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2020 NFL Schedule Wide Receiver Winners and Losers

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The release of the 2020 NFL schedule rallied football fans across the nation with a sense of hope. In what feels like the longest offseason in recent memory, this unveiling couldn’t have been more welcome. Now that the matchups are in front of us, who are the 2020 NFL Schedule Wide Receiver Winners and Losers?

You know that feeling you got last year when you saw that your top receiver was lining up opposite of Richard Sherman? That’s what I want to help you avoid. Knowing the difference between an easy and difficult slate of defensive matchups can help alter your draft approach.

Take being a WR1 in the AFC East for example. You can look forward to fending off coverage from Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White for a combined four games per season. Whereas, if you’re in the AFC South, your division only has one top-15 secondary, according to Pro Football Focus.

Strength of schedule shouldn’t the end-all-be-all in your decision-making process. It can, however, be a useful tiebreaker when debating between two receivers in the same tier.

Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the 2020 NFL Schedule Wide Receivers and Losers!

2020 NFL Schedule Wide Receiver Winners and Losers

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Winners

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

What did we learn about Kenny Golladay in 2019? You can take away his quarterback, but you can’t hold the man down.

Golladay dealt with miserable quarterback play after Matthew Stafford missed time following Week 9. Through Weeks 10-17, Golladay finished as the WR15 in half-point PPR leagues. That’s astounding when you consider he was catching passes from the likes of David Blough and Jeff Driskel.

What makes Golladay a stat-hog is his ability to make plays down the field. Last season, not only did he rank 6th in average target distance, but he also finished 4th in yards-per-reception. He may not be a volume receiver, but all he needs is one play to carry his weight in your lineup.

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Looking ahead to 2020, Golladay has eight matchups against bottom-half secondaries from 2019. In addition, he also faces the Vikings twice. Minnesota may have finished third in coverage according to Pro Football Focus, but their secondary is depleted after losing a number of their defenders.

Even against competent cornerbacks, Stafford is a quarterback who’s willing to take risks. If Golladay managed a top-15 pace with Blough and Driskel, he’s a shoo-in WR1 in 2020 with Stafford.

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a reality where Allen Robinson had competent quarterback play. Sublime, isn’t it?

Wherever Robinson goes, dysfunction at the quarterback position follows. Last season, Mitchell Trubisky finished in the bottom half of every passing stat imaginable. With Trubisky leading the Bears’ offense, Robinson saw a measly catchable target percentage of 77%. This put Robinson 56th among all qualified receivers in the category.

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Despite dreadful quarterback play, Robinson finished the year as the WR11 in a half-point PPR format.

This upcoming season, Robinson has a cushy slate of cornerbacks to look forward to. The NFC North as a whole has favorable secondary matchups. The Bears and the Packers, in particular, benefitted from the schedule release. Their division mates in Detroit and Minnesota are exploitable in the passing game, making Robinson’s life that much easier.

Although the Vikings’ secondary played well in 2019, they lost their key defenders in free agency. In addition, the Lions’ secondary was downright dreadful. Their starters gave up a passer rating of 105.5 to opposing targets. To make matters worse, their star cornerback, Darius Slay, left Detroit and signed with the Eagles.

Sure, Detroit drafted Jeffrey Okudah in the first round, but rookie cornerbacks take time to develop. Okudah isn’t your average prospect, but to a star like Allen Robinson, he isn’t an immediate threat.

Robinson is poised for another solid fantasy outing in 2020. If (and when) Nick Foles takes over the passing duties, Robinson should see a significant improvement in target quality. Pencil him in for another WR1 finish.

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At the risk of sounding redundant, both Adam Thielen and Davante Adams are winners as well. The NFC North has a smorgasbord of juicy non-divisional matchups. It’s a great time to be a pass-catcher in the Black and Blue Division.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

It feels like Odell Beckham Jr.’s acrobatic pass-catching days are a thing of the distant past. In reality, OBJ is only one year removed from a WR16 performance, despite only playing 12 games.

