2020 Comeback Players

Aug 7, 2020 at 9:03 pm ET

Death. Taxes. Fantasy Disappointments.

Few things in life are as guaranteed as that.

Every year there are guys that disappoint. In the past, the most often reason has been due to injuries - either injuries to themselves or someone else from their team. Some were the result of contractual disputes or the introduction of another player who warranted more targets or opportunities. Regardless of the reason, fantasy owners tend to write them off as evidenced by the following year's ADP. Don't fall for it. This is America, and besides tearing someone down, there's nothing else we like more than to watch a comeback story. Look for these comeback candidates to redeem themselves in 2020.

Adam Thielen, WR MIN
Thielen was on everyone's radar during last year's draft after turning in 305 PPR points the previous season; however, a hamstring injury that sidelined him for several games prevented him from repeating. Prior to going down in Week 7 against Detroit, he had just put up 17.7 points and 32 points the previous two weeks. He aggravated his hamstring later and just wasn't the same.

Adam Thielen Fantasy Production

Fortunately, he's had an entire off-season to recover, and the roster has changed a bit. Specifically, the loss of Stefon Diggs to the Bills opens up 94 targets from last year. Minnesota went out and drafted Justin Jefferson, but it's not realistic to expect all of Diggs' targets to go to Jefferson given the fact that Jefferson hasn't played a down in the NFL and the COVID-impacted off-season isn't particularly helpful.

Thielen also has some continuity on his side both with his QB Kirk Cousins as well as with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Kubiak has a long history of getting the most out of his top wide receiver. There's no reason to think that this wouldn't continue.

The best part about Adam Thielen is that he's being drafted as the 12th (PPR) or 13th (STD) wide receiver. Even though the Vikings have become a run-first team, a healthy Thielen should easily crack the Top 10. Given where he's being drafted, he's a WR1 or a tremendous value at WR2 on your roster.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT
In last year's drafts, JuJu was being drafted at the end of Round 1 alongside Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, and Davante Adams.

His fantasy season took a turn for the worse in Week 2 when QB Ben Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending elbow injury. There's only so much that you can expect from both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Neither guy is Big Ben. In fact, without Roelisberger, the Steelers offense ranked near the bottom in almost every statistical category.

JuJu had his own issues to deal with as well. A toe injury in the first game along with a knee injury and concussion later in the season contributed to his poor performance. The good news is that he's fully healed and so is Ben Roethlisberger. When Ben is healthy, JuJu's numbers are outstanding, and even better when we look at his 31% share of redzone targets. JuJu has largely played alongside Antonio Brown who helped prevent double coverage. The emergence of Diontae Johnson should help there as well as with the addition of Eric Ebron. JuJu operated out of the slot for more than half of all his snaps in 2019 and 2018 often making him a matchup nightmare.

2020 is a contract year for JuJu, and fantasy owners looking to capitalize on his comeback can find him coming off the board anywhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds depending upon scoring format. He may have been a bust last year, but his value in this year's draft is clear. Don't hesitate to take him as your WR1.

James Conner, RB PIT
There wasn't much to get excited about with the Steelers last year. We've highlighted JuJu above, but James Conner deserves to be in this conversation as well. Let's be honest. The combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges wasn't putting the fear into any defense last season.

Fantasy owners who draft Conner are going to be hopeful that he regains his 2018 numbers where he made Le'Veon Bell irrelevant to the Steelers. To do that he's going to need at least 200 touches. Right now, we have him projected for 192 with a 4.3 yard per carry average. That won't be enough to get him back into that 2018 territory, but Conner can still be a solid RB2 for your team.

While Pittsburgh has a few names on the depth chart below Conner, none are ready right now to dethrone him. Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell are not legitimate threats, but there is some excitement to see what rookie Anthony McFarland can do. Unfortunately for him, he's going to face the same challenge that every rookie is with very little action due to the pandemic. It's tough to imagine any of these guys taking serious snaps away from Conner, so the workload should be there.

The ultimate goal here is for Conner to stay healthy and play a full season with Big Ben under center. If that happens, not only will he be an ideal bounce-back candidate, he'll have a chance to flirt with RB1 numbers.

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