Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 5 – Jonathan Taylor and D.J. Chark

by Lucas Mir · Studs and Duds

We all have them. The players we attach ourselves to over the course of the pre-draft process. The ones we try our damnedest to draft or acquire in fantasy football. For better or worse, these are the players we end up attaching our reputations to as fantasy players and/or analysts. This series will focus on both sides of that particular coin.

In this new Underworld venture called Studs and Duds, we will talk about one player we planted our proverbial flag on that was a hit and one that was a bust. Along the way, we’ll be using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics and analytics to analyze the process, figure out how and why these players hit/busted, and decide whether we want to target/fade said players next season.


Volume 5 – Lucas Mir

Stud: Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor started 2020 slow, averaging only 12.5 Fantasy Points per Game from Weeks 1-11. The reason he is the stud instead of the dud is his 26.0 FFPG average from Weeks 12-17. During this stretch, he scored at least 19.0 fantasy points in each game. Taylor won fantasy leagues for myself and others who survived his early-season woes.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

I secured Taylor in 60-percent of my leagues. I was extremely high on the 2020 rookie running back class going into last year, so anywhere I didn’t have him, I had at least two of D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and Antonio Gibson.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I’ve loved Taylor since his days at Wisconsin, where he averaged over 2,000 rushing yards per season. I saw him as the best rookie in a strong class, so he was a target in all redraft and dynasty leagues.

Jonathan Taylor College Stats

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

I targeted Jonathan Taylor for having over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in all of his three college seasons, his 121.7 (99th-percentile among qualified running backs) Speed Score, his 10.3-percent (77th-percentile) College Target Share, his early second-round draft capital and landing on a team with one of the best offensive lines in the league.

There didn’t seem to be any holes in his profile except for film-grinder complaints that he “lacked vision” or had poor pass blocking in college. Both of these issues not even being consensus opinions between film-grinders.

What Did You Learn?

Despite success in some leagues, a big takeaway from last season was not to rely on the production of rookie running backs during the first half of the season. Before his explosion in Week 12, Jonathan Taylor saw a huge drop in value and looked like he would not live up the hype. Believing in rookies walking into a new team and taking over the lead back role within a few weeks of the season starting is lofty thinking.

Another lesson to learn from 2020 was to be patient when holding onto young players. Selling too soon on some of the 2020 rookie running backs has a lot of fantasy managers, including myself, kicking themselves right now.

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

Jonathan Taylor is currently a top-five running back in redraft and the top dynasty asset in 1QB leagues. His 2020 target share was boosted by Philip Rivers affinity for checking down to running backs, so his cost is out of my price range in redraft. I would be comfortable drafting him towards the end of the second round in redraft leagues given the receiving volatility, the recent quarterback change, and foot injuries suffered by Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson per’s Fantasy Football Camp New, Rumors, and Commentary.

Dud: D.J. Chark

D.J. Chark was a failure for fantasy managers who selected him and his 11.8 (No. 40) Fantasy Points per Game average near players like Stefon Diggs (20.5 FFPG, No. 3), D.K. Metcalf (17.0 FFPG, No. 8) and Terry McLaurin (14.9 FFPG, No. 20).

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

I had Chark in 40-percent of my leagues. He was a mid-round target for me at the wide receiver position and left a handful of my rosters without a serviceable WR2.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

Chark was the only player in his tier of wide receivers that seemed to have a stable Target Share returning from the previous year. With Gardner Minshew returning at quarterback and only Laviska Shenault added to the pass catcher corps, he was receiver with the most stable Target Share going into 2020, which I valued.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

After watching Chark dominate in 2019 to the tune of 14.9 (No. 19) Fantasy Points per Game after going undrafted in most leagues, he was a target for me heading into 2020.

After a rookie campaign with zero starts and under 200 yards, this sophomore breakout made it look like Chark had adjusted to the NFL. Add to this the stability around him within the Jaguars, he seemed like the perfect WR2 for fantasy teams.

What Did You Learn?

The biggest takeaway from drafting D.J. Chark over players like D.K. Metcalf and Stefon Diggs was my lack of appreciating the upside of either of the other players at the time. Chark was a target due to his stable Target Share, but Metcalf and Diggs were more valued near their floors due to uncertainty, while Chark was valued much closer to his median outcome.

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

Chark logged 756 (No. 9) Unrealized Air Yards in 13 games, so a lot of his issues in 2020 came down to poor quarterback play. With Trevor Lawrence joining the Jaguars and taking the reigns from the duo of Gardner Minshew and Mike Glennon, the quarterback play will surely be better.

Unfortunately for Chark, Laviska Shenault had a +27.5-percent (No. 8) Target Premium to Chark’s +0.1-percent (No. 56) Target Premium. I greatly prefer Shenault, who outplayed Chark last season as a rookie. That said, Chark should be drafted comfortably in the WR3/4 range in 2021.