The truth is the Browns offense as a whole widely disappointed last season. Baker Mayfield took a major step in the wrong direction. His shaky nerves were palpable behind an offensive line that left wide enough pass-rushing gaps for a semi-truck to roll through.

We’ve seen what rock bottom looks like for this unit, and it can only get better from here.

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Aside from their games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Cleveland doesn’t face an elite secondary all season. Their only other two games against top-15 units, according to Pro Football Focus, are against the Colts and the Cowboys.

The Browns start the first five weeks with games against the Ravens, Cowboys, and Colts. So, Week 6 could be a great time to buy-low on OBJ.

Per statements made by Beckham himself, he played all of last season with a core muscle injury. If his injury held him back as much as he claims, this year could be a return to form for the young superstar.

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One of the biggest concerns is the hiring of Kevin Stefanski as the head coach. The former Vikings offensive coordinator’s offense is predicated around the running game. While Nick Chubb is the greatest beneficiary of Stefanski’s hiring, Beckham may not be as negatively impacted as people fear.

Beckham’s fellow receiver, Jarvis Landry, underwent hip surgery this offseason and may not ready for Week 1. If Landry’s play is hampered in any way next season, Beckham’s target share of 26.60% has the potential to increase.

Consider OBJ among the top of the list of comeback players in 2020.

D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

It’s a new day in Carolina. The era of Cam Newton has come to an end, and the days of Teddy Two-Gloves have started.

So, what are the pros and cons of D.J. Moore’s new situation?

Well, for starters, it’s inconceivable that Bridgewater could play any worse than Kyle Allen did last year. Allen finished the year with an abysmal QB rating of 80.0. For context, that’s even lower than the likes of Jameis Winston and Josh Allen.

In the seven games that Bridgewater saw the field, he finished with a QB rating of 99.1. Bridgewater may not go deep as often as one might hope, but deep catches aren’t a staple of Moore’s game.

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It’s somewhat unfair to compare Allen and Bridgewater’s respective situations, considering the latter had Sean Payton calling plays. Still, it’s worth mentioning that LSU’s former passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, is now in Carolina.

Brady, by the way, served as Sean Payton’s offensive assistant in the 2017-18 season.

Moore’s divisional opponents all finished in the bottom-half of passing defenses in 2019. Outside of his six NFC South showdowns, Moore only faces three top-10 secondaries next season.

Carolina’s defense is anything to write home about either. In fact, they’re in line to finish as the worst defense in the league. They’re in a total rebuild on that side of the ball, which only makes a case for a higher target amount than he had last year.

The biggest question mark about Moore’s fantasy value is the addition of Robby Anderson in free agency. Personally, I don’t see this as a big hit to his upside. Anderson is a deep-threat receiver, which serves as a bigger knock against Curtis Samuels‘ value than Moore’s.

All things considered, Moore is a fringe WR1 with top-1o upside.

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Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

I could just as easily have gone with Julio Jones here, but c’mon, who cares what his schedule looks like? Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but he’s a locked and loaded starter no matter who he’s lining up against.

Jones’ young receiving mate, Calvin Ridley, is a much more interesting player to talk about. Before missing the last three games of the season, Ridley was the WR13 through the first fourteen weeks. He was a steady contributor who only saw less than five targets once on the year.

Following the departure of Austin Hooper, who received 97 targets, Ridley is poised to gobble up even more of the target share in Atlanta.

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What could be better for a fantasy receiver than seeing an uptick in targets on the most pass-heavy team in the league?

Last season, Atlanta averaged more pass plays per game than anyone. This was in large part due to the poor play on the defensive side of the ball.



Realizing the team’s needs, Atlanta wisely used their first two picks in the draft on defenders. Their incoming rookies, plus the newly-signed edge rusher, Dante Fowler Jr., are much-needed additions to the team, but this unit will still have its struggles.

Looking at the Falcons’ schedule for fantasy, Ridley and Co. have no reason to fear what lies ahead. Their division mates don’t inspire fear, and their out-of-division schedule is choice as well. Their worst matchups are against the Packers, the Bears, and the Chargers. Although, that Packers game has the potential to be a sneaky shootout with those two offenses going head-to-head.

