Even the best NFL players can become risks when it comes to fantasy football. Injuries, a lack of chemistry or underwhelming supporting talent can cause perennial Pro Bowlers to be fantasy duds. While a level of unpredictability is what makes the fantasy game fun, when a player on your roster busts out, it's not fun at all.
The silver lining here is that players who disappoint can bounce back. This is fortunate for dynasty and keeper players who may have them on their rosters anyway. For season-long players, bounce-back candidates can provide excellent value in the middle and late rounds.
Here we'll run down one bounce-back candidate at each key position, along with the top PPR rankings for every spot.
1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
6. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
7. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
9. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This is perhaps the most obvious one of the bunch. Provided he is healthy, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should be in store for one monumental comeback.
Roethlisberger was limited to just two games in 2019 because of an elbow injury that required surgery. He wasn't great in those games, either, completing just 56.45 percent of his passes for 351 yards and an interception.
The good news is that Roethlisberger appears to be on the mend and has been working out with teammates like second-year wideout Diontae Johnson this offseason.
"Just being able to work out with him this offseason has been good," Johnson said, per Teresa Varley of the team's official website. "Just getting the timing down, get a feel for him, what he likes, what he doesn't like."
Two seasons ago, Big Ben led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards. He also threw 34 touchdowns passes and 16 interceptions. He could have a similar season if he returns to pre-injury form.
1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
4. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
5. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
10. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. WR, Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. didn't miss the bulk of the season as Roethlisberger did, but he wasn't exactly healthy. The three-time Pro Bowler dealt with a core muscle injury all season long and finished with just 1,035 yards and four touchdowns—not terrible numbers, but not worthy of the first- or second-round status Beckham carried in most leagues.
Like Roethlisberger, Beckham should be healthy this season. He underwent hip surgery in January and expects to be at 100 percent in the fall.
"Bigger, stronger, faster," Beckham said in a YouTube video. "This is my time."
Beckham should also benefit from having a new offense-minded head coach in Kevin Stefanski. Part of the issue in 2019 was that head coach Freddie Kitchens was ill prepared for the job. Beckham, quarterback Baker Mayfield and the entire offense suffered as a result.
1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
6. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
7. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
8. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
9. Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
10. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Todd Gurley was still a starting-caliber fantasy back in 2019. He rushed for 857 yards, caught 31 passes for 207 more and scored 14 touchdowns. For Gurley, however, this was one of the least productive seasons of his career.
That was with the Los Angeles Rams, however, who suffered through some major transitions along the offensive line—both John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold departed the previous offseason. Gurley was not the only member of the offense affected.
As a team, Los Angeles averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and 5.7 yards per offensive play. In 2018, the Rams averaged 4.9 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per offensive play.
While there's no guarantee that Atlanta's line will be better, it does feature the intriguing potential of second-year guard Chris Lindstrom, second-year tackle Kaleb McGary and Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.
Gurley will also benefit from an explosive passing attack centered around Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and new tight end Hayden Hurst. He will not face eight-man boxes with regularity in 2020.
1. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
4. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
6. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
7. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
8. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
9. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
10. Evan Engram, New York Giants
Eric Ebron, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
The return of Big Ben should also benefit new Steelers tight end Eric Ebron. A breakout fantasy stud in 2018—he caught 13 touchdown passes to go with 750 receiving yards—Ebron took a step back last season. He finished with 31 receptions, 375 yards and three scores.
Of course, the entire Indianapolis Colts offense regressed, as quarterback Andrew Luck retired and was replaced by Jacoby Brissett. While Brissett was a serviceable starter, he did not consistently move the ball the way that Luck did.
Roethlisberger is one of the league's top signal-callers when healthy, and this should lead to a surge in production for Ebron. The six-year veteran will be splitting time with Vance McDonald in Pittsburgh's offense, but he was doing that with Jack Doyle two years ago and still shone.
Ebron is a bit of a sleeper pick, but another double-digit touchdown season is not out of the question for managers who snag him.