It might seem too easy to mention Christian McCaffrey or Sequon Barkley as bounce back players for 2021. The thing is, since they were both injured for the majority of last season, they don’t qualify as true bounce back candidates.
In fact, when CMC did take the field in 2020, he looked pretty good while putting up decent numbers. The definition of a bounce back player, for me anyway, is a player who had a subpar season when compared to their performance the year prior.
Michael Thomas is the first player on my list of bounce back players. Last season, it seemed like Thomas was invisible when he was on the field for the Saints. In reality, he only disappeared when the team was in nearing the end zone. In 9 games, Thomas racked up 40 receptions for 438 yards but failed to score a touchdown. There area lot questions regarding who will take over at quarterback for the retired Drew Brees. Regardless of whether it is Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston, Thomas should still be the primary focus of the New Orleans passing attack.
Ezekiel Elliott entered the 2020 fantasy football draft as perhaps the ‘safest” of all of the top tier running backs. His workload was all but guaranteed as the three-down back for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2019, he averaged 23.7 FFPs per game behind quarterback Dak Prescott. Things did not work out in Zeke’s favor as the 2020 season unfolded. First, Dak went down to a season ending injury in week 5. Then, fumbling issues led to Elliott splitting time with Tony Pollard down the stretch. Prescott’s return can only mean positive things for Zeke. He may not challenge for the #1 RB in fantasy, but I do project him to get back to the consistency and reliability we have come expect.
During his rookie season, D.J. Moore burst onto the scene in Carolina to finish as the 16th wide receiver overall. Last season, he fell 9 spots to come in at number 25. With Sam Darnold coming aboard for the Panthers, I expect Moore to assert himself as the number one receiving option on this team and possibly flirt with a top 12 finish in 2021.
Matthew Stafford technically had a decent season in 2020. He threw for over 4000 yards and 26 touchdowns. If you factor in that he did this without Kenny Golladay for most of the season, then the numbers are even more impressive. Stafford is now on the Rams who have a bevy of weapons on offense. There is no reason to think that Stafford cannot post 4500 yards and toss upwards of 35-40 TDs in 2021. Those numbers would assure Stafford of a spot in the top 10.