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Barring injuries, this won’t be the year Ridley supplants Julio. While Jones isn’t a spring chicken any longer, he hasn’t lost a step. Ridley still has WR1 upside, but he’s worth a higher pick in dynasty leagues than in redraft.

Losers

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

Remember my reference to the struggles of an AFC East WR1? Well, DeVante Parker is no exception.

Being a member of this division alone makes your schedule that much harder than the average receiver’s. The Patriots and the Bills boast enormous talent on defense and are both virtually unstoppable.

To be fair, Parker put up pretty impressive numbers against both teams last season. Though, in my experience, it’s better to side with the rule and not the exceptions.

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Not every matchup looks bad for Miami. The Dolphins will find brief respites in matchups against teams like the Raiders and the Jaguars. Unfortunately, they also have the pleasure of heading into San Francisco and Denver for cross-country road games.

Pair an alarming schedule with the potential of a rookie taking over the offense, and you have serious cause for concern.

His production last year can’t be ignored, and if Ryan Fitzpatrick remains as the team’s quarterback, Parker has WR2 upside. With that said, there’s no way he can sustain the pace he was on during the second half of last season. Fitzpatrick is as inconsistent as they come, and Preston Williams will be back in the fold to siphon targets.

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As it stands, Parker’s ADP is No. 62 according to Fantasy Pros. This puts him in the WR2/3 range. It would be unwise to rely on him as your WR2, but as a third option, he’ll be an asset.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

My, how things have changed in Denver.

After Peyton Manning decided to hang it up, the Broncos’ offense has been an afterthought to their defense. This offseason, however, John Elway took control of the ship and drastically altered their course. Not only did the Broncos bring in Melvin Gordon in free agency, but Denver also spent their first two draft picks on wide receivers for Drew Lock.

In the Post-Manning era, Elway hasn’t been known for finding quality quarterbacks. Both Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch were big-time draft busts, and his free agency acquisition of Joe Flacco didn’t fare much better. Elway is looking to buck the trend with Lock, and he’s giving him ample opportunity to succeed.

Lock’s best weapon, Courtland Sutton, had a breakout campaign in his sophomore season. He finished the year with 72 receptions for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. Through the first 12 weeks of the season, Sutton was the WR19 in a half-point PPR format. Once Lock took over in Week 13, Sutton’s final five games left him as the WR27 in that stretch.

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The biggest hit to Sutton’s production was his yards-per-reception total. With Lock under center, Sutton went from 16.6 yards-per-reception to 12.7. In Lock’s defense, it’s not an easy task being a rookie who’s thrown in as the starter late into the season. With more time to develop, Lock should be able to better utilize his WR1.

In the coming season, Sutton is going to have his hands full staving off opposing defenders. Not only will he face Casey Heyward Jr.’s Chargers twice, but he’ll also have to outrun the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Adoree’ Jackson, Byron Jones, and the vaunted Pittsburgh secondary.

Sutton is enormously talented, and he’s going to have a productive year, but his matchups aren’t comforting. It’s too much to expect him to take the next leap into WR1 territory. He and Lock need more time together, and given the current state of affairs in the world, they may not have enough before the opening kickoff.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

I’m bracing myself in anticipation of the reaction I’m going to get for declaring A.J. Brown anything but a winner. The hype train is off and running, and it appears to have a faulty brake system.

For the record, I love A.J. Brown’s talent. He’s a monster of a man who has incredible strength, speed, and the ability to haul in contested catches.

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One of my biggest concerns for A.J. Brown is his lack of volume in the passing game. He had just three games with eight or more targets on the year. Clearly, he doesn’t need volume to be a factor, but it’s difficult to envision him ripping off gains of 50+ yards on a regular basis.

It’s not just Brown I’m concerned with. Collectively, the entire Titans offense is due for regression.

Brown’s quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, threw for 22 touchdowns on 286 attempts. In other words, Tannehill threw a touchdown on nearly eight percent of his throws. For context, eight percent is ridiculously efficient. Take someone like Russell Wilson for instance. Wilson has been known to excel in this statistic throughout his career. In 2019, Wilson threw for 31 touchdowns, but only threw a touchdown on six percent of his passes. Get the picture?

