little different, not only for Ridley, but the Falcon’s offense in general. Ridley had to step up in a big way with the injury bug biting Julio Jones this year. Ridley produced as an elite wideout and has forced people all around to recognize who else looms in the Atlanta receiving corps behind the future Hall of Famer, Jones.
Ridley has snagged 82 catches for 1,322 yards (5th best), as well as tacking on 9 touchdowns.
The Falcon’s #2 receiver, who has been their #1 receiver for most of the season, has shown that he has the ability to take this Atlanta offense to new heights. With Matt Ryan, at 35 years of age, it’s not yet known how much more he has in the tank. Will this mean a new arm for Ridley? Maybe the Falcons will have a new young quarterback in the next few years? This could bring varieties of opportunities for the Falcons and Ridley.
Quick and electric with his feet and amazing route running will lead Ridley to great things in his long NFL journey. Ridley was projected to be a solid pick in fantasy drafts but he has almost moved into the Top 5-7 range for wide-receivers for the 2021 season. Dynasty owners will desperately be trying to load up on Ridley stocks this offseason, for sure, as this train has left the station a while ago.