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February 20, 2020

How will offseason changes impact top fantasy football players?

If one thing has been clear this NFL offseason so far, it is that there will be changes.

Some of them right now, seem fundamental, like adding two playoff teams and an entire regular season week of games. 

How will those effect the fantasy football season? Well, in theory, it could stand to benefit a fantasy owner who has battled injuries and has another week to earn points and a win. If nothing else it's another week of regular season fantasy and what could be better than that?

On a team-by-team level, there are a bevy of changes coming too that will have gigantic impacts on fantasy football. A very big portion of the top performing fantasy players, from Dak Prescott to Christian McCaffery to Saquon Barkley, are all facing big off-field question marks right now.

The impact of coaching and team changes may wind up being monumental or minimal, but with the NFL proving to be a year-round sport, fantasy football owners should be mindful of the developing stories that will effect (even mildly) the draft positioning top players when we get to August and September.

Here's a brief look at the off-field changes that are threatening to effect the usage and production of key players (they are numbered by total fantasy points in 2019):

1. Christian McCaffery, RB, Panthers (421.20 points)

Will new head coach Matt Rhule continue to feed and target McCaffery at the same ridiculous rate as his predecessor after he takes over?

3. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints (374.60)

There is no chance Drew Brees isn't brought back, right? Thomas proved to be productive even with Brees out and Teddy Bridgewater under center, so it seems reasonable that Thomas should be the top WR again in 2020 regardless.

4. Dak Prescott, QB, FA (337.78)

Prescott has a good chance of returning to Dallas but it's not a foregone conclusion yet as he is slated to become a free agent. If and when he does re-sign, he'll be joining a Jason Garrett-less Cowboys squad for the first time in his career. Will Mike McCarthy get more out of him ... or less?

8. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (311.70)

Elliott, too, will have a new head coach for the first time. New boss McCarthy was usually in the middle of the pack when it came to rushing offense during his time in Green Bay, but he never had a back as talented as Zeke.

10 Jameis Winston, QB, FA (305.35)

Winston is slated to become a free agent, so he may not have the same dynamic receiving options he had in Tampa with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and others. He also had Lasik to repair his 30-interception-throwing eyes. 

11. Derrick Henry, RB, FA (294.60)

The Titans will surely want to bring back their playoff hero, but as long as Henry remains an unrestricted free agent, he has question marks.

12. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings (292.40)

Cook lost offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who will coach the Browns. Will Gary Kubiak's new scheme effect Cooks production?

17. Chris Godwin, QB, Buccaneers (276.10)

Winston could be gone. For all his faults, he brought the best out of Godwin, who had a breakout year in 2019. Will a quarterback change stifle Godwin's offensive output?

23. Tom Brady, QB, FA (263.68)

Brady intends to play in 2020, but it may not be with the Patriots. The trickle down effects will be palpable. 

25. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars (259.40)

John DeFilippo was replaced by Jay Gruden as Jags offensive coordinator. Could this impact Fournette's output?

26. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots (256.28)

As a direct result of Brady's free agency, we have no idea who'll be throwing Edelman's way in New England.

27. Nick Chubb, RB, Browns (255.20)

Chubb was another breakout player last year, and one could argue he could have had an even better year with a better offensive scheme that highlighted his talents. Is newly hired Stefanski that guy?

34. Amari Cooper, WR, FA (246.50)

Cooper is an unrestricted free agent and will be a pricy one at that. Where will he end up?

36. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings (244.42)

As we mentioned earlier with regards to Dalvin Cook, Cousins will have a new offensive coordinator in 2020. 

38. Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants (244.10)

Even with a significant injury and on an offense that, well, sucked in 2019, Barkley was in the top 40 in fantasy points. Will new head coach Joe Judge run an offense that gives Barkley a better chance to succeed?

Also in the top 50:

41: Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns — hip surgery

42. Phillip Rivers, QB — unrestricted free agent

45. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers — possible quarterback change

47. D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers — new head coach

48. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars — new offensive coordinator

49. Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns — new head coach

50. D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars — new offensive coordinator

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