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Alongside a downgrade in the efficiency department, Brown won’t get any help from opposing defenses. Excluding the Vikings, whose secondary has disappeared, the Titans have to face seven top-half passing defenses from 2019. Not to mention that one of those defenses belongs to Indianapolis, who the Titans have to play twice.

Brown will still dazzle fans with jaw-dropping plays in 2020, but keep a realistic expectation for his fantasy production. He’s a solid WR2 who possesses the ability to win you a week.

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

I’m going to spare the feelings of Texans fans everywhere and skip the part where I comment on how awful their trade with the Cardinals was.

Okay, I lied.

DeAndre Hopkins is leaving a 150 target sized crater in Houston’s offense. No one on the team can fill Hopkins’ shoes, but there’s plenty of talent to go around in Houston.

Will Fuller has played alongside Hopkins his entire career. Though health has never been Fuller’s strong suit, when he’s on the field, there’s no denying his ability. Fuller has top-flight speed that allows him to blow past any defender in the league. Despite missing five games last season, he still managed to finish 19th in deep targets.

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The Texans have never asked Fuller to be the leading man, so this season will be uncharted terrain for him. He hasn’t been a consistent fantasy provided, but it takes a special talent to put up the kind of game he had in Week 5 last year. In that showdown versus the Falcons, Fuller went ballistic and caught 14 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He’s not going to be a world-beater every week, but he can clearly make an impact.

Breaking down Fuller’s schedule this season, I was only able to identify five games as clear cut plus matchups. Teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore are no brainers as bad matchups, but what about the teams in between?

The Titans and the Browns both finished as bottom-half defenses last season, but it’s hard to classify them as good matchups. Led by Denzel Ward, the Browns have multiple early-round draft picks in the secondary. If their new defensive coordinator, Joe Woods, manages to get this unit on track they’re going to be a problem.

The Titans, on the other hand, suffered major injuries in the secondary. Should Adoree’ Jackson stay healthy and should Kristian Fulton make an impact as a rookie, this will be a much different looking group.

I’m genuinely excited to see Fuller get the chance to shine. I’m a little less excited about the coverage he’ll have to shake. For now, treat Fuller like a WR3/4 in fantasy drafts.

Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Now that he’s out from under the shadow of Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs is finally the head honcho of his receiving corps. In a major acquisition by Buffalo, Diggs was added to the team to provide Josh Allen with a reliable WR1.

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So far in his career, Diggs has shown the kind of versatility that few players have. This made him an attractive candidate to Buffalo, who needed a dynamic presence to help develop Josh Allen’s game. Allen needs a steady jack of all trades to help him with his inconsistencies as a passer.

This is finally Diggs’ opportunity to prove himself as a legit WR1, but it won’t come without a challenge. Not only will he square off against the Patriots’ secondary twice next year, but he also has games against the Steelers, the 49ers, the Broncos, the Chargers, the Titans, and the Rams. That’s code for “he has an awful schedule.”

His second-biggest concern once you get past his schedule is Josh Allen. For all of Diggs’ complaining in Minnesota, he had the luxury of having one of the league’s most accurate passers throwing him the ball in Kirk Cousins. While Cousins was busy building his case for the MVP race, Allen was hard at work putting together a 47.3 quarterback rating…

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I don’t want to come across as Anti-Josh Allen, but his passing troubles are concerning. He has yet to hit the 3,100 passing yards mark in a season. Yes, I know that he came 11 yards short last season, but unfortunately, that still counts.

The bottom line is that Diggs is a very, very talented receiver with an awful, awful, schedule. Throw in a quarterback with accuracy issues, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find him on any of my rosters at his current ADP.

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That’s all for the 2020 NFL Schedule Wide Receivers Winners and Losers. If you’re counting down the days ’til draft season like we are, take a look at our site’s Post NFL-Draft Fantasy Football Mock Draft!

About Taylor Lambert

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