The biggest disappointments of the 2020 fantasy football season

Illustration by Brooklyn Valera | The Signal

With the playoffs heating up and Super Bowl Sunday right around the corner, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest fantasy letdowns of 2020. 

Last week, we took a look at some of the biggest winners of the season, accounting for players who excelled and rewarded their fantasy owners handsomely. Now it’s time to look at those who significantly underperformed, possibly altering your team’s outcome. Here are the biggest fantasy football losers from 2020.

As always, all scores reflect standard points per reception (PPR) scoring formats. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 176 total points: 

Edwards-Helaire entered his rookie season expected to play a large role in a Kansas City Chiefs offense that has been one of the best in the NFL the past few seasons. The  Louisiana State rookie started the season hot when he totaled 138 yards on the ground and one touchdown in the Chiefs’ opening game of the year against the Houston Texans. 

After week one, Edwards-Helaire would score just three touchdowns and miss the last two weeks of the season. There were times where Edward-Helaire shined in 2020, especially in a week six matchup against the Buffalo Bills where the rookie notched 161 rushing yards on 25 carries. 

Besides these glimpses of hope, Edwards-Helaire significantly underperformed in a year that saw the Chiefs add another running back, veteran Le’Veon Bell, to their backfield. While the future still holds lots of promise for Edwards-Helaire, his rookie season started on an inconsistent and unreliable note.

Carson Wentz, 198 total points:

Wentz entered his fourth year with a lot of question marks. For one, the team that he had once saved from perpetual quarterback woes, the Philadelphia Eagles, had just spent their second-round draft pick on former Oklahoma and Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. 

While Hurts was poised to sit behind Wentz, the draft pick left a lingering feeling of uncertainty for the Eagles. On top of that, Wentz struggled to remain healthy in previous seasons, resulting in him often playing while injured. 

After starting 14 weeks, Wentz recorded nearly as many interceptions as he did touchdowns and was benched in favor of the rookie Hurts. Wentz provided substantial fantasy value in previous seasons, even if it was a waiver wire pickup. 

Still, the 2020 season was the perfect storm of indecisiveness and poor play that ultimately led to a switch at the quarterback position. The relationship between the Eagles and Wentz now seems to be fractured, leaving little hope for the once rookie sensation to return to the City of Brotherly Love.

Ezekiel Elliott, 223 total points:

Elliott was once a dominant force in the rushing game, keeping pace with some of the NFL’s best running backs. Despite this, Elliott could not find any real cohesion in a Dallas Cowboys offense that suffered many losses as the season played out.

Scoring just eight times and rushing for only 979 yards, Elliott was a far cry from his 2019 campaign that saw the Ohio State product score 14 times and run for well over 1,000 yards. Perhaps Elliott’s woes in 2020 can be attributed to the Cowboys’ offense’s complete collapse, starting with quarterback Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury. 

Elliott’s numbers in 2020 may be concerning, but perhaps even more concerning is the Cowboys offense’s future. In any case, Elliott wasn’t much help to fantasy owners who likely used a high draft pick on the running back, leaving some lingering concerns in terms of fantasy value entering the 2021 season. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Saquan Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas

It wouldn’t be fair to call these players busts or losers. After all, they did suffer significant injuries that ended their seasons early. Nevertheless, all of these players entered with high hopes, but let down fantasy owners who spent valuable draft picks on them deeply disappointed. 

While Barkley and McCaffrey missed most of the season with injuries, Thomas spent a portion of the year out due to non-injury related issues. Towards the end of the season, however, the New Orlean Saints placed the wide receiver on the injured reserve list. 

McCaffrey did play three games in 2020, performing at an extraordinary level as he racked up five touchdowns and 300-plus yards from scrimmage in his short time on the field. 

All of these players would have likely led the fantasy winners list throughout the season had they not suffered injuries, once again confirming the notion that fantasy football is entirely unpredictable.