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Bounce Back Players in 2021 Fantasy Football

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Bounce back players Chris Godwin, Ezekiel Elliott, Carson Wentz, Tyler Higbee, and Joe Mixon were disappointing in 2020. The question is, can we trust them again for our dynasty leagues? Yes, and let me tell you why.


Every season some players disappoint and fail to live up to our sky-high expectations. These players “bust” due to injuries of their own, teammates’ injuries or emergence, or the player simply doesn’t perform well. Even though these players have a down season, there’s a good chance they bounce back and will be an even better value in upcoming drafts. There are a variety of reasons to jump back on the ship with these players and why you should give them just one more chance. Today, I’ll be looking at five players who disappointed fantasy managers last season but who have a great shot at redeeming themselves this year.

 

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin is someone I’m a huge fan of since coming into the league. He’s one of the best route runners and has some of the most reliable hands in the NFL. Godwin broke out in 2019, finishing as the WR2 overall and posting gaudy numbers with Jameis Winston. Godwin caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns and officially put everyone on notice. In 2020, his season took a 180 and was a season to forget.

Now, his down season was mainly due to injuries throughout the year, but he still left a sour taste in fantasy managers’ mouths that drafted him. He was being drafted as a top-eight WR in the majority of leagues and finished as the WR31 in PPR formats.

His talent and ability are not in question though, and that’s why I believe he’s in for a big bounce-back campaign. Brady doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon and Godwin was his favorite target for the season on a per-game basis. Godwin also exceeded his projected points in the games he played in, which is very good considering he was dealing with injuries.

Yes, he still has to deal with Mike Evans and Antonio Brown for targets, but Brady loves his slot receivers and has no problem peppering them with targets. I currently have Godwin ranked as the WR13, which is higher than consensus. He’s an awesome bounce-back candidate and someone you should be targeting in the third or fourth round.

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Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

I believe it’s safe to say that Ezekiel Elliott had his worst statistical season in the NFL last season. He had 244 rushes for a career-low 979 yards and six touchdowns. Elliott’s 65.3 rushing yards per game in 2020 ranked 15th for running backs and his five fumbles ranked first for all running backs as well. Although, we have to look at his season from a wider lens. During the first five games of the season, Elliott was RB3 overall and averaged 22.3 PPG.

Then, QB Dak Prescott got injured, and Eliott went on to average a measly 12.3 PPG — RB19 for the rest of the season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Andy Dalton was not very good at all in relief of Prescott. I’m not saying Zeke was anything special after Dak got hurt, but multiple factors led to his down season.

Fast forward and now Prescott is reportedly healthy, the offensive line is healthier, and Zeke is looking good in camps and videos. I believe he’s extremely motivated and ready to prove people wrong this season. The defense still isn’t anything to write home about, which means they will have to throw the ball and get the ball in their playmakers’ hands.

While he’s still a first-round pick in many leagues, he’s at a slight discount because of how he ended the 2020 season. Be smart and take advantage of this discount, because the volume and talent are still there.

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Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Wentz had a horrendous 2020 season. And that’s honestly me being nice. It’s hard to pinpoint where to begin, but let’s get right into it. Wentz completed only 57.4% of his passes for 2,620 yards and a 16:15 TD/INT ratio. His 15 interceptions were tied for first with Drew Lock, and Wentz only started in 12 games. Drew Lock is not someone you want to be mentioned in the same sentence as.

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Believe it or not, Wentz averaged more PPG than Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford. He was only 0.9 PPG behind Joe Burrow as well. Also, Wentz didn’t have the best weapons surrounding him either. Zach Ertz was injured, Jalen Reagor was a disappointment, and the Eagles looked lost. Dallas Goedert was the most reliable piece on that offense. The offensive line was ranked 19th in 2020 due to injuries, which contributed to Wentz looking awful.

Now, Wentz is on the Colts and is back with his old OC Frank Reich. Reich was the Eagles OC in 2016 & 2017 when Wentz had his Pro-Bowl season. There is good reason to expect a bounce-back year for Wentz. First, he gets a considerable upgrade in the offensive line.

Per PFF, the Colts ranked 12th in pass-blocking win rate at 60%, which will help him considerably. Also, he has a great running game, which will help keep the defense on its heels. He also has solid wideouts and tight ends on the roster to help make life easier. He may not be a pro-bowler anymore, but he can still be a solid QB2 for fantasy.


Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams

Everything was lining up for Higbee to take that next step into the next tier of tight ends. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned in the 2020 season. Higbee regressed in every category besides yards per reception and touchdowns. Higbee only had one really good game in 2020 where he had three touchdowns against the Eagles. He was a bust at his ADP last season, but there is hope.

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Things are starting to look and shape up for a bounce-back season for Higbee. Gerald Everett is now on the Seahawks, and the Rams have a new signal-caller in Matthew Stafford. This should help Higbee improve on his numbers and could enjoy a nice breakout season.

Stafford has utilized his tight ends during his career, and this year will be no different. There are a lot of mouths to feed, but Higbee has flashed upside in the past. He’s a great value right now and someone that should bounce back in a big way in 2021.


Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Even as a Bengals fan, I try to put aside my fandom when talking about fantasy football. Mixon had a disappointing 2020 season. The Jaguars was his best game of the season totaling 181 yards and three touchdowns. His usage was questionable and he wasn’t very involved in the passing game as much as he should’ve been. He missed 10 games during the season with a nagging ankle injury.

People have been burned by Mixon in the past, and are just completely out on him. While others may be out, I’m still banking on a breakout campaign.

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I strongly believe this is the year of Joe Mixon. Here’s why. First, Mixon will stay on the field for third downs, now that Gio is not on the team. Mixon’s target totals last season were: two, four, three, six, eight, and three. He averaged 4.3 targets per game, which is on pace for nearly 74 targets in a 17-game season.

This is a good sign of things to come if head coach Zac Taylor decides to involve Mixon even more. The Bengals also improve their offensive line this offseason. They brought in Riley Reiff and drafted Jackson Carman in the second round to help bolster the line. He has a lot going for him, and you need to take advantage before people start realizing it.


Final Thoughts

While I completely understand fantasy managers being hesitant about these players, you shouldn’t be! They are in great spots to bounce back, and they are even cheaper this year. The underwhelming performance last season is now baked into their cost this season.

Therefore, their risk is lower and their chances to outperform their ADP is higher. You need to maximize this opportunity and take advantage. This is exactly how you win your league, and you won’t be sorry about drafting these players. 


Thank you for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @ConbonNFL and check out more of my work on my IDP Guys Author page or my